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December 8, 2017

Attorney General Becerra Announces Takedown of Stockton Street Gangs

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

STOCKTON – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the arrest of 47 individuals; seizure of 35 firearms, and 10 of them were assault rifles; nearly $44,000 in currency; and the seizure of 34 pounds of marijuana, 2 pounds of methamphetamine, and 2 pounds of cocaine as part of a takedown of gang members in Stockton.

This operation, which took place Tuesday, targeted criminal activities by members of the MOB, Flyboys, East Coast Crips, Conway Gangsters, Sierra Vista Project and Glock Team gangs. The alleged criminal activities included conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal weapons possession, and gang enhancements.

“Families in Stockton can breathe a little easier tonight knowing that gang members, drugs, and deadly weapons are off the streets,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The MOB and Flyboys have used violence to incite fear and intimidation in the south Stockton community for far too long. I want to thank all of the brave men and women who wear the badge for taking this important step in improving safety in south Stockton.”

The operation was the product of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation’s Special Operations Unit (SOU), Stockton Police Department Gang Suppression Unit, California Highway Patrol, and San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. (more…)

Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following State of Emergency in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten, today issued a consumer alert following the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties due to widespread fires. They remind all Californians that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal under Penal Code Section 396.

“Fires have quickly spread in Southern California, fueled by strong winds,” said California Attorney General Becerra. “As our brave firefighters are working to contain the blazes and as many Californians are being evacuated, it should not be open season on innocent victims. Our State’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on housing, gas, food, and other essential supplies. As the top law enforcement officer in California, I encourage anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint through my Office’s website or call (800) 952-5225, or to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.”

“Members of the public should be on the lookout for excessive price increases to essential consumer goods and services during this time of emergency when thousands of Southern California residents have been either temporarily or permanently displaced from their homes by the wildfires,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. “Price gouging during a state emergency is against the law and should be reported. My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting unscrupulous vendors looking to make a quick buck at the expense of someone else’s personal tragedy.”

“Ventura County businesses historically have shown great restraint and compassion for those affected by disasters,” said Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten. “For any in the community who would give in to the temptation to benefit from others’ misfortune, we will take price gouging very seriously and will act to ensure it is not profitable.” (more…)

December 7, 2017

SEAL BEACH MAN CHARGED WITH HATE CRIMES FOR ASSAULTING SAME-SEX COUPLE, FORCING PHONE AWAY AS THEY CALLED 911, AND SLAMMING VICTIM’S ARM IN CAR DOOR

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Seal Beach man was charged yesterday with hate crimes for assaulting a same-sex couple by forcing the phone away from one victim as he called 911 and slamming the other victim’s arm in his car door.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Wade James Rutledge, 27, Seal Beach Charged on Dec. 5, 2017, with the following felony counts:

  • Dissuading a witness by force or threat
  • Assault – Hate crime causing violent injury

Sentencing Enhancements

  • Hate Crime
Seven years in state prison Pre-trial hearing

Dec. 14, 2017

Department W-1, West Justice Center, Westminster

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Nov. 3, 2017, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Rutledge is accused of approaching John Doe 1 and his boyfriend John Doe 2 in a parking lot near 10th Street and Ocean Avenue in Seal Beach.
  • The defendant and his associates are accused of making derogatory remarks about the couple’s same-sex relationship and threatening them with violence if they did not leave. (more…)

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate to Face Federal Firearm Charges in the Northern District of California

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

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate today for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition, announced United States Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions; United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch from the Northern District of California; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder.

According to the indictment, on July 1, 2015, Garcia-Zarate, a citizen of Mexico who reportedly is 47 years old, possessed a semi-automatic pistol and multiple rounds of ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (felon in possession of a firearm) and 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5) (unlawfully present alien in possession of a firearm).

​An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed and Garcia-Zarate, like all defendants, is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Garcia-Zarate currently is in state custody on other charges.  If convicted of either violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), Garcia-Zarate faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

​Assistant United States Attorneys Hallie Hoffman and Shiao Lee are prosecuting this case.  This case is the result of an investigation by the ATF.  (more…)

Man Sentenced to Prison for Elder Abuse, Burglary in Pomona

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

A 25-year-old man was sentenced today to seven years in state prison for breaking into his grandfather’s Pomona home and severely beating the elderly man, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Nov. 16, Sammeon Christian Waller pleaded no contest to two felony counts in case KA115541: elder abuse and first-degree burglary, person present.

Deputy District Attorney Sandra Jimenez, who prosecuted the case, said police were called on June 9 to conduct a welfare check on an 82-year-old Pomona man who had not been seen for several days.

When police arrived at the home, they discovered the elderly victim with significant injuries to his body and he was taken to the hospital for treatment, according to the prosecutor.

Police identified the victim’s grandson, Sammeon Christian Waller, as the assailant in the attack, the prosecutor said. On June 18, Waller was located in Sacramento and taken into custody. (more…)

December 6, 2017

Medical Doctor Found Guilty of Illegally Writing Prescriptions for Controlled Substances, including Highly Addictive Opioids

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

LOS ANGELES – A doctor who operated a medical clinic in Lynwood has been found guilty of drug-trafficking charges after a federal jury found that he issued prescriptions for powerful narcotics and sedatives without a medical purpose for mostly young “patients” who sometimes traveled more than 100 miles to get prescriptions.

Dr. Edward Ridgill, 65, who has residences in Whittier and Newbury Park, was found guilty late yesterday afternoon of 26 felony counts of illegally distributing controlled substances.

The evidence presented during a one-week trial showed that Ridgill illegally prescribed the opioid painkiller hydrocodone, which is often sold under the brand name Norco; alprazolam, best known by the brand name Xanax; and carisoprodol, a muscle relaxer often sold under the brand name Soma.

Prosecutors presented evidence at trial from a California database that tracks prescriptions and “confirms [Ridgill]’s predatory prescribing,” according to court documents that describe young “patients” traveling from Victorville, Palmdale and Desert Hot Springs to obtain prescriptions.

The jury heard that, in 2014 alone, Ridgill wrote nearly 9,000 prescriptions, and 95 percent of those prescriptions were for hydrocodone, alprazolam and carisoprodol, typically for the maximum strength. “The combination of these three drugs is the most sought-after drug cocktail on the black market, and one for which there is no legitimate medical purpose,” prosecutors said in a court filing. (more…)

Attorney General Becerra Sues Distributor For Selling Jewelry With Excessive Levels of Lead and Cadmium

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

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against Luxy Accessory, Inc. (Luxy), a jewelry distributor based in Los Angeles, and its owner Hyun Sook Kim, for selling jewelry with excessive levels of lead and cadmium. Much of the jewelry is intended for children, and some have been mislabeled as “lead free.” These acts constitute a violation of California’s Metal Containing Jewelry Law and the Unfair Competition Law, and also constitute unlawful advertising. Attorney General Becerra filed today’s lawsuit jointly with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) seeking injunctive relief to prevent Luxy from selling its stockpiles of non-compliant jewelry.

“Lead and cadmium are highly toxic metals that can cause a host of physical and behavioral health problems at low levels of exposure, especially for our children,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Luxy has continued to blatantly violate our laws, and in the process, jeopardized the wellbeing of our sons and daughters. The California Department of Justice has zero tolerance for this type of egregious behavior. As the former Congressman from the area where Luxy is based, I know firsthand that the surrounding communities are sick and tired of the collective damage lead is causing their children.”

In 2012, the California Attorney General’s Office sued Luxy and a number of other jewelry distributors for selling jewelry that contained excessive levels of lead. Luxy’s owner and sole employee, Hyun Sook Kim, failed to respond to the lawsuit and ignored repeated attempts that were made to contact her. As a result, in 2014, the Department of Justice obtained a default judgement against Luxy for $145,000 in penalties and injunctive relief. The Department of Justice has since used various judgment enforcement mechanisms to enforce the judgment.

Last month, inspectors from DTSC, accompanied by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, returned to Luxy’s warehouse to inspect all of its jewelry for lead and cadmium. Using field screening devices, the inspectors identified approximately 150 boxes of jewelry that are suspected to contain excessive amounts of lead and cadmium.  DTSC placed this jewelry under quarantine. The Sheriff’s Department removed the remaining jewelry and plans to sell it at a Sheriff’s auction on December 6, 2017, in South El Monte, to pay the outstanding judgment.  (more…)

Pomona Man Sentenced to Prison for Sexually Abusing Children

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

A 60-year-old man was sentenced today to 108 years to life in prison for sexually molesting four children over a span of 19 years, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Nov. 9, a jury found Romelio Corelio Espinoza (dob 9/16/57) guilty of eight felony counts in case KA112725: four counts of oral copulation or sexual penetration with child 10 years old or younger and four counts of lewd act upon a child.

During today’s sentencing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Bruce Marrs also ordered the defendant to register as a lifetime sex offender.

Deputy District Attorney Babette Huley of the Victim Impact Program, who prosecuted the case, said Espinoza sexually abused three girls and one boy between 1997 and 2016.

At the time of the crimes, the ages of the victims ranged from 6 to 10 years old, the prosecutor added. (more…)

December 5, 2017

Attorney General Becerra: Stockton Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Immigrant Families

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

STOCKTON – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that defendant Yehlen “Mary” Dorothea Brooks pled guilty to 15 felony counts of grand theft for defrauding immigrant clients seeking citizenship. The defendant entered her guilty plea in San Joaquin County Superior Court for an expected five-year split sentence to be served locally. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Brooks agreed to pay a total of $371,709 in restitution to the victims.

“This is a cruel case in which a scam artist exploited hard-working immigrants to benefit her own pocket,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice has zero tolerance for those who prey on and defraud families in need of legal help. Criminals like Brooks ruin lives and tear families apart – and they will be held accountable.”

Brooks operated an immigration law practice in Stockton, California from 2003 to 2017. She targeted vulnerable immigrant clients who sought her help and charged them from $3,000 to up to $16,000 for services she failed to perform. She repeatedly misled victims about the status of their cases and lied about paperwork she had submitted while continuing to collect their money. Some victims who trusted her with every last dollar were detained and deported.

Brooks was disbarred in March 2015 by the Kansas State Bar where she initially had been licensed to practice law. Despite losing her license, Brooks continued her fraudulent law practice in the state of California without disclosing that she was no longer an attorney. (more…)

No. 3 Defendant in RICO Indictment Targeting Northeast L.A. Gang Coalition Overseen by Mexican Mafia Admits Guilt to Federal Charges

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

LOS ANGELES – A Northeast Los Angeles gang member who was one of the top figures in a conspiracy that united three rival gangs under the authority of a Mexican Mafia member pleaded guilty today to federal charges and admitted being an active narcotics trafficker who worked to further the goals of the criminal enterprise.

Jonathan Zepeda, 28, a resident of Elysian Valley and a longtime member of the Frogtown gang, admitted in court today that he distributed methamphetamine and collected “taxes” from other narcotics dealers who were allowed to sell drugs in areas controlled by the coalition of three gangs.

Jonathan Zepeda pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, carrying a firearm in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

As a result of today’s guilty pleas, Jonathan Zepeda will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison – and a potential sentence of life without parole – when he is sentenced by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez on March 5.

Jonathan Zepeda’s brother – Santos Zepeda, a senior member of the Frogtown gang who helped manage the street gang coalition – pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to violate RICO and conspiring to traffic methamphetamine. (more…)

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