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February 29, 2012

New Charges for Mother Suspected of Drowning Infant Daughter, Attempting to Kill Second Child

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 2:58 am

LOS ANGELES – A 32-year-old Los Angeles woman suspected of drowning her year-old daughter and trying to drown the infant’s 5-year-old sister was charged today with special circumstance murder, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

In an amended complaint filed today, prosecutors charged Lorna Valle with two counts each of murder, with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, and assault on a child causing death.

Valle is scheduled to be arraigned today on the amended complaint in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Valle is being held without bail.

Valle, charged in case No. BA394121, was originally charged on Feb. 17 for the drowning death of her 1-year-old daughter Lindsay T. and the attempted murder of her 5-year-old daughter Marian T. The charges were amended to reflect the death of the 5-year-old victim, who earlier this week was taken off of life support.

Police were called to the 900 block of West 50th Place about 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 15 after the father returned home and allegedly found the two little girls unclothed, wet and unresponsive lying on the floor.

A decision on whether to seek the death penalty against Valle will be made as the case moves closer to trial.

Prominent Surrogacy Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Her Role in Baby-Selling Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:56 am

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced today that attorney Theresa Erickson was sentenced by United States District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia to serve five months in prison and nine months of home confinement for her involvement in a baby-selling ring that deceived prospective parents and the Superior Court of California.

As noted during the hearing, California law forbids the sale of parental rights to babies and children. The law does, however, permit surrogacy arrangements, but only if the Gestational Carrier (“GCs”) and the Intended Parents (“IPs”) enter into an agreement prior to an embryonic transfer. If the GC and IPs do not reach an agreement before the GC receives the embryonic transfer, the GC can only transfer parental rights in the unborn child through a formal adoption procedure. California law permits participants to profit from surrogacies, but not adoptions.

In her August 2011 guilty plea, Erickson (an internationally-renowned California attorney specializing in reproductive law) admitted that she and her conspirators used numerous GCs to create an inventory of unborn babies that they would sell for over $100,000 each. They accomplished this by sending women to become implanted with embryos in overseas clinics. If the women (now GCs) sustained their pregnancies into the second trimester, the conspirators offered the babies to prospective parents by falsely representing that the unborn babies were the result of legitimate surrogacy arrangements in which the original IPs had backed out. The conspirators also drafted fraudulent “assumption agreements” for the prospective parents to sign, which reinforced the lie that original IPs existed but had simply backed out.

According to court records, Erickson admitted to lying to the California Superior Court by fraudulently representing in court documents that these post-pregnancy agreements between the GC and IPs were legitimate surrogacies, which allowed Erickson and her co-conspirators to make over $400,000 in profit from the sale of parental rights. Specifically, Erickson admitted that she prepared and filed with the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, declarations and pleadings that falsely represented that the unborn babies were the products of legitimate surrogacy arrangements—that is, ones that involved agreements between the IPs and the GCs prior to embryonic transfer. With these fraudulently obtained pre-birth orders, the IPs’ names would be placed on the babies’ birth certificates through a surrogacy and the conspirators would be able to profit from their sale of parental rights.

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LOS ANGELES CHURCH PASTOR SENTENCED TO SERVE 36 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR $14.2 MILLION MEDICARE FRAUD SCHEME

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

LOS ANGELES – A former Los Angeles church pastor, who owned and operated several fraudulent durable medical equipment (DME) supply companies with her husband, was sentenced today to serve 36 months in prison for her role in a $14.2 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Connie Ikpoh, 49, who currently resides in Canyon Country, but at the time of the fraud resided in Windsor Hills (90043), was sentenced today by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter. In addition to the three-year prison term, Judge Hatter ordered Ikpoh to serve three years of supervised release and pay $6.7 million in restitution.

In August 2011, a jury found Ikpoh, a nurse who also worked at two Los Angeles-area hospitals, and her husband, Christopher Iruke, 61, and one of their employees, Aura Marroquin, guilty of conspiracy and health care fraud offenses following a two-week trial in Los Angeles. Judge Hatter sentenced Iruke last month to 15 years in prison.

According to evidence presented at trial, Ikpoh and Iruke were pastors at Arms of Grace Christian Center, a Los Angeles church where Ikpoh and Iruke also operated Pascon Medical Supply, a fraudulent DME supply company.  Ikpoh and Iruke hired several church members at Arms of Grace to assist them with running Pascon and three other fraudulent DME supply companies — Horizon Medical Equipment and Supply Inc., Contempo Medical Equipment Inc. and Ladera Medical Equipment Inc.  The trial evidence showed that Ikpoh owned and operated Horizon.  Ikpoh and Iruke used Iruke’s sister Jummal Joy Ibrahim as a straw owner of Contempo and Ladera.

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February 28, 2012

UNLICENSED, UNINSURED TEEN DRIVER CONVICTED OF KILLING FRIEND IN CRASH

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:08 am

SANTA ANA - An unlicensed, uninsured, teen driver was convicted and sentenced today for killing his friend by crashing into a tree on Ortega Highway. Francisco Jesus Ochoa, 19, Lake Elsinore, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence 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. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation.

Early in the morning on Nov. 18, 2011, Ochoa was driving a Ford pick-up truck without a valid license or insurance westbound on Ortega Highway with friend Margarita Gutierrez in the front passenger seat. The defendant was 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 veered off the road, failed to slow, and crashed directly into a tree. He killed Gutierrez, who was crushed in her seat and pronounced dead at the scene.

At the time of the crash, the defendant was in possession of six Vicodin pills, for which he did not have a prescription. Ochoa was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg.

During the sentencing today, a victim impact statement was read on behalf of Gutierrez’s college-student daughter, Mayra Estrella. Estrella wrote in part, “It’s difficult to put into words the pain, sadness and anguish I’ve been feeling ever since the accident. When she was killed, many dreams were killed along with her. We wanted to get matching pedicures when I came back from my Winter break. We wanted to travel together and see the world. [My brother and I] are never going to be able to walk into our old apartment and see my mother sitting in her usual spot on the couch, watching the usual television shows and greeting us with that crooked smile she always had. We’ll never forget our beautiful, wonderful mother.”

“Capper” Who Recruited Fraud Participants from Sober Living Houses Pleads Guilty

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:07 am

LOS ANGELES – A “capper” accused of recruiting people from sober living houses – offering participants $50 for their insurance information for the purpose of seeking fraudulent prescriptions of opiate pills – pleaded guilty today, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Suehiro of the Healthcare Fraud Division, Fraud Interdiction Program, said George Randolph, 63, of Los Angeles, pleaded to one count of felony insurance fraud and admitted two prior robbery convictions.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horwitz immediately sentenced the defendant to four years in state prison.

“The increasing illegal sales and distribution of opiate-based pills is a great danger to the community and a burden on our healthcare system,” the prosecutor said.

Randolph recruited people from substance abuse sober living halfway houses by offering them $50 for their Medi-Cal and Medicare insurance information. With this information, the defendant obtained fraudulent prescriptions for oxymorfone narcotic opiate pills with a street value of $60 per pill.

The defendant was in possession of the illegal pills and a counterfeit prescription when he was arrested on Nov. 16, 2011.

ROOFING CONTRACTOR SENTENCED FOR INSURANCE FRAUD AND FAILING TO PAY TAXES

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:05 am

*Fraud discovered after worker fell from roof and was denied workers’ compensation insurance

SANTA ANA - A roofing contractor was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and was ordered to pay $510,000 in restitution for failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for an injured employee and failing to pay insurance premiums for unclaimed employees, who were paid in cash. Michael Amzie Holley, 43, Murrieta, pleaded guilty to a court offer Feb. 26, 2010, to two felony counts of perjury by declaration, two felony counts of recording false and forged instruments, one felony count of misrepresenting facts to the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), seven felony counts of making a fraudulent statement, one felony count of presenting a fraudulent material statement to obtain compensation, one felony count of making a false statement to discourage an injured worker from claiming benefits, one felony count of willfully failing to pay taxes, one felony count of failing to file a return with the intent to evade taxes, and a sentencing enhancement for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

At the time of the crime, Holley was a roofing contractor and owner of So Cal Roofing. The defendant purchased a minimum workers’ compensation policy from SCIF and failed to state that he employed subcontractors, paid workers in cash, hired unlicensed employees, and leased employees from other companies. Holley paid his employees in cash to hide the fact that So Cal Roofing had workers. He received insurance based on his false declaration and entered into a contract requiring SCIF to cover all workers employed by Holley, even those employees unknown to the insurance company. Holley submitted inaccurate payroll reports to SCIF, resulting in underpayment of insurance premiums. To hide the fraud, Holley failed to file an accurate tax return to avoid paying taxes to the State on the cash payments made to his employees.

On March 18, 2003, one of Holley’s employees was injured when he fell off a roof, and subsequently filed a worker’s compensation insurance claim. Holley denied that the injured employee worked for him, thus denying the injured employee his workers’ compensation insurance benefits. On Feb. 24, 2004, and March 2, 2005, Holley fraudulently signed under penalty of perjury that he had no employees at So Cal Roofing and filed these documents with the California State Contractor’s Licensing Board to make him exempt from securing worker’s compensation insurance.

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February 26, 2012

FORMER COP CHARGED WITH STEALING $60,000 FROM POLICE OFFICERS' FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION THAT RAISED MONEY FOR YOUTH SCHOLARSHIPS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 7:07 pm

SANTA ANA - A former police officer has been charged with stealing over $60,000 from a charitable police officers’ football organization. Kirk Robert Lotzgesell, 43, Winchester, is charged with one felony count of grand theft and faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison if convicted. The defendant was arrested today by the Brea Police Department (BPD) and is being held on $60,000 bail. He is expected to be arraigned Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

The Orange County Cop Bowl Association (OCCBA) is comprised of police officers who play football against other police and fire football teams to raise money for youth scholarships.  Since its inception in 1978, OCCBA has raised over $1 million for charity.

Lotzgesell was a police officer with the La Habra Police Department until January 2006.  In 2007, he is accused of volunteering as the unpaid treasurer for OCCBA after misrepresenting himself to the organization as a current police officer on medical leave.

As treasurer for the organization, the defendant is accused of having access to all of the teams’ finances and being responsible for writing OCCBA accounting and check-writing.

Between 2007 and 2009, Lotzgesell is accused of stealing over $60,000 from OCCBA by writing checks to himself and making ATM withdrawals from the organization’s accounts.  He is accused of spending the stolen money on personal expenses and bills.

OCCBA began reviewing their finances and discovered the theft after being contacted by the Internal Revenue Service regarding a failure to file tax returns.

Former Beverly Hills Superintendent Sentenced for Misappropriation

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 7:05 pm

LOS ANGELES – The former superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District was sentenced today to 60 days in jail and ordered to pay nearly $23,500 in restitution to the Beverly Hills School District for giving a female former facilities director unauthorized gifts, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Judge Stephen Marcus said Jeffrey Hubbard violated a position of public trust and ordered him to complete 280 hours of community service and to pay a $6,000 fine in addition to jail time and restitution. Hubbard, 55, was taken into immediate custody.

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman with the Public Integrity Division prosecuted the case.

A jury in January found Hubbard guilty of two counts of misappropriation of public funds for ordering former facilities director Karen Anne Christiansen to be paid $20,000 in two payments, a stipend that was never authorized by the board.

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Alleged Molester Pleads to Shopping Mall Attack

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:03 pm

SAN FERNANDO – A 26-year-old Santa Clarita man accused of sexually assaulting a child in a shopping mall restroom pleaded no contest today, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Laura Knight Jackson of the San Fernando Branch Office said Casey Crockett pleaded to one count of lewd act upon a child under age 14.

San Fernando Superior Court Judge Hilleri Merritt immediately sentenced Crockett to three years in state prison. Crockett must also register as a sex offender for life.

The charge stems from an incident on Oct. 17, 2011, during which Crockett molested a child in a public restroom stall at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

February 24, 2012

Soccer Coach Charged With Child Sex Crimes

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:01 am

LOS ANGELES – A soccer club coach was charged today with almost half a dozen felony counts stemming from allegations that he sexually molested a 15-year-old player, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Jane Creighton of the Sex Crimes Division said Javier Arrioja, 48 (dob 04/20/63), of Los Angeles is charged with four counts of lewd act upon a child age 14 or 15 and one count of sending harmful matter in case No. BA394217.

Arrioja is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. His bail is recommended at $100,000.

Arrioja is a coach for the “Missioneros,” a private soccer club for boys under age 17.

The charges involve one victim who was allegedly assaulted on four occasions – between May and November 2011 – at various locations, including the defendant’s home and local parks, the prosecutor said.

If convicted as charged, Arrioja faces a maximum sentence of five years, eight months years in state prison.

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