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June 16, 2014

BOOKKEEPER SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $750,000 FROM MULTIPLE EMPLOYERS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:54 am

SANTA ANA – A part-time bookkeeper was sentenced today to eight years in state prison for embezzling over $750,000 from multiple employers. Lisa Jeanette Dorman, 43, Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty May 22, 2014, to two felony counts of grand theft embezzlement, nine felony counts of money laundering, one felony count each of forgery and falsifying financial records, with sentencing enhancements for money laundering over $50,000, property loss over $200,000, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000. Dorman was also ordered to pay over $789,000 in restitution to the victim companies.

In October 2007, Dorman was hired as the part-time bookkeeper for Stratus Development LLC. She was responsible for handling the accounts payable bill payments and maintaining the company’s accounting records. Between December 2007 and November 2009, Dorman embezzled over $171,000 from Stratus Development by creating false entries in the company’s check ledger to hide extra salary checks she paid to herself and payments made to fictitious vendors she deposited into her own personal accounts.

In November 2009, prior to discovery of the embezzlement, Dorman resigned from her position at Stratus Development and accepted a new position as part-time bookkeeper for Southern California Contractors, Inc. (SCCI.) Between December 2009 and February 2012, Dorman embezzled over $578,000 from the company by creating false entries in the company’s check ledger to hide extra salary checks she paid to herself and writing over 300 forged checks paid to fictitious accounts payable vendors, which she deposited into her personal accounts.

Between 2007 and 2012, Dorman’s spending averaged more than $20,000 per month, while she was actually earning $2,000 in legitimate monthly salary. She spent the victims’ money on cosmetic breast-enhancement surgeries; extravagant vehicles including a Cadillac Escalade, Toyota FJ Cruiser, racing motorcycles and a $20,000 off-road dune buggy for her children; and multiple European vacations including a 12-day trip to Florence and Rome, costing more than $47,000. While working at both companies as part-time bookkeeper, Dorman stole what amounts to more than 30 years of her legitimate annual net take-home salary earnings.

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MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR EXECUTION-STYLE DOUBLE MURDER OF STANTON SALES ASSOCIATE AND SECRETARY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:51 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced to the death penalty today for the double-murder of a Stanton sales associate and his longtime secretary. Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 43, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 11, 2014, of two felony counts of special circumstances murder for multiple murders, murder during the commission of robbery, and murder during the commission of burglary. He was also found guilty of one felony count each of second degree robbery, second degree commercial burglary, and the unlawful taking of a vehicle. The jury recommended the death penalty on March 12, 2014.

On the morning of Feb. 2, 2009, Thomas walked past Golden Sun Homes business office on Beach Boulevard in Stanton while taking his niece to school. He lived approximately 500 feet from the business. The defendant decided to murder the employees inside in order to steal a car belonging to a secretary for the business.

After dropping off his niece, Thomas entered Golden Sun Homes and shot and murdered Matthew Francis Scott, a sales associate and son of the business co-owner, and long-time secretary Elizabeth Ann Palmer. Both victims were shot execution-style in the head. Thomas then stole Palmer’s Lexus sedan and fled the scene.

The murders were investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), but a defendant was not immediately identified. In an unrelated case, Thomas was served with a protective order by OCSD on Oct. 13, 2009, barring him from having contact with his ex-wife after having set her car on fire in Los Angeles County. As a term of the protective order, Thomas was ordered to turn over all of his firearms to law enforcement.

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June 13, 2014

Camarillo Woman Sentenced to 97 Months for Involvement in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:34 am

LOS ANGELES – Rosa Fernandez, 38, of Camarillo, was sentenced earlier today by United States District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt to 97 months in federal prison for her involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Fernandez was arrested in June 2010 and charged along with nine other individuals in a federal indictment with scheming to defraud banks by falsifying loan applications and using bogus tax letters to vouch for borrowers.  Fernandez originated numerous loans and earned substantial commissions.  She pleaded guilty in February 2012 to three counts of bank fraud.

While pending sentencing, Fernandez defrauded another lender in connection with seeking a loan modification for one of her several properties and she pleaded guilty to that offense as well.  The two cases were consolidated for sentencing.

The District Court found that Fernandez was the leader and organizer of the bank fraud scheme and that she had obstructed justice by committing the loan modification fraud while on pretrial, post-conviction release in the mortgage fraud case.  She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,646,485.

The case was investigated by the FBI Ventura Resident Agency and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the IRS – Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Housing and Finance Administration – Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Mark Aveis     (213) 894-4477

Central District of California DOJ / 14-073 / June 12, 2014

Federal District Court Shut Down California Tax Return Preparers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:31 am

A federal court in Fresno, California, has permanently barred Ken Mendoza and Alice Mendoza from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.  Ken Mendoza and Alice Mendoza, who operated under the business name “Mendoza Business Services” in Fresno, consented to the civil injunction order, which was signed by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

According to the complaint, the Mendozas improperly understate their customers’ federal tax liabilities by fabricating expenses, claiming false or inflated credits, particularly educational credits, and deducting personal expenses of their customers.  In total, the complaint alleges that the loss to the U.S. Treasury from the Mendozas’ activities could be as much as $2.8 million for tax years 2010 through 2011.  The complaint also alleges that many of the Mendozas’ customers may owe additional tax, interest and penalties because of the improperly prepared returns.

In addition to barring the Mendozas from preparing or filing federal tax returns for others, the court also enjoined anyone acting in concert with the Mendozas from preparing or filing federal tax returns, and prohibited the Mendozas from requesting or directing the preparation of federal tax returns for others.  The court required the Mendozas to contact all persons for whom they prepared a federal tax return since Jan. 1, 2008, to inform all such persons of the permanent injunction entered against them.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013 .  The IRS has some tipson their website for choosing a tax preparer.  In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.  Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website . An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found on this page .  If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

Eastern District of California DOJ / 14-628 / June 12, 2014 (more…)

SIX MEN CONVICTED OF AGREEING TO ENGAGE IN PROSTITUTION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:28 am

SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) convicted sixmen in May 2014 of agreeing to engage in prostitution. The defendants in these cases approached a woman, whom they believed to be a prostitute, in areas known for prostitution and human trafficking in Orange County. They agreed to engage in commercial sex with a woman or an undercover officer and were subsequently arrested by law enforcement.

The Santa Ana Police Department investigated these cases. Deputy District Attorney Eric Eastman of the HEAT Unit prosecuted these cases.

The defendants below each pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of agreeing to engage in prostitution. The defendants were each sentenced up to three years informal probation, up to 45 days in jail with the possibility of CalTrans in lieu of jail, and required to submit to AIDS testing and education. Some defendants must also submit to DNA testing and were required to donate up to $250 to the Victim Witness Emergency Fund.

Antonio de Jesus Arias, 24, Santa Ana

Joshua Trevor Carillo, 23, Santa Ana

Santiago Romero Dominguez, 40, Santa Ana

Michael Alfonse Farag, 41, Santa Ana

Miguel Reyes Flores, 30, Santa Ana

Humberto Guebara Torres, 23, Garden Grove

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June 12, 2014

FORMER SCHOOL MAINTENANCE PAINTER CONVICTED OF POSSESSING AND DISTRIBUTING CHILD PORN ON INTERNET

Filed under: California Chid Pornography Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:40 am

SANTA ANA – A former school maintenance painter was convicted today of possessing child pornography on his computer and distributing it through the Internet. Roger Scott Hewson, 51, Fountain Valley, pleaded guilty to a court offer by the Honorable Robert R. Fitzgerald of one felony count of distributing obscene matter and one felony count of possession and control of child pornography. He was sentenced to one year in jail, five years formal probation, and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.

At the time of the crime, Hewson was employed with the Huntington Beach City School District as a maintenance painter.

On Aug. 27, 2013, Hewson possessed hundreds of digital pictures on his home computer containing sexually explicit images of child pornography. These images were not of children from the school. Hewson distributed the images to other users on the Internet through a file sharing program.

On Nov. 7, 2013, after months of extensive investigation by the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) with assistance from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), HBPD arrested Hewson at his work for possession and distribution of child pornography.

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Husband Sentenced to 75 Years-to-Life for Supermarket Stabbing of Wife

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:36 am

A 55-year-old man pleaded guilty and was immediately sentenced today for the fatal stabbing of his estranged wife as she worked at a Santa Monica supermarket, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Carter said Kelvin Melvin Green entered a guilty plea to one count of murder and admitted to two prior strikes.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Dabney of the Airport Branch sentenced Green to 75 years-to-life in state prison. He is due back in Department E on Sep. 3 for a restitution hearing.

On Aug. 21, 2011, Green stabbed Christina Talley 41 times in the face and abdomen while she was working at an Albertsons store on Wilshire Boulevard, Carter said. She died a day later. The prosecutor said he also assaulted a Good Samaritan who tried to help stop the attack. He was not injured.

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Former Compton Fire Battalion Chief Sentenced for Arson, Embezzlement

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:34 am

A former Compton fire battalion chief was sentenced yesterday to three years and four months in state prison after he was convicted of embezzlement and arson, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose of the Target Crimes Division, Arson Section, said Marcel Dione Melanson, 38, was immediately remanded into custody.

At his court appearance, the defendant paid $100,000 in restitution to victims and to the city of Compton. Also, Melanson was ordered to pay an additional $417,477.82 to the city of Compton.

Moreover, the defendant must register as an arson offender for life.

The sentence from Judge David M. Horwitz comes after Melanson pleaded no contest on April 15 to embezzlement by public or private officer and arson of property. (more…)

June 11, 2014

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrest of Two Sisters Running San Francisco Sex Trafficking Ring

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:06 am

SAN FRANCISCO—Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of two women accused of operating a sex trafficking ring in San Francisco. The arrests are the result of a five-month joint investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

“The victims in these brothels were treated as commodities in an insidious human marketplace,” Attorney General Harris said. “Human trafficking is a heinous crime that destroys the lives of victims and threatens the safety of our communities. I want to recognize the steadfast commitment of our Task Force agents, law enforcement partners, and community organizations to bring perpetrators to justice and help rebuild these victims’ lives.”

“The interruption of this sex trafficking, under the leadership of the Attorney General Harris’s Office, is just another example of San Francisco’s commitment to protecting and preserving the basic rights of all; especially our most vulnerable,” SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said. “Fully understanding the gravity of the human trafficking trade, the San Francisco Police Department developed its own Human Trafficking Unit, partnering with other agencies to conduct proactive victim-centered investigations of sex and labor trafficking crimes.”

Defendants Qiao He, a.k.a. “Judy,” 37, and her sister Gaineng He, 36, both of San Francisco, were arrested today and charged with felony pimping and pandering. They are both being held at the San Francisco County Jail on $25,000 bail each and will be prosecuted by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office is still investigating potential tax fraud and conspiracy violations.

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City of San Jacinto, California, Agrees to End Discriminatory Housing Practices

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:04 am

The Justice Department today announced a settlement with the city of San Jacinto, California, that resolves a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Under the settlement, San Jacinto has changed its laws to comply with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In addition, the city has agreed to pay a total of $746,599 in compensatory damages to housing providers and former residents with disabilities, including private plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States.  The settlement is subject to court approval.

The Justice Department’s complaint, which was filed in November 2012, alleged that San Jacinto violated the FHA and the ADA by enacting an ordinance intended to exclude unlicensed and some licensed homes for persons with disabilities from the city, and by targeting homes for persons with disabilities for enforcement of the ordinance and other local laws.

“Municipalities and other governmental entities cannot violate federal civil rights statutes by hiding behind intentionally discriminatory laws designed to appear neutral on their face,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “No American should be denied his or her rights, subjected to harassment or excluded from our communities because of a disability.  We commend the city for working cooperatively to resolve this matter and to enact legislation to safeguard the fair housing rights of its residents with disabilities.”

The city’s enforcement efforts included an early morning sweep of unlicensed group homes for persons with disabilities by city officials in November 2008, including the city attorney and representatives of the city’s Code Enforcement and Public Works Departments, as well as armed and uniformed law enforcement officers of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department acting as agents for the city.  The officials arrived at the homes unannounced and without warrants and interrogated the residents from a prepared questionnaire targeted to persons with mental disabilities.  The questions included whether the residents were or ever had been drug addicts or alcoholics; whether they suffered from any form of mental illness, and if so, what type; whether they were taking “psych” medications, and if so, what kind; whether they or other residents were currently using illegal drugs or alcohol; whether they were on parole or probation; and whether they were registered sex offenders.

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