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April 12, 2018

Duarte Man Sentenced to Prison for Fatal Backyard Attack

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:50 am

A 42-year-old man was sentenced today to 91 years and eight months to life in state prison for killing his neighbor, shooting another and pointing a gun at several other individuals before fleeing from deputies, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Jan. 26, a jury convicted Luis Santillan Valdes of Duarte of seven felony counts in case GA099511: one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder and fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving and four counts of assault with a firearm.

Jurors also found true special allegations that the defendant personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, which caused great bodily injury and death during the crime.

Deputy District Attorney Vanessa Alfaro, who prosecuted the case, said on the evening of Aug. 19, 2016, victim Gabriel De La Torre invited his neighbor, Luis Santillan Valdes, and several others to drink alcohol in his backyard.

While drinking, Valdes was offended by a remark and became angry that the group was laughing at him, the prosecutor said. The defendant left, but returned with a gun and fatally shot De La Torre, 32. Valdes then pointed his gun at two other men, shooting at one of them, according to the prosecutor. As the defendant walked to the front of the house, he pointed his firearm at three other people, according to the prosecutor.

Following the incident, De La Torre’s family called 911 for help and Valdes fled the scene. When authorities arrived, they were briefed about the attack and given a description of the defendant’s car, the prosecutor added.

Law enforcement located Valdes as he was driving, but he refused to pull over his car, the prosecutor said. The defendant eventually stopped his vehicle on the 210 Freeway off-ramp in Azusa and was taken into custody.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Los Angeles District Attorney / case GA099511 / April 6, 2018

April 11, 2018

Southern California Federal Court Shuts Down Tax Return Preparer

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:18 am

A federal court in San Diego has permanently barred Melissa Lang (formerly known as Melissa Ann Vega) from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.  In its complaint, the government alleged that Melissa Lang operated tax return preparation businesses called “L&T Works” and “Lang Works, LLC” and fraudulently reduced her customers’ tax liabilities by improperly claiming a variety of deductions and education tax credits. Specifically, the government’s complaint alleged that Lang, of San Diego, California, caused to be filed returns that claimed fraudulent refunds of more than $9,000,000, which included approximately $7,020,020 in false education credits.  The complaint alleges that Lang filed, or caused to be filed though her associates and employees, approximately 4,194 false returns.

Lang agreed to the civil injunction order entered against her, which requires her to turn over to the United States a list of all principals, managers, employees, and independent contractors for Ms. Lang’s tax preparation businesses.  Lang has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims, tax evasion, and aggravated identity theft.

The IRS has a list of steps on their website that you can take now in anticipation of filing your 2017 federal income tax return and ten tips for choosing a tax preparer. Return preparer fraud was one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2018 and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has some information on their website about selecting a return preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers. (more…)

18-YEAR-OLD SKATEBOARDER CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED FORCIBLE RAPE AND SEXUAL BATTERY FOR ASSAULTING FEMALE JOGGERS IN IRVINE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:18 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An 18-year-old man was charged with attempted forcible rape and sexual battery for assaulting female joggers in Irvine.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Keenan Al-Sayed Ahmad, 18, Irvine Charged on April 3, 2018, with the following felony counts:

  • Attempted forcible rape
  • Assault with intent to commit a sexual offense
  • Sexual battery by restraint
  • (2) Sexual battery
Six years in state prison Continued Arraignment

June 4, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Department H-7, Harbor Justice Canter, Newport Beach

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Dec. 17, 2017, Ahmad is accused of groping Jane Doe 2’s buttocks as he rode past the jogger on his skateboard in Irvine. The victim later reported the incident to the Irvine Police Department (IPD).
  • On Dec. 18, 2017, the defendant is accused of riding his skateboard toward Jane Doe 1 and pushing her to the ground as she jogged.
  • Ahmad is further accused of covering the victim’s mouth and restraining her in an attempt to suppress her screams, then sexually assaulting her before fleeing the scene. (more…)

Man Charged with Stealing Police Vehicle, Fleeing Officers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:17 am

A Ventura County man was charged today with stealing a police vehicle and leading officers on a chase from Hollywood to the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Ethan Rutland (dob 9/19/89) faces one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly and driving or taking a law enforcement or fire department vehicle without consent.

Rutland is expected to be arraigned today in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in case BA467024. Prosecutors requested that bail be set at $150,000.

According to prosecutors, two Los Angeles Police Department officers were responding to a call of an unrelated suspect running from other officers on Vine Street toward Hollywood Boulevard just past 1 a.m. Friday. After they joined the foot pursuit, Rutland allegedly entered the patrol SUV and drove away, leading to a police chase.

The defendant allegedly drove the vehicle onto the northbound 101 Freeway and then exited in Woodland Hills, where officers stopped the SUV and arrested him, prosecutors said. (more…)

April 10, 2018

Attorney General Becerra Announces Shutdown of World’s Largest Online Sex Trafficking Website, Backpage.com

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

SACRAMENTO – Today, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the world’s largest online brothel, Backpage.com, and affiliated websites have been seized and shut down. The website’s closure follows a joint law enforcement effort involving the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ), United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, United States Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the office of the Texas Attorney General.

In August 2017, the CA DOJ commenced a criminal prosecution against the operators of Backpage.com in People of the State of California v. Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, & James Larkin. This case is being prosecuted in Sacramento County Superior Court.

“Last Friday, the world’s largest online brothel was taken down,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We welcome and salute the action of our federal partners to ensure that those who traffic young women and men online are held accountable, not just for their crimes in California but throughout the world. Our office will continue to work in partnership with federal and state law enforcement agencies to protect those who are exploited and sold for sex.

”For additional background information on People of the State of California v. Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, & James Larkin visit: https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-becerra-court-allows-prosecution-sex-trafficking-backpagecom.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra  Monday, April 9, 2018

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LEADS EFFORT TO SEIZE BACKPAGE.COM, THE INTERNET’S LEADING FORUM FOR PROSTITUTION ADS, AND OBTAINS 93-COUNT FEDERAL INDICTMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:33 am

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced the seizure of Backpage.com(link is external), the Internet’s leading forum for prostitution ads, including ads depicting the prostitution of children. Additionally, seven individuals have been charged in a 93-count federal indictment with the crimes of conspiracy to facilitate prostitution using a facility in interstate or foreign commerce, facilitating prostitution using a facility in interstate or foreign commerce, conspiracy to commit money laundering, concealment money laundering, international promotional money laundering, and transactional money laundering.

The seven defendants charged in the indictment are Michael Lacey, 69, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; James Larkin, 68, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; Scott Spear, 67, of Scottsdale, Arizona; John E. “Jed” Brunst, 66, of Phoenix, Arizona; Daniel Hyer, 49, of Dallas, Texas; Andrew Padilla, 45, of Plano, Texas and Jaala Joye Vaught, 37, of Addison, Texas.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange for the District of Arizona, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell and Chief Don Fort of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

“For far too long, Backpage.com(link is external) existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike,” said Attorney General Sessions. “But this illegality stops right now. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking. I want to thank everyone who made this important seizure possible: all of our dedicated and committed professionals in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and our U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona, the FBI, our partners with the IRS Criminal Investigation, our Postal Inspectors, and the Texas and California Attorney Generals’ offices. With their help, we have put an end to the violence, abuse, and heartache that has been perpetrated using this site, and we have taken a major step toward keeping women and children across America safe.” (more…)

April 9, 2018

MAN WHO SODOMIZED TODDLER SENTENCED 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON AFTER COURT OF APPEAL REVERSED TRIAL JUDGE’S ILLEGAL SENTENCE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:16 am

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A man who sodomized a toddler was sentenced today to 25 years to life in state prison after the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One reversed a trial judge’s illegal 10-year sentence.

“Sodomizing a 4 year old is obviously a heinous crime. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office rightfully pursued the life sentence to make sure this defendant received the mandatory 25 years to life,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Defendant Charges Sentence
Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto, 23 Found guilty by a jury on Dec. 3, 2014 of the following felony counts:

  • Sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years or younger
  • Lewd acts upon a child under 14
  • 25 years to life in state prison
  • Mandatory sex offender registration pursuant to 290

Circumstances of the Case

  • On June 4, 2014, Rojano-Nieto was in a garage detached from a Santa Ana house playing video games when 3-year-old Jane Doe walked in.
  • Rojano-Nieto became sexually aroused upon seeing her, locked the garage door, then sexually assaulted Jane Doe by sodomizing her.
  • When Jane Doe’s mother went to look for the victim and approached the garage door, the defendant covered Jane Doe’s mouth. (more…)

SETTING SIX FIRES IN SERIAL ARSONIST CHARGED WITH MISSION VIEJO

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:15 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A serial arsonist was charged today with setting six fires in Mission Viejo.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Jack Frye, 19, Lake Forest Charged on April 6, 2018, with the following felony counts:

  • (6) Arson
  • (2) Attempted arson
  • Attempted second degree burglary
11 years and eight months in state prison Arraignment

April 6, 2018, time to be determined

Department CJ-1, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • At the time of the crime, the defendant was a former student of Mission Viejo High School (MVHS).
  • Between March 28, 2018, and April 4, 2018, Frye is accused of lighting multiple fires at MVHS and one fire at the Kaleidoscope shopping center in Mission Viejo.
  • On March 30, 2018, the defendant is accused of unlawfully attempting to enter MVHS and attempting to set fire to a structure on campus. (more…)

MAN CONVICTED OF TRAFFICKING, PIMPING, AND PANDERING 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN SANTA ANA MAN CONVICTED OF TRAFFICKING, PIMPING, AND PANDERING 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN SANTA ANA

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:15 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was convicted today of trafficking, pimping, and pandering a 16-year-old girl in Santa Ana.

Defendant

Charges

Maximum Sentence

Court Date

Isaiah Rene Harris, 27, Hawthorne

Pleaded guilty today to the following felony counts:

  • Human trafficking of a minor
  • Pimping a minor
  • Pandering a minor over 16 years old by procuring
  • Conspiring to dissuade a witness

Prior serious and violent felony convictions

  • Robbery in 2009 in Los Angeles
  • First degree burglary in 2009 in Los Angeles

26 years in state prison

Sentencing

May 11, 2018, 8:30 A.M.

Department C-44, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • Harris a being human trafficker/pimp who exploits women and/or children for financial gain. The victims are required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp. (more…)

April 6, 2018

POLICE OFFICER CONVICTED OF STEALING MONEY FROM FELLOW OFFICERS OUT OF DONATIONS INTENDED FOR RETIRING COLLEAGUE’S GIFT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:08 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A police officer pleaded guilty today to stealing money from fellow officers out of a collection of donations intended to purchase a gift for a retiring colleague.

Defendant Charges Sentence
Mario Ricci, 49, Los Angeles Pleaded guilty today to the following:

  • One misdemeanor count of petty theft
  • 240 hours of community service
  • One year informal probation
  • Restitution

Circumstances of the Case

  • At the time of the crime, Ricci was a detective with the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD).
  • Between Dec. 8, 2016, and Dec. 15, 2016, Ricci stole donations from other HBPD employees intended to go toward a gift for a retiring colleague from an envelope at HBPD headquarters. (more…)

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