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February 28, 2013

Six Arrested in San Fernando Valley-Based Tax Fraud Scheme that Used Stolen Identities to Seek More Than $19 Million in Tax Refunds

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:19 pm

LOS ANGELES – Authorities this morning arrested six people linked to a large-scale tax fraud scheme that allegedly used stolen identities to fraudulently file more than 2,500 income tax returns that sought over $19 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

The arrests by special agents with IRS - Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are the result of “Operation National Treasure,” an eight-month investigation into a ring that allegedly obtained nearly $10 million from the IRS. 

The six arrested this morning are among eight defendants named in a 132-count indictment that was filed Monday in United States District Court. The eight defendants allegedly operated a scheme that started in 2010 with the theft of personal identifying information, such as driver’s license and Social Security numbers. Armed with this data, members of the conspiracy allegedly submitted income tax returns to the IRS under the names of the identity theft victims. Members of the conspiracy allegedly established mailing addresses, which were used to receive the refunds sent through the U.S. Mail as United States Treasury checks. According to the indictment, the defendants took the fraudulently obtained checks to various “check cashers,” who took their own “cuts” before providing cash to the defendants.

“Identity theft is one of the nation’s fastest growing crimes, and it impacts more and more Americans every year,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This Los Angeles-based crime ring is alleged to have combined identity theft with tax fraud to create an intrusive and sophisticated scheme designed to victimize more than 1,800 individuals and to defraud the United States Government out of millions of dollars.”

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MAN CONVICTED OF SEXUAL ASSAULT-MURDER, THREE RAPES, AND AN ASSAULT AFTER BEING LINKED THROUGH DNA

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — fayarfa @ 8:02 pm

SANTA ANA - A man was convicted today of sexually assaulting and murdering a woman, raping three others, and physically assaulting a sixth victim after being linked to the crimes through DNA and forensic evidence. Waymon Livingston, 29, Stanton, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of sodomy, three felony counts of forcible rape, and one felony count of aggravated assault. The District Attorney is seeking the death penalty in this case. The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to begin March 6, 2013, in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. 

Death penalty trials are conducted in two phases, the guilt phase and the penalty phase. In the guilt phase, the People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the charged crimes. In this case, the jury considered the evidence and determined the defendant’s guilt. In the penalty phase, the same jury will consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the evidence presented by the People and defense to determine the defendant’s penalty, either death or life without the possibility of parole. An aggravating circumstance is any fact, condition, or event relating to the commission of a crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, nature of the offense, or harmful impact of the crime that supports the decision to impose the death penalty. Mitigating circumstances support a sentence of life without parole instead of death by providing any fact, condition, or event that reduces the defendant’s blameworthiness of the crime, even if it does not legally justify or excuse the crime.   

On Aug. 21, 2005, Livingston is accused of forcibly raping Jane Doe #1, a prostitute, in an Anaheim parking lot. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict regarding this victim. On Oct. 25, 2006, the defendant raped Jane Doe #2, a motel housekeeper, in Stanton. On May 7, 2007, Livingston strangled and raped Jane Doe #3, a private masseuse, in a Costa Mesa motel room.

The Orange County Crime Laboratory analyzed evidence from the crimes, and Livingston was linked through DNA to the three rapes. He was arrested at his home in Stanton by the Anaheim Police Department (APD) on Oct. 11, 2007.

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February 27, 2013

MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING WIFE AFTER MARITAL DISCORD OVER HIS GAMBLING AND CHEATING

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — fayarfa @ 10:36 pm

SANTA ANA - A man was convicted today of murdering his wife after she asked him to move out of their home for gambling away $100,000 in pension money and learning of his extra-marital relationship.  Agustin Armaraz Espinoza, 58, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state at his sentencing May 17, 2013, in Department C-44, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Prior to July 29, 2010, Espinoza was having marital trouble with his longtime wife, Marisela Espinoza, with whom he had adult children. Espinoza gambled away $100,000 in pension money and was in possession of a pre-paid cell phone containing text messages regarding an extra-marital sexual relationship. The victim told the defendant to move out of their Santa Ana home as a result.

On or about July 29, 2010, Espinoza bludgeoned and murdered Marisela Espinoza and left her body in the bedroom of their home. He then drove to San Bernardino and attempted to use the victim’s debit card before fleeing to Mexico.

On July 29, 2010, officers from the Santa Ana Police Department found the victim’s body during a welfare check after receiving a call from the victim’s concerned co-workers, who reported that Marisela Espinoza had not been to work for two days.

That same day, Espinoza was arrested while re-entering the United States from Mexico.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County DA Office / Case # 10CF2088 / February 27, 2013

DEFENDANT WHO FLED TO LAS VEGAS CONVICTED OF MURDERING MAN DURING BOTCHED DRUG DEAL

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — fayarfa @ 10:28 pm

SANTA ANA - An Anaheim man who fled to Las Vegas was convicted yesterday of murdering a man by stabbing him during a dispute over a drug deal. Johnathan Allen Kincaid, 23, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 26, 2013, of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of robbery and 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 April 26, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On July 29, 2009, Kincaid met 31-year-old Tayroh Stinson in Garden Grove.  After getting into a dispute about purchasing narcotics, Kincaid murdered Stinson by stabbing him multiple times with a knife.  The victim was transported to the hospital, where he died as a result of his wounds. 

The defendant fled the crime scene and hid in Las Vegas.  On Sept. 4, 2009, Kincaid was arrested in Las Vegas by the U.S. Marshals Service on an unrelated warrant.  He waived extradition and was transported to Orange County, where he was arrested by the Garden Grove Police Department, who investigated this case.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County DA Office / Case # 09WF1991 / February 27, 2013

February 26, 2013

DRIVER SENTENCED TO 14 YEARS IN PRISON FOR KILLING FRIEND AND INJURING FOUR OTHER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 10:37 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to 14 years in state prison for killing one teenage passenger and injuring four others while driving under the influence of alcohol. Jesus Manzo Torres, 19, Tustin, pleaded guilty Jan. 22, 2013, to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated with sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing bodily injury to more than one victim while driving under the influence and personally inflicting great bodily injury on two additional people.

At 1:45 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2011, Torres drove his brother’s 1996 Subaru Legacy with five passengers while under the influence of alcohol at a high rate of speed southbound on Santiago Canyon Road. The defendant’s passengers included 19-year-old Alfredo Salas, 18-year-old George Cisneros, 17-year-old Jose. G, 17-year-old Saul L., and 14-year-old Isaias L. While speeding, Torres swerved in the vehicle over the double yellow lines, crossed onto the other side of the street, left the roadway, and slammed into a tree.

Torres caused the crash that resulted in two of the passengers, who were not wearing their seatbelts, being thrown out of the vehicle. The front seat passenger, Cisneros, was transported to Western Medical Center, where he later died. Salas suffered a concussion, multiple broken vertebrae in his back, and a fractured sternum. Jose G. suffered a fractured jaw from multiple blunt traumatic injuries, a concussion, and a third degree burn to his ankle. Isaias L. and Saul L. both suffered cuts and bruises.

Approximately one hour after the crash, Torres displayed objective physical signs of being under the influence of alcohol and had a blood alcohol content of .15 percent.

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FORMER MARRIED COUPLE CONVICTED OF STEALING $330,000 FROM HUSBAND'S 89-YEAR-OLD MOTHER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 10:32 am

SANTA ANA - A former married couple was convicted today of stealing $330,000 from the husband’s then-89-year-old mother. Peter Garcia, 70, and Virginia Kay Furr-Garcia, 50, both of San Clemente, were found guilty by a jury of one felony count each of grand theft, conspiracy to defraud another of property, conspiracy to commit forgery, and theft from an elder with sentencing enhancements for property loss over $200,000 and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. The defendants both face a maximum sentence of six years in state prison at their sentencing March 22, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Garcia and Furr-Garcia were married, but have since divorced.

Between Jan. 1, 2009 and Sept. 27, 2010, Garcia and Furr-Garcia conspired to close four annuity funds belonging to Garcia’s mother, worth approximately $330,000, without the victim’s knowledge or consent. Garcia and Furr-Garcia closed the accounts and transferred the money into an account held jointly by Garcia and the victim.

Garcia then moved the money from the joint account with his mother into an account held by the defendants. The defendants then used the victim’s stolen money for personal living expenses including groceries, gas, and utility bills.

The victim discovered the theft when she could not afford to pay her bills at her assisted living community for several months. The victim reported the theft on March 10, 2011, to Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated this case and arrested the defendants Aug. 1, 2012.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Brannan of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County DA Office / Case # 12HF2170 / February 25, 2013

February 25, 2013

Diamond Bar Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Fraud Charges for Running Day-Trading Ponzi that Raised $49 Million from Investors

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — fayarfa @ 11:39 pm

LOS ANGELES – The CEO and co-owner of a Diamond Bar investment company pleaded guilty this afternoon to two federal felony counts arising from his scheme to defraud investors who put $49 million into his bogus day-trading venture.

Syed Qaisar Madad pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud, admitting in court today that investors lost more than $31 million when his scheme collapsed in March 2011.

Starting in 2005, Madad collected money from investors who believed he generated consistent, substantial profits, and that their money would be safe and available upon request. During the 5½-year life of the scheme, Madad received more than $49 million from investors.

Madad, 66, a resident of Diamond Bar who ran his scheme through a company called Technology for Telecommunication and Multimedia, Inc. (TTM), portrayed himself as a successful investor who had not lost money in a single day of trading – except one day in 2006. Madad, who was profiled and interviewed in media serving the Pakistani-American community, told reporters and potential investors that he had developed a day-trading technique that was always profitable.

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SCHOOL STUDENT CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR LEAVING BOMB THREAT NOTE INSIDE CLASSROOM

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 11:35 pm

WESTMINSTER – A Huntington Beach High School student was convicted and sentenced today for leaving a bomb threat note inside a classroom. Christopher Michael Casey, 18, Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one misdemeanor count of reporting a false bomb threat. The Honorable John Nho Nguyen sentenced the defendant to 140 days in jail, six years of formal probation, and ordered the defendant to stay at least 200 yards from the high school.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office originally filed the charge against Casey as a felony, and objected to the sentence and reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor based on the gravity of the threat and seriousness of the crime.

At approximately 12:00 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2012, Casey left a note on his teacher’s desk threatening that a bomb was hidden at Huntington Beach High School and set to detonate at an unspecified time.

At approximately 12:55 p.m., a secretary found the note and notified the school’s principal. The principal called the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD), who investigated this case, and arrested the defendant at the school.

HBPD officers searched the school and did not find any bombs or explosives.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.

Orange County District Attorney Press Release / Case # 12WF3464 / February 21, 2013

February 22, 2013

Former California Assemblyman Admits Defrauding Banks out of $193,661 by Falsely Claiming to Be Identity Theft Victim

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:49 am

LOS ANGELES – Carl Edward Washington, a former California State Assemblyman who represented the state’s 52nd district, has agreed to plead guilty to federal bank fraud charges, admitting that he bilked financial institutions by falsely,claiming to be the victim of identity theft.

As part of a plea agreement filed yesterday in United States District Court, Washington agreed to plead guilty to three counts of bank fraud for causing losses of $193,661 to financial institutions that include Farmers and Merchants Bank, First City Credit Union, and LA Financial Credit Union.

Washington, 47, a resident of Paramount who currently is employed as a division chief with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, admitted in the plea agreement that during a lengthy scheme that ran through the summer of 2011, he defrauded the three banks by concealing several unpaid debts – debts that he simply stopped paying – and his overall lack of creditworthiness.

Washington was able to hide his bad debts by filing a series of bogus police reports with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in which he falsely claimed to be the victim of identity theft. After filing the false police reports, Washington sent copies of the reports to the credit reporting agency Experian and demanded that the
information relating to the bad debts be removed from his credit report. Once Experian removed this data from his credit report, Washington submitted applications for new credit cards to the victim banks, applications that failed to disclose all of his outstanding debts and the fact that he had negative information reported by other financial
institutions removed from his credit report. Once the victim banks issued new credit cards to Washington, he purchased goods and services. But, after making several payments, Washington contacted Experian and, claiming that he was the victim of identity theft, requested that information related to the new credit cards be removed
from his credit report. Washington admitted filing five false police reports with LASD.

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HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR LEAVING BOMB THREAT NOTE INSIDE CLASSROOM

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:48 am

WESTMINSTER - A Huntington Beach High School student was convicted and sentenced today for leaving a bomb threat note inside a classroom. Christopher Michael Casey, 18, Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one misdemeanor count of reporting a false bomb threat. The Honorable John Nho Nguyen sentenced the defendant to 140 days in jail, six years of formal probation, and ordered the defendant to stay at least 200 yards from the high school.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office originally filed the charge against Casey as a felony, and objected to the sentence and reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor based on the gravity of the threat and seriousness of the crime.

At approximately 12:00 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2012, Casey left a note on his teacher’s desk threatening that a bomb was hidden at Huntington Beach High School and set to detonate at an unspecified time.

At approximately 12:55 p.m., a secretary found the note and notified the school’s principal. The principal called the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD), who investigated this case, and arrested the defendant at the school.

HBPD officers searched the school and did not find any bombs or explosives.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.

Orange County DA Office / Case # 12WF3464 / February 21, 2013

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