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November 28, 2014

LIQUOR STORE CLERK ARRESTED FOR ILLEGALLY REDEEMING WINNING LOTTERY SCRATCHER TICKETS AND KNOWINGLY RESELLING LOSING TICKETS TO UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMERS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

SANTA ANA – A liquor store clerk was arrested today and will be arraigned for illegally redeeming winning scratcher lottery tickets and knowingly reselling losing tickets to unsuspecting customers. Francis Bou Karam, 34, Newport Beach, is charged with one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of computer access fraud, and 23 felony counts of forgery with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and loss over $65,000. If convicted, Karam faces a maximum sentence of 18 years and four months in state prison.  Karam is being held on $150,000 bail and must prove that the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. The arraignment date and time is to be determined.

Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Nov. 13, 2014, Karam worked as a clerk at Craig Liquor in Santa Ana. At the time of the crimes, Karam is accused of scratching off a small portion of lottery ticket scratchers, without purchasing them, to determine if they were winning tickets. This type of fraud is known as “pinning.” He is accused of redeeming the winning tickets for cash from California State Lottery (CSL) and reselling the losing tickets back to customers. Karam is accused of redeeming $50,000 in cash from winning lottery tickets and defrauding the CSL and unsuspecting customers of $100,000, which represents the combined retail value of the winning and losing lottery ticket scratchers.

CSL investigated this case after monitoring suspicious redemption activity from the liquor store and arrested the defendant today, Nov. 25, 2014.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14CF3866 / November 25, 2014

November 27, 2014

L.A.-Area Medical Professional Sentenced to 3 Years in Federal Prison for Role in Scheme to Bilk Medicare out of $7 Million

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles physician’s assistant was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for defrauding Medicare out of millions of dollars by signing fraudulent prescriptions and other medical documents for durable medical equipment (DME) while working at two separate medical clinics in the Los Angeles area.

Erasmus Kotey, 78, of Montebello, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. In addition to the 36-month prison term, Judge Morrow ordered Kotey to pay approximately $3.5 million in restitution to the Medicare program.

Kotey pleaded guilty in March to one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in two separate cases. In a plea agreement filed earlier this year in United States District Court, Kotey admitted that he engaged in a scheme to commit health care fraud while working as a physician’s assistant at a clinic  located at 866 North Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. (A co-conspirator in this scheme was Susanna Artsruni, a North Hollywood woman who was sentenced to over 6 years in prison for causing $25 million in fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2014/043.html).

In addition to his role in the scheme at the clinic on North Vermont, Kotey admitted that he engaged in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud through his work as a physician’s assistant at a clinic at 943 South Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park.

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November 26, 2014

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against California Bakery Over Discrimination Against Foreign-Born Worker

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with La Farine Bakery, a bakery with two stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The settlement resolves allegations that the bakery violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by engaging in discriminatory documentary practices.  Specifically, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) found that La Farine improperly rejected a worker’s valid work authorization documents because of the worker’s citizenship status.

Under the settlement agreement, La Farine Bakery will pay $26,000 in back pay and other compensation to an individual who was allegedly harmed by the discriminatory.  The bakery also agreed to change its hiring policies and be subject to monitoring of its hiring practices for two years.

“Employers should not make assumptions about the validity of their workers’ employment documents based on sterotypes or unfounded assumptions,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “The department encourages employers to use the Civil Rights Division’s resources, including OSC’s hotline, if they have questions about accepting Form I-9 documentation in a non-discriminatory manner.”

OSC is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  The statute prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized applicants or employees during the employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship status or national origin.  The statute also prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, as well as retaliation and intimidation.

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MAN CONVICTED OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES STABBING-MURDER OF FORMER GIRLFRIEND IN SANTA ANA ALLEYWAY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

SANTA ANA – A man was convicted today of stabbing and murdering his former girlfriend in a Santa Ana alleyway. Luis Antonio Garcia Morales, 26, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstance murder by lying in wait. The sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon was found true. Morales faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing Jan. 23, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On the evening of Nov. 13, 2012, Morales arranged to meet with 21-year-old Maria Isabel Cerrillo, with whom he had a previous romantic relationship, by pretending to be someone else. The defendant met his ex-girlfriend in an alleyway in Santa Ana, murdered her by stabbing her repeatedly, and then fled the scene. The victim died from multiple stab wounds.

Morales was arrested on the morning of Nov. 15, 2012, by the Santa Ana Police Department, who investigated this case.

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

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12CF3351 / November 24, 2014

Man Found Guilty in 2008 Murders of Lancaster Woman and Three Young Daughters

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

A jury has found a 24-year-old man guilty of murdering a woman and her three young daughters and then setting their Lancaster home on fire, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Assistant Head Deputy Robert Sherwood said Corey Lynn King was found guilty of four counts of firstdegree murder with the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and torture for three of the victims in case MA043389.

King also was found guilty of one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and grand theft auto.

The penalty phase of the trial to determine whether King will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or death is scheduled to begin on Dec. 2 in Department A19 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch.

The jury deliberated for three hours before returning with guilty verdicts following a trial that lasted four weeks.

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November 25, 2014

Two Northern California Real Estate Investors Agree to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

Two Northern California real estate investors have agreed to plead guilty for their role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Felony charges were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against Su Chu Chou “Terry” Cheng and Chung Li “George” Cheng of Walnut Creek, California.

To date, as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, 49 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty.

Between May 2008 and January 2011, according to the court documents, George and Terry Cheng conspired with others not to bid against one another, and instead designated a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  George and Terry Cheng were also charged with conspiring to use the mail to carry out a scheme to fraudulently acquire title to selected Alameda and Contra Costa County properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs, and to divert money to co-conspirators that would have otherwise gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries by holding second, private auctions open only to members of the conspiracy.  The department said that the selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in the second, private auctions.  The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held.

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JURY RECOMMENDS DEATH PENALTY FOR MAN CONVICTED OF RAPE AND STABBING-MURDER OF 22-YEAR-OLD WOMAN OUTSIDE OF BAR IN 1983

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

SANTA ANA – A jury recommended the death penalty today fora man convicted of raping and murdering a 22-year-old woman in an alley behind a bar in 1983. The defendant was previously convicted and sentenced to receive the death penalty in this case in 1985. In June 1990, Ramirez appealed to the California Supreme Court, who affirmed the defendant’s conviction. His conviction was later overturned by the Federal District Court for the Central District of California on writ of habeas corpus.

Richard Raymond Ramirez, 55, was found guilty by a jury in the re-trial of this case on May 15, 2013, of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of rape, one felony count of rape, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. A mistrial was declared in the previous penalty phase of the trial on June 3, 2013. Ramirez is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Crime
On the night of Nov. 20, 1983, 22-year-old Kim Gonzalez was at Mr. Barry’s bar in Garden Grove. Throughout the night, Gonzalez was seen in the bar with then-24-year-old Ramirez, whom she had met two weeks earlier at the same bar while out with her brother and a friend. The defendant spent the night drinking, talking, dancing with, and kissing the victim.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Nov. 21, 1983, Gonzalez left the bar through a door that led to the rear parking lot. Ramirez followed Gonzalez outside carrying a long-neck bottle of Budweiser beer. Once outside in a nearby alley, Ramirez attacked the victim.

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Pasadena Man Sentenced for Drugging, Raping, Spraying Woman With Caustic Gas

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

A 39-year-old man has been convicted of raping a woman after he drugged her and sprayed her with a refrigerant chemical at his Pasadena home, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Tamu Usher said Piotr Igor Dudkiewicz (dob 1/19/75) was sentenced on Friday, Nov. 21, to 40 years and eight months to life in state prison in case GA089620.

He also is now registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

A jury found Dudkiewicz guilty on Oct. 30 of a total of 12 felony counts: one count each of mayhem; false imprisonment by violence; oral copulation of an unconscious person; oral copulation by anesthesia; attempted sodomy of an unconscious victim; attempted sodomy by anesthesia; rape of unconscious person; rape by use of drugs; forcible oral copulation; forcible rape and two counts of sexual penetration by foreign object.

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November 24, 2014

MAN WHO APPEARED ON HOME IMPROVEMENT TELEVISION SHOW SENTENCED FOR CONTRACTING WITHOUT LICENSE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

SANTA ANA – A man was convicted and sentenced for home improvement contracting without a state license after appearing on the reality television show, “Catch a Contractor.” Myron Elliott Barker, 66, Irvine, pleaded guilty Nov. 19, 2014, to one misdemeanor count of home improvement contracting without a license and admitted to having a prior misdemeanor conviction in 2009 for the same offense. Barker was sentenced to 190 days in jail, three years of informal probation, and ordered to pay the homeowner-victim $10,000 in restitution.

Between June 23, 2013, and Aug. 21, 2013, Barker posed as a professional contractor for home improvement and kitchen remodeling. Barker did not have a valid state contractor’s license as required by law.

Barker solicited his experience, took thousands of dollars in construction funds from the victims in this case, and performed substandard and unpermitted work before abandoning the project.

The victims reported Barker to the Contractor’s State License Board, who investigated this case. While this case was being investigated, the victims were featured on the television show, “Catch a Contractor,” which included Barker being confronted on-camera about being an unlicensed contractor, performing substandard work, and abandoning the home improvement project.

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Woman Found Guilty of Murdering 90-Year-Old Father in Bellflower

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

A woman was found guilty today of second-degree murder for killing her 90-year-old father six years ago in Bellflower, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Jurors deliberated for three days before determining that Linda Sue Copeland, 62, was guilty of murdering Ralph Stofleth. Copeland faces up to 15 years to life in prison when she’s scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9 in Department G of the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Norwalk.

Stofleth is believed to have been killed sometime between Feb. 1 and Feb. 8, 2008. His body, covered with sheets and cardboard, was found three months later partially buried near a shed in the backyard of a home where Copeland lived with her father. Neighbors had called authorities to express concern because they had not seen Stofleth for three months.

Deputy District Attorney Tina Hooks of the Elder Abuse Section said evidence presented at trial showed Copeland continued to collect her father’s retirement benefits even after he was killed.

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