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December 13, 2013

Former San Luis Obispo Police Officer Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison in Corruption Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:08 am

LOS ANGELES—A former detective with the San Luis Obispo Police Department has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for extorting sources he cultivated while working on a narcotics task force.

Cory Pierce, 40, of Arroyo Grande, was sentenced Monday afternoon by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. In addition to the prison term, Judge Morrow sentenced Pierce to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $5,500 in restitution. Pierce was ordered to begin serving his sentence by January 27.

Pierce, who served with the San Luis Obispo Police Department for six years, pleaded guilty in June to a federal extortion charge. When he pleaded guilty, Pierce admitted that while assigned to a narcotics task force, he cultivated as sources an individual who had been arrested for heroin possession, and the man’s girlfriend. Pierce obtained painkillers from the sources in exchange for providing them with placebo oxycodone pills that they could sell.

As part of the plea agreement, Pierce admitted to using his position as a police officer to obtain $11,000 from someone who he thought was a drug dealer in exchange for the placebo pills.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Central District of California Department of Justice / Release No. 13-144 / December 10, 2013

December 12, 2013

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Sentenced to a Year in Prison in Federal Bribery Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:55 am

SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA – An Orange County criminal defense attorney, who was convicted by a jury of executing a bribery scheme to obtain dismissal of a state criminal case against one of his clients, was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in federal prison.

Lawrence Anthony Witsoe, age 70, a resident of Mission Viejo, CA, was sentenced by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford.  In September, Witsoe’s co-defendant, Aaron Scott Vigil, who was a police officer with the Rialto Police Department and a Task Force Officer with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), was sentenced to 33 months in prison for his role in the bribery scheme.

In addition to his prison sentence, Witsoe’s license to practice law was suspended on August 12, 2013 as a result of his conviction in this case, according to State Bar records.

Earlier this year, a federal jury convicted both Witsoe and Vigil of conspiring to solicit a $2,500 bribe from one of Witsoe’s clients, who was charged with assault in a state criminal case, in exchange for having Officer Vigil falsely represent to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that Witsoe’s client had been cooperating with Officer Vigil and the DEA in connection with drug investigations.  In addition to the conspiracy count, Witsoe was also found guilty of two other counts, namely, soliciting the bribe payment from his client and offering and giving the bribe payment to Officer Vigil.

Central District of California Department of Justice / Release No. 13-143a / December 09, 2013

Glendale Man Who Admitted Hacking into Hundreds of Computers in ‘Sextortion’ Case Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:49 am

LOS ANGELES – A Glendale man who hacked into hundreds of online accounts and victims’ computers, using extortion to coerce women into showing their naked bodies, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison.

Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, was sentenced by United States District Judge George H. King, who said the defendant was a “cyber-terrorist.” Judge King remanded Kazaryan into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.

Kazaryan pleaded guilty in July to felony counts of computer hacking and aggravated identity theft.

In sentencing papers that recommended a six-year prison term, prosecutors wrote: “Kazaryan is a sexual cyber terrorist. He hacked into hundreds of victims’ email, Facebook, and Skype accounts using their usernames and passwords or password reset questions. He then methodically searched their accounts for naked pictures, passwords, and the contact information of their friends. He had two goals every time that he accessed these accounts: get more naked pictures in any way he could, and get more victims.”


18 Charged as Result of Federal Investigation into Corruption and Civil Rights Abuses by Members of L.A. County Sheriff’s Department

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:39 am

Current and Former Deputies Charged with Federal Crimes, including Illegal Beatings of Jail Inmates and Obstruction of Justice

LOS ANGELES – Five criminal cases that charge a total of 18 current or one-time deputy sheriffs of various ranks were unsealed today as part of ongoing and wide-ranging FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights violations and corruption involving members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Four grand jury indictments and one criminal complaint allege crimes that include unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail.

Federal authorities announced the charges after 16 of the defendants were taken into custody earlier today. Those defendants are expected to be arraigned on the charges this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

“The five cases allege a wide scope of illegal conduct,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This investigation started by focusing on misconduct in county jails, and we uncovered examples of civil rights violations that included excessive force and unlawful arrests.


December 11, 2013

Jury Convicts Former Bell Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Pier’ Angela Spaccia of Public Corruption

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:58 am

District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced that a jury today found Pier’ Angela Spaccia, former Bell assistant chief administrative officer, guilty of a massive public corruption scheme to boost her pay and that of her boss, Robert Rizzo.

The jury of eight women and four men found Spaccia guilty of 11 of the 13 felony counts, including writing her own employment contracts, taking loans without council approval, removing public documents and creating her own retirement plan that would have cost Bell taxpayers $8 million.

“I am pleased the jury viewed this extremely complex case for precisely what it was – greed,” District Attorney Lacey said. “Their reign of fraud left the working-class city of 35,000 nearly bankrupt. Their unbridled greed also forced Bell’s 35,000 hardworking residents to pay higher tax rates than residents of Beverly Hills.”

District Attorney Lacey said today’s verdicts mean major players in the Bell corruption case now have been convicted. Spaccia joins Rizzo, who pleaded no contest to all 69 felony counts, and five former council members who have been convicted of multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.



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

SANTA ANA – A man faces trial tomorrow for the bludgeoning-murder of a Laguna Beach resident inside his apartment. Matthew Thomas Dragna, 23, Lake Forest, charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

Co-defendant Jacob Anthony Quintanilla, 25, Lake Forest, faces the same charges and maximum sentence as Dragna. He faces a pre-trial hearing Jan. 10, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35.

On Oct. 23, 2009, Dragna and Quintanilla are accused of going to the Laguna Beach home of 40-year-old Damon Nicholson. The defendants are accused of murdering the victim by bludgeoning him repeatedly in the torso and head with a baseball bat. They are accused of leaving the victim’s body on his couch and fleeing the scene after stealing personal items from Nicholson including a laptop computer and cell phone.

The victim was discovered Oct. 24, 2009, when a concerned co-worker went to check on him after Nicholson failed to show up for work or return any phone calls.


Two Charged with Theft of a Vehicle Part Stemming from Paul Walker’s Fatal Collision

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:01 am

Prosecutors today filed criminal charges against two men accused of stealing a vehicle part from the wrecked Porsche Carrera GT in which actor Paul Walker died, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Sera Boyadjian of the San Fernando Branch Office said Jameson Brooks Witty, 18 (dob 11/18/95), and Anthony Edward Janow, 25 (dob 6/1/88), are charged with one felony count of grand theft of personal property.

Witty and Janow also are charged with two misdemeanor counts each of destroying evidence and resisting, obstructing and delaying a peace officer.

Janow is expected to surrender tomorrow in Dept. S of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, San Fernando Branch. Witty, who was in custody but bailed out, has a return date of Jan. 3, 2014. The men are charged in case PA079026.


December 10, 2013

Leader of Quarter-Billion Dollar Tax Fraud Scheme, Already Sentenced To 14 Years, Ordered to Pay $2.9 Million in Restitution

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:31 am

During Past 2 Years, 43 Defendants Linked to Inland Empire’s Old Quest Foundation Have Been Convicted, Including Attorney and 7 Tax Return Preparers.

SANTA ANA, California – Concluding sentencing proceedings in which he was already previously to serve a 14-year prison term, the former leader of the Fontana-based Old Quest Foundation was ordered this afternoon to pay $2,925,620 in restitution in relation to a tax fraud scheme that resulted in more than 400 fraudulent federal income tax returns being filed with the IRS that cumulatively sought more than $250 million in fraudulent refunds.

Arturo S. Ruiz, 55, of Moreno Valley, was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who issued the 168-month prison sentence on September 20.

The scheme run out of Old Quest was the largest tax refund fraud in history involving misuse of Original Issue Discount tax forms. The case against Ruiz and the other Old Quest defendants stems from Operation Stolen Treasures, an investigation conducted by Special Agents with IRS Criminal Investigation that led to 55 people being indicted by a federal grand jury in the fall of 2011.


Members of Family Who Manufactured Homemade ‘Male Enhancement’ Drug Sentenced in Federal Conspiracy Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:26 am

LOS ANGELES – Three members of a Rowland Heights family involved in a home-based enterprise that manufactured a “male enhancement” drug that sold on the Internet and in retails stores nationwide have been sentenced for unlawfully importing tadalafil, the same active ingredient in the prescription drug Cialis.

Won Bae Kim, 61, was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 months in federal prison.

Two sons, Jong Ik Kim, 35, and Jong Heon Kim, 34, each were sentenced to one year probation, which will include six months of home detention.

The Kims were sentenced on Wednesday by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson, who also ordered Won Bae Kim to pay a $10,000 fine.


California Businessman Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Defraud the IRS

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:20 am

Gary Mach, of Palm Desert, Calif., was sentenced to 16 months in prison, two months of house arrest, and 18 months of probation and ordered to pay $270,725 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Justice Department and IRS announced today.  Mach previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States on Aug. 18, 2013.

Court documents state that, beginning around January 2002 and continuing through December 2010, Mach failed to report substantial income he earned from CSPS, a pool-servicing business operated throughout Riverside County.  Mach and others established fictitious trusts which they used to receive income and hold assets in an attempt to conceal the assets and income from the IRS.

According to court documents, Mach purported to operate a trust called “Quintessential,” and directed that his paychecks be made payable to Quintessential.  He also opened a bank account in the name of Quintessential where he deposited CSPS proceeds.  Mach admitted that he did not report to the IRS any of the income he earned from CSPS between 2002 and 2010, and used Quintessential to conceal income from the IRS.  In furtherance of the conspiracy, Mach also attempted to impede an IRS summons issued to a bank for business account records.  Mach closed his bank account after the bank complied with the IRS summons.  As set forth in the plea agreement, Mach admitted that his total unreported income for the tax years 2002 through 2010 was $1,410,430, upon which the total tax due and owed to the IRS is $270,275.

Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the department’s Tax Division, commended the investigative efforts of the special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, Tax Division Trial Attorneys Sonia M. Owens and Mark L. Williams, who prosecuted the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Brown and Paul Rochmes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, who assisted in the prosecution.

California Department of Justice / 13-1282-Tax Division / December 5, 2013

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