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March 18, 2014


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

SANTA ANA – Grand jury transcripts were unsealed today in an indictment against a father and son for embezzling over $300,000 from employee wages on public works jobs. Daniel Jacob Siapin, 58, and his son Gabriel Daniel Siapin, 35, both of La Habra Heights, were indicted by the Orange County Grand Jury on Feb. 25, 2014, on 28 felony counts of taking and receiving a portion of worker’s wage on public works with a sentencing enhancement for property loss over $200,000. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 24 years in state prison. The defendants are out of custody with $120,000 placed in a trust account in lieu of bail and are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing May 2, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Daniel Siapin owned Siapin Horticulture, a landscaping, irrigation, and maintenance company, which he ran with his son Gabriel Siapin.

The defendants are accused of violating the law on a public works job, which requires a minimum “prevailing wage” be paid to workers. Prevailing wage consists of a base salary and “fringe benefits,” or benefits in addition to base pay such as vacation pay and pension money. Fringe benefits must be paid directly to the worker or may be put into a fund for later withdrawal by the worker if they do not work a full 40 hours a week.

The California Labor Commissioner’s office and the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) received a complaint alleging underpayments of prevailing wages to workers on the Lakeside Middle School alterations project located in Lakeside, California.  In a collaborative effort, the California Labor Commissioner provided Orange County with evidence to support allegations of underpayments of fringe benefits to workers on three different projects, including Lakeside.                                     (more…)


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

SANTA ANA – A controller for a real estate company was convicted Friday of embezzling over $370,000 from her employer. Paula Rae Donnell, 54, Fullerton, was convicted in a court trial Friday, March 14, 2014, of one felony count of grand theft, five felony counts of filing a false tax return, and seven felony counts of filing a false statement, with sentencing enhancements for property loss over $200,000 and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. She faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison and is scheduled to be sentenced April 18, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

On June 3, 2002, Donnell was hired as the controller for Ultimate New Homes Sales & Marketing (UNHS). She was responsible for maintaining the company’s accounting records, calculating and writing payroll checks for employees, handling employee benefits and insurance, and interacting with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) related to unemployment or disability insurance issues with current or former UNHS employees. She earned a base salary and a closing bonus for each home that closed escrow.

Between 2004 and 2010, Donnell embezzled over $373,000 from UNHS, by creating false entries in the company’s check ledger to hide checks and online transfers made to the defendant, paying herself commissions as a sales agent even though she actually was not one, and paying herself the closing bonus far in excess of the company’s actual home sales closings per month. On one occasion, during the housing recession, UNHS closed escrow on 27 homes and Donnell paid herself bonuses on 100 homes closing in that month.

In 2007, Donnell stopped paying herself payroll with taxes withheld and instead paid herself as an independent contractor with no taxes withheld. On March 17, 2010, Donnell claimed that she had been laid off and filed five continued claims for unemployment benefits with EDD. In the next two months, she fraudulently stated she had earned no money during that time period despite continuing to receive money from UNHS. On June 2, 2010, Donnell resigned from her position at UNHS.                                             (more…)

March 17, 2014


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

SANTA ANA – An elementary school teacher is scheduled to be arraigned Monday for animal abuse after hoarding and improperly housing over 400 snakes. William Frederick Buchman, 53, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of animal abuse by a caretaker. If convicted, Buchman faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. He is out of custody on his own recognizance and is expected to be arraigned Monday, March 17, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 6:45 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2014, Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) Animal Services Section responded to complaints made by several neighbors around the residence concerning a foul smell coming from the house.

Buchman is accused of hoarding over 400 ball pythons inside his home and failing to properly care for them. He is accused of neglecting care for the snakes which led to the deaths of 240 pythons, which were at various stages of decomposition.

Buchman is accused of improperly caring for 182 snakes, which were still alive but malnourished, dehydrated, and covered with mites and/or maggots. He is s also accused of having hundreds of live and dead mice as food for the snakes.

Following the SAPD recovery of the 182 living pythons, 20 died shortly after being impounded, and the 162 remaining pythons were treated and released to rescue groups throughout Southern California (more…)


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:07 am

SANTA ANA – A man dubbed the “Snowboarder Bandit” was sentenced today to two years in state prison for committing robberies in nine Orange County banks. He was sentenced Feb. 3, 2014, to seven years and eight months in state prison in Riverside County. The sentences will be served consecutively. Michael Brandon Franks, 31, Riverside, pleaded guilty in the Orange County case, Nov. 7, 2013, to a court offer to 10 felony counts of second degree robbery and two felony counts of attempted second degree robbery.

Franks pleaded guilty in Riverside County on Feb. 3, 2014, to four felony counts of burglary, three felony counts of robbery, and two felony counts of attempted robbery.

The People argued today for a sentence of 12 years in state prison for the robberies he committed in Orange County.

Between Dec. 20, 2011, and March 21, 2012, Franks committed 10 robberies and two attempted robberies at nine different banks in Orange County. The bank chains included Bank of America in Anaheim, Chase Bank in Laguna Hills and Laguna Niguel, Citibank in Irvine, two robberies at the Schools First Federal Credit Union branch in Anaheim, Union Bank in Newport Beach, US Bank in Irvine and Ladera Ranch, and Wells Fargo in Irvine.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:58 am

SANTA ANA – A man was convicted today of pimping and pandering a woman after being stopped by undercover Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officers. Raphael Jared Scally, 27, Hesperia, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count each of pimping and pandering. Scally faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison at his sentencing April 25, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-43, Central Justice Center.

Co-defendant Darryl Da Keis Gillard, 27, Hemet, is charged with two felony counts each of pimping and pandering with a sentencing enhancement for crime-bail-crime, indicating that the defendant was out of custody on bail for another felony (2010 residential burglary case) at the time of the crime. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of nine years and four months in state prison and is scheduled for jury trial April 22, 2014, at 8:45 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center.

Co-defendant Christopher Robert Butler, 29, Moreno Valley, pleaded guilty Oct. 29, 2013, to one felony count of possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to one year and four months in state prison.

Circumstances of the Case (more…)

March 15, 2014

Pinkberry founder gets 7 years for beating panhandler

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 10:53 am

Judge sentences Young Lee, 49, to the maximum for his ‘horrendous’ tire-iron attack on a homeless man in Los Angeles.

The co-founder of frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for beating a homeless man with a tire iron, an attack a Los Angeles judge declared “fairly merciless” and “horrendous.”

Dressed in an orange, jail-issued jump suit, Young Lee stared straight ahead as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall handed down the maximum penalty the 49-year-old faced. A jury in November convicted Lee — who helped found Pinkberry in 2005 but is no longer involved with the company — of assault.

His attorney, Phillip Kent Cohen, had asked the judge for an evaluation to determine whether Lee’s case was legally “unusual” enough to warrant probation rather than prison time, a request he said was “not condoning anything, but trying to get a better understanding of the switch that turned on.”

But Hall refused, saying Lee’s crime showed “extreme violence” and a “high degree of cruelty.”

“What this case boils down to at the end of the day, is nothing more or nothing less than a savage attack on a defenseless person,” he said.


March 14, 2014


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:00 am

SANTA ANA – A jury determined today that a man should face the death penalty following his conviction for the double-murder of a Stanton sales associate and his longtime secretary. Hilbert Pineil Thomas, 42, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 11, 2014, 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.  He is scheduled to be formally sentenced April 25, 2014, 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 Palmer’s Lexus sedan and fled the scene.

The murders were investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), but a defendant was not immediately identified.


Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces 2 Arrests and Seizure of 400 Firearms

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:57 am

LOS ANGELES—Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the seizure of over 400 firearms and the arrest of two individuals who allegedly trafficked illegal firearms.

“California has laws that regulate the sales and purchase of firearms. These individuals broke the law by illegaly selling firearms for personal profit,” Attorney General Harris said. “The trafficking of firearms is a serious threat to public safety, and they will face serious consequences.”

Suspects Alvin Seal, 67, of Oildale (Kern County), and Erik Stoffel, 39, of Apple Valley (Riverside County) were arrested and taken into custody yesterday and booked into San Bernardino County Jail on charges of sale of an assault weapon, sale of a large capacity magazine and sale to a prohibited person. Seal remains in custody on $50,000 bail while Stoffel made bail this morning.

On Tuesday, March 11, agents with the California Department of Justice executed three search warrants at three locations at 13483 Cronese Rd., Apple Valley, 329 Beardsley Ave., Oildale, and 309 Beardsley Ave., Oildale.

The search of the three locations resulted in the seizure of over 350 firearms (handguns, rifles and assault weapons), two WWII-era grenades and one mortar round. At the time of the arrests the suspects were also in possession of an additional 50 firearms.

The arrests and seizures are the result of a investigation conducted by the California Attorney General’s Office that began in early 2014. According to investigative documents, Seal was an official vendor selling firearms at California gun shows and Stoffel was a co-conspirator during Seal’s attempts to complete firearms transactions at gun shows without going through a licensed firearms dealer, as required under state law. These transactions included assault weapons, which are banned in California. Over the course of the investigation, Seal and Stoffel illegally sold multiple firearms, including banned assault weapons, to undercover agents with the California Department of Justice. (more…)

Preliminary Hearing Set for Doctor, Two Associates Charged in Prescription Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:54 am

A Santa Monica physician and two associates are due in court this morning for their preliminary hearing on charges that they orchestrated an elaborate scheme to fill fraudulent prescriptions, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Dr. Daniel Shin (dob 6-24-65), his office manager, Thomas Mark Oseransky (dob 6-27-65), and a colleague, Dyno Travato West (dob 6-9-76), are scheduled to appear after 8:30 a.m. at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30. The defendants are charged in case No. BA421892.

All three have pleaded not guilty to 21 felony and five misdemeanor counts that range from conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by fraud, issuing false prescriptions, identity theft, possession of controlled substances and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Deputy District Attorneys Ryan Dibble and Emily Street of the Major Narcotics Division are prosecuting the case.


March 13, 2014


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:32 am

SANTA ANA – A man was charged today with attempted murder for shooting a victim and attempting to flee from law enforcement with a stolen vehicle. Julian St. John, 40, Orange, is charged with two felony counts of attempted murder, two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two felony counts of assault with a firearm, one felony count of shooting at an inhabited dwelling, one felony count of attempted false imprisonment by violence or deceit, one felony count of unlawful taking of vehicle, one felony count of evading while driving recklessly with sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, personal discharge of a firearm, personal use of a firearm, and great bodily injury. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 52 years to life in state prison. He is being held on $2 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

On the morning of March 9, 2014, St. John is accused of visiting the home of John Doe #1 in Dana Point. A second victim, John Doe #2, was also in the home. The defendant is accused of grabbing a crossbow, loading it with an arrow without an arrowhead, and shooting and hitting John Doe #1’s forehead. St. John is accused of then grabbing a fire extinguisher and hitting John Doe #1’s head with it several times. The defendant is accused of chasing John Doe #1 into the backyard and back into the residence.

The defendant is accused of taking out a firearm, shooting John Doe #1, and hitting one of the victim’s fingers. John Doe #1 ran into a bathroom and locked the door. The defendant is accused of firing a shot through the bathroom door and lodging a bullet in the wall. St. John is accused of threatening John Doe #2 with a firearm and fleeing the scene after stealing John Doe #1’s vehicle.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case, began to pursue the defendant heading southbound on the Interstate 5 (I-5). St. John is accused of exiting the I-5 and stopping his vehicle after the OCSD deputy pulled in front of him in a patrol vehicle. The defendant is accused of accelerating toward the deputy and back on to the I-5 and evading the deputy.


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