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April 4, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Files Suit Against Morgan Stanley Over False Claims and Securities Violations

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

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today filed a lawsuit against investment bank Morgan Stanley for misrepresentations about complex investments such as residential mortgage-backed securities, in which large pools of home loans were packaged together and sold to investors.  These misrepresentations contributed to the global financial crisis and to major losses by investors including California’s public pension funds, which are responsible for the retirement security of California peace officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees.

The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that Morgan Stanley violated the False Claims Act, the California Securities Law and other state laws by concealing or understating the risks of intricate investments involving large numbers of underlying loans or other assets. In addition to residential mortgage-backed securities, the complaint also focuses on “structured investment vehicle” investments, which involved not just packages of residential mortgage loans but also other types of debt of individuals and corporations.

“Morgan Stanley’s conduct in this case evidenced a culture of greed and deception that helped create a devastating economic crisis and crippled California’s budget,” said Attorney General Harris. “This lawsuit is necessary in order to hold Morgan Stanley accountable for the destruction it caused to California, our people, and our pension funds.”

Specifically, the complaint alleges that, from 2004 to 2007, Morgan Stanley assembled and sold billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities, many of which contained risky loans made by Morgan Stanley subsidiary Saxon, or by New Century, a mortgage lender which received crucial funding from Morgan Stanley.  Morgan Stanley purchased and bundled high-risk loans from subprime lenders like New Century into seemingly safe investments, even though it knew the lenders were “not [using] a lot of common sense” when approving the loans, the complaint alleges. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Morgan Stanley did not disclose the risks because it did not want its concerns about loan quality to become a “relationship killer” that would cause it to lose its lucrative business with companies making the risky loans.

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Man Arrested Responding to Ad to Have Sex With 13-Year-Old Girl Faces More Than 15 Years In Prison

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

LOS ANGELES - A man who responded to an Internet advertisement to have sex with a young girl has been arrested and now faces more than 15 years in prison.

Joshua Paul Crouch, 28, of San Pedro, was arrested Wednesday in San Pedro and charged Thursday with attempted sex-trafficking of a minor. This is one of the first prosecutions in Los Angeles under a recent change to the federal sex-trafficking statute.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint in the case, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and other law enforcement agencies, posted an online advertisement on the Internet using coded language in a ruse offering sex with young girls. The advertisement used catch words such as “daddy,” “petite,” and “young.” Crouch responded to the advertisement and was told by an undercover law enforcement agent that one of the girls advertised was “Cassie,” a 13-year-old girl.  Crouch sought to have oral sex with “Cassie” in exchange for $60. Crouch chose “Cassie” instead of a 15-year-old girl who was also offered by the undercover agent. Crouch followed the directions provided by the undercover agent and was arrested when he arrived at “Cassie’s” hotel room. No actual minors were at risk or involved in the operation.

“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and victimizes large numbers of women and children,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This case demonstrates that law enforcement has changed its approach in combatting human trafficking, by now focusing on customers and commercial sex traffickers and by treating the women and children as crime victims. This defendant is one of the first individuals charged in Los Angeles under this federal statute, but he will not be the last.”

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Orange County man convicted of smuggling Asian songbirds into the U.S.

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

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles federal jury has convicted a Garden Grove man of smuggling Asian songbirds into the United States concealed in his suitcase at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Can Thanh Nguyen, 63, was found guilty Thursday of importing and bringing Asian songbirds into the United States in violation of federal law.

Nguyen, who had a long history of international travel, landed at LAX April 20 of last year.  At a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) kiosk, Nguyen stated he was not carrying any animals or animal/wildlife products. However, he was subsequently referred by a CBP officer to a secondary agricultural inspection point.  While Nguyen was in that inspection area, CBP personnel discovered 27 Asian songbirds that had been carefully concealed in his suitcase. The birds were hidden in cages wrapped in foil or newspaper underneath a layer of foil and clothing to avoid detection.  Special agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) responded to investigate.

“This case demonstrates my office’s commitment to prosecute those who criminally exploit wildlife that is threatened with potential extinction,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section in my Office is dedicated to protecting endangered species and our eco-system.”

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April 1, 2016

Orange County Man Pleads Guilty to Shooting Laser Pointer at Orange County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:36 am

SANTA ANA, California – A Santa Ana man pled guilty today to intentionally aiming a laser pointer at a law enforcement helicopter.

Mario Deleon Lopez, 35, pled guilty before United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford.  Lopez’s sentencing was set for July 18 at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.

On the evening of November 14, 2015, tactical flight deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department were patrolling over Santa Ana when their helicopter was struck with the beam of a laser, according to investigators. The pilots reported that their aircraft was struck multiple times with a green laser that illuminated the helicopter’s cockpit.

Following the alleged laser attacks, the deputies, along with the Santa Ana Police Department, successfully tracked the source of the laser to a suspect located in the backyard of a residence in Santa Ana. Police on the ground responded to the residence and took Lopez into custody on state charges of pointing a laser at an aircraft. Lopez subsequently posted bail and was released from local custody while the federal investigation continued and culminated with the filing of the indictment.

“This defendant created a dangerous situation for the pilot of the helicopter as well as other innocent bystanders on the ground,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker.  “This crime was senseless, but the prosecution highlights the excellent skills and training of the helicopter pilot and the law enforcement team that was able to identify and arrest this defendant.”

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Northern California Man Who Choked Woman on an Airplane Convicted of Assault

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:33 am

Los Angeles – A Northern California man has been convicted of a federal assault charge for choking and hitting a fellow passenger on a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Lawrence Wells, Jr., 54, of Richmond, California, was convicted by a jury yesterday afternoon in United States District Court of federal misdemeanor assault.

According to the evidence at trial, Wells and the victim were passengers on board Southwest Airlines flight 2010 from Los Angeles to San Francisco on October 18 last year.  Wells was seated directly behind the victim.  The flight was scheduled to take off from Los Angeles International Airport at 7:10 p.m. but was delayed both in boarding and on the tarmac.  While the flight was on the tarmac, the victim reclined her seat.  Wells summoned a flight attendant and angrily pointed at the victim’s reclined seat.  The flight attended instructed the victim to return her seat to the upright position.

The flight did not actually take off until 10:30 p.m.  A few minutes after the flight left Los Angeles, the victim reclined her seat again.  At that time, Wells reached around the victim’s chair and choked her for five to ten seconds.  He also punched her in the head with a closed fist.  The pilot returned the flight to LAX.

“Defendant’s violent reaction to the frustrations of air travel was beyond the bounds of civilized behavior,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The victim was fortunate that she did not suffer greater injuries, because she had no way to defend herself from this defendant’s attack.”

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PAROLEE STRIKER CHARGED WITH ATTEMPED HUMAN TRAFFICKING, PIMPING, AND PANDERING OF FICTITIOUS MINOR GIRL ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:30 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A parolee striker has been charged with the attempted human trafficking, pimping, and pandering of a fictitious minor girl on social media. Roger Lee Perryman, 30, Gardena, is charged with one felony count of attempted human trafficking of a minor, one felony count of attempted pimping of a minor, one felony count of attempted pandering with a minor over 16 years old by procuring, one felony count of pandering by receiving or giving money, one felony count of false personation, and one misdemeanor count of false representation to a peace officer with sentencing enhancement allegations for a prior strike conviction for attempted robbery in 2010 and prior convictions which resulted in prison sentences for attempted robbery in 2010 and transportation of a controlled substance for sale in 2014 in Los Angeles County. If convicted, Perryman faces a maximum sentence of 14 years and eight months in state prison. Perrryman was arraigned today and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 8, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

Circumstances of the Case

Perryman is accused of being a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women and/or children for financial gain. With the rise in popularity of social media and ease of meeting people on the Internet, many pimps and human traffickers utilize a variety of social media to locate potential victims. The victims are often required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.

At the time of the crime, Perryman was out of custody on parole.

Between Feb. 29, 2016, and March 28, 2016, Perryman is accused of contacting an undercover officer whom he believed to be a minor on a social media website. The defendant is accused of communicating extensively with the officer and attempting to persuade the officer to engage in commercial sex acts in Orange County and Las Vegas for his benefit.

On March 28, 2016, Perryman is accused of setting up a meeting with the officer in Orange County with the intent of recruiting a person whom he believed to be a minor to engage in commercial sex. Perryman was arrested at the meeting place by members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF).

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March 31, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Settlements Totaling $4.95 Million with LG, Hitachi, Panasonic, Toshiba and Samsung Over Price-Fixing Scheme

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

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a preliminary approval of settlements resolving allegations that LG, Hitachi, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Samsung, companies all based in Japan or Korea, fixed prices on critical components of televisions and computer monitors from 1995 to 2007.  Those critical components, known as Cathode Ray Tubes or CRTs, were used to display images on computer monitors and televisions screens before they were replaced by flat screens. The court has approved the settlement pending valid objections submitted within 60 days.

The companies’ price fixing scheme caused damage to California consumers and government entities that overpaid for their televisions and computers. The announced settlement has led to legally enforceable judgments against these foreign companies.

“LG, Hitachi, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Samsung deliberately targeted the U.S. market to raise prices for televisions and computers worldwide,” said Attorney General Harris. “These settlements bring justice and relief to California consumers and end the malicious practice of price-fixing by these companies.”

The settlements, which were filed in San Francisco Superior Court, require all five companies to pay a total of $4.95 million to settle claims of overcharges paid by California government entities, general damages suffered by the State’s economy, and civil penalties. The settlements require that the companies pay back the illegally obtained profits to those affected by their actions. In addition, the settlements include injunctive relief, which requires that each company engage in company-wide antitrust compliance training and reporting that involves products in addition to CRTs and extends to foreign companies and subsidiaries. Finally, the settlements include requirements, enforceable by the court via fines and imprisonment, to prevent future violations of antitrust law.

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California Wholesale Executive Pleads Guilty for Role in $9 Million Bank Fraud Scheme

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

A California man who was a vice president of a wholesale equipment company pleaded to fraud charges today in connection with a bank fraud scheme that resulted in more than $9 million in losses to a California bank.

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, Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony Orlando of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office and Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) Christy Goldsmith Romero made the announcement.

Chung Yu Yeung, aka Louis Yeung, 39, of San Dimas, California, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud.  Sentencing was set for June 20, 2016, before Judge Snyder.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, from 2007 to 2012, Yeung was the vice president of Eastern Tools and Equipment Inc. (Eastern Tools), a wholesale equipment company based in Ontario, California, that sold portable generators to retailers across the country.  Yeung admitted that beginning in 2007, he and his co-conspirators defrauded East West Bank, based in Pasadena, California, in connection with a line of credit for Eastern Tools by making and causing to be made material misrepresentations to the bank about Eastern Tools’ accounts receivable and its financial statements.  The conspirators created numerous shell corporations to act as purported suppliers and retailers doing business with Eastern Tools, when, in reality, these shell corporations were entirely under the control of Yeung and existed for the sole purpose of creating the illusion of such business, he admitted.  Yeung admitted that the fictitious companies allowed him and other conspirators to falsely inflate Eastern Tools’ accounts receivable and financial statements in representations to East West Bank.

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MAN ARRAIGNED FOR PLACING PIPE BOMBS NEAR PUBLIC PLACES IN ANAHEIM AND POSSESSING MATERIALS TO MAKE PIPE BOMBS

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was arraigned today for placing pipe bombs near public places in Anaheim and possessing materials to construct additional pipe bombs. Donald Paul Busteed, 45, Anaheim, is charged with three felony counts of possession of a destructive device in a public place, one felony count of explosion of a destructive device, and one felony count of intent to unlawfully make a destructive device. If convicted, Busteed faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months in state prison. Busteed was charged and arraigned today and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 8, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3,North Justice Center, Fullerton.

On Nov. 13, 2015, Busteed is accused of placing a pipe bomb in Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot in Anaheim. A shopper in the parking lot saw the device and called 911. Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad responded to the scene and dismantled the device.

On Dec. 11, 2015, Busteed is accused of attaching a pipe bomb to a pole in an alleyway in Anaheim. A witness contacted the Anaheim Police Department (APD) and the device was dismantled.

On March 27, 2016, Busteed is accused of detonating a pipe bomb in an alleyway near Anaheim Boulevard and Wilhelmina Street in Anaheim.

APD investigated this case and on March 28, 2016, searched the defendant’s residence. Busteed is accused of possessing additional pipe bomb devices and various materials necessary to construct pipe bombs in his garage. Busteed was subsequently arrested by APD.

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March 30, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, District Attorneys Announce $8.5 Million Settlement With Wells Fargo Bank Over Privacy Violations

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

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and five district attorneys today announced a $8,500,000 settlement with Wells Fargo Bank over privacy violations that included recording consumers’ phone calls without timely telling consumers they were being recorded, as required by California law. The investigation into Wells Fargo and the subsequent settlement were the result of the work of the Attorney General’s Office and the office of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, along with the Consumer Protection Divisions of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten.

As part of the settlement, which is in the form of a stipulated judgment, Wells Fargo will pay civil penalties totaling $7,616,000 and will reimburse the prosecutors’ investigative costs of $384,000. In addition, Wells Fargo will contribute $500,000 to two statewide organizations dedicated to advancing consumer protection and privacy rights.

“Protecting the privacy of California consumers is increasingly crucial as technology rapidly develops and becomes a bigger part of our lives,” said Attorney General Harris. “This settlement holds Wells Fargo accountable for violating the privacy of its customers by recording calls without providing adequate notification, and ensures that the bank makes the changes necessary to protect the privacy of its customers.”

The civil complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleged that Wells Fargo violated sections 632 and 632.7 of the California Penal Code by failing to timely and adequately disclose its automatic recording of phone calls with members of the public. California has some of strongest privacy laws in the country.  In California, each party to a confidential conversation must be advised at the outset if a call is being recorded, so that the individual can object or terminate the call if he or she does not wish to be recorded.

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