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February 3, 2016

FORMER TREASURER FOR CONGRESSMAN’S ELECTION COMMITTEE TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $300,000 FROM CAMPAIGN FUNDS AND SEPARATE EMPLOYER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:03 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A former volunteer treasurer for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s re-election committee is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for embezzling over $300,000 from campaign funds and business the where the defendant worked. Jack Wenpo Wu, 45, Newport Beach, is charged with three felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement, 21 felony counts of forgery, with sentencing enhancement allegations for theft exceeding $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and four months in state prison. He was arrested today and is being held on $322,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

In 2004, Wu is accused of working as a volunteer, non-paid treasurer, for the Committee to Re-elect Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Committee). Wu is accused of paying taxes owed by the Committee, filing Federal Election Committee reports, be the custodian of the records, and run the Committee’s bank accounts.

In 2008, Wu was employed by Russell Fischer Inc. (RFI) as a controller with an annual salary of $70,000. He is accused of being responsible for paying all accounts receivables, all accounts payables, reconciling all of their bank accounts, and other duties related to payroll.

On March 30, 2012, Wu’s pay at RFI was reduced to $2,000 every two weeks as an independent 1099 contractor. Wu is accused of working two days out of the week at RFI while managing his own accounting company, Wubell Services.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Lodges Lawsuit Over the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Citing Violations of State Health and Safety Laws

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:00 am

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that she has lodged a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company for violations of California law in connection with a massive methane leak from its Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility.  In addition to filing suit in her independent capacity as Attorney General, Harris’s lawsuit also includes her client, the California Air Resources Board. The natural gas leak has caused a public health and statewide environmental emergency, which has sickened residents of Porter Ranch and compelled them to relocate.

The lawsuit alleges that Southern California Gas Company violated state health and safety laws by failing to promptly control the release of the natural gas and report the leak to authorities. In addition, the lawsuit cites the environmental threat the uncontrolled release of more than 80,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere poses to California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and mitigate the pace and effects of climate change.

“The impact of this unprecedented gas leak is devastating to families in our state, our environment, and our efforts to combat global warming. Southern California Gas Company must be held accountable,” said Attorney General Harris. “This gas leak has caused significant damage to the Porter Ranch community as well as our statewide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the impacts of climate change. My office will continue to lead this cross-jurisdictional enforcement action to ensure justice and relief for Californians and our environment.”

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges claims of public nuisance under California Civil Code section 3479 and violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200, et seq.), joining the City and County of Los Angeles’ pending claims. Attorney General Harris’s lawsuit also alleges violations of Health and Safety Code sections 41700 (discharge of air contaminants) and 25510 (hazardous materials release reporting); and Government Code section 12607 (impairment of the State’s natural resources).

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February 2, 2016

California Man Operating Phone Room in Debt Relief Scam Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Consumers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:41 am

An Orange County, California, man pleaded guilty today for his role in operating fraudulent debt relief firms that offered to settle credit card debts but instead took victims’ payments as undisclosed up-front fees, the Justice Department and U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced.

Jeremy Nelson, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of an indictment alleging conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with companies known as Nelson Gamble & Associates (Nelson Gamble) and Jackson Hunter Morris & Knight LLP (Jackson Hunter).  According to the indictment, Nelson and his employees portrayed the debt relief companies as law firms and attorney-based companies that would negotiate favorable settlements with creditors.  Clients made monthly payments expecting the money to go toward settlements.  Nelson and his co-conspirators instead took at least 15 percent of the total debt as company fees, with the first six months of payments going almost entirely toward undisclosed up-front fees.

“Debt relief scams prey on vulnerable consumers trying to climb out of tough financial situations,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to investigate those who take advantage of consumers facing hard times, and prosecute unlawful schemes that bleed desperate consumers of their remaining resources.”

“This scheme victimized people already in financial distress,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California.  “As today’s guilty plea shows, the Justice Department is committed to protecting consumers, particularly those who are vulnerable to fraud schemes designed to prey upon people already in perilous economic condition.”

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Former Owner and Operator of California Medical Equipment Supply Company Sentenced for Their Roles in $1.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:39 am

The former owner and the former operator of a durable medical equipment supply company based in Long Beach, California, were sentenced today for their roles in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, Special Agent in Charge Chris Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region, Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Fendrick of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse made the announcement.

Amalya Cherniavsky, 41, and her husband, Vladislav Tcherniavsky, 46, both of Long Beach, were ordered to pay $614,418 in restitution.  U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. of the Central District of California ordered Tcherniavsky to serve 51 months in prison.  On Oct. 15, 2015, a federal jury convicted both defendants of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Cherniavsky owned JC Medical Supply, a purported durable medical equipment supply company that she co-operated with Tcherniavsky.  Evidence further showed that the defendants paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals and paid kickbacks to physicians for fraudulent prescriptions—primarily for expensive, medically unnecessary power wheelchairs—which the defendants then used to support fraudulent bills to Medicare.

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13 People Arrested after Law Enforcement Intercepts Nearly 3,000 Pounds of Marijuana being Smuggled into U.S. by Panga Boat

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:35 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities on Saturday arrested 13 people after law enforcement authorities interdicted nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana that they were trying to smuggle into the United States by panga boat at Arroyo Quemada Beach in southern Santa Barbara County, just north of the city of Santa Barbara. All 13 defendants were named in a criminal complaint filed Sunday that charges them with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

“Smuggling by panga boat endangers the lives of both the smugglers and authorities interdicting the boats and their payloads,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Law enforcement has and will continue to use all available means to curtail this dangerous activity.”

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint filed yesterday, the United States Coast Guard first observed the panga boat at Arroyo Quemada Beach early Saturday morning. The affidavit notes that drug-traffickers commonly use panga boats at night in an effort to evade law enforcement.

In this case, authorities believe that three people were in the boat, and approximately 15 people were observed on shore helping to unload the bales of marijuana. Two vans and a pick-up truck separately drove to the beach, and bales of marijuana were loaded into the pick-up and one of the vans. The vehicles then departed the beach at about the same time, but they went in separate directions. One van, which was being used to transport the marijuana, was stopped in Camarillo; the second van, which was being used to transport people, was stopped when it returned to Arroyo Quemada Beach; and the pick-up, which was being used to transport marijuana, was stopped in Carpinteria.  Law enforcement seized 114 bales of marijuana from the van stopped in Camarillo and the pick-up truck stopped in Carpinteria.

Authorities arrested the following individuals:

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February 1, 2016

10 Charged in Relation to $15 Million Scheme to Defraud Medicare by Billing for Physical Therapy Services Never Provided

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:23 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities this morning arrested three defendants who are charged in relation to a scheme that fraudulently sought approximately $15 million from Medicare for physical therapy services that were never provided to “patients.”

The three men arrested today are among 10 defendants who have been charged in recent months for their roles in the scheme that led Medicare to pay approximately $7.8 million after receiving fraudulent bills.

The scheme revolved around clinics called Rehab Dynamics, RSG Rehab and Innovation Physical Therapy that operated at various locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties. These clinics were owned and operated by two men – Joseff Sales, 39, of Buena Park, a licensed physical therapist, and Daniel Goyena, 38, of Buena Park, a licensed physical therapist assistant – who were indicted in October.

Sales pleaded guilty on January 25, and Goyena pleaded guilty on December 17. Both men pleaded guilty to health care fraud and paying illegal kickbacks before United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson, who is scheduled to sentence the defendants later this year.

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Canadian Man Sentenced to Nearly Four Years in U.S. Prison for Mass Marketing Schemes Targeting U.S. Citizens

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:16 am

LOS ANGELES – A Canadian man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison on a federal fraud charge for targeting American victims in several schemes, including a fake lottery scam, one involving “secret shopper” pitch letters, and another involving bogus credit repair services.

Peter Omagbemi, 45, of Montreal, was sentenced yesterday to 47 months in prison by United States District Judge George H. Wu. In addition to the federal prison term, Judge Wu ordered Omagbemi to pay just over $1 million in restitution.

“The border between the United States and Canada did not protect Mr. Omagbemi from prosecution,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “My office will pursue foreign nationals who seek to profit by defrauding people in the United States. In this case, Mr. Omagbemi’s fraud was particularly harmful as it caused the arrest of one of his victims.”

Omagbemi operated a MoneyGram outlet in Montreal and engaged in a mass marketing fraud scheme by targeting victims – primarily in the United States – and fraudulently claiming that the victims had won a lottery or sweepstakes. In some cases, Omagbemi claimed the victim had been offered a job as a mystery shopper, or that he could repair the victim’s credit.

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Riverside Man Faces 10-Year Mandatory Federal Prison Term after Being Convicted for Third Time of Possessing Child Pornography

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:12 am

LOS ANGELES – A Riverside resident has pled guilty to possessing child pornography and now faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison.

James Gregory O’Neill, 58, of Riverside pleaded guilty on Monday, January 25 before United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner to possession of child pornography.

Because O’Neill has twice before been convicted of possessing child pornography, he will face a 10-year mandatory minimum prison term – and could be sentenced to as much as 20 years – when he is sentenced on April 18.

“Despite being convicted twice previously for possessing child pornography, Mr. O’Neill continued to victimize children by creating a market for child pornography,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “It is one of the highest priorities of my office to prosecute those who would seek to victimize children, and in particular those who do so repeatedly.”

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January 29, 2016

Former Manager at HBO Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Fraud and Tax Charges in Scheme that Stole about $1 Million from Company

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley woman was charged today with three federal offenses in relation to a scheme in which she submitted fraudulent bills and illegally took approximately $1 million from HBO, where she worked as manager in the Talent Relations Department.

In court documents filed today, Jennifer Choi, 38, of Valley Village, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.

Choi, who worked at HBO for nearly 10 years, where she was responsible for scheduling services – such as hairstyling, wardrobe and make-up – for actors associated with HBO. Choi set up a company called Shine Glossy, LLP, which she used to submit bogus invoices to HBO for style and make-up services supposedly provided to actors. But, according to court documents, the services were never actually provided, and HBO funds instead went directly into a bank account she had established. Through Shine Glossy, Choi submitted nearly 300 fraudulent invoices that led HBO to pay approximately $940,000.

“Ms. Choi has admitted to bilking her employer out of nearly a million dollars through a fraud scheme that used a fake company that provided no services,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This long-term scheme violated both her duty to her employer as well as federal law, and Ms. Choi now faces serious consequences beyond losing her job.”

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LAPD Detective Charged with Witness Intimidation

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:52 am

An LAPD detective has been charged with dissuading a witness and false imprisonment involving an off-duty sexual relationship with a man she met on the Internet, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Christine Wycoff (dob 2/10/71) is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 22 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, in case BA443216. Wycoff, who was arrested today by LAPD officers, was released on a $150,000 bond.

Deputy District Attorney Ann Marie Wise with the Justice System Integrity Division is prosecuting the case.

Wycoff allegedly began a sexual relationship with a man in June 2014 that lasted several months. When the relationship deteriorated, Wycoff allegedly made repeated threats against the man, who reported it the Los Angeles Police Department.

During the course of LAPD’s internal investigation, Wycoff allegedly threatened the victim that if he cooperated with the investigation, she would accuse him of domestic violence.

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