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January 28, 1988|JACK JONES | From staff and wire reports

You could call it the robbery that failed, one perhaps planned by the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Someone, Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives said, tried to hold up a bank by remote control--through gifts of flowers and candy.

Personnel at the United Savings Bank on Artesia Boulevard in Artesia were the sudden recipients Wednesday of three boxes of flowers and candy. A Sheriff's Department spokesman later said a man had called up a florist in Bellflower and ordered the packages sent there.

Bank employees opened two and found flowers, but in the third there was candy, along with a note that said there was also a bomb in the box. The note instructed them to put money in the box and carry it to another florist across the street.

Meanwhile, deputies said, this florist had gotten a call from an unidentified man saying a box would soon be dropped off, and asked the florist to bring it to him in Orange County. The florist, unaware what was going on at the bank, unwittingly thwarted the would-be extortionist's plan by saying he did not deliver to Orange County. The man tried to offer him more money to bring the box, but the florist refused to change his mind.

Instead of filling the box with money, bank officials called the authorities, and soon the bomb squad was at the scene. They cleared nearby streets, causing a traffic jam in the area while they detonated the box in the street. The device turned out to be a fake, though the blast sent candy flying.

"There's candy all over," said Sgt. George Boswell of the Sheriff's Department Lakewood Station. "Some cats will probably be happy." Detectives are looking for the gift-giver.

It took several months and cost thousands of dollars, but the Lazben Hotel Management Corp. was finally able to tell Compton that it has found an "enticing" name for the city-owned, first-class hotel due to open there in September.

Lazben, which was hired by Compton to operate the facility, said it consulted several public relations firms and ran hundreds of possible names past prospective clients to see which struck their fancy. The management firm then concluded that only one name would project the "exciting" image:

The Lazben Hotel.

Not all the city fathers were excited.

"I was kind of hoping it would be the Compton Hotel," Councilman Maxie Filer said.

Two busloads of lawn bowlers from British Columbia spilled into Arcadia for a few games and lunch with the Santa Anita Bowling Green Club. The tour includes such other Southland bowling hotbeds as Long Beach, Redlands and San Diego.

"This is their second year visiting us," said Nancy Trask, former president of the Santa Anita club. "We went up and visited them last August, 40 of us."

Although Wednesday's encounter wasn't organized on an us-against-them basis, one might wonder how the Canadians performed on the green once they had lunch.

It was build-your-own tacos.

There were other visitors from Canada: Anita Dash had been reading in the local paper about a Montreal woman and two teen-age daughters traveling on horseback through the Antelope Valley on their way from the Canadian border to San Diego when they suddenly came riding down a dirt road past her Lancaster area home.

Celine Goudreault, 46, who lives in a Montreal suburb, started the trek with Marie, 14, and Catherine, 13, from Blaine, Wash., last Oct. 25. Why? "For the experience," said Goudreault, and to explore "a more natural life style."

The adventuresome mother and daughters plan to be on their way again this morning after a brief stay with Dash. They concede that they are a little nervous over how to pick their way through Los Angeles, but will opt for roads where there are other horses and horse lovers. They have depended on their maps, lightly packed knapsacks and--like Blanche DuBois--the kindness of strangers.

She is anxious to conclude the trip so the girls can get back to school in Montreal and she can see her radio-TV producer husband again. He, it seems, "did not agree with the project."

Longtime Democratic political consultant Joseph Cerrell, who has directed a fair share of campaigns in his time, pointed out to the Lawyers Club of Los Angeles County luncheon meeting on Wednesday that running for a judgeship in this county is tough and expensive.

The last successful campaign for the Superior Court bench cost a quarter of a million dollars, he noted. Finally, he says, "this guy asked, 'Why don't we just give the governor $200,000 and buy the judgeship?' "

Cerrell says he explained, "That's not the business I'm in."

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