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June 22, 2017

BOOKKEEPER CONVICTED OF EMBEZZLING OVER $1.3 MILLION A LAW FIRM

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A bookkeeper was convicted yesterday of embezzling over $1.3 million from a law firm and issuing unauthorized checks for her own benefit.

Defendant Charges Maximum Exposure Court Date
Shawna Renee Barretto, 43, Anaheim Pleaded guilty on June 20, 2017, to the following felony counts:

  • (22) Computer access fraud
  • (21) Falsifying records
  • (7) Grand theft
  • (2) Identity theft
  • Theft from elder

Sentencing Enhancements

  • Aggravated white collar crime over $500,000
  • Property loss over $1.3 million
32 years in state prison Sentencing

Feb. 5, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

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December 13, 2016

Mexican National Sentenced to 135 Months in Prison for Conspiring to Launder $20 Million in Drug Trafficking Proceeds

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

A Culiacan, Mexico, man was sentenced today to 135 months in prison for conspiring to launder $20 million worth of drug trafficking proceeds.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Carney of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made the announcement.

Joel Acedo-Ojeda, 32, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez of the Southern District of California, who also ordered Acedo-Ojeda to forfeit $20 million and to pay a fine of $20,000.  Acedo-Ojeda pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering on June 23, 2015.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, between approximately April 2013 and April 2015, Acedo-Ojeda and his co-conspirators coordinated the smuggling of $20 million in bulk U.S. currency, which he knew to be the proceeds of drug trafficking, from the United States to Mexico.  Upon arrival in Mexico, the bulk currency was transferred to the drug smugglers who were supplying the narcotics either directly or by being smuggled back into the United States, placed into the financial system and then wired back into Mexico.

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April 4, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Files Suit Against Morgan Stanley Over False Claims and Securities Violations

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

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today filed a lawsuit against investment bank Morgan Stanley for misrepresentations about complex investments such as residential mortgage-backed securities, in which large pools of home loans were packaged together and sold to investors.  These misrepresentations contributed to the global financial crisis and to major losses by investors including California’s public pension funds, which are responsible for the retirement security of California peace officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees.

The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that Morgan Stanley violated the False Claims Act, the California Securities Law and other state laws by concealing or understating the risks of intricate investments involving large numbers of underlying loans or other assets. In addition to residential mortgage-backed securities, the complaint also focuses on “structured investment vehicle” investments, which involved not just packages of residential mortgage loans but also other types of debt of individuals and corporations.

“Morgan Stanley’s conduct in this case evidenced a culture of greed and deception that helped create a devastating economic crisis and crippled California’s budget,” said Attorney General Harris. “This lawsuit is necessary in order to hold Morgan Stanley accountable for the destruction it caused to California, our people, and our pension funds.”

Specifically, the complaint alleges that, from 2004 to 2007, Morgan Stanley assembled and sold billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities, many of which contained risky loans made by Morgan Stanley subsidiary Saxon, or by New Century, a mortgage lender which received crucial funding from Morgan Stanley.  Morgan Stanley purchased and bundled high-risk loans from subprime lenders like New Century into seemingly safe investments, even though it knew the lenders were “not [using] a lot of common sense” when approving the loans, the complaint alleges. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Morgan Stanley did not disclose the risks because it did not want its concerns about loan quality to become a “relationship killer” that would cause it to lose its lucrative business with companies making the risky loans.

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February 12, 2014

MAN CONVICTED OF EXECUTION-STYLE DOUBLE MURDER OF STANTON SALES ASSOCIATE AND SECRETARY

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney, California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:17 am

SANTA ANA - A man was convicted today of the double-murder of a Stanton sales associate and his longtime secretary. Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 42, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury of two felony counts of special circumstances murder for multiple murders, murder during the commission of robbery, and murder during the commission of burglary. He was also found guilty of one felony count each of second degree robbery, second degree commercial burglary, and the unlawful taking of a vehicle.

As the District Attorney is seeking the death penalty in this case, the trial will now move to the second phase, the penalty phase. In the penalty phase, the same jury who found the defendant guilty of the crimes will consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the evidence to determine the defendants penalty, death or life without the possibility of parole. Opening statements in the penalty phase are expected to begin, Feb. 18, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On the morning of Feb. 2, 2009, Thomas walked past Golden Sun Homes business office on Beach Boulevard in Stanton while taking his niece to school. He lived approximately 500 feet from the business. The defendant decided to murder the employees inside in order to steal a car belonging to a secretary for the business.

After dropping off his niece, Thomas entered Golden Sun Homes and shot and murdered Matthew Francis Scott, a sales associate and son of the business co-owner, and long-time secretary Elizabeth Ann Palmer. Both victims were shot execution-style in the head. Thomas then stole Palmers Lexus sedan and fled the scene.                                               (more…)

November 1, 2013

California Woman Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the IRS and Aggravated Identity Theft

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:51 am

Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Kathryn Keneally and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag for the Northern District of California announced that Noemi Rubio Baez, of Salinas, Calif., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims for tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to aggravated identity theft.

According to the plea agreement, beginning around Feb. 28, 2008 and continuing through April 16, 2012, Baez and a co-conspirator participated in a scheme to obtain and to help others obtain false claims from the IRS by electronically filing in her own name, and in the names of others, false federal income tax returns.  Baez and her co-conspirator created false income information in the names and Social Security numbers of multiple individuals, and filed materially false tax returns with the IRS claiming refunds derived from tax credits including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Additional Child Tax Credit, and the Making Work Pay Credit.

According to court documents, in some instances, the taxpayers requested the returns be prepared, in others the taxpayers did not provide Baez or her co-conspirator with their personal identification information and were unaware that the returns had been filed in their names.  Baez and her co-conspirator filed more than 150 false and fraudulent claims unlawfully seeking more than $400,000 in tax refunds.

At the time of her sentencing, scheduled for January 23, 2014, before U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen, Baez faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000.

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June 14, 2013

MAN FACES TRIAL FOR STABBING-MURDER OF NEIGHBOR AND ASSAULTING SECOND VICTIM WITH METAL OBJECT

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney, Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:46 am

SANTA ANA – A man faces trial Monday for murdering his mobile home park neighbor by stabbing him to death and assaulting a second victim two days later. Robert Eugene Vasquez, 36, San Juan Capistrano, was indicted on one felony count of special circumstances murder by lying in wait, one felony count of aggravated assault, and sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury. If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, June 17, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On the morning of Dec. 1, 2011, Vasquez is accused of waiting outside of the home of his neighbor, Bobby Ray Rainwater, Jr., with the intention of murdering him because the victim was a registered sex offender. When the victim left his home, Vasquez is accused of attacking Rainwater by punching him in the back of the head. The defendant is accused of then stabbing Rainwater multiple times, nearly decapitating him.  After

murdering the victim, Vasquez is accused of fleeing the scene. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) began investigating this case.

On Dec. 3, 2011, Vasquez is accused of being at a friend’s residence in San Juan Capistrano. He is accused of using a metal object to hit victim Lance Lyons in the face as the victim was lying down. The defendant is accused of attempting to hit the victim a second time, but was stopped by Lyons’ brother. The victim survived but suffered major injuries to his nose and mouth.

Occupants in the home called 911 and OCSD arrested Vasquez that day. In the course of their investigation, OCSD determined that Vasquez was also responsible for the murder of Rainwater.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12ZF0131 / June 14, 2013

May 17, 2013

MAN CONVICTED OF RAPE AND STABBING-MURDER OF 22-YEAR-OLD WOMAN OUTSIDE OF BAR IN 1983

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:24 am

SANTA ANA - A man was convicted yesterday 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, but his conviction was later overturned by the Federal District Court for the Central District of California on writ of habeas corpus. 

Richard Raymond Ramirez, 53, was found guilty by a jury 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.

As the District Attorney is seeking the death penalty in this case, the trial will now move to the second phase, the penalty phase. In the penalty phase, the same jury who found the defendant guilty of the crime will consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the evidence to determine the defendant’s penalty, death or life without the possibility of parole. Opening statements in the penalty phase are expected to begin Monday, May 20, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, 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.

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March 27, 2013

REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER CONVICTED OF SEXUAL BATTERY AND FAILING TO REGISTER SENTENCED TO 197 DAYS IN JAIL FOR PROBATION VIOLATIONS

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:52 am

SANTA ANA – A registered sex offender convicted of sexual battery and failing to register, and who has a pending case in the Courts of Appeal for violating the County ordinance barring registered sex offenders from entering County parks, was sentenced for violating his probation. Hugo Godinez, 30, Santa Ana, was sentenced March 21, 2013, at an arraignment on probation violations. The defendant admitted to the violations and was sentenced to 197 days in jail by the Honorable Peter Wilson.

Sexual Battery (Case #09CM11069)

On Nov. 11, 2009, Godinez approached Jane Doe #1, an adult female, while she was walking down the street alone during daylight hours. The defendant slapped the victim just below her buttocks, on her upper leg, and asked, “Do you like that?” The victim attempted to walk away but began to run when she observed Godinez following and chasing her. Jane Doe #1 ran up to another pedestrian for help, and Godinez then fled the scene.

On Nov. 17, 2009, Godinez approached Jane Doe #2, an adult female, while she was walking her dog during. Godinez leaned over and pretended he was going to pet the dog, but instead slapped the victim on the buttocks and said, “You’re cute.” Jane Doe #2 screamed at the defendant to get away from her and she walked away. Godinez followed the victim, approached her again, and slapped her again on the buttocks. Jane Doe #2 ran to a nearby store and Godinez fled the scene.

In a subsequent taped interview with the Santa Ana Police Department, Godinez admitted to slapping both victims on the leg and/or buttocks because he claimed to believe that they would like it.                                                      (more…)

March 1, 2012

In California prisons, 301 lifers from juvenile crimes

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 2:56 am

As lawmakers consider loosening life sentences for juvenile criminals, a new report released Wednesday said 301 California inmates are locked up for life after committing crimes when they were younger than 18.
That’s nearly 12% of all 2,570 youth offenders serving sentences of life without parole in the country.

“California’s use of this sentence remains particularly troubling,” said the report, which was released by Human Rights Watch.

Although sentences of life without parole are limited to homicide cases, the report said nearly half of the juveniles did not commit the actual murder.

Elizabeth Calvin of Human Rights Watch, the report’s author, said the harsh sentences are the wrong approach.

“No one can predict who a teen will be at age 40,” she said in a statement. “When California sentences a 16-year-old to die in prison, the state ignores what science, parents and teachers have long known: young people have tremendous potential to change, grow and mature.”

The state Senate approved a bill that would allow juveniles to petition for parole if they are sentenced to life. The Assembly rejected the proposal, but is expected to consider it again soon. Families of victims have fought efforts to allow juvenile killers to seek parole.

The U.S. Supreme Court is also considering whether sentencing juveniles to life in prison constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Justices will hear oral arguments March 20.

www.latimes.com

August 12, 2011

PAROLE DENIED FOR DRUG DEALER CONVICTED OF 1990 STABBING-MURDER OF PRO TENNIS ATHLETE OVER $20 DEBT

Filed under: California Appeals Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 6:34 pm

SANTA ANA - The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (Board) denied the parole today of a drug dealer convicted of the stabbing-murder of a former college athlete-turned-tennis pro over a $20 drug debt. Ehriberto Arcelara, 47, is currently being held at Calipatria State Prison in Calipatria, CA. Arcelara was sentenced April 18, 1991, to 16 years to life in state prison for one felony count of murder and a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon. This case was originally prosecuted by former Deputy District Attorney Richard King. Arcelara will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2021.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Jones attended the hearing to oppose Arcelara’s parole. The Board denied Arcelara’s parole based on his lack of remorse and insight into his crime, failure to acknowledge his many prison rules violations, and his destructive and violent behavior while incarcerated.

Stabbing-Murder of Stephen Aniston
Between 1985 and 1990, Arcelara was arrested under 21 different aliases for property crimes and multiple narcotics-related offenses and narcotics sales.

Stephen Aniston received an athletic scholarship from University of California, Irvine, but started using cocaine and subsequently lost his scholarship.  Aniston began playing in the pro-circuit, going on to play at Wimbledon, and was ranked among the world’s top 200 tennis players by the United States Tennis Association.

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