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October 26, 2015

INSURANCE AGENT CONVICTED OF DEFRAUDING OVER $1.4 MILLION IN COMMISSION SCHEME

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An insurance agent was convicted today of defrauding over $1.4 million through an advance commission scheme. Eric Lee, 65, Brea, pleaded guilty to a court offer to 10 felony counts each of grand theft and insurance fraud with sentencing enhancement allegations over $100,000, statute of limitation tolled, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property damage over $1.3 million. He faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison at his sentencing on Dec. 11, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

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. He advised policy holders they would receive free insurance and wrote them a personal check to pay for their first month’s premiums on the policy.

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REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER OF 29-YEAR-OLD WOMAN IN THE COURSE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN MOTEL ROOM

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:04 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A registered sex offender was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the special circumstances murder of a 29-year-old woman in the course of sexually assaulting her in a Stanton motel room. Charles Patrick Drew, 65, transient, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 15, 2015, of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, and sexual penetration by foreign object, one felony count each of rape of an unconscious person, sodomy of unconscious victim, oral copulation of unconscious person, sexual penetration by foreign object of unconscious victim, and aggravated assault. The defendant’s two prior strike convictions for forcible rape and assault with a deadly weapon in Orange County in 1995 were found to be true.

Sometime between March 17, 2012, and March 18, 2012, Drew stayed in a rented motel room at Motel 6 in Stanton with 29-year-old Amber Oceja, under the guise that he was the victim’s care-taker. During that time, Drew brutally sexually assaulted the victim while she was unconscious including rape, sodomy, and oral copulation. Drew also used a razor blade to mutilate several parts of the victim’s body. The victim died from a diabetic shock shortly after the sexual assault. Drew then attempted to clean the scene of the crime and dispose of the materials that he had used to clean the room.

On March 19, 2012, Drew walked outside of his motel room and asked someone to call 911 because the victim was unresponsive.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene and investigated this case.

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Kidnapping, Attempted Murder Charges Filed in Shooting of West Hills Man

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

A Winnetka man has been charged in connection with the alleged kidnapping and shooting of Joel Keith Ravin, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Sheetal Jhala said Randall Elmer Stinson (dob 7/21/85) was charged yesterday with two counts of attempted willful, deliberate and premeditated murder, kidnapping to commit robbery and kidnapping/

Case LA082052 includes allegations that Stinson personally discharged a handgun.

Stinson entered a not guilty plea to the charges and his bail was set at more than $3 million. He is scheduled to return for a preliminary hearing setting on Nov. 25 in Department 120 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

According to the criminal complaint, the 30-year-old victim was kidnapped, forced into the suspect’s vehicle and driven to various locations on Oct. 4. The victim was driven back to his residence where he was allegedly shot multiple times but survived, the prosecutor said.

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October 23, 2015

Nevada Man Sentenced to Over 12 Years in Federal Prison for Running Ponzi Scheme involving E-mini S&P Futures

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:08 am

LOS ANGELES – The architect of a fraudulent investment scheme that caused scores of victims to suffer losses of nearly $10 million was sentenced today to 151 months in federal prison for running a Ponzi scheme and lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gordon Driver, 58, of Henderson, Nevada, was sentenced today by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Kronstadt ordered Driver to pay $9,681,289 in restitution to victims of his scheme.

Driver pleaded guilty in April to two felony counts – wire fraud and making a false statement to SEC, which was investigating his fraudulent operation.

In his plea agreement filed earlier this year, Driver admitted that he falsely told victims that he was producing profits of 1 percent to 5 percent a week through a commodity futures trading program involving E-mini S&P 500 futures contracts. Driver also told victims that he had never sustained a monthly net loss as a result of his trading.

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8 Charged in Federal Court in Relation to Skimmers Installed in Gas Pumps to Collect Credit Card and Debit Card Information

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:04 am

LOS ANGELES – Authorities this morning arrested four defendants charged with federal fraud and identity theft charges for allegedly participating in a scheme that installed credit card “skimmers” inside gas pumps at gas stations across Southern California and Southern Nevada.

A criminal complaint charges eight defendants – three of whom are fugitives at this time – with participating in a conspiracy that secretly installed electronic devices known as skimmers inside of gas pumps that were equipped with point of sale terminals. When gas station customers swiped their credit or debit cards through the device that reads the magnetic strips on the back of their cards, the information was stored on the skimmers that were hidden inside the gas pumps. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, members of the conspiracy were able to later retrieve the account information without going back inside the gas pumps by using Bluetooth-equipped devices, such as cellular phones or tablets.

According to an affidavit by a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, participants in the conspiracy manufactured skimmers with parts purchased at electronics stores. At the gas stations, they allegedly used large vans to conceal their activities as they forced open panels on the gas pumps and installed the skimming devices that were not visible to customers who used their credit cards at the pumps.

The affidavit outlines how the organization installed dozens of skimmers at gas stations operated by different companies in areas that include San Gabriel, Burbank, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Eagle Rock, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Torrance, Long Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Tustin, Fountain Valley, the Coachella Valley and Las Vegas, Nevada.

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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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