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July 28, 2016

Orange County Man Who Allegedly Impersonated ICE Agent Faces Federal Charge

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

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who allegedly posed as an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an attempt to extort money from at least one female victim made his first federal court appearance this afternoon after being charged with impersonating a federal officer.

Luis A. Flores-Mendoza, 26, of Santa Ana, was arrested Monday by Special Agents with ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). He was charged in a criminal complaint that federal prosecutors filed last week.

Flores-Mendoza was initially arrested and charged in state court earlier this month after an investigation by the Placentia Police Department.

According to the federal complaint, the female victim told Placentia police detectives that Flores-Mendoza arrived at her workplace last month clad in police tactical gear, including a vest, badge, and a firearm, which later proved to be a pellet gun. After allegedly identifying himself as an ICE agent, the victim said Flores-Mendoza presented her with a letter, purportedly from ICE, stating there was an immigration case against her. The defendant then allegedly instructed the victim to pay him $5,000 to prevent her and her child from being deported. At the time of his original arrest on the state charge earlier this month, Flores-Mendoza was driving a vehicle equipped with police-style strobe lights and a siren.

“Impersonating a federal agent not only harms the victim who encounters the impersonator, but it can also undermine the public’s confidence in law enforcement officers,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “In this case, the defendant allegedly posed as a federal agent in an effort to extort money from a vulnerable victim, who fortunately reported it to police.”

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Former Payroll Clerk at Two Family-Owned Businesses Agrees to Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud Charge in $2 Million Embezzlement

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

LOS ANGELES – A longtime employee of two Los Angeles-area businesses involved in earring manufacturing was charged today with wire fraud for stealing approximately $2 million from the companies.

In conjunction with the case filed today, Claudia Alvarez Calderon, 45, of La Crescenta, agreed to plead guilty to the wire fraud charge.

In a plea agreement filed today in United States District Court, Calderon admitted that she used the names of several non-existent or former employees who were no longer entitled to receive pay to fraudulently obtain wages and expense reimbursements from Onyx, Inc., a Harbor City-based manufacturer of earrings and ear piercing equipment, and Quadrtech, Inc., a Gardena-based company that finished and packaged the earrings and ear-piercing systems.

“At times, defendant would cause deposits of up to four fake employees into one bank account in her own name,” according to the plea agreement. “These direct deposits were often over $18,000 a month, and sometimes as high as $28,000 a month.”

Over the course of nearly a decade, Calderon fraudulently entered information into a computer system that caused Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) to make direct deposits or issue checks for the bogus employees. Calderon maintained several bank accounts to receive the money from Onyx and Quadrtech.

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July 27, 2016

COURT OF APPEAL UPHOLDS OCDA’S RIGHT TO FILE PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO DISQUALIFY JUDGE

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three (DCA), granted the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) five writ petitions filed with the DCA, in response to the orders issued in December 2015, by the Honorable Richard M. King, “Order Denying Motion to Disqualify Judge.” The respondent, Orange County Superior Court, filed its response to those writ petitions by the Jan. 15, 2016, deadline. The OCDA’s writ litigation was handled by by Senior Deputy District Attorneys Stephan Sauer and Brian Fitzpatrick of the Appellate & Training Unit.

On Dec. 17, 2015, the OCDA filed five writ petitions with the DCA, challenging the five rulings by Judge King denying prosecutors from utilizing their right to file a peremptory challenge. The five cases include: People v. Jesus Montes and Ismael Zacaula (Case # 12CF2292), People v. Rito Tejeda (case # 14ZF0338), People v. George Galvan (case # 12NF1681), People v. Thomas Wilhelm (case # 12ZF0154), People v. Aleksandar Apostolovic (case # 15ZF0002).

Although the OCDA agrees with the DCA’s ruling, the OCDA maintains that there has never been “blanket papering” of any judicial officer. Any exercise of preemptory challenge made by any member of the OCDA has been the individual prosecutor’s decision to do what is in the best interest of the People, public safety, and crime victims.

The published opinion in its entirety can be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/4dca.htm. To read the People’s March 25, 2016 reply, please visit www.orangecountyda.org and select, “People v. Rito Tejeda Formal Reply,” in Reports under the Reports pull-down menu.

Law

The California Code of Civil Procedures section 170.6 gives every party the right to exercise a single peremptory challenge against any judge that litigant believes, in good faith, is prejudiced against him or her or his or her case. The authority conveyed by section 170.6 is a substantial right that is part of our system of due process and exists to ensure fair and impartial trials. The law does not require any party to explain their reasons for peremptorily challenging a judge, nor may a court inquire into those reasons.  It requires only that the party have a good faith belief that prejudice exists.

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STRIKER ARRAIGNED FOR ROBBERY OF FIVE FOUNTAIN VALLEY STORES BY THREATENING CASHIERS WITH FIREARM

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

WESTMINSTER, Calif. – A striker was arraigned Friday, July 22, 2016, for the robbery of five Fountain Valley grocery and drug stores by threatening cashiers with a firearm. John Allen Wagner, 48, Westminster, is charged with five counts of second degree robbery. Wagner faces sentencing enhancement allegations for two prior strike convictions for residential burglary in 1987 and federal bank robbery in 1991, both in Orange County. If convicted, Wagner faces a maximum sentence of 175 years to life in state prison. The defendant is being held on $1 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on August 1, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-2, West Justice Center, Westminster.

On Feb. 8, 2015, Wagner is accused of entering an Albertson’s grocery store in Fountain Valley and approaching a cash register with a bottled beverage. As the cashier opened the register to complete the transaction, the defendant is accused of lifting his shirt to reveal a firearm in his waistband, placing his hand on the grip, and demanding the cashier give him money from the register. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene before police officers arrived.

On Feb. 17, 2015, Wagner is accused of robbing a Rite-Aid store in Fountain Valley by approaching a cash register, grabbing his waistband, and demanding the cashier give him all of the money in the register. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene.

On April 23, 2015, the defendant is accused of robbing a Walgreens store in Fountain Valley and fleeing the scene.

On May 25, 2015, the defendant is accused of robbing a separate Albertson’s grocery store in Fountain Valley by showing a cashier a firearm in his waistband and demanding all of the money in the register.

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SIX DEFENDANTS CHARGED WITH STABBING MURDER OF MAN IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO PARK

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Six defendants were charged today with the stabbing murder of a man in a San Juan Capistrano park. Ashkan Dezhangfard, 21, Brion Cairo Hyde, 22, and Anjelica Marie Shibata, 28, of San Juan Capistrano, Siavash Hosseinaliarhani, 18, and Ryan Timothy Huebner, 20, of Laguna Niguel, and Myles Emmanuel Jones, 22, Laguna Hills, are each charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder by lying in wait. The defendants each face a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The defendants’ court dates are to be determined.

Prior to July 2016, Shibata and Hyde were in a romantic relationship and living together in San Juan Capistrano. At the time of the crime, Shibata was engaged in a romantic relationship with 38-year-old Alvaro Rios.

In the early morning hours of July 12, 2016, Shibata is accused of asking Rios to meet her in an abandoned area near a bike path in San Juan Capristano. The defendants are accused of waiting for the victim to arrive. Rios was stabbed numerous times and died at the scene. Each of the defendants are accused of fleeing the scene.

The next day, a jogger discovered the victim’s body and contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated this case.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case #16HF0995 / July 25, 2016

July 26, 2016

Orange County Man Who Admitted He Attempted to Provide Material Support to a Terrorist Organization by Joining ISIL Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:59 am

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who admitted that he attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and making a false statement in a passport application was sentenced today to 15 years in federal prison.

Adam Dandach, 22, of Orange, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge James V. Selna. After he completes his 180-month prison term, Dandach will be on supervised release for the remainder of his life.

In sentencing Dandach, Judge Selna said the defendant’s conduct was “serious,” required “significant planning,” and went on for more than a year.

When he pleaded guilty in August 2015, Dandach admitted that, beginning in approximately November 2013 and continuing until July 2, 2014, he attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIL with the purpose of providing material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization. He further admitted that he knew that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorist activity and terrorism.

Dandach “read materials on achieving martyrdom through jihadi fighting,” communicated with others affiliated with ISIL in Syria to obtain information about joining the group, and made online posts that celebrated terrorists, prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

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Moreno Valley Man Found Guilty of Advertising Pornographic Images of Toddlers and Infants in Online Chatroom

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A federal judge has convicted a Moreno Valley man of advertising child pornography in a members-only online chatroom for people with a sexual interest in infants and toddlers.

Angelo Harper Jr., 21, was found guilty yesterday afternoon of advertising child pornography, a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

Harper was found guilty by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who presided over a two-day bench trial. After issuing his verdict, Judge Klausner scheduled a sentencing hearing for October 17.

On July 12, Harper pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography and possession of child pornography. On that same day, he waived his right to a jury trial on the remaining advertising charge, which led to this week’s bench trial before Judge Klausner.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Harper used the Kik Messenger social media platform to access a chatroom for those interested in nepiophilia, which is a sexual interest in infants and toddlers. Last year, an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations entered the chatroom using an undercover Kik account, and accessed several postings about child pornography – made by an individual later identified as Harper – which included images depicting child pornography and a link to an explicit video. At one point, Harper wrote: “I have tons of pics and vids of little boys and girls. Pm me for chat and trade of kids under 6 [winking face emoji].”

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Redlands Gang Member Found Guilty in Federal Court of Methamphetamine Trafficking and Illegal Gun Possession Charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:53 am

LOS ANGELES — A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts against a previously convicted felon from Redlands who attempted to distribute over three pounds of methamphetamine and illegally possessed various firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun and an AK-47-type rifle without a serial number.

Daniel Chavez Jr, 40, was found guilty late yesterday afternoon of six felony offenses, including distributing methamphetamine, possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, possessing an unregistered firearm, and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Chavez had previously been convicted in state court of felony of possession of methamphetamine for sale, which made him ineligible to possess firearms or ammunition.

“Those trafficking illegally in narcotics and firearms pose a serious danger to the community, and those doing so after being convicted of the same conduct deserve the special attention of law enforcement,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mr. Chavez did not hesitate to agree to sell a significant quantity of methamphetamine and firearms to someone he barely knew. These convictions should ensure that Mr. Chavez will not be able to threaten our neighborhoods again for at least two decades.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, Chavez sold a pound of methamphetamine and the AK-47-type rifle in a mall in Riverside in June 2015 to a confidential informant working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In a second transaction in Redlands in July 2015, Chavez sold four more firearms and more than 100 rounds of assorted ammunition The jury also heard evidence that Chavez agreed to sell 1,051.3 grams (about 2⅓ pounds) of methamphetamine to the informant, but he was arrested before the transaction could take place.

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July 25, 2016

Former Wells Fargo Branch Manager and Two Others Charged with Laundering Proceeds of Trademark Scam

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

LOS ANGELES – The former manager of a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Glendale has been arrested and arraigned on federal charges that allege he was part of a scheme to launder the proceeds of a mass mailing scam targeting holders of U.S. trademarks. Two other Los Angeles-area men had previously been charged for perpetrating the scam and committing bank fraud in furtherance of the scam.

Albert Yagubyan, 36, of Burbank, pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to charges contained in a second superseding indictment filed on July 14. The indictment charges Yagubyan with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, four counts of concealment money laundering, one count of false bank entries and one count of witness tampering. A trial in the case was scheduled for September 13.

Artashes Darbinyan, 36, of Glendale; and Orbel Hakobyan, 41, also of Glendale, were previously charged in this case. Darbinyan and Hakobyan are charged in the second superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Hakobyan is also charged with three counts of concealment money laundering. Darbinyan is charged with four counts of mail fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, five counts of concealment money laundering and one count of bank fraud.

“The new defendant added in this case allegedly used his position of trust at a large financial institution to further a scheme that bilked trademark holders,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “In addition, the co-schemers used stolen identities to further mask this scheme.  Activities such as this scheme threaten the stability of financial transactions upon which businesses depend.”

According to the second superseding indictment, Yagubyan was the manager of a Wells Fargo branch in Glendale until October 2015. The indictment alleges that from 2013 to 2015, Yagubyan allowed Darbinyan and Hakobyan to open bogus bank accounts at the Wells Fargo branch through which proceeds of the trademark scam could be laundered in exchange for a share of the proceeds. Darbinyan and Hakobyan deposited checks from the victims of the mass mailing scam into bogus accounts at Wells Fargo, then Yagubyan allegedly instructed Wells Fargo employees to approve withdrawals by Darbinyan and Hakobyan from those accounts, even though the two men were not the signatories on the accounts, according to the second superseding indictment.

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Oregon Man Sentenced to Prison for Hacking into Hundreds of E-Mail Accounts and Stealing Personal Photos Belonging to Victims

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

LOS ANGELES – An Oregon man was sentenced today to six months in federal prison for a computer hacking scheme that gave him illegal access to 363 Apple and Google e-mail accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

Andrew Helton, 29, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced today by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who also ordered the defendant to pay a $3,000 fine.

Helton pleaded guilty in February to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. He admitted that he ran a phishing scheme from March 2011 to May 2013 in which he was able to collect approximately 448 usernames and passwords for 363 e-mail accounts.

“For over two years, Helton targeted unsuspecting victims with phishing e-mails that gave him full access to their private e-mail accounts,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “He systematically searched for and stole intimate images and stored them in his own computer for personal use, which meant the victims continued to suffer as a result of his voyeurism. Helton’s crime was a deep invasion of privacy that caused real harm.”

In the scheme, Helton sent fraudulent e-mails that resembled legitimate e-mails from Apple or Google to hundreds of victims asking them to “verify” their accounts. Helton sent the phishing e-mails to acquaintances, strangers, and celebrities living in the Los Angeles area. When victims clicked on the link provided, they were taken to bogus websites resembling Apple or Google log-in pages, where they were prompted to enter their usernames and passwords. After that, Helton had full access to their accounts.

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