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December 31, 2014

Former Pasadena City Official, Two Others Charged in $5 Million Embezzlement Scheme

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

A former Pasadena Public Works analyst and two of his friends were arrested on charges they embezzled more than $6 million in city money over a decade, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Danny R. Wooten (dob 4/07/63), Tyrone Collins (dob 10/12/59) and Melody Jenkins (dob 5/22/68) were arrested this morning by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. They are charged in a 60- count felony complaint for arrest warrant, case BA430233, with embezzlement, conflict of interest and grand theft with excessive taking allegations.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd with the Public Integrity Division.

Wooten was a management analyst in the city’s Public Works Department, which was in charge of relocating all of the city’s utility lines underground. Between 2004 and March 2014, Wooten is suspected of creating false invoices for the underground utility program and stealing more than $6 million.

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Jury Recommends Death for Man Found Guilty in 2008 Murder of Lancaster Family

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

A jury reached a verdict of death today for a 24-year-old man that murdered a woman and her three young daughters and then set their Lancaster home on fire, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Robert Sherwood, Assistant Head Deputy of the Antelope Valley Branch, said Corey Lynn King was found guilty on Nov. 25 of four counts of first-degree 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.

He is due to return on Feb. 20 in Department A19 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch.

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Lancaster Man Charged with Attempted Murder of Wife on Christmas Day

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

A Lancaster man has been charged with shooting his wife during a Christmas Day argument, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Moll said Thomas Richard Silas (dob 12/1/50) faces one count of attempted murder in case MA064997.

The complaints filed yesterday contains allegations of domestic violence with great bodily injury and use of a handgun.

Arraignment is scheduled this morning in Department A01 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch.

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December 30, 2014

San Bernardino County, Victorville revise sex offender ordinances after civil rights lawsuits

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:32 am

San Bernardino County and the city of Victorville have settled lawsuits with a civil rights attorney challenging the constitutionality of both municipalities’ sex offender ordinances.

Victorville has agreed to revise its 8-year-old ordinance to conform with state law, which prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or park and bans those on parole and whose victims were under the age of 14 from visiting public parks without the express permission of their parole agent.

San Bernardino County has until March 1 to get Board of Supervisors approval for a revised ordinance or its settlement becomes void.

Santa Maria-based civil rights attorney Janice Bellucci filed lawsuits against Victorville and the county in federal court on Aug. 14 and Oct. 15, respectively, arguing the ordinances were overly restrictive and violated the civil rights of registered sex offenders. They were similar to dozens of others the crusading civil rights attorney has contested in cities and counties throughout the state, following a ruling in January by the 4th District Court of Appeal which found that sex offender ordinances in Orange County and the city of Irvine cannot impose restrictions more stringent than state law.

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Las Vegas Man Charged with DUI Crash Involving Jennifer Lopez

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:28 am

A Las Vegas man has been charged with crashing into entertainer Jennifer Lopez’s Rolls Royce while under the influence, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Robert John Reitz (dob 1/18/61) faces one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content.

Case 4VY07776 includes the allegation that Reitz’s concentration of blood alcohol was .15 percent by weight and more.

Arraignment is scheduled today in Department 103 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

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Culver City Teacher Charged for Alleged Sexual Relationship with Underage Student

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:25 am

A 39-year-old teacher has been charged with having a sexual relationship with one of her underage students during a two year period, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Elizabeth Ann Brewer (dob 7/22/75) of Culver City faces three counts of sexual penetration by foreign object, two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation.

Brewer pleaded not guilty today and is due to return on Jan. 20 in Department 142 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Airport Branch. Case SA088980 was filed on Oct. 21.

The defendant allegedly sustained a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student at Notre Dame Academy, a West Los Angeles all-girl private school, between January 2004 and December 2006, prosecutors said.

If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of 21 years in state prison. Pamela Revel is the assigned Deputy District Attorney.

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December 29, 2014

Uber Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit Over $1 ‘Safe Rides Fee’

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

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A class action lawsuit was filed this week against Uber over the transportation network company’s $1 “Safe Rides Fee” for UberX rides.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, alleges that Uber misrepresents its $1 fee to customers, as well as the nature of its background checks and safety measures taken on behalf of riders.

The class action suit comes after the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles earlier this month filed a civil lawsuit similarly accusing the company of violating consumer protection laws and making “misleading” statements.

UberX, a smartphone app that connects riders to drivers using their personal vehicles, states on its site that the company charges the “Safe Rides Fee” to “ensure the safest possible platform for Uber riders and drivers,” including federal, state and local background checks, vehicle checks and driver safety education.

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LAPD body camera footage won’t be released to the public

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

As the Los Angeles Police Department prepares to outfit its force with body cameras during interactions with the public, civil rights groups are concerned over the idea that footage won’t be made public outside of court proceedings.

Body cameras are being touted as one way to increase accountability by recording police interaction with the residents, but questions are looming about what happens to the recorded footage and who controls the material. LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck recently said the footage would not be released to the public and would be available only through criminal and civil court proceedings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Critics, like the American Civil Liberties Union, argue if this happens it will ensure zero accountability once 7,000 body cameras are deployed and officers know that footage won’t be seen unless it’s showing their side of the story (in criminal cases) or working against them in civil suits. That’s especially the case considering how many civil suits are filed, how often settlements are paid and how often officers are granted a minimum partial immunity in civil cases, the ACLU said.

If this becomes confirmed policy, it is likely prompted by certain activists in other cities who have placed Freedom of Information Act requests for all body camera footage in perpetuity.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), the union that represents LAPD officers, is broadly supportive of body cameras, but they want officers to review the videos before writing up their reports.

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Offshore Tax Crimes Scorecard: Bankers, Lawyers, Advisers

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

The U.S. Justice Department has a mixed record of success in prosecuting offshore bankers, lawyers and advisers accused of helping U.S. taxpayers cheat on their taxes.

Since 2008, the U.S. has charged 38 people, including bankers from Switzerland’s three top wealth managers—UBS Group AG (UBSG), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER)

On Nov. 3, federal jurors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, acquitted Raoul Weil, the former head of wealth management for UBS, who was accused of conspiring to help thousands of U.S. clients use Swiss banking secrecy to evade taxes. Weil was the highest-ranking bank executive charged by the U.S.

Of the 38, 25 have yet to answer the charges in court, and most live in Switzerland. Seven pleaded guilty, two were convicted at trial, two await trial and two were acquitted, including Weil. Here are the cases:

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December 26, 2014

Northern California Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:24 am

A Northern California real estate investor pleaded guilty for his role in bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Charles Rock was indicted on Dec. 3, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, California.  The indictment alleged that Charles Rock and others agreed not to compete at public foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County, California, and diverted money to themselves that should have gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries.  Charles Rock pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging and two counts of mail fraud.

To date, 51 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.  In addition, 21 real estate investors, including Charles Rock, have been charged in five multi-count indictments for their roles in bid-rigging and fraud schemes at foreclosure auctions in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that as early as June 2008 until about January 2011, Charles Rock and others conspired to rig bids to obtain numerous properties sold at foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County, negotiated payoffs for agreeing not to compete, held second, private auctions known as “rounds,” concealed those rounds and payoffs, and in the process, defrauded mortgage holders and other beneficiaries.

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