Best Defender Bytes:

July 30, 2011


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:29 am

SANTA ANA - A drunken driver has been charged with killing his 21-year-old girlfriend in an early morning high-speed crash by losing control and flipping his car before crashing into a wall. Justin Mark Drake, 23, La Mirada, is charged with one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison if convicted. He is being held on $100,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned today, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

At approximately 1:15 a.m. on July 24, 2011, Drake is accused of speeding while driving under the influence of alcohol in his Mazda on Chapman Avenue in the City of Fullerton. The defendant’s girlfriend, Kelly Pham, 21, was riding in the passenger seat.

Drake is accused of losing control of his car as he approached the intersection at Woods Avenue. He is accused of spinning his car, going over the curb, hitting a wood fence, and flipping the vehicle. The car finally came to a stop after crashing into a block wall and tree of a resident’s backyard.

The Fullerton Police Department responded to the scene and investigated this case. Pham was transported to University of California, Irvine Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead after doctors were unable to save her in surgery.

Drake is accused of having a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. The investigation is ongoing. He was also transported to the hospital and sustained a broken jaw.

AWOL Soldier Naser Abdo Charged in Connection with Bomb Plot at Ft. Hood

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 3:24 am

United States Attorney John E. Murphy and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson announced that 21-year-old Naser Jason Abdo, an absent without leave (AWOL) soldier from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device in connection with a bomb plot.

A criminal complaint, unsealed today in Waco by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Mankse during Abdo’s initial appearance, alleges that on July 27, 2011, Abdo was in possession of a .40 caliber handgun, ammunition, an article entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom,” as well as bomb making components, including six bottles of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun shells, shotgun pellets, two clocks, two spools of auto wire, an electric drill and two pressure cookers. The complaint further alleges that Abdo intended to use the materials to assemble two destructive devices with the intention of detonating them inside an unspecified restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood.

On Wednesday, officers with the Killeen Police Department, arrested Abdo without incident. Abdo is currently in federal custody. If convicted, Abdo faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

This case is being investigated by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation together with U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Killeen Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant United States Attorney Mark Frazier is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

Orange County Doctor Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Billing for Cancer Meds That Were Never Provided

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:21 am

SANTA ANA, CA—An Orange County cancer doctor was sentenced this morning to 18 months in federal prison for fraudulently submitting bills for approximately $1 million worth of injectable cancer medications that never were provided.

Dr. Glen R. Justice, 66, of Corona del Mar, was sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney. Justice pleaded guilty in May 2010 to five counts of health care fraud.

Justice, who ran the Pacific Coast Hematology/Oncology Medical Group in Fountain Valley, defrauded health insurance providers, including the Medicare program, by billing for injectable cancer medications when patients never received those medications. In some instances where patients did receive medications, Justice “upcoded” claims made to health insurance providers by falsely claiming that he administered more expensive injectable medications than were actually given to patients.

The medications involved in the scheme included Neulasta, Neupogen, Procrit/Epogen/Aranesp, and Neumega. Justice’s scheme ran from at least 2004 through October 2009, despite being advised by staff about the improper billing and the execution of a search warrant at his medical group in November 2006. In a plea agreement filed in court, Justice acknowledged that the public and private health insurance providers—including Medicare, Tricare, carriers contracted with the federal government through the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California—suffered losses of between $400,000 and $1 million.

During today’s sentencing hearing, Justice did not contest government allegations that he had violated his plea agreement by continuing to submit fraudulent bills after he signed the agreement in March 2010.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Carney ordered Justice to pay $1,004,689 in restitution.

July 28, 2011


Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:39 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge dismissed all claims against the City of Los Angeles in a case involving allegations against the Los Angeles Police Department for its handling of a murder investigation involving victim Sherri Rasmussen, who was allegedly murdered by LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus. The City was successfully represented by Deputy City Attorney Kelly Kades.

In April 2011, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White dismissed three claims against the City following multiple motions filed by the City. Judge White, however, allowed the plaintiffs to address whether they could allege a new cause of action for delaying their right to access the Court in order to seek redress for damages. After a hearing on that issue in May, Judge White denied the plaintiffs any further opportunity to amend their complaint and dismissed the City from the case entirely. Detective Lazarus remains in the civil case.

In July 2010, the civil lawsuit was filed against the City of Los Angeles by the family of victim Sherri Rasmussen after DNA evidence allegedly linked her 1986 murder to LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus. The lawsuit claimed that the LAPD had violated the family’s civil rights by intentionally steering the investigation away from Lazarus for 25 years. The civil claim sought money damages from the City for civil rights violations, fraudulent concealment and infliction of emotional distress.

Detective Stephanie Lazarus was arrested by the LAPD and charged with the murder of Sherri Rasmussen in June 2009 and remains in custody pending trial in August.


Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:36 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles Superior Court jury returned a defense verdict in a $1 million civil case alleging constitutional violations relating to an LAPD shooting. Deputy City Attorneys Denise Mills and Geoffrey Plowden of the City Attorney’s Police Litigation Unit, with the assistance of paralegal Daniel M. Lench, successfully defended the City.

A lawsuit was filed in 2006 by Plaintiff Omar Hurtado, a suspect involved in a 2005 LAPD use of force incident. The lawsuit alleged constitutional violations. Following Hurtado’s death in 2008 from heart failure, the case was refilled in state court on behalf of his minor daughter. The 2008 complaint contained wrongful death allegations against the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD Officers involved in the incident. The plaintiff’s demands before trial were $1 million.

In the evening hours of March 29, 2005, Hurtado and a passenger, in a stolen vehicle, were identified as suspects in a robbery. Following a short vehicle chase with officers through residential areas of the Newton Division, Hurtado crashed into a retaining wall at the corner of San Pedro and 67th Street. Four pursuing officers exited their vehicles and ordered Hurtado and his passenger to do the same. As one of the officers lost his footing and fell on the street, Hurtado put the vehicle in reverse in the direction of the fallen officer. Three standing officers fired on the vehicle. The suspects’ vehicle continued in reverse until it struck the front of a police vehicle and then proceeded forward 25 feet and hit a parked car. Officers then took all suspects into custody.

As a result of the incident, Hurtado suffered a single gunshot wound to the back which left him paralyzed from the chest down. A review of the incident by the Police Commission found the shooting by the officers to be “in-policy”.

Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson presided over the jury trial which began on May 31. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense on June 13, after three hours of deliberation.


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , , — fayarfa @ 5:32 pm

LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles men were convicted of resisting arrest following the celebration of the Lakers’ basketball championship in June 2010. The case was successfully prosecuted by Deputy City Attorney Brad Rothenberg of the City Attorney’s Criminal Division.

Marco Aguilar and Maximo Ruiz each entered a no contest plea to one count of resisting an officer and were sentenced by Judge Yvette Verastegui to 36 months probation and 60 days jail or 45 days Caltrans work. Each of the defendants was also ordered to attend anger management classes as well as stay away from the Staples Center and the area of Olympic Blvd and Flower Street for the duration of his probation.

On June 17, 2010, following the Lakers’ victory, Aguilar and Ruiz were part of a mob that surrounded LAPD officers as they were arresting a vandalism suspect. Both defendants refused to step back when instructed and began yelling, swearing, pushing and swinging at officers. Officers were also knocked down and punched in the face as they attempted to arrest the defendants.

Aguilar and Ruiz were two of at least 45 people arrested on June 17, 2010, in the area immediately outside of the Staples Center Arena following the Lakers’ NBA Championship win. The City Attorney’s Office has secured convictions against 16 individuals, for crimes including inciting a riot, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, throwing objects at a vehicle, vandalism, arson, assault on a police officer, battery, and public intoxication.

The convictions of Aguilar and Ruiz are expected to be the final two cases stemming from the Lakers’ incident.

July 27, 2011


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:38 pm

LOS ANGELES – A San Pedro resident was convicted on a charge of domestic violence against his wife after City Attorney’s Office prosecutors used social media tools to locate him in Florida. Deputy City Attorney June K. Magilnick prosecuted the case. Janes Illescas, 28, entered a plea of no contest to one count of domestic violence and was sentenced by Judge Michael Vicencia to 36 months probation, 20 days of Cal Trans work and one year of domestic violence counseling.

In July 2010, Illescas was living in San Pedro with the victim, his spouse, and two small children when he got into a physical altercation with her following an argument about infidelity. The defendant threw the victim onto the couch and choked her around the neck and punched her in the eye in a fight before the victim was able to call 911. The victim suffered red marks on her neck and chest as well as a swollen right eye and bruised mouth and arms. A second incident took place in February 2011, when the defendant pushed the victim against the wall and verbally assaulted her.

Illescas was sent a voluntary appearance letter for an April 15 arraignment after charges were filed. The victim informed the court that Illescas had gone to Florida immediately after the second incident and she did not know his whereabouts. The court refused to issue a warrant for Illescas’ failure to appear, because the prosecutor could not show the defendant had a knowledge of the arraignment date.

The City Attorney’s Office was able to locate the defendant on Facebook and used his contacts to identify relatives in the state of Florida and employers and friends in California. Seven letters were generated from information on the defendants Facebook page. On April 20, 2011, letters were sent informing the defendant of a new arraignment date on May 2. Five days later, the defendant called from Florida to acknowledge he received the letter, but again failed to appear for the arraignment.

The court issued a bench warrant after City Attorney’s Office presented evidence of its


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:34 pm

LOS ANGELES – The operators of a San Fernando Valley-based mortgage company Liberty One Financial Group, Inc., were convicted of conspiring to deceive homeowners seeking to refinance their existing mortgages through baitand- switch tactics and forgery of loan documents. Deputy City Attorney Michele Anderson of the City Attorney’s Special Litigation Unit successfully prosecuted the case.

Liberty One Employees Vighen Mkrtoumian, Layne Nocera, and company CFO Khachatour Galdjian were each convicted of conspiracy and multiple counts of grand theft and forgery. Each of the defendants was ordered to pay $43,584 in restitution and investigative costs. Mkrtoumian was sentenced to 60 months probation and 180 days in county jail or 120 days of Cal Trans work. He must also surrender all licenses related to the real estate industry. Galdjian was sentenced to 180 days in jail or 90 days Cal Trans and Nocera was sentenced to 90 days in jail or 60 days of Cal Trans. Both Galdjian and Nocera were also placed on 60 months probation under similar terms as Mkrtoumian.

John Dibona, a Telemarketer for Liberty One, and Wayne Stimson, a company broker, were each convicted of one count of false representation in a real estate transaction. Stimson was sentenced to 36 months probation and 120 days in jail or 60 days of Cal Trans work. Dibona was sentenced to 24 months probation and was ordered to complete 10 days of Cal Trans work.

Garnik Poghosyan, CEO of Liberty One, currently has a warrant out for his arrest in the amount of $350,000

On April 1, 2007, DiBona, a loan consultant for Liberty One Financial Group in Van Nuys, “cold called” Harbor Gateway homeowners and offered to refinance an existing mortgage loan on their home. Along with Nocera, a Liberty One Sales Director, DiBona, in a classic bait-and-switch, deceived the victims into applying for and obtaining refinancing in excess of the amount, interest and monthly payments they were promised by the lender.

Los Angeles man found guilty on multiple criminal counts for his role in a disturbance in City Council Chambers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:30 pm

LOS ANGELES – Following a five day jury trial, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury yesterday found a Los Angeles man guilty on multiple criminal counts for his role in a disturbance in City Council Chambers last May. Deputy City Attorney Brad Rothenberg successfully prosecuted the case.

Following less than an hour of deliberation, the jury found Steve Richardson guilty of eight counts of resisting arrest and one count of battery on a peace officer. Richardson was remanded into custody and sentencing has been scheduled for July 14 in Department 52 of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Richardson could face up to 9 years in county jail.

On May 21, 2010, the City Council was meeting to take up the issue of a rent increase freeze. About 40 protesters refused to leave after Councilman Zine asked the sergeant-at-arms to clear the chamber. As officers were escorting the protesters out, Richardson started pushing civilians into police officers and charging against the officers. Officers then attempted to arrest the defendant when he started to resist, grabbing an officer’s hand and burying his nails into the officer’s hand. Richardson also swung his arms and body at officers, pinning one officer against a wall, ripping another officer’s uniform, and kicking an additional officer. Richardson continued fighting even after being cuffed and taken into custody.

July 26, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:21 pm

SANTA ANA - A disgruntled man was convicted yesterday of breaking into his neighbor’s home and attacking a German Shepherd with a yard rake after becoming angry over the dog’s barking. Michael Stuart Patterson, 51, Mission Viejo, pleaded guilty to the court July 21, 2011, to one felony count of first degree residential burglary and one felony count of animal cruelty. He was sentenced to four years in state prison, which is stayed pending completion of three years formal probation. He was also sentenced to 180 days in jail and will be ordered to pay restitution. The restitution amount will be determined Oct. 13, 2011, in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2010, Patterson broke into the home of his neighbor, William D., by kicking open the front door while the neighbor wasn’t home. He was angry that William D.’s 5-year-old German Shepherd, Honey, barked frequently when his neighbor was not home.

Patterson found the dog on the back patio of the home and attacked it with a yard rake. He hit the dog, causing puncture wounds to the dog’s face. Patterson then left the scene.

Another neighbor heard the noise from the attack, wrote down the defendant’s license plate number, and called the police. In addition to the puncture wounds, Honey suffered a permanent loss of vision.

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