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June 25, 2015

Department of Justice Filed Charges on more than 2,700 Human Smugglers in Fiscal Year 2014

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:32 am

The Justice Department is committed to using its resources to bring to justice those that are breaking the law by smuggling migrants into the United States.  In Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14, Oct. 1, 2013, up to Sept. 30, 2014), the Justice Department filed criminal charges against 2,762 individuals for human smuggling or harboring immigrants.  Nearly 90 percent of the criminal charges filed in FY14 for smuggling took place in Texas (1,515), California (511), Arizona (394), Florida (75) and New York (31).  The announcement of these actions is just one part of ongoing, collaborative efforts to tackle unlawful migration.  These efforts also helped to address last year’s influx of Central American migrants, including unaccompanied children and families crossing into the Rio Grande Valley, and demonstrate a continued commitment to dismantling human smuggling operations that put so many lives at risk.

Individuals that facilitate smuggling acts need to be aware that they face criminal prosecution and fines.  They also need to be aware of the dangers faced by the individuals that are being smuggled and also that the Department of Justice will seek forfeiture of funds transferred to others in connection with a smuggling crime.  In addition, individuals trying to bring a family member to the United States by transferring funds to a coyote should be aware that those acts are against the law and their funds can be seized by the federal government.

The penalty for human smuggling if done for commercial benefit is up to 10 years in prison and an accompanying fine.  For example, in January, Ruth Fernandez Morales-Lopez pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle of the Southern District of Texas to bringing in and harboring aliens and money laundering.  Morales-Lopez admitted that she was the person who decided, based on whether they paid their smuggling fees, which individuals could stay at the “stash house,” located in San Benito, Texas.  She further admitted that more than $1 million in her bank account was comprised of smuggling fees and that she structured her withdrawals from that account to circumvent the Bank Secrecy Act.  Morales-Lopez faces up to 10 years in federal prison for the smuggling charge and up to 20 years for money laundering.  The remaining five defendants in the case, all of whom pleaded guilty, each face up to 10 years of federal imprisonment.

Many of the stories revealed in court cases outline the severe examples of exploitation and violence against migrants.  For example, in April 2014, a federal jury in Del Rio, Texas, convicted Eduardo Rocha Sr., 44, for his role in a human smuggling ring operation in Carrizo Springs, Texas, known for torturing its victims and exploiting their families.  The evidence presented during the trial showed that Rocha Sr. extorted additional money from family members of migrants that already lived in the United States.  In some instances, he ordered his accomplices to subject migrants to brutal violence and mutilation while their family members were forced to listen over the phone.

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June 24, 2015

MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER FOR HIT-AND-RUN CRASH THAT KILLED WOMAN AND HER 2-YEAR-OLD GRANDDAUGHTER

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:17 am

SANTA ANA – A man was charged today with murder for a hit-and-run crash that killed a woman and her granddaughter in Irvine. Alec Scott Abraham, 20, Costa Mesa, was charged today with two felony counts of murder. He was originally charged June 15, 2015, with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of hit-and-run with permanent injury or death, one felony count of reckless driving with bodily injury, and one misdemeanor count of petty theft by taking and carrying away, and sentencing enhancements for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter and inflicting great bodily injury. After further investigation by the Irvine Police Department (IPD) and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), newly discovered scientific evidence and witness information allowed OCDA to pursue murder charges against the defendant. No further information about the investigation will be disclosed at this time. If convicted, Abraham faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in state prison. Abraham is being held on $1 million bail. Today’s scheduled arraignment was continued in court to July 8, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

OCDA released a press release June 15, 2015, with the following information on the Abraham case:

At approximately 8:50 p.m. on June 10, 2015, Abraham is accused of driving a Ford Mustang and traveling westbound on Alton Parkway in Irvine. He is accused of speeding and failing to stop for a red light at the intersection of Alton Parkway and Barranca Parkway. Abraham is accused of slamming into the driver’s side of a Chevy Cruze being driven by Katherine Hampton, 54, who was traveling southbound on Barranca Parkway through a green light with her daughter and two grandchildren also in the car. The defendant is accused of causing the crash which forced the vehicles into a Honda Civic that was stopped at the red light going eastbound on Alton Parkway. The solo driver in the Honda Civic was treated for minor injuries at the hospital and released.

Shortly after the crash, the defendant is accused of approaching a bystander and requesting to use their cellphone. Abraham is accused of taking the bystander’s phone and fleeing from the scene on foot.

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MAN CHARGED FOR USING FACEBOOK IN ATTEMPT TO RECRUIT TWO UNDERAGE TEENAGE GIRLS TO WORK AS PROSTITUTES

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:13 am

SANTA ANA – A man was charged today for using Facebook in an attempt to recruit an undercover officer posing as two underage teenage girls, to work for him as prostitutes. Donald Levan Clark, 25, is charged with two felony counts of attempted human trafficking of a minor, two felony counts of attempted pimping of a minor, and one felony count of pandering. He faces sentencing enhancements for a prior strike conviction for committing a 2011 robbery in Los Angeles County and a prior prison conviction for a 2013 false imprisonment in Los Angeles County and serving a separate prison term of one year and more and not remaining free for a period of five years. If convicted, Clark faces a maximum sentence of 15 years and eight months in state prison. He is being held on $100,00 bail and must prove the funds are from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. Clark was arraigned today and is scheduled for pre-trial on June 30, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

Circumstances of the Case

Clark is accused of being a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women and/or children for financial gain. With the rise in popularity of social media and ease of meeting people on the Internet, many pimps and human traffickers utilize a variety of social media to locate potential victims.

Between May 27, 2015, and June 17, 2015, Clark is accused of using Facebook and contacting 17-year-old Jane Doe 1, who was an undercover officer, to work for the defendant as a prostitute. Clark is accused of ordering Jane Doe 1 to pay him a fee in order to work as a prostitute for the defendant.

On June 17, 2015, the defendant is accused of contacting Jane Doe 1 on Facebook to have Jane Doe 1 contact the fictitious Facebook account of 16-year-old Jane Doe 2 to recruit Jane Doe 2 as a prostitute for the defendant.

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DRUNKEN DRIVER CONVICTED OF KILLING WOMAN BY THROWING HER FROM MOTORCYCLE IN CRASH

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:09 am

SANTA ANA – A drunken driver was convicted today of killing a woman by crashing into her motorcycle after making an unsafe turn into an intersection. Steven Todd Newcomer, 47, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to the court to one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence and hit and run causing death and a sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter. Pursuant to the court’s offer, he faces a maximum sentence of six years and four months in state prison at his sentencing Sept. 4, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 8:40 p.m. on April 12, 2012, 32-year-old Kimberly Krause was riding her motorcycle eastbound on Chapman Avenue approaching the intersection at Pioneer Lane in Garden Grove. Newcomer was driving under the influence of alcohol traveling westbound on Chapman Avenue toward the same intersection.

As Krause legally passed through the intersection on a green light, Newcomer made a left turn in front of the victim without yielding to oncoming traffic. The defendant crashed into the victim which threw her from the motorcycle. Newcomer briefly stopped at the scene before fleeing into a nearby residential complex to a friend’s home. He failed to call 911 to seek help for the victim or render aid.

Officers from the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD), who investigated this case, responded to the scene and located Krause lying at the corner of the intersection. She was transported to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center and pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m. due to multiple blunt force traumatic injuries.

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June 23, 2015

Former Gulfstream Executive Sentenced To Over 11 Years In Federal Prison For Embezzling Over $10 Million From The Aerospace Company

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:23 am

LOS ANGELES – The former director of finance and accounting at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation’s Long Beach facility was sentenced today to 135 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $10 million from his employer over a 13-year period.

Marvin Jay Caukin, 66, of Calabasas, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who remanded the defendant into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Walter ordered the defendant to pay $10.25 million in restitution, and to forfeit to the government his interest of at least $2.4 million in properties in Calabasas and Toluca Lake.

Caukin pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, admitting then that he participated in a long-running scheme to defraud Gulfstream by submitting fictitious business invoices to the aerospace company. According to court documents, the invoices were from bogus companies that had been set up by Caukin’s relatives and associates, and had names that were similar to actual businesses involved in the aerospace industry. Once Gulfstream issued checks in response to the invoices from the bogus vendors, Caukin used the funds to pay for range of personal expenses, including his mortgage, car payments, credit cards and professional escorts.

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California Man Pleads Guilty in Prescription Drug Diversion Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:11 am

A Corona, California, man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his participation in a large-scale, nationwide prescription drug diversion scheme.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent In Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) Metro Washington Field Office and Assistant Inspector in Charge Christopher White of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Cincinnati Field Office announced the guilty plea, entered today by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.

According to court documents, from May 2010 through December 2012, Vin Nguyen, 45, and others conspired to distribute illegally-diverted prescription drugs while concealing the true, illicit sources of the drugs.  Nguyen purchased prescription drugs, including HIV medications, anti-psychotic medications and other brand name drugs, from various unlicensed and illegal sources in California and Florida.  Working with co-conspirators, Nguyen then sold the drugs to other drug diverters without the statutorily required pedigree documents stating the origin of the drugs.  Nguyen and his co-conspirators sold more than $6.5 million worth of diverted drugs.

“Illegal prescription drug diversion threatens the security of America’s drug supply chain,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer.  “The Department of Justice will continue to protect American consumers by prosecuting those who engage in prescription drug diversion.”

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ATTORNEY SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS IN PRISON FOR CRASHING CAR AND KILLING BICYCLIST WHILE DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

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

NEWPORT BEACH – An attorney was sentenced today to four years in prison for crashing her car and killing a bicyclist while driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Hasti Fakhrai-Bayrooti, 41, Rancho Santa Margarita, pleaded guilty March 10, 2015, to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. She also pleaded guilty today to one felony count of possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility and was sentenced to three years in jail to be served concurrently with today’s prison sentence.

Circumstances of Case #13HF2830
At approximately 6:45 p.m. on March 15, 2013, Fakhrai-Bayrooti was driving her car southbound on Santa Margarita Parkway in Mission Viejo after consuming prescription drugs, including Xanax and Suboxone. She swerved into a bike lane, crashing into 54-year-old bicyclist Eric Billings between the intersection of El Toro Road and Los Alisos Boulevard, causing the victim to roll over the hood and windshield. The victim died at the scene as a result of sustaining multiple traumatic injuries from the crash.

OCSD arrived at the scene and investigated this case. OCSD arrested the defendant on Sept. 24, 2013, after the Orange County Crime Laboratory analyzed the blood evidence.

At the time of the crime, Fakhrai-Bayrooti had been an active member of the State Bar of California since 2005.

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June 22, 2015

Eleven Defendants Charged in Nationwide Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute Counterfeit 5-Hour ENERGY Drink

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lisa L. Malinowsk of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Los Angeles Field Office of Criminal Investigations announced today that 10 people were arrested after being charged with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce.  The defendants were arrested on charges stemming from the illegal distribution and counterfeit of the liquid dietary supplement 5-Hour ENERGY.  One further defendant was not arrested but remains subject to an arrest warrant.

According to the indictment that was unsealed yesterday, all 11 defendants were involved in the illegal repackaging and eventual counterfeiting of 5-Hour ENERGY.  The supplement is owned by a group of entities referred to in the indictment as Living Essentials, which manufactured all 5-Hour ENERGY at factories in Wabash, Indiana.  Living Essentials has registered and owns all 5-Hour ENERGY trademarks and a copyright, including the “5-Hour ENERGY” name and various graphical elements of the product’s labeling and packaging.  The 5-Hour ENERGY trademarks and copyrighted material are displayed on every bottle of 5-Hour ENERGY and display boxes.  Living Essentials does not provide licenses to any individual or entity to manufacture 5-Hour ENERGY.

According to the indictment, defendants Joseph Shayota and Adriana Shayota, his wife, through their company Baja Exporting LLC, agreed with Living Essentials to distribute 5-Hour ENERGY in Mexico.  Living Essentials manufactured the liquid 5-Hour ENERGY product and provided Spanish-language labeling and display boxes to Baja Exporting.  Living Essentials additionally provided Baja a complete product package under the agreement that the 5-Hour ENERGY with Spanish-language labeling was only to be distributed by Baja in Mexico.  Nevertheless, according to the indictment, rather than distributing authentic 5-Hour ENERGY with Spanish-language labeling in Mexico, the defendants attempted instead to divert the product and to sell it in the United States at a higher price.  After initial efforts to sell the product failed because of the Spanish-language labeling and display boxes, the defendants replaced the labeling and display boxes with counterfeit labels and boxes designed to imitate Living Essentials’ packaging in the United States.  The defendants repackaged over 350,000 bottles of 5-Hour ENERGY and sold them in the United States at a price that was 15 percent lower than what Living Essentials charged for authentic United States 5-Hour ENERGY.  By December 2011, Joseph and Adriana Shayota had sold off Baja’s remaining stock of the repackaged/relabeled 5-Hour ENERGY.

Also according to the indictment, by early 2012, the defendants had moved into counterfeiting the entire 5-Hour ENERGY product.  The defendants manufactured the counterfeit 5-Hour ENERGY liquid at an unsanitary facility using untrained day workers.  The defendants mixed unregulated ingredients in plastic vats while attempting to mimic the real 5-Hour ENERGY products.

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Operator of O.I.D. Process Pleads Guilty for Involvement in $228 Million Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme

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

A California man pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to submit false claims, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California.

According to the plea agreement, Duffy R. Dashner, aka Kevin Dashner, 42, of Reseda, California, and his co-conspirators, including Mark R. Maness, operated a business called O.I.D. Process through which they helped others to prepare and file individual federal income tax returns that claimed false Original Issue Discount (OID) interest income and federal tax withholdings, resulting in fraudulent claims for tax refunds (OID returns).  Dashner and Maness charged clients of O.I.D. Process a non-refundable registration fee to join the organization, and a 20 percent “refund acquisition fee” for any refund check issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Dashner and Maness also operated a website and conducted weekly conference calls with clients to promote their business and to assist clients in preparing and filing OID returns.

Dashner and Maness required clients of O.I.D. Process to change their mailing address with the IRS to the address of another co-conspirator who was an attorney in San Francisco.  As a result, all correspondence from the IRS to the clients and the clients’ OID refund checks were sent to the attorney’s address rather than the clients’ home address.  By receiving the refund checks, Dashner and Maness were able to ensure that they received their 20 percent refund acquisition fee.  O.I.D. Process clients filed approximately 200 fraudulent OID returns claiming refunds that totaled approximately $228 million.

Dashner’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2 in San Francisco before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District of California.  The statutory maximum sentence for conspiracy to submit false claims is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Maness previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit false claims against the United States and was sentenced in February 2015 to serve 41 months in prison, and ordered to pay $1,176,668 in restitution to the IRS.

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Federal Racketeering Indictment Targets Mexican Mafia-Orchestrated Coalition of Three Latino Street Gangs In Northeast Los Angeles

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

LOS ANGELES – Federal, state and local authorities this morning arrested 15 defendants named in a federal racketeering indictment that describes the development and implementation of a coalition of three criminal street gangs in the Northeast Los Angeles area that were brought together under a truce ordered by a Mexican Mafia member for the purpose of controlling criminal activity in the neighborhoods where the trio of gangs operated

Unlike previous federal racketeering cases in this region that targeted long-established street gangs, the indictment that was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury outlines how Mexican Mafia member Arnold Gonzales created a criminal enterprise by unifying three gangs that had traditionally been rivals. According to the 27-count indictment, the “peace treaty” imposed by Arnold Gonzales brought together the Frogtown, Toonerville and Rascals gangs, which then worked “in concert to control the narcotics trafficking and other illicit activities committed in their territories,” which run along the Los Angeles River from Elysian Park nearly to Burbank.

The indictment alleges a conspiracy to violate the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and accuses a total of 22 defendants of being “members and associates of a criminal organization engaged in, amongst other things, conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, narcotics trafficking, extortion, and crimes of violence, including conspiracy to commit murder, murder, attempted murder, and robbery.”

Exploiting a power vacuum created by previous federal RICO cases targeting Northeast Los Angeles gangs and the Mexican Mafia members who controlled them, Arnold Gonzales allegedly assumed control of the three street gangs in the fall of 2010. Because he was incarcerated in Pelican Bay State Prison after being convicted of murder, Arnold Gonzales anointed another Frogtown member – Jorge Grey, also known as “Bouncer” – to be his emissary on the streets, according to the indictment. Acting as the so-called shotcaller, Grey convened a meeting of representatives of Northeast Los Angeles gangs in September 2010. At this meeting, Grey informed the gang representatives that he was Arnold Gonzales’s “mouthpiece” and that he had orders to broker a truce among the rival gangs of Frogtown, Toonerville, and the Rascals so that they could work together to control illegal activities in the area on behalf of, and for the benefit of, Arnold Gonzales.

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