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June 12, 2014

FORMER SCHOOL MAINTENANCE PAINTER CONVICTED OF POSSESSING AND DISTRIBUTING CHILD PORN ON INTERNET

Filed under: California Chid Pornography Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:40 am

SANTA ANA – A former school maintenance painter was convicted today of possessing child pornography on his computer and distributing it through the Internet. Roger Scott Hewson, 51, Fountain Valley, pleaded guilty to a court offer by the Honorable Robert R. Fitzgerald of one felony count of distributing obscene matter and one felony count of possession and control of child pornography. He was sentenced to one year in jail, five years formal probation, and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.

At the time of the crime, Hewson was employed with the Huntington Beach City School District as a maintenance painter.

On Aug. 27, 2013, Hewson possessed hundreds of digital pictures on his home computer containing sexually explicit images of child pornography. These images were not of children from the school. Hewson distributed the images to other users on the Internet through a file sharing program.

On Nov. 7, 2013, after months of extensive investigation by the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) with assistance from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), HBPD arrested Hewson at his work for possession and distribution of child pornography.

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Husband Sentenced to 75 Years-to-Life for Supermarket Stabbing of Wife

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

A 55-year-old man pleaded guilty and was immediately sentenced today for the fatal stabbing of his estranged wife as she worked at a Santa Monica supermarket, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Carter said Kelvin Melvin Green entered a guilty plea to one count of murder and admitted to two prior strikes.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Dabney of the Airport Branch sentenced Green to 75 years-to-life in state prison. He is due back in Department E on Sep. 3 for a restitution hearing.

On Aug. 21, 2011, Green stabbed Christina Talley 41 times in the face and abdomen while she was working at an Albertsons store on Wilshire Boulevard, Carter said. She died a day later. The prosecutor said he also assaulted a Good Samaritan who tried to help stop the attack. He was not injured.

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Former Compton Fire Battalion Chief Sentenced for Arson, Embezzlement

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:34 am

A former Compton fire battalion chief was sentenced yesterday to three years and four months in state prison after he was convicted of embezzlement and arson, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose of the Target Crimes Division, Arson Section, said Marcel Dione Melanson, 38, was immediately remanded into custody.

At his court appearance, the defendant paid $100,000 in restitution to victims and to the city of Compton. Also, Melanson was ordered to pay an additional $417,477.82 to the city of Compton.

Moreover, the defendant must register as an arson offender for life.

The sentence from Judge David M. Horwitz comes after Melanson pleaded no contest on April 15 to embezzlement by public or private officer and arson of property. (more…)

June 11, 2014

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrest of Two Sisters Running San Francisco Sex Trafficking Ring

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:06 am

SAN FRANCISCO—Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of two women accused of operating a sex trafficking ring in San Francisco. The arrests are the result of a five-month joint investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

“The victims in these brothels were treated as commodities in an insidious human marketplace,” Attorney General Harris said. “Human trafficking is a heinous crime that destroys the lives of victims and threatens the safety of our communities. I want to recognize the steadfast commitment of our Task Force agents, law enforcement partners, and community organizations to bring perpetrators to justice and help rebuild these victims’ lives.”

“The interruption of this sex trafficking, under the leadership of the Attorney General Harris’s Office, is just another example of San Francisco’s commitment to protecting and preserving the basic rights of all; especially our most vulnerable,” SFPD Chief Greg Suhr said. “Fully understanding the gravity of the human trafficking trade, the San Francisco Police Department developed its own Human Trafficking Unit, partnering with other agencies to conduct proactive victim-centered investigations of sex and labor trafficking crimes.”

Defendants Qiao He, a.k.a. “Judy,” 37, and her sister Gaineng He, 36, both of San Francisco, were arrested today and charged with felony pimping and pandering. They are both being held at the San Francisco County Jail on $25,000 bail each and will be prosecuted by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office is still investigating potential tax fraud and conspiracy violations.

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City of San Jacinto, California, Agrees to End Discriminatory Housing Practices

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:04 am

The Justice Department today announced a settlement with the city of San Jacinto, California, that resolves a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Under the settlement, San Jacinto has changed its laws to comply with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In addition, the city has agreed to pay a total of $746,599 in compensatory damages to housing providers and former residents with disabilities, including private plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States.  The settlement is subject to court approval.

The Justice Department’s complaint, which was filed in November 2012, alleged that San Jacinto violated the FHA and the ADA by enacting an ordinance intended to exclude unlicensed and some licensed homes for persons with disabilities from the city, and by targeting homes for persons with disabilities for enforcement of the ordinance and other local laws.

“Municipalities and other governmental entities cannot violate federal civil rights statutes by hiding behind intentionally discriminatory laws designed to appear neutral on their face,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “No American should be denied his or her rights, subjected to harassment or excluded from our communities because of a disability.  We commend the city for working cooperatively to resolve this matter and to enact legislation to safeguard the fair housing rights of its residents with disabilities.”

The city’s enforcement efforts included an early morning sweep of unlicensed group homes for persons with disabilities by city officials in November 2008, including the city attorney and representatives of the city’s Code Enforcement and Public Works Departments, as well as armed and uniformed law enforcement officers of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department acting as agents for the city.  The officials arrived at the homes unannounced and without warrants and interrogated the residents from a prepared questionnaire targeted to persons with mental disabilities.  The questions included whether the residents were or ever had been drug addicts or alcoholics; whether they suffered from any form of mental illness, and if so, what type; whether they were taking “psych” medications, and if so, what kind; whether they or other residents were currently using illegal drugs or alcohol; whether they were on parole or probation; and whether they were registered sex offenders.

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TWO PIMPS SENTENCED FOR TRAFFICKING VICTIM FROM MEXICO AND FORCING HER INTO PROSTITUTION IN ANAHEIM APARTMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:01 am

SANTA ANA – Two pimps were sentenced today for trafficking a victim from Mexico to Orange County and forcing her to engage in prostitution to pay off a debt for an ill family member. Victor Lara Romero, 33, Anaheim, pleaded guilty June 4, 2014, to one felony count each of human trafficking and pimping and was sentenced today to five years in state prison. Gustavo Romero Clemente, 36, Anaheim, pleaded guilty June 4, 2014, to one felony count of pandering and was sentenced today to four years in state prison.

Circumstances of the Case

Romero and Clemente are pimps who exploit women and/or children for financial gain.

During a preliminary hearing, 29-year-old Jane Doe testified to the following: she became acquainted with Romero in her hometown in Mexico prior to December 2012. Romero gave her money when a family member became ill.  A few weeks later, Jane Doe was unable to repay the money and Romero told her that he could smuggle her into the United States to work at a clothing store to pay off her debt. Romero then arranged for Jane Doe to be smuggled into Southern California by way of Texas.

Between Dec. 24, 2012, and Jan. 24, 2013, approximately one month after arriving in California, Romero moved Jane Doe into a room in Clemente’s Anaheim apartment. Once in Anaheim, instead of setting up a job for Jane Doe as he promised, Romero ordered Jane Doe to engage in commercial sex to repay the debt. When Jane Doe resisted and refused, Romero physically beat the victim on numerous occasions including strangling and punching her, burning her leg with a fork, and beating her with a belt. Romero caused bruising to Jane Doe’s face and forced her to wear makeup to cover the bruises. (more…)

June 10, 2014

Justice Department Concludes That Los Angeles County Jail System Continues To Violate Constitutional Rights Of Prisoners With Mental Illness And Fails To Provide Adequate Suicide Prevention

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:02 am

LOS ANGELES – The Justice Department today released its latest assessment of mental health services at the Los Angeles County jails, which concludes that, despite progress in some areas, the County of Los Angeles fails to provide sufficient suicide-prevention practices to protect prisoners from self-harm. The department also found that other serious deficiencies in the mental health care delivery system remain and combine with inadequate supervision and deplorable environmental conditions to deprive prisoners of constitutionally-required mental health care.

The comprehensive assessment sent to the county on Wednesday and released today confirms that certain conditions and practices continue to violate the constitutional rights of prisoners with mental illness. There have been 15 suicides at the jails in less than 30 months, and the Justice Department concluded that some of the deaths may have been preventable with proper suicide prevention practices.

The Justice Department’s assessment also reveals widespread lapses with regard to basic supervision of prisoners at risk; deficient mental health care for prisoners with clearly demonstrated needs; deplorable environmental conditions, most acutely at Men’s Central Jail; and a suicide review process that often includes inaccurate information and fails to remedy evident and repeated problems in order to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Los Angeles County jail system is the largest in the country, housing approximately 19,000 pre-sentenced and sentenced prisoners in seven facilities throughout the county. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department operates the jails system and supports the delivery of mental health services within the jails by the county’s Department of Mental Health.

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Ex-Controller Of Court Services Firm Admits Embezzling $3.3 Million

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 5:58 am

SANTA ANA, California – The former controller of a company that provides supervision services, including electronic monitoring programs, to courts and probation departments pleaded guilty today to federal charges of embezzling well over $3 million from the company over the course of two years.

Steven A. Hagstrom, 37, of Anaheim, who was an accountant and then controller of the Irvine-based Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of embezzlement before United States District Judge David O. Carter.

As controller of Sentinel, Hagstrom had access to Sentinel’s bank accounts where fines, court fees and restitution payments from criminal defendants were held in trust. The accounts also held money paid to Sentinel for services provided to state and federal court systems. Beginning in early 2012 and continuing until April 2013, Hagstrom transferred approximately $3,338,197 from Sentinel’s bank accounts to bank accounts he controlled, where they could be used for his own benefit.

Judge Carter is scheduled to sentence Hagstrom on September 29. The embezzlement count carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. About half of the embezzled money has already been returned to Sentinel, and Hagstrom has agreed to make full restitution to his former employer.

The investigation into Hagstrom was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS - Criminal Investigation.

Central District of California DOJ / 14-070 / June 3, 2014

MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS AND EIGHT MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SEVERELY BURNING AND DISFIGURING 11-MONTH-OLD FEMALE RELATIVE BY PLACING HER IN WATER OVER 120 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:55 am

WESTMINSTER – A man was sentenced Friday to 25 years and eight months in state prison for placing a female relative in a bathtub filled with water that was over 120 degrees Fahrenheit and severely burning and disfiguring the victim. Alfred Alexander Hollimon, 24, Westminster, was found guilty by a jury March 21, 2014, of two felony counts of child abuse, one felony count of mayhem, and a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury to a child under 5, with a prior strike conviction in 2008 for attempted robbery in Nevada.

At approximately 5:40 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2013, Hollimon filled a bathtub with water by turning the faucet on a high heat setting. He woke up the 11-month-old female relative, Jane Doe, from her nap and removed her clothing. Hollimon then picked Jane Doe up and dipped the lower half of her body in the hot water that reached a temperature of over 120-degrees Fahrenheit. He then took the victim out of the bathtub and began peeling pieces of her blistered skin from the tip of her toes to the bottom of her knee caps and disposed of it in a kitchen trash can.

The defendant’s mother was in a nearby room and called 911. The Westminster Police Department (WPD) and Orange County Fire Authority arrived at the scene. The victim was transported to the University of California Irvine Health Regional Burn Center. The victim suffered third degree burns to her legs, calves, feet, and buttocks including blistering on both of her legs and vaginal area. Upon emergency treatment, x-rays revealed that she suffered fractures in her skull, spine, ribs, and an arm. She sustained life-long scarring and must undergo regular surgeries and skin graft operations until her body stops growing.

During the sentencing, the parents in the process of adopting Jane Doe, submitted a victim impact statement to the court. The letter described how the victim will never be able to feel comfortable wearing clothes like normal girls or able to go to the beach without feeling self-conscious, and explained the pain that the victim continues to endure because of the actions of the defendant.

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June 9, 2014

Four Charged In $22 Million Movie Investment Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – Three men were arrested today for their roles in a scheme involving a company called Gigapix that allegedly defrauded hundreds of victims by promising large returns on movie investments and a production company’s imminent public offering, announced United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. and Bill L. Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.

Two defendants were arrested this morning – Gregory Pusateri, 49, of Woodland Hills, and David Pritchard, 66, of Malibu, who has recently been staying with a friend in Hollywood – and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court.

A third defendant in the case – Christopher Blauvelt, 58, of Woodland Hills – was arrested this afternoon in Goleta, California. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow in federal court in Los Angeles.

The fourth defendant in the case – Cheri Brown, 65, of Studio City – has agreed to surrender to authorities.

The four defendants were charged in a 36-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury on May 15th. The indictment, which was unsealed this morning, accuses the defendants of mail fraud, wire fraud, attempted wire fraud and offering for sale unregistered securities.

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