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May 13, 2016

Woman Convicted of Fatally Shooting Friend in Carson

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

A 30-year-old woman was convicted today of killing her friend last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The jury deliberated for a day before finding Vershonda Charisse Sneed guilty of first-degree murder in case TA137551.

Jurors also found true a special allegation that the defendant personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, which caused great bodily injury and death.

Sneed is scheduled to be sentenced June 17 in Department C of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Compton Branch. She faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison.

Deputy District Attorney Shannon Cooley, who prosecuted the case, said Sneed and victim Bobby King, 34, were very good friends, however tension had developed between the two.


May 12, 2016

Glendale Doctor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Distributing Addictive Painkiller and to Forfeit Nearly $100,000 in Criminal Proceeds

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:38 am

LOS ANGELES – In a plea agreement filed this morning, a Glendale doctor has agreed to plead guilty to a federal drug trafficking charge for illegally distributing hydrocodone, a powerful painkiller best known by the brand names Vicodin and Norco.

Dr. Manasseh Nwaigwe, 72, who resides in Glendale and operated a medical office in Boyle Heights, agreed to plead guilty to one count of illegal distribution of hydrocodone. As part of the agreement with the government, Nwaigwe will forfeit to the government more than $97,000 in cash that Nwaigwe admits were proceeds derived from his illegal prescriptions.

In the plea agreement, Nwaigwe admits that, on five occasions in May and July 2015, he wrote prescriptions for drugs to undercover law enforcement officers in exchange for cash.

Nwaigwe prescribed the drugs hydrocodone, clonazepam (commonly known by the brand name Klonopin), and promethazine with codeine (a narcotic cough syrup known on the streets as “purple drank” or “sizzurp”) to undercover agents who “did not in fact have a medical need for those prescriptions.” In exchange, Nwaigwe received $90 cash for each prescription.

“The issuance of prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose fuels the prescription drug abuse epidemic and the related problem of heroin use across the United States,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Doctors who choose illegal profits instead of dispensing sound medical care are no better than street corner drug dealers.”


Southern California Man Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Contributions to His Son’s Congressional Campaigns

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:35 am

A southern California man pleaded guilty today to making excessive campaign contributions and making campaign contributions in the name of another.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California made the announcement.

Babulal Bera, 83, of La Palma, California, pleaded guilty in Sacramento before U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley in the Eastern District of California.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nunley on Aug. 4.

In connection with his pleas, Bera admitted that, in 2010 and 2012, he made the maximum allowable individual contributions to his son’s congressional campaigns in California’s District 3 (2010) and District 7 (2012).  He further admitted that he solicited friends, family members and acquaintances to make contributions, which he then reimbursed with his own funds to make campaign contributions in excess of the contribution limits established by federal law.  The government has identified over 130 improper campaign contributions involving approximately 90 contributors in the two elections.  To date, the government has identified over $220,000 in reimbursed contributions relating to the 2010 campaign and over $40,000 in reimbursed contributions relating to the 2012 campaign.


Owner of Santa Fe Springs Trucking Company Pleads Guilty to Dumping 11,000 Gallons of Waste Soap into San Gabriel River

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

LOS ANGELES – A man who ran a trucking company in Sante Fe Springs has pled guilty to dumping 11,000 gallons of waste water and soap into a tributary of the San Gabriel River in Santa Fe Springs, California.

David Lee Flury, the 61 year old owner and operator of the Flury Industries, Inc., a waste-hauling company, pled guilty to a felony charge of water pollution today at the United States Courthouse. Judge Stephen V. Wilson set Flury’s sentencing hearing for August 15.

The San Gabriel River, one of the three most important waterways in Southern California, flows into the Pacific Ocean at Alamitos Bay between the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Flury admitted that the City of Santa Fe Springs spent nearly $750,000 cleaning up the soapy waste that he illegally dumped into Los Coyotes Creek.

“Water is a resource that we cannot afford to waste or pollute in drought-stricken Southern California,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant’s crime caused significant harm to the public, taxpayers and the environment.”

Flury had previously been indicted with multiple felony counts, including water pollution, mail and wire fraud, witness tampering, destruction of evidence, and identity theft. A federal grand jury indictment alleges that Flury used interstate wire communications and the mail system to defraud approximately 17 customers of over $350,000. The indictment alleges that Flury told his customers that he would pick-up their various waste products and transport the waste for disposal at a facility licensed to receive and dispose of such waste products. Instead, Flury allegedly and illegally dumped tens of thousands of gallons of waste products into the San Gabriel River and desert areas in Riverside County.


May 11, 2016

Orange County Man Who Embezzled from Employer – while on Bond in another Federal Embezzlement Case – Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:40 am

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man has pleaded guilty to embezzling approximately $1.4 million from his employer, a crime he committed when he was pending sentencing in another embezzlement case involving another former employer.

Peter Suk Lee, 49, a resident of the City of Orange, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to a federal bank fraud charge and admitted that he embezzled company funds from Contempo Inc. USA, a family-owned, Los Angeles-based business that imports and distributes fashion accessories.

As a result of this week’s guilty plea and the earlier federal charges, Lee faces a statutory maximum sentence of 90 years in federal prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge David O. Carter on August 15.

From August 2014 through September 2015, Lee was the controller at Contempo. During this time, Lee embezzled money by forging the signatures of the company officers on 92 unauthorized checks that were made out to him and several associates. The total value of these checks was $1.38 million. Lee admitted that he deposited $393,400 embezzled from Contempo into his personal TD Ameritrade account, and caused other embezzled funds to be wired to casinos for his use.

At the time, Lee was free on bond and awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to wire fraud for embezzling money from another business. In that prior case, Lee admitted that he embezzled approximately $2.65 million from Glovis America, Inc., an Irvine-based automotive logistics company where Lee had been employed as the accounting manager.


Two L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies involved in Use-of-Force Incident against Shackled Inmate Sentenced to Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:33 am

LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies who were found guilty after a two-week trial earlier this year of falsifying reports with the intent to obstruct justice related to their assault of a waist-chained  inmate were sentenced to prison terms today.

Former deputies Joey Aguiar, 28, and Mariano Ramirez, 40 were sentenced respectively to 18 months and 13 months in prison by the Honorable Beverly Reid-O’Connell. When imposing sentence Judge O‘Connell found that, in addition to falsifying their reports, Aguiar and Ramirez had engaged in excessive force against the shackled inmate, who was struck, kicked, repeatedly hit by a flashlight, and pepper-sprayed, while he was on the ground.

Aguiar was convicted of one count of falsification of records for submitting a report that falsely stated the inmate, Bret Phillips, who is now 44, was beaten after he had attempted to headbutt deputy Aguiar’s face and that Phillips violently kicked at Aguiar. Mr. Phillips did neither, according to testimony presented at the trial.

It was undisputed that Mr. Phillips was waist-chained with handcuffs binding his hands to a chain around his stomach throughout the entire beating.

During the trial, Chaplin Paulino Juarez, who was an eyewitness to the event, testified that he repeatedly raised concerns about what he had seen with senior LASD officials, but was rebuffed. Chaplin Juarez ultimately relayed his concerns to the ACLU.  The information provided to the ACLU by the chaplain later came to the attention of the FBI.  By this time the FBI had begun a wide-ranging investigation into civil rights abuses by the LASD in custodial settings, particularly excessive uses of force by deputies on the 3000 Floor of the Men’s Central Jail. Another witness, who was an inmate when Mr. Phillips was beaten, testified that he hid in the shower to avoid being seen by LASD personnel as he watched the deputies beat a defenseless and unmoving inmate.  During the sentencing, Judge O’Connell stated that she believed the testimony of Chaplain Juarez and Mr. Maestaz.


Mexican Mafia Member who Controlled Latino Street Gangs in Orange County Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:30 am

SANTA ANA, California – A longtime member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang who controlled Latino street gangs in Orange County for at least three decades was sentenced today to 15 years in federal prison after being found guilty earlier this year of federal racketeering offenses.

Peter Ojeda, 74, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge James V. Selna, who said the defendant, notwithstanding his age, still represented a “danger to the community.”

A federal jury in January found Ojeda guilty of two offenses: conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering.  The jury found that Ojeda ordered murders and assaults while incarcerated in federal prison for a prior racketeering conviction.

Ojeda, who is also known as “Sana” and “The Big Homie,” has been in federal custody since he was indicted in the prior racketeering case in 2005.

“Ojeda is a career criminal and a Mexican Mafia leader, which means he is intimately familiar with the violence, drug trafficking, and extortion that fuels this criminal organization,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Prior criminal cases against Mr. Ojeda have not had any deterrent effect, but today’s sentence makes it unlikely that Mr. Ojeda will ever be able to walk freely on the streets where his criminal organization has caused so much harm.”


May 10, 2016

Former IT Administrator Faces Federal Charges of Hacking into Computers of Prior Employer, an Irvine-based Company

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:41 am

SANTA ANA, California – A former Garden Grove resident pleaded not guilty this afternoon to federal charges of hacking into the computer system of Blue Stone Strategy Group – an Irvine-based company and the man’s former employer – and deleting files.

Nikishna Polequaptewa, 34, who currently resides in Polacca, Arizona, was arrested this morning after surrendering to federal authorities. At his arraignment this afternoon, he entered a not guilty plea, was ordered released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to stand trial on June 28.

Polequaptewa was indicted by a federal grand jury in March on one count of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer.

“IT administrators often hold the ‘keys to the kingdom’ for companies,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Disgruntled IT administrators can therefore pose a grave threat to businesses, which must take measures to protect themselves when letting such an employee go.”

According to the indictment, Blue Stone provided consulting services to Native American tribal governments throughout the United States. Polequaptewa was responsible for information technology at Blue Stone until November 2014, when he was relieved of his duties, which led to his resignation. Immediately following his resignation, Polequaptewa repeatedly accessed the Blue Stone internal server, a desktop computer, and remote accounts held by Blue Stone, and allegedly deleted various files belonging to the company.


Senior Member of Montebello Street Gang Convicted of Federal Racketeering and Firearm Charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:38 am

LOS ANGELES – A longtime member of the Mexican Mafia-affiliated Southside Montebello street gang was found guilty this afternoon of federal racketeering charges that included providing a firearm used by another gang member to kill a rival.

George Vera Sr., 48, was convicted by a federal jury that determined he conspired to violate the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The jury also found Vera Sr. guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

As a result of today’s convictions, Vera Sr. faces a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison, and a mandatory minimum prison term of five years. United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who presided over a three-week trial, will schedule a sentencing hearing for later this year.

Vera Sr., who was also known as “Rascal” and “Big Rascal,” was a senior “OG” member of Southside Montebello. At trial, prosecutors argued that he led a double life, working as an electrician for Los Angeles County during the day, and acting a gang leader and gang shot-caller during his off hours.

According to court document filed in court, Vera Sr. “engaged in hiding a firearm with a fellow gang member, provided a firearm to a younger gang member that was used in a murder, stored firearms and ammunition at his home for gang members to use, hosted gang meetings, was involved in the payment of ‘taxes’ to the Mexican Mafia on the gang’s behalf, directed younger members of the gang to protect his home from disrespect from rival gangs, and agreed to lie to his son’s probation officer to shield him from prosecution for drug dealing.”


California Man Convicted of Drug and Money Laundering Charges Relating to Methamphetamine Deliveries to Oregon

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:34 am

A California man was convicted late Friday by a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Criminal Division; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cam B. Strahm of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Portland District Office; Special Agent in Charge Gregory Bretzing of the FBI‘s Portland Division; and Chief Lawrence P. O’Dea III of the Portland Police Bureau, made the announcement today following the jury’s verdict.

Fulgencio Arias Jr., 43, of Whittier, California, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit money laundering, distribution of 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, and attempted distribution of 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine.

The defendant was charged in an indictment on Dec 15, 2011.  The evidence at trial showed that the defendant was the leader of a drug trafficking organization from approximately January 2008 until Dec 15, 2011.  The defendant sent large quantities of methamphetamine from the Los Angeles area to Oregon and other states in the Pacific Northwest through the use of couriers.  One of the defendant’s Oregon-based co-conspirators received the methamphetamine for distribution in Oregon.  In turn, co-conspirators returned proceeds from the distribution to the defendant using hidden bulk cash shipments and nominee bank accounts.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug 30, 2016.  The defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.


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