By Andre Coleman 12/18/2008

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Christmas in Central Park

Union Station Homeless Services will be hosting what organizers say is the biggest potluck in the nation from noon to 2 p.m. Christmas Day in Pasadena’s Central Park.

Volunteers are expected to prepare 3,500 meals and hand out thousands of toys to low-income and homeless children.  
Anyone wishing to contribute can drop off cooked meals and side dishes in disposable aluminum containers at the park, located at the corner of Del Mar Boulevard and South Fair Oaks Avenue, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Christmas Day.

Volunteers are needed to set up furniture, serve food and clean up. To help out, call (626) 240-4550, ext. 542.


Police say woman lied about grannynappers


A 25-year-old woman who made headlines by claiming her 1-year-old child was held hostage while she was forced to withdraw money from an ATM by a sixtysomething couple who later drove the woman to her home and forced her to hand over jewelry may have made the whole thing up, police say.

“The victim has changed her story,” Pasadena police spokesperson Janet Pope Givens said. “We are still trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Apparently the woman was herself the victim of a scam and may have concocted the story to avoid embarrassment, or perhaps based her account on a crime that was first reported to Pasadena police a month ago, Givens said.

“If what she is saying is true, we may have some folks who are scamming people. We did have a case about a month ago where a woman was approached by two suspects that were described similarly. We need to make sure she did not read that and latch onto it,” said Givens.

The woman, who has not been identified, told police Saturday that an elderly Latina approached her in the 300 block of Allendale Road, near Allendale Park, and asked for money. The alleged victim said that when she refused, she and her toddler son were hustled into a red SUV or Jeep and driven to an ATM, where she was forced to withdraw all of her money. She was then driven to her home, where she said she was forced to hand over her jewelry. The alleged assailant and her male companion handed over the child unharmed and sped off.

Detectives began reviewing the case Monday and immediately became suspicious of some of the alleged victim’s statements. Givens did not say what made them suspicious, although the story has several apparent holes, including the part about the woman entering the car with her child without a gun being used or much force being applied, then withdrawing “all of her money” from a Wells Fargo teller machine, which only releases $300 per day. Police did not say how much the woman said she withdrew, but it was more than $300.



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