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March 10, 2016

Senior Auction Official at Beverly Hills Gallery Pleads Guilty in Connection with $1 Million Wildlife Smuggling Conspiracy

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:22 am

Joseph Chait, the senior auction administrator of a Beverly Hills, California, gallery and auction house, pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle wildlife products made from rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral with a market value of at least approximately $1 million, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York  and Director Dan Ashe for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS).  Chait, 38, of Beverly Hills, pleaded guilty to a two-count information before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken for the Southern District of New York.

“Rhinos and elephants have been on earth for millennia but are now at grave risk due to the illegal wildlife trade,” said John C. Cruden, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “The United States and other destination markets have a special responsibility to help save these beloved creatures from extinction. Those in the auction industry need to be responsible and not turn a blind eye to the fact that trade in protected animal parts is highly regulated.  Illegal wildlife trafficking takes many forms and those who deliberately break the rules and engage in smuggling will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“Joseph Chait and his co-conspirators trafficked in wildlife worth a market value of at least $1 million, deliberately flouting laws put in place to protect endangered species such as rhinoceros,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “We are grateful for the outstanding work of the FWS in this investigation, which is ongoing.”

“This case demonstrates the insidious nature of wildlife trafficking, showing how these activities permeate our society in many social, economic and cultural areas,” said Director Ashe.  “One criminal at a time.  One guilty plea at a time.  Federal prosecutors, our devoted team of law enforcement officers, and their colleagues around the globe are helping reduce trade in illegal wildlife products that is decimating populations of some of our most cherished species.”

According to allegations contained in the Information and statements made in court filings and proceedings:

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Convicted Sex Offender Sentenced for Torrance Rape Committed While Out on Bail

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:17 am

A Torrance man was sentenced today to 58 years to life in state prison for raping a woman while he was out on bail on another case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Frank Dunnick said Guy Allen Dietz, 45, was convicted on Jan. 28 of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by foreign object, rape by threat to arrest or deport, oral copulation under threat to arrest and sexual penetration under threat to intimidation.

The sentence handed down by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen of the Torrance Branch includes enhancements for committing the offenses while being out on bail on another felony case, a prior strike conviction for rape and a prior prison commitment.

At the time of the crime, Dietz had been out on bail for failing to register as a sex offender in case LA077201. He also has a 1998 rape conviction and two drug-related convictions in 2005 and 2010.

On Aug. 28, 2014, the victim was raped by Dietz at his home in Torrance, the prosecutor said. Before the attack, the convicted sex offender presented a badge and handcuffs claiming to be an undercover police officer, the prosecutor added.

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MAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR STABBING-MURDER OF CONCERT ATTENDEE DURING LIVE PERFORMANCE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:14 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man is expected to be arraigned today for stabbing and murdering a concert attendee in Santa Ana during a live performance. Juan Angel Rivera, 21, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a knife. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison. The People will request he be held on $1 million bail at his arraignment expected this afternoon in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

On the evening of March 3, 2016, Rivera is accused of attending a performance at Underground DTSA in Santa Ana where a band was performing. At approximately 10:30 p.m. as a band was performing, the defendant is accused of getting into a confrontation with 23-year-old Nathan Alfaro. During the confrontation, Rivera is accused of pulling out a knife and stabbing Alfaro multiple times in the torso. Rivera is accused of leaving the venue with several other people. The victim was transported to University of California, Irvine Medical Center where he died as a result of the multiple stab wounds.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. the next morning, Rivera was arrested by the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) as he was leaving his home. SAPD investigated this case.

The investigation in this case is ongoing and no further details will be disclosed at this time.

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March 9, 2016

North Hollywood Man Sentenced to Four Years in Federal Prison in Tax Scheme that Fraudulently Sought over $1.2 Million in Refunds

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:24 am

LOS ANGELES – A North Hollywood man has been sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for his role in a tax fraud conspiracy scheme that fraudulently claimed more than $1.2 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

Antonio Jerome Cook, 37, received the prison sentence yesterday from United States District Judge George H. King. In addition to the prison term, Judge King ordered Cook to pay $537,309 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Cook pleaded guilty in October 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit tax fraud.

According to documents filed with the court, starting in late 2008 or early 2009, Cook, along with two co-conspirators, developed a tax fraud scheme in which the defendants prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns for individuals. The fraudulent returns were filed on behalf of individuals who agreed to have the defendants prepare their tax returns (apparently without knowledge of the fraud scheme), as well as individuals whose identities were stolen.

The fraudulent tax returns indicated that the taxpayers were employed by Picaso Fashions, a business established by Cook in name only. In fact, Picaso Fashions did not have any employees and the taxpayers were never actually employed by Picaso.  The tax returns indicated that Picaso Fashions had excessively withheld income tax for each taxpayer, and each fraudulently filed tax return sought a tax refund the taxpayers were not entitled to receive.

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Registered Sex Offender from Bay Area Found Guilty of Traveling to Cambodia to have Illicit Sexual Conduct with Young Girls

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:20 am

LOS ANGELES – A Bay Area man was found guilty this afternoon of travelling to Cambodia to have illicit sexual conduct with young girls.

Ronald Gerard Boyajian, 55, who resided in Menlo Park and previously spent time on the Palos Verdes peninsula, was found guilty of three child exploitation crimes.

Concluding a six-week trial, a federal court jury found Boyajian guilty of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in foreign places, and committing these offenses while being required to register as a sex offender.

United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder is scheduled to sentence Boyajian on June 13, at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each of the two travel offenses and a mandatory consecutive 10-year term for committing these offenses while being required by California law to register as a sex offender. Because two of his convictions carry potential sentence-doubling provisions, Boyajian’s total sentencing exposure is 130 years in federal custody.

Boyajian was arrested by the Cambodian National Police (CNP) in February 2009, while he was on his 35th trip to Asia over a nine-year period. Boyajian began traveling to Cambodia shortly after completing his parole following convictions for illegal sex with a minor and oral sex with a minor in 1994.

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96-YEAR-OLD MAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING TWO GIRLS UNDER AGE 14 IN HIS HOME

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:17 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A 96-year-old man is scheduled to be arraigned for sexually assaulting two girls under the age of 14 in his home. Kenneth Leroy Collins, 96, Laguna Woods, is charged with four felony counts of committing a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14 with sentencing enhancement allegations for committing lewd acts against multiple victims and substantial sexual conduct with a child. If convicted, Collins faces a maximum sentence of 60 years to life in state prison. Collins is scheduled for a continued arraignment Friday, March 11, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Collins was acquainted with 10-year-old Jane Doe 1 and 11-year-old Jane Doe 2, who had visited his home.

On several occasions between Jan. 1, 2016, and Feb. 24, 2016, Collins is accused of sexually assaulting both of the victims. He is accused of touching Jane Doe 1’s vagina, buttocks, and breasts. Collins is accused of touching Jane Doe 2’s buttocks, and taking off his adult diapers and attempting to masturbate himself in front of the victim. The defendant is accused of making sexually explicit gestures including with his tongue to both victims. Collins is also accused of asking Jane Doe 2 to remove her clothes.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case and arrested the defendant on Feb. 25, 2016.

Deputy District Attorney Mena Guriguis of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 16HF0296 / March 8, 2016

March 8, 2016

MAN ARRAIGNED ON CHARGES OF ATTEMPTING TO TRAFFIC AND PIMP AN UNDERCOVER OFFICER POSING AS MINOR GIRL ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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

FULLERTON, Calif. – A man was arraigned Friday on charges of attempting to traffic and pimp an undercover officer posing as a minor girl on social media. Joseph Deandre Edwards, 21, Anaheim, 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 by promise, threat, and violence, and one felony count of pandering by procuring. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration. He is being held on $500,000 and is scheduled for pre-trial on March 14, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-12, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

Circumstances of the Case
Edwards is accused of being a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women 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. Victims are often required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.

Between December 2015, and March 2016, Edwards is accused of sending an undercover officer, whom he thought was a 17-year-old girl, a friend request on a social media website. He is accused of sending messages to the victim’s account and attempting to persuade the victim to work for the defendant by performing commercial sex acts for money despite knowing her age.

On March 2, 2016, Edwards is accused of arranging to meet with the victim at a location known for prostitution and human trafficking in Orange County. He was arrested by officers after arriving to the location of the meeting.

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Man Sentenced For 2013 Murder of Live-In Girlfriend

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:18 am

A 45-year-old man was sentenced today to 25 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting his live-in girlfriend near the Porter Ranch house they shared, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Last week, Joseph Defalco pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree murder and admitted using a firearm.

Deputy District Attorney Julie Kramer, who prosecuted the case, said Defalco shot Ann Risa Suggs, 52, twice in the head and then shot himself before returning to their home on June 14, 2013. After a standoff with police that lasted more than five hours, Defalco was arrested and treated for his injuries.

The defendant and the victim had dated for approximately 20 years and lived together for more than two years at the Porter Ranch house when the murder occurred, the prosecutor said.

Case PA077259 was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, Devonshire Station.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / Case PA077259  / March 7, 2016

MAN SENTENCED TO 55 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR BEATING DEATH OF 2-YEAR-OLD CHILD

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced today to 55 years to life in state prison for assaulting a 2-year-old child causing his death. Lae Thongphun, 34, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury Dec. 14, 2015, of one felony count of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of assault on a child under 8 years of age with force likely to cause great bodily injury causing death with a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction for a first degree burglary in 2007 in Los Angeles County.

At the time of the crime, Thongphun was in a romantic relationship with a woman and lived with her and her two young children in an apartment in Garden Grove.

On Aug. 28, 2009, Thongphun was responsible for taking care of 2-year-old Fox Le and his sister, while their mother was out of the home to attend a birthday celebration. Shortly after the mother left the home, Thongphun intentionally stepped on Le’s stomach. The defendant then called Le’s mother to tell her that her son was not breathing.

At approximately 10:48 p.m., officers from the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) and paramedics arrived at the home and found the victim not breathing and his face covered in blood. Paramedics rushed the victim to the hospital where Le was pronounced dead. GGPD subsequently arrested Thongphun.

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March 7, 2016

GANG MEMBER WHO WORKED AS FEDERAL INFORMANT SENTENCED TO 21 YEARS IN PRISON FOR BEING PAROLEE IN POSSESSION OF FIREARM

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A gang member who worked as a federal informant was sentenced today to 21 years in state prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm in public. Fernando Jose Perez, also known as Inmate F, 34, Theo Lacy Jail, was found guilty by a jury on March 9, 2009, of one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon with sentencing enhancements for crime-bail-crime, criminal street gang activity, and three prior strike convictions for possession of a firearm while on probation and street terrorism in 2000, being an active gang participant having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, gang member carrying a loaded firearm in public, possession of a firearm while on probation and street terrorism in 2001, and receiving and possessing stolen property and street terrorism in 2002, all in Orange County. He faced a maximum of 42 years to life in state prison.

On Aug. 3, 2015, the defense field a “Romero” motion, in which the judge can dismiss past strike allegations set forth in the complaint in order to sentence the defendant to less time in prison, in furtherance of justice.

Perez was sentenced today, March 4, 2016, by the Honorable Gregg L. Prickett, to 21 years in state prison, with more than 13 years of actual time served with credit, after the court took into consideration the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s request for the court to take into consideration Perez’s work as an informant for a federal law enforcement task force, the “Romero” motion, and the defendant’s present felonies and past convictions, as well as the defendant’s background, character and prospects. Judge Prickett dismissed two prior strike convictions which made Perez eligible for a determinate sentence instead of a life sentence.

In light of the court’s ruling, the 06WF2819 case was dismissed today, as well as the crime-bail-crime enhancement in the 07WF0153 case, by the court at the request of the OCDA.

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