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December 14, 2015

INSURANCE AGENT SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING OVER $1.4 MILLION IN COMMISSION SCHEME

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An insurance agent was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison for defrauding over $1.4 million through an advance commission scheme. Eric Lee, 65, Brea, pleaded guilty on Oct. 23, 2015, to 10 felony counts of grand theft and 10 felony counts of insurance fraud with sentencing enhancements for damage exceeding $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property damage over $1.3 million. Lee was also ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution and a $2.8 million fine.

At the time of the crime, Lee worked as an insurance agent for FMC Financial Group (FMC), a general agency for the insurance company Mass Mutual from October 2009 to November 2010. Between May 2010 and October 2010, Lee sold universal life insurance policies, in excess of one year, to new clients and fraudulently completed their insurance policy applications.

Lee illegally engaged in a practice known in the insurance industry as an advance commission scheme. An advance commission scheme occurs when insurance carriers offer a commission in excess of an annual premium that is paid up front. Agents sell policies with the intent of allowing them to expire after one year while keeping the excess of the annual premium/commission as a profit. This profit to the agent is a loss to the insurance company.

Lee illegally overstated the annual income, net worth, and the source of the applicants’ income on insurance applications in order for life insurance policies to be issued by Mass Mutual. The defendant advised policy holders that they would be receiving free insurance and wrote them a personal check to pay for their first month’s premiums on the policy.

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December 11, 2015

16 Named in Racketeering Indictment Alleging Money Laundering Schemes Orchestrated by Former President of Orange County Bank

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:32 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities today arrested 11 defendants named in a sweeping racketeering indictment that alleges a series of money laundering schemes that revolved around the former head Westminster-based Saigon National Bank. Four other defendants who are named in two separate money laundering indictments were also arrested today.

The majority of the defendants arrested today in relation to Operation “Phantom Bank” are named in a 109-page racketeering indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on December 1 and unsealed this afternoon. Two other indictments returned by the grand jury over the past year were also unsealed today. The three indictments charge a total of 20 defendants, three of whom are named in two indictments.

In the 16-defendant racketeering indictment, six of the defendants are charged with violating the federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by playing key roles in a series of schemes to launder drug proceeds. At the center of the schemes is the lead defendant in the indictment – Tu Chau “Bill” Lu, 71, of Fullerton, who was president and chief executive officer of Saigon National Bank from 2009 through January 2015.

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AUTO DEALERSHIP OWNER AND ACCOUNTING FIRM OWNER CHARGED WITH FILING FRAUDULENT TAX RETURNS TOTALING CLOSE TO $1.2 MILLION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:28 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An automobile dealership owner and an accounting firm owner were charged and arraigned for filing approximately $1.2 million in fraudulent tax returns. Young Eui Hong, 51, and James Jun Kul Pak, 49, both of Garden Grove, are each charged with six felony counts of unlawful failure to transfer public funds, six felony counts of grand theft by an employee, four felony counts of making a false and fraudulent return over $25,000 tax liability, and sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, Hong and Pak face a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison. The defendants are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Dec. 18, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-12, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At the time of the crimes, Hong was the owner of Grand Motors, Inc., an automobile dealership, and Pak owned an accounting firm in Garden Grove, which conducted accounting work for Hong’s dealership.

Between January 2009, and December 2014, Hong and Pak are accused of knowingly filing false quarterly sales tax returns in which they understated the number of vehicles sold by the dealership, and the amount of sales taxes paid by customers to the dealership, and owed to the State of California.

Hong and Pak are accused of maintaining records at the business and at their residences demonstrating that the number of sales reported to the Board of Equalization in the sales tax returns was approximately half of the actual sales at the dealership on which sales taxes were to be paid.

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Orange County Man Charged With Assault, Impersonating an Officer

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:25 am

An Orange County man suspected of assaulting two women while pretending to be a police officer is awaiting arraignment today on charges, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Joseph Christoph Moore (dob 1/3/76) is scheduled to be arraigned sometime after 1:30 p.m. at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, in case BA442110. Prosecutors will ask that his bail be set at $1.2 million.

Deputy District Attorney Lowrie Mendoza with the Sex Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.

The Anaheim resident is charged with six counts, including one felony count each of assault with intent to commit a felony, criminal threats and false imprisonment by violence. He also is charged with three misdemeanors, including two counts of unlawful use of badge and one count of sexual battery. The complaint alleges personal use of a gun and prior convictions.

He is suspected of stopping two women in separate incidents in the Hollywood area by claiming to be a police officer. The first alleged incident occurred on Nov. 24 in the 6100 block of De Longpre Avenue when he allegedly pulled a gun and threatened the woman after fondling her. The second alleged incident occurred on Nov. 30 in the 500 block of Kingsley Drive in East Hollywood. In both incidents, he allegedly flashed a badge.

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December 10, 2015

Two Members of Dockworkers Union Charged in Scheme that Bilked Health Care Plan by Fraudulently Billing for Chiropractic Services

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:26 am

LOS ANGELES – Two members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 13, have been arrested on federal fraud charges that allege they caused two medical clinics to bill the union’s health care plan for chiropractic services that either were not provided or were not medically necessary.

Sergio Amador, 49, of Downey, and David Gomez, 52, of San Pedro, were arrested yesterday without incident by federal authorities.

At arraignments yesterday afternoon, Amador and Gomez pleaded not guilty to mail fraud charges contained in an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on November 18. Both men were freed on bond and were ordered to stand trial on February 2, 2016.

The ILWU represents dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Members of the union receive benefits, including health care benefits, through the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union – Pacific Maritime Association Welfare Plan.

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Los Angeles-Based U.S. Attorney’s Office Collected over $42 Million in Civil and Criminal Actions during 2015 Fiscal Year

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

LOS ANGELES – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California collected $42,370,356 as a result of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits during the 2015 fiscal year, United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker announced today.

The amount collected for U.S. taxpayers during FY2015 is the result of nearly $19 million collected in criminal actions, and approximately $23.4 million collected in civil actions.

Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office worked with other offices and Justice Department components to collect an additional $10.54 billion, most of which was related to massive settlements with Bank of America and Standard & Poor’s Financial Service in cases in which proceeds were collected in FY 2015, which ended on September 30.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also collected $33,353,717 in criminal and civil asset forfeiture proceedings. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.

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WOMAN ARRAIGNED ON BURGLARY CHARGES FOR STEALING ABOUT $800 FROM TARGET STORES IN “SHORT CHANGE” SCHEME

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

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A woman was charged and arraigned today on charges of stealing about $800 from Target stores in a “short change” scheme. Ashlie Jane Pentard, 29, Long Beach, is charged with eight felony counts of second degree burglary. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of seven years and eight months in state prison. Pentard is being held on $75,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. She is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 15, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

Between May 5, 2015, and Dec. 3, 2015, Pentard is accused of stealing approximately $100 while checking out at different Target stores in Irvine and Costa Mesa. On eight separate occasions, she is accused of checking out with a bottle of water and sometimes a low-value item. Pentard is accused of paying with a $100 bill and as the cashier is making change, the defendant is accused of changing her mind and handing over smaller bills and asking for her $100 bill to be returned. After the cashier returns the correct $100 bill, Pentard is accused of switching out the $100 bill with a smaller bill while the cashier is not looking and then claiming she received back the wrong bill. The defendant is accused of making a scene in order to confuse the cashier, who then gives her another $100 bill. Pentard is accused of then leaving the scene.

Prior to Dec. 3, 2015, Pentard was suspected of running the above “short change” scheme at other Target stores in Orange County and out of state and was under surveillance by the Irvine Police Department (IPD), who investigated this case.

On Dec. 3, 2015, IPD detectives observed the defendant committing second degree burglary at a Target store in Costa Mesa and subsequently arrested her in the parking lot without incident.

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December 9, 2015

Southern California Ambulance Company Owner, Operator and Managers Sentenced to Prison for Medicare Fraud Scheme

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

The former owner, operator and managers of a Southern California ambulance company were sentenced to prison for their role in a fraud scheme that resulted in more than $1.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

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 Christian J. Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region and Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division made the announcement.

Today, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero of the Central District of California sentenced Yaroslav Proshak, aka Steven Proshak, 47, of Valley Village, California to serve 108 months in prison.  On Dec. 2, 2015, Judge Otero of the Central District of California sentenced Emilia Zverev, 58, of Van Nuys, California; and Sharetta Michelle Wallace, 37, of Inglewood, California, to serve 36 months and 24 months in prison, respectively.  In addition to their prison terms, Judge Otero ordered Zverev and Wallace to pay restitution jointly and severally with Proshak in the amount of $804,755.  On Aug. 18, 2015, following a 10-day trial, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Proshak, Zverev and Wallace of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud.

Zverev and Wallace worked for ProMed Medical Transportation, an ambulance transportation company owned and operated by Proshak in the greater Los Angeles area that provided non-emergency services to Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom were dialysis patients.  Zverev was the billing manager and Wallace supervised the ProMed EMTs.  The evidence at trial showed that between May 2008 and October 2010, the defendants conspired to bill Medicare for ambulance transportation services for individuals that did not need such services.  The defendants also instructed ProMed EMTs to conceal the patients’ true medical conditions by altering paperwork and creating fraudulent documents to justify the services.  During the course of the conspiracy, ProMed submitted at least $1.5 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary transportation services; Medicare paid at least $804,755 on those claims.

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O.C. Firefighter Sentenced to over 11 Years in Federal Prison for Sending Money Abroad to Produce Sexually Explicit Photos of Girls

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

SANTA ANA, California – A commercial firefighter who resides in Huntington Beach has been sentenced to 135 months in federal prison for attempting to produce child pornography by sending money to the Philippines to purchase a camera to take sexually explicit photos of a 13-year-old girl and her friend.

John McArthur, 57, was sentenced Friday afternoon by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton.

McArthur pleaded guilty in May to one count of attempted production of child pornography.

“This defendant’s deviant crime sought to prey on the most vulnerable victims in society – children,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As demonstrated by the sentence that will send Mr. McArthur to prison for well over a decade, there are lengthy prison sentences associated with child pornography crimes like this defendant’s, and these penalties are designed to punish offenders and serve as a warning to others who might consider producing, trafficking or possessing child pornography.”

McArthur had online conversations with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl in the Philippines in January 2012. During those online conversations, McArthur agreed to send money for the purchase of a camera that would be used to take sexually explicit photographs of the girl and an 11-year-old friend. McArthur later went to a Western Union agent in Wilmington to transfer the money to the 13-year-old girl. (more…)

Former Deputy U.S. Marshal Sentenced to Federal Prison for Obstructing Justice by Lying to Investigators after Fatal Shooting

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

LOS ANGELES – A former deputy U.S. marshal was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison after being convicted of obstruction of justice – a charge stemming from lies he told to police after he fatally shot a man.

Matthew Itkowitz, 47, who now lives in Suffern, New York, was sentenced by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

Itkowitz was found guilty of obstruction of justice by a federal jury in July. The conviction was based on false statements Itkowitz made to Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives following his fatal shooting of a man in West Hollywood in March of 2008. Itkowitz falsely characterized an altercation that led to the shooting, and his version of events was contradicted by a video made by a security camera in the alley where the shooting took place.

In addition to obstruction of justice, Itkowitz was charged with violating the victim’s constitutional rights to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer. During the trial, Judge Gutierrez granted a defense motion for judgment of acquittal on that charge and a related gun charge. The jury that convicted Itkowitz also acquitted him of an obstruction of justice charge related to statements he made to a supervisor at the U.S. Marshals Service.

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