Best Defender Bytes:

February 14, 2014


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:34 am

SANTA ANA – A former board member for a charter school district has been charged with stealing $750,000 in the largest charter school theft in California history. Jeremy Landau, 43, Sherman Oaks, is charged with 13 felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, and one felony count of conflict of interest in a sale and purchase, with sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 in loss, property loss over $200,000,  and fraudulent transactions over $150,000. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years and eight months in state prison. Landau is being held on $750,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. He is expected to be arraigned Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

In May 2013, Landau is accused of joining the board of directors for California Virtual Education Partners (CAVEP), an Orange-County based charter school district that operates five online charter schools in California.

In June 2013, the defendant is accused of asking the other board members for $750,000 from CAVEP’s account with the promise of a $3 million return donation in January 2014. Landau is accused of using his position on the board to influence the other members to vote in his favor regarding the funds.

Landau is accused of laundering the money by moving it between various accounts and failing to repay any of the $750,000 to CAVEP. He is accused of stealing the money for personal gain.                                                (more…)


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:31 am

SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, denied parole for a man convicted of killing a 67-year-old woman in a drive-by shooting in 2000. Carlos Eduardo Sanchez, 30, is currently being held at Calipatria State Prison, Calipatria. Sanchez was sentenced Sept. 20, 2002, to 15 years to life in state prison after he was found guilty of one felony count of second degree murder. The case was originally prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri was present to oppose Sanchez’s parole. The inmate will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2019.

Circumstances of the Case

At approximately 9:50 p.m. on April 22, 2000, then-16-year-old Sanchez and two of his fellow gang members, 25-year-old Jorge Martinez and 23-year-old Antonio Leal, drove through the residential area of a rival gang with the intent to fire upon rivals. The inmate and his fellow gang members shot several rounds toward a house where rival gang members were standing outside.


Armenian Power Gang Associate Convicted for His Role in Racketeering Conspiracy

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:14 am

Andranik Aloyan, an associate of the Armenian Power gang, has been convicted at trial for his role in a racketeering conspiracy that included stealing personal and financial information of elderly bank customers who held accounts that were valued at more than $25 million.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr. of the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Bill L. Lewis of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Aloyan, 40, of Los Angeles, was convicted by a federal jury on February 11, 2014, of racketeering conspiracy, attempted bank fraud, access device fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. According to evidence at trial, Aloyan possessed personal and financial information of more than 75 mostly elderly customers of banks throughout the country. The combined value of the accounts for which Aloyan possessed account information exceeded $25 million.

Aloyan was among 90 individuals charged in two indictments, including a 140-count indictment in July 2011 charging 70 defendants with a variety of criminal activities associated with the Armenian Power gang. The indictment accused 29 defendants, including Aloyan, of participating in the Armenian Power racketeering conspiracy that involved a host of illegal activities such as sophisticated fraudulent schemes of bank fraud, identity theft, debit-card skimming, manufacturing counterfeit checks, and laundering criminal proceeds. In addition, defendants in the case were allegedly involved in a variety of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, extortion, and firearms offenses, along with other crimes including drug trafficking and illegal gambling.                                                   (more…)

February 13, 2014

Riverside County Art Dealer Arrested in Federal Cyberstalking Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:03 pm

LOS ANGELES – The owner of a Temecula art gallery who allegedly stalked, harassed and attempted to extort several art world professionals was arrested today on federal cyberstalking charges.

Jason White, 43, of Temecula, was arrested this morning without incident by special agents with the FBI.

White’s arrest comes after federal prosecutors yesterday filed a criminal complaint that charges White with stalking, a crime that carries a potential penalty of five years in federal prison. White is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

According to the complaint, White engaged in a stalking and extortion scheme that targeted several art world professionals with whom he had had business relationships. When those business relationships ended, White posted derogatory information about his former associates on websites he had created, and then used threatening emails to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for taking the websites down. According to the complaint, White repeatedly made extortionate demands through harassing text messages and emails, and when his demands were not met, he threatened violence.                                   (more…)

Task Force Investigation into PCP Trafficking Leads to Federal Charges against Producers and Distributors of the Dangerous Drug

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:01 pm

LOS ANGELES – Federal, state and local authorities this morning arrested 20 individuals who are named in two federal indictments that target manufacturers and distributors of Phencyclidine – commonly known as PCP or “angel dust” – a dangerous narcotic with deep ties to the violent Grape Street Crips and other South Los Angeles street gangs.

Following this morning’s takedown, federal prosecutors unsealed two indictments that charge a total of 40 defendants linked to laboratories where PCP is manufactured and the networks that distribute the drug across the nation. In addition to the 20 people arrested this morning, three defendants were already in custody, and 17 are fugitives or have not yet been fully identified.

Thirty-eight of the defendants are named in a 29-count indictment that outlines how precursor chemicals are obtained and used in the manufacturing process, which poses serious risks to public health and the environment. The indictment discusses how the prepared PCP is then stored and distributed around the nation.

“Historically, the principal location in the United States where PCP is manufactured is the Southern California area,” according to the indictment. “After PCP is manufactured, PCP traffickers typically distribute and transport PCP both within the Southern California area and to other regions in the United States, where PCP can be sold at higher prices and for greater profit.”



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:55 pm

SANTA ANA - A pimp was sentenced Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, to five years in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration for trafficking a 16-year-old girl and having sex with her after meeting through a social networking website. Donshawn Eugene Miller, 30, San Diego, pleaded guilty to the Court to one felony count each of human trafficking, pimping a minor, pandering with a minor over 16 years old by procuring, unlawful sexual intercourse, pimping, and pandering.

Circumstances of the Case
Miller is a pimp/human trafficker who exploits women and/or children for financial gain. In August 2013, Miller directed his primary prostitute to set up a meeting with 16-year-old Jane Doe, whom she met through a social networking website.

Between Aug. 10, 2013, and Aug. 23, 2013, Miller picked up Jane Doe, drove her to a motel room, and had unlawful sexual intercourse with the victim. Miller then had his primary prostitute show Jane Doe the prostitution routes in Anaheim, prices to charge sex purchasers for various sex acts, and posted advertisements containing sexually explicit photos of Jane Doe on a website known for prostitution. Miller pimped Jane Doe and took the money the victim made from engaging in commercial sex acts.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2013, an Anaheim Police Department (APD) officer spoke to Jane Doe on the street and began investigating Miller. On Sept. 2, 2013, APD arrested Miller in Hemet.


This case was investigated by APD and Deputy District Attorney Brad Schoenleben of the HEAT Unit prosecuted this case.                                               (more…)

February 12, 2014

Former Guatemalan Special Forces Officer Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Lying about Role in 1982 Massacre to Get U.S. Citizenship

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:23 am

RIVERSIDE, California – A former Guatemalan Special Forces officer was sentenced today to serve 10 years in federal prison for covering up his involvement in the 1982 massacre of nearly everyone in the village of Dos Erres, Guatemala.

Jorge Sosa, 55, of Moreno Valley, received the statutory maximum sentence of 120 months in prison from United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips.

Sosa was convicted by a federal jury on October 1 of one count of making false statements in immigration proceedings and one count of unlawful procurement of naturalized U.S. citizenship.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Phillips also revoked Sosa’s U.S. citizenship that he was given after failing to disclose his role in the massacre of at least 162 men, women and children.

 “Southern California is fortunate to be home to immigrants from all over the globe, some of whom have fled persecution in their native lands,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. “But Mr. Sosa fled his native country after being a persecutor who played a direct role in the massacre of an entire village in Guatemala. Because he is responsible for war crimes and for failing to disclose his role in a human rights offense, Mr. Sosa will be incarcerated for a lengthy period of time and will no longer be welcome in our country.”                                                              (more…)

Former San Bernardino Teacher Sentenced to 120 Months For Enticement of a Minor

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:20 am

LOS ANGELES – A former teacher at Arrowview Middle School in San Bernardino was sentenced this morning to 120 months in federal prison for attempting to entice a 13-year old girl in New Jersey to engage in sexual activity. 

Eugene Ballantyne, 30, of Running Springs, California, pleaded guilty in July 2012 to one count of attempting to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity. Ballantyne met the 13-year old New Jersey minor over the internet and began soliciting child pornography images from the minor.  Acting with a federal search warrant, authorities seized Ballantyne’s computer, which revealed that Ballantyne had online relationships with several minors in which he obtained child pornography from them. One of these minors was Ballantyne’s former student.  According to prosecutors, Ballantyne posed as an 18-year old in order to convince the 15-year old student to send him sexually explicit photographs.  Ballantyne also admitted to traveling to Blythe, California to have sexual intercourse with a 17-year old minor that he met on the internet.

During the sentencing hearing, Chief Judge George H. King stated that Ballantyne committed the acts in a “callous manner” and described the need for the sentence to deter other internet predators. 

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with significant assistance from the South Brunswick, New Jersey, Police Department.  The San Bernardino County Unified School District also cooperated with the investigation.

CONTACT:        Assistant United States Attorney Jerry Yang (951) 276-6221

California Department of Justice / Release No. 14-018 / February 10, 2014 


Filed under: California Appeals Attorney, California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:17 am

SANTA ANA - A man was convicted today of the double-murder of a Stanton sales associate and his longtime secretary. Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 42, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury 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.

As the District Attorney is seeking the death penalty in this case, the trial will now move to the second phase, the penalty phase. In the penalty phase, the same jury who found the defendant guilty of the crimes will consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the evidence to determine the defendants penalty, death or life without the possibility of parole. Opening statements in the penalty phase are expected to begin, Feb. 18, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

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 Palmers Lexus sedan and fled the scene.                                               (more…)

February 11, 2014

New Indictment Stemming from Civil Rights Investigation into L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Alleges Two Deputies Abused Inmate

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:42 am

LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies who were assigned to the Men’s Central Jail have been indicted on federal civil rights charges that accuse them of illegally using force against an inmate, and then attempting to cover up the incident with false reports that formed the basis of a false prosecution initiated against the victim.

A federal grand jury late yesterday returned a four-count indictment against two deputies who were assigned to the 3000 floor of the jail.

The indictment charges Joey Aguiar, 26, and Mariano Ramirez, 38. Both men will be issued summonses directing them appear in federal court for arraignments on March 6.

According to the indictment, Aguiar and Ramirez illegally used force against the victim – who is identified in the indictment as “BP” – during an incident in the jail on February 11, 2009. While the victim was handcuffed and secured with a “waist chain,” the deputies allegedly punched and kicked the victim before using pepper spray on him. The defendants also are accused of striking him with flashlight.                                                      (more…)

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