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February 7, 2014

California Woman Sentenced in Fraudulent Tax Refund Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:46 am

U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen sentenced Noemi Rubio Baez, of Salinas, Calif., to serve 30 months in prison for her involvement in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme, Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally for the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag for the Northern District of California announced that today.  Baez was also ordered to serve three years supervised release and to pay $703,536.86 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Baez pleaded guilty on Oct. 31, 2013, to conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds with the IRS and to aggravated identity theft.

According to the plea agreement, beginning around Feb. 28, 2008, and continuing through April 16, 2012, Baez and a co-conspirator participated in a scheme to obtain and help others to obtain false claims from the IRS by electronically filing false federal income tax returns in her own name and in the names of others.  Baez and her co-conspirator created false income information in the names and Social Security numbers of multiple individuals, and filed materially false tax returns with the IRS that claimed refunds derived from tax credits including the Earned Income Credit, the Additional Child Tax Credit and the Making Work Pay Credit.

According to court documents, in some instances, the taxpayers requested the returns be prepared, but in others, the taxpayers did not provide Baez or her co-conspirator with their personal identification information and were unaware that the returns had been filed in their names.  Baez and her co-conspirator filed more than 150 false and fraudulent returns with false claims totaling more than $400,000.

Assistant Attorney General Keneally and U.S. Attorney Haag thanked special agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Charles O’Reilly, Erin S. Mellen and Sonia M. Owens for the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.                                                (more…)

Florida Man Charged in Federal Counterfeit Case for Trafficking Bogus Automotive Devices ‘Reverse Engineered’ in China

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:43 am

LOS ANGELES – A Florida man was charged today with trafficking in counterfeit electronic engine control devices manufactured and marketed by a Southern California company for use in modified Honda and Acura vehicles.

Marc Heera, 24, of Sunrise, Florida, was charged with one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, an offense that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The charge is contained in a criminal information filed this morning in United States District Court.

Federal prosecutors today also filed a plea agreement in which Heera agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense of selling counterfeit circuit boards that are installed in engine control units to boost performance. In the plea agreement, Heera admits that he reverse-engineered, manufactured, advertised and sold approximately 86 counterfeit Hondata “K-Pro” and “S300” devices, which are aftermarket devices manufactured and sold by the Torrance-based Hondata, Inc.

In the plea agreement, Heera admits that, beginning in 2009, he arranged for Hondata’s K-Pro and S300 devices to be reverse-engineered. Investigators believe that Heera had the devices reverse engineered in China and he then paid an unknown Chinese company to build some of the devices. Heera also manufactured counterfeit circuit boards at his workplace, which contained Hondata’s proprietary software. The counterfeit devices bore Hondata’s trademarked name, as well as counterfeit serial numbers. Heera also admitted creating counterfeit packaging, labels, instructions and compact discs for the devices.                                                    (more…)


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:39 am

SANTA ANA – A man has been charged with the stabbing-murder of a 17-year-old woman in Yorba Linda. Larry Soo Shin, 35, Yorba Linda, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder while lying in wait and faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. The defendant is being held without bail and is expected to be arraigned today, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 2014, Shin is accused of communicating with 17-year-old Aubreyanna Sade Parks and asking her to meet him in Yorba Linda. After the victim arrived, Shin is accused of stabbing and murdering her and leaving her body on a greenbelt in a residential area in Yorba Linda.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is investigating this case, and the investigation is ongoing.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # TBA / February 06, 2014

February 6, 2014

Two Men Convicted of Federal Charges in Killing of Coast Guard Officer during Operation Targeting Drug Smuggling Boat

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

LOS ANGELES—Two Mexican nationals were found guilty today of federal charges related to the death of a Coast Guard officer who was fatally injured in late 2012 when he was thrown from a Coast Guard vessel that was rammed by a “panga” boat operated by defendants.

Following a seven-day trial, a federal jury convicted one of the defendants of second-degree murder in the death of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who died while his boat was attempting to interdict the panga boat near Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park.

The two men found guilty today are:

Jose Meija-Leyva, 42, of Ensenada, who was found guilty of murder, as well as two counts of failure to heave to and four counts of assaulting federal officers with a deadly and dangerous weapon; and

Manuel Beltran-Higuera, 44, of Ensenada, who also was convicted in the two counts of failure to heave to (as an accessory after the fact in one count and as an aider and abettor in the second count) and in the four counts of assault (as an accessory after the fact).                                                            (more…)

Founders of Bankrupt Real Estate Investment Firm Indicted in Wide-Ranging Scheme that Led to Over $110 Million in Losses

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

SANTA ANA, California – The owners of a now-defunct Southern California real estate investment firm were arrested today for allegedly perpetrating a Ponzi scheme that ended with the bankruptcy of their company and caused private investors and banks collectively to lose well over $110 million when the scheme collapsed.

Michael Stewart, 66, of Phoenix, and John Packard, 63, of Long Beach, California, were arrested this morning without incident by special agents with the FBI. The two men were named last month in a 16-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury. The two men each face 11 counts of mail fraud, three counts of bank fraud, and two counts of bankruptcy fraud.

Stewart and Packard owned and were the chief executives of Pacific Property Assets (PPA), which had offices in Long Beach and Irvine. The two men created PPA in 1999 to purchase, renovate, operate, and resell or refinance apartment complexes in Southern California and Arizona. Typically, PPA financed property acquisitions through mortgages, and it raised money from private investors to pay for renovations to the properties. After several years, PPA would usually refinance (or sometimes sell) each property.

Although PPA’s apartment rental operations were not profitable, it was able to raise cash through refinancing. As real estate values were generally increasing until approximately 2007, the properties were refinanced at ever-higher values, which enabled PPA to use the extra refinancing proceeds to not only pay off the original mortgages, but also to make payments on other loans, make payments to investors, to pay other business expenses, and to pay Stewart and Packard. In its 10 years of operations, PPA acquired more than 100 real estate properties and raised tens of millions of dollars from hundreds of investors. Stewart and Packard paid themselves annual salaries of $400,000 to $750,000, and each received millions of dollars in additional payments.                                                          (more…)

W.R. Grace Pays Over $63 Million Toward Cleanup and Restoration of Hazardous Waste Sites in Communities Across the Country

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

W.R. Grace & Co, based in Columbia, Md., paid over $63 million to the U.S. government under its bankruptcy plan of reorganization to resolve claims for environmental cleanups at approximately 39 sites in 21 states, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.

“Communities across the United States will benefit from this payment of present and future cleanup costs,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “The Justice Department is committed to holding polluters responsible for their environmental legacy, and won’t just walk away leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.”

“Cleaning up toxic pollution in communities is the responsibility of the company that created it, not the American taxpayer,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “This money will be used to clean up contaminated sites and to make a tangible difference for local communities across the country.”

W.R. Grace’s payment includes approximately $54 million for the EPA.  The company agreed to pay another $9 million to other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Army.                                                                       (more…)

February 5, 2014

Woodland Hills Woman Ordered to Stand Trial for Mother’s Murder

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:35 am

A 25-year-old woman was ordered to stand trial today for the fatal shooting of her mother in Woodland Hills, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Laura L. Purviance was held to answer to one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait following a preliminary hearing presided by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Kellogg.

Purviance will be arraigned on Feb. 18 in Department E of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

The defendant allegedly shot and killed her 61-year-old mother, Caroline Purviance, on Feb. 13, 2013.

The felony complaint, case LA073342, also alleges that Purviance personally and intentionally discharged a handgun.

The special circumstance allegation makes this a potential death penalty case. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / case LA073342 / February 04, 2014

Drug counselor convicted of murder, DUI in death of pedestrian

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:33 am

A substance abuse counselor was convicted today of second-degree murder for the 2012 death of a pedestrian who was embedded in her windshield as she continued to drive for two miles, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.


A jury of five men and seven women also found Sherri Lynn Wilkins, 52, guilty of DUI causing injury, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher and leaving the scene of an accident. Phillip Moreno, 31, was walking on Torrance Boulevard near Madrid Avenue when he was struck by a car driven by Wilkins. Wilkins finally was forced to stop after witnesses surrounded her car at Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street and detained her until police arrived. She was arrested following the Nov. 24, 2012 accident.


Deputy District Attorneys John Harlan and Saman Ahmadpour, who prosecuted the case, said Wilkins consciously disregarded her victim as a human being.


“As she unsealed each container of alcohol, she unleashed death on Phillip Moreno,” Harlan argued in closing argument.                                       (more…)

February 4, 2014


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

SANTA ANA – An attorney was convicted today of stealing over $780,00 from nine victims, including over $720,000 from his client trust account from two elderly sisters after offering to assist them with their finances. Peter David Nitschke, 47, Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer to six felony counts of grand theft, two felony counts of elder financial abuse, and one felony count of issuing a check with non-sufficient funds, with white collar crime sentencing enhancements. He is expected to be sentenced to up to 12 years in state prison at his sentencing April 4, 2014, in Department C-37, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

In March 2010, the 95-year-old mother of 69-year-old Virginia C. and mother-in-law of 65-year-old Diane C. died, leaving the women a property in Northern California and over $675,000 in bank accounts.

Nitschke, a then-Irvine-based attorney, was friends with the victims’ family and was president of their church congregation, the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Laguna Woods. The defendant offered to help Diane C. and Virginia C. settle the financial accounts and directed them to give him cashier’s checks in the amount of all the funds left to them in the bank accounts by their mother/mother-in-law.

He stole over $675,000 from the victims by depositing the money in his client trust and then almost immediately transferring the money his personal and business bank accounts. The defendant also stole an additional $46,000 from the victims by failing to return the funds to them from a real estate transaction. Nitschke then spent the money or hid it by moving it into other accounts.                                                   (more…)


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

SANTA ANA – A drunken driver is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for murder after driving into oncoming traffic and crashing head-on into a minivan driven by a mother of three children. William Joseph Carroll, 47, Mission Viejo, is charged with one felony count of murder. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life if convicted. The People will request he be held on $1 million bail at his arraignment tomorrow, Feb. 4, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At approximately 11:30 p.m. on May 7, 2013, Carroll is accused of driving a pickup truck while under the influence of alcohol in Mission Viejo. He is accused of making a left turn from El Toro Road onto Rancho Santa Margarita Parkway and driving southbound in the northbound lanes. Carroll is accused of driving approximately one-third of a mile into oncoming traffic before slamming head-on into a minivan being driven by 36-year-old Ana Martinez.

The victim was alone in the car and died as a result of the impact of the collision. The victim is survived by her husband and three children, ages 2, 7, and 15.

Carroll displayed objective signs of intoxication and had a blood alcohol content of .21 percent approximately one hour after the collision.                                                 (more…)

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