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December 22, 2014

Update on Sony Investigation

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

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data. A group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.

The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications. The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.

After discovering the intrusion into its network, SPE requested the FBI’s assistance. Since then, the FBI has been working closely with the company throughout the investigation. Sony has been a great partner in the investigation, and continues to work closely with the FBI. Sony reported this incident within hours, which is what the FBI hopes all companies will do when facing a cyber attack. Sony’s quick reporting facilitated the investigators’ ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.

As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:

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Iron Mountain Companies Pay $44.5 Million to Settle Alleged False Billings for Storing Government Documents and Data

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

Iron Mountain Incorporated and Iron Mountain Information Management LLC (collectively Iron Mountain) has paid $44.5 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that Iron Mountain overcharged federal agencies for record storage services under General Services Administration (GSA) contracts, the Department of Justice announced today.  Iron Mountain is a records storage company headquartered in Boston.

“Protecting the federal procurement process from false claims is central to the mission of the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will continue to ensure that when federal monies are used to purchase commercial services the government receives the prices and services to which it is entitled.”

“This settlement illustrates our commitment to protecting the integrity of federal contracting programs,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California.  “Federal agencies rely on pricing information under the Multiple Award Schedule program in particular, and deserve the full benefit of applicable contract terms.”

This settlement relates to contracts under which Iron Mountain provided record storage services to government entities from 2001 to 2014 through GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program.  The MAS program provides the government with a streamlined process for procurement of commonly used commercial goods and services.  The settlement resolves allegations that Iron Mountain failed to meet its contractual obligations to provide GSA with accurate information about its commercial sales practices during contract negotiations, and failed to comply with the price reduction clause of the GSA contracts by not extending lower prices to government customers during its performance of the contracts.  It also resolves an allegation that Iron Mountain charged the United States for storage meeting National Archives and Records Administration requirements when the storage provided did not meet such requirements.

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DRIVER CHARGED WITH KILLING BICYCLIST AND FLEEING TO MEXICO TO REPAIR VEHICLE

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

SANTA ANA – A driver was in court today for killing a bicyclist and fleeing to Mexico to repair his vehicle. Junior Rigoberto Lopez, 30, Buena Park, is charged with one felony count of hit and run with permanent injury or death. If convicted, Lopez faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison. Lopez is being held on $500,000 bail. The scheduled arraignment was continued in court today to Jan. 16, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2014, Lopez is accused driving his pick-up truck and traveling northbound on Magnolia Street in Anaheim. He is accused of approaching the intersection of Magnolia Street and La Palma Avenue and crashing into 44-year-old Daniella Palacios while the victim was riding her bicycle. Instead of stopping to assist the victim or calling 911, Lopez is accused of failing to remain at the scene or rendering any aid and fleeing the scene. The defendant is accused of sustaining damage to his pick-up truck consistent with colliding with a person riding a bicycle.

The victim was transported to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center to be treated for broken ribs, a broken right clavicle, head trauma, left lung filled with blood, and internal bleeding. The victim died hours later at the hospital while being treated for her injuries sustained in the crash.

After the crash, the defendant is accused of driving to Mexico to have his pick-up truck repaired. On Dec. 11, 2014, the defendant is accused of returning to Mexico to retrieve his repaired truck.

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December 19, 2014

Attorney Who Helped Owner of Marijuana Stores Launder Illegal Proceeds Pleads Guilty in Federal Money Laundering Case

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

SANTA ANA, California – An attorney who engaged in a conspiracy that allowed the owner of a chain of marijuana stores to hide some of his income has pleaded guilty to federal financial offenses.

Guilty pleas by Richard C. Brizendine, 59, of Long Beach, were entered Monday by United States District Judge James V. Selna. Monday’s action concludes proceedings in which Brizendine pleaded guilty to two counts: money laundering and conspiracy to structure cash deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements.

Brizendine was an attorney for John Melvin Walker, who operated marijuana stores across Los Angeles and Orange counties and generated approximately $25 million in income over a six-year period. Brizendine conspired with Walker and others to accept cash from the marijuana operation and invest the funds into several corporations. According to court documents, Brizendine agreed to accept more than $10,000 in cash and then make smaller deposits into different bank accounts so as to not trigger federal requirements that financial institutions report currency transactions of more than $10,000 (this process is called structuring cash transactions). By pleading guilty, Brizendine specifically admitted that he structured approximately $389,700 for Walker.

The case against Brizendine was announced today after Judge Selna unsealed documents associated with the case.

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The Fraudster Who Faked His Own Death Inside the Aubrey Lee Price Case

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

When a federal judge recently sentenced Aubrey Lee Price to 30 years in prison for bank fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes, it closed a chapter on the once successful businessman’s sensational criminal saga.

Price went from a devout Christian minister and trusted financial adviser to a schemer who wiped out many of his clients’ life savings and then faked his own death to avoid taking responsibility for what he had done. When a routine traffic stop in Georgia resulted in his arrest on New Year’s Eve in 2013—nearly 18 months after his disappearance—Price acknowledged that he had become a drug dealer.

His well-publicized rise and fall makes for a fascinating tale, but our agents who investigated the case and who specialize in white-collar crime are quick to point out that the real focus of this story should not be on Price but rather on his victims.

“It’s unbelievably sad,” said Special Agent Ed Sutcliff in our Atlanta Field Office. “Most of Price’s victims had worked 30 or 40 years to save for retirement. They were living off those funds,” said Sutcliff, who interviewed many of the victims while investigating the case. “They had to learn from us that Price—their friend and adviser—was missing, and all their money was gone.”

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MAN CHARGED FOR 1989 COLD CASE MURDER AFTER INVESTIGATION BY ORANGE COUNTY COLD CASE HOMICIDE TASK FORCE

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

SANTA ANA – A man has been charged for a 1989 cold case murder as a result of extensive investigative work by the Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force (OCHTF). Douglas Gregory Gutridge, 63, Lodi, is charged with one felony count of murder. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. He is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 2, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

In June 1989, Gutridge, then 37 years old, is accused of murdering 35-year-old Carla Salazar inside her apartment in Santa Ana. The defendant is accused of providing information about the murder to the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) during the initial stages of the investigation. SAPD thoroughly investigated this case but did not have enough evidence to file charges against Gutridge.

In 2008, SAPD cold case detectives submitted forensic evidence collected from the murder scene to the Orange County Crime Lab (OCCL). As a result of the forensic examination, foreign male DNA associated to the homicide investigation was identified.

In November 2008, Gutridge is accused of participating in an interview with SAPD Cold Case Unit detectives and providing a sample of his DNA.

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December 18, 2014

FEDERAL AGENT CHARGED FOR DEFRAUDING U.S. GOVERNMENT AND TAX PAYERS BY CLAIMING FRAUDULENT OVERTIME OVER NINE-MONTH PERIOD

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

SANTA ANA – A federal agent was charged today for defrauding the U.S. government and tax payers by claiming fraudulent overtime over a nine-month period. Myles Kui Zhang, 47, Chino, is charged with one felony count of grand theft by an employee. If convicted, Zhang faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. Zhang is being held on $20,000 bail and must prove that the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. The arraignment date and time are to be determined.

At the time of the crimes, Zhang worked as an immigration enforcement agent for U.S. Government Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations. Between Aug. 14, 2013, and May 18, 2014, she is accused of claiming fraudulent overtime in excess of $13,000 over a nine-month period.

“When a government employee acts illegally and takes advantage of her public position, it hurts the agency and the taxpayers,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “I commend ICE for its zero tolerance policy on unethical conduct by its employees and for turning over the evidence to the OCDA.”

ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigated this case after Zhang’s supervisor reported irregularities in her timesheet. The investigation is ongoing and no other information will be released at this time.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrest of Four Suspects Running Emeryville Sex Trafficking Ring

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

SAN FRANCISCO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of four suspects accused of operating a sex trafficking ring out of Emeryville, California. Acucare Oriental Massage co-owner Jimmy Gong Lee and Tom Loi are also accused of making bribes to an Emeryville Police Captain—who was working undercover, posing as a corrupt officer—to further their illegal business operations.

Today’s arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations  (HSI), the California Attorney General’s Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement  Task Force, the Emeryville Police Department, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.

“Human trafficking is one of the world’s most profitable criminal enterprises, and it is having a devastating impact right here in our own backyard,” said Attorney General Harris. “Each year, thousands of women and children of all ages and backgrounds are forced into labor and prostitution. I thank our local, state and federal partners for fighting this serious threat and bringing these perpetrators to justice.”

“Illegal ventures like this degrade the quality of life in our neighborhoods as well as the women involved,” said Tatum King, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco.  “HSI will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to identify, disrupt, and dismantle these kinds of enterprises that prey on the vulnerable and often bring other criminal activity into the area.”

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Felon Pleads Not Guilty to Glendora Murders

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

A Glendora man accused of fatally stabbing two homeless men pleaded not guilty yesterday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Drew Alan Friis (dob 3/25/85) has been charged with two counts of murder in case KA102843. The charging document includes a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, as well as a special allegation of personal use of a deadly weapon, a knife.

Additionally, the felony complaint alleges that Friis was previously convicted of arson of property and grand theft of an automobile in 2010.

Deputy District Attorney Duke Chau, who is prosecuting the case, said on Aug. 15, 2013, Friis killed two homeless men, John Anthony Welch and Warren Jay Blagrave, both 52 years old.

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December 17, 2014

Two Woodland Hills Men Charged With Running Ponzi Scheme Involving ATMs That Caused Investors To Lose Well Over $100 Million

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

LOS ANGELES – Two San Fernando Valley men were charged today in a federal fraud case that alleges they ran a 15-year-long Ponzi scheme that collected hundreds of millions from investors who were told their money would be used to purchase profitable automated teller machines.

Joel Barry Gillis, 74, of Woodland Hills, and Edward Wishner, 76, also of Woodland Hills, were charged today with mail fraud and wire fraud in a case that caused well over $100 million in losses to nearly 2,000 investors.

According to the criminal information filed today in United States District Court, Gillis and Wishner operated the Calabasas-based Nationwide Automated Systems, Inc. (NASI), which purported to place, operate and maintain ATMs in high-traffic locations, such as hotels, casinos and convenience stores. NASI claimed that it operated over 30,000 ATMs and was involved in more than $1 billion in ATM transactions every month.

The information further alleges that Gillis and Wishner told victim-investors that NASI would lease back the ATMs and pay investors 50 cents for each transaction performed at their particular ATM, guaranteeing annual returns of 20 percent on each ATM. In addition to these high-yields, NASI and its salespeople urged some investors to use their retirement savings “by claiming that investments in NASI’s sale/leaseback program would outperform most traditional retirement investment accounts,” according to the information.

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