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May 31, 2011


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:48 pm

An Iranian national who maintained a residence and business in California pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois to two felony charges stemming from his efforts to illegally export missile components as well as radio test sets from the United States to Iran, via the United Arab Emirates.

The defendant, Davoud Baniameri, 38, of Woodland Hills, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to export goods and technology to Iran without a license or approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and one count of attempting to export defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List from the United States without a license or approval from the U.S. Department of State, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).

U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan set sentencing for Aug. 4, 2011. Baniameri, who remains in federal custody, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for violating IEEPA and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for violating AECA and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count. A written plea agreement contemplates a sentencing guideline range of 46 to 57 months imprisonment.

The guilty plea was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Gary J. Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Richard D. Zott, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Central Field Office in St. Louis; Ronald B. Orzel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement; and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The Chicago Police Department also assisted in the investigation.


May 28, 2011

Ninth Circuit Opinions week of 05-28-11

1. US v. Ellis, No. 09-50652 (5-26-11)(Ikuta with Rymer and Callahan). The 9th has decided to review departures for reasonableness in the first instance, and then, if reasonable, to treat an erroneous Guideline departure as harmless under post-Booker discretion. US v. Mohamed, 459 F.3d 979 (9th Cir. 2006).The same approach is taken here for departures for under-representation of criminal history pursuant to 4A1.3(a)(1).

In this case, the defendant, having pled guilty to seven bank robberies, received a departure because some prior criminal history was stale. The 9th stated that it did not have to examine correct application of a departure because it was looking at reasonableness, and the departure was reasonable under 3553.

The court explained its basis and it made sense. The 9th also held that no violation of the plea agreement took place. In terms of sentencing jurisprudence, this case shows that, on appeal, departures are reviewed under a reasonableness variance standard.

2. Haney v. Adams, No. 09-16148 (5-26-11)(N. Smith with Goodwin and Collins). A petitioner is precluded from raising a Batson claim if he failed to object to the state’s use of peremptory challenges at trial.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Subpoenas Loan Processor LPS in Wide-Ranging Probe of Mortgage and Foreclosure Practices

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 6:09 am

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced she has subpoenaed Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS), as part of her continuing probe into “robosigning” of mortgage documents and other illegal activities in the mortgage servicing industry, especially misconduct affecting borrowers facing, or in the midst of, foreclosure.

Robosigning is the practice of signing documents used by banks or mortgage servicing companies to foreclose on borrowers without verifying their accuracy - often thousands of different documents signed by a single individual per day. In many cases, the robosigners don’t even read or understand the document they are signing.

“California homeowners have been exposed to fraud and crime at every step of the mortgage process,” said Attorney General Harris. “Justice demands we come to their aid and a key step in that is to investigate robosigning and the potential for inaccurate or unjust foreclosures.”

Former LPS employees have testified that LPS designees “robosigned” foreclosure documents. LPS prepared and recorded these foreclosure documents on behalf of many of the largest mortgage lenders and servicers in the country.

The Attorney General’s investigative subpoena requires LPS to produce documents and provide written answers to questions from the Attorney General’s office. The time period covered by the subpoena runs from Jan. 1, 2007, until just before the compliance date, which is no later than June 24 of this year.

LPS, based in Jacksonville, Fla., with several offices in California, provides loan management services to mortgage lenders, including document preparation services and a software platform used by much of the mortgage industry. According to its website, LPS systems are used for servicing over 50% of all mortgages in the United States and more than 80 financial institutions contract with LPS to service more than 30 million loans with an outstanding principal balance exceeding $4.5 trillion.

Attorney General Harris warned that the risks posed by robosigning are particularly dangerous in non-judicial foreclosure states such as California, where the courts typically are not involved in overseeing the foreclosure process.

On Monday, Attorney General Harris announced the creation of a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, staffed by two dozen Department of Justice attorneys and investigators to monitor and prosecute violations at every step of the mortgage process, from the origination of mortgage loans to the marketing of mortgage-backed securities to the investing public.

May 27, 2011

LAW OFFICE Manager sentenced to FOUR YEARS IN PRISON FOR embezzling

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:36 am

LAW OFFICE Manager sentenced to FOUR YEARS IN PRISON FOR embezzling over $500,000 by writing checks to herself to spend on personal luxuries including A PET DAY SPA

SANTA ANA – A law office manager was sentenced today to four years in state prison for embezzling $502,000 by writing checks to herself and falsifying the firm’s records to spend it on a lavish lifestyle including timeshare properties, vacations, home improvements and room additions, jewelry, pampered pet day spa visits, and gambling. Donna Joy Henderson, 68, Orange, pleaded guilty today to one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement with sentencing enhancements and allegations for property damage over $200,000 and loss over $100,000. In addition to her four-year prison sentence, Henderson was also ordered to pay $502,000 in restitution.

Beginning in 2000, Henderson worked as an office manager and bookkeeper for a law firm in Tustin, Rinos & Martin, LLP. She was responsible for overseeing the law firm’s financial accounts and records. Between January 2003 and September 2009, Henderson wrote 122 company checks payable to herself, cash, personal credit cards, relatives or fictitious businesses and deposited them into her personal bank accounts. Henderson spent the money on personal expenses including timeshare properties, cruises, Home Shopping Network jewelry and collectibles, home improvements, indoor sauna, pampered pet day spas visits, and gambling.

Henderson falsified the company’s financial records to conceal the theft by documenting the stolen checks as “void” in the accounting records. She altered the firm’s monthly financial statements that were submitted for review by the firm’s managing partners. In September 2009, the theft was reported to the Tustin Police Department by firm staff after hiring a new accountant to implement a different accounting system. The new accountant noticed that a check marked “void” in the company ledger was cleared and made payable to Henderson. Henderson was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, upon further investigation and review of financial records dating back to 2002.


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 8:33 am


SANTA ANA – A driver with two prior convictions for driving under the influence has been charged with murdering a pedestrian and injuring two occupants of another car in a drug-induced crash after running a red light. Adam Harrison Hall, 27, Placentia, is charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury with sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing bodily injury and causing great bodily injury or death to more than one victim. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 21 years to life in state prison. Hall was arrested today by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) and is being held on $1 million bail. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.  The time is to be determined.

At approximately 11:10 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2011, Hall is accused of driving northbound on Moulton Parkway while under the influence of drugs in the City of Laguna Niguel in a Ford sport utility vehicle (SUV). At the intersection of Moulton Parkway and Nueva Vista Drive, Hall is accused of driving through a red light and crashing into a Toyota SUV that was passing legally through the intersection. The force of the crash caused both vehicles to lose control.  The Toyota spun 360 degrees before coming to a stop. The occupants, Steven James and Anna Gaffney, were both injured in the crash. Gaffney suffered a fractured collar bone and James suffered severe bruising.

As a result of the crash, Hall is accused of losing control of his vehicle and driving up the curb onto the sidewalk. He is accused of crashing into victim Mara Lynnes Steves, 48, who was walking in the area attempting to locate the owner of a stray dog. Hall is accused of murdering Steves, who died as a result of her injuries. Hall is also accused of hitting the dog, a labrador retriever named Max, leaving a tire mark on the animal and requiring it to undergo emergency veterinary services. Steves was honored after her death by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for her efforts in helping the lost dog.

OCSD responded to the scene and investigated this case. At the time of the crash, Hall is accused of being under the influence of drugs including methamphetamine, Diazepam, Nordiazepam, Alprazolam, Hydroxyalprazolam, Oxazepam, Temazepam, amphetamine, Morphine, and 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahyrocannabinol (THCA).


May 26, 2011


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:22 pm

NEWPORT BEACH – A woman was charged on May 24, 2011 with setting six fires in the City of Irvine. Jana Marie Spires, 38, Irvine, is charged with five felony counts of arson of another’s property and one felony count of arson of a structure. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of nine years and four months in state prison. The defendant is being held on $50,000 bail and was arraigned today. She is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing June 2, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2011, Spires is accused of entering an Irvine apartment complex parking lot and approaching a 2009 Mercedes, stuffing newspaper into the opening of the driver’s side door, and lighting it on fire before fleeing the scene. The vehicle owner’s son noticed the damage to the car and told the victim, who called 911.

On Feb . 14, 2011, Spires is accused of lighting a replica acrylic U.S. flag on fire while it was hanging in a flag holder on the side of a residential home’s garage in Irvine. She is accused of fleeing the scene. The owner of the home noticed the flag had been burned and contacted police.

Later that day, Spires is accused of placing a pack of cigarettes outside the corner of an Irvine home’s garage, lighting it on fire, and fleeing the scene. The defendant caused the homeowner’s garage to catch on fire. The victim smelled the odor of fire as she exited her house from her garage, saw the fire, and called 911.


Homicide Rate in California Drops to 44-Year Low

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 5:18 pm

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released updated figures showing that the homicide rate in California continued to fall during 2010, reaching the lowest level since 1966.

Preliminary figures gathered by the Department of Justice from the state’s largest jurisdictions show that the number of homicides reported in 2010 declined by 9.6% from the year before.

“The decline in homicides and other violent crimes reflects the tireless efforts of our peace officers,” said Attorney General Harris. “My office is committed to supporting their brave, relentless and selfless work in protecting the people of California from hardened criminals.”

Overall, the number of violent crimes declined 6.4% in 2010, according to statistics compiled from 89 agencies that report about 65% of all crimes committed annually in California. Forcible rape declined 6%. Robbery dropped 8.9%, and aggravated assault fell 4.6%.

Property crimes declined 2.2% in 2010. Burglary dropped 0.9%. Motor vehicle theft declined 7.2%. Arson dropped 15%. Larceny under $400 dropped 4.9%. Only larceny over $400 rose, by 0.7%.


May 25, 2011


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 12:49 pm

LOS ANGELES – An Arroyo Grande woman was arrested this morning by special agents with the FBI on charges of stealing money from a federally insured financial institution.

Brenda Bautista Hurtado, 25, was taken into custody without incident after being named in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury last Friday.

The indictment accused Hurtado of stealing money while employed last year at the U.S. Bank branch in Arroyo Grande. The indictment alleges that Hurtado stole nearly $100,000 from two customers’ accounts, as well as another $10,000 in cash from the bank’s vault.

The investigation in this case revealed that Hurtado secretly accessed U.S. Bank’s computer system and changed the contact information for the accounts of two elderly customers at the bank. After changing their contact information, Hurtado then allegedly closed these accounts and took out cashier’s checks for the balance of each account.

When one of the customers came to the bank and learned that his account had been closed, Hurtado went into the bank’s vault and took $10,000 in cash. Hurtado then went to Mexico for several weeks before returning to the United States. She was arrested this morning in Guadalupe, California, where she has been staying for the past few months. The indictment alleges that Hurtado stole $50,907 on February 24, 2010 and another $48,163 on February 26, 2010. The indictment further alleges that Hurtado stole $10,000 in cash from the bank vault on June 7, 2010. Each count of theft by a bank employee carries a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

The case against Hurtado is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Man Sentenced for Murder of Parents and Former Girlfriend

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 12:45 pm

LOS ANGELES – A 29-year-old man convicted earlier this month of murdering his parents and a former girlfriend was sentenced today to 85 years to life, plus three consecutive life-without-parole sentences.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bob Bowers imposed the sentence on Joshua Vick of Los Angeles, who was convicted on May 2 of three counts of first-degree murder with true findings on two special circumstance allegations – murder during a kidnapping and multiple murders. A special allegation that Vick personally used a handgun in the killings also was found to be true.

The defendant was additionally convicted of one count each of robbery and attempted robbery, and three counts of making criminal threats. Deputy District Attorney Robert Grace of the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

Vick fatally shot his mother and father, Mary and Gable Vick, on Jan. 14, 2005, at their apartment. Authorities said that on the same day, he kidnapped his former girlfriend, Tesha Collins, from an education center where she was teaching.

Police spotted Vick driving in South Los Angeles the next day and pulled the car over. He was arrested after a gun battle with police. Collins body was found next to the car. She also was fatally shot.

May 24, 2011


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:07 pm

LOS ANGELES – A second man who was employed as an inspector with the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety pleaded guilty this afternoon to federal bribery charges for taking thousands of dollars in bribes to approve work done at residential construction sites in South Los Angeles, even though the work had not been inspected.

Hugo Joel Gonzalez, 49, of Eagle Rock, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, admitting that he corruptly took $9,000 in bribes from an informant and an undercover FBI agent.

Another former inspector charged in the investigation – Raoul Joseph Germain, 59, of Altadena – pleaded guilty to one count of bribery on May 5. When he pleaded guilty, Germain admitted accepting $6,000 in bribes from the undercover agent.

The FBI began investigating corruption in the Department of Building and Safety last summer after an informant reported that inspectors took cash bribes in exchange for permit approvals on residential construction projects. According to court documents, the informant reported that building inspectors, including Gonzalez and Germain, accepted bribe payments at the initial inspection stage of construction at residential properties and that the bribes covered all necessary construction inspections related to that property, up to and including final inspection.

Documents filed in the case against Gonzalez describe how the informant, and then an undercover agent posing as a residential construction contractor, gave cash bribes to Gonzalez beginning last summer. During a meeting in late August, in which the first documented bribe was made, Gonzalez signed inspection cards for two properties and told the informant the he was giving the informant “preferential treatment.”

According to documents in Germain’s case, he took four $1,500 bribe payments and signed inspection forms for four houses, even though he never set foot on two of the properties.

Both Gonzalez and Germain were terminated by the City of Los Angeles after charges were filed.

The charge of bribery carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder on August 1.

Germain is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Snyder on September 19.

The cases against Gonzalez and Germain are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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