DARNA UMAYAM CAUGHT
By the PWD Investigative Team
Darna Umayam, who has been in a protracted war with PinoyWatchDog.com for our exposes of her unethical fundraising activities, including the latest ‘100 Outstanding Filipino Americans in the USA (100 OFAUSA), has been observed stealing copies of PinoyWatchDog.com and has been reported to the Los Angeles Police Department.
PinoyWatchDog.com had been suspecting all along that Ms. Umayam was behind the spate of newspaper thievery from the time she wrote an e-mail to PWD Senior Columnist Joel Bander that she will not do anything to stop the thievery, following this newspaper’s continuing front page coverage about her alleged nefarious fundraising activities, which began when she was the chairwoman of the Philippine Independence Day Organizing Committee in 2009.
More recently, PWD also learned that Ms. Umayam had been calling potential advertisers asking them to boycott this newspaper, because, according to her, it prints nothing but “lies.”
Three different members of PinoyWatchDog.com investigative team have seen a June 21, 2012, email from Darna to her closest supporters essentially outlining a plan of attack. If the PinoyWatchDog.com’s newspapers that were due to hit the streets on June 23, 2012, are critical of her — she instructed her friends to steal the newspapers.
While the newspaper theft plan was not known to have been widely instituted for the June 23, 2102, issues, the July 7, 2012, issue containing the revelation that Umayam had not graduated cum laude from University of Santo Thomas, http://www.pinoywatchdog.com/ust-cannot-certify-darna-umayam-graduated-cum-laude/ as she had long contended in printed materials, was enough make Ms. Umayam to institute the plan.
The following day, July 8, 2012, PWD Senior Columnist Joel Bander wrote Umayam that he was concerned about this thievery, to which Ms. Umyam responded, “maybe people sympathize with me for what you are doing. They are putting your newspaper in the trash to where it belongs.”
On July 22, 2012, Umayam again wrote Bander stating “I will not make an appeal to the community to stop stealing your Pinoywatchdog. I was about to do it to put a stop on all this. But you still continue to hit me below the belt. I will just do what I think is right.”
In that same email exchange, Umayam stated “I won’t stop at nothing. The war has just begun.” See related story at http://www.pinoywatchdog.com/anti-semitic-rants-and-support-for-newspaper-thievery-from-darna-umayam/
California Penal Code Section 490.7 makes it a crime to take more than 25 free newspapers if the purpose is to deprive others in the opportunity to read or enjoy the newspaper.
Indeed, the war had begun but Umayam, acting with her regular impunity, did not consider that PinoyWatchDog.com was making modifications in its circulation schedules and now a have a battery of citizen volunteers keeping an eye out for thieves. “I enjoy your newspaper,” one assistant shop keeper told PWD’s investigative team. “It is just wrong to steal them to deprive the community of your point of view.”
Now, PinoyWatchDog.com can report that this community-based force of ‘watchdogs’ has now has multiple witnesses with Umayam personally involved in taking more than 25 newspapers in violation of Penal Code 490.7.
In one instance, PinoyWatchDog.com had an arrangement with an storefront business near a Seafood City (no names of businesses or actual witnesses will be revealed in this report as to not impede law enforcement’s investigation, and to protect these witnesses from Umayam’s pattern of harassment) that the business would slowly restock the newspapers in the Seafood City so that large inventory was not available to be stolen.
However, Umayam saw these newspapers stacked in that business and asked questions along the lines of why “would you have such a horrible paper, etc.” One of the store employees recognized Umayam from this newspaper’s reports and decided to move the papers to the restroom. While this was occurring Umayam reportedly came back with a shopping cart, this time with a scarf over her head and trying to cover her face. She allegedly asked another employee what happened to the newspapers, and he just stated he knew nothing.
Umayam then went with her shopping cart to the Seafood City and was observed taking a few bundles of the newspaper from the racks. One of these employees saw her loading at least three bundles (there are 50 to a bundle) into a car that was later found parked in front of Umayam’s house on Eagle Rock Boulevard. The employee also wrote the car’s license number, model and color. He then gave the information to PWD’s Investigative team who missed the alleged thefts by a scant ten minutes.
The two PWD staffers then drove to another establishment along Eagle Rock Blvd. to talk to the owner who had earlier reported that copies of PWD had been mysteriously disappearing from the racks inside the restaurant. The owner reported that the alleged newspaper thieves’ modus operandi was to put an order for a take-out, and while the owner was in the kitchen, an accomplice would enter the restaurant and steal all the PWD copies. These thefts went on for a couple of weeks until the PWD investigators had established a pattern, and they got lucky on this weekend.
While the two staffers were talking to the owner, Ms. Umayam, who had claimed in an earlier e-mail that she could not drive, arrived, driving the same car that the witnesses saw parked in the parking lot of Seafood City, and where the Ms. Umayam had loaded three bundles of stolen PWD copies just about 30 minutes earlier. The PWD investigators asked her why she was driving a car because she had claimed that she could not drive. As she emerged from her car the owner said, “That’s her; she is the one taking the newspapers.”
Surprised that the investigatorswere waiting, Ms. Umayam made an attempt to make her visit a normal one, shouting at the counter, “I want to order arroz caldo.” Accosted by the two investigators, she immediately transformed into a crying, sobbing persona, imploring the two staffers, “You are my friends; what have I done to deserve this treatment?”
Umayam has often resorted to sobbing to avoid unpleasant circumstances.
One of the investigators said, “We are professional journalists, and we have a mission to publish any bit of legitimate news, as long as they are supported by facts and documents, even though they will impact our friends.”
The investigators would later be informed that after their encounter at the restaurant, that Ms. Umayam would continue to “steal” copies of PWD at a medium-sized Filipino food market less than a block away. The assistant manager of the market, who had been apprised of the thievery and was guarding that no one consumer would take more than one copy of the newspaper, had reported to the investigators a few days later that he caught Ms. Umayam taking away more than one bundle of newspapers.
The assistant reported that he had asked Ms. Umayam not take too many copies, and reported that Ms. Umayam told him, “Do you know that the owner of this newspaper is a white man, and he has been printing lies about us Filipinos?” He added that Umayam had claimed that she would give the extra copies to her friends.” After that exchange, the assistant manager reported that Ms. Umayam returned the bundle, and he relocated them inside the market.
The following week after these alleged thefts have occurred PinoyWatchDog.com’s Managing Editor Rene Villaroman and Sr. Columnist Joel Bander reported these crimes to the San Fernando Road Station of the Los Angeles Police Department.