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February 7, 2016

MAN CONVICTED OF ILLEGALLY REIMBURSING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS OVER $13,000

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:53 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was convicted and sentenced today for illegally reimbursing contributors for Janet Nguyen’s 2012 Orange County Board of Supervisors election campaign. Son Truong Nguyen, 39, Fountain Valley, pleaded guilty today to 10 misdemeanor counts of unlawful contribution. He was sentenced to three years of informal probation, must contribute $5,000 to Victim Witness Emergency Fund, perform 40 hours of community service in lieu of jail, and is prohibited from being involved in any political campaigns during the duration of his probation. He is also required to pay a $20,000 fine to the General Fund of the State of California within three months of his plea date to resolve the Fair Political Practices Commission’s (FPPC) proactive investigation.

Between Nov. 2, 2011, and Jan. 30, 2012, Son Nguyen illegally reimbursed campaign contributors for Janet Nguyen’s 2012 Orange County Board of Supervisors election on 10 different occasions. He reimbursed a total of $13,300.

The FPPC and Orange County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation investigated this case following the 2012 election.

“We are pleased to present the findings from our joint investigation involving laundered campaign contributions,” said FPPC Chief of Enforcement Galena West. “Working cooperatively with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office allows us to combine our resources and expeditiously prosecute violations.”

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February 5, 2016

Former Chief of Los Angeles Port Police Pleads Guilty to False Statement and Tax Evasion Charges Related to Corruption Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:25 am

LOS ANGELES – The former chief of police for the Port of Los Angeles pleaded guilty today to federal charges of tax evasion and making false statements to FBI agents who were investigating his acceptance of a bribe in connection with the development of a social networking program that would become the official smartphone app for the Port and would then be marketed to other law enforcement agencies.

Ronald Jerome Boyd, 58, of Torrance, pleaded guilty this afternoon to three offenses and as a result faces a statutory maximum prison term of 11 years in federal prison.

Boyd pleaded guilty before United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner on the day he was scheduled to go to trial on a 16-count indictment that was returned by a grand jury last year.

Boyd pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about a scheme related to a smartphone app called Portwatch, which was developed to provide information to the public and to allow citizens to report criminal activity at the port.

In 2011, Boyd and two business partners formed BDB Digital Communications, a company that entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with the company developing Portwatch. The parties involved with BDB intended to generate revenues by marketing and selling a similar app – called Metrowatch – to other government agencies. Boyd was set to receive approximately 13.33 percent of all gross revenues generated by the sale of the Metrowatch application.

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Glendora Doctor Pleads Guilty to Distributing Addictive Painkillers and Transferring Proceeds to an Off-Shore Bank Account

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:21 am

LOS ANGELES – A medical doctor who served as the face of a sham Los Angeles clinic pleaded guilty today to federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges connected to her illegal distribution of the powerful painkiller best known by the brand name OxyContin.

Dr. Madhu Garg, 64, of Glendora, pleaded guilty to one count of illegally distributing oxycodone and one count of money laundering for transferring the proceeds of criminal activity to a Malaysian bank account.

Garg pleaded guilty before Untied States District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 26. As a result of today’s guilty pleas, Garg faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

Garg was arrested in January 2015, along with the other operators of the now-defunct Southfork Medical Clinic in Los Angeles. A federal grand jury indictment charged seven defendants with conspiring to sell medically unnecessary prescriptions for drugs that included oxycodone, hydrocodone (commonly sold under the brand names Vicodin, Norco and Lortab), alprazolam (best known by the brand name Xanax), carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant sold under the brand name Soma) and promethazine with codeine (a cough syrup sold on the street as “purple drank” and “sizzurp”).

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FORMER TREASURER FOR YOUTH SOCCER CLUB ORGANIZATION TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR EMBEZZLING AND LAUNDERING OVER $174,000

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:18 am

FULLERTON, Calif. – A former treasurer for a youth soccer club organization is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for embezzling and laundering over $174,000 from the organization. Laura Alicia Zellerbach, 41, Long Beach, is charged with one felony count of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, one felony count of attempting to falsify records, one felony count of money laundering, and 23 felony counts of attempted computer access and fraud. If convicted, Zellerbach faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and eight months in state prison. She is out of custody on her own recognizance and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

Between April 2013 and January 2015, Zellerbach served as treasurer for the Fullerton Rangers Youth Soccer Club (FRYSC). She is accused of having access to all of the individual team accounts and club organization accounts. At the time of the crime, she is accused of handling the finances for a business she and her husband owned, Zellcorp Inc. dba Restaurant Packaging Group.

Zellerbach is accused of embezzling over $174,000 from FRYSC by transferring money from the various team accounts into her own personal account, withdrawing FRYSC’s money at a bank or ATM, and through debit card transactions.

She is accused of laundering the embezzled money by transferring the funds into her personal accounts and using the money as capital loans from her personal account to fund Zellcorp Inc. She is accused of withdrawing over $20,000 for a cashier’s check to partially pay for a European vacation for her children. Zellerbach is accused of resigning as treasurer after FRYSC board members began questioning her about the organization’s finances.

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February 4, 2016

Two L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies Involved in Use-of-Force Incident Against Shackled Inmate Found Guilty of Obstruction of Justice

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:13 am

LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies who were assigned to the 3000 Floor of the Men’s Central Jail were found guilty this afternoon of falsifying reports with the intent to obstruct justice. The false reports were filed after an incident in which a shackled inmate was struck, kicked, repeatedly hit by a flashlight, and pepper-sprayed by the defendants.

Concluding a two-week trial, a federal jury convicted former deputies Joey Aguiar, 28, and Mariano Ramirez, 40. Both men were found guilty of one count of falsifying records with the intent to obstruct justice, a charge that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

The jury in the case was unable to reach a unanimous decision on a civil rights offense that alleges the deputies unlawfully beat the victim during the incident on February 11, 2009. The jury reported in open court that it was split 10-2 in favor of guilt.

The jury acquitted Aguiar and Ramirez of conspiring to violate the inmate’s civil rights.

United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell scheduled a sentencing date for April 25. Federal prosecutors have yet to decide if they will retry Aguiar and Ramirez on the unresolved civil rights charge.

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9 Charged in Federal Court with Circumventing Smog Check Program by ‘Clean Piping’ over 1,300 Vehicles that Were Never Tested

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:09 am

LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury has returned a 44-count indictment that charges nine defendants with violating the Clean Air Act by conducting hundreds of fraudulent smog check inspections that falsely certified vehicles had passed emissions tests when different cars and trucks had actually been tested.

The indictment, which was filed yesterday afternoon in United States District Court, focuses on Smogz R Us, a shop that operated on West 54th Street in South Los Angeles. The defendants – who are charged with conspiracy and various counts of making false statements in a record – allegedly performed more than 1,300 fraudulent smog checks at Smogz R Us.

“Environmental protection programs, such as California’s smog check program, are designed to protect our health and safety,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The operator and employees of this smog check facility – one of many on the front lines of limiting air pollution – willfully circumvented testing procedures and allowed as many as 1,300 hundred cars and trucks to emit harmful levels of pollutants.”

The federal Clean Air Act gives primary responsibility for meeting “ambient air quality” standards for pollutants such as ozone, lead, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide to the states. As part of California’s plan to meet these air quality standards, the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair oversees a vehicle inspection program that requires many vehicles in the state – and in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, where ozone pollution is particularly severe – to undergo an emissions test commonly called a smog check. The Clean Air Act prohibits a person from knowingly making false statements and certifications in relation to programs mandated under the Clean Air Act, which includes the California smog check program.

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TWO FORMER COURT DROS CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR ABUSING TIMECARDS AND COSTING THE TAXPAYERS THOUSANDS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:07 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Two former Detention and Release Officers (DRO) were convicted and sentenced today for abusing their timecards and costing the taxpayers of Orange County thousands of dollars. Glen Alan Green, 65, Huntington Beach, and Clyde Richard Nelson, 67, Chino Hills, pleaded guilty today, Feb. 3, 2016, to one misdemeanor count of grand theft by an employee. The defendants paid full restitution up front and were sentenced to three years of probation and 60 days in jail.

At the time of the crime, Green and Nelson were employed as DROs at the Superior Court of California, County of Orange (Superior Court of Orange County). An administrative investigation was conducted by the Superior Court of Orange County and reported to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, who then conducted a criminal investigation.

Between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, Green and Nelson would arrive late to work, leave early, or not show up at all, and submitted timecards showing normal working hours. The defendants engaged in a conspiracy by covering for each other when the other was not at work. The total loss per the Superior Court of Orange County was $2,963 for Nelson and $5,343 for Green. The defendants are no longer employed at the Superior Court of Orange County.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 16CM00636 / February 03, 2016

February 3, 2016

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU REACH SETTLEMENT TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF AUTO LENDING DISCRIMINATION BY TOYOTA

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:21 am

The Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced today a settlement to resolve allegations that Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (Toyota) engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers in auto lending.  Toyota, based in Torrance, California, is the nation’s largest captive auto lender, and the fifth largest auto lender overall.

Through the settlement, Toyota agrees to limit significantly the discretion of car dealers to charge interest rate markups on Toyota loans.  Notably, Toyota has also committed that it will not increase the interest rates it quotes to car dealers in order to fund additional nondiscretionary dealer compensation implemented as part of the settlement.  The settlement also provides $19.9 million in compensation for borrowers who took out loans between January 2011 and January 2016 and paid higher markup based on the alleged discrimination.  Additionally, Toyota will pay up to $2 million to African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers with markup disparities while Toyota is preparing to implement the new policies.  The new policies must be in place by August 2016.

“Toyota’s reforms will level the playing field to ensure that all eligible borrowers – regardless of their race or national origin – can sign auto loans with fair terms and reasonable interest rates,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “While dealerships deserve fair compensation for the valuable customer service they provide, federal law protects consumers against higher price markups simply because of what they look like or where they come from.  We commend Toyota for crafting a new compensation system that strikes an appropriate balance for dealers and consumers.”

Toyota is known as an indirect auto lender because, rather than taking applications directly from consumers, the company makes most of its loans through car dealers nationwide who help their customers pay for their new or used car by submitting their loan application to Toyota.  It is also a captive auto lender because it is owned by an auto manufacturer and provides consumers with financing for the primary purpose of facilitating sales by the manufacturer and its associated franchised dealers.  Toyota’s business practice, like most other major auto lenders, allows car dealers discretion to vary a loan’s interest rate from the price Toyota initially sets based on the borrower’s objective credit-related factors.  Dealers receive greater payments from Toyota on loans that include a higher interest rate markup.  The coordinated investigations by the department and the CFPB that preceded today’s settlement determined this system of subjective and unguided pricing discretion directly results in Toyota’s qualified African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers paying more than qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers.

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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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