A Los Angeles man posing as an Uber driver has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman in Beverly Hills, and police fear he may have been involved in other attacks in Los Angeles County, officials said.
Carlos Omar Pichinte, 40, claimed to be an Uber driver when he picked up his female victim in West Hollywood on May 13, according to Lt. Elisbaeth Albanese, public information officer for the Beverly Hills Police Department.
He then drove a short distance into Beverly Hills and sexually assaulted the woman, Albanese said.
Pichinte was arrested during a motor vehicle stop the following week, according to Albanese. He was driving a silver Kia Rio at the time of his capture.
The vehicle was outfitted with decals from both Uber and Lyft, according to Albanese, who said Pichinte is not employed by either ride-sharing service.
Pichinte was charged with rape, kidnapping and several other offenses and is being held in Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $1.3-million bail, records show. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to appear in court later this week.
Beverly Hills investigators believe Pichinte may have been involved in similar sexual assaults in the Los Angeles area, and they have contacted neighboring agencies, Albanese said.
Police across California have been wary of predators using ride-share services as a cover to carry out attacks in recent months. In June, Los Angeles police arrested a 46-year-old Uber driver who picked up an intoxicated woman downtown and then allegedly assaulted her at a motel in North Hollywood.
Earlier this year, Uber drivers were also accused of sexual assault in the Bay Area and Orange County.