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May 13, 2014

Men Convicted in Murder of Coast Guard Officer Sentenced to Prison; Pilot of Drug Smuggling Boat Receives Life Without Parole

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:26 pm

LOS ANGELES – Two Mexican nationals who were found guilty of federal charges stemming from an incident in which a Coast Guard officer was killed when his vessel was rammed by a “panga” boat were sentenced today.

The operator of the panga boat was ordered to spend the rest of his life in federal custody after a jury earlier this year convicted him of second-degree murder in the death of Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who died in late 2012 while his boat was attempting to interdict the panga boat near Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park.

The two men sentenced today are:

Jose Mejia-Leyva, 42, of Ensenada, who was sentenced to life without parole for his murder conviction, as well as two counts of failure to heave to and four counts of assaulting federal officers with a deadly and dangerous weapon; and Manuel Beltran-Higuera, 44, of Ensenada, who was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after a jury found him guilty of two counts of failure to heave to (as an accessory after the fact in one count and as an aider and abettor in the second count) and in the four counts of assault (as an accessory after the fact).

Both defendants were sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess. Senior Chief Petty Officer Horne, a 34-year-old Redondo Beach resident, was the first Coast Guard officer murdered while in the line of duty by smugglers since 1927.                                        (more…)

Two Charged With Stealing $5.4 Million from LAUSD Through False Invoices

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:21 pm

Two men have been charged with bilking $5.4 million from the Los Angeles Unified School District by submitting fake invoices for irrigation clocks, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Karl Hauser (dob 5/23/43) and John Paul Chapman (dob 11/26/41) were each charged with three counts of grand theft of personal property. The complaint also includes special allegations of embezzlement of public funds, excessive taking over $3.2 million and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

If convicted, Hauser and Chapman each face up to 13 years and four months in state prison.

Hauser was the president of Plumbing and Industrial Supply, Inc., a company that was awarded numerous LAUSD contracts, and Chapman was the office manager at the company’s Vernon branch.                               (more…)

Walnut Woman Found Guilty of Killing Estranged Husband

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:18 pm

A Walnut woman was found guilty today of stabbing her estranged husband and the family dog to death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Taraneh Saba said the jury found Socorro Mora (dob 12/25/67) guilty of murder, cruelty to an animal and corporal injury to spouse.

The trial for case KA095882 lasted 16 days, including jury deliberations. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 24 in Department L of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pomona Branch. Mora faces more than 20 years to life in state prison.

On Sep. 13, 2011 Mora physically attacked her husband, George Mora, 47, and then scratched herself claiming he did it. Following that incident he was able to obtain a restraining order against her and was granted custody of their four children. She was also ordered to move out of the family home, according to court testimony.                       (more…)

May 12, 2014

MOTHER CONVICTED OF ABUSING 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO WEIGHED ONLY 18 POUNDS, BY DEPRIVING HER OF FOOD AND MEDICAL CARE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:25 am

SANTA ANA – A mother was convicted and sentenced today for abusing her 4-year-old daughter by depriving her of food and medical care, causing the child to be severely under-weight at only 18 pounds. Antonia Benitez, 36, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to the court to three felony counts of child abuse with sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury to a child under 5. She was sentenced to a court offer to two years in jail, three years of formal probation, and one year participation in a child abuser program. The People advocated for a state prison sentence.

At the time of the crime, the defendant was a mother to nine children ranging in age from 4 to 16 years old.

Prior to June 2013, Benitez abused her 4-year-old daughter, Jane Doe, by depriving her of food, care, and medical attention.

In July 2012, Jane Doe was hospitalized for being under-weight. The case was not reported to law enforcement at that time                            (more…)

Longtime Pimp Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Taking SoCal Woman to Las Vegas to Work as Prostitute

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:18 am

SANTA ANA, California – A man previously convicted and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for transporting minors to work as prostitutes today received what is effectively another 14-year sentence for engaging in the same conduct involving a 19-year-old victim almost immediately after he was released from custody in the first case.

William Earl Flavors, aka “Andre,” 40, who most recently resided in Long Beach, was sentenced this morning to 10 years in federal prison. United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton ordered that this sentence run consecutive to a four-year prison term he received last year based on related conduct for violating his supervised release on his prior federal conviction, meaning that Flavors has been ordered to serve 14 years in prison for acting as a pimp for girls in 2012.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Staton discussed a letter that Flavors wrote to the Court in which he blamed the judicial system and the probation department for his current “predicament” and that he “not given a fair chance.” Judge Staton noted “beating women and forcing them into prostitution is not a ‘predicament,’ but a choice – a choice that defendant made.”

Flavors pleaded guilty in December to transportation in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution. Flavors specifically admitted that he transported his victims between Long Beach to Las Vegas, forced or coerced them to work as prostitutes in Las Vegas, and used physical abuse and threats of additional physical abuse to make one of his victims work for him as a prostitute.                            (more…)

May 9, 2014

Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty to $50 Million Securities Fraud Scheme

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:46 am

A commercial real estate developer pleaded guilty for his role in a $50 million securities fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California.

Bradley Holcom, 55, entered his plea before United States District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo in San Diego, admitting that he committed wire fraud in connection with the sale of approximately $50 million worth of promissory notes which he sold to investors located throughout the United States.

According to court documents, Holcom solicited investors to provide funds for commercial and residential development through an investment program he operated called the Trust Deed Investment Program.   Holcom falsely told investors who purchased notes through the Trust Deed Investment Program that they would receive a lien on a specific piece of property he was developing and that the lien would enable them to take priority over any other potential liens or interests in the property.

However, Holcom admitted that he never provided investors with a lien in the property he was purportedly developing and instead conveyed to investors a lesser interest that did not allow them to foreclose on the property to protect their investment.   In addition, while he promised investors that their purported lien would be in first position, he subsequently solicited investments for properties that he knew were already encumbered by first position liens.   Holcom also sold properties that were supposedly serving as security for investors without informing investors that the property they had financed for development was sold.   In 2008 and 2009, he continued to solicit investors for new funds by making misrepresentations about his true financial condition and the manner in which he was using investor money.                (more…)

Importers of Fake Brand Name Goods that Were Illegally Counterfeited in China are Sentenced to Federal Prison

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:43 am

LOS ANGELES – A San Gabriel Valley businessman who coordinated the importation of 11 containers of counterfeit apparel – including Nike, Gucci and Coach products worth more than $2.3 million – was sentenced today to 31 months in federal prison.

Today’s sentencing is the second in the past two weeks in which a smuggling operation resulted in a federal prison term. Last week, a Glendale man who brought bogus AMG wheels into the country received a one-year prison sentence.

Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to trafficking in counterfeit goods.

In today’s sentencing, Kevin “Peter” Wang, 54, of Rosemead, was sentenced to 31 months by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt. In addition to the prison term, Judge Kronstadt ordered Wang to serve an additional six months of home detention and to pay a $10,000 fine and $50,000 in restitution.                        (more…)

SoCal Immigration Consultants Sentenced to Prison in Scheme that Filed Bogus Asylum Applications for Hundreds of Chinese Aliens

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:39 am

SANTA ANA, California – The owner of a San Gabriel immigration consulting business and one of his employees have been sentenced to federal prison for participating in a long-running scheme to prepare and file fraudulent asylum applications that made phony claims of religious persecution on behalf of hundreds of Chinese nationals.

Haoren Ma, 50, of San Gabriel, the owner of New Arrival Immigration Service, was sentenced April 28 to 4½ years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy, immigration document fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ma’s employee, Minghan Dong, 49, of San Gabriel, was sentenced on Monday, May 5 to one year and one day in prison for conspiracy to commit immigration document fraud. Both men were sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

According to court documents, Ma and Dong charged as much as $6,500 to prepare and file fraudulent asylum applications on behalf of Chinese nationals. Ma and Dong falsely claimed that their clients fled China after being persecuted for their Christian beliefs, even in situations where the clients said they were Buddhists.

Federal authorities founds that many of the asylum applications prepared by the defendants contained nearly identical accounts of purported persecution, including descriptions of underground church meetings that led to arrests and torture by Chinese authorities. As part of the scheme, Ma and Dong provided their clients with detailed written materials and audio tapes on Christianity to help them prepare for their asylum interviews.                                 (more…)

May 8, 2014

Inland Empire Couple Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges involving Sex Trafficking of a Child who Worked as Prostitute in Hemet

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

RIVERSIDE, California – Two Inland Empire residents have pleaded guilty to federal sex trafficking charging, admitting that they forced a 14-year-old girl to work as a prostitute in 2012.

Kawaum Marquez Scott, 24, of Quail Valley, and Nekeyia Necole Weatherspoon, who also used the name “Keey Bee,” 22, of Perris, pleaded guilty yesterday in United States District Court.

Scott pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of a child, and Weatherspoon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in child sex trafficking

According to court documents, Scott and Weatherspoon forced the 14-year-old victim into prostitution. The defendants, who took photos of the victims and used the pictures to advertise services on the Internet, drove the victim to destinations in Hemet to engage in prostitution, made her use an alias, and advised her to tell male customers that she was 18 years old. Scott and Weatherspoon took all the money paid to the girl for the sex acts.                                 (more…)

Top Players in South L.A. Gang Controlled by Incarcerated Mexican Mafia Member Plead Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charges

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

LOS ANGELES – The “shotcaller” of a South Los Angeles street gang pleaded guilty today to federal racketeering and drug trafficking charges for his role in orchestrating the day-to-day activities of the gang that is controlled by an incarcerated member of the Mexican Mafia.

Today’s guilty pleas by Manuel Valencia come one week after the daughter of the Mexican Mafia member admitted to acting as her father’s voice to convey orders to the Harpys street gang.

The Harpys gang, which claims territory southwest of downtown Los Angeles and north of the University of Southern California, is one of more than a dozen Latino gangs across a wide swath of South Los Angeles controlled by Mexican Mafia member Danny Roman, who is serving a life-without-parole sentence at Pelican Bay State Prison and was not charged in the federal RICO case.

Roman’s daughter, Vianna Roman, 37, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty on May 1 to racketeering, narcotics and weapons offenses pursuant to a plea agreement that contemplates a sentence of approximately 20 years in federal prison but could lead to a life prison term if the sentencing judge determines this is appropriate. When she pleaded guilty, Vianna Roman admitted that she acted as a conduit for her father’s orders as he exercised control over the Harpys gang.                                 (more…)

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