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August 31, 2016

Final Defendant in Scheme That Sought More Than $1.5 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refunds Sentenced to Over 4 years in Federal Prison

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

LOS ANGELES – The last of six defendants who conspired to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service that sought more than $1.5 million in false tax refunds was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison.

Wesley Wade Hunter, 47, a former Los Angeles resident who was in a California prison when he committed the federal tax offense, was sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu. In addition to the prison term, Judge Wu ordered Hunter to pay the IRS $104,283 in restitution.

Hunter, who also goes by the moniker “Godfather,” pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by obtaining the payment of false claims, namely tax refunds.

“This defendant was able to victimize both the United States government and individuals who had tax returns fraudulently filed in their names while an inmate in a state prison,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Fortunately, the hard work of IRS personnel enabled them to identify and reject the majority of the defendant’s fraudulent tax refund claims. The defendant’s persistent criminal conduct warranted the significant federal sentence imposed today.”

According to court documents, during the course of the scheme that was shut down in May 2012, Hunter filed or assisted in the filing of fraudulent tax returns that sought refunds using the identities of over 250 individuals. Hunter and the other co-conspirators obtained the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal identification information of individuals without their knowledge and consent.  Hunter and others knowingly filed false federal income tax returns that claimed fraudulent tax refund payments based upon fraudulent wage and withholding amounts under their own names and under the names and Social Security numbers of the identity theft victims. Members of the conspiracy cashed the fraudulently obtained refund checks.

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Two Doctors Face Federal Charges of Illegally Writing Prescriptions for Addictive Narcotics Connected to Gang’s Drug Trafficking

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

LOS ANGELES – Two doctors who each operated medical offices in Lynwood have been arrested on federal drug charges that allege they issued prescriptions for narcotics and sedatives without a medical purpose.

The two doctors were charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in conjunction with an operation conducted by the Torrance Police Department and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office that targeted members and associates of the East Coast Crips criminal street gang.

The two doctors – Sonny Oparah, 75, of Long Beach, and Edward Ridgill, 64, of Ventura – surrendered to federal authorities on Friday and were released on bond that afternoon after making their first appearances in United States District Court. Both men were ordered to again appear in federal court for arraignments on September 15.

Two criminal complaints unsealed on Friday charge Oparah and Ridgill with illegally prescribing the powerful painkillers hydrocodone (best known as Vicodin or Norco) and codeine (for example, promethazine with codeine cough syrup, which is known on the street as purple drank), alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax), and carisoprodol (a muscle relaxer best known as Soma). According to the affidavit filed in the cases, Oparah issued nearly 13,000 prescriptions for those drugs in a one-year period between July 2014 and July 2015, and Ridgill issued more than 21,000 such prescriptions in a three-year period between July 2011 and July 2014. All of the prescribed drugs were at or near maximum strength.

The affidavit describes 12 undercover operations during which Oparah or Ridgill sold prescriptions in exchange for cash fees. In most instances, the doctors sold the prescriptions without ever examining the undercover officer or cooperating witness. A medical expert’s independent review of the undercover recordings and seized patient files confirmed that there was no legitimate medical basis for the prescriptions. The expert, writing about Oparah, said his “actions are very alarming” and the evidence reflects “extreme departures from the standard of care,” according to the affidavit.

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August 30, 2016

Former FBI Agent Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison for Stealing Drug Proceeds and Obstructing Justice

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

A former FBI special agent was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for stealing over $136,000 in drug proceeds seized during the execution of search warrants in 2014, falsifying documents and tampering with a witness.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Angel D. Gunn of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Scott M. Bowman, 45, of Moreno Valley, California, pleaded guilty on May 2, 2016, to one count of conversion of property by a federal employee, one count of obstruction of justice, one count of falsification of records and one count of witness tampering.  Bowman was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal of the Central District of California, who also ordered Bowman to pay $136,462 in restitution.

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Bowman misappropriated drug proceeds seized during the execution of three search warrants in June and August 2014 after they were transferred to his custody in his official capacity as a federal law enforcement officer.  Bowman admitted that he proceeded to spend the stolen money for his own personal use and enjoyment, including tens of thousands of dollars on vehicles and new equipment, including speakers, rims and tires.  Bowman also used $15,000 of the misappropriated cash to pay for cosmetic surgery for his spouse and opened a new checking account into which he deposited $10,665 of the stolen funds, he admitted.

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FELON FROM FRESNO ARRAIGNED FOR PIMPING YOUNG WOMAN AND POSSESSING LOADED FIREARM WITH SERIAL NUMBER REMOVED

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

WESTMINSTER, Calif. – A felon from Fresno was arraigned today for pimping a young woman and possessing a loaded firearm with the serial number removed. Adam Rocky Trinidad, 24, is charged with one felony count of pimping, one felony count of pandering by procuring, one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon (prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale in 2012 in Fresno), one felony count of possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, and one felony count of possession of a firearm with identification numbers removed. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison. Trinidad is being held on on $100,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 7, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-1, West Justice Center, Westminster.

Circumstances of the Case

Trinidad is accused of being a pimp who exploits women for financial gain. The victims are typically required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.

Between Aug. 23, 2016, and Aug. 25, 2016, Trinidad is accused of driving 18-year-old Jane Doe from Fresno to areas known for human trafficking and prostitution in Orange County. The defendant is accused of posting sexually explicit advertisements of the victim soliciting commercial sex and keeping part of the money she received from sex purchasers.

On Aug. 25, 2016, Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) officers arranged to meet with Jane Doe at a motel on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa. Trinidad is accused of exiting the room Jane Doe was occupying and waiting at a nearby bus stop during the victim’s meeting with CMPD. Trinidad is accused of sending text messages to Jane Doe containing language consistent with him pimping the victim. The defendant is accused of booking the victim’s motel room in his name and returning to the room when he thought the sex purchaser was gone. Trinidad is accused of having $300 cash in his possession and storing a bag in the motel room which contained a loaded firearm with the serial number scratched off.

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Man Sentenced to Prison for Kidnapping Elderly Woman During Home Robbery in San Gabriel Valley

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

A 53-year-old man was sentenced today to 95 years to life in state prison for kidnapping and robbing a 79-year-old woman, and burglarizing the home of another elderly woman, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On May 4, a jury found Alonzo Bernard Johnson guilty of three felony counts in case GA087078: first degree residential robbery, kidnapping to commit robbery and first-degree burglary, person present.

Jurors also found true a special allegation that the defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a knife, during the commission of the crime. Additionally, jurors found true that Johnson inflicted great bodily injury on an elderly victim.

Deputy District Attorney Presciliano Duran, who prosecuted the case, said on Aug. 6, 2012, Johnson entered a South Pasadena home and accosted the 79-year-old homeowner in her kitchen where he broke her nose.

Johnson demanded money from the victim in her kitchen and then pulled her to the bedroom while using a knife, where he forced her to lay face down on her bed and attempted to tie her up with an electrical cord.

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August 29, 2016

Federal Authorities Charge 33 People with Crimes Against the U.S. Postal Service, including Theft of Mail by Employees

Filed under: California Chid Pornography Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

LOS ANGELES – Thirty-three defendants were charged as part of a sweep targeting criminal activity that has victimized the United States Postal Service (USPS) and its customers. Most of the defendants charged as part of the sweep are USPS employees who allegedly stole mail, embezzled from the agency or, in one case, failed to deliver nearly 50,000 pieces of mail.

Arrest warrants were issued for 6 of the 33 defendants, who were recently charged as a result of investigations by the USPS’s Office of Inspector General. Most of the defendants were charged in indictments that were returned by federal grand juries on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

The 33 defendants are charged across 28 cases, about half of which allege mail theft and/or possession of stolen mail by USPS employees and contractors. Other cases charge USPS employees with conspiracy, embezzlement, bank fraud, and false statements. Five of the cases allege crimes by non-employees, including mail theft and fraud related to the use of credit cards that had been stolen from the mail.

In one case announced today, the former local area president of the Mail Handlers Union was charged with conspiracy and possession of stolen mail. Jarol Garcia, 33, of Hemet, who formerly worked at the Moreno Valley Delivery Distribution Center as a mail handler, stole mobile phones from parcels going through the center and traded the phones after offering them for exchange on a website, according to an indictment, which also alleges that Garcia, in December 2015, possessed at least 166 mobile phones stolen from the mail.

Another case charges a mail carrier from the Mid-City District of Los Angeles with conspiracy to commit access device (credit card) fraud and to steal mail.  The indictment alleges that Norman A. Muschamp, 48, was part of a conspiracy to use information belonging to identity theft victims to order pre-paid PayPal debit cards that were sent to primarily non-existent addresses on his mail route.  Muschamp allegedly participated in the scheme by obtaining the PayPal debit cards from the mail and delivering them to co-conspirators in exchange for cash. Investigators who are continuing to investigate the overall scheme believe it caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

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Riverside Gang Leader and Three Associates Arrested in Meth Case

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

RIVERSIDE, California – Four individuals associated with the Eastside Riva gang – including its leader, Ernie “Gordo” Hernandez, 55 – were arrested yesterday after being charged earlier this week in federal court with distribution of methamphetamine.

The other defendants arrested– Angel “Bundy” Hernandez, 34, who is the son of Ernie Hernandez; Gilberto Diaz, 30; and Bryan Deniz, 25 – are also named in a criminal complaint that alleges they distributed methamphetamine from July 20 through August 9. Several of the drug transactions discussed in the complaint affidavit occurred at Primestone Tires Auto Repair on 14th Street in Riverside.

“Criminal street gangs like Eastside Rivera bring violence and drugs into our communities,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As yesterday’s arrests demonstrate, law enforcement will continue to prosecute gang leaders and members to make our neighborhoods safer.”

The case against the four defendants is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Los Angeles Division.

“Criminal street gangs that claim its territory and attempt to traffic drugs and use firearms to bring violence into our communities for their profit will not be tolerated,” said ATF Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Eric Harden. “ATF has zero tolerance for this criminal activity and will continue to eradicate it from our communities.”

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FORMER FEMALE HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER AND COACH SENTENCED TO JAIL FOR ENGAGING IN UNLAWFUL SEX ACTS WITH UNDERAGE STUDENT

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

FULLERTON, Calif. – A former high school teacher and coach was sentenced to jail for engaging in unlawful sex acts with an underage student. Rebecca Eileen Diebolt, 37, of Brea, pleaded guilty on Jan. 15, 2016, to one felony count of oral copulation with a minor under 16 and one felony count of sexual penetration with a foreign object of a minor. She was sentenced today to 3 years, 8 months in state prison stayed pending successful completion of 5 years formal, supervised probation, completion of 180 days in county jail, and completion of all sex offender terms. Diebolt was also sentenced to mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.

At the time of the crime, Diebolt was employed as a language arts teacher and a coach for girl’s swimming and water polo at Valencia High School in Placentia. Diebolt had been teaching at the school since 2003.

In 2004, Diebolt established an illegal sexual relationship with then 15-year-old Jane Doe. On multiple occasions between 2004 and 2008, Diebolt engaged in sexual acts with the victim in the defendant’s classroom at the high school and at the defendant’s home after school and on weekends. She continued the sexual relationship after Jane Doe graduated from high school and began attending college.

On June 4, 2014, the victim reported the sex acts to the Placentia Police Department, who investigated this case and arrested Diebolt one week later.

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August 26, 2016

Long Beach Man Pleads Guilty in $3 Million Foreclosure Rescue Scam

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

LOS ANGELES – A Long Beach man has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge related to a long-running mortgage rescue scheme that involved nearly $3 million in illegal fees charged to distressed homeowners and about 200 fraudulent bankruptcy petitions.

Karl Robinson, 52, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of bankruptcy fraud before United States District Judge Manuel Real.

Robinson operated the foreclosure rescue scheme from 2008 until 2013 under his own name and other names, including “Stay In Your Home Today,” “21st Century Development” and “Genesis Ventures Corporation.” The businesses provided illegal foreclosure- and eviction-delay services to homeowners who had defaulted on their mortgages. The purpose of the scheme was to obtain money from distressed homeowners, and in exchange Robinson was able to hinder, delay and obstruct lawful foreclosure and eviction actions against property owners who had defaulted on their mortgages.

As part of the scheme, Robinson filed bogus grant deeds in county records offices and other fake documents in formal eviction proceedings to make it appear that fictional people held interests in distressed properties. He then fraudulently filed bankruptcy petitions in the names of the fictional people to trigger an “automatic stay” in the bankruptcy cases. The filing of a bankruptcy petition has the effect of suspending all creditor actions, including foreclosure proceedings commenced by mortgage lenders and eviction actions commenced by purchasers of foreclosed properties.

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Man Sentenced to LWOP for Killing Ex-Boyfriend

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

A 37-year-old man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for killing a Glendale man in a scheme to collect on his $2.5 million life insurance policy, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On June 24, a jury found Hovanes “John” Maskovian, guilty of the first-degree murder and attempted kidnapping of his ex-boyfriend, Joshua West, 33.

Jurors also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait, murder for financial gain and murder during an attempted kidnapping.

A separate jury found Hovanes Maskovian’s younger brother, Hachik “Kriss” Maskovian, 31, guilty of the same charges in case PA076771 on June 23.

Deputy District Attorneys Geoffrey Lewin and Richard Dooley prosecuted the case.

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