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November 21, 2013

Three Investment Advisors Sentenced in California for $1 Billion High-yield Investment Fraud

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:39 am

Three former investment advisers were sentenced on Nov. 19, 2013 for their roles in attempting to defraud a wealthy investor of $1 billion through a high-yield investment fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California made the announcement.

William J. Ferry, a former stock broker and investment advisor; Dennis J. Clinton, a former real estate investment manager; and Paul R. Martin, a former senior vice president and managing director of Bankers Trust, were convicted on July 31, 2012, of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud.   The investor they attempted to defraud was, in reality, part of an undercover FBI team that posed as wealthy investors and investment managers to stop fraudsters before they actually harmed victims.

Ferry, 71, of Newport Beach, Calif., was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison.  Clinton, 65, of San Diego, Calif., was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison.   Martin, 64, of New Jersey, was sentenced to 30 months in prison.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:35 am

NEWPORT BEACH – A University of California, Irvine (UCI) student was charged today for carrying a loaded firearm on campus. Manas Moole Reddy, 28, Irvine, is charged with one felony count each of possessing a loaded firearm on a college campus, unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.  If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison. He is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Dec. 2, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-2, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2013, Reddy is accused of standing near a tree just north of Steinhaus Hall Service Road on the campus of UCI. The defendant is accused of carrying a shoulder bag across the front of his chest and clutching a firearm inside the bag with his left hand. Student Jane Doe walked past the defendant and observed the firearm in his open bag and contacted UCI Police Department (UCIPD).

UCIPD officers arrived and arrested the defendant, who is accused of possessing a revolver loaded with six bullets.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 13HF3462 / November 19, 2013

Former Animal Planet Television Host Pleads Guilty to Selling Endangered Wildlife

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:33 am

LOS ANGELES - Donald Schultz, 35, of Playa Vista, the former host of Animal Planet’s “Wild Recon” television show, pleaded guilty today in federal court to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act by offering to sell, and selling, two live desert monitor lizards (Varanus griseus) in interstate commerce.

In the plea agreement filed this week, defendant Schultz admitted that on July 29, 2010, he sold the two live desert monitor lizards to an undercover agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who was posing as a prospective buyer.  After meeting with the undercover agent at his residence to finalize the deal, defendant Schultz agreed to ship the two live desert monitors from Los Angeles to Buffalo, New York, via airplane.  A federal agent then received the monitors in New York and took them into custody.

Defendant Schultz had never been issued a permit to sell the two lizards.  Desert monitor lizards are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant Schultz has agreed to recommend that he pay a fine of $6,000, restitution of $3,000, and to perform 200 hours of community service, among other things.


November 20, 2013

Nursing Home Operator to Pay $48 Million to Resolve Allegations That Six California Facilities Billed for Unnecessary Therapy

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:26 am

The Ensign Group Inc., a skilled nursing provider based in Mission Viejo, Calif., that operates nursing homes across the western U.S. has agreed to pay $48 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly submitted to Medicare false claims for medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services, the Justice Department announced today. Six of Ensign’s skilled nursing facilities in California allegedly submitted the false claims:  Atlantic Memorial Healthcare Center, located in Long Beach; Panorama Gardens, located in Panorama City; The Orchard Post-Acute Care (a.k.a. Royal Court), located in Whittier; Sea Cliff Healthcare Center, located in Huntington Beach; Southland, located in Norwalk; and Victoria Care Center, located in Ventura.

“Skilled nursing facilities that place their own financial interests above the needs of their patients will be held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “We will continue to advocate for the appropriate use of Medicare funds and the proper care of our senior citizens.”

Between January 1, 1999, and August 31, 2011, these six Ensign skilled nursing facilities allegedly submitted false claims to the government for physical, occupational and speech therapy services provided to Medicare beneficiaries that were not medically necessary.  Specifically, Ensign provided therapy to patients whose conditions and diagnoses did not warrant it, solely to increase its reimbursement from Medicare.  The government further alleged that Ensign created a corporate culture that improperly incentivized therapists and others to increase the amount of therapy provided to patients to meet planned targets for Medicare revenue.  These targets were set without regard to patients’ individual therapy needs and could only be achieved by billing at the highest reimbursement levels.  The government also alleged that Ensign billed for inflated amounts of therapy it had not provided and that certain patients were kept in these facilities for periods of time exceeding what was medically necessary for treatment of their conditions.

“The case against The Ensign Group involves a company that regularly bilked Medicare by submitting inflated bills that, in some cases, sought money for services that simply were never provided to patients,” said U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte Jr.  “This settlement – one of the largest Medicare fraud cases against a nursing home chain in U.S. history – demonstrates our commitment to protecting taxpayers who fund important programs that benefit millions of Americans, but don’t want to see their hard-earned money wasted on fraud or abuse.”


Pomona Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Federal Weapons and Drug Offenses in Deal Expected to Bring Sentence of up to 17½ Years

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 12:23 am

LOS ANGELES – A Pomona man pleaded guilty today to a federal drug trafficking charge for possessing more than one-half pound of methamphetamine that he was planning to distribute.

Raymond Anthony Montanez, 24, pleaded guilty today to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Montanez pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on February 10. As part of the plea agreement that led to this morning’s guilty pleas, prosecutors and Montanez agree that he will be sentenced to at least 10 years in federal prison and up to 17½ years in custody. The actual sentence will be determined by Judge Gutierrez next year.

Authorities recovered 243.7 grams of methamphetamine from Montanez’s residence on July 29, 2012 after he had shot himself in the leg and was brought to the hospital for treatment. Pomona Police Officers investigating the incident responded to his residence, recovered the weapon that Montanez used to shoot himself, found two other firearms, and discovered the narcotics.


Former Funeral Home Employee Pleads to Theft of Human Remains, Other Counts

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:19 am

A former apprentice embalmer accused of taking gold crowns from human remains at a Lancaster funeral home pleaded no contest and was immediately sentenced today, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney John Evans said Pete Jacob Lara, 39, pleaded to seven felony counts – one count each of possession of methamphetamine and removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, and five counts of commercial burglary.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Christopher Estes of the Antelope Valley Branch Office sentenced Lara to seven years in state prison to be served in local custody.

Lara additionally was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that provides programs and services to military veterans wounded in combat as they transition to civilian life.


November 19, 2013

Lancaster Man Charged in 2008 Sword Killing Scheduled to be Arraigned

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:50 am

A 34-year-old man charged in the 2008 sword-killing of his girlfriend is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Jesus Humberto Canales (dob 10/01/79) is expected to appear for arraignment in Department A1 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch.

Canales is charged with one count of murder for the alleged killing of his girlfriend Lucy Preciado, 26, a mother of four. The charge includes a special allegation of personal use of a deadly and dangerous weapon, a sword. The defendant also is charged with four counts of child abuse.

Canales allegedly killed Preciado on July 12, 2008, at the couple’s Lancaster apartment in front of their children. Case MA042795 was filed four days later.


November 18, 2013

Northern California Couple Indicted for Filing False Claims for Refunds and for Filing Liens Against the IRS

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 5:39 am

CommissionerRobert Eldon Robertson and his wife Esther Lynne Robertson of Manteca, Calif., were indicted on charges of filing two false claims for federal tax refunds, filing liens against the former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner and impeding the administration of federal tax laws, the Justice Department and IRS announced today.  The indictment was unsealed yesterday in the Eastern District of California.

According to the indictment, the Robertsons filed two false federal income tax returns claiming large refunds based on fictitious Form 1099-OID withholdings: one for tax year 2005 claiming a $90,538 refund and one for 2007 claiming a $313,248 refund.  The indictment also charges each of the Robertsons with filing a false lien against the property of the IRS commissioner for “a sum certain amount determined as triple the stated amount of any purported determination of tax liability.”  According to the indictment, the Robertsons also sent a bogus “international promissory note” with a request that the IRS apply the purported $800,000 face value of the note towards their outstanding tax liabilities.  The IRS also received a letter containing credit card bills belonging to the Robertsons asking the IRS to pay nearly $20,000 worth of their credit card debt.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  If convicted, the Robertsons face a maximum of five years in prison for each false claim count, three years for the obstruction count and 10 years for the count of filing false liens.

The case was investigated by both IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ignacio Perez de la Cruz of the department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Segal in the Eastern District of California.

California Department of Justice / 13-1223 Tax Division / November 15, 2013


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:36 am

SANTA ANA - A man was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for murdering his estranged wife by shooting her nine times in the chest after following her from work. John Rand Agosta, 37, Anaheim, was found guilty by a jury June 17, 2013, of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death.

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on June 16, 2011, Agosta was armed with a firearm and waited outside of his estranged wife’s work in his Ford Mustang. The 28-year-old victim, Alejandra Hernandez, worked at a pre-school in the Turtle Rock area in Irvine.

When Hernandez left work for lunch and began to drive away, Agosta followed her in his car. Approximately half a mile from her work, Hernandez stopped her car in a cul-de-sac and got out.

Agosta murdered the victim by shooting her nine times in the chest. He got back into his vehicle, but was unable to start the engine. Agosta then got out of his car, went back to the victim’s body, turned her over using his foot, and then fled the scene on foot. The Ford Mustang, which is registered to the defendant, was left at the scene.


Former Teacher Pleads to Sexually Molesting 23 Children

Filed under: Los Angeles sexual assault attorney — fayarfa @ 5:33 am

District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that former LAUSD Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt pleaded no contest to sexually molesting 23 children between 2005 and 2010.

Berndt, 62, entered his plea before Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli and was immediately sentenced to 25 years in state prison under terms of the negotiated plea.

“A school ought to be one of the safest places in America. This plea spares these young victims the anguish of testifying at a trial and sends an unmistakable message to those who would dare take advantage of our children that justice will prevail,” D.A. Lacey said.

Deputy District Attorneys Alison Meyers and Gloria Marin with the Sex Crimes Division prosecuted the case.


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