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March 28, 2014

Disbarred Attorney Sentenced to Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:03 am

A disbarred attorney who admitted stealing more than $3 million from clients, including the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

James Vincent Reiss, 52, was ordered to pay $2.47 million to the MTA and $511,607 to a former client, said Deputy District Attorney Amy Pellman Pentz with the Justice System Integrity Division.

Reiss, who pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft, was under contract with MTA to handle their general liability claims. Between 2010 and 2011, he received nearly $2 million in fraudulent reimbursements from MTA, Pentz said.

As part of his March 11 plea, Reiss also admitted stealing money from a former client by settling an insurance lawsuit and pocketing the settlement money, Pentz said.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / March 26, 2014

March 27, 2014

O.C. Firm Pays $500,000 to Resolve Allegations it Violated the Buy American Act by Selling Foreign-Made Medical Devices to Army

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:09 am

LOS ANGELES – Prosthetics supplier Ossur Americas, Inc. today paid the United States $500,000 to resolve allegations that the Orange County company supplied the Army with hundreds of foreign-made prosthetic, bracing and support products –while falsely certifying that all of its products were manufactured in the United States as required by federal law and its contracts with the military.

Ossur, which is headquartered in Foothill Ranch, paid the money today pursuant to a settlement agreement that resolves allegations that it had violated the federal False Claims Act by falsely certifying compliance with the Buy American Act. The alleged conduct took place in 2005 and 2006 and involved prosthetic components for wounded soldiers.

The Buy American Act generally prohibits federal government agencies from purchasing foreign-made products, and Ossur’s compliance with the Act was expressly required by its contracts with the Army.

Ossur became aware that it had made the prohibited sales in early 2006, and entered the Department of Defense’s Voluntary Disclosure Program in December 2006. The government subsequently investigated Ossur’s disclosure. In conjunction with Ossur’s voluntary disclosure, the company instituted a series of compliance measures, including distribution of instruction sheets to sales representatives and training for management officials, to ensure future compliance with the Buy America Act.

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Charges dropped in stock manipulation case

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:04 am

Federal prosecutors dismiss charges against Sherman Mazur and eight others after concluding that wiretap evidence was inadmissible.

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles dismissed criminal charges against nine people in a $30-million stock-manipulation case after concluding that misstatements in obtaining court approval for key wiretap recordings made the evidence unusable at trial.

The dismissals were an embarrassing setback for prosecutors who were bursting with pride last year when they announced the indictments, the result of a three-year investigation.

U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. said investigators had relied heavily on wiretap evidence, which is rarely used in white-collar cases.

On Tuesday, prosecutors moved to dismiss the charges against Sherman Mazur and eight other defendants, concluding that the wiretap evidence was not admissible because of omissions and misstatements in an application to record the suspects telephone calls.

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Agents Seize 176 lbs. of Methamphetamine in Central Valley

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:01 am

FRESNO – Agents from a California Department of Justice task force joined with California Highway Patrol and federal investigators Thursday night to seize 176 pounds of crystal methamphetamine during the execution of a search warrant at a Madera home. The seizure is one of the largest methamphetamine caches uncovered in the Central Valley.

“Methamphetamine is a very serious threat to California’s public health and safety, and is frequently trafficked by transnational criminal organizations,” Attorney General Harris said. “This seizure highlights the importance of strong collaboration between the California Department of Justice and local, state and federal partners to dismantle these organizations and keep our communities safe.”

Thursday night’s seizure came just hours after Attorney General Harris issued the first comprehensive report analyzing the current state of transnational criminal organizations in California and the threats they pose to the state’s public safety and economy. The report estimates that Mexican organized crime groups smuggle an estimated 70 percent of the foreign-produced U.S. supply of methamphetamine through California’s border crossings. View the report here: https://oag.ca.gov/transnational-organized-crime.

Preliminary evidence indicates the methamphetamine in the residence was likely smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico in liquid form, then converted into its crystalized form at the Madera residence for subsequent distribution.

Agents discovered the methamphetamine, much of it in crystalized form, scattered throughout multiple rooms in the Madera residence. They also found a lab used to convert liquid methamphetamine into its crystalized form. While initial estimates place the value of the seized methamphetamine at approximately $750,000, authorities say it could exceed $1 million, pending final laboratory tests to determine its purity. (more…)

March 26, 2014

Former L.A. City Building Inspector Sentenced to 2½ Years in Federal Prison for Taking Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Bribe Payments

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:41 am

LOS ANGELES – A former inspector with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison for taking more than $30,000 in bribes in relation to at least a dozen properties in and around the Koreatown District of Los Angeles.

Samuel In, 66, of Glendale, a 37-year veteran of LADBS, pleaded guilty just over one year ago to one count of bribery. According to court documents, In took bribe payments – which he described to some victims as “fees” – from 2007 through the end of 2010. In admitted that he solicited and accepted bribery payments totaling more than $30,000 in connection with his official duties in relation to at least a dozen Koreatown properties.

Federal prosecutors asked United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson to impose a 30-month prison term, reasoning that In took bribes as part of a “deliberate, long-running pattern of corruption.”

In a sentencing memo filed with the court, prosecutor wrote: “This recommended sentence appropriately accounts for the serious nature of defendant’s illegal course of conduct — abusing his position as a senior building inspector over a number of years to solicit and take bribes in return for approving numerous building projects that may or may not have been safe.”

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Two Medical Product Companies Pay More Than $1 Million to Resolve False Claims Lawsuit that Alleged They Overbilled Federal Agencies

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:38 am

LOS ANGELES – The publicly traded Stryker Corporation and the privately held Alliant Enterprises have paid the United States a total of $1.05 million to resolve a “whistleblower” lawsuit that alleged a failure to disclose complete information about projected government sales, allowing them to avoid heightened scrutiny of a government contract.

The case was resolved when a federal judge dismissed and unsealed the case on March 13.

The lawsuit alleged that Stryker and Alliant failed to disclose to government negotiators complete pricing information, which resulted in higher costs to government agencies that purchased medical products from the Federal Supply Schedule contract awarded by the Department of Veterans Affairs to Alliant. As a result of the conduct by Stryker and Alliant, the VA and other government agencies allegedly purchased products at inflated prices.

The two companies paid the settlement in December. Stryker paid the United States $911,219, and Alliant paid $151,215.

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California Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Racially Motivated Assault on White Man and African-American Woman

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:33 am

Billy James Hammett, 30, of Marysville, Calif., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez to serve 87 months in prison for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in a 2011 racially motivated attack against a white man and an African-American woman in Marysville.  The court also ordered Hammett to pay restitution in the amount of $175 and to serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence.  Hammett pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2013, and his co-defendants, Perry Sylvester Jackson, 28, and Anthony Merrell Tyler, 33, have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

According to documents filed with the court, around 10:45 p.m. on April 18, 2011, a white man and an African-American woman parked their car at a convenience store in Marysville.  Shortly afterward, the three defendants, each of whom has white supremacist tattoos, attacked the man and woman based on race.  After calling the male victim a “[racial slur]-lover,” Jackson punched him twice in the head through the open passenger window.  At the same time, Hammett kicked the woman in the chest.  A few seconds later, Tyler smashed the car’s windshield with a crowbar.   As the attack continued, the woman managed to take refuge inside the convenience store.  All three assailants then descended upon the male victim and began attacking him in the parking lot.  He sustained abrasions on his right forearm and knees, while the woman suffered bruising to her chest.  At the end of the incident, Tyler used a racial slur to refer to an African-American witness.

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Mendez said he found surveillance video footage of the assault “disturbing.”  He noted that Hammett’s attack on the victims was “unprovoked and unwarranted,” and that the victims continue to suffer.

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March 25, 2014

Southern California Man Found Guilty of Health Care Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft for Role in $1.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:46 am

A Southern California man who ran a durable medical equipment (DME) supply company has been found guilty by a federal jury in Los Angeles for his role in a $1.5 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Bill Lewis of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.

Vahe Tahmasian, 36, of Glendale, Calif., was found guilty on March 21, 2014, in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, six counts of health care fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft.   Sentencing is set for June 9, 2014.

The evidence introduced at trial showed that between April 2009 and February 2011, Tahmasian operated a Medicare fraud scheme at Orthomed Appliance Inc. (Orthomed), a DME supply company in West Hollywood, Calif.   Tahmasian and his co-conspirator, Eric Mkhitarian, purchased Orthomed from the previous owners and put the company in the name of a straw owner.   The defendant and his co-conspirator then stole the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries and doctors in the company’s patient files and used that information to submit a large volume of fraudulent claims to Medicare.   The evidence showed that during a three-month period in late 2010, Tahmasian submitted more than $1.2 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for services that were never prescribed by a physician and never provided to the Medicare beneficiaries.   Tahmasian and his co-conspirator then took out more than $622,000 in cash from the company over a six-week period in early 2011.   The evidence at trial showed that Tahmasian used a fake California driver’s license during the course of the fraudulent scheme.   Tahmasian submitted a total of $1,584,640 in claims to Medicare and received approximately $994,036 on those claims.

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March 24, 2014

LOS ANGELES POLICE OFFICER CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE FOR REPEATEDLY HITTING TEEN RELATIVE, CAUSING BRUISING AND WELTS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:38 am

FULLERTON – A Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer has been charged with child abuse for repeatedly striking a teen relative, leaving welts and bruises, for poor grades and behavior.  Daniel Hun Chun, 39, is charged with one felony count of child abuse and one felony count of corporal injury on a child and faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison. He is out of custody on $100,000 bail. Chun was scheduled for an arraignment today, and the arraignment was continued to May 6, 2014, at8:30 a.m. in Department N-12, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

At the time of the crime, Chun was a police officer with LAPD. He is accused of committing the crime while off-duty.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. on March 13, 2014, Chun is accused of confronting a young teen male relative about poor grades and other behavior issues. The defendant is accused of repeatedly hitting the victim with a variety of household items in the shoulders, back, and buttocks. He is accused of leaving welts and bruises on the victim.

A school counselor noticed the child’s injuries and reported it to police.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Duke of the Family Protection Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14NF1316 / March 21, 2014

“MARKET DUO” BANK ROBBER SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR COMMITTING ROBBERIES IN FIVE ORANGE COUNTY BANKS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:36 am

SANTA ANA – A man, who was part of the group dubbed the “Market Duo” Bank Robbers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was sentenced today to six years in state prison for committing robberies in five Orange County banks and leading police on a high speed pursuit. Paul Acosta Jr., 30, Los Angeles, pleaded guilty Feb. 18, 2014, to five felony counts of second degree robbery, one felony count of evading a peace officer while driving recklessly, and sentencing enhancements for prior felony prison convictions for drug possession and theft in 2008 and 2010 in Los Angeles County. Acosta cooperated with law enforcement and testified against his two co-defendants during their jury trial.

Co-defendant Andres Soto Jr., 52, Whittier, was found guilty by a jury March 11, 2014, of eight felony counts of second degree robbery and four felony counts of second degree commercial burglary. Soto has prior strike violations committed in Los Angeles County for a residential burglary in 1983 and two bank robbery convictions in 1993. He faces a maximum sentence of 110 years to life in state prison at his sentencing May 9, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-29, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Richard Valdez, 54, La Habra was found guilty by a jury March 11, 2014, of two felony counts of second degree robbery and one felony count of second degree commercial burglary. Valdez has prior strike convictions committed in Los Angeles County for a robbery in 1983, two robberies in 1987, and assault with a deadly weapon in 2003. Valdez faces a maximum sentence of 44 years to life in state prison at his sentencing May 9, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-29, Central Justice Center.

Acosta and Soto planned four robberies that took place in the banks. Valdez was an acquaintance of Acosta and participated in their last bank robbery.

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