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January 31, 2012

New Charges Added in Hollywood Arson Case

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 2:53 am

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County prosecutors today added 63 additional counts of arson against the 24-year-old man suspected of setting nearly 50 fires that terrorized Los Angeles residents over the New Year’s weekend, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Harry Burkhart is scheduled to appear for arraignment this afternoon in case No. BA392381 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Prosecutors will ask that his $2.8 million bail be raised to reflect the additional charges.

Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney of the Target Crimes Division said prosecutors amended the complaint to bring the total number of arson charges to 100 after reviewing new evidence from an ongoing investigation. The complaint alleges an accelerant was used.

Burkhart is now charged with 75 counts of arson of property, 19 counts arson of an inhabited structure, two counts of arson of an uninhabited structure, two counts of attempt to burn and two counts of possession of flammable material. The charges involve 49 arson fires in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Los Angeles between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported. But property damage to homes and automobiles was in the millions of dollars. Most of the fires were started in automobiles. In many cases, flames spread to structures.

Burkhart, who travels on a German passport but purportedly was born in Chechnya, was staying with his mother in Hollywood. She currently is in federal custody on fraud-related crimes. Her immigration/extradition cases are pending in federal court.

FOUR MEN CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR YEAR-LONG ATM THEFT CONSPIRACY USING STOLEN TRUCKS AND FORKLIFT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 2:51 am

SANTA ANA - Four men were convicted and sentenced yesterday for a $400,000 conspiracy to steal Automated Teller Machines (ATM) using two stolen trucks and a stolen forklift. Richard Dwayne Bockman, 43, Yucca Valley, Ricky Joe Coffey, 44, Orange, Curtis Edward Weber, 38, Anaheim, and Charles Earl Roberts, 41, Riverside, pleaded guilty to a court offer Jan. 24, 2012, over the objection of the People, who argued for greater prison sentences based on the seriousness, sophistication, and pre-planning of the crimes.

Roberts was sentenced to three years in state prison, Coffey and Weber were sentenced to seven years in state prison, and Bockman was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

All four defendants pleaded guilty to four felony counts of grand theft, two felony counts each of arson, commercial burglary, and vandalism, and one felony count each of conspiracy to commit an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, conspiracy to commit grand theft, conspiracy to commit arson, and the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. They admitted to the sentencing enhancements for causing over $200,000 in loss.

Coffey admitted to additional sentencing enhancements and allegations for having a prior unlawful taking of a motor vehicle conviction in 1994, for being convicted and imprisoned on two separate occasions and not remaining free for a period of five years for a 1994 conviction for possession of stolen property and a 2005 conviction for identity theft, and for crime-bail-crime, meaning that he was out of custody on bail on another criminal case at the time of this crime.

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DRUNKEN DRIVER FACES TRIAL FOR KILLING FRIEND AND INJURING TWO OTHERS AFTER CRASHING INTO TREE AT 70 MPH

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:49 am

FULLERTON - A speeding drunken driver faces trial tomorrow for killing one friend and injuring two others after slicing his car in half by crashing into a tree. Andrew Stueber, 26, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated with sentencing enhancement allegations for causing bodily injury to two additional victims. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in Department N-13, North Justice Center, Fullerton. The time is to be determined.

At approximately 2:10 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2009, Stueber is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol in a Ford Mustang after a night of drinking with friends at Goodys Tavern in San Clemente.  He is accused of speeding on Avenida Vista Montana at over 55 mph in a 35 mph zone with friends Edmund Vandecasteele, 22, Robert Nichols, 22, and Kyle Nance, 21, as passengers in the car.

Stueber is accused of losing control of his car while driving at a high rate of speed and crossing over onto the wrong side of the road. He is accused of crashing into a tree, severing his car in half.

Stueber was transported to the hospital to be treated for head trauma. Approximately two hours after the crash, he is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .09 percent.

Vandecasteele, who had been riding in the front passenger seat, was pronounced dead at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries. Nichols and Nance, who had been riding in the back seat, were transported to the hospital to be treated for cuts and bruises.

At the time of the crash, the defendant and the victims were all Marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

January 29, 2012

FORMER GIRLFRIEND CONVICTED OF 1994 NEWPORT BEACH COLD CASE MURDER FOR FINANCIAL GAIN OF WEALTHY BENEFACTOR

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 6:31 pm

*Girlfriend’s lover was also convicted in this case

SANTA ANA - A former girlfriend was convicted today of the 1994 cold case shooting-murder of her wealthy benefactor-boyfriend in his Newport Beach home. Nanette Ann Packard, formerly Nanette Ann Johnston, 46, Ladera Ranch, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at her sentencing May 18, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Packard’s then-boyfriend Eric Andrew Naposki, 45, Greenwich, CT, July 14, 2011, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing May 18, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center.

In 1991, Packard met and dated Bill McLaughlin. The wealthy victim had a successful medical technology business and began financially supporting Packard. Packard, who was divorced with two children, lived in a beach-front home owned by McLaughlin and also with the victim in his bay-front home.

While in a relationship and being supported by McLaughlin, Packard was also dating Naposki, a former National Football League linebacker for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. Naposki worked as a bouncer at the Thunderbird Nightclub, which was located in Newport Beach only 131 yards from the victim’s home.

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Popular Hawaiian Singer Sentenced after Pleading to Sexually Molesting Two Sisters

LOS ANGELES – A popular Hawaiian singer was given a six-year suspended state prison sentence today after pleading no contest to sexually molesting two young sisters in the 1990s, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Cecilio Rodriguez, 67, of the singing group Cecilio and Kapono, pleaded to sexually molesting the first victim between 1996 and 1998, and sexually molesting her sister between 1997 and 1999, said Deputy District Attorney Adrian Roxas.

Rodriguez was on tour at the various times of the assaults and staying with their family in their Carson home. One victim, now 21, was between seven and eight years old at the time of the assault and her sister, now 23, was between eight and nine years old when she was sexually molested.

The crimes were discovered last year when one of the women revealed the assault to her father after she refused to visit Rodriguez in Hawaii, Roxas said.

Both victims tearfully addressed Superior Court Judge Gary Hahn, telling the judge how Rodriguez had violated their parents trust.

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GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 29 YEARS TO LIFE FOR SHOOTING MAN IN FACE IN 1994 AND DIRECTLY CAUSING HIS DEATH 15 YEARS LATER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 6:27 pm

SANTA ANA - A criminal street gang member was sentenced Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, to 29 years to life in state prison for shooting a man in the head in 1994 and leaving the victim a quadriplegic on a respirator until the shot finally caused his death in February 2009. Two co-defendants are also charged in this case, one of whom the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) is seeking to extradite from Guatemala. Erwin Johnny Sanchez, 36, Santa Ana, was convicted by a jury May 31, 2011, of one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and the personal discharge of a firearm. The defendant testified at trial and claimed he acted in a heat of passion. The jury rejected his argument for a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

Co-defendant Daniel Paul Cruz, 36, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and being armed with a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 35 years to life in state prison. Cruz is scheduled for jury trial Feb. 28, 2012, in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Erwin Sanchez’s brother Giovanny Edgar Sanchez, 39, is charged with one felony count each of murder and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity and being armed with a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 35 years to life in state prison. The OCDA is seeking to extradite Giovanni Sanchez from Guatemala to Orange County.

Circumstances of the Crime
During the trial, the jury heard the following evidence: on Sept. 24, 1994, criminal street gang member Erwin Sanchez, and his two accused co-defendants Giovanny Sanchez and Cruz, drove through Santa Ana searching for Scott Sittler, a 19-year-old gang member. Erwin Sanchez believed that Sittler had been attempting to interfere in the relationship between Giovanny Sanchez and Giovanny Sanchez’s girlfriend. At approximately 4:00 p.m., Erwin Sanchez, accompanied by his two co-defendants, found Sittler standing in a cul-de-sac in a residential area on Minnie Street with several other people.

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January 27, 2012

Former CHP Officer Convicted of Murdering Husband

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:16 am

LOS ANGELES – A former CHP officer was found guilty today of fatally shooting her husband in the head nearly three years ago shortly after they left a Compton restaurant, the District Attorney’s office announced.

The jury of eight men and four women deliberated a day before finding Tomiekia Johnson, 32, guilty of the first-degree murder of her 31-year-old husband, Marcus Lemons, of Feb. 21, 2009. The jury also found true the special allegations of personal discharge of a firearm and discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.

Johnson, who has been out on bail during the trial, collapsed under the defense table as the verdict was being read. Paramedics were called and she was taken out of the court room handcuffed to a gurney. Judge Robert J. Perry remanded her into custody.

Deputy District Attorneys Natalie Adomian and Stephanie Sparagna with the Justice System Integrity Division prosecuted the case.

Lemons was fatally shot as he was sitting in the passenger side of Johnson’s BMW near a 91 Freeway off-ramp about 11 p.m. on Feb. 21, 2009. She then drove the car to her parents home in Compton and had her mother call police.

Johnson is facing 50 years to life in prison when she returns to court March 9 for sentencing.

Michigan Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Participating in Child Pornography Ring and Producing Child Pornography

RIVERSIDE, California – A Michigan man was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison for filming his sexual abuse of a young boy and distributing a video to members of an international child exploitation enterprise.

Joshua Boras, 34, of Lapeer, Michigan, was sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. In December 2010, Boras pleaded guilty to one count of participation in a child exploitation enterprise and one count of production of child pornography.

The sentencing of Boras was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. and Assistant Director in Charge Steve Martinez of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Boras was affiliated with the “Lost Boy” online bulletin board, which according to court documents and proceedings was dedicated to men who have a sexual interest in young boys and was established to provide a forum to trade child pornography. Federal authorities, working in conjunction with a coalition of international law enforcement agencies, shut down the Lost Boy bulletin board approximately three years ago. As a result of the investigation, 16 named defendants were charged in the United States and arrested for their roles in the bulletin board. To date, 15 defendants have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial, and one defendant died in custody.

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TWO THIRD-STRIKERS AND ASSOCIATE DUBBED "MARKET DUO" IN COURT FOR COMMITTING FIVE ORANGE COUNTY BANK ROBBERIES

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 2:12 am

*Last robbery at a Placentia bank resulted in a high-speed police chase on a freeway

SANTA ANA - Two third-strikers and an associate dubbed the “Market Duo” Bank Robbers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be in court today for committing robberies at five Orange County banks. Paul Acosta Jr., 28, Los Angeles, is charged with 12 felony counts of second degree robbery and five counts of second degree commercial burglary. Acosta is also charged with sentencing enhancements for prison priors for a May 2010 and January 2008 felony thefts. Andres Soto Jr., 50, Whittier, is charged with 10 felony counts of second degree robbery and four counts of second degree commercial burglary. Soto is a third striker for a September 1983 residential burglary and a July 1993 bank robbery. Richard Valdez, 52, La Habra, is charged with two felony counts of second degree robbery and one felony count of second degree commercial burglary. Valdez is a third striker for an April 1983 robbery, and a May 2003 assault with deadly weapon. If convicted on all counts, Acosta faces a maximum sentence of 15 to 20 years in state prison and Soto and Valdez face a maximum sentence of life in state prison with the possibility of parole.

The defendants are being held on $1 million bail and Soto is scheduled to be arraigned today, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. Acosta and Valdez are scheduled for pre-trial hearing today, Jan. 20, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Acosta is accused of planning the five robberies at banks and recruiting Soto and Valdez for their expertise.

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January 26, 2012

CAUCASIAN MAN CONVICTED FOR UNPROVOKED HATE CRIME ATTACK OF TWO HISPANIC MEN

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 1:26 am

SANTA ANA - A Caucasian man was convicted yesterday for attacking two Hispanic men without provocation outside of a 7-Eleven. Chad Martin Jurjaks, 31, Costa Mesa, pleaded guilty to the court Jan. 19, 2012, to two felony counts of hate crime battery causing injury. Jurjaks is expected to be sentenced Feb. 17, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-29, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on March 5, 2011, 42-year-old John Doe, his wife, cousin, and 26-year-old nephew John Doe #2, were walking to the doors of a 7-Eleven convenience store in Costa Mesa. The victims are Hispanic. Jurjaks, who is Caucasian, was intoxicated and confronted the victims as they approached. Jurjaks then attacked the victims without provocation and yelled “F****** Mexicans!” three times as he punched John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 one time each in the head.

Jurjaks then walked away and the victims called 911. Costa Mesa Police officers arrived at the scene and arrested the defendant near the convenience store.

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