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October 10, 2017

West Hollywood Man Sentenced for Attempted Murders

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

A West Hollywood man was sentenced today to 14 years and four months in state prison for the stabbing of two victims at an apartment complex, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Keri Modder said Alexander Tor McDonald, 31, pleaded no contest on Oct. 2 to two counts of attempted murder and admitted a great bodily injury allegation in case SA087007.

On April 7, 2014, the defendant held three men at knifepoint inside apartments on Palm Avenue. As sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene, one man ran out with a wound on his neck followed by a second victim, the prosecutor said.

Deputies fired their weapons believing the second victim was the attacker, injuring the man that was bleeding and killing the second man, the prosecutor added.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, West Hollywood Station.

Los Angeles District Attorney / case SA087007 / October 6, 2017

October 9, 2017

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against California Staffing Companies

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

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with CitiStaff Solutions Inc., and CitiStaff Management Group Inc. (collectively CitiStaff), companies that provide staffing services in the greater Los Angeles, California area.  The settlement resolves the department’s investigation into whether CitiStaff violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their work authorization.

Based on its investigation, the department concluded that CitiStaff routinely requested that non-U.S. citizens present specific documents to prove their work authorization, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, but did not make similar requests for specific documents to U.S. citizens.  The department’s investigation also found that CitiStaff unnecessarily required lawful permanent resident workers to prove their work authorization again when their Permanent Resident Cards expired, while not making similar requests to U.S. citizen workers when their documents expired.

All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work, and employers should not reverify Permanent Resident Cards.  The anti-discrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

Under the settlement, CitiStaff will pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States, train its staff on the law, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years. (more…)


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced today to a court offer of 60 days in jail for hate crimes after threatening to kill Persian hookah lounge customers in Lake Forest.

Defendant Charges Sentence
Andrew Alan Carruthers, 29, Lake Forest Pleaded guilty today to:


  • Criminal Threats


  • Resisting and obstructing an officer
  • Violation of civil rights

Sentencing Enhancement

  • Hate crime
Court offer of 60 days in county jail

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Sept. 15, 2017, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Carruthers walked into BluFig Hookah Lounge in Lake Forest and acted aggressively toward the patrons, who were mainly of Persian descent. (more…)


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison today for the cold case murder of a woman whose body was left in a parking lot in Santa Ana in 2007.

Defendant Felony Charges Sentence
Jose Esteban Cardenas Zuniga, 41, Mammoth Lakes Found guilty by a jury on July 20, 2017 of:

  • First Degree Murder
25 years to life in state prison

Circumstances of Case

  • On or about Oct. 20, 2007, Zuniga murdered 24-year-old Yacshicka W. by strangling her and leaving her body outside in a parking lot of a commercial business center in Santa Ana.
  • Hours later, transients discovered the victim’s body and contacted Santa Ana Police Department, who began investigating this case. (more…)

October 6, 2017

Real Estate Investor Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison for Rigging Bids at Northern California Public Foreclosure Auctions

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

A real estate investor was sentenced today for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Brian McKinzie was charged on June 30, 2011, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California. McKinzie pleaded guilty on Oct. 26, 2016, to two counts of bid rigging at real-estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda and Contra Costa County. Today, McKinzie was sentenced to serve 14 months in prison and to serve three years of supervised release. In addition to his term of imprisonment, McKinzie was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $10,000 and $652,824.43 in restitution.

“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of offenses that subvert the competitive process,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “The Division remains firm in its resolve to seek prison terms for individuals who commit antitrust crimes.”

Between November 2008 and January 2011, McKinzie and other bidders at the auctions conspired not to bid against one another for selected properties, instead designating a winning bidder to win the property at the auction. The members of the conspiracy then held second, private auctions, known as “rounds,” to award the properties to members of the conspiracy and determine payoffs for other conspirators who had agreed not to bid against each other at the public auctions. The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held. (more…)

Man Sentenced for High-Speed Pursuit That Ended at Hollywood and Highland

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

A Rancho Cucamonga man was sentenced today to three years in state prison for leading police on a high-speed pursuit that ended at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Robert DuFour said Tony Carl Calloway Jr., 24, pleaded no contest today to one felony count of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly.

On March 9, the defendant stole a car in Colton. He was later spotted by police driving the stolen vehicle on the 101 Freeway near Parkway Calabasas, the prosecutor said. An approximately hour-long pursuit ensued and ended in Hollywood with police deploying spike strips.

When the pursuit ended, the defendant lit a cigarette and refused orders to exit the vehicle before eventually being arrested, the prosecutor added.

Case BA455372 was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, Hollywood Division

Los Angeles District Attorney / Case BA455372 / October 5, 2017

Man Sentenced to Prison for Fatal DUI Crash in Maywood

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

A 33-year-old man was sentenced today to 18 years and eight months in state prison for driving under the influence of alcohol, fatally striking a pedestrian and injuring another, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Aug. 22, Leopoldo Leon of Walnut Park pleaded no contest to two felony counts in case VA144209: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense.

The defendant also admitted special allegations that he fled the scene of the crime and inflicted great bodily injury. Moreover, the defendant admitted that he was previously convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content or more in 2007.

Deputy District Attorney Brianna Peden, who prosecuted the case, said on the afternoon of March 3, Leon was driving while under the influence of alcohol in Maywood when he struck pedestrians Jose Luis Lopez, 28, and his brother.

Following the collision, Leon exited his vehicle and fled on foot, the prosecutor said. A bystander ran after the defendant and, with the assistance of another motorist, apprehended Leon until authorities arrived and arrested the defendant, the prosecutor added. (more…)

October 5, 2017

Korean National Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the United States by Diverting Millions of Untaxed Cigarettes

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

LOS ANGELES – Un Hag Baeg, 58, of Marina del Rey, a Korean national currently living in the United States, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to conspiring to defraud the United States government by evading federal excise taxes due on 143 million cigarettes sold domestically but which the co-conspirators claimed were destined for cargo vessels sailing out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

In the United States, cigarettes are subject to a federal excise tax of $50.33 per one thousand cigarettes. This tax is generally paid by the manufacturer, but may be avoided if the cigarettes are properly transferred to a bonded warehouse in order to be exported or consumed outside of the United States. Untaxed cigarettes sold for this purpose are known as “export-only” cigarettes. When export-only cigarettes are diverted from their proper destination, and instead sold in the United States, federal and state taxing authorities suffer lost excise taxes.

According to court documents, between 2012 and 2015, Baeg and others conspired to divert approximately 143 million export-only cigarettes from an export warehouse near the Port of Los Angeles. Baeg purchased the cigarettes under the pretext that the cigarettes would be provided to various ships sailing out of the United States from the ports. In fact, the cigarettes were sold in the United States resulting in millions of dollars in lost federal and state excise taxes. Baeg and his co-conspirators subsequently hid their fraud by preparing false paperwork indicating that the cigarettes had been delivered to the various ships. In order to give this paperwork the appearance of legitimacy, the conspirators would stamp the paperwork with false rubber stamps bearing the names of the subject cargo vessels.

The conspiracy resulted in the evasion of federal excise taxes totaling $7,260,203.16 and California state excise taxes totaling $5,986,458.00. (more…)

Catholic Priest Sentenced to Prison for Tax Evasion and Bank Fraud

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

A priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose was sentenced to 36 months in prison, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.

According to documents and information provided to the court, from 2008 through 2011, Hien Minh Nguyen stole money that his parishioners donated to the Diocese of San Jose through cash and checks made as offerings during religious services.  He deposited such checks into his personal bank account and used the funds for his benefit.  He also wrote checks drawn on church business accounts to pay for personal expenses.  Nguyen evaded paying income taxes on the money he stole, concealing his embezzlement from his return preparer.  The court found that he embezzled $ 1,449,365 from the Catholic Church, and evaded $ 582,453 in individual income taxes that were due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

In addition to the term of prison imposed, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman ordered Nguyen to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a total of $1,883,883 in restitution, including $434,518 to the IRS.  Nguyen previously pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was convicted of bank fraud following a bench trial.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and U.S. Attorney Stretch commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and former Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Pitman and Thomas Moore, who prosecuted the case. (more…)


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man is scheduled to face trial tomorrow for the special circumstances murder of a man who was dragged and run over by his truck as he was robbed in Anaheim.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Jasper Bear Belknap, 21, Anaheim Charged on June 23, 2015, with:

  • One felony count of murder

Sentencing Enhancement

  • Special Circumstances – Murder during the commission of a robbery
Life in state prison without the possibility of parole Jury trial opening statements

Oct. 4, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Diana Carolina Lopez, 29, Transient Pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2017, to:

  • One felony count of voluntary manslaughter
11 years in state prison Sentencing

Nov. 3, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • Co-defendant Lopez knew the victim, 45-year-old Felipe Lugo, and knew that he often carried large quantities of cash.
  • On June 16, 2015, Lopez asked the victim to use his truck and drove to pick up Belknap, who is accused of hiding in the rear seat of the truck cab.
  • Lopez returned to Anaheim and picked up Lugo, who sat in the passenger seat. (more…)

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