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April 1, 2015

MAN ARRAIGNED FOR KIDNAPPING AND THREATENING WOMAN AFTER CARVING HIS NAME ON HER CHEST

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:52 am

SANTA ANA – A man was arraigned yesterday for kidnapping and threatening a woman that he had a romantic relationship with after carving his name on her chest. Sergio Joaquin Mendoza, 25, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of kidnapping, one felony count of criminal threats, two felony counts of domestic battery with corporal injury, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. At the time of the crime Mendoza had a romantic relationship Jane Doe.  If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in state prison. He is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 8, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Between March 17, 2015, and March 20, 2015, Mendoza is accused of living in a room in a relative’s house in Santa Ana. During that time, Mendoza is accused of getting into multiple verbal arguments with Jane Doe and punching her on several occasions. The defendant is accused of forcing Jane Doe to sit in his car while he was at work and threatening her with violence in order to keep her from leaving the car.

On or around March 22, 2015, the defendant is accused of arguing with the victim and attempting to prevent her from leaving the house. The defendant is accused of telling the victim he would let her leave if she allowed him to carve his name onto her chest. Mendoza is then accused of using a razor blade to carve his first name onto the victim’s chest and forcing the victim to stay in the house after arguing with the victim. That same day, Mendoza’s relative told the defendant to move out of the residence.

That evening, the defendant is accused of forcing the victim into his vehicle and driving her to several parking lots in Santa Ana. Mendoza is accused of holding the victim against her will in his vehicle by intimidating and threatening her with violence if she attempted to leave the vehicle.

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Teen Granddaughter Convicted of Killing Grandparents

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:50 am

A jury convicted today an 18-year-old girl of killing her grandparents when she was 14 years old, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

A jury deliberated just over a day before finding Sophia Cristo guilty of the first-degree murders of Jack Bezner, 71, and his wife, Susan, 64, at the couple’s Arica Avenue home in Rosemead in case BA422447.

The jury also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murders and the special allegation that Cristo personally used a knife to stab Susan Bezner.

Deputy District Attorney Scott McPheron of the Family Violence Division prosecuted the case.

Cristo was charged along with her then 21-year-old boyfriend, Rodolfo Lopez, of fatally stabbing the couple on Aug. 9, 2010, then fleeing to El Paso, Texas. (more…)

March 31, 2015

Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud

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

Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that allowed users to conduct illegal transactions over the Internet.  The charges are contained in a federal criminal complaint issued on March 25, 2015, in the Northern District of California and unsealed today.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lori Hazenstab of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in Washington D.C. made the announcement.

Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service (USSS).  Both were assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity in the Silk Road marketplace.  Force served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.”  Force is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest.  Bridges is charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

According to the complaint, Force was a DEA agent assigned to investigate the Silk Road marketplace.  During the investigation, Force engaged in certain authorized undercover  operations by, among other things, communicating online with “Dread Pirate Roberts” (Ulbricht), the target of his investigation.  The complaint alleges, however, that Force then, without authority, developed additional online personas and engaged in a broad range of illegal activities calculated to bring him personal financial gain.  In doing so, the complaint alleges, Force used fake online personas, and engaged in complex Bitcoin transactions to steal from the government and the targets of the investigation.  Specifically, Force allegedly solicited and received digital currency as part of the investigation, but failed to report his receipt of the funds, and instead transferred the currency to his personal account.  In one such transaction, Force allegedly sold information about the government’s investigation to the target of the investigation.  The complaint also alleges that Force invested in and worked for a digital currency exchange company while still working for the DEA, and that he directed the company to freeze a customer’s account with no legal basis to do so, then transferred the customer’s funds to his personal account.  Further, Force allegedly sent an unauthorized Justice Department subpoena to an online payment service directing that it unfreeze his personal account.

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District Court Enters Permanent Injunction against Los Angeles Seafood Company and Senior Officers to Stop Distribution of Adulterated Products

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:27 am

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against L.A. Star Seafood Company Inc. of Los Angeles and its corporate officers Sima Goldring and Sam Goldring to prevent the distribution of adulterated seafood products, the Department of Justice announced today.

The department filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Jan. 5, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alleging that the company’s seafood products are produced under conditions that are inadequate to ensure the safety of its products.  The complaint alleges that L.A. Star Seafood imports, receives, prepares, processes, packs, holds and distributes ready-to-eat smoked and salt-cured seafood, including cold-smoked mackerel and steelhead trout, and pickled herring and sprats.  The complaint also alleges that Sima Goldring and Sam Goldring are L.A. Star Seafood’s corporate officers with the authority and responsibility for preventing and correcting violations of federal law at the company.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction that prohibits them from committing violations of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).  The consent decree requires L.A. Star Seafood to cease all manufacturing operations and requires that, in order for the defendants to resume distributing seafood products, the FDA first must determine that its manufacturing practices have come into compliance with the law.

“L.A. Star Seafood was repeatedly informed that the sanitation practices at its facility were deficient,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The failure to actively plan for and control the presence of bacteria and neurotoxins commonly found in seafood processing facilities can pose a serious risk to the public health.”

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WOMAN CONVICTED OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER DURING ROBBERY BY DRIVING OVER MAN’S HEAD AFTER FOLLOWING HIM HOME FROM HAWAIIAN GARDENS CASINO

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:22 am

SANTA ANA – A woman was convicted today of the special circumstances murder of a man by driving over his head after following him home from a Hawaiian Gardens Casino to rob him of $10,000 in gambling winnings. Barbara Ann Hamel, 51, Long Beach, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder for committing a murder during a robbery, two felony counts of second degree robbery, and one felony count of attempted second degree robbery. Hamel faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at her sentencing on May 29, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Hamel previously pleaded guilty in this case on Dec. 13, 2013, and was expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison on Feb. 21, 2014. During the sentencing the court allowed Hamel to withdraw her guilty plea based on the defendant’s request to have evidence in this case further analyzed.

Co-defendant Tad Allen Carroll, 46, formerly of Buena Park, pleaded guilty on Dec. 13, 2013, to one felony count of first degree murder. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

Co-defendant Michael William Ross, 31, Long Beach, pleaded guilty Sept. 27, 2013, to one felony count each of second degree murder, robbery, and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

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March 30, 2015

MOTHER SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING 2-MONTH-OLD BABY GIRL BY DROWNING HER IN BATHTUB

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:19 am

SANTA ANA – A mother was sentenced today to 25 years to life in state prison for murdering her 2-month-old baby girl by drowning her in a bathtub. Lucero Carrera, 30, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury on Jan. 26, 2015, of one felony count each of first degree murder and assault on a child under 8 years old with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death. On Feb. 9, 2015, the same jury found that Carrera, who had entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity,” was legally sane at the time of the murder.

In June 2012, Carrera lived in a trailer in Santa Ana with her mother and her 2-month-old baby daughter Kimberly Gutierrez.

At approximately 4:20 p.m. on June 29, 2012, immediately after Carrera ingested a large quantity of pills in an attempt to kill herself. She then filled her Jacuzzi bathtub halfway with water and intentionally murdered her baby by drowning her in the tub.

Carrera’s mother returned home from shopping and discovered baby Kimberly face-down in the bathtub.

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MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES STABBING-MURDER OF FORMER GIRLFRIEND IN SANTA ANA ALLEYWAY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:15 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for stabbing and murdering his former girlfriend in a Santa Ana alleyway. Luis Antonio Garcia Morales, 26, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury Nov. 24, 2014, of one felony count of special circumstance murder by lying in wait. The sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon was also found true.

On the evening of Nov. 13, 2012, Morales arranged to meet with 21-year-old Maria Isabel Cerrillo, with whom he had a previous romantic relationship, by pretending to be someone else. The defendant met his ex-girlfriend in an alleyway in Santa Ana, murdered her by stabbing her repeatedly, and then fled the scene. The victim died from the multiple stab wounds.

Morales was arrested on the morning of Nov. 15, 2012, by the Santa Ana Police Department, who investigated this case.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12CF3351 / March 27, 2015

PAROLE RESCINDED FOR INMATE WHO MURDERED 17-YEAR-OLD STUDENT AS SHE SLEPT ON PROM NIGHT IN 1991

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:12 am

SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings (Board), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations rescinded the parole of a man today who shot and murdered a 17-year-old high school student on prom night while she was sleeping in her hotel room. Paul Crowder, 42, is currently being held at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy. Crowder was sentenced Nov. 1, 1991, to 15 years to life in state prison and an additional four years for the personal use of a firearm. A rescission hearing was held today where the Board heard evidence from two correctional officers who witnessed Crowder’s serious prison violations from 2014. Based on the evidence that was presented at today’s hearing, the Board determined that the violations were proven and gave them good cause to rescind the inmate’s 2010 grant parole. Crowder will be scheduled for a parole hearing in the next four months at the prison before the Board. Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos attended today’s rescission hearing to oppose Crowder’s parole.

“My office is committed to keeping dangerous murderers behind bars long after a conviction is obtained,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas. ”I commend the work of the prosecutors, Investigators, and the staff at the Orange County District Attorney’s office for their devotion and dedication in seeking justice for victims and thank Governor Brown and the parole board for putting public safety first.”

In 2010, the Board granted Crowder parole. On Nov. 12, 2010, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger invoked his authority to reverse the Board’s decision to grant Crowder parole for various reasons including lack of insight and responsibility of the murder.

On March 31, 2011, the Anaheim Police Department sent a letter to the Board in opposition of Crowder’s parole. On Oct. 19, 2011, the Board granted Crowder parole. On Nov. 4, 2011, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. invoked his authority to reverse the Board’s decision to grant parole for the inmate for various reasons including the inmate’s dishonesty about the murder, failure to accept responsibility, and participating in illegal activity in prison.

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March 27, 2015

Former United Commercial Bank Chief Credit Officer Convicted of Securities and Other Corporate Fraud After Trial

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:56 am

A jury convicted Ebrahim Shabudin yesterday of seven felony counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and other corporate fraud offenses stemming from the failure of United Commercial Bank (UCB), announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Acting Inspector General Fred W. Gibson Jr. of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Office of the Inspector General, Special Inspector General Christy Romero of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Inspector General Mark Bialek of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of the Inspector General and Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division.

Shabudin, 66, of Moraga, California, was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Credit Officer at UCB in 2008 and 2009.  Shabudin was the second most senior officer in executive management at UCB after former Chief Executive Officer Thomas Shiu-Kit (Tommy) Wu.

On Nov. 6, 2009, UCB was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  With over $10.9 billion in assets, UCB’s failure was the ninth largest failure since 2007 of a bank insured by the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund, according to the FDIC.  In 2013, FDIC estimated that total losses for UCB would exceed $1.1 billion.  Through 2014, however, with the recovery of the U.S. economy, FDIC now estimates the loss to the Deposit Insurance Fund to be approximately $677 million.  On Nov. 14, 2008, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) provided approximately $298 million in federal funds to UCB during the financial crisis.

Late yesterday, a jury found Shabudin guilty of conspiring with others within the bank to falsify key bank records as part of a scheme to conceal millions of dollars in losses and falsely inflate the bank’s financial statements.  Among the records falsified were those filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and FDIC related to the third and fourth quarters of 2008 describing UCB’s so-called Allowance for Loan Losses.  Also falsified were documents relating to UCB’s quarterly and year-end earnings per share as announced by the bank to the investing public.  The guilty verdict followed a six-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California.

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OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF INMATE WHO MURDERED 17-YEAR-OLD STUDENT AS SHE SLEPT ON PROM NIGHT IN 1991

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:53 am

SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is opposing the parole of a man who shot and murdered a 17-year-old high school student on prom night while she was sleeping in her hotel room. Paul Crowder, 42, is currently being held at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy. Crowder was sentenced Nov. 1, 1991, to 15 years to life in state prison and an additional four years for the personal use of a firearm. He is scheduled for a parole hearing tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2015, at 8:30 a.m., at the prison before the Board of Parole Hearings (Board), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos is attending the hearing to oppose Crowder’s parole. In 2010, the Board granted Crowder parole. On Nov. 12, 2010, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger invoked his authority to reverse the Board’s decision to grant Crowder parole for various reasons including lack of insight and responsibility of the murder.

On March 31, 2011, the Anaheim Police Department sent a letter to the Board in opposition of Crowder’s parole. On Oct. 19, 2011, the Board granted Crowder parole. On Nov. 4, 2011, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. invoked his authority to reverse the Board’s decision to grant parole for the inmate for various reasons including the inmate’s dishonesty about the murder, failure to accept responsibility, and participating in illegal activity in prison.

On Sept.19, 2012, Crowder was initially denied parole for five years by the Board. After Crowder was denied parole, The California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate Division, District Three, overruled Gov. Brown’s reversal from 2011 and reinstated a parole date for the inmate. Based on Crowder’s recent serious prison violations, the Board will hold a hearing to determine whether or not to rescind their earlier decision of granting Crowder parole.

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