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July 19, 2013

MOTHER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR ABUSING 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO WEIGHED ONLY 18 POUNDS, BY DEPRIVING HER OF FOOD AND MEDICAL CARE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:59 am

SANTA ANA - A mother will be arraigned tomorrow for abusing her 4-year-old daughter by depriving her of food and medical care, causing the child to be severely under-weight at only 18 pounds. Antonia Benitez, 35, Santa Ana, is charged with three felony counts of child abuse with a sentencing enhancement for great bodily injury to a child under 5. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 14 years and six months in state prison. Benitez is being held on $250,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, July 19, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

The defendant is a mother to nine children ranging in age from 4 to 16 years old.

Prior to June 2013, Benitez is accused of abusing her 4-year-old daughter, Jane Doe, by depriving her of food, care, and medical attention.

In July 2012, the defendant is accused of taking Jane Doe to the hospital for being under-weight. The case was not reported to law enforcement at that time.

On June 4, 2013, Benitez is accused of taking Jane Doe to the hospital for an infected wound to the victim’s leg. She is accused of failing to care for her daughter and abusing her by failing to adequately feed the victim, who weighed only 18 pounds.

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DEFENDANT SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR PANDERING 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL AND ANOTHER FEMALE VICTIM

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

SANTA ANA - A man was convicted and sentenced today to eight years in state prison for pandering a 16-year-old girl and an adult woman. Quandre Charles, 39, Merced, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of pandering by procuring and one felony count of sale of a person for immoral purposes.

Circumstances of the Case

Charles is a pimp/human trafficker who exploits women and/or children for financial gain.

Charles met 16-year-old Jane Doe #1 and convinced her that they were in a romantic relationship. He took all of the money she was paid for her acts of prostitution. The defendant had Jane Doe #1 tattoo Charles’ moniker, “Shampoo,” across her back. This is a tactic known to law enforcement used by pimps to brand prostitutes in order to demean and control them.

In May 2013, the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) set up an undercover sting operation and arranged to meet Jane Doe #1 at a motel in Santa Ana in response to an advertisement on a prostitution website offering sex and sex acts with Jane Doe #1 and 34-year-old Jane Doe #2.

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WOMAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER AND ASSAULT FOR DRIVING INTO SHERIFF’S DEPUTY WITH SUV AT JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:47 am

SANTA ANA - A woman was charged today with attempting to murder an Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputy after trying to run him over with her sport utility vehicle (SUV) at John Wayne Airport (JWA). Rebecca Lee McLaughlin, 48, Newport Beach, is charged with one felony count each of attempted murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer, and aggravated assault. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison. The People will be requesting she be held on $1 million bail at her arraignment scheduled today, July 18, 2013, in Department CJ-1, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on July 16, 2013, McLaughlin is accused of driving her Toyota Sequoia through a closed-lot entrance booth and breaking the barricade to enter a parking structure at JWA. The defendant is accused of driving through the parking structure before attempting to exit through the same entrance gate. An OCSD deputy, who was patrolling the area on his bicycle, rode up next to the defendant in an attempt to stop her.

The defendant is accused of stopping her full-size SUV and turning her steering wheel toward the OCSD deputy, who was standing over his bike approximately 25 feet away. McLaughlin is accused of accelerating at the victim and hitting him with her vehicle, throwing him approximately 20 feet inside the parking structure and destroying his bicycle. The defendant is accused of failing to stop and continuing to exit the parking structure before driving over an elevated curb and hitting a parking pole. The OCSD deputy, who suffered minor cuts and bruises, ran to the disabled vehicle and arrested her.

Deputy District Attorney Marc Caress is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 13HF2255 / July 18, 2013

July 18, 2013

CALIFORNIA BUSINESSMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CONCEALING FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT AT ISRAELI BANK ON HIS TAX RETURN

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:57 am

Saratoga Resident is the Latest in a Series of Defendants Charged With Concealing Bank Accounts at Israeli Banks

Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Kathryn Keneally and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag for the Northern District of California announced that Moshe Handelsman of Saratoga, Calif., pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return for tax year 2007.

According to the plea agreement, between approximately 1993 and 2000, Handelsman, a U.S. citizen, used three bank accounts held in the names of two different foreign corporations at foreign banks to falsely reduce his taxes. The last of those accounts was held at an Israeli bank located in Tel-Aviv, Israel.  The foreign bank accounts and foreign corporations were set up with the assistance of his tax return preparers.

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CAR BUSINESS OWNER SENTENCED FOR EMBEZZLING $200,000 IN PROCEEDS FROM CUSTOMER VEHICLES SOLD ON CONSIGNMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:51 am

SANTA ANA – A car business owner and operator was convicted and sentenced today for embezzling $200,000 from the sale proceeds of rare and vintage vehicles sold on consignment. John Calicchio, 63, Costa Mesa, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, two counts of diversion of funds, and four counts of money laundering with a sentencing enhancement for property loss over $200,000. Under the State sentencing law (AB 109), the court split the defendant’s sentence. Calicchio was sentenced to 16 months in jail, two years of mandatory supervision, and ordered to pay $177,000 restitution.

Calicchio owned and operated EuroMasters Classic Cars in Fountain Valley. Between June 2010 and October 2011, Calicchio entered into consignment agreements with customers to sell their vintage Porsche vehicles. He sold consignment vehicles in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $47,000 and diverted the proceeds of the sales to his personal and business accounts.

Calicchio defrauded victims who purchased and paid for their vehicles in full. The victims were unable to obtain legal titles for their vehicles because the owners holding titles were never paid for the consignment sales. Calicchio closed his business in October 2011 and filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to discharge the debts owed to the owners and purchasers of vehicles he sold on consignment.

The Fountain Valley Police Department investigated this case and arrested Calicchio on Oct. 30, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn of the White Collar Crime Team prosecuted this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 12CF3155 / July 17, 2013

July 17, 2013

Antelope Valley Man Charged in Topanga Area Kidnap-Rape

Filed under: Los Angeles sexual assault attorney — fayarfa @ 5:17 am

Prosecutors today charged an 18-year-old Lancaster man with more than a dozen felony counts, including forcible rape and kidnapping, in connection with a 4th of July attack outside the Westfield Topanga Mall, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Alan Yochelson, head deputy of the Van Nufay ys Branch Office, said Kioki Ray Snowden (dob 12/08/94) appeared for arraignment this afternoon but the hearing was postponed to July 29 in Department 100 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

Snowden is charged in case LA074666 with four counts of forcible rape, three counts of identity theft and two counts of kidnapping to commit another crime. He also faces one count each of second-degree robbery, sexual penetration by foreign object, forcible oral copulation, sodomy by use of force and second-degree commercial burglary.

The complaint includes special allegations that the defendant used a deadly weapon, a knife, in the commission of the offense; kidnapped and bound the victim; and substantially increased the risk of harm to the victim through movement.

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July 16, 2013

MAN SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR ILLEGALLY IMPORTING COUNTERFEIT DISNEY PINS FROM CHINA TO SELL OVER THE INTERNET

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:45 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to eight years in state prison and ordered to pay $201,000 in restitution for illegally importing counterfeit collectible Disney pins from China and selling them over the Internet. Larry James Allred,  58, Walnut, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one felony count of trademark infringement with sentencing enhancements for property loss of over $200,000. He has a 1975 prior strike conviction for rape and a 1978 prior strike conviction for kidnapping and rape.

Co-defendant Robert Edward Smyrak, 54, Anaheim, pleaded guilty Sept. 29, 2011, to one felony count of trademark infringement. He was sentenced to one year in jail, three years of formal probation, and ordered to pay restitution.

Between January 2010 and April 2011, Allred and Smyrak ran a fraudulent operation sending genuine collectible Disney pins to a manufacturer in China to be replicated and shipped back to them. Allred and Smyrak sold the counterfeit pins over the Internet while passing them off as collectibles.

Smyrak and Allred sold nearly one million counterfeit items on Internet auction sites in bulk quantities, averaging less than $1 per pin. The retail price of authentic Disney collectible pins range from $6.95 to $14.95.

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EIGHT MEN CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR SOLICITING SEX FROM UNDERCOVER OFFICER IN SANTA ANA STING OPERATION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:14 am

SANTA ANA – Eight men arrested in an undercover sting operation pleaded guilty and were sentenced today for soliciting sex or sex acts from an undercover police officer, whom they believed to be a prostitute.  The convicted defendants include: Michael Davis, 36; Heladio Herrera, 21; Silvestre Jacob, 40; Paulino Martinez, 40; Tony Nguyen, 45; Luis Ortiz, 27; Francisco Rios, 33; and Herbert Yoneoka, 68. All of the defendants pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of soliciting another to engage in prostitution. Herrera, Jacob, and Martinez also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of driving without a license.

Davis, Herrera, Jacob, Martinez, Nguyen, and Ortiz were each sentenced to three years of informal probation, 10 days in jail with the possibility of CalTrans in lieu of jail, and must submit to AIDS testing and education. Rios was sentenced to three years of informal probation, 15 days in jail with the possibility of CalTrans in lieu of jail, and must submit to AIDS testing and education. Yoneoka was sentenced to three years of informal probation, 10 days in jail with the possibility of community service in lieu of jail, and must submit to AIDS testing and education.

On the night of May 15, 2013, and in the early morning of May 16, 2013, the eight defendants were arrested in an undercover sting operation by officers from the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) for soliciting sex or sex acts from an undercover female officer, whom they believed to be a prostitute. The defendants approached the undercover officer on Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana and solicited sex in exchange for money.

The area of Harbor Boulevard is known to law enforcement to be a high-prostitution area frequently used by individuals who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers.

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July 15, 2013

Florida Man Convicted of Selling Stolen Art and Evading the Payment of Federal Income Taxes Sentenced to 7½ Years in Prison

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:03 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Florida man who sold paintings stolen from a Los Angeles art gallery – and who took elaborate steps to avoid paying taxes over several years –  has been sentenced to 90 months in federal prison for the art-related and tax offenses.

Matthew Taylor, 45, of Vero Beach, Florida, was sentenced yesterday afternoon by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Kronstadt ordered Taylor to pay $1,244,190 in restitution – $106,152 to two art galleries, and $1,138,038 to the Internal Revenue Service for back taxes, penalties and interest. The judge also ordered that during the period of supervised release following his prison term, Taylor may not work in or own “any business involving antiques and or art” without the approval of a probation officer.

Taylor was found guilty by a federal jury in August 2012 of five separate federal felonies, including wire fraud, possession of stolen property which had crossed state lines, and two counts of tax evasion for the years 2005 and 2006. The jury also convicted Taylor of structuring cash transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements by making $226,000 in cash withdrawals in smaller amounts so as to avoid possible seizure of the funds by authorities – and found that he committed the structuring offense while free on bond in the art fraud case.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Taylor stole several paintings from the Los Angeles Fine Art Gallery, including a Granville Redmond painting called “Seascape at Twilight” and an untitled painting by Lucien Frank. Taylor later sold the Redmond painting to a different gallery for $85,000, falsely claiming that his mother had owned it for several years. Taylor took the Frank painting to Florida, erased Frank’s signature from the artwork, and then attempted to sell the painting to an art collector, claiming it was by a different artist.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Sentencing in CalTrans Fraud Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:33 pm

SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a nine-year state prison sentence of a man who defrauded the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) out of nearly $1.9 million.

Eric Hodgson, 43, of Elk Grove, agreed to a plea deal that in addition to the nine-year prison sentence, included forfeiture of his personal and real property, which includes two residences, two cars, several retirement accounts and a collection of Stars Wars items worth more than $10,000.

Hodgson was arrested in April on 22 counts of grand theft following a California Department of Justice investigation that began after Caltrans staff discovered fraudulent invoices for print advertisements that had never actually run in local newspapers as promised. On Thursday, Hodgson pleaded guilty in Sacramento Superior Court to seven of the 22 counts as part of the plea deal.

Hodgson, as the owner of Phenix Print & Image, was hired by Caltrans to publicly advertise new construction contracts to bidders, as required by statute. Caltrans employees discovered the alleged fraud during a routine request for information and proof of publication for the construction contract advertisements. A subsequent internal review confirmed likely fraudulent activity and, as consistent with state law, the matter was turned over to the California Department of Justice for further investigation.

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