Best Defender Bytes:

December 15, 2015


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:38 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) announced today that he will seek the death penalty against a registered sex offender for the special-circumstances murder of four women after kidnapping and raping the victims. Steven Dean Gordon, 46, Anaheim, was indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 2, 2014. He is charged with four felony counts of special circumstances murder during the commission of rape, kidnapping, lying in wait, and multiple murders. He is also charged with four felony counts of forcible rape. Gordon was in court today and is next scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 22, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Prior to seeking the death penalty against Gordon, a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases meet and discuss the nature of the crime, the vulnerability of the victims, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors. The committee also considers mitigating circumstances presented by the defense attorney.

California law permits the District Attorney to seek the death penalty if the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are any facts above and beyond the circumstances of crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, the enormity of the offense, or the harmful impact of the crime. Mitigating factors are any facts that reduce the defendant’s blameworthiness or otherwise support a less severe punishment. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.

Co-defendant Franc Cano, 29, Anaheim, was also indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 2, 2014, and is facing the same charges as Gordon. Cano is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 29, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center.

Circumstances of the Case


December 14, 2015

FBI Arrests O.C. Man who Allegedly Took over $1.2 Million from Distressed Homeowners in Bogus Loan Modification Scheme

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

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who allegedly bilked distressed homeowners with false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages – or even completely eliminating their loans – was arrested this morning on federal fraud charges by Special Agents with the FBI.

Antonio Marquette, 56, was arrested without incident at his residence in the community of Midway City. Marquette is expected to be arraigned on a 12-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

According to the 12-count indictment, which was returned on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana and was unsealed upon this morning’s arrest, Marquette operated Bolsa Marketing Group in Garden Grove in 2010 and 2011 and allegedly charged homeowners up to $70,000 in cash for services that simply were not rendered.

Through Bolsa Marketing, Marquette allegedly ran a scheme that targeted distressed homeowners and induced them to pay up-front fees to obtain mortgage relief services. The indictment alleges that Marquette operated the scheme by “falsely promising homeowners mortgage loan modifications that would substantially reduce their mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure, or eliminate their mortgage loans entirely.”



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A famous Hispanic band member has been charged for assaulting his ex-girlfriend outside an apartment complex in Santa Ana. Regulo Cristobal Valentin, 36, Las Vegas, Nevada, is charged with one felony count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by violence. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in state prison. He is out of custody on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on a later date.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2015, Valentin is accused of verbally arguing with his ex-girlfriend Jane Doe outside a Santa Ana apartment complex near his car. Several neighbors reported hearing the incident to the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), who investigated this case with assistance from the U.S. Marshal’s Pacific Southwest Task Force (U.S. Marshal). SAPD arrived after the initial argument and completed an incident report as no injuries were reported or observed by officers.

Approximately one hour later, the defendant is accused of physically assaulting Jane Doe by violently punching, kicking, and slapping her. Valentin is accused of dragging and pulling the victim by her hair as she attempted to flee from the defendant, which be seen on a property management surveillance video. The surveillance video will not be released at this time.

On Dec. 10, 2015, agents from the U.S. Marshal arrested the defendant on an outstanding warrant connected to the assault on Oct. 5, 2015.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An insurance agent was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison for defrauding over $1.4 million through an advance commission scheme. Eric Lee, 65, Brea, pleaded guilty on Oct. 23, 2015, to 10 felony counts of grand theft and 10 felony counts of insurance fraud with sentencing enhancements for damage exceeding $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property damage over $1.3 million. Lee was also ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution and a $2.8 million fine.

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. The defendant advised policy holders that they would be receiving free insurance and wrote them a personal check to pay for their first month’s premiums on the policy.


December 11, 2015

16 Named in Racketeering Indictment Alleging Money Laundering Schemes Orchestrated by Former President of Orange County Bank

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:32 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities today arrested 11 defendants named in a sweeping racketeering indictment that alleges a series of money laundering schemes that revolved around the former head Westminster-based Saigon National Bank. Four other defendants who are named in two separate money laundering indictments were also arrested today.

The majority of the defendants arrested today in relation to Operation “Phantom Bank” are named in a 109-page racketeering indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on December 1 and unsealed this afternoon. Two other indictments returned by the grand jury over the past year were also unsealed today. The three indictments charge a total of 20 defendants, three of whom are named in two indictments.

In the 16-defendant racketeering indictment, six of the defendants are charged with violating the federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by playing key roles in a series of schemes to launder drug proceeds. At the center of the schemes is the lead defendant in the indictment – Tu Chau “Bill” Lu, 71, of Fullerton, who was president and chief executive officer of Saigon National Bank from 2009 through January 2015.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:28 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An automobile dealership owner and an accounting firm owner were charged and arraigned for filing approximately $1.2 million in fraudulent tax returns. Young Eui Hong, 51, and James Jun Kul Pak, 49, both of Garden Grove, are each charged with six felony counts of unlawful failure to transfer public funds, six felony counts of grand theft by an employee, four felony counts of making a false and fraudulent return over $25,000 tax liability, and sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, Hong and Pak face a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison. The defendants are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Dec. 18, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-12, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At the time of the crimes, Hong was the owner of Grand Motors, Inc., an automobile dealership, and Pak owned an accounting firm in Garden Grove, which conducted accounting work for Hong’s dealership.

Between January 2009, and December 2014, Hong and Pak are accused of knowingly filing false quarterly sales tax returns in which they understated the number of vehicles sold by the dealership, and the amount of sales taxes paid by customers to the dealership, and owed to the State of California.

Hong and Pak are accused of maintaining records at the business and at their residences demonstrating that the number of sales reported to the Board of Equalization in the sales tax returns was approximately half of the actual sales at the dealership on which sales taxes were to be paid.


Orange County Man Charged With Assault, Impersonating an Officer

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:25 am

An Orange County man suspected of assaulting two women while pretending to be a police officer is awaiting arraignment today on charges, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Joseph Christoph Moore (dob 1/3/76) is scheduled to be arraigned sometime after 1:30 p.m. at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, in case BA442110. Prosecutors will ask that his bail be set at $1.2 million.

Deputy District Attorney Lowrie Mendoza with the Sex Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.

The Anaheim resident is charged with six counts, including one felony count each of assault with intent to commit a felony, criminal threats and false imprisonment by violence. He also is charged with three misdemeanors, including two counts of unlawful use of badge and one count of sexual battery. The complaint alleges personal use of a gun and prior convictions.

He is suspected of stopping two women in separate incidents in the Hollywood area by claiming to be a police officer. The first alleged incident occurred on Nov. 24 in the 6100 block of De Longpre Avenue when he allegedly pulled a gun and threatened the woman after fondling her. The second alleged incident occurred on Nov. 30 in the 500 block of Kingsley Drive in East Hollywood. In both incidents, he allegedly flashed a badge.


December 10, 2015

Two Members of Dockworkers Union Charged in Scheme that Bilked Health Care Plan by Fraudulently Billing for Chiropractic Services

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:26 am

LOS ANGELES – Two members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 13, have been arrested on federal fraud charges that allege they caused two medical clinics to bill the union’s health care plan for chiropractic services that either were not provided or were not medically necessary.

Sergio Amador, 49, of Downey, and David Gomez, 52, of San Pedro, were arrested yesterday without incident by federal authorities.

At arraignments yesterday afternoon, Amador and Gomez pleaded not guilty to mail fraud charges contained in an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on November 18. Both men were freed on bond and were ordered to stand trial on February 2, 2016.

The ILWU represents dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Members of the union receive benefits, including health care benefits, through the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union – Pacific Maritime Association Welfare Plan.


Los Angeles-Based U.S. Attorney’s Office Collected over $42 Million in Civil and Criminal Actions during 2015 Fiscal Year

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

LOS ANGELES – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California collected $42,370,356 as a result of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits during the 2015 fiscal year, United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker announced today.

The amount collected for U.S. taxpayers during FY2015 is the result of nearly $19 million collected in criminal actions, and approximately $23.4 million collected in civil actions.

Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office worked with other offices and Justice Department components to collect an additional $10.54 billion, most of which was related to massive settlements with Bank of America and Standard & Poor’s Financial Service in cases in which proceeds were collected in FY 2015, which ended on September 30.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also collected $33,353,717 in criminal and civil asset forfeiture proceedings. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.



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

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A woman was charged and arraigned today on charges of stealing about $800 from Target stores in a “short change” scheme. Ashlie Jane Pentard, 29, Long Beach, is charged with eight felony counts of second degree burglary. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of seven years and eight months in state prison. Pentard is being held on $75,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. She is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 15, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

Between May 5, 2015, and Dec. 3, 2015, Pentard is accused of stealing approximately $100 while checking out at different Target stores in Irvine and Costa Mesa. On eight separate occasions, she is accused of checking out with a bottle of water and sometimes a low-value item. Pentard is accused of paying with a $100 bill and as the cashier is making change, the defendant is accused of changing her mind and handing over smaller bills and asking for her $100 bill to be returned. After the cashier returns the correct $100 bill, Pentard is accused of switching out the $100 bill with a smaller bill while the cashier is not looking and then claiming she received back the wrong bill. The defendant is accused of making a scene in order to confuse the cashier, who then gives her another $100 bill. Pentard is accused of then leaving the scene.

Prior to Dec. 3, 2015, Pentard was suspected of running the above “short change” scheme at other Target stores in Orange County and out of state and was under surveillance by the Irvine Police Department (IPD), who investigated this case.

On Dec. 3, 2015, IPD detectives observed the defendant committing second degree burglary at a Target store in Costa Mesa and subsequently arrested her in the parking lot without incident.


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