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April 25, 2016

Manhattan Beach Man Sentenced for 2003 Domestic Violence Murder of Wife

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:51 am

A Manhattan Beach man who shot himself in the face after killing his wife and survived was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Maren Dermody said Bill Lawrence Gallup, 68, was found guilty on April 6 of first-degree murder with the use of a handgun in case YA055822.

According to the evidence presented at the jury trial, on July 3, 2003, Oliva Gallup, 50, arrived at her house after doing some errands to find that the defendant was playing music loudly. The victim went to her husband to ask him to turn the music down and then an argument began, the prosecutor said.

The argument ended with the defendant shooting his wife three times, killing her. He then shot himself twice in the head, the prosecutor added. Testimony at the trial revealed that the victim was first injured by debris caused by the first shot fired by the defendant. The victim was then shot in the chest and after she fell to her knees, her husband shot her execution style, according to the evidence presented at trial.

The case was investigated by the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / case YA055822 / April 22, 2016

Former Art Dealer Charged With Theft of Paintings Worth More Than $1.8 Million

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:47 am

A former art dealer is facing grand theft charges for allegedly failing to pay more than $1 million to the owners of paintings sold through his gallery, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Perry Rubenstein (dob 1/5/54) was charged in case BA444929 with three counts of grand theft by embezzlement. He is expected to be arraigned today in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Deputy District Attorney Marisa Zarate of the White Collar Crime Division is prosecuting the case

In 2013, Rubenstein claimed he sold two paintings by artist Richard Prince for Michael Ovitz, totaling more than $1 million. In both instances, Rubenstein allegedly never paid his client and kept the proceeds.

In 2012, Rubenstein is accused of selling a painting by Takashi Murakami on behalf of Michael Salke but failed to turn over the full amount to him.

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April 22, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Takedown of Fresno Gang, “Dog Pound Gangsters”

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:29 am

FRESNO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a takedown targeting the Dog Pound Gangsters, a Fresno-area criminal organization, following a year-long joint investigation by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation Special Operations Unit (SOU) and the Fresno Police Department.

The investigation, Operation Dog Track, resulted in the arrests of 28 individuals who have been charged with a range of federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, human trafficking, and fraud.  Those arrested are expected to be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California.

“Street gangs must be held accountable for terrorizing our communities,” said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. “I’m thankful for the bravery and diligence of our Special Agents, the Fresno Police Department, and the other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies working together to dismantle criminal organizations and protect victims of trafficking and fraud throughout the Central Valley.”

“The dismantling of the Dog Pound Gang’s leadership will send a shockwave throughout the gang community and significantly reduce gang violence in Fresno for many years,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

The Special Operations Unit (SOU) is a collaborative investigative effort between the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) that provides statewide enforcement for combating violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, along with intrastate drug traffickers.

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10 Defendants Charged in International Money Laundering and Identity Theft Scheme Involving $14 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refunds

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:26 am

SANTA ANA, California – Federal authorities late yesterday arrested five out of 10 defendants who have been charged in identity thefts cases related to an international money laundering scheme that laundered millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained federal income tax refunds.

The criminal complaints filed Tuesday in United States District Court and unsealed yesterday charge the 10 defendants with participating in a money laundering ring that used hundreds of bank accounts opened with stolen identities to launder millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained tax refunds. According to the affidavits supporting the complaints, the Internal Revenue Service has identified approximately 7,000 fraudulent tax returns related to this scheme that cumulatively sought about $38 million in refunds. The IRS issued about $14 million in refunds, and the money was deposited into and laundered through bank accounts used in this scheme. The fraudulent tax returns were filed and the bank accounts were opened with personal identifying information that had been stolen from thousands of victims.

“Stolen identity refund fraud schemes are a growing problem that victimize both the United States government and individuals who have tax returns fraudulently filed in their names,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We are devoting more resources to combat this problem and will continue to pursue organizations that engage in this type of fraud. The cases unsealed today demonstrate that we will dismantle these criminal operations and stop schemes that target innocent Americans and steal taxpayers’ money.”

The 10 defendants, each of whom was named in a separate criminal complaint, allegedly used fraudulent foreign passports to commit identity theft by opening numerous bank accounts and mailbox addresses with the stolen identities. According to the criminal complaints, they used fraudulent passports from the Republic of Armenia, Georgia and the Czech Republic that had the names of identity theft victims but the defendants’ photographs.

“Investigating refund fraud and identity theft is a top priority for IRS Criminal Investigation,” stated Anthony J. Orlando, acting Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation. “Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. Today’s arrests should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct. Law enforcement is serious about investigating these crimes and holding accountable those who defraud the government.”

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TWO MEN CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR CUTTING DOWN TREE HOUSING MIGRATORY, PROTECTED BIRDS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:22 am

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Two men were convicted and sentenced today for cutting down a tree which housed migratory and protected birds. Stephen John Esser, 47, Dana Point, and David Roger Stanley, 41, Downey, each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of unlawful possession and destruction of bird nests/eggs, and one misdemeanor count of unlawful taking of migratory nongame birds. They were each sentenced to three years of informal probation, ordered to serve 120 hours of community service in lieu of 15 days in jail, and both defendants were ordered to pay $14,000 in fines and restitution.

At the time of the crime, Esser and Stanley worked at Tim Greenleaf Engineering. The defendants were tasked with cutting down a tree on private property adjacent to a sidewalk as part of a complete demolition.

At about 3:30 p.m. on May 28, 2015, Esser and Stanley used a backhoe-type excavation vehicle to cut down a ficus tree that was housing approximately eight or nine bird nests of snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons. The nests had nestlings, baby birds not yet ready to fly, and fledglings, baby birds learning how to fly. During that time, neighbors approached the defendants and pleaded with them not to cut down the tree and informed Esser and Stanley that the tree had migratory bird nests. The defendants proceeded to cut down the tree knowing there were birds living in the tree. About 12 nestlings began to fall out of the tree and five that fell to the ground did not survive. The adult birds managed to escape and flew away.

Bystanders called the police and reported the crime. The Newport Beach Police Department Animal Control Unit investigated this case.

The seven baby birds that survived were found amidst the rubble, placed in boxes and cages by the neighbors, and taken to Wetlands and Wildlife Center in Huntington Beach. After six weeks of care and rehabilitation, the baby birds were released back into the wild.

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April 21, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Files Multiple Charges in Long Beach Human Trafficking Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:33 am

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that her office has filed six felony charges against Andrew Jordan, 36, in Los Angeles County Superior Court for allegedly committing human trafficking, pimping, pandering, domestic violence, assault, and a racially motivated hate crime.  He was held to answer on these charges on February 3, 2016, and Jordan pled not guilty as charged.

“Human trafficking dehumanizes victims and will not be tolerated in California,” said Attorney General Harris.  “We must continue to support victims of human trafficking and help them seek justice.  I thank our California Department of Justice attorneys and Special Agents, as well as the Long Beach Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office for their commitment to fighting human trafficking.”

On August 26, 2015, detectives from the Long Beach Police Department’s Vice Investigations and Gang Enforcement Sections, with the assistance of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Custody Investigative Services, Operation Safe Jails, and the Los Angeles Human Exploitation and Trafficking Task Force, identified a 23-year-old human trafficking victim who was in custody on a prostitution charge.

At Jordan’s preliminary hearing on February 3, 2016, the victim testified that she was forced by the defendant to perform commercial sex acts with other men.  Jordan drove her to an area of Los Angeles she was unfamiliar with and forced her to solicit sex acts from cars passing by.  He monitored her whereabouts and ordered her to send him text messages every time she was picked up and every time she completed an act.  He collected the money in between and forced her to stay out until she met a quota that the defendant set.  She described how the defendant beat her severely when she broke his rules and called her racially degrading slurs to further punish and control her.  He coerced her into getting a tattoo of his name on her wrist.  The defendant also controlled all of her personal belongings.  She testified that she was scared to run away as he kept tabs on her by constantly driving up and down the street.  It was not until she was in custody that she was able to tell an officer that she was being abused.

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Former Axium International Tax Professional Admits Tax Evasion

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:27 am

RIVERSIDE, California – An Orange County woman who formerly performed payroll tax services for Axium International, Inc. has pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge.

Christina M. Futak, 58, a resident of the City of Orange, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of criminal tax evasion.

The charge relates to conduct during the years 2002 through 2007, when Futak requested that Axium compensate her by making checks payable to “CFO, Inc.” Futak deposited her earnings from Axium into a bank account in the name of the company, using the proceeds for personal expenses and failing to report substantial sums on her federal income tax returns.

In 2012, Futak signed a federal income tax return representing that her total income for 2006 was $52,690. In reality, she earned more than $227,000 that year. Futak similarly understated her income on her 2005 and 2007 tax returns, resulting in total tax losses of $138,523.

“We will continue to work with IRS criminal investigators to ensure that everyone who interacts with the tax system does so with honesty and integrity,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Hiding income, making false claims against the government and seeking fraudulent tax refunds are all crimes that come with significant penalties.”

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Department of Justice and EPA Announce $78 Million Superfund Settlement to Clean Up Groundwater Contamination at Southern California Superfund Site

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:24 am

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that a group of 66 companies have agreed to clean up contaminated groundwater at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site in Whittier, California.  The settlement requires the companies to spend an estimated $70 million to install wells and operate a groundwater treatment system.  In addition, the parties will reimburse EPA $8 million and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control $70,000 toward costs incurred in those agencies’ past cleanup actions at the site.

“We are pleased that the settling parties have come forward to do the work of cleaning up the groundwater contamination to which they and others contributed,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “This settlement makes excellent progress in cleaning up the Omega site and will also put additional systems in place to monitor and evaluate the level of contamination in order to guide future work.”

“Today’s settlement ensures the protection of a vital drinking water source for LA County,” said Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld of EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The cleanup of this polluted aquifer is critical because groundwater in the region has been depleted because of the drought.”

“Our current drought has underscored the importance of protecting California’s groundwater resources,” said , Director Barbara A. Lee of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.  “It has taken a lot of work between state and federal agencies to get to this point and it is vital we begin the work of cleaning up this aquifer.”

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April 20, 2016

Man Convicted of Assault for Trying to Run Over Deputy U.S. Marshal with a Minivan Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:45 am

LOS ANGELES – A man who was found guilty of assaulting a Deputy U.S. Marshal by trying to run him over with a minivan has been sentenced to 96 months in federal prison.

Keith Leon Smith, 47, of Carson, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who said the defendant was “really lucky on two grounds” – that he did not kill the Deputy Marshal and that he was not killed by law enforcement as he assaulted the Deputy Marshal.

Smith was found guilty by a federal jury on January 14 of one count of assaulting a federal officer with a deadly and dangerous weapon.

According to the evidence presented during a three-day trial in United States District Court, six Deputy U.S. Marshals went to a residence on East 220th Street in Carson, where they believed Smith was residing, on March 11, 2015. The Deputy Marshals were conducting an investigation with the goal of taking Smith into custody after a federal judge in 2013 had issued a bench warrant. Smith was wanted because he had violated the terms of his supervised release, after serving more than seven years in prison for being convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine.

While conducting surveillance, the Deputy Marshals observed Smith exit the residence, get into a minivan and leave the location. The Deputy Marshals, who were in several vehicles, followed Smith and executed a traffic stop, blocking his van. As the Deputy Marshals approached the minivan that Smith was driving and identified themselves as law enforcement officers, Smith reversed his vehicle toward some of the Marshals Service vehicles. Smith then suddenly accelerated his vehicle toward one of the Deputy Marshals, who was in front of the minivan. The Deputy Marshal, now in the way of the oncoming minivan, fired his weapon at the windshield and fell backward onto the ground.

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Orange County Tax Return Preparer Arrested on Tax Fraud Charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:42 am

LOS ANGELES – The owner of a Tustin tax preparation business called First Quality Tax Services was arrested this morning on federal charges that allege he prepared and filed fraudulent federal income tax returns claiming false deductions for his clients.

Thomas P. Butcher, 61, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested by special agents with IRS Criminal Investigation pursuant to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on April 13.

The 38-count indictment charges Butcher with 37 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent income tax returns and one count of obstructing the administration of Internal Revenue laws.

The indictment alleges that for tax years 2009 through 2011, Butcher prepared and filed tax returns that claimed false credits and deductions that clients were not entitled to receive. The tax returns included fraudulent education credits, as well as false deductions for charitable donations and unreimbursed employee expenses. The fraudulent deductions and credits lowered the taxpayers’ income tax liability.

The indictment also alleges that Butcher submitted bogus receipts for charitable donations and employee-related expenses when filing 2009 tax returns.

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