Best Defender Bytes:

February 9, 2015


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:27 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to receive the death penalty for raping and murdering a 22-year-old woman in an alley behind a bar in 1983. The defendant was previously convicted and sentenced to receive the death penalty in this case in 1985. In June 1990, Ramirez appealed to the California Supreme Court, who affirmed the defendant’s conviction. His conviction was later overturned by the Federal District Court for the Central District of California on writ of habeas corpus.

Richard Raymond Ramirez, 55, was found guilty by a jury in the re-trial of this case on May 15, 2013, of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of rape, one felony count of rape, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. A mistrial was declared in the previous penalty phase of the trial on June 3, 2013. A new jury recommended Ramirez receive the death penalty on Nov. 24, 2014.

Circumstances of the Crime

On the night of Nov. 20, 1983, 22-year-old Kim Gonzalez was at Mr. Barry’s bar in Garden Grove. Throughout the night, Gonzalez was seen in the bar with then-24-year-old Ramirez, whom she had met two weeks earlier at the same bar while out with her brother and a friend. The defendant spent the night drinking, talking, dancing with, and kissing the victim.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Nov. 21, 1983, Gonzalez left the bar through a door that led to the rear parking lot. Ramirez followed Gonzalez outside carrying a longneck bottle of Budweiser beer. Once outside in a nearby alley, Ramirez attacked the victim.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:36 am

SANTA ANA – Three defendants are expected to face trial Monday for firing several rounds at a police officer’s vehicle that was out on patrol in Anaheim for the benefit of their Hispanic criminal street gang. Juan Carlos Covarrubias, 22, Jordy Roman Martinez, 21, Andrew Gomez Sanchez, 21, all of Anaheim, are each charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder, two felony counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, one felony count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, and one felony count of street terrorism, with sentencing enhancements for the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member and criminal street gang activity. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Covarrubias, Martinez, and Sanchez are accused of actively participating in a criminal Hispanic street gang with knowledge that its members engage is a pattern of criminal gang activity.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on June 1, 2012, Sanchez is accused of driving Martinez and Covarrubias and pulling up in front of an unmarked Anaheim Police Department (APD) vehicle that was patrolling the street. Sanchez is accused of driving the car on the wrong side of the road to block the officer’s vehicle from moving forward on Palm Street at Boysen Avenue in Anaheim. The officers were in their full uniform at the time of the incident.

Martinez accused of getting out of the vehicle with a loaded firearm and shooting several rounds at the officers inside the vehicle with specific intent, premeditation, and deliberation to murder the police officers. The officers attempted to find safety by turning their vehicle around, switching on their police emergency lights, and attempting to drive to safety.


North Hollywood Man Found Guilty of Killing Sister

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:27 am

A jury has found a 24-year-old man guilty of stabbing his sister to death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Vodnoy said Mario Alejandro Martínez of North Hollywood was found guilty yesterday of first-degree murder in case LA075140.

The jury also found true a special allegation that he used a knife.

Sentencing for Martínez is scheduled on March 27 in Department R of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch. He will be facing 26 years to life in state prison.


February 6, 2015


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:59 am

SANTA ANA - A husband will be arraigned today for strangling and murdering his wife in their Mission Viejo home. Gary Lee Parsons, 74, is charged with one felony count of murder. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. The defendant is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned today, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

In the early hours of Feb. 3, 2015, Gary Parsons is accused of engaging in an argument with his wife, 73-year-old Barbara Parsons, inside their home. The argument escalated to a physical altercation and the defendant is accused of throwing the victim onto their bed and strangling her until she was unresponsive. He is accused of tucking her into the bed and leaving the home in his car. Gary Parsons is accused of calling a family member, who then called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) to report the crime.

At approximately 12:30 p.m., OCSD received a call from the defendant and deputies arrived at the Mission Viejo home shortly thereafter. The defendant is accused of arriving home and parking in the driveway. After entering the home and finding Barbara Parsons deceased in her bed, OSCD deputies arrested the defendant.

OCSD investigated this case.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:56 am

NEWPORT BEACH - A driver was charged today for hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter following a crash that killed a bicyclist in Laguna Beach. Dylan Thomas Randluby, 20, Emerald Bay, is charged with one felony count of hit-and-run with injury and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison. The People will be requesting he be held on $50,000 bail at his arraignment, Feb. 18, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

On June 17, 2014, Randluby is accused of driving a 2005 Toyota Prius northbound on North Coast Highway in the Emerald Bay area. He is accused of swerving out of his lane, onto the bike lane, and hitting 55-year-old cyclist John Colvin.

Randluby is accused of failing to stop his vehicle to render aid to the victim and continuing to drive northbound on Coast Highway.

Two good Samaritans contacted 911 and followed the defendant’s vehicle until he pulled over. The victim died at the scene from a lacerated liver. The defendant is accused of shattering the front windshield of his car as a result of the impact from the collision with the victim.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:52 am

SANTA ANA – A gang member was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in state prison today for killing a teenager in a rival gang. Leonel Vega, 34, pleaded guilty to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm.

Circumstances of the Case
Around March 9, 2004, Vega, then-23, and a fellow gang member drove up to Giovani Onofre, his brother Andrew Onofre, 15, and friend Hector Lopez, 19, in a white Lincoln Town Car at a bus stop near Memorial Park in Santa Ana. The defendant exited the vehicle and flashed a criminal street gang hand sign to the victim. The other gang member inside the car asked Giovani Onofre his gang affiliation, and Giovani Onofre responded that he belonged to a rival criminal street gang. Vega got back into the vehicle while the other gang member in the car pulled out a gun. Andrew Onofre and Lopez ran away from the car and hid. Giovani Onofre jumped a fence nearby and kept running. Vega circled Memorial Park in the car, caught up with Giovani Onofre, and shot the victim once in the head.

Andrew Onofre and Lopez contacted the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) immediately after having fled the scene. Giovani Onofre was later found dead with a gunshot wound to the head at a construction site near the bus stop.

On March 14, 2004, SAPD officers spotted the white Lincoln Town Car that matched witnesses’ descriptions several blocks from the crime scene and attempted a traffic stop of the car. Vega, who was driving, refused to stop and led SAPD on a pursuit, which ended in his arrest. SAPD searched the defendant’s vehicle and found several firearms and live ammunition matching the bullet and casing found at the scene. Sufficient evidence to charge Vega, including eye-witness identification, was not discovered until 2007.


February 5, 2015

California Charter Bus Company Owners Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud and Bank Home Mortgage Fraud

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

Two San Jose, California, brothers were sentenced to prison for committing tax fraud and bank fraud,  Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California announced.

Fidencio Moreno, 52, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and Arturo Moreno, 38, was sentenced to serve 28 months in prison and three years of supervised release.  The court also ordered Arturo Moreno to pay $422,962 in restitution and to forfeit $3,328,600 and his interest in two pieces of real property.  In January 2015, Elena Moreno, 40, the wife of Fidencio Moreno, was sentenced to serve 22 months in prison and three years of supervised release for her role in the conspiracies as a bookkeeper at the company.  Prior to pleading guilty in this case, the three co-defendants collectively paid more than $200,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for losses associated with their conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing false and fraudulent tax returns.

According to court documents, beginning in 2005 and continuing through at least 2010, Arturo, Fidencio and Elena Moreno conspired to defraud the United States by failing to report substantial amounts of gross receipts from their charter bus company, Quality Assurance Travel (QAT), on the federal corporate tax returns for QAT and on their personal income tax returns that they filed with the IRS.  The total amount of unreported gross receipts of QAT during those years exceeded $966,908.  Arturo and Fidencio Moreno were each 50 percent owners of QAT.  The unreported income consisted primarily of cash receipts that were paid by passengers as they boarded the bus, but that were not deposited into the business bank accounts or disclosed to the Morenos’ tax return preparer.

According to court documents, between 2005 and July 2013, Arturo, Elena and Fidencio Moreno also conspired to commit bank fraud and wire fraud by submitting false and fraudulent home mortgage loan applications that overstated the applicants’ income and assets in order to acquire and refinance homes located in San Jose.  In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained more than $3.3 million in home loans.  After the defendants fell behind on the loan payments, they attempted to avoid foreclosure by submitting false and fraudulent applications to modify these loans.  Two of the financial institutions approved the fraudulent applications, reducing the principal due on these loans.  One of the four properties was ultimately sold via a short sale in 2013, while another was foreclosed upon in 2014.  The total losses to the financial institutions resulting from the foreclosure and short sale exceeded $325,000.

The case was investigated by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation.  Trial Attorney Todd P. Kostyshak of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Moore and Katherine Wong prosecuted the case.  (more…)


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

NEWPORT BEACH – Two high school teachers have been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor by illegally providing alcohol to a group of underage students after organizing an unapproved school camping trip at San Clemente Beach. Melody Suzanne Lippert, 38, Covina, and Michelle Louise Ghirelli, 30, West Covina, were each charged today with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of one year in jail. They are scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, Feb. 6, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At the time of the crimes, Lippert was a teacher at South Hills High School in West Covina and Ghirelli was an employee at the Covina-Valley Unified School District.

Lippert is accused of organizing a trip that was unapproved by the school or district by sending a group text message and inviting co-defendant Ghirelli and five other male high school students to a camping trip at San Clemente Beach.

Between Dec. 27, 2014, and Dec. 29, 2014, the defendants are accused of camping with the five students at San Clemente Beach and illegally distributing alcohol to the underage students throughout the duration of the trip.



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

SANTA ANA – A third-striker parolee was convicted today of murdering a 21-year-old woman by strangling her to death in his recreational vehicle (RV). Ean Keith Brown, 41, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of second degree murder. The defendant has two prior strike convictions and serious felony priors for second degree robbery in 1995 and burglary in 2008. The Court will hear a bifurcated trial on the defendant’s prior strike convictions onFeb. 27, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Brown faces a maximum sentence of 55 years to life in state prison if convicted of the prior strike offenses.

Brown was released from state prison in 2010 and was on parole for burglary. After his release from prison and at the time of the murder, the defendant lived in an RV in the driveway of his parent’s Huntington Beach home.

Victim Dolores “Arias” Fagan, 21, was staying with relatives who lived on the same street as the defendant. At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2012, Fagan left her family’s home and was never seen again.

Sometime between Jan. 6, 2012, and Jan. 8, 2012, Brown murdered Fagan in his RV by strangling her and stuffing her body in a sleeping bag.


February 4, 2015

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces $210 Million Settlement with Standard & Poor’s For Inflating Mortgage-Backed Securities Ratings

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

SAN FRANCISCO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, along with the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorneys general of eighteen states and the District of Columbia, today announced a settlement with Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (S&P) and its parent company, McGraw-Hill Financial Inc., to resolve federal and state civil claims related to S&P’s conduct in inflating ratings of residential mortgage-backed securities and structured investment vehicle notes.

Combined with a separate settlement also announced today resolving a lawsuit filed by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), S&P will pay a total of $1.5 billion to federal and state government entities. The State of California, through Attorney General Harris’ office, will recover $210 million in damages, from which CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) will receive allocations for their losses on investments of certain S&P-rated securities.  Separately, S&P will also pay CalPERS $125 million to settle CalPERS’ specific lawsuit.  The remainder of the total settlement proceeds will be distributed amongst the U.S. Department of Justice and the other nineteen attorneys general.

“S&P profited by misleading investors who trusted its ratings,” Attorney General Harris said. “California’s public pension funds suffered significant losses due to S&P’s failure to honestly and accurately disclose the risk of the very investments that caused an international economic recession.  This settlement holds S&P accountable for financial losses caused by these misrepresentations and compensates our pension funds.”

This settlement is the latest in several resolutions holding responsible the institutions that contributed to the financial crisis.  To date, Attorney General Harris has recovered over $900 million for California’s public pension funds.  In August 2014, Attorney General Harris announced a $300 million settlement with Bank of America over its misrepresentations in residential mortgage-backed securities sold to CalPERS and CalSTRS.  Similar settlements were reached in July 2014 with Citigroup Inc. for nearly $200 million and in November 2013 with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for $300 million.


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