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September 13, 2016

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with California to Ensure Equal Educational Opportunities for English Learners

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

The Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement agreement today with the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education to improve their compliance monitoring systems and ensure language instruction services to the approximately 1.4 million English Learner (EL) students in the state’s public schools.

The settlement resolves the department’s May 2015 findings that California’s system for monitoring its public schools’ provision of language services to EL students did not satisfy the state’s obligations under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974.  The state cooperated fully during the review.

The department concluded that the state had failed to respond appropriately to schools’ certified reports showing that over 20,000 EL students were not receiving instructional language services each school year since 2007 to 2008.  The two-year agreement requires the state to undertake several actions, including:

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Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty for His Role in Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests

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

James Robert Liang, a Volkswagen engineer, pleaded guilty today for his role in a nearly 10-year conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and U.S. Volkswagen customers by implementing software specifically designed to cheat U.S. emissions tests in hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen “clean diesel” vehicles, the Justice Department announced today.  Liang’s plea agreement provides that he will cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation.

Liang, 62, of Newbury Park, California, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act.  He was indicted under seal on June 1, 2016, by a federal grand jury, and the indictment was unsealed today.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan.

According to the plea agreement, from 1983 until May 2008, Liang was an employee of Volkswagen AG (VW), working in its diesel development department in Wolfsburg, Germany.  Liang admitted that beginning in about 2006, he and his co-conspirators started to design a new “EA 189” diesel engine for sale in the United States.  According to Liang’s admissions, when he and his co-conspirators realized that they could not design a diesel engine that would meet the stricter U.S. emissions standards, they designed and implemented software to recognize whether a vehicle was undergoing standard U.S. emissions testing on a dynamometer or being driven on the road under normal driving conditions (the defeat device), in order to cheat the emissions tests.  Liang admitted that he used the defeat device while working on the EA 189 and assisted in making the defeat device work.  In May 2008, Liang moved to the United States to assist in the launch of VW’s new “clean diesel” vehicles in the U.S. market, according to the plea agreement.  While working at VW’s testing facility in Oxnard, California, he has held the title of Leader of Diesel Competence.

According to the plea agreement, employees of VW and its U.S. subsidiary met with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to seek the certifications required to sell each model year of its vehicles to U.S. customers.  Liang admitted that during some of these meetings, which he personally attended, his co-conspirators misrepresented that VW diesel vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards and hid the existence of the defeat device from U.S. regulators.

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Man Charged with West Covina Murder

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

A 20-year-old man accused of killing his friend and dumping the victim’s body in a canyon pleaded not guilty today, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Phillip Von Wade (dob 3/15/96) of West Covina was charged this morning with one count of murder in case KA113465. The felony complaint includes a special allegation that the defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, an ax, during the commission of the crime.

At today’s arraignment, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Salvatore Sirna set Wade’s bail at $2.02 million.

Deputy District Attorney Marie Cox, who is assigned to the case, said the defendant and victim Rahkeem Reyes, 27, were friends.

On Sept. 5, Wade allegedly bludgeoned Reyes with an ax at a West Covina residence, the prosecutor said. Wade then allegedly dumped the victim’s body in Azusa Canyon, where it was discovered by detectives five days later, the prosecutor added.

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September 12, 2016

L.A. Nursing Home, Two Physicians Pay over $3.5 Million to Resolve Allegations They Participated in Illegal Patient-Transfer Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles nursing home and two physicians who worked at the facility have paid $3,563,140 to resolve civil allegations that they participated in a scheme to improperly transfer patients recruited from the “Skid Row” district to a hospital for medically unnecessary services, and then transfer the patients from the hospital to the nursing home for medically unnecessary stays.

Westlake Convalescent Hospital; Dr. Jasvant Modi, who worked at Westlake; and Jasvant Modi’s wife, Dr. Meera Modi, paid the settlement on August 3 to resolve a federal “whistleblower” lawsuit. The settlement was announced today after United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell dismissed the action.

Between 2008 and 2010, AJIT Healthcare, Inc., doing business as Westlake Convalescent Hospital, allegedly paid illegal kickbacks to a “care consortium” on Skid Row in exchange for patient referrals to Westlake. During that period and after, Jasvant Modi allegedly readmitted patients from Westlake to the now-closed Temple Community Hospital and then back to Westlake to extend the patients’ Medicare-covered stays at Westlake, knowing the patients did not require further services at either facility. Meera Modi allegedly signed medical orders for non-payable services for these same patients. Westlake allegedly billed Medicare and Medi-Cal for medically unnecessary services provided to these patients.

“Patient-transfer schemes such as this victimize vulnerable members of our society as well as taxpayer-funded programs designed to aid them,” said United States Attorney Eileen Decker. “Such schemes are a clear abuse of the physician/patient trust and a fraud on American taxpayers.”

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Three Lead Defendants in Large Racketeering Case Targeting Crips Gang Plead Guilty to Federal Charges, Including Murder Conspiracy

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

LOS ANGELES – With guilty pleas this week by a leader of the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips (BGC), the three lead defendants in the largest racketeering case currently pending in Los Angeles have now pleaded guilty.

Tyrine Martinez, also known as “Lil’ C-Bone,” 36, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit murder, conspiring to traffic crack cocaine, illegally possessing a firearm and selling crack cocaine near schools.

As a result of guilty pleas before United States District Judge S. James Otero, Martinez faces a potential life sentence and a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in federal prison.

Martinez was among 72 charged in a RICO indictment that targeted BGC, a street gang that claims territory in South Los Angeles and controls drug sales in an area just west of the “Skid Row” district of Los Angeles. The indictment outlined two decades of criminal conduct, including murders, robberies, extortion, illegal firearms possession, witness intimidation and narcotics trafficking.

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Utah Man Arrested in Real Estate Investment Scheme that Targeted Orange County Investors, Who Lost Millions of Dollars

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

SANTA ANA, California – A Utah man has been arrested for his role in a real estate fraud scheme in which Southern California investors collectively suffered nearly $3.5 million in losses.

Shawn Patrick Watkins, 46, of Layton, Utah, was taken into custody on September 1 when he surrendered to FBI agents in Orange County. Watkins had been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in a nine-count indictment returned on August 17 by a federal grand jury.

Watkins and others offered investments in a company known as The Equity Growth Group (TEGG) between approximately 2007 through 2014. According to the indictment, the victims were solicited during seminars in Orange County hotels offered by Investor Workshops, Inc., in which Watkins presented himself as an expert in the field of real estate investment. In order to lend credibility to the scheme, Watkins attempted to gain trust by telling investors that he was formerly employed as a law enforcement officer.

As part of the solicitations, Watkins made omissions and false promises to investors. For example, the indictment alleges that Watkins falsely told investors that TEGG controlled hundreds of properties that generated rental income and TEGG would continue its growth by acquiring new properties. Watkins led investors to believe that they would receive substantial interest payments or that their money would be secured by collateral through the filing of deeds of trust on properties.

In reality, over the course of the several years, until the scheme collapsed in the spring of 2014, TEGG was not acquiring new properties and had a negative cash flow.  Investor money was not used to acquire new properties, nor was it secured by collateral, and many victims did not receive interest payments. In fact, money that was paid to some victims as purported interest or a return on their investment came from investments made by other victims.

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September 9, 2016

MAN CHARGED WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER AFTER TEEN WAS SHOT IN DEFENDANT’S HOME

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was charged today with involuntary manslaughter after a teen was shot in the defendant’s home. Matthew Jacob Granados, 21, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter by a lawful act in an unlawful manner with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. He is being held on $75,000 bail and is scheduled for a continued arraignment on Sept. 30, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

The defendant’s father, Alexander Christopher Granados, 41, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of being an accessory to involuntary manslaughter after the fact. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in county jail. He is being held on $25,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 15, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On Sept. 4, 2016, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Matthew Granados is accused of being in his room in his Santa Ana home on Hazard Street with the victim, 16-year-old Alex Ramirez. The defendant is accused of handling a firearm in a careless manner, which resulted in a single shot firing into Ramirez’s torso. The victim died as a result of the gunshot wound.

A person on the property called 911 and Matthew Granados is accused of fleeing the scene prior to the arrival of first responders. Alexander Granados is accused of making misleading statements about the shooting to Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officers in order to aid Matthew Granados in avoiding arrest.

SAPD arrested Alexander Granados on the morning of Sept. 5, 2016.

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Man Sentenced for Burglarizing Long Beach Church

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

A 26-year-old man was sentenced yesterday afternoon for stealing from a church last month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Aug. 22, Trevor Fix of Long Beach pleaded no contest to three felony counts in case NA104771: two counts of second-degree burglary and one count of identity theft.

At Wednesday’s sentencing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Tomson T. Ong sentenced the defendant to three years formal probation and ordered Fix to perform 60 days of Caltrans service. Additionally, the defendant must attend a live-in substance abuse program for one year and pay restitution to the church. An amount will be determined at a later hearing.

Prosecutors said on Aug. 6 the defendant broke into the preschool at Lakewood Village Community Church in Long Beach and stole several electronic items.

Four days later, the church experienced a second break-in. Prosecutors said Fix stole cash, checks, a credit card and more electronics from the Long Beach church.

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Serial Arsonist Sentenced for Fire at Lancaster Motel Parking Lot

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

A registered arsonist was sentenced today to 16 years to life in state prison for trying to set a woman’s car on fire outside of a Lancaster motel, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On July 26, a jury found Edmund Crigler Pemberton (dob 6/6/60) of Lancaster guilty of two felony counts of attempt to burn property and one misdemeanor count of vandalism under $400 damage.

Deputy District Attorney Ashley Gadson-Andrews said Pemberton admitted he was convicted of arson in 2001 and then again in 2014.

According to evidence presented at the trial, on September 9, 2015, Pemberton attempted to burn the victim’s vehicle because he mistakenly believed she stole his wallet. A motel security guard was able to intervene and put out the fire, the prosecutor said.

The defendant was on parole for the 2014 arson case when he attempted to burn the woman’s car.

Case MA066920 was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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September 8, 2016

A Dozen People, including Former O.C. Superior Court Clerk, Indicted in Bribery Scheme to ‘Fix’ Criminal Cases and Traffic Charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am
SANTA ANA, California – After a grand jury issued a federal racketeering indictment alleging corruption by a former clerk in the Orange County Superior Court, authorities this morning arrested 10 defendants on charges stemming from a bribery scheme in which the clerk improperly and illegally resolved cases on terms favorable to hundreds of defendants without the knowledge of prosecutors or judges. Authorities expect to soon have two remaining defendants in custody.
According to the 38-count indictment unsealed this morning, the court clerk allegedly “fixed” criminal cases in exchange for cash bribes as high as $8,000. As a result of the scheme detailed in the indictment, hundreds of defendants had charges dismissed, had fees reduced, or avoided mandatory jail time in drunk driving cases after paying bribe money to the clerk or middlemen who took bribes on his behalf.
The man at the center of the scheme – former clerk Jose Lopez Jr. – is charged with being at the center of a racketeering enterprise that engaged in bribery. Lopez, a 36-year-old resident of Anaheim, allegedly “resolved” cases by entering information into the court’s computers to make it appear that a defendant had paid required fees or had performed community service.
In some cases, Jose Lopez illegally created records to indicate that a defendant had pleaded guilty to reckless driving and that drunk driving charges had been dismissed – thereby avoiding the consequences of a drunk driving charge. According to the indictment, in other cases, Jose Lopez illegally entered court records that it made it appear second-time DUI offenders had served mandatory jail time, when they had not.
“The racketeering indictment charges the former court clerk with accepting bribes to falsify court records on the court’s computer system,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Some of the records indicated that a case had been resolved, when no such action had been approved by any judge of the court, and some records included signatures that appeared to be those of officers of the court, but were in fact forged. This defendant allegedly assumed the roles of judges, prosecutors and defense (more…)

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