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August 19, 2015

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, 48 State Attorneys General Announce a $71 Million Consumer Settlement with Amgen Over Biologic Medications

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:54 am

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that California and 47 other states and the District of Columbia have reached a $71 million settlement with pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. to resolve allegations that Amgen unlawfully promoted biologic medications Aranesp and Enbrel. California will receive $4.6 million from the settlement.

Aranesp is used to treat certain types of anemia by stimulating bone marrow to produce red blood cells.  Enbrel is used to treat a number of conditions, including plaque psoriasis.

“Amgen’s false marketing denied consumers the ability to make educated decisions about their healthcare,” said Attorney General Harris. “This settlement will hold the company accountable for its deceptive marketing and prevent it from using misleading practices in the future.”

In documents filed today, Attorney General Harris and the other attorneys general allege that Amgen violated state consumer protection laws by: (1) promoting Aranesp for dosing frequencies longer than the FDA approved label without competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the extended dosing frequencies; (2) promoting Aranesp for anemia caused by cancer without having FDA approval or competent and reliable scientific evidence to support it; and (3) promoting Enbrel for mild plaque psoriasis even though Enbrel is only approved by the FDA to treat chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

The consent judgment requires Amgen to reform its marketing and promotional practices.  For example, under the terms of the consent judgment, Amgen may not make false, deceptive, or misleading written or oral claims in promoting Enbrel or any drug in the same class as Aranesp. (more…)

Owner of Three Los Angeles Clinics Pleads Guilty to $4.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:48 am

The owner and operator of three medical clinics located in Los Angeles pleaded guilty today to submitting more than $4.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Ryan of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General of the (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region and Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division made the announcement.

Hovik Simitian, 48, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell of the Central District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 16, 2015.

Simitian owned and operated three medical clinics that were located in the Los Angeles area:  Columbia Medical Group Inc., Life Care Medical Clinic and Safe Health Medical Clinic.  In connection with his guilty plea, Simitian admitted that, from approximately February 2010 through June 2014, he and his co-conspirators paid cash kickbacks to patient recruiters who brought Medicare beneficiaries to the clinics.  Simitian also admitted that he and his co-conspirators billed Medicare for lab tests and other services that either were not medically necessary or were not actually provided to the Medicare beneficiaries, and that, to support the bills to Medicare, he and others created false documentation reflecting that the services had been provided.

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Woman Charged with Fatal Stabbing in Rowland Heights

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:40 am

A 19-year-old woman was charged today with killing her brother’s girlfriend with a pair of scissors, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Lisette Kimberly Moreno (dob 5/20/96) has been charged with one count of murder in case KA110434.

The felony complaint includes a special allegation that the defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, scissors, during the commission of the crime.

Moreno was scheduled to be arraigned today, but the court appearance was continued to Sept. 17 in Department F of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pomona Branch.

Prosecutors said on Aug. 16 Moreno reportedly got into an argument with her brother’s girlfriend at a Rowland Heights home.

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August 18, 2015

Career Drug Trafficker Tied to 170 Pounds of Cocaine and $1.5 Million in Illicit Proceeds Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

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

LOS ANGELES – One of the principal cocaine traffickers associated with an international narcotics ring was sentenced this morning to 20 years in federal prison after law enforcement seized more than 170 pounds of cocaine and $1.5 million in drug-tainted cash linked to his narcotics-trafficking activities.

Zaid Wakil, 43, of Winston Salem, North Carolina, was sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu for his drug trafficking activities in which he acquired cocaine from Los Angeles-area traffickers with the intent to distribute the narcotics on the East Coast.

In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, federal prosecutors said that Wakil “participated in an extensive scheme to traffic in extraordinary quantities of cocaine.” They argued that Wakil “willfully pursued a criminal lifestyle” as reflected in his 20 prior criminal convictions over the course of more than two decades on charges that included drug trafficking, forgery and burglary.

Following a jury trial in February at which Wakil represented himself, he was found guilty of participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy and three counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. The three narcotics-possession counts were the result of three seizures between May and July of 2011 in which more than 170 pounds of cocaine was seized. Authorities in Arizona and seized nearly 70 pounds during two traffic stops, and investigators were able to intercept a 105-pound shipment that Wakil attempted to send to the East Coast via FedEx. (more…)

Immigration Consultant and Former Federal Government Official Convicted in Scheme to Pay Bribes to Obtain Benefits for Immigrants

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:46 am

LOS ANGELES – A former official with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who went on to operate an immigration consulting service, has been found guilty of participating in a scheme to pay bribes to current government employees to obtain “Green Cards” and citizenship for immigrants.

George Wu, 62, of Pico Rivera, who worked as a CBP officer until early 2012, and then operated Great Eastern Immigration Services, was found guilty on Thursday of paying bribes in an effort to obtain citizenship and legal permanent resident status for several immigrants.

Following a seven-day trial before United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, Wu was found guilty of conspiracy and five counts of bribery of a public official.

Wu, another immigration consultant named Michael Bui and others solicited money from immigrants in exchange for help in obtaining benefits from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that included lawful permanent residence and citizenship. Some of the money paid by the immigrants was used to pay bribes to public officials in exchange for granting immigration benefits.

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Man Convicted of Killing Woman at Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet

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

A 23-year-old man was convicted today of killing a woman over a parking spot last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The jury deliberated for a day and a half before finding Reggie Cervantes guilty of one felony count of voluntary manslaughter in case VA137338.

Cervantes is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 30 in Department G of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Norwalk Branch. The defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of 23 years in state prison.

Deputy District Attorney Andrea Mader, who prosecuted the case, said on Oct. 17, 2014, the victim, Elizabeth Yanez, drove to a Santa Fe Springs swap meet with her two adult children.

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August 17, 2015

O.C. Woman Who Allegedly Defrauding Anaheim Computer Business by Stealing Apple Products Arraigned on Federal Charges

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

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County woman who worked at a family-owned computer business in Anaheim pleaded not guilty this afternoon to federal wire fraud charges that allege she sold Apple products that belonged to her employer.

Cecilia L. Litonjua-Moore, 44, of Costa Mesa, was arrested this morning by FBI agents without incident after being charged by a federal grand jury in a three-count indictment filed Wednesday.

Litonjua-Moore was arraigned this afternoon, at which time she entered a not guilty plea and was ordered to stand trial on October 6. The defendant was ordered released on a $50,000 bond.

Litonjua-Moore was an executive assistant at L.A. Computer Company, a family-owned computer store that sold Apple products, until she was dismissed in February 2014. According to the indictment, the company used a point-of-sale system that tracked its inventory, customers and invoices, among other details. Litonjua-Moore had access to this system and the authority to make adjustments to the inventory and to create invoices. She also had authority to access the owner’s computer when he was away, and to use his signature stamp for company business. (more…)

GANG MEMBERS SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR FIRING SEVERAL ROUNDS AT OCCUPIED POLICE VEHICLE IN ANAHEIM

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

SANTA ANA – Three defendants were sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for firing several rounds at a police officer’s vehicle that was out on patrol in Anaheim for the benefit of their Hispanic criminal street gang. Juan Carlos Covarrubias, 22, Jordy Roman Martinez, 22, Andrew Gomez Sanchez, 22, all of Anaheim, were each found guilty by a jury on Feb. 26, 2015, of one felony count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and one felony count of street terrorism, with sentencing enhancements for the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member and criminal street gang activity.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on June 1, 2012, Sanchez was driving Martinez and Covarrubias and pulled up in front of an unmarked Anaheim Police Department (APD) vehicle that was patrolling the street. Sanchez was driving the car on the wrong side of the road to block the officer’s vehicle from moving forward on Palm Street at Boysen Avenue in Anaheim. The officers were on duty and in their full uniform at the time of the incident.

Martinez got out of the vehicle with a loaded firearm and began shooting several rounds at the officers inside the vehicle with specific intent, premeditation, and deliberation to murder the police officers. The officers attempted to find safety by turning their vehicle around, switching on their police emergency lights, and attempting to drive to safety.

Martinez got back inside the vehicle. Sanchez pursued the officer’s vehicle and one of the other defendants continued to shoot at the officers while they were driving. The defendants lodged two bullets into the front passenger side of the officer’s vehicle. The officers were not struck and did not return fire.

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Pennsylvania Man Sentenced to LWOP For Ritualistic Murder

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

A Pennsylvania man was sentenced today to life without the possibility of parole for torturing, stabbing and dismembering a Los Angeles man in a downtown hotel room, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Edward Garcia Jr., 41, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler for the Nov. 28, 2010, murder of Herbert Tracy White.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney with the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

Garcia was found guilty in June of first-degree murder. Jurors also found true the special circumstances of murder during a robbery and murder involving torture.

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August 14, 2015

Cold Case Fugitive Wanted for Crimes Against Children in Northern California Arrested in Los Angeles

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:53 am

A former northern California school teacher wanted for alleged crimes against children was arrested this morning in Los Angeles by members of the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force, announced David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and David Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office.

Frank Joseph Montenegro, 52, a current resident of Los Angeles, was taken into custody following a foot pursuit and struggle with task force members this morning.

Montenegro, who had been residing at a community home in the Brooklyn Heights section of Los Angeles, is currently in state custody in Los Angeles awaiting transfer to the custody of officials in Alameda County, California.

According to a federal criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in San Francisco on August 15, 2001, Montenegro was charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office on July 25, 2001, following an investigation by detectives with the Fremont Police Department. Montenegro was charged with multiple counts of sodomy of a child under 14 years of age against the victim’s will; oral copulation; and the continued sexual abuse of a minor. At the time, Montenegro had been working as an elementary school teacher. After investigators had established that Montenegro fled across the southern United States border to Mexico, the FBI was asked to assist in finding him. The federal complaint charged Montenegro with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP).

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