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August 8, 2014

Felons Sentenced for Murder, Attempted Murder, Robbery, Other Crimes

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

Three men were sentenced yesterday afternoon to life in state prison without the possibility of parole after they were convicted of a fatal home invasion robbery, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Greg Cernok, who prosecuted the case, said on April 11 a jury found Pedro Huerta Zuniga, 44, guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, four counts of home invasion robbery and first-degree burglary.

Francisco Argenis Parra, 32, was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, four counts of home invasion robbery and first-degree burglary.

A third defendant, Hector Aguilar Arciga, 39, was found guilty of first-degree murder, four counts of home invasion robbery and first-degree burglary on April 14.

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August 7, 2014

MAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER AFTER DRIVE-BY SHOOTING ON 91 FREEWAY

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

SANTA ANA - A man is scheduled to be arraigned today for attempted murder after a drive-by shooting on the 91 Freeway. Jerry Valentin, 32, Scottsdale, Ariz., was charged today with one felony count each of attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm inside a vehicle, with sentencing enhancements for personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, personal use of a firearm, and great bodily injury. If convicted, Valentin faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. The People will be requesting he be held on $1 million bail at his arraignment today in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

At approximately 4:20 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2014, Valentin is accused of driving eastbound on the 91 Freeway near the Interstate 5 interchange in Fullerton. The defendant is accused of swerving his vehicle toward a sports utility vehicle (SUV) being driven by John Doe.

Valentin is accused of driving alongside the SUV and using a handgun, loaded with shotgun rounds, to fire at least one round at the driver’s side of the victim’s SUV. Valentin is accused of hitting the victim in the arm and torso as a result of the pellets fired from the shotgun round.

The defendant is accused of discarding the gun on the freeway and driving away from the scene. The victim called 911 and continued to follow the defendant’s vehicle.

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MAN AND WOMAN CONVICTED OF KEEPING TWO YOUNG FEMALE RELATIVES MALNOURISHED AND LOCKED INSIDE UNSANITARY MOBILE HOME

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

FULLERTON – A man and woman were convicted yesterday of keeping two young female relatives malnourished and locked inside an unsanitary mobile home without letting them go outside. Lester Louis Huffmire and his wife Petra Huffmire, both 41 from Anaheim, pleaded guilty yesterday, Aug. 5, 2014, to two felony counts of child abuse, two misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment, one misdemeanor count of contributing to delinquency of a minor, and sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury. Lester Huffmire was sentenced to five years in state prison. Petra Huffmire was sentenced to three years and four months in state prison.

Lester Huffmire and Petra Huffmire were living in an unsanitary mobile park home with the victims, 10-year-old Jane Doe #1 and 5-year-old Jane Doe #2. The defendants had a duty of care to the victims.

Between May 21, 2010, and May 20, 2013, the defendants kept the mobile park home unsanitary and uninhabitable, including kitchen appliances covered in mold and cobwebs, stacks of trash, debris, mold, and feces throughout the home, a pile of used condoms under a stuffed teddy bear, and inoperable toilets. They kept the mobile park home in this condition while Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 lived there. Lester Huffmire and Petra Huffmire were unemployed and played an online computer game, World of Warcraft, all day.

The defendants did not let the victims out of the home for any reason. They kept the victims from attending school.

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Palmdale Couple Indicted in Fatal Beating of 8-Year-Old Boy

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

A criminal Grand Jury has indicted a Palmdale mother and her boyfriend with one count of capital murder in the fatal 2013 beating of the woman’s 8-year-old son, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 30, and Isauro Aguirre, 34, pleaded not guilty today to one count each of murder with the special circumstance of torture of Gabriel Fernandez. Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen ordered the pair held without bail.

Both defendants return to court on Aug. 14 for pretrial in Department 107 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Prosecutors argued the case should return to the Antelope Valley for trial, but their motion was denied.

Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, who is prosecuting the case, said prosecutors took the case to the Grnd Jury in July to avoid continued delays in setting a preliminary hearing date. The indictment was returned July 28.

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August 6, 2014

Former Fannie Mae Official Sentenced to Federal Prison for Soliciting Kickbacks from Broker who Sold Foreclosed Properties

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

SANTA ANA, California – A former sales associate with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison for taking kickbacks from a real estate broker who sold properties on behalf of the mortgage agency.

Armando Granillo, 45, of Huntington Beach, who worked in the Fannie Mae’s Irvine office, was sentenced by United States District Judge David O. Carter. In addition to his 15 month sentence in federal prison, Granillo was ordered to spend 6 months in a residential reentry center.

Following a two-day trial in March, Granillo was found guilty of three counts of “honest services” wire fraud for soliciting kickbacks while working for Fannie Mae.

As a “real estate owned foreclosure specialist” for Fannie Mae, Granillo reviewed applications submitted by real estate brokers who wanted to list Fannie Mae foreclosure properties, and he had the authority to approve sale offers presented by the brokers. In late 2012, Granillo asked a real estate broker in Tucson to pay a percentage of the commissions the broker earned for selling Fannie Mae foreclosure properties. The broker brought the matter to the attention of federal law enforcement officials and assisting in the investigation.

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GRADUATE STUDENT TO FACE TRIAL FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES SHOOTING-MURDER OF EX-WIFE OVER CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS

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

SANTA ANA - A graduate student at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) will face trial tomorrow for shooting and murdering his ex-wife outside of his campus apartment related to a dispute over child support payments. Brian Hughes Benedict, 40, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and lying in wait with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2009, 30-year-old Rebecca Benedict went to pick up her 4-year-old son from Brian Benedict at his apartment on the campus of UCI on Verano Place. The couple recently attended a court hearing where the defendant had been ordered to pay child support. After the victim entered Brian Benedict’s apartment, the defendant is accused of attacking Rebecca Benedict by swinging a hammer at her head.

Rebecca Benedict ran from the apartment down an adjacent path to escape. Brian Benedict is accused of chasing her with a firearm and shooting the victim several times. Brian Benedict is accused of then going back into his apartment, getting his son, and putting the boy in the car. Witnesses and neighbors, who feared the defendant was going to flee the scene with his son, physically restrained Brian Benedict until police arrived.

The Irvine Police Department and the UCI Police Department investigated this case.

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Water Official, Married Couple Charged with Embezzlement

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

A West Basin Municipal Water District director along with a married couple with ties to the director have been charged with an elaborate embezzlement scheme to help the director pay about $20,000 in personal expenses, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Ronald Craig Smith (dob 5/08/59), who serves as treasurer of the water district, Robert Earl Katherman Jr. (dob 6/22/46) and his wife, Marilyn Katherman (dob 11/11/48), are charged in case YA090605.

Deputy District Attorney Alison Matsumoto Estrada with the Public Integrity Division is assigned to the case.

The Kathermans were in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Torrance this morning for arraignment, but it was rescheduled for Aug. 27. Smith pleaded not guilty last week and returns to Department 4 in Torrance on Aug. 12 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

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August 5, 2014

Two Men Who Helped Set Illegal Campfire in Angeles National Forest that Became Colby Fire Sentenced to Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:19 am

LOS ANGELES – Two men involved in setting an illegal campfire above Glendora that erupted out of control to become the destructive Colby Fire were sentenced today to federal prison.

At today’s hearing, Clifford Eugene Henry Jr, 22, of Glendora, received a prison term of 6 months, plus a three-year term of supervised release, and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, of Baldwin Park, received a prison term of 5 months, plus a three-year term of supervised release, from United States District Judge George H. Wu.

Clifford Henry and Steven Aguirre were tried together in May and each was found guilty of four charges (one felony and three misdemeanors) related to the fire. At today’s hearing, the government agreed to dismiss one of the misdemeanor charges.

One other defendant in the case, Jonathan Carl Jarrell, was also found guilty of a felony offense of unlawfully setting timber afire and a misdemeanor offense of illegally starting a fire. Jarrell is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wu later this month.

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MIZRAHI BANK CLIENT SENTENCED FOR FILING FALSE TAX RETURN

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

California Resident the Latest in Series of Defendants Prosecuted for Concealing Accounts at Israeli Banks

WASHINGTON – A Beverly Hills, California man was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to serve six months in prison and one year of home confinement for filing a false federal income tax return for tax year 2007, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.

According to court documents, Monajem Hakimijoo aka Manny Hakimi, a U.S. citizen, and his brother maintained an undeclared bank account at Mizrahi Bank in Israel in the name of Kalamar Enterprises, a Turks and Caicos entity that was used to conceal their ownership of the account.  Hakimijoo and his brother used the funds in the Kalamar account as collateral for back-to-back loans obtained from the Los Angeles branch of Mizrahi Bank.  Although Hakimijoo and his brother claimed the interest paid on the back-to-back loans as a business deduction for federal tax purposes, they failed to report the interest income earned in their undeclared account in Israel as income on their tax returns.  In total, Hakimijoo failed to report interest income of approximately $282,000.  The highest balance in the Kalamar Enterprises account was approximately $4.03 million. Hakimijoo has agreed to pay a civil penalty to the IRS in the amount of 50 percent of the highest balance of his one-half interest in the Kalamar account. Hakimijoo is also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.

According to court documents, in March 2013, Hakimijoo was scheduled to be interviewed by Justice Department attorneys and IRS special agents.  Prior to the interview, Hakimijoo, through counsel, provided the attorneys and special agents with copies of his amended tax returns for 2004 and 2005.  When asked if the amended tax returns had been filed with the IRS, Hakimijoo indicated that the returns had been filed.  Shortly thereafter, the IRS determined there was no record of the amended returns being filed with the IRS.  When Hakimijoo was asked to provide copies of cancelled checks to prove that the taxes reflected on the amended returns had been paid, none were provided.

U.S. citizens and residents who have an interest in, or other authority over, a financial account in a foreign country with assets in excess of $10,000 are required to disclose the existence of such account(s) on Schedule B, Part III, of their individual income tax returns.  They must also file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports with the U.S. Treasury disclosing the aforementioned financial account(s).

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ronald A. Cimino of the department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr.for the Central District of California thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, Senior Litigation Counsel John E. Sullivan and Assistant Chief Elizabeth C. Hadden for the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra A. Brown for the Central District of California, who assisted with the prosecution. (more…)

Desert Hot Springs Man Who Planted Pipe Bombs Near Ex-Girlfriend’s Residence Sentenced to 72 Months in Prison for Explosives Charge

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

RIVERSIDE, California – A man who left pipe bombs in a residential neighborhood in Palm Springs near the residence of an ex-girlfriend was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Edward Allen Costa, 49, who resided in Desert Hot Springs but was a fugitive for a time last year, was sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips.

Costa pleaded guilty in 2012 to being a felon in possession of a firearm as a result of evidence obtained during an investigation into the pipe bombs. He was sentenced to a year in prison and was finishing his sentence at a halfway house in Rubidoux when he walked away from the facility in August 2013. The fugitive was taken into custody in November 2013 by the Banning Police Department and the FBI.

While a fugitive last year, Costa was indicted for possessing six pipes bombs that were left in Palm Springs from May 8 through May 12 of 2012. “This type of device falls into the general category of “improvised explosive devices,” or more plainly, “homemade” bombs, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo that cited the “enormous public safety danger” posed by the devices.

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