Best Defender Bytes:

December 15, 2014


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:32 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to nine years and four months in state prison for defrauding victims of $492,000 from their individual retirement account (IRA) investment funds. Robert Barth, 62, Laguna Niguel, was found guilty by a jury, Sept. 29, 2014, of two felony counts of using an untrue statement in purchase or sale of a security, three felony counts of grand theft, one felony count of theft from an elder with white collar sentencing enhancements for related felony fraud resulting in a taking of more than $100,000 and less than $500,000.

At the time of the crimes, Barth was a certified financial planner and acted as a financial advisor to the victims and gained their trust and friendship. One of the victims in this case considered the defendant his best friend while others participated in various activities with the defendant or knew him through their children and grandchildren’s school.

In 2003, Barth fraudulently convinced two victims to roll their IRAs into self-directed IRAs that he claimed would be invested in California Mortgage Notes. The defendant directed the IRA trust administrator to transfer the victims’ money into a bank account that Barth controlled.

Several years later, the victims were notified by the IRA trust administrator that there were no mortgage notes and that their entire IRA investment had been lost.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:29 am

NEWPORT BEACH – Additional charges have been filed against a San Clemente massage therapist for inappropriately touching four other women. Ping Li, 51, San Clemente, was charged today with six misdemeanor counts of sexual battery against six victims. Li was initially charged with four counts of sexual battery. The four additional victims came forward after seeing media coverage about this case. If convicted, Li faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a $12,000 fine. At his arraignment on Nov. 3, 2014, Li was ordered by the court to no longer work as a massage therapist and to not enter any massage parlor during business hours. The defendant is out of custody on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled for pre-trial Jan. 12, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At the time of the crime, Li owned and operated Massage Clover in San Clemente. Li is accused of working as a licensed massage therapist. Between June 4, 2014, and Oct. 4, 2014, Li is accused of committing sexual battery by inappropriately touching a massage parlor employee and five clients for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, and sexual abuse on six separate occasions. The victims reported the crimes to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated this case.

The investigation in this case is on-going. Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact OCSD’s Special Victims Unit at (714) 647-7418 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Paul Carvo at (714) 834-7538.

Deputy District Attorney Ed Grubaugh is prosecuting this case.


December 12, 2014

California Operator of Website Pleads Guilty to Facilitating Prostitution

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:04 am

A California man pleaded guilty today in connection with his operation of the website to facilitate prostitution.  This represents the first federal conviction of a website operator for facilitation of prostitution.

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 Field Office and Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Office made the announcement.

Eric Omuro, also known as “Red,” 53, of Mountain View, California, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California to using a facility of interstate commerce with the intent to facilitate prostitution.  His co-defendant, Annemarie Lanoce, 40, of Rocklin, California, pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2014, for assisting Omuro with the operation of the website.  Omuro’s sentencing hearing is set for March 26, 2015, and Lanoce’s sentencing hearing is set for March 19, 2015.

As part of the plea agreement, Omuro admitted that from April 2010 until June 25, 2014, he owned, managed, and operated a website known as, which was previously known as  Omuro admitted that the website hosted advertisements posted by prostitutes containing explicit photos, graphic descriptions of sexual services offered, and rates for the sexual services.  The advertisements were searchable by geographic location, including cities throughout California, other U.S. states, and Canada.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:01 am

SANTA ANA – Two private investigators working for a law firm retained by the Costa Mesa Police Officers’ Association (CMPOA) were arrested on charges of committing crimes against two Costa Mesa council members and a competitor attorney. Christopher Joseph Lanzillo, 45, Lake Arrowhead, and Scott Alan Impola, 46, Canyon Lake, are each charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime of unlawful use of electronic tracking device, one felony count of false imprisonment by deceit, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime of falsely reporting crime to agency. If convicted, Lanzillo and Impola face a maximum sentence of four years and four months in jail, as well as revocation of their private investigators’ licenses. They are each being held on $25,000 bail and are scheduled to be arraigned at a later date.

Background Information

At the time of the crimes, Lanzillo and Impola are accused of working as private investigators for the former Upland-based law firm of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill, and Ethir (LDME). CMPOA retained LDME to conduct “candidate research,” including surveillance on Costa Mesa city council members, in the months leading up to the November 2012 election.

On June 19, 2012, Lanzillo is accused of purchasing a GPS monitoring device using the alias of Robert Teller with Teller Investigations.




Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:57 am

WESTMINSTER – A Marine was convicted today of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing a crash that killed three fellow Marines after crashing into a tree. Jared Ray Hale, 27, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more causing bodily injury, with sentencing enhancements and allegations for driving with a blood alcohol level over .15 percent and causing great bodily injury. He faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in state prison at his sentencing Jan. 30, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., in Department W-13, West Justice Center, Westminster.

The defendant was originally charged with three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence with sentencing enhancements and allegations for driving with a blood alcohol level over .15 percent and causing great bodily injury. The California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate Division, District Three, ruled that the defendant cannot be charged with one felony count of manslaughter with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury for the same subjects who have been named as victims in separate manslaughter counts and ordered the complaint to be amended. The defendant’s maximum sentence under the original counts would have been 10 years in state prison.

Facts and Circumstances of the Case
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2012, Hale arrived at Hennessey’s Tavern in Dana Point with three friends. The defendant and his friends were all Marines stationed at Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton. The friends included Christopher Arzola, 21, Mass., Jeremiah Callahan, 23, Neb., and Jason Chleborad, 22, S.D.

At approximately 1:50 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2012, the defendant drove away from the bar in his Dodge coup with his three friends as passengers.


December 11, 2014

Multi-Agency Investigation into East L.A. Street Gang Results in Federal RICO Indictment that Charges 38 Gangsters

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:41 am

LOS ANGELES – A task force investigation into the street gang that has terrorized the Ramona Gardens housing complex in Boyle Heights for decades has resulted in a federal racketeering indictment and the arrest this morning of 25 members and associates of the criminal enterprise.

During a law enforcement operation this morning, approximately 800 agents and officers targeted Big Hazard, a multi-generational street gang that has brought murder, extortion, robbery and other crimes to Boyle Heights for the past 70 years.

The federal indictment charges a total of 38 defendants. In addition to the 25 people arrested this morning, seven defendants were already in custody, authorities are searching for five fugitives, and one defendant was killed this past weekend.

(As a result of this investigation, another five people were indicted on narcotics charges, four of whom defendants were arrested this morning, bringing the total number of federal arrests today to 29).


Yuba City, California, Man Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Racially Motivated Attack on White Man and African-American Woman

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:37 am

Anthony Merrell Tyler, 34, of Yuba City, California, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez to serve 46 months in prison for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  The crime involved a racially motivated attack by Tyler and two co-defendants, Billy Hammett, 30, and Perry Jackson, 29, on a white man and an African-American woman in Marysville, California, in 2011.  In addition to his term of incarceration, Tyler was ordered to serve three years of supervised release upon his release from prison and to pay $175 in restitution.

According to documents filed with the court, around 10:45 p.m. on April 18, 2011, a white man and an African-American woman parked their car at a convenience store in Marysville.  Shortly afterward, the three defendants attacked the man and woman because of their race.  Jackson punched him twice in the head through the open passenger window.  At the same time, Hammett opened the driver-side door and kicked the woman in the chest.  Seconds later, Tyler smashed the car’s windshield with a crowbar, sending shattered glass into the passenger compartment.  As the attack continued, the woman managed to take refuge inside the convenience store and the man struggled to get away.  All three assailants then descended upon the male victim and began attacking him in the parking lot.  He sustained abrasions on his right forearm and knees, while the woman suffered bruising to her chest.  None of the defendants knew their victims.

In today’s hearing, and during Hammett and Jackson’s proceedings, Judge Mendez considered the defendants’ backgrounds and criminal histories.  Tyler has the words “white pride” tattooed down the backs of his arms and a swastika on his left upper arm.  He has previously acknowledged being a member of the Yuba County Peckerwoods, a local white supremacist group.  Hammett, who has a tattoo of the words “white power” across his abdomen, was previously convicted for the unprovoked assault on a 72-year-old African-American man and was sentenced on March 25, 2014, to 87 months in prison.  Jackson, who has the words “white power” tattooed in block letters down his shins, was sentenced on April 29, 2014, to 70 months in prison.  Tyler entered his guilty plea on March 11, 2014.

“These three defendants targeted the victims because of their race,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “This type of attack causes harm not only to the immediate victims, but tears at the fabric of our communities and society itself.  The department will continue to vigorously prosecute such acts of racial violence.”


Domestic Violence Charges Filed Against TV Reporter

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:33 am

Prosecutors have filed felony charges against a television reporter allegedly involved in two separate domestic altercations, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Lou Holtz said Carlos Zapata (dob 7/23/63) of Sherman Oaks is facing two counts of injuring a spouse.

Case LA079898, which was filed yesterday, also alleges one of the felony counts resulted in great bodily injury.

Arraignment is scheduled at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 24 in Department 100 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.


December 10, 2014

Doctor Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison in Medicare Fraud Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles-area physician whose referrals led to more than $1.7 million in fraudulent Medicare billings was sentenced this afternoon to 24 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare related to medically unnecessary power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment. 

Charles Okoye, a 52-year-old Carson resident who formerly operated a medical clinic in South Los Angeles, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, who also ordered the defendant to pay $931,118 in restitution.

Okoye pleaded guilty in August and admitted that he referred Medicare beneficiaries to a Gardena durable medical equipment supply company for power wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment (DME). These beneficiaries had been recruited by employees of Adelco Medical Distributors, Inc. and taken to see Okoye for a single, cursory examination, after which Okoye made the referrals to Adelco.

Adelco’s owner, Adeline Ekwebelem, paid Okoye an illegal kickback for every referral, and then billed Medicare more than $1.7 million for providing the DME, which the beneficiaries did not need or want and often never used. Medicare paid Adelco more than $820,000 on those claims. Ekwebelem was found guilty in September of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and the payment of illegal kickbacks (see: Judge Fitzgerald is scheduled to sentence Ekwebelem on January 15.


Leader of Fraudulent Internet Firm and Longtime International Fugitive Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison

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

SANTA ANA, California – A former Newport Beach resident who was a fugitive for well over a decade was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison for running a fraudulent Internet company that bilked hundreds of victims out of approximately $13 million.

James Eberhart, 73, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carney ordered Eberhart to pay $12,838,045 in restitution to more than 800 victims across the United States.

Eberhart pleaded guilty in September to two counts of mail fraud. His prosecution in United States District Court follows Eberhart’s arrest in Malaysia in 2012 after he was a fugitive for more than 12 years.

In the late 1990s, Eberhart and co-defendant Eugene M. Carriere operated a fraudulent Newport Beach company called YES Entertainment Network, Inc. According to court documents, they used dozens of “boiler room” telemarketing firms and a Hollywood celebrity spokesman to raise millions of dollars by telling investors that YES was creating an 18-channel, multimedia, family-oriented website that would carry various forms of entertainment programs.


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