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January 15, 2018

Brother of San Diego Man Killed Fighting for ISIS Sentenced to 10 Years for Terrorism Related Charges and Illegal Firearms Possession

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

Marchello Dsaun McCain, a convicted violent felon and the brother of Douglas McCain, the first known American who died fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), was sentenced in federal court today to 10 years in prison for his illegal possession of a cache of firearms and body armor and making false statements to federal agents involving international terrorism.

In a related case, the United States unsealed a two-count indictment charging Canadian national and former San Diego resident Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi with providing, and conspiring with Douglas and other individuals in the United States and Canada to provide, material support to terrorists engaged in violent activities in Syria, that is, a conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country.

On March 9, 2014, Douglas McCain departed the U.S. and traveled to Syria where he joined and fought for ISIS.  Approximately five months later, on or about Aug. 25, 2014, Douglas McCain was killed in Syria fighting a battle against the Free Syrian Army. Following Douglas McCain’s death, Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force (FBI-JTTF) agents interviewed Marchello McCain on several occasions from Aug. 26, 2014 through Jan. 23, 2015, when agents arrested him on federal firearms charges.

In January 2016, Marchello McCain, who was previously convicted of two felony crimes of violence in Minnesota involving assault with a firearm, pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of firearms and ammunition by a felon and one count of possession of body armor by a violent felon.  Eight months later, in September 2016, he pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI-JTTF agents concerning his assistance to and knowledge of individuals providing material support (personnel and money) to individuals engaged in violent terrorist activities abroad and ISIS, including Douglas McCain and Abdullahi.

As part of his guilty pleas, McCain admitted that he made material false statements to the agents about his knowledge of the purpose of his brothers’ travel abroad and the methods of payment and source of monies to fund such travel. McCain acknowledged that he possessed over nine firearms, which included a stolen firearm and several semi-automatic 9 mm pistols, an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and an M1 Carbine .30 caliber semi-automatic rifle with a large capacity magazine. Marchello McCain also admitted that on Feb. 13, 2014, approximately three weeks prior to Douglas McCain’s departure to fight in Syria, Marchello McCain went to a San Diego gun range with his brother and shot firearms, including an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. (more…)

Former Hospital Owner Sentenced to over 5 Years in Prison for Orchestrating Scheme that Paid over $40 Million in Illegal Kickbacks to Doctors, Other Medical Professionals for Spinal Surgery Referrals

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

SANTA ANA, California – A federal judge today sentenced the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach to 63 months in prison for overseeing a 15-year-long health care fraud scheme that involved more than $40 million in illegal kickbacks paid to doctors and other medical professionals in exchange for referring thousands of patients who received spinal surgeries.

The scheme operated by Michael D. Drobot led to more than $500 million in fraudulent bills being submitted during last five years of the scheme – much of which was paid by the California worker’s compensation system.

Drobot, 73, of Corona Del Mar, was sentencing this morning by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who noted that Drobot “introduced greed into the doctor-patient relationship.”

Drobot pleaded guilty in 2014 to charges of conspiracy and paying illegal kickbacks, admitting that he orchestrated a wide-ranging fraud scheme in which “[t]housands of patients received surgeries at Pacific Hospital not knowing that [Drobot] bribed their physician to perform their surgery at Pacific Hospital,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. Drobot “was motivated by greed and ultimately profited millions of dollars through the scheme.”

From at least 1997 thorugh 2013, Drobot, who owned and/or operated Pacific Hospital during this time, ran a scheme in which he billed workers’ compensation insurers hundreds of millions of dollars for spinal surgeries performed on patients who had been referred by dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others who were paid illegal kickbacks. (more…)

Three Named in Federal Indictment Alleging $2.5 Million Loan Modification Scheme that Affected Over 500 Distressed Homeowners

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

SANTA ANA, California – Three Southern California men have been indicted on federal mail fraud charges that allege they solicited homeowners on the verge of foreclosure with bogus promises of loan modifications with interest rates as low as 2 percent.

The three men charged – Michael Paul Paquette, 34, of San Juan Capistrano; Allan Jessie Chance, 34, of Temecula; and Dennis Edward Lake, 59, of Costa Mesa –were arrested Thursday pursuant to an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on December 20.

Paquette, Chance and Lake were arraigned on the indictment yesterday afternoon in United States District Court, where they all entered not guilty pleas and were ordered to stand trial on March 6. All three defendants were released on $15,000 bonds.

According to the indictment, Paquette and Chance operated under aliases and told distressed homeowners that they worked for the Laguna Hills-based HAMP Services – which sounded similar to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a legitimate government program which permanently reduced mortgage payments to affordable levels for qualifying buyers.

Paquette and Chance told victims that they were approved for a government-affiliated loan modification, but they needed to make three “trial payments” before the loan would be modified, according to the indictment. They also falsely told the victims that their money would be held in a trust or escrow account. Chance falsely claimed that he had experience in getting home loans modified because he had worked at Bank of America. (more…)

January 12, 2018

Connecticut Man Charged with Hacking Apple iCloud Accounts Belonging to More Than 250 People, Including Many Celebrities

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

LOS ANGELES – A Connecticut man was charged today in federal court with a felony computer hacking offense related to a phishing scheme that gave him illegal access to over 250 Apple iCloud accounts, many of which belonged to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

George Garofano, 26, of Northford, Connecticut, was named today in a criminal information that accuses him of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In a plea agreement that was also lodged today in United States District Court in Los Angeles, Garofano agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.

While the case was filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, the parties have agreed to transfer the case to the District of Connecticut for the entry of Garofano’s guilty plea and sentencing. Once he enters the guilty plea, Garofano will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, from April 2013 through October 2014, Garofano engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for iCloud accounts. Garofano admitted that he sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from security accounts of Apple and encouraged the victims to send him their usernames and passwords, or to enter them on a third-party website, where he would later retrieve them.

(more…)

Attorney General Becerra: BP Energy Company Pays $102 Million in Settlement for Overcharging Californians for Natural Gas

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $102 million settlement with BP Energy Company and affiliates (BP) over allegations that it intentionally overcharged the State of California for natural gas that the State purchased under three successive contracts from March 2003 to August 2012. The contracts allowed the California Department of General Services, which buys natural gas for numerous state agencies and political subdivisions, to cap the price it would pay BP for specific volumes of gas. BP regularly quoted and charged the State of California prices that violated this cap and concealed its overpricing by providing false and misleading information. These acts constitute violations of the California False Claims Act.

“BP thought it could get away with providing false and misleading information in order to line its own pockets. Today, we send a clear message: cheating the People of California will cost you more than it’s worth,” said Attorney General Becerra. “My Office is committed to holding accountable those who unscrupulously put profits ahead of people.”

The case began on July 3, 2012, when a former employee filed a complaint alleging the overcharges. According to the complaint, BP knowingly quoted and charged prices in excess of the contractual price cap. Upon receiving the complaint, the California Attorney General’s Office investigated and concluded that BP was liable for overpricing. The Attorney General intervened in the case and took primary responsibility for prosecuting the action.

Under the settlement, BP will be required to pay $102 million in damages, which will be shared by the state and local agencies that purchased gas under the contracts, the former employee whistleblower, and the Attorney General’s office.

An electronic version of this release is available at oag.ca.gov/news.

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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra / Thursday, January 11, 2018

Attorney Convicted of Stealing from Client

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

A 60-year-old man pleaded no contest today to stealing from his client’s work-related civil settlement in 2014, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

At Tuesday’s court appearance, Mark Haddon of La Verne pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts in case KA116294: grand theft of property, identity theft and forgery relating to an item exceeding $950 in value.

Following the plea, Haddon was immediately sentenced to three years of summary probation and ordered to serve four days in county jail. Additionally, the defendant paid the victim the full restitution amount of $12,000.

Deputy District Attorney Brandy Chase, who prosecuted the case, said Haddon, a civil attorney, represented a man in reaching a settlement with his employer in December 2014.

The settlement agreement was for $50,000, however, Haddon told his client it was for $40,000, the prosecutor said. It was later discovered that the defendant had forged his client’s signature on the original settlement documents, according to the prosecutor, and then pocketed some of the funds. (more…)

January 11, 2018

Sinaloa Cartel Cell Leader Pleads Guilty For Involvement in the Imporatation of Tons of Narcotics into the United States

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

Sinaloa Cartel cell leader Damaso Lopez-Serrano aka “Mini Lic,” pleaded guilty in federal court today to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances for purpose of unlawful importation following his self-surrender to U.S. law enforcement authorities at the Calexico West, Mexico Port of Entry on July 27, 2017.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman of the Southern District of California made the announcement.

Lopez-Serrano, 29, of Culiacan, Mexico, is believed to be the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leader ever to self-surrender in the United States.  Lopez-Serrano pleaded guilty to all charges in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in San Diego on Aug. 19, 2016, charging him and five of his close associates with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine intended for importation and conspiracy to import methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

Lopez-Serrano also pleaded guilty to an indictment returned Dec. 4, 2016, in the Eastern District of Virginia by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section charging him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine intended for importation. (more…)

HOMELESS MAN LIVING ON SANTA ANA RIVER TRAIL IN ORANGE CHARGED WITH POSSESSING TWO FIREARMS AND MULTIPLE BOXES OF AMMUNITION INSIDE HIS TENT

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A homeless man living on the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) in Orange was charged yesterday with possessing two firearms and two boxes of ammunition.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Jeffrey Richard Lundell, 47, Santa Ana Charged yesterday with:Felony

  • (2) Possession of a firearm by a felon
  • Possession of ammunition by a felon

Misdemeanor

  • Possession of controlled substance paraphernalia

Sentencing Enhancements

  • Prior strike convictions for residential burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in Texas in 2011
  • Not remaining free for a period of five years or more
Eight years and eight months in state prison Pre-trial hearing

Jan. 18, 2018,

8:30 a.m.

Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • At the time of the crimes, Lundell was on probation and living in a tent on the SART near the city of Orange.
  • On Jan. 5, 2018, deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) Homeless Outreach Team who actively patrol the SART area due to the increased dangerousness in the encampments and to provide outreach services to the persons living on the SART contacted the defendant in his tent. (more…)

Man Charged with Stabbing Sheriff’s Deputy in Santa Clarita

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

A 21-year-old man pleaded not guilty today to attacking an officer at a fast-food restaurant Monday morning, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Donald Chinchilla (dob 4/4/96) has been charged with one count of deliberate, premediated, attempted murder of a peace officer in case PA090188.

The defendant is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 14 for a preliminary hearing setting in Department S of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, San Fernando Branch.

The felony complaint includes a special allegation that the defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury to the victim. Additionally, the charging document alleges Chinchilla personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a knife, during the commission of the crime.

At today’s arraignment, the defendant’s bail was set at $1.05 million. (more…)

January 10, 2018

Operator of Inland Empire Company Sentenced to 9 Years in Federal Prison for Two Fraud Schemes that Cost Victims over $1 Million

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

LOS ANGELES – A La Crescenta man was sentenced today to nine years in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges stemming from two schemes – one that bilked a string of payroll companies, and a second involving fraudulent bills sent to entities ranging from small businesses to local school districts that never received any services.

David William Bell, 55, received the 108-month sentenced from United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who additionally ordered Bell to pay just over $1 million in restitution to payroll companies, hundreds of small businesses and other entities.

Bell was sentenced after he pleaded guilty in August to one count of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.

Bell ran a company called UST Development, Inc. – which operated in Ontario and Pomona under a string of names, including US Telecom – that he used to defraud a host of victims through two separate schemes. Bell used different titles while at UST, including president, director and CEO.

In the first scheme, which ran from 2008 through 2010, Bell convinced a series of third-party payroll companies to fund UST’s payroll – and then failed to reimburse the companies for paying himself and his employees. In some cases, Bell sent checks to the payroll companies from accounts that did not have sufficient funds to cover the checks. (more…)

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