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July 31, 2012

Two TSA Screeners Agree to Plead Guilty to Conspiracy Charges in Scheme to Smuggle Narcotics through Security Checkpoints at LAX

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:57 pm

LOS ANGELES – Two people who were employed as transportation security officers at Los Angeles International Airport – and a third person who allegedly smuggled marijuana to Boston – were charged today with conspiring to pay bribes to the employees of the Transportation Security Administration.

The three defendants have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in plea agreements that were also filed this morning in United States District Court. Two other drug couriers previously agreed to plead guilty in this case, meaning that five defendants have now been charged and agreed to plead guilty in this investigation.

The three defendants charged today are:
Dianna Perez, 28, of Inglewood, who was terminated as a TSA employee last October;
Randy Littlefield, 29, of Paramount, who resigned from TSA last October; and
Millage Peaks, 24, of Los Angeles, who initiated the bribery scheme when he offered Perez money to allow narcotics-laden luggage to be passed through security checkpoints.

The other two defendants who agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in plea agreements filed July 2 are:
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Defendant in Large-Scale Drug Operation Convicted

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:53 pm

LOS ANGELES – A top lieutenant in a multimillion-dollar drug distribution operation that moved narcotics from Mexico through Los Angeles to the Midwest and Atlantic Coast was convicted today of conspiracy and other counts, the District Attorney’s office announced.

A jury deliberated less than four hours before finding Derwin Lashun Webster guilty of all six felony counts, including conspiracy to transport cocaine, possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana, possession for sale of cocaine, transportation of cocaine, and possession of a false compartment “with the intent to store, conceal, smuggle and transport” a controlled substance. The jury also found true an allegation that the amount of cocaine was more than 80 kilos.

Deputy District Attorney Oscar Plascencia with the Major Narcotics Division prosecuted the case.

Webster, 38, is facing 32 years in county jail when he returns Aug. 24 for sentencing before Judge Bob Bowers Jr.

Webster, of Moreno Valley, was the last of seven in-custody defendants convicted of being part of a sophisticated drug smuggling and distribution ring. When the ring was busted in May 2006, authorities seized $28 million worth of cocaine, along with 657 pounds of marijuana, more than $1 million in cash, six handguns, two tractor-trailer rigs and other vehicles.

The alleged head of the operation, Steven Montes, of West Covina, is serving 25 years in state prison after pleading and being sentenced in 2009. Three additional defendants, Agustin Alvarez, Omar Cruz and Rufino Acevedo, are serving 16 years in state prison after pleading and being sentenced in October 2009.

Settlement Reached with UC Regents in UCLA Lab Fire Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 5:51 pm

LOS ANGELES – The University of California Regents agreed today to comprehensive corrective safety measures following a 2008 laboratory fire at UCLA that claimed the life of a 23-year-old staff research assistant.

Regents also agreed to establish a half-million-dollar scholarship in the young research assistant’s name at University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) for the study of environmental law.

The conditions were among several in a 38-page agreement approved by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba that ends a criminal case against the UC Regents in connection with the Dec. 29, 2008, laboratory fire that took the life of Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji. The young woman was not wearing a protective lab coat when transferring highly flammable tert-Butyllithium, which spilled from a syringe and ignited. She died from her injuries 18 days after the fire, on Jan. 16, 2009.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal case on Dec. 27, 2011, charging the Regents and Patrick Harran, a chemistry professor and Sangji’s supervisor in the organic chemistry laboratory within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA.

The defendants were charged with three felony counts of violating occupational health and safety standards. The criminal case continues against Harran, 43, who faces 4-1/2 years in prison if convicted.

July 30, 2012

La Mirada Man Pleads to Hit and Run Death

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 8:34 pm

NORWALK – A La Mirada man pleaded no contest today to vehicular manslaughter in a fatal hit-and-run last September that killed a 72-year-old man, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Geoffrey Matthew Rocha, 27, also admitted an allegation that he fled the scene of the Sept. 20, 2011 accident that killed Raul Quintanilla, said Deputy District Attorney Marlon Powers.

Rocha is facing seven years in state prison when he returns Aug. 22 for sentencing before Commissioner Michael Schuur in Norwalk Superior Court.

Rocha pleaded no contest to striking Quintanilla, who was out for his daily walk, at the intersection of Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Lawnhill Drive in La Mirada.

Authorities said the victim’s arm was severed at the shoulder with the force of the impact and carried away by the fleeing car. The limb was discovered about a mile from where the victim was struck.

The defendant, who fled the scene of the 4:30 a.m. accident, later surrendered to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department authorities in Norwalk.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors will ask that the remaining two counts — leaving the scene of an accident and driving when privilege suspended — be dismissed at sentencing.

Former Executive at Orange County Bank Sentenced to 41 Months in Federal Prison for Stealing Nearly $2 Million from One Account

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

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 was sentenced this afternoon to 41 months in federal prison for stealing nearly $2 million from a customer’s account.

Matthew J. Walker, 34, of Orange, was sentenced by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford, who ordered Walker to pay just over $1.8 million in restitution.

Walker pleaded guilty to one count of theft of bank funds in November 2011,
specifically admitted that he stole nearly $2 million over a 16-month period that ended in July 2010. Walker 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.

Walker “stole almost $2 million dollars from a client for a personal venture where he was trying ‘to hit it big,’” according to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors. “Much like gambling, [Walker] used the money on a start-up company that he was intimately involved in and where he could win or lose. Like most risky gambles, he ultimately lost it all.”

Driver Charged with Murder in Fatal 405 Accident that Killed Workers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:31 pm

TORRANCE – One of two suspected drunken drivers was charged today with two counts of murder and other charges for his alleged involvement in a two-car crash early Sunday morning that killed two construction workers on the 405 Freeway, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Yocio Jonathan Gomez, 23 (dob 12-12-88), is scheduled to be arraigned at Torrance Superior Court, Department 4, after 1:30 p.m., said Deputy District Attorney Lisa Houle.

Gomez is charged in case YA085001 with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of DUI causing injury, one count of DUI over .08 percent alcohol causing injury with two priors. Prosecutors will ask bail be set at $5 million.

About 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Gomez allegedly was driving a blue Ford Explorer that crashed into the rear of a black Lexus RX-350 driven by Stephan Christopher Caserta, officials said. The sport utility vehicle spun out of control, striking and killing Romano Lopez and Ricardo Zamora. A third worker was injured. The Ford Explorer overturned on its roof.

Officials arrested both drivers on suspicion of driving under the influence. Caserta was later released on bail and is due in court Aug. 10. His case will be reviewed later for possible filing, prosecutors said.

Gomez is facing up to life in prison if convicted.

July 27, 2012

Former Desert Hot Springs Police Officer Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Abusing Suspects with Pepper Spray and Taser

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 8:04 pm

LOS ANGELES – A former police officer with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department was sentencing this afternoon to four years in federal prison for violating the civil rights of two suspects in police custody.

Anthony Sclafani, 42, of Beaumont, received the 48-month sentence from United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. In addition to the four-year prison term, which Sclafani was ordered to begin serving by September 24, Judge Hatter ordered the defendant to perform 500 hours of community service after Sclafani completes his prison sentence.

A federal jury convicted Sclafani in February of two counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law.

Sclafani, “a police sergeant and watch commander at the Desert Hot Springs Police Department, abused his authority when he willfully used excessive force by pepper spraying and shocking with a Taser gun two arrestees on two consecutive days without any lawful justification,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

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Six Indicted for Violations Involving the Sale of Stolen Products Including Thousands of Cases of Baby Formula

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 8:02 pm

LOS ANGELES—Five of six people arrested this morning were charged for their roles in conspiracies to purchase stolen infant formula in order to resell the products to individuals and businesses across the nation at significantly higher prices. A sixth individual was arrested related to the transport and sale of stolen infant formula but was not charged with being a member of the conspiracies.

A 22-count indictment returned under seal on Tuesday, July 17, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charges six defendants with federal violations including:

conspiracy, Title 18, U.S.C., Section 371
transportation of stolen goods: Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2314
possession, sale, and receipt of stolen goods: Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2315
aiding and abetting and causing an act to be done: Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2
The defendants named in the indictment, listed below, were arrested this morning without incident.

Saad Yohanan, 55, of San Diego
Yusuf Ghazi Abu Dawas, a.k.a. Joseph Dawas, 33, of Escondido
Anas Abudawwas, a.k.a. Adam Abudawwas, 28, of Escondido
Eyad Ibrahim Abu Dawas, a.k.a. Dave Dawas, 41, of Encinitas
Ashraf Sulaiman, 38, of Alhambra
Khair Zaben, 48, of Fontana

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Parolee Charged with Possession of Ammunition

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 7:58 pm

LOS ANGELES – John Steven Burgess, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of San Diego State University coed Donna Jou, was charged today with possession of ammunition, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Burgess, 40 (dob 6-28-72), is scheduled to be arraigned after 1:30 p.m. at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30. He is charged in case BA400631 with the one felony count with a prior felony conviction allegation.

Burgess, who was sentenced to five years in state prison in 2009 after pleading to involuntary manslaughter and concealment of accidental death in the death of Donna Jou, was released on parole in December.

If convicted, he faces up to three years in county jail.

July 26, 2012

MALE NURSE'S ASSISTANT CONVICTED OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING TWO WOMEN IN HIS CARE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:41 pm

SANTA ANA - A male nurse’s assistant was convicted today of sexually assaulting two women while they were in his care.  Alejandro Arias, 39, Cypress, was found guilty by a jury of five felony counts of forcible lewd acts upon a dependent person by a caretaker, five felony counts of sexual battery on an institutionalized person, three felony counts of lewd acts upon a dependent person by a caretaker, one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force, and one felony count of attempted sexual battery. He faces a maximum sentence of 51 years in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration at his sentencing Sept. 7, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Arias, a certified nursing assistant and assistant physical therapist at Anaheim Terrace Care Center, sexually assaulted two female patients while they were in his care and unable to resist due to medication and their medical conditions.

Between April 1, 2008, and July 18, 2008, Arias sexually assaulted 60-year-old Jane Doe #1 and 50-year-old Jane Doe #2 on separate occasions while they were in his care for temporary in-patient rehabilitation therapy. The victims do not know each other. He entered their respective rooms under the pretense of performing legitimate medical responsibilities. Arias assaulted the women including digital penetration, sexually touching their breasts and vaginas, and making them or attempting to make them masturbate his penis. Both victims reported the sexual abuse after leaving the care center.

Arias’ lifetime sex offender registration will bar him from entering County recreational areas and City parks which have passed the Sex Offender Ordinance. Visit www.orangecountyda.com to read the prior press releases on the County’s Sex Offender Ordinance as well as 13 other cities that have enacted the Child Safety Zone Ordinance. Arias would be allowed to enter Irvine City parks because its ordinance does not exclude sex offenders whose prior offense was not against a child victim.

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