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November 24, 2015

Two More Charged with Murder in Officer’s Death

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:59 am

An 18-year-old and a 21-year-old were charged today with special circumstance murder in the fatal shooting of a Downey police officer last Wednesday night, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Steven Knott (dob 8/18/97) and Jeremy Anthony Alvarez (dob 8/7/94) are scheduled to be arraigned along with co-defendant Abel Diaz (dob 11/27/98) after 1:30 p.m. today in Downey at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Department 5, in case VA140624.

The three are each charged with one count of special circumstance murder and one count of attempted second-degree robbery. The amended complaint includes the special circumstance that the murder occurred during an attempted robbery.

The amended complaint also includes gun and gang allegations as to each defendant. Prosecutors will ask that each defendant be held without bail.

Deputy District Attorneys Michael Blake and Mary Murray with the Crimes Against Peace Officers Section are prosecuting the case.

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Santa Fe Springs Man Sentenced for Murder of Victim Discovered Encased in Concrete

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:56 am

A 49-year-old man was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for killing a former coworker and then hiding his body by encasing it concrete under a Santa Fe Springs business, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner said Juan Alberto Galvez was found guilty on Oct. 23 of one count of first-degree murder.

The jury also found true the allegation that Galvez used a shotgun to commit the murder and foundhim guilty of misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine in case VA128108.

On Dec. 23, 2012, Galvez shot Guillermo Díaz, 38, at a skylight manufacturing business where both men previously worked together, according to court testimony. Galvez had grown resentful toward Díaz after being fired from the skylight business, according to the evidence presented at trial.

In an effort to hide the victim’s body, Galvez encased it in cement and buried it under a makeshiftshower he constructed at an auto repair business where he worked within the same industrial park area, the prosecutor said.

The Whittier Police Department investigated the case.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / case VA128108 / November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

Bakersfield, California, Police Narcotics Detective Charged with Bribery, Drug Trafficking, Obstruction and Filing False Tax Returns

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:41 am

Damacio Diaz, 43, of McFarland, California, a detective with the Bakersfield, California, Police Department (BPD), was arrested today, charged with abusing his position of trust as a police detective when he conspired with and assisted a narcotics dealer in the operation of the dealer’s drug organization, announced U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the Eastern District of California, Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the FBI’s Sacramento Division, DEA Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin, Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas McMahon of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson.  The charges are contained in a 16-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury yesterday.

The indictment charges that Diaz, in exchange for bribes from the dealer, provided the dealer with intelligence on law enforcement practices and activities, disclosed the names and identities of police informants, tipped the dealer off as to police investigations and attempted to provide the dealer protection from search, seizure, arrest and prosecution.  The indictment also charges Diaz with bribery, retaining seized narcotics on multiple occasions for his own unlawful gain, disclosing contents of a wiretap investigation and two counts of filing false tax returns.

Diaz has been on paid administrative leave from the BPD since this investigation was initiated.  He is scheduled to be arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston of the Eastern District of California in Bakersfield at 2:30 p.m.

“When a police officer misuses his badge to commit crimes for personal profit, it is the ultimate betrayal of public trust,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner.  “While it is a sad day for the Bakersfield Police Department, the department should be proud of the outstanding work it has done, together with the FBI, DEA, and IRS-CI, effectively investigating this case over the last few months.”

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DRUNKEN DRIVER SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDER OF ELDERLY WOMAN AND INJURING HER GRANDSON IN HIT-AND-RUN CRASH

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:38 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A drunken driver was sentenced to 18 years to life in state prison today for the murder of an elderly woman and injury of her grandson in a hit-and-run crash. Kelly Michele Wolfe, 47, Capistrano Beach, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 28, 2015, of one felony count each of murder, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more and causing bodily injury, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and a sentencing enhancement for driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on July 4, 2013, Wolfe drove a Volkswagen van northbound on El Camino Real in San Clemente while under the influence of alcohol and without a valid driver’s license. The defendant ran over the victim, 76-year-old Marthann Demchuk, who was standing in the gutter while her then 12-year-old blind grandson, Mason F. was on the curb holding her arm. They were watching some small fireworks displays that were being set off before the main city firework show. Wolfe crashed into the victims with her vehicle, fled the scene of the collision, and failed to render aid to the victims. The defendant drove home while her horn sounded in an attempt to avoid being caught. The defendant was contacted by the Orange County Sheriff Department, who investigated this case and subsequently arrested Wolfe after damage to her vehicle was found to be consistent with the debris at the scene.

Wolfe had a blood alcohol content of .31 percent at approximately 10:39 p.m., approximately two hours after the crash. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported the victims to the hospital. Mason F. was treated for injuries as a result of the crash, including abrasions to his face, mouth and legs. Demchuck died as a result of the injuries that she sustained from the crash.

Wolfe has a prior DUI conviction from Nevada in 1995 where she completed a DUI class and attended a Victim Impact Panel. The defendant received a Watson advisement when she renewed her California driver’s license in 2008, which gave her prior knowledge that she could be charged with murder if she killed a person while driving under the influence.

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GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 101 YEARS AND EIGHT MONTHS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR SHOOTING-MURDER OF ONE WOMAN, ATTEMPTED MURDER OF FEMALE BYSTANDER, AND ASSAULT OF MAN

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:36 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A gang member was sentenced to 101 years and eight months to life in state prison today for the murder of one woman, attempted murder of a female bystander and assault of a man. Irvin Tellez, 27, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 29, 2015, of one felony count each of first degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, criminal street gang activity, and great bodily injury.

Co-defendant Jaime Prieto Rocha, 42, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty Sept. 4, 2015, to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter with a sentencing enhancement for criminal street gang activity. Rocha was sentenced on Oct. 30, 2015, to 16 years in state prison.

At the time of the crime, Tellez was a criminal street gang member, and was friends with Rocha and 28-year-old Nancy H.

On the afternoon of Aug. 11, 2013, Tellez argued with Vernon R. in Garden Grove, and used a semiautomatic firearm to shoot him in the thigh. Vernon R. was transported shortly thereafter to the hospital, and survived his injuries.

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November 20, 2015

L.A. Man Pleads Guilty in $17 Million Scheme to Defraud Verizon by Reselling over 30,000 iPhones Obtained at Deeply Discounted Price

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:59 am

SAN DIEGO – The owner of a Glendale-based ride-sharing business pleaded guilty this afternoon to federal wire fraud charges, admitting that he illegally generated over $13 million in profits by selling more than 30,000 Apple iPhones fraudulently obtained from Verizon Wireless at substantially discounted prices.

Karen “Kevin” Galstian, 37, of Chatsworth, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court in San Diego to one count of wire fraud, and he admitted committing the offense while on pre-trial release in another case filed by prosecutors in San Diego.

Galstian pleaded guilty today in San Diego, where federal prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s office previously obtained a guilty plea in a bank fraud case. Pursuant to a plea agreement in the iPhone case, Galstian will be sentenced in both cases by United States District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz. Today, Judge Moskowitz scheduled a sentencing hearing for January 11, 2016.

The plea agreement calls for a 100-month sentence on the combined cases.

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MAN CONVICTED OF SHOOTING-MURDER OF FRIEND AS VICTIM SAT IN HIS CAR IN BUENA PARK

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:55 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was convicted yesterday of the shooting murder of his friend as the victim sat in his car in Buena Park. Jonathan Peterson, 35, Buena Park, was found guilty by a jury yesterday, Nov. 18, 2015, of one felony count of first degree murder, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm was found to be true. Peterson faces a maximum sentence of 52 years to life in state prison. The court will hear a bifurcated trial on the defendant’s prior prison convictions for possession of a controlled substance and active participant in a criminal street gang carrying a loaded firearm in public in 2004 in Orange County and domestic violence in 2010 in Los Angeles County at his sentencing scheduled for Feb. 5, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-28, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Jihad Qahir Nasir Jones, 31, Anaheim, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, to one felony count of being an accessory after the fact with sentencing enhancements for prior strike convictions for robbery and two state prison convictions for street terrorism and possession of a firearm by a felon in 2007 and corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant in 2012, both in Orange County. Jones was sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison.

On May 25, 2014, in the early morning hours, Peterson got into a verbal argument with the victim, 25-year-old Antwan Jones, at a residence in Buena Park. After a brief fist fight with the victim outside of the residence, Peterson walked into his residence and retrieved a firearm from a closet. The defendant’s girlfriend saw Peterson retrieve the firearm and attempted to prevent the defendant from returning outside. Peterson exited the apartment and walked to a nearby car that Antwann Jones was sitting in. Peterson shot the victim at least two times, striking Antwan Jones in the chest. The victim died a short time later from his injuries. Peterson then got into Jihad Jones’ BMW sedan and the defendants drove away from the scene.

Witnesses near the scene called 911 and reported the shooting to the Buena Park Police Department, who investigated this case. An eyewitness identified Peterson as having gone inside an apartment and returning with a gun.

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DAUGHTER CONVICTED OF SHOOTING-MURDER OF 96-YEAR-OLD MOTHER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:51 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A daughter was convicted today of shooting and murdering her 96-year-old mother. Christine Marie Reynolds, 72, Rossmoor, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of first degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. She faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison at her sentencing Dec. 18, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2014, Reynolds used a firearm to murder her mother Gretchen DeStefano by shooting her in the head in their Rossmoor home.

Shortly after the shooting, another resident in the home contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case and arrested the defendant.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14WF328 / November 19, 2015

November 19, 2015

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Seizure of 541 Firearms in APPS Operation in Clovis

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:19 am

FRESNO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms Special Agents have removed more than 500 firearms from a single individual that is legally barred from owning them and is in the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) database.  Through this operation, agents seized 209 handguns, 88 shotguns, 234 rifles, 181 standard capacity magazines, 10 high capacity magazines, 100,521 rounds of various ammunition, and 10 assault weapons including a .50 caliber bolt action rifle. The individual, from Clovis, is on the APPS database due to a prior mental health hold, which prohibits an individual from possessing firearms. The individual was arrested for illegally possessing the firearms.

This operation, as well as ongoing and day-to-day investigations have reduced the number of individuals in APPS to a historic low.  Since November 2013, Attorney General Harris has brought the number of individuals in the registry down by nearly half.  Over the last two years, the California Department of Justice has doubled the average number of guns seized annually and increased the number of investigations per month by nearly 300%, allowing special agents to conduct 17,465 investigations as of October 30, 2015.

“Removing firearms from dangerous and violent individuals who pose a threat to themselves and the public is a top priority for the California Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Harris.  “I thank our Bureau of Firearms Special Agents for their bravery in carrying out these dangerous investigations and their commitment to keeping our communities safe.”

In October, California Department of Justice Special Agents and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department conducted an APPS operation that resulted in the seizure of 82 firearms and 10 arrests.  In May, California Department of Justice Special Agents and local law enforcement partners in Los Angeles County conducted a similar successful operation that resulted in the seizure of 254 firearms, 48,000 rounds of ammunition, and 18 illegal high capacity magazines, as well as the arrest of 26 individuals.

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United States Returns nearly $12 Million to Victims of Illegal Money-Transmitting Business called e-Bullion

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:16 am

LOS ANGELES – The United States has returned approximately $11.7 million in civilly forfeited fraud proceeds to more than 1,000 victims who invested or deposited money with e-Bullion.com, a website that operated for years as an illegal money-transmitting business.

The funds were disbursed to e-Bullion victims last week after federal prosecutors successfully obtained a civil forfeiture order against money and precious metals seized from the illegal money-transmitting business and its operator. The $11.7 million included bank funds and liquidated reserves of gold, silver and platinum seized from James Fayed and his companies – e-Bullion.com, Goldfinger Coin and Bullion (GCB) and Goldfinger Bullion Reserve Corp.

The recent disbursement of funds follows another distribution of funds in December 2014, when $1.8 million in civilly forfeited funds was returned to over 300 victims who invested in an illegal scheme operated under “Kum Ventures” that was run through e-Bullion.

e-Bullion purported to provide opportunities to invest in precious metals. Through the e-Bullion.com website, individuals opened accounts with real money, which they used to purchase virtual “e-currency” purportedly backed by precious metal reserves maintained by Fayed’s companies in the United States and Australia. e-Bullion accountholders could then trade their e-currency with others on the website. While there were no fees associated with establishing or funding an account on the e-Bullion website, there were fees associated with changing e-currency back into real money.

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