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December 8, 2014

Three Charged with Conspiring to Defraud Consumers through Fraudulent Debt Relief Services Firms

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

A grand jury in Santa Ana, California, indicted three individuals for allegedly operating fraudulent debt relief services companies that offered to settle credit card debts but instead took victims’ payments as undisclosed up-front fees, the Justice Department and U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced.

Jeremy Nelson, 29, Elias Ponce, 27, and John Vartanian, 55, all of Orange County, California, were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud in connection with their roles at companies known as Nelson Gamble & Associates and Jackson Hunter Morris & Knight LLP.  According to the indictment, the defendants portrayed the debt relief companies as law firms and attorney-based companies that would negotiate favorable settlements with creditors. Clients made monthly payments expecting the money to go toward settlements.  But the defendants instead took at least 15 percent of the total debt as company fees, with the first six months of payments going almost entirely towards undisclosed up-front fees.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud, or an alternate fine of twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater, along with mandatory restitution.

“Americans facing credit card debts are sometimes desperate to improve their financial situations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Civil Division.  “The Civil Division will vigorously pursue those who take advantage of vulnerable consumers trying to dig themselves out of debt.”

“Lying to victims to get their money is not only wrong, it is criminal,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Troy Raper of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  “Postal Inspectors aggressively investigate any operations that use the U.S. mail to perpetrate frauds on the American public.” (more…)

Two OC residents arraigned in $11 million Ponzi scheme

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

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Two Orange County residents were arraigned in an $11 million Ponzi scheme victimizing over 27 people with sale of unsecured securities based on fraudulent insurance policies. Joseph Francis Bartholomew, 75, Lake Forest, is charged with one felony count of the use of a device or scheme to defraud and 28 felony counts of using an untrue statement in the purchase or sale of a security with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and loss greater than $3.2 million. If convicted, Bartholomew faces a maximum sentence of 42 years in state prison. Bartholomew is being held on $11.3 million bail and must prove that the money comes from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond.

Co-defendant Wendy King-Jackson, 54, Laguna Niguel, is charged with one felony count of the use of a device or scheme to defraud and two felony counts of the use of an untrue statement or omission in connection with the purchase or sale of a security with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and loss greater than $3.2 million. If convicted, King-Jackson faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison. Both defendants will be arraigned on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-2, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

The defendants are accused of engaging in a “Ponzi scheme,” which is a fraudulent operation that offers investors high, short-term returns on investments. Instead of using the money to generate actual income and legitimate profits, the money from the investors is kept for the benefit of the defendant or used to repay earlier investors.

Bartholomew is accused of owning and operating MBP Insurance Services, Inc. (MBP), which offered and sold unsecured securities based on fraudulent insurance policies. Between July 2005 and May 2014, Bartholomew is accused of defrauding over 27 investors, the majority of whom were senior citizens, and falsely promising them that he would be able to provide a return of 15 to 40 percent in interest from their investment.

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December 5, 2014

DISTRICT COURT ENTERS PERMANENT INJUNCTION AGAINST LOS ANGELES SEAFOOD COMPANY AND SENIOR OFFICERS TO STOP DISTRIBUTION OF ADULTERATED PRODUCTS

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

WASHINGTON – The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction on Dec. 1 against Neptune Manufacturing Inc. of Los Angeles and its corporate officers, Alexander Goldring, Peter Oyrekh and Semyon Krutovsky, to prevent the distribution of adulterated seafood products, the Department of Justice announced today.

The department filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Nov. 21 at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alleging the company’s seafood products are produced under conditions that are inadequate to ensure the safety of its products.  The complaint alleges that Neptune prepares, processes, packs, holds and distributes ready-to-eat smoked and salt-cured seafood including pickled herring, smoked steelhead trout, smoked halibut, smoked whitefish, smoked salmon and smoked mackerel.  The complaint also alleges that defendants Goldring, Oyrekh and Krutovsky are Neptune’s corporate officers with the authority and responsibility for preventing and correcting violations of federal law at the company.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction that prohibits them from committing violations of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  The consent decree requires Neptune to cease all manufacturing operations and requires that, in order for defendants to resume distributing seafood products, the FDA first must determine that Neptune’s manufacturing practices have come into compliance with the law.

“Neptune was repeatedly informed that the sanitation practices at its facility were deficient,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The failure to actively plan for and control the presence of bacteria and neurotoxins commonly found in seafood processing facilities can pose a serious risk to the public health.”

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San Gabriel Man Sentenced to Federal Prison in Scheme in Smuggling Protected Turtles from U.S. to Hong Kong

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

LOS ANGELES – A San Gabriel man who attempted to smuggle nearly four dozen turtles from Southern California to Hong Kong has been sentenced to federal prison.

Kwong Wa Cheung, 36, was sentenced Tuesday to two months in federal prison. Following the completion of the prison term, Cheung will be on supervised release for two years, during which time he will serve two months in a residential re-entry center (a “halfway house”) and perform 500 hours of community service at an animal shelter.

Cheung was sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who also ordered the defendant to pay a $12,000 fine.

When Cheung attempted to smuggle the 46 turtles and tortoises to Hong Kong, he brought three boxes containing the animals to a United States Postal Service facility in San Gabriel. Cheung used a fake name and address on the packages, and declared that the content of the packages were “Toys (Acces Model).” The fake name that Cheung used aroused suspicion, and the Postal Service refused to ship the packages.

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Ex-Employee at Federal Prison in San Pedro Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribe to Smuggle Mobile Phone into Facility

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

LOS ANGELES – A Lake Elsinore man who was employed as a correctional officer at the Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island has pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge for taking $1,000 in cash to smuggle a cell phone into the prison facility.

Luis Borjon, 52, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the felony charge and admitted that he took the payment while employed as a correctional officer by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

Borjon pleaded guilty before United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on February 23, 2015. At sentencing, Borjon will face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, Borjon approached an inmate under his supervision at the Terminal Island prison in November 2012 and solicited a “loan.” The inmate put Borjon in contact with the inmate’s brother, who was not in custody, and Borjon called the inmate’s brother to provide him with the number for Borjon’s “burner cell phone” (a disposable phone).

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December 4, 2014

Five Northern California Real Estate Investors Indicted for Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions

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

A federal grand jury in San Francisco returned a nine-count indictment against five real estate investors for their role in bid rigging and fraud at foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

The indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, California, charges Northern California real estate investors John Michael Galloway, Nicholas Diaz, Glenn Guillory, Thomas Joyce and Charles Rock with participating in a conspiracy to rig bids and a scheme to defraud mortgage holders and others.  The indictment alleges that the defendants agreed not to compete at public foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County, California, and diverted money to themselves and others that should have gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries.

To date, 50 individuals have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public foreclosure auctions in Northern California.  In addition, 21 real estate investors have been charged in five multi-count indictments for their roles in bid rigging and fraud schemes at foreclosure auctions in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.

“The Antitrust Division will continue to cooperate with its law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who undermine the competitive market for foreclosed properties,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “Public auctions are meant for the public, not for an elite group conspiring together for their own profit.”

The indictments allege, among other things, that as early as June 2008 until about January 2011, the defendants conspired to rig bids to obtain numerous properties sold at foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County, negotiated payoffs for agreeing not to compete, held second, private auctions known as “rounds,” concealed those rounds and payoffs, and, in the process, defrauded mortgage holders and other beneficiaries. (more…)

DRUNKEN-DRIVER MARINE SCHEDULED TO FACE TRIAL FOR KILLING THREE FELLOW MARINES BY CRASHING INTO TREE

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

WESTMINSTER – A Marine is scheduled to face trial for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing a crash that killed three fellow Marines after crashing into a tree. Jared Ray Hale, 27, is charged with one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more causing bodily injury, with sentencing enhancements and allegations for driving with a blood alcohol level over .15 percent and causing great bodily injury. Opening statements began this morning in Department W-13, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2012, Hale is accused of arriving at Hennessey’s Tavern in Dana Point with three friends. The defendant and his friends were all Marines stationed at Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton. The friends included Christopher Arzola, 21, Mass., Jeremiah Callahan, 23, Neb., and Jason Chleborad, 22, S.D.

At approximately 1:50 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2012, the defendant is accused of driving away from the bar in his Dodge sedan with his three friends as passengers.

At approximately 2:00 a.m. Hale is accused of driving northbound on Golden Lantern in Dana Point. As he approached a curve in the road at the intersection at Terra Vista, the defendant is accused of losing control of his vehicle, running over the landscaped center median, and crashing into a tree on the passenger’s side of the car. The car spun around the tree and came to rest against the tree on the median.

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Pair Convicted of 1995 Murder in Long Beach

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

Two men were found guilty today of fatally shooting a pizza deliveryman in Long Beach nearly two decades ago, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

A jury deliberated for a little more than a day before finding James Lemon (dob 9/27/78) and Venda Johnson (dob 5/1/78) guilty of first-degree murder in case NA096742.

Jurors also found true a special circumstance allegation of murder in the commission of an attempted robbery, as well as a special allegation that a principal in the crime was armed with a handgun during the killing.

Lemon and Johnson are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 20 at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Long Beach in Department 19. They face a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

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December 3, 2014

Northern California Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions

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

A Northern California real estate investor has agreed to plead guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Felony charges were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against Garry Wan of Concord, California.  To date, 50 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty, as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

According to court documents, beginning as early as May 2008 until January 2011, Wan conspired with others not to bid against one another, and instead designate a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda County.  Wan was also charged with conspiring to use the mail to carry out a scheme to fraudulently acquire title to selected Alameda County properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs, and to divert money to co-conspirators that would have otherwise gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries by holding second, private auctions open only to members of the conspiracy.  The department said that the selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in the second, private auctions.  The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held.   

“While there has been a lengthy series of guilty pleas by the participants in this activity, the division’s work is not yet over,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute collusion at real estate foreclosure auctions, which allow the conspirators to profit from illegal payoffs at the expense of financial institutions and distressed homeowners.

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Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison For Military Reservist’s Death

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

A man has been sentenced to seven years in state prison for last year’s fatal beating of a military reservist in Old Town Pasadena, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Fernando Sabino Ramirez, 26, of Rowland Heights was found guilty by a jury last month of one count each of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and involuntary manslaughter. Jurors also found true an allegation that the defendant personally inflicted a sufficient injury that left 25-yearold Joshua Martinez comatose due to a brain injury.

The victim’s family as well as members from the United States Marine Corps spoke at yesterday’s sentencing. A restitution hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Ramirez physically assaulted Martinez outside a restaurant in Old Town Pasadena on Aug. 5, 2013, while two of his accomplices, Jonas Cardenas Ramos, 26, of San Gabriel and Angel Christopher Moroyoqui, 22, of El Monte aided in the assault.

Following the altercation, the victim—an active reservist in the Marine Corps—was taken to a hospital where he died. (more…)

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