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October 23, 2015

THIRD-STRIKER ARRAIGNED ON CHARGES OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING, PIMPING, AND PANDERING TWO WOMEN AND DESTROYING OR CONCEALING EVIDENCE FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:01 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A third-striker was arraigned today on charges of human trafficking, pimping, and pandering two women, and destroying or concealing evidence from law enforcement. Dagan Nkosi Weed, 31, Los Angeles, is charged with one felony count of human trafficking, two felony counts of pimping, two felony counts of pandering, and one misdemeanor count of destroying or concealing evidence. Weed also faces sentencing enhancements for four prior strike convictions for robbery in 2001 and 2006, and commercial burglary in 2003, all in Los Angeles County, and serving a prison term of one year or more not remaining free from custody for more than five years. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 62 years to life in state prison. The defendant is being held on $550,000 bail and must prove that the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. Weed is scheduled for pre-trial on Oct. 29, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Case

Weedis accused of being a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women for financial gain. Victims often are required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp. Failure to follow these rules can result in physical and/or emotional abuse.

Between Oct. 1, 2015, and Oct. 21, 2015, Weed is accused of trafficking Jane Doe 1 from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Orange County and forcing her to engage in performing commercial sex acts for his benefit. The defendant is accused of forcing Jane Doe 1 to give him all of the money that she received from sex purchasers and threatening her with physical violence if she did not obey his instructions. The defendant is also accused of forcing Jane Doe 1 to engage in commercial sex seven days a week and not allowing her to stop soliciting commercial sex until she had met strict monetary quotas that he set.

During that time, Weed is also accused of pandering Jane Doe 2 by convincing her to perform commercial sex acts for his benefit. The defendant is accused of requiring Jane Doe 2 to give him all of the money that she received from sex purchasers.

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October 22, 2015

Federal Grand Jury Adds Wire Fraud and Tax Evasion Charges, as well as New Victims, to Fraud Case against Orange County Attorney

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:37 am

LOS ANGELES – An attorney who was indicted in September for allegedly stealing several million dollars from clients was named yesterday in a new indictment that adds additional wire fraud counts, as well as tax evasion and identity theft charges, to the case.

Stephen Young Kang, 46, of Newport Beach, is now charged in a 30-count superseding indictment that was returned yesterday afternoon by a federal grand jury.

The indictment filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles charges Kang with 22 counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, two counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of tax evasion. The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations that would require Kang to surrender ill-gotten gains if he is convicted of criminal charges.

The new indictment re-alleges wire fraud and money laundering charges contained in the original indictment, which was filed on September 1 and alleged that Kang defrauded a corporation and a couple seeking to make investments related to applications for EB-5 visas (see: http://go.usa.gov/3SdpJ).

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DMV worker, 5 others Charged in Identity Theft Scheme that used Puerto Rican Birth Certificates to Create Bogus Identity Documents

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:34 am

SANTA ANA, California – A clerk at the California Department of Motor Vehicles office in El Monte and five others have been indicted on federal identity theft charges for allegedly using legitimate birth certificates and Social Security numbers obtained from Puerto Rico to create new identities that were sold to people willing to pay thousands of dollars for fraudulent identity documents.

DMV clerk Tracey Lynette Jones, 33, of Long Beach, surrendered to federal authorities on Monday and was arraigned Monday afternoon in United States District Court. Jones entered a not guilty plea, was released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to stand trial on November 24 before United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

Jones and the other five defendants were named in a four-count indictment returned on September 30 by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges all six defendants with conspiring to produce identification documents. Several of the defendants, including Jones, are charged with various identity theft offenses.

“Identity theft is a serious crime that undermines the economic fabric of our society and causes considerable harm to the individual victims,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This identity theft scheme was particularly insidious because it both victimized the individuals whose identities were stolen and required the active participation of a government official. The fact that a DMV official abused her position of authority in committing this crime is egregious since such conduct can undermine the public’s confidence in a government institution entrusted with our personal information.”

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WOMAN CHARGED WITH STEALING VEHICLE AND DRIVING WITH ANOTHER WOMAN TO ORANGE COUNTY TO PIMP AND PANDER HER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:30 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Northern California woman was charged yesterday for stealing a vehicle and driving to Orange County to pimp and pander another woman. Courtney Charell Amos, 26, Pittsburg, is charged with one felony count of pimping, one felony count of pandering, one felony count of unlawful taking of a vehicle, one misdemeanor count of false evidence of documents, devices, or plates, one felony count of receiving stolen property, and one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison. She is being held on $20,000 bail and is scheduled for pre-trial on Oct. 28, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Case
On Oct. 9, 2015, Amos is accused of stealing a vehicle that belonged to one of Jane Doe’s family members in Stockton. Amos is accused of replacing the license plates on the stolen vehicle and driving with Jane Doe from the Bay Area to Orange County in the stolen vehicle. Amos is accused of persuading Jane Doe to engage in commercial sex acts with sex purchasers and collecting the money she made to pay for food, hotel, and gas.

In the early morning hours on Oct. 18, 2015, Amos is accused of arguing inside the stolen vehicle with Jane Doe in Santa Ana near an area known for prostitution and human trafficking. A witness near the vehicle contacted the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), who arrived and arrested Amos.

Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Office work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by SAPD and OCHTTF. OCHTTF is a partnership between Anaheim Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Police Department, Irvine Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and community and non-profit partners.

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October 21, 2015

Former Broker at San Fernando Valley Brokerage Firm Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Defrauding Investors

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:34 am

LOS ANGELES – A former registered representative at a now-defunct Sherman Oaks brokerage and investment firm was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison on wire fraud charges associated with a real estate investment scam that resulted in about five dozen investors losing nearly $4 million.

Jonathan Greenfield, 50, of West Hills, who was a licensed securities representative at Morgan Peabody, Inc., was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

Greenfield pleaded in December 2013 to two wire fraud counts, admitting that he provided his clients at Morgan Peabody with materially false information related to a real estate investment fund called the Sherwood Secured Investment Fund, LLC. Greenfield also admitted the he omitted material information in connection with the fund.

The fund was created by former Morgan Peabody Chief Executive Officer David Williams, who pleaded guilty in May and is pending sentencing (see: http://go.usa.gov/3SQQw). The Sherwood Secured Investment Fund offered a 9 percent annual return on investments made in “direct and indirect investments in real estate and real estate companies” and other secured investments, but Williams admitted that he used the majority of investor money from the Sherwood Fund to pay for personal expenses. Greenfield was not charged with knowing that Williams would misappropriate the fund monies, but was charged with misrepresenting to his clients the risk and the purpose of the investment.

In addition to the prison term, Greenfield was ordered to pay restitution of $359,497 to victims of the fraud.

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Former President of Central Coast Investment Firm Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Defrauding Real Estate Investors

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:31 am

LOS ANGELES – A Paso Robles man has been sentenced to 84 months in federal prison for misappropriating millions of dollars that victims invested in Central Coast real estate projects and for helping a real estate developer defraud a bank.

James Hurst Miller Jr., 67, the former president of the Atascadero-based Hurst Financial Corporation, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II.

Miller’s case is related to that of Kelly Gearhart, a former Central Coast real estate developer, who was sentenced in July to 14 years in federal prison (see: http://go.usa.gov/3SQqR).

Miller operated Hurst Financial, which essentially acted a “middle man” between investors and real estate developers, including Gearhart. Miller solicited investments in Paso Robles real estate development projects known as Beacon Road and Vista Del Hombre (which involved Gearhart), as well as the Salinas River real estate development project in Templeton. After obtaining funds from investors, Miller used approximately $3.7 million of the money for other purposes, contrary to his promises about how the money would be used. Miller used money from investors to develop different real estate projects, make interest payments to investors, and pay-off loans related to different real estate projects.

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Gang Member Arraigned for Youth Pastor’s Killing

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:27 am

A 27-year-old gang member pleaded not guilty today to fatally shooting a youth pastor in 2013, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Arvin Benson (dob 12/15/87) of Pomona was charged in case KA110610 with one count each of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The felony complaint includes gun and gang allegations. Additionally, the charging document alleges Benson was previously convicted of cocaine base for sale in 2007 and possession of a controlled substance in 2009.

Prosecutors said on Nov. 11, 2013, victim Daniel Diaz was sitting in a vehicle at a stop sign in Pomona when Benson reportedly walked up and shot him several times.

Diaz, a 33-year-old youth pastor, was taken to the h0spital for medical treatment, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries, prosecutors said.

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October 20, 2015

Seal Beach Man Pleads Guilty in Foreclosure Rescue Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:38 am

Riverside, California – A Seal Beach man has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges related to a mortgage rescue scheme in which he made false promises to the distressed homeowner, filed fraudulent bankruptcies to delay foreclosure and rented the property to third parties as the foreclosure proceedings were delayed.

Terry Meisinger, 74, appeared before United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips on Tuesday morning and pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud.

Meisinger admitted he defrauded a distressed homeowner by inducing him to sign a quitclaim in exchange for promises that included negotiating a short-sale agreement with his lender that would free the homeowner from his mortgage on a property in North Las Vegas, Nevada. But, instead, Meisinger caused a deed of trust to be recorded on the property, which was followed by a fraudulent bankruptcy on behalf of the person who supposedly now held an interest in the home. Meanwhile, Meisinger rented out the home to another person while foreclosure proceedings were stayed as a result of the fraudulent bankruptcy.

Meisinger “repeated the process of causing the recording of deeds of trusts in the names of various beneficiaries whose identities he controlled and causing the filing of bankruptcies on behalf of those lenders to delay the foreclosure proceedings, while collecting rents” on property in North Las Vegas, according to the plea agreement filed in this case.

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Former L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Charges Related to Cover-Up of Attack of Visitor to Men’s Central Jail

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:35 am

LOS ANGELES – In a case stemming from the beating of a handcuffed man at Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, a sixth member of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was indicted today on federal charges for allegedly participating in the cover-up of the violent incident.

Byron Dredd, 33, who is no longer with the LASD, was named in a three-count indictment that charges him with conspiracy to violate the victim’s civil rights and two counts of making false reports.

Five other former deputies have been convicted in relation to the 2011 attack and are pending sentencing (see: http://go.usa.gov/3Jypx).

Dredd, along with the other defendants previously convicted, was assigned to the Visiting Center at Men’s Central Jail. On February 26, 2011, the victim and his girlfriend went to the jail to visit the victim’s incarcerated brother. Both visitors had cell phones in their possession, which is prohibited under jail rules. When the phones were discovered, the victim was handcuffed and brought into an employee break room, where he was beaten and sprayed with a burning agent similar to pepper spray. The victim was later transferred to the hospital by paramedics. As a result of false statements made by the previously convicted deputies and allegedly made by Dredd, the victim was charged with several crimes, including resisting an officer and battery.

The indictment against Dredd alleges that he wrote an incident report in which he falsely claimed that the victim attacked one of the deputies and then attempted to escape.

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Former TSA Officer Indicted for Allegedly Allowing Marijuana-Laden Baggage to Pass through Security Screening at LAX

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:29 am

LOS ANGELES – A former officer with the Transportation Security Administration was indicted today by a federal grand jury on narcotics and bribery charges for allegedly accepting payment to allow checked bags filled with marijuana to be cleared through screening checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport.

Deondre Smith, 33, of South Los Angeles, was named in a two-count indictment that charges him with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and bribery of a public official.

The indictment alleges that Smith accepted payments of at least $500 to ensure that baggage containing marijuana would be allowed to pass through security checkpoints at LAX so that the bags would be loaded on to commercial aircraft. “Knowing that the luggage contained marijuana, defendant Smith would temporarily take possession of the luggage from other co-conspirators and either personally escort the luggage through LAX baggage screening checkpoints, or deliver the luggage to make sure the baggage containing marijuana passed security,” according to the indictment.

“I expect all federal employees to meet the highest standards of ethical behavior,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Any acceptance of bribes to influence official conduct will not be tolerated. It is particularly serious when the employee knowingly assisted the commission of a serious criminal offense.”

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