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September 27, 2012

Federal Enforcement Actions Against Commercial Marijuana Businesses Continue with Warning Letters and Asset Forfeiture Lawsuits Targeting Storefronts in the City of Los Angeles

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:19 am

LOS ANGELES – As part of the ongoing federal enforcement actions against the commercial marijuana industry in California, federal authorities have taken a series of actions against 71 illegal marijuana stores in the City of Los Angeles and the City of Huntington Park.

In federal court this morning, prosecutors filed three asset forfeiture lawsuits against properties where marijuana stores are located. Authorities executed federal search warrants at three other stores. Additionally, prosecutors sent warning letters to people associated with 68 marijuana stores.

The federal actions involve all known marijuana stores in the Eagle Rock and downtown areas of Los Angeles, as well as the single store known to be operating in Huntington Park.

“Over the past several years, we have seen an explosion of commercial marijuana stores – an explosion that is being driven by the massive profits associated with marijuana distribution,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “As today’s operations make clear, the sale and distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and we intend to enforce the law. Even those stores not targeted today should understand that they cannot continue to profit in violation of the law.”
The federal actions in Los Angeles were done with cooperation from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

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elon Pleads to Armed Robbery of USC Students

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:17 am

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man pleaded no contest today to robbing four USC students at gunpoint in April before he was shot in the leg by campus police while fleeing.

Jeremy Hendricks, 24, pleaded to two counts of second-degree robbery and one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and admitted the gun use allegation, said Deputy District Attorney Mario Haidar. He was sentenced by Judge Melissa Widdifield to 20 years in state prison.

Haidar said Hendricks approached two male and two female USC students walking along 28th Street on April 18, pulled a gun and demanded all their possessions. Three of the students threw items in his backpack while a fourth student hid behind a car.

When the suspect walked away, the students screamed for help and flagged down a USC campus security officer. Hendricks was shot once in the leg during the chase before he was arrested.

At the time of his arrest in April, Hendricks was on probation for possession of a deadly weapon. In exchange for his plea, the remaining charges, including attempted robbery, assault with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a loaded firearm with prior convictions were dismissed.

Man Gets Potential Life Prison Term in Stabbing Attack

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:15 am

SAN FERNANDO – A 52-year-old man was sentenced to 26 years to life plus 10 years in state prison today for the stabbing attack on his girlfriend last year.

Deputy District Attorney Laura Knight Jackson said Francisco Solis was convicted by a jury in June of one count each of assault with a deadly weapon, mayhem and burglary in connection with the July 2011 attack on the woman after breaking into her home in Sylmar. The victim, who survived, was stabbed multiple times with a screwdriver.

San Fernando Superior Court Judge Delila Corral Lyons sentenced Solis, who was arrested shortly after the attack and has remained in custody. The victim was not named in the felony criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office against Solis on Aug. 2, 2011.

September 25, 2012

Owner of a Pasadena Mortgage Company Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison in $30 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:58 pm

SANTA ANA, California – The owner of a Pasadena mortgage brokerage firm was sentenced today to 108 months in federal prison for participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that obtained more than $30 million in loans.
Eduardo Ruiz, 33, of Santa Ana, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge David O. Carter. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carter ordered him to pay $5.7 million restitution.

Ruiz has been in custody since March, when a federal jury found him guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud related to his operation of Premier One Lending, a mortgage brokerage firm. The evidence presented during a three-day trial showed that while operating Premier One Lending in 2005 and 2006 , Ruiz and other Premier One employees fraudulently obtained more than 100 loans from lenders in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

As part of the scheme, Ruiz and his employees prepared mortgage loan applications that inflated borrowers’ income – often by as much as 10 times the their true income. Ruiz and other Premier One employees also obtained phony bank statements and CPA letters, which they provided to the lenders in support of the bogus income figures.

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Romanian Man and Russian Woman Guilty in Internet Car Sales Scam

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:56 pm

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – A Romanian man and a Russian woman have pleaded guilty to participating in an Internet scam that offered non-existent automobiles for sale and caused victims from across the United States to suffer losses of more than $4 million.

Corneliu Weikum, 38, a Romanian national who resides in the Federal Republic of Germany, and Yulia Mishina-Heffron, 24, of Russia, each pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to two counts – one involving smuggling bulk cash out of the United States, and another involving a plot to commit wire and bank fraud.

Weikum and Mishina-Heffron pleaded guilty pursuant to cases brought by the United States Attorney’s Offices in Los Angeles (which included the conspiracy count) and Las Vegas (which included the bulk cash smuggling count).

According to court documents, between May 2007 and November 15, 2010, Weikum and Mishina-Heffron participated in a scheme operated out of Romania that advertised cars and other vehicles for sale on websites that included eBay Motors, Auto Trader, Yahoo Auto, edmunds.com, and Cragslist. After negotiating with members of the conspiracy in Romania, victims of the scam were instructed to deposit the money for the cars into bank accounts established at the direction of Weikum and Mishina-Heffron. Associates withdrew the money and gave it to Weikum and Mishina-Heffron, who would then smuggle the money out of the United States in the form of cash and wire transfers.

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Pair Pleads in Attempted Extortion of Singer Stevie Wonder

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:48 pm

LOS ANGELES – A man who falsely claimed to be Stevie Wonder’s nephew and the man’s girlfriend pleaded no contest today to attempting to extort the legendary singer, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Alpha Lorenzo Walker, 38, and Tamara Eileen Diaz, 38, pleaded no contest to the amended charge of attempted extortion before Judge William C. Ryan, said Deputy District Attorney Frances Young of the Target Crimes Division.

The pair was arrested May 2 after an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery Homicide Division.

Young said Walker made false claims regarding Stevie Wonder and his family members. He threatened to sell that erroneous information unless Stevie Wonder paid him $5 million dollars.

Walker and Diaz were sentenced to 292 days in county jail. Walker was ordered to attend mental health treatments for at least two times a week while he is on probation. Diaz must complete 78 Narcotics Anonymous classes, at least three times a week. She also was placed on three years formal probation.

Judge Ryan ordered both to stay away from the victim, his family and his co-workers while on probation.

September 24, 2012

Three Indicted, Arrested on Federal Charges Involving Scheme to Defraud Insurance Lenders

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:54 pm

Three people were arrested today on federal charges alleging they operated a scheme to defraud insurance finance companies, announced André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles; Timothy Delaney, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, on behalf of the CDI Investigations Division-Criminal Operations Point of Sale (COPS) Team-Los Angeles Regional Office.

Lee Anthony Corlette, 64, of Redondo Beach, was arrested at his residence this morning. Sherman Franklin Hulsey, 60, of Santa Barbara; and Jane Graves, 61, of Astoria, Oregon, were also arrested this morning. The defendants will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court this afternoon.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment in United States District Court in Los Angeles on September 5, charging Corlette with seven counts of mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, and 16 counts of aiding and abetting in connection with a scheme to submit numerous fraudulent insurance premiums to insurance finance companies. Hulsey and Graves were charged with one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and four counts of aiding and abetting. The indictment alleges that Corlette, while CEO of Insurance Works Inc., and doing business as Star Alliance Insurance Services in Long Beach, California, obtained over $4 million in fraudulent loans from victim finance companies who believed the money would be provided to the insurance carriers identified in the agreements submitted by Corlette.

Defendants Hulsey and Graves allegedly assisted Corlette in the fraud by providing information about their businesses in order for Corlette to submit the agreements to the victim finance companies and fraudulently obtain the loans. Hulsey is the owner of Liberty Paradise LLC, located in Santa Barbara, and Global Consulting Services Inc, doing business as Vanguard Benefits. Graves was the secretary/treasurer of Global Consulting Services and the owner of Steward Holdings LLC, a company located in Astoria, Oregon.

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18-YEAR-OLD TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR SHOOTING-MURDER OF RIVAL 17-YEAR-OLD

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:52 pm

WESTMINSTER - An 18-year-old man will be arraigned tomorrow for the shooting-murder of a rival 17-year-old. Reda Hassan Safieddine, 18, Fountain Valley, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison. Safieddine is out of custody on $1 million bail and is scheduled for a continued arraignment tomorrow, Sept. 21, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. Department W-2, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At the time of the crime, the defendant and victim are accused of being members of rival tagging crews. A few hours before the shooting on Aug. 13, 2012, the defendant is accused of running into the victim and arguing with him in a residential neighborhood near Cubbon Street and Mohawk Drive in Fountain Valley. After the verbal confrontation, the two went their separate ways.

At approximately 1:20 p.m. the defendant is accused of driving and parking his car in a convenience store parking lot. The defendant is accused of grabbing a shotgun from the backseat of his car upon seeing the victim drive into the parking lot.

The defendant is accused of standing outside his car as the unarmed victim walked towards the defendant’s vehicle. The defendant is accused of murdering the victim by firing one round from his shotgun and hitting the victim’s neck. The victim died at the scene.

Fountain Valley Police Department (FVPD) officers arrived to the scene and arrested the defendant.

Two Former Lynwood Council Members Sentenced to Prison

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

COMPTON – Former Lynwood City Council members Louis Byrd and Fernando Pedroza were sentenced today to state prison for misappropriating nearly $500,000 in city money, including charging personal expenses on city credit cards, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Compton Superior Court Judge Eleanor Hunter sentenced Byrd, 80, to five years in state prison and Pedroza, 47, to four years following a lengthy hearing in which both men begged for leniency but refused to apologize for their actions, said Deputy District Attorneys Ed Miller and Sean Hassett, who prosecuted the case.

After Pedroza apologized to his family, Judge Hunter asked if he was also apologizing to the people of Lynwood.

“No,” he said.

Both men were convicted in July of one count each of misappropriation of public money along with an allegation that they took in excess of $65,000. Prosecutors argued that Byrd took about $330,000 for personal use and Pedroza took more than $160,000.

Under one scheme, they paid themselves up to $40,000 a year in addition to their council pay for participating on two city agencies, the Lynwood Public Finance Authority and Lynwood Information Inc. Prosecutors argued that the work council members performed in connection with these agencies was nothing beyond the normal responsibilities for a council member and they were not entitled to additional pay.

They also charged personal expenses on city credit cards. For example, during a May 2002 trip to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend a sister-city conference, Pedroza charged $1,500 on a city credit card to pay for an evening at a gentleman’s club that included a dancer and private room.

The D.A.’s Public Integrity Division discovered the crimes through a four-year investigation launched on April 15, 2003, following a tip by a former Lynwood city manager. Five current and former council members were charged in May 2007. Charges against two, Armando Rea and Ricardo Sanchez, were later dismissed. Another former councilman, Arturo Reyes, pleaded guilty to grand theft and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 12.

September 21, 2012

Three Indicted, Arrested, on Federal Charges Involving Scheme to Defraud Insurance Lenders

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 1:59 pm

Three people were arrested today on federal charges alleging they operated a scheme to defraud insurance finance companies, announced André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles; Timothy Delaney, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, on behalf of the CDI Investigations Division – Criminal Operations Point of Sale (COPS) Team - Los Angeles Regional Office.

Lee Anthony Corlette, 64, of Redondo Beach, was arrested at his residence this morning.  Sherman Franklin Hulsey, 60, of Santa Barbara, and Jane Graves, 61, of Astoria, Oregon, were also arrested this morning.  The defendants will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court this afternoon.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment in United States District Court in Los Angeles on September 5, charging Corlette with seven counts of mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud and sixteen counts of aiding and abetting in connection with a scheme to submit numerous fraudulent insurance premiums to insurance finance companies. Hulsey and Graves were charged with one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aiding and abetting.  The indictment alleges that Corlette, while CEO of Insurance Works Inc, and doing business as Star Alliance Insurance Services in Long Beach, California, obtained over $4 million in fraudulent loans from victim finance companies who believed the money would be provided to the insurance carriers identified in the agreements submitted by Corlette.

Defendants Hulsey and Graves allegedly assisted Corlette in the fraud by providing information about their businesses in order for Corlette to submit the agreements to the victim finance companies and fraudulently obtain the loans.  Hulsey is the owner of Liberty Paradise LLC, located in Santa Barbara, and Global Consulting Services, Inc, doing business as Vanguard Benefits.  Graves was the Secretary/Treasurer of Global Consulting Services and the owner of Steward Holdings LLC, a company located in Astoria, Oregon.

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