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November 30, 2011

FIRE DEPARTMENT CAPTAIN SENTENCED FOR INJURING BICYCLIST IN DRUNKEN DRIVING HIT-AND-RUN CRASH

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:12 am

*Defendant had a blood alcohol level of .24 percent, three times the legal limit

SANTA ANA - A Long Beach Fire Department Captain was sentenced today for severely injuring a cyclist in a mid-day hit-and-run crash while driving with a blood alcohol level of .24 percent, three times the legal limit.  John David Hines, 39, Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer Sept. 6, 2011, to one felony count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol .08 percent or more causing injury, hit and run with injury, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury and having a blood alcohol level over .20 percent. Prior to his sentencing, Hines served 86 days in state prison for a diagnostic evaluation.  He was sentenced today to four years and four months in state prison stayed pending successful completion of five years of formal probation and one year in jail. He was also ordered to pay $102,000 in restitution to the victim.

The People argued that Hines should be sentences to a state prison term based on the severity of the crime and that he should be held to a higher standard because he has worked as a paramedic, responded to scenes such as this, and knows first-hand based on his job the dangers of drinking and driving.

On the morning of April 1, 2011, Hines consumed alcohol and became severely intoxicated at a bar in Long Beach. At approximately 1:20 p.m. on April 1, 2011, Hines drove erratically under the influence of alcohol eastbound on Westminster Avenue in Seal Beach in his Chevrolet pick-up truck.

While driving, Hines lost control of his vehicle and suddenly swerved into the bike lane and dirt shoulder. Without slowing or hitting his brakes, he crashed into 47-year-old bicyclist Jeffrey Gordon. The victim was thrown from his bike over 70 feet and landed on the shoulder of the road. Hines failed to slow or hit his brakes after crashing into the victim and fled the scene.

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Former Executive at Orange County Bank Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $2 Million

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:10 am

SANTA ANA, CA—An Orange County man who served as a vice president of Farmers and Merchants Bank and was the manager of the institution’s Laguna Hills branch pleaded guilty today to stealing nearly $2 million from a customer’s account.

Matthew J. Walker, 34, of Orange, pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of theft of bank funds. During this afternoon’s hearing before United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford, Walker specifically admitted that he stole $1,973,000 over a 16-month period that ended in July 2010.

By pleading guilty, Walker acknowledged that he withdrew money from a line of credit in the name of a trust that held an account at Farmers and Merchants. To cover up the scheme, Walker made interest payments on the money supposedly loaned to the trust.

When he is sentenced on May 21, 2012, Walker will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. A plea agreement in the case contemplates a sentence of approximately four years, but Judge Guilford will determine the appropriate sentence in this case.

MS-13 Gang Leader in San Francisco Convicted of Racketeering Charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:04 am

Co-Defendant Pleaded Guilty to Racketeering Charges During Trial

WASHINGTON – A federal jury today convicted Danilo Velasquez, aka “Triste,” a local leader of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, in federal court in San Francisco of racketeering conspiracy and related charges, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag for the Northern District of California and Clark Settles, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Francisco.   His co-defendant and fellow MS-13 member, Luis Herrera, aka “Killer,” pleaded guilty to related charges, including using a firearm that caused the murder of an individual.

After a four-week trial, the federal jury convicted Velasquez of all charges, including conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and using and discharging a firearm in connection with a crime of violence.  The evidence presented during trial showed that the defendants were part of the violent, transnational gang known as MS-13, which claimed part of the Mission District of San Francisco as its territory and operated in the Bay Area since the 1990s.  Since its inception, MS-13 members have warred with rival gang members and sought to extort payments from other criminals in the gang’s territory.  After the federal government indicted a large number of local MS-13 members on Oct. 22, 2008, Velasquez assumed leadership on the streets and encouraged the remaining members of the gang to engage in violence in order to demonstrate their continued presence in San Francisco despite its loss in numbers due to the federal indictment.

“In a hail of gunfire, Mr. Velasquez and his co-conspirators killed and wounded four unarmed individuals – all in the name of MS-13,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.   “Senseless acts of violence like those committed by Mr. Velasquez and his fellow gang members are too common across the United States.   Through sustained enforcement, we have taken leaders of MS-13 in San Francisco and elsewhere off the streets, and we will continue our efforts to make all our communities safe from violent gangs.”

“This conviction marks the beginning of the end for one San Francisco gang leader who thought he was above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Haag.  “Today, the jury has sent a strong message that senseless acts of violence like those committed by Mr. Velasquez in the name of MS-13 will not be tolerated.  Life is too valuable to let someone steal it from another.  Those who try will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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November 29, 2011

Former Exec at O.C. Bank Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $2 Million

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 5:01 am

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who served as a vice president of Farmers and Merchants Bank and was the manager of the institution’s Laguna Hills branch pleaded guilty today to stealing nearly $2 million from a customer’s account.

Matthew J. Walker, 34, of Orange, pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of theft of bank funds. During this afternoon’s hearing before United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford, Walker specifically admitted that he stole $1,973,000 over a 16-month period that ended in July 2010.

By pleading guilty, Walker acknowledged that he withdrew money from a line of credit in the name of a trust that held an account at Farmers and Merchants. To cover up the scheme, Walker made interest payments on the money supposedly loaned to the trust.

When he is sentenced on May 21, 2012, Walker will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. A plea agreement in the case contemplates a sentence of approximately four years, but Judge Guilford will determine the appropriate sentence in this case.

OFF-DUTY POLICE OFFICER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR CRASHING MOTORCYCLE AND INJURYING WIFE ON FREEWAY WHILE DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:59 am

WESTMINSTER - An off-duty deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be arraigned tomorrow for crashing his motorcycle on the freeway and injuring his wife while driving under the influence of alcohol. Richard J. Patterson, 38, West Covina, is charged with one felony count each of driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol .08 percent or more causing injury with a sentencing enhancement allegation for having a blood alcohol level of .15 percent. If convicted, he faces a sentence ranging from probation up to three years in state prison. Patterson is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department W-14, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At approximately 6:25 p.m. on July 5, 2011, Patterson is accused of driving a motorcycle while intoxicated northbound on the Interstate 405 near Brookhurst Street. His wife was riding on the back of the motorcycle. The defendant is accused of crashing his motorcycle into the back of a moving vehicle.

Patterson and his wife were both transported to Western Medical Center. The defendant was treated for injuries to his hip and his wife suffered a knee injury and abrasions to her arms and hand. The occupants of the other vehicle were not injured.

Two hours after the crash, Patterson is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .15 percent, almost twice the legal limit.

MOTHER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR SUFFOCATION-DEATH OF 2-MONTH-OLD BABY AFTER MULTI-HOUR HALLOWEEN DRINKING BINGE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:57 am

ANA - A mother will be arraigned tomorrow for killing her 2-month-old baby by allowing him to suffocate in a pile of clothes after a multi-hour drinking binge on Halloween. Corrina Atuatasi, 27, Garden Grove, is charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter by lawful act in unlawful manner, one felony count of child abuse, and a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury to a child under 5. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in state prison. The People will be requesting Atuatasi be held on $100,000 bail at her arraignment tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

On the night of Oct. 30, 2011, the defendant is accused of being solely responsible for the care of her 2-month-old baby Aiden Galeai while her husband and 2-year-old daughter were away visiting family.  Atuatasi is accused of leaving the infant alone in her Garden Grove apartment and going outside into the courtyard to smoke a cigarette.

While outside smoking, the defendant is accused of running into a male neighbor and joining him and his two friends for drinks in the neighbor’s apartment. She is accused of leaving baby Aiden alone in her apartment while she consumed alcohol in another apartment. The defendant is accused of returning to her apartment a short while later, placing the victim in a car seat, and returning with the baby to her neighbor’s apartment to continue drinking. She is accused of leaving the baby in a bedroom for several hours as she drank alcohol with the three men.

At approximately 4:00 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2011, Atuatasi is accused of returning home to her apartment with baby Aiden. She is accused of being severely intoxicated and failing to ensure the health and safety of her baby. She is accused of neglecting the infant, who ended up face-down in a pile of clothing. It is unclear at this time if the baby was dropped on the pile as the defendant returned home or kicked off the bed into the pile by the defendant as she slept. Atuatasi is accused of killing baby Aiden, who suffocated to death.

At approximately 6:00 a.m., the defendant is accused of waking up and calling 911 to report that she could not find her baby. After calling the police, Atuatasi is accused of finding the victim face-down in a pile of clothes and moving him to the bed. The Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) responded to the scene and found baby Aiden dead on the bed.

At approximately 8:00 a.m., Atuatasi is accused of having a blood alcohol level on .23 percent.

November 27, 2011

Woman Charged with Hoax for Making Anonymous Call to Airline Implicating Her Former Boyfriend and His Companions in Terrorist Threat

A Temple City woman was taken into custody this morning on charges that she provided false information suggesting that French visitors, one of whom she had been romantically involved, posed a threat to a plane they were scheduled to board at LAX, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, and André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.

Lizet Sariol, 45, of Temple City, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with providing false and misleading information; specifically, fabricating a terrorist threat to United Airlines (UA) on September 25th, 2011, a violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1038.

The complaint alleges that Sariol intentionally conveyed false and misleading information to a customer service representative at United Airlines (UA) when she made an anonymous phone call to the UA call center based in Detroit, Michigan. During the call, Sariol advised that a woman and two men with whom she was acquainted, as well as two others not further identified, posed a threat to a flight they were scheduled to board later that day. When questioned further by the UA representative, Sariol advised that she received a threatening text message, ostensibly from one of the men, which led her to believe that the group posed a threat. Sariol further advised that the individuals were “foreigners” and that she intended to alert officials at the airport about the threat.

The United Airlines representative considered the information credible and UA took immediate action by contacting government officials. Representatives with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed the itineraries of the passengers identified by Sariol for the flight in question, and an investigation into the terrorist threat was initiated by the FBI. When the UA representative was interviewed, he advised investigators that the call made him “real nervous” and that the context in which the threat was conveyed by Sariol led him to believe that a bomb could be on the plane.

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UNLICENSED, UNINSURED TEEN DRIVER CHARGED WITH KILLING FRIEND IN CRASH WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:36 pm

SANTA ANA - An unlicensed, uninsured teen driver has been charged with killing his friend by crashing into a tree on Ortega Highway while driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Francisco Jesus Ochoa, 18, Lake Elsinore, is charged with one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and an infraction for failing to maintain liability insurance. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months in state prison. The defendant is currently being treated at Mission Hospital for a broken leg and his arraignment date is to be determined. The People will be requesting Ochoa be held on $100,000 bail at his arraignment.

Early in the morning on Nov. 18, 2011, Ochoa is accused of driving a Ford pick-up truck without a valid license or insurance westbound on Ortega Highway with friend Margarita Estrella in the front passenger seat. The defendant is accused of swerving and weaving across the two-lane highway for several miles, crossing back and forth onto the wrong side of the road and onto the dirt shoulders on either side.

At approximately 6:45 a.m., Ochoa is accused of veering off the road, failing to slow, and crashing directly into a tree. He is accused of killing Estrella, who was crushed in her seat and pronounced dead at the scene.

At the time of the crash, the defendant is accused of being under the influence of prescription drugs, which impaired his ability to drive. He is also accused of being in possession of six Vicodin pills at the time of the crash, for which he did not have a prescription.

Ochoa was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg.

Whittier Man Pleads in Pit Bull Attack on Man

Filed under: Dog Bite Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:34 pm

NORWALK — A Whittier father who unleashed the family pit bull on a man during a fight pleaded no contest today and was sentenced to three years in state prison, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Richard Rudy Aragon, 52, pleaded no contest to one count of assault with a deadly weapon likely to produce great bodily injury and admitted the great bodily injury allegation before Judge Margaret Bernal, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Derose. He was immediately sentenced to prison, and will serve his time in prison under the new state law.

In exchange for his plea, two additional felony counts, including mayhem and another count of assault with a deadly weapon, were dismissed.

Aragon and his 17-year-old son were charged in the June 25th attack after the son allegedly confronted a 43-year-old man and demanded his wallet. The man refused and the pair began fighting in front of Crestwood Apartments in the 8900 block of Painter Avenue, near Lambert Road, Whittier Police Department said.

Aragon came to the boy’s assistance and released the pit bull, who bit both ear tips off the victim. The suspects also allegedly punched and kicked the victim while the dog attacked, police said.

Prosecutors are seeking to have the son, whose name is not being released because of his age, tried as an adult on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a foot, with force likely to inflict great bodily injury, one count of attempted robbery and one count of witness intimidation.

November 25, 2011

Teen in gay-student slaying case agrees to 21-year prison term

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 9:19 am

The Oxnard teen who shot a gay classmate he believed was flirting with him has agreed to spend the next 21 years in prison, a plea deal that ends a case that drew national attention and ignited debate on how schools should deal with openly gay students.

Brandon McInerney, who was 14 when he pulled a gun out of his backpack and shot Larry King twice in the head in 2008, has already served nearly four years in jail and would be released by the time he is 38, under terms of the deal.

“Larry had a complicated life, but he did not deserve to be murdered,” the youth’s father,Greg King, said after a court hearing Monday afternoon.

McInerney’s first trial ended with jurors split between convicting him of voluntary manslaughter and first-degree murder. Several of the jurors have since spoken in favor of a plea bargain, in order to avoid a second trial.

Prosecutors, in initially deciding to try McInerney a second time, had already dropped a key allegation that the shooting was motivated by a hatred of homosexuals, an accusation that several jurors in the original trial said they did not believe.

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