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April 29, 2016

Orange County Pilot Charged with Flying Private Jet with Passengers Onboard without Having Proper License Issued by FAA

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

LOS ANGELES – An Irvine man was arrested this morning on federal charges of illegally flying a twin-engine Falcon 10 turbojet airplane with passengers onboard without having a valid pilot’s license.

Arnold Gerald Leto III, 36, was charged in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District court with operating an aircraft in air transportation without a valid airman’s certificate.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Leto’s pilot’s license was revoked earlier this year, he operated the Falcon without having the required co-pilot, and he was never certified to fly this type of aircraft.

Leto is scheduled to be arraigned on the felony offense this afternoon in United States District Court.

Leto is charged will illegally flying the Falcon 10 from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 8. Leto allegedly operated the aircraft with approximately eight passengers on board.


Manager of Clothing Factory Found Guilty of Offering Bribe to Federal Labor Investigator in Exchange for Closing Wage Investigation

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

LOS ANGELES – The general manager of a La Puente garment factory has been found guilty of federal charges of offering to pay bribes to an investigator with the United States Department of Labor in exchange for the investigator closing an investigation into wage violations.

Howard Quoc Trinh, 42, of Arcadia, the manager of Seven-Bros. Enterprises, was convicted late Tuesday by a federal jury. The jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of bribery after prosecutors presented evidence that Trinh offered to pay $10,000 in bribe, and actually paid $3,000 to a Department of Labor Wage and Hour investigator. As part of the bribery scheme, Trinh promised to pay the balance when the investigation was closed.

“Companies and their managers victimizing their own employees through wage violations cannot perpetuate their conduct through bribes,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This jury verdict strikes a blow against both corruption and the exploitation of workers.”

The Labor Department investigator was investigating Seven-Bros. for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets standards for minimum wage and overtime pay. The Wage and Hour investigator led a team that conducted an unannounced visit to Seven-Bros on March 10, 2015. The investigation into wage violations covered a period from May 2012 through March 10, 2015, and found that Seven-Bros owed approximately $100,000 to compensate employees for FLSA violations over that period. As part of the investigation, the Labor Department issued a “hot goods” Notice to Restrain the Shipment of Goods, which prevented the company from shipping certain inventory until the back wages were paid to employees.

The investigator returned to Seven-Bros on March 18, at which time Trinh said he did not owe his employees any back wages and that he wanted to “take care” of the investigator. In response to Trinh’s statements, the Labor Department’s Office of Investigator General (OIG) initiated an investigation and outfitted the investigator with recording equipment. On the evening of March 18, during a recorded meeting, Trinh offered the investigator $10,000 to close out the investigation without finding any violations and to lift the Hot Goods objection.


April 28, 2016

School Police Officer Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Attempted Sex Trafficking Charges for Allegedly Using Internet to Entice Minor

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:59 am

LOS ANGELES – A police officer employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District was taken into federal custody this morning after being named in an indictment that charges him with the attempted sex trafficking of a child.

Mauricio Edgardo Estrada, 28, who has been placed on administrative leave by LAUSD, surrendered himself to federal authorities after he was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury.

The two-count indictment charges Estrada with attempted sex trafficking of a child and use of the Internet to induce a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The case against Estrada is the result of an undercover operation by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes representatives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. The Task Force was conducting an anti-sex trafficking operation in Artesia and posted an advertisement on the Craigslist website that was designed to attract individuals interested in engaging in commercial sex acts with minors.

“Protecting children from sexual exploitation means focusing our resources on all aspects of the industry that preys upon young people,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Prosecutors in my office who deal with sex crimes against children have a long history of targeting those who produce, distribute and possess child pornography. We also aggressively prosecuted pimps who prostitute minors and use physical violence to establish and maintain control over their victims. Now we are turning our attention to customers who seek out young prostitutes, because their demand fuels an industry that causes so much harm to so many young people.”


Federal and State Authorities Charge 11 Men with Trading Child Pornography through Use of Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Programs

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:55 am

LOS ANGELES – Concluding a three-year investigation, authorities today arrested 11 defendants who are accused of using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to receive and possess – and, in some cases, distribute – child pornography.

The arrests are the results of eight indictments filed in United States District Court and three cases filed by local prosecutors.

Today’s arrests are part of Operation “Wide Net,” an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. ICAC includes special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service, who work in conjunction with local law enforcement partners, including the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The Long Beach Police Department and the California Highway Patrol assisted in today’s operation.

Over the past three years, Operation Wide Net has resulted in a total of more than 80 defendants being prosecuted for child pornography offenses and the execution of over 100 federal and state search warrants in the Los Angeles area.

Those arrested today include Luis Gutierrez, 49, of Chino, who was previously indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography obtained through the use of the Ares file-sharing program. Gutierrez was an engineer with the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 2013 at the time of the alleged offenses, and investigators believe that he used Internet connections at three different fire stations to download the child pornography found on his computer.


Health Products Company and Owners Sentenced for Smuggling Seal Oil and Dietary Supplements into the United States from China

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:53 am

LOS ANGELES – A couple from Walnut, California and two of their import and distribution companies have been sentenced after previously pleading guilty to a wide variety of criminal activity, including smuggling Harp Seal oil into the United States from China, falsely classifying goods to avoid import duties, and importing mislabeled food into the United States from China.

Lynn Leung, 61, the former president and co-owner of the UBF Group, Inc., doing business as the Nu-Health Products Company, was ordered yesterday to serve five years of probation, which will include one year of home detention. Leung was also ordered by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer to pay a $20,000 fine. Additionally, Leung was banned from working as a manager, officer or director of any business entity – including her own family companies – for a period of five years.

Daniel Fu, 65, Leung’s husband and the former vice-president of UBF Group, Inc., was also sentenced Monday to five years of probation, ordered to spend six months under home detention and fined $20,000. During the period of probation, Fu is also banned from working as a manager, officer or director of any business entity – including his own family companies.

Leung and Fu jointly owned and operated a number of local dietary supplement import and distribution companies doing business as the Nu-Health Products Company, including UBF Group, Inc. and ASN Group, Inc.

Judge Fischer also sentenced UBF Group, Inc. yesterday, ordering it to pay a total monetary penalty of $1.29 million. The company was ordered to pay a $230,000 fine, to forfeit $941,000 in proceeds derived from criminal activity, and to pay $119,000 in restitution to the United States Customs and Border Protection agency for import duties it avoided as a result of the criminal scheme.


April 27, 2016

Two Plead Guilty to Federal Fraud Charges Related to Multi-Million Dollar Pyramid Scheme that Targeted Chinese-American Victims

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:31 am

LOS ANGELES – A Hacienda Heights couple pleaded guilty today to federal fraud charges related to their participating in a scheme that generated millions of dollars by soliciting investments in a company that purportedly offered children’s educational courses – but in reality was a pyramid scheme designed to generate revenue by adding new investors.

Cheong Wha “Heywood” Chang, 48, and Chang’s wife, Toni Chen, 47, each pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and admitted that they made materially false representations and omissions in order to induce people to invest in a series of Hong Kong-based companies collectively known as CKB. With other names that included WIN168 Biz Solutions, Ltd.; CKB168 Ltd.; and Cyber Kids Best Education Limited, these companies claimed to generate substantial profits from the sale of web-based children’s educational courses. The scheme operated from at least September 2012 through at least the beginning of 2014.

Chang and Chen each admitted that made false statements to investors, including: CKB was a successful and profitable business; with each investment of $1,380, an investor would receive “Profit Reward Points” (PRPTs) that were worth $750 and could be exchanged for money; PRPTs would increase in value as a passive investment, even if investors did not actively recruit new investors to CKB or sell CKB courses; and PRPTs were analogous to, or could be converted into, pre-IPO or future shares of CKB that would increase greatly in value when CKB went public. These statements to investors were false.

Authorities have yet to accurately determine the amount of losses suffered by victims in this CKB scheme, but in their plea agreements Chang and Chen admit they received approximately $2 million as a result of the fraud scheme.

“These defendants defrauded investors out of millions of dollars, and then they attempted to obstruct justice when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The fraudulent conduct in this case has harmed many people, both in the United States and abroad.”


Co-Owner of Real Estate Investment Firm Sentenced To Prison for Participating in Fraud Scheme that Ended in Massive Bankruptcy

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:27 am

SANTA ANA, California – One of the owners of a now-defunct Southern California real estate investment firm was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in a fraudulent scheme that ended with the bankruptcy of the company and hundreds of investors collectively losing as much as $169 million.

John Packard, 66, of Long Beach, was sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

Packard’s business partner and co-defendant, San Clemente resident Michael J. Stewart, received a 14-year prison sentence from Judge Carney on February 29. Judge Carney ordered Packard and Stewart to collectively pay $9,234,914 in restitution to 120 victims.

Packard pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in 2014, admitting that he and Stewart bilked investors in Pacific Property Assets (PPA), which had offices in Long Beach and Irvine. Packard and Stewart created PPA in 1999 to purchase, renovate, operate and resell or refinance apartment complexes in Southern California and Arizona. Typically, PPA financed property acquisitions through mortgages, and it raised money from private investors to pay for renovations to the properties. After several years, PPA usually refinanced, but sometimes sold, each property.

Although PPA’s apartment rental operations were not profitable, it was able to raise cash through refinancing and selling properties. As real estate values were generally increasing until approximately 2007, the properties were refinanced at ever-higher values, which enabled PPA to use the extra refinancing proceeds to not only pay off the original mortgages, but also to make payments on other loans, make payments to investors, and to pay Stewart and Packard. In its 10 years of operations, PPA acquired more than 100 real estate properties and raised tens of millions of dollars from hundreds of investors. (more…)


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:22 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Board of Parole Hearings (Panel), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation denied parole three years for an inmate convicted of the 1983 beating murder of a man who had offered him and his co-defendant a ride when they were hitchhiking. David Eugene Hayes, 53, is currently being held at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi. Hayes was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of first degree murder. The first degree murder charge was later reduced to second degree murder over the People’s objection and Hayes was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison. This case was originally filed by then-Deputy District Attorney now current Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas. Deputy District Attorney Jeoff Robinson handled the jury trial for this case.

OCDA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder appeared at the hearing today with the victim’s brother to oppose Hayes’ parole. Hayes will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2019.

At today’s hearing, the victim’s brother spoke before the Panel and described how Hayes’ actions devastated the entire family. His nephew has been in and out of jail, and he himself started using drugs at 15 years old shortly after the murder happened. He went on to share about how difficult this experience has been for his family especially during the holidays.

The inmate spoke before the Panel and again lied about not having taken drugs in the last 20 years. The inmate refused to admit that he used drugs despite using methamphetamine in 1993. In 2008, the inmate possessed drug paraphernalia. In 2012, Hayes admitted that he was using narcotics for six months prior to his prison violation and continued to abuse drugs for three more months following the violation. (more…)

April 26, 2016

Convicted Sex Offender Extradited in Child Porn Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:37 am

A convicted sex offender who had been on the run since 2012 appeared in a Burbank courtroom today after being extradited from Mexico last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Arthur Crabtree (dob 6/27/61) pleaded not guilty on Jan. 17, 2012 to one felony count of child molesting with a prior but failed to appear to a hearing in April 2012 and subsequently an arrest warrant was issued.

Crabtree’s next court appearance is May 12 in Department 1 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Burbank Branch, at which time a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing.

Case GA084029 was filed on Aug. 17, 2011 alleging that the defendant was communicating though the internet with numerous young girls with lewd purposes. Crabtree was out on parole for a 2006 conviction on 10 counts including felony attempted lewd act upon a child and felony attempt to send harmful matter in case PA050648, prosecutors said.

Crabtree was arrested on April 21 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico by the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force and returned to the United States. The defendant is a retired Glendale Police Department officer and also was an attorney, prosecutors said.


Former Art Dealer Charged With Theft of Paintings Worth More Than $1.8 Million

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:34 am

A former art dealer is facing grand theft charges for allegedly failing to pay more than $1 million to the owners of paintings sold through his gallery, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Perry Rubenstein (dob 1/5/54) was charged in case BA444929 with three counts of grand theft by embezzlement. He is expected to be arraigned today in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Deputy District Attorney Marisa Zarate of the White Collar Crime Division is prosecuting the case.

In 2013, Rubenstein claimed he sold two paintings by artist Richard Prince for Michael Ovitz, totaling more than $1 million. In both instances, Rubenstein allegedly never paid his client and kept the proceeds.

In 2012, Rubenstein is accused of selling a painting by Takashi Murakami on behalf of Michael Salke but failed to turn over the full amount to him.


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