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February 27, 2018

MAN TO FACE TRIAL FOR 1974 COLD CASE STRANGLING MURDER OF 30-YEAR-OLD FEMALE STRANGER IN HER APARTMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:18 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man is scheduled to face trial on Monday for the 1974 cold case murder of a 30-year-old female stranger in her La Palma apartment.

Defendant Felony Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Larry Clark Stephens, 68, Santa Rosa Charged on June 2, 2015, with:

  • One felony count of murder

Life in state prison Jury trial opening statements

Feb. 26, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Dec. 11, 1974, 30-year-old Patricia Ross was alone in her apartment in La Palma.
  • After completing errands for her business, she returned home to get ready for a double date she was planning on attending later that evening. She was supposed to meet her date and another couple at the couple’s home in Huntington Beach that evening.
  • The defendant and Ross did not know each other prior to the crime. (more…)

February 26, 2018

L.A. Man Convicted of ATM ‘Shoulder Surfing’ that Allowed Him to Withdraw Cash after Bank Customers Left ATMs

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

SANTA ANA, California – A federal judge has convicted a Los Angeles man of three counts of aggravated identity theft for using the secret codes of elderly Bank of America customers to make fraudulent withdrawals at ATMs in Los Angeles and Orange County.

In a written order issued yesterday, Daniel Jermaine Usher, 26, of South Los Angeles, was found guilty of three counts of aggravated identity theft. The verdict was issued by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, who presided over a two-day bench trial.

The trial came after Usher pleaded guilty last month to five counts of bank fraud and admitted that he illegally withdrew cash from Bank of America ATMs.

Judge Carney convicted Usher on the same day the Justice Department announced cases against more than 250 defendants who targeted the elderly in fraud cases.

The evidence presented at Usher’s trial showed that Usher engaged in “shoulder surfing” to obtain bank customer PIN numbers. Usher loitered near Bank of America ATMs and covertly watched as customers entered their PINs to conduct various transactions. When customers left the ATMs without concluding their sessions, Usher quickly re-entered PIN he had covertly obtained, which allowed him to fraudulently withdraw cash. (more…)

Two San Gabriel Valley Men Arrested in Scheme to Defraud U.S. by Avoiding Payment of Federal Excise Taxes on Cigarettes

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

LOS ANGELES – Two men have been arrested on charges of scheming to avoid the payment of federal excise taxes on duty-free cigarettes that should have been sent abroad, but instead were diverted to local retail outlets.

Yong “David” Lu, 54, of Arcadia, and Wenzhu Guo, also 54, of Monterey Park, were arrested Thursday morning by federal authorities.

Lu and Guo, both Chinese nationals, were named in a one-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Wednesday. The indictment charges both men with conspiring to defraud the United States, with Lu allegedly responsible for the diversion of duty-free cigarettes and Guo allegedly acting as his primary distributor of the untaxed cigarettes.

At their arraignments Thursday afternoon, Lu and Guo entered not guilty pleas, were ordered freed on bond, and were ordered to stand trial on April 10.

The arrests in this case are part of a wider investigation into cigarette diversion schemes designed to avoid the payment of excise taxes. In addition to the arrests, federal authorities on Thursday executed 10 search warrants on homes, storage lockers and vehicles in San Gabriel, Arcadia, Rosemead and Monterey Park. As a result of the searches, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); IRS Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) seized more than 2 million contraband cigarettes and more than $45,000 in cash. (more…)

United States Files False Claims Act Complaint Against Compounding Pharmacy, Private Equity Firm, and Two Pharmacy Executives Alleging Payment of Kickbacks

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

The United States has filed a complaint in intervention against Diabetic Care Rx LLC d/b/a Patient Care America (PCA), a compounding pharmacy located in Pompano Beach, Florida, alleging that the pharmacy paid illegal kickbacks to induce prescriptions for compounded drugs reimbursed by TRICARE, the Department of Justice announced today.  The government has also brought claims against Patrick Smith and Matthew Smith, two pharmacy executives, and Riordan, Lewis & Haden Inc. (RLH), a private equity firm based in Los Angeles, California, which manages both the pharmacy and the private equity fund that owns the pharmacy, for their involvement in the alleged kickback scheme.

TRICARE is a federally-funded health care program for military personnel and their families.  The government alleges that the Defendants paid kickbacks to marketing companies to target TRICARE beneficiaries for prescriptions for compounded pain creams, scar creams, and vitamins, without regard to the patients’ medical needs.  According to the complaint, the compound formulas were manipulated by the Defendants and the marketers to ensure the highest possible reimbursement from TRICARE.  The Defendants and marketers allegedly paid telemedicine doctors to prescribe the creams and vitamins without seeing the patients, and sometimes paid the patients themselves to accept the prescriptions.  The scheme generated tens of millions of dollars in reimbursements from TRICARE in a matter of months, according to the complaint, which alleges that the Defendants and marketers split the profits from the scheme.

“The Department of Justice is determined to hold accountable health care providers that improperly use taxpayer funded health care programs to enrich themselves,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Chad A. Readler.  “Kickback schemes corrupt the health care system and damage the public trust.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is committed to protecting the integrity of TRICARE, the military health care program that provides critical medical care and services to Department of Defense beneficiaries,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, of the Southeast Field Office.  “In partnership with DOJ and other law enforcement agencies, DCIS continues to aggressively investigate fraud and corruption to preserve and recover precious taxpayer dollars to best serve the needs of our warfighters, their family members, and military retirees.”“Providers and marketers that engage in kickback schemes drive up the cost of health care because they focus on their own bottom line instead of what is in the best interest of patients,” said Executive Assistant Randy Hummel of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  “We will hold pharmacies, and those companies that manage them, responsible for using kickbacks to line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers and federal health care beneficiaries.” (more…)

February 23, 2018

Attorney General Becerra Announces Embezzlement Charges Against Former Panoche Water District Employees

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:00 am

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the arrest and filing of felony charges against five individuals for the misuse of public funds amidst widespread corruption at the Panoche Water District (PWD) in the Central Valley. The scheme resulted in an estimated loss of over $100,000 in public money.

Dennis Falaschi, Julie Cascia, Atomic Falaschi, Jack Hurley, and Dubby West were arrested or surrendered for booking on February 21, 2018, and charged in a felony complaint with a total of ten counts, eight counts relating to the theft of public funds and two counts relating to crimes involving hazardous waste disposal. The defendants allegedly spent public money for personal expenses, such as illegal slot machines, kitchen remodeling, and residential landscaping. Defendants Dennis Falaschi, Julie Cascia, and Atomic Falaschi were booked in the Fresno County booking center; and defendants Jack Hurley and Dubby West surrendered themselves to be booked on the charges. The arrests were the product of a joint year-long investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

“In California, those in public posts who abuse the public’s trust for personal gain will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The California Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute those who embezzle and misuse public funds. We will work with our law enforcement partners to get the job done.”

The criminal complaint alleges that Dennis Falaschi, the ex-General Manager of PWD, ran the District as his own personal operation and bank account, spending excessive amounts of District money using credit cards issued by PWD. Under the direction of Dennis Falaschi, Julie Cascia used PWD credit cards and money orders for personal expenses, while mischaracterizing the charges as business expenses. Dennis’ son, Atomic Falaschi, took items from PWD, including trees, equipment, and other goods, and used them on his own personal property. The remaining defendants, Jack Hurley and Dubby West, illegally buried barrels of hazardous waste without permits or authorization from DTSC, acting under the direction of Dennis Falaschi. (more…)

Nevada Doctor Arrested on Federal Charges of Illegally Selling Narcotic Prescriptions for Cash at High Desert Clinic

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:57 am

LOS ANGELES – A medical doctor was arrested this morning on federal charges of illegally selling prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose to undercover operatives who visited the physician’s Victorville medical office.

Wendell Mark Street, 66, of Las Vegas, was arrested this morning without incident at his residence by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Today’s arrest is the result of a 10-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on February 9. The indictment charges Street with five counts of illegally distributing the painkiller oxycodone and five counts of illegally distributing the tranquilizer alprazolam (often sold under the brand name Xanax). Street allegedly issued the prescriptions in 2013 in exchange for cash “while acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.”

Street allegedly wrote prescriptions without performing any physical examinations in exchange for $200 to $300 in cash from each of two undercover investigators with the California Medical Board and an informant.

Street is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Las Vegas. (more…)

Denaturalization Sought Against Five Child Sexual Abusers in California, Maryland, North Carolina, and Texas

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:48 am

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today filed denaturalization lawsuits against five individuals who, according to the Department’s complaints, unlawfully procured their United States citizenship by concealing their sexual abuse of minor victims during the naturalization process.

The civil complaints were filed in federal court in the Eastern District of California, the District of Maryland, the Middle District of North Carolina, and the Southern District of Texas (two cases).

“Those who wish to become American citizens ought to respect our laws and seek citizenship lawfully and honestly,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Anyone who lies, misleads, or omits critical information in an attempt to evade the requirements for naturalization undermines the credibility of our nation’s generous lawful immigration system. This Justice Department will continue to seek out fraudsters and bring them to justice by obtaining orders revoking their naturalized citizenship.

The cases were referred to the Department of Justice by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with investigative support from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“ICE is committed to collaborating with our sister agencies within DHS to target individuals who conceal illicit activities in order to obtain U.S. citizenship,” said ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan. “When special agents identify a child predator, exploiting the most innocent among us, and other criminals who have defrauded the U.S. immigration system for naturalization benefits, then ICE will move to have their citizenship revoked.” (more…)

February 22, 2018

DRUNKEN DRIVER CHARGED WITH MURDER FOR KILLING 6-YEAR-OLD GIRL PLAYING ON THE SIDEWALK IN FULLERTON

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A drunken driver was charged today with murder for killing a 6-year-old girl who was playing on a residential sidewalk in Fullerton when the defendant crashed into her.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Maximino Lagunas Delgado, 53, Anaheim Charged today with the following felony counts:

  • Murder
15 years to life in state prison Continued arraignment

March 9, 2018, 10:00 a.m.

Department CJ-1,

Central Jail, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Feb. 17, 2018, at approximately 2:25 p.m., Lagunas is accused of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.23 percent down a residential street in Fullerton.
  • The defendant is accused of driving eastbound on Gage Avenue in a small SUV and losing control of the vehicle as he attempted to make a left turn onto Lombard Street. (more…)

OCDA FILES CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWSUIT AGAINST COMPANIES THAT FAILED TO PAY OVER $200,000 IN PREVAILING WAGES AND TAXES ON OC FAIR PROJECT

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas filed a civil lawsuit yesterday, Feb. 20, 2018, against a family of companies and their officers for failing to pay over $200,000 in prevailing wages and taxes on a project at the Orange County Fairgrounds. AWI Builders, Inc., Construction Contractors Corporation (CCC), TOSC Inc., Zhirayr “Robert” Mekikyan, Anna Mekikyan, and Tigran Oganesian are named as defendants.

Defendants’ Unlawful and Unfair Business Practices

  • In August 2013, AWI Builders, Inc. (AWI) was awarded a $10.3 million contract to construct a new lobby and entrance to the Pacific Amphitheater at the Orange County Fairgrounds for the Orange County Fair Project. In the contract, AWI agreed to pay prevailing wages and keep proper payroll records.
  • AWI and CCC are owned by Zhirayr “Robert” and Anna Mekikyan, a husband and wife who operate the companies in a shared space with the same employees and operations in Pico Rivera. TOSC, Inc. also shares space and employees with AWI and CCC, but is owned by Tigran Oganesyan, Robert’s family member. (more…)

Attorney General Becerra Announces Arrest of L.A. Man for Possessing Illegal Firearms, Including Assault-Style Weapons

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

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that special agents from the California Department of Justice’s (Cal DOJ) Division of Law Enforcement removed 28 firearms from an individual who is legally barred from owning weapons and who is listed in the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) database.

The subject of the seizure, Steven David Ponder, is named in the APPS database due to two prior felony convictions for counterfeiting money and possessing a machine gun. Mr. Ponder was banned from owning firearms immediately after his conviction.

On February 14, 2018, Cal DOJ special agents conducted an operation at Mr. Ponder’s residence in Los Angeles to search for four firearms registered in California that had not been relinquished. At the conclusion of the search, agents had seized 28 firearms and 66,000 rounds of ammunition. Twelve of the firearms were assault style weapons; 13 of the firearms were AR-15 style rifles, similar to the weapon used in the recent Florida mass shooting; and 11 were ghost guns, in which two were also short barrel, AR-15 style, fully automatic machine guns. Ghost guns are firearms that are untraceable by law enforcement due to their lack of serial numbers; they are built by an individual, not a manufacturer.

“We must do all we possibly can to remove weapons from individuals who should not be in possession of them,” said Attorney General Becerra. “At the California Department of Justice, public safety is our number one priority. We should all be proud of the work our Division of Law Enforcement special agents do every day without fanfare. They place themselves in dangerous, difficult situations to keep guns out of the wrong hands and to keep us safe.”

“One way we as prosecutors can help prevent gun violence is to strictly enforce state laws that prohibit people convicted of certain crimes from owning or possessing firearms,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. “I am committed to prosecuting individuals who violate court orders by failing to give up their guns as they pose a serious threat to our community.” (more…)

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