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December 5, 2013

Federal Agents Arrest Operators of Loan Modification Scam That Targeted Struggling Homeowners

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:48 am

Federal agents arrested yesterday Bryan D’Antonio, 47, of Brea, Calif., and Charles Wayne Farris, 53, of Aliso Viejo, Calif., for operating the Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group, businesses that allegedly offered bogus loan modification assistance to struggling homeowners.  Attorney Ronald Rodis, 49, of Irvine, Calif., surrendered today to federal agents on charges alleging that he participated in, and lent his name and the law license he formerly possessed to, the fraudulent operation.  All three defendants were named in a federal indictment unsealed yesterday following an investigation by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

According to the indictment, as a result of the scheme run by D’Antonio, Farris and Rodis, more than 1,800 financially distressed homeowners lost a total of at least $12 million in fees they paid to the companies.  Many homeowners also lost their homes to foreclosure.  During a nine month period that began in October 2008, the Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group allegedly defrauded distressed homeowners by making false promises and guarantees regarding the companies’ ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders, falsely representing that a “team of attorneys” would represent the homeowners and advising homeowners to cease making their mortgage payments.

“These arrests send a strong message to those who would prey on vulnerable homeowners during these tough financial times,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “If you defraud homeowners, you will be found and brought to justice.”

The Rodis Law Group, and its successor company, America’s Law Group, allegedly advertised loan modification assistance on radio stations nationwide.  According to the indictment, many of these radio advertisements featured Rodis’ voice telling homeowners that a “team of experienced attorneys,” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance,” would negotiate with mortgage lenders.  Sales staff hired and trained by Farris and D’Antonio allegedly told interested homeowners that Rodis Law Group was “100% successful,” “routinely lowered monthly payments” and obtained reduced principal balances.  According to the indictment, once the defendants and their co-conspirators convinced homeowners to pay a fee of several thousand dollars, little to no effort was made to obtain loan modifications.  After making their payments, homeowners who tried to get updates on the status of their cases were often unable to contact anyone at either company.

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BUSINESS OWNER CHARGED WITH $120,000 INSURANCE AND TAX FRAUD AND FAILING TO PAY EMPLOYEES PREVAILING WAGE ON PUBLIC WORKS CONTRACTS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:44 am

SANTA ANA – An Orange County business owner was arraigned today on charges of committing over $120,000 in tax and insurance fraud and failing to pay employees prevailing wage for work performed on two public works contracts. Shamseddin Hashemi-Mousavi, 61, Irvine, is charged with 48 felony counts including taking and receiving a portion of worker’s wage on public works, attempted taking and receiving a portion of worker’s wage on public works, forgery, recording false and forged instruments, willful failure to pay tax, and misrepresenting facts to workers’ compensation insurance company. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 44 years and six months in state prison. Hashemi-Mousavi is being held on $120,000 bail and faces a pre-trial hearing Dec. 10, 2013, in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime Hashemi-Mousavi is accused of owning AAA-HVAC, an Orange County-based heating and air conditioning business.

Between 2009 and 2012, the defendant is accused of applying for and receiving two public works contracts in Los Angeles County.  For these projects, the defendant is accused of fraudulently paying several of his employees less than prevailing wage in cash or by check and keeping the extra money owed to his employees for himself.

The defendant is accused of forging, falsifying, and submitting bank records to fraudulently show that his employees had been paid prevailing wage. He is accused of willfully failing to pay his premium insurance tax and tax to the Employment Development Department. In all, the defendant is accused of committing over $120,000 in insurance and tax fraud.

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December 4, 2013

Suspect in Hostage Standoff Charged with Attempted Murder of Police Officers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:40 am

A 45-year-old Inglewood man suspected of shooting and injuring a police officer during a hostage standoff in Inglewood last week was charged today with multiple counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, kidnapping and child abuse, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Christopher Warsaw (dob 7-19-68) is scheduled to be arraigned after 1:30 p.m. today at the Los Angeles Superior Court, Inglewood Branch, in Department 5. He was charged in case YA088998 with 26 felony counts, including 10 counts of attempted murder of a peace officer or firefighter, 10 counts of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm, one count of kidnapping, one count of child abuse, two counts of false imprisonment of a hostage, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of making criminal threats.

Warsaw was arrested Nov. 27 after allegedly holding his girlfriend and her daughter hostage for more than eight hours inside a residence in the 10700 block of 5th Avenue, authorities said. During the standoff, Warsaw allegedly opened fire on police, shooting one Inglewood officer in the chest.

Police said the officer was saved by his bulletproof vest.                             (more…)

December 3, 2013

CVS’ Caremark Will Pay $4.25 Million for Allegedly Denying Medicaid Claims for Reimbursement of Prescription Drug Costs

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:42 am

Caremark LLC, a pharmacy benefit management company (PBM), will pay the government and five states a total of $4.25 million to settle allegations that it knowingly failed to reimburse Medicaid for prescription drug costs paid on behalf of Medicaid beneficiaries, who also were eligible for drug benefits under Caremark-administered private health plans, the Justice Department announced today.  Caremark is operated by CVS Caremark Corp., one of the largest PBMs and retail pharmacies in the country.  A PBM administers and manages the drug benefits for clients who offer drug benefits under a health insurance plan.

Under the terms of the agreement, the government will receive approximately $2.31 million.  In addition, five states—Arkansas, California, Delaware, Louisiana and Massachusetts—will share $1.94 million.

“It is vitally important that cash-strapped Medicaid programs receive reimbursement for costs they incur that should have been paid for by other insurers,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “We will take action against those who seek to gain at the expense of Medicaid or other federal health care programs.”

Caremark served as the PBM for private health plans that insured a number of individuals receiving prescription drug benefits under both a Caremark-administered plan and Medicaid.  When an individual is covered by both Medicaid and a private health plan, the individual is called a “dual eligible.”  Under the law, the private insurer, rather than the government, must assume the costs of health care for dual eligibles.  If Medicaid erroneously pays for the prescription claim of a dual eligible, Medicaid is entitled to seek reimbursement from the private insurer or its PBM, in this case Caremark.

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L.A. Man Pleads Guilty to Two Murders

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:40 am

A 55-year-old car salesman pleaded guilty today to murdering two women he once dated, one whose body was dumped in Mexico and the other whose body was never recovered, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Aurangzeb “Simon” Manjra pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Esperanza “Espy” Torio, 39, whose dismembered body he dumped in Mexico in August 1996. Manjra, a Los Angeles resident, also pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Maria Theresa Santos, 44, who was last seen alive in October 2004. Her remains have not been recovered.

Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian with the Major Crimes Division said Manjra is facing 25 years to life in prison for his plea when he returns to court on Jan. 29, 2014, for sentencing before Judge George G. Lomeli.

“We are pleased that this plea secures justice and closure for the families of the two victims,” Balian sai

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December 2, 2013

FORMER SUPPLIERS OF BEEF TO NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM SETTLE ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER PRACTICES AND MISTREATING COWS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:20 am

WASHINGTON—Several California companies and individuals that formerly supplied beef to the National School Lunch Program have agreed to settle allegations of inhumane handling of cattle, circumventing appropriate inspection of nonambulatory disabled (“downer”) cattle and false representations regarding their eligibility to process beef, the Justice Department announced today.  The announcement follows approval of the last of these settlements by a California probate court.

The settlements will conclude a lawsuit initiated by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA) after an HSUS investigator videotaped alleged inhumane cattle handling and improper downer cattle inspection practices at the slaughterhouse and meat processing facility of Westland Meat Co. and Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in Chino, Calif.  The government later joined the lawsuit and brought additional claims that the defendants concealed their ineligibility to process beef because a convicted felon, Aaron “Arnie” Magidow, was a partner in and otherwise responsibly connected with the facility’s operations.  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations applicable to suppliers of the National School Lunch Program prohibit the inhumane handling of cattle, require the proper inspection and disposition of downer cattle and require suppliers to identify convicted felons who are responsibly connected to the suppliers’ operations.

“The contractors who supply beef and other meat products to schools and child-care facilities have a responsibility to provide our nation’s young people with products that come only from healthy and humanely handled animals,” said André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.  “This settlement holds accountable businesses that mistreated cows on a regular basis and routinely evaded a critically important USDA inspection procedure that allowed ‘downer cows’ to be processed into food.”

“Children across the country depend on the National School Lunch Program to provide them with a healthy meal each day, so we all depend on companies providing food to the program to follow the rules designed to ensure those meals are safe to eat,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “The Justice Department will pursue aggressively anyone whose unlawful conduct puts the safety of our food at risk.

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SELF-APPOINTED PASTOR/BIBLE STUDY LEADER CONVICTED OF SEXUALLY ASSAULTING TWO YOUNG MALE RELATIVES

Filed under: Los Angeles sexual assault attorney — fayarfa @ 4:16 am

WESTMINSTER – A self-appointed pastor who hosted regular “church” meetings and Bible studies in his Westminster home was convicted today of sexually assaulting two young male relatives beginning when the victims were 12 years old. James Ray Guerrero, 54, Westminster, was found guilty by a jury of eight felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, one felony count of distributing pornography to a minor, and sentencing enhancement allegations for substantial sexual conduct with a child and lewd acts on more than one child. He faces a maximum sentence of 123 years to life in state prison at his sentencing Feb. 14, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. in Department W-16, West Justice Center, Westminster.

John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 regularly attended Guerrero’s Bible study meetings in his Westminster home. Guerrero groomed the victims by frequently having the victims in his home and showing them pornographic movies.

Between January 2006 and December 2007, Guerrero sexually assaulted John Doe #1 on two occasions when the victim was 12 to 13 years old. The defendant invited John Doe #1 to his home and masturbated the victim.

Between late 2005 and early 2007, Guerrero molested John Doe #2 in his Westminster home on several occasions when the victim was 12 years old, including masturbation, sexual touching, and attempted sodomy.

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November 29, 2013

Former Insurance Agent Charged in Financial Elder Abuse Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:05 am

A former insurance agent pleaded not guilty today to allegations that he illegally withdrew more than $100,000 from an insurance annuity he sold to an elderly relative, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Kinney of the Elder Abuse Section said Myles Seishin Hanashiro, 47 (dob 8/11/66), of Orange is charged in case BA418519 with four felony counts of theft from an elder or dependent adult.

The complaint includes special allegations that the defendant took property exceeding $65,000 and that these are prison-eligible offenses. The case was filed for warrant on Nov. 19.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba scheduled the next hearing for Jan. 8, 2014, in Department 37 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

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November 28, 2013

Reseda man sentenced in girlfriend’s killing

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:51 am

A man convicted of killing his girlfriend at their Reseda apartment was sentenced today to state prison, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Sharon Ransom of the Van Nuys Branch Office said James Howard Jr., 23, was sentenced to 56 years to life.

Howard was convicted on Sept. 25 of the first-degree murder of Sharilit Matthews, 41. Jurors found true a special allegation that the defendant used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a knife, in the commission of the offense.

The jury also found true an allegation that Howard had a prior strike conviction for a robbery in 2009.

At today’s hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Brandolino denied a motion for a new trial.

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November 27, 2013

Former United Airlines Flight Attendant Sentenced to Federal Prison for Making Bogus Bomb Threats Aimed at his Former Employer

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:34 am

LOS ANGELES—A German national who used to work for United Airlines was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison for making false bomb threats against flights operated by the international air carrier Patrick Cau, who is also known as Patrick Kaiser, 40, of Dallas, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II.

Cau pleaded guilty in August to one count of false information and hoaxes. While Cau pleaded guilty to one felony count, in a plea agreement filed in federal court, he admitted making eight bomb threats against United from October 2012 through January 2013.

In the first phone call, on October 4, 2012, Cau used a pay phone near his home to call an internal United crew scheduling number and state that a United flight from London to Los Angeles would be bombed later that day. Cau made the subsequent calls to 911 from pay phones in Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas and Seattle, with all of the calls stating that a specific United flight would be bombed.

As a result of the hoaxes, multiple law enforcement agencies were forced to respond to the bomb threats made by Cau. These law enforcement responses included evacuating people from the targeted airplanes; towing the aircraft to a safe area; searching and re-screening passengers, baggage and cargo; and searching the aircraft by human, canine and other detection methods.

As a direct result of Cau’s threats, United experienced substantial disruption to its business operations and services, including cancellation of and delays to flights, transfer of aircraft, and significant inconveniences to United passengers. Judge Wright today ordered Cau to pay $304,495 in restitution to United and $8,838 to reimburse the Los Angeles Police Department for expenses incurred as a result its response to the bomb threats.

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