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November 18, 2013

Former Teacher Pleads to Sexually Molesting 23 Children

Filed under: Los Angeles sexual assault attorney — fayarfa @ 5:33 am

District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that former LAUSD Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt pleaded no contest to sexually molesting 23 children between 2005 and 2010.

Berndt, 62, entered his plea before Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli and was immediately sentenced to 25 years in state prison under terms of the negotiated plea.

“A school ought to be one of the safest places in America. This plea spares these young victims the anguish of testifying at a trial and sends an unmistakable message to those who would dare take advantage of our children that justice will prevail,” D.A. Lacey said.

Deputy District Attorneys Alison Meyers and Gloria Marin with the Sex Crimes Division prosecuted the case.


November 15, 2013


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:50 pm

ORANGE COUNTY – A drunken driver was sentenced today to 21 years to life in state prison for murdering a teenager and injuring four others in a Memorial Day weekend crash. Austin Jeffrey Farley, 28, Irvine, was found guilty by a jury Oct. 7, 2013, of one felony count each of second degree murder and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury with a sentencing enhancement for personally inflicting and causing great bodily injury and driving with blood alcohol .08 percent or more causing bodily injury. The case was tried in Los Angeles County.

On the evening of May 28, 2011, Farley left his truck at a friend’s Irvine home, took a cab to a bar with his girlfriend, and consumed alcohol. Farley left the bar with his girlfriend and took a cab back to his truck. He got into his truck and drove his girlfriend to get food while under the influence of alcohol.

At approximately 1:15 a.m. on May 29, 2011, Farley drove southbound on Culver Drive toward Irvine Boulevard with his girlfriend. Mohammad G., the 48-year-old father of 15-year-old Parisa G., was driving home northbound on Culver Drive toward Irvine Boulevard with his daughter and her three teenage friends. At the intersection, Farley illegally made a left-hand turn against a red light into Mohammad G.’s Mercedes-Benz sedan, which was legally entering the intersection on a green light. Farley slammed into the driver’s side of Mohammad G.’s car with the four teenage girls inside.

The impact of the crash caused fatal injuries to the left rear passenger, 14-year-old Ashton Sweet, who suffered brain swelling, a skull fracture, collapsed lung, facial, rib, and spinal fractures, and traumatic brain injury. Krista M., a 14-year-old passenger who was sitting in the middle rear seat, suffered a broken nose, a rib fracture, a lacerated spleen, lung injuries, and was rendered unconscious. Mohammad G. and the other two girls, Allison R., 15, seated in the rear right seat, and Parisa G., seated in the front passenger seat, suffered minor injuries.                                                               (more…)


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:46 pm

NEWPORT BEACH – A doctor is scheduled to be arraigned Monday for killing two men in a high-speed crash while driving into oncoming traffic on the highway. Robert McFarland Pettis, 48, Laguna Beach, is charged with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of driving the wrong way on a divided highway causing death, and sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily harm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At approximately 6:40 a.m. on April 2, 2013, Pettis is accused of driving at a high rate of speed in his Tesla Model S northbound on State Route 133 in Laguna Beach. Pettis is accused of crossing over the double yellow lines into the southbound lanes and driving into oncoming traffic. He is accused of crashing head-on into a Honda Accord and killing 47-year-old driver Alberto Casique and his passenger, 38-year-old Armando Gonzalez.

Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene due to vehicular blunt force trauma as a result of the collision.

This case was investigated by the Laguna Beach Police Department. Deputy District Attorney Anna McIntire of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.


Orange County District Attorney / Case # 13HF3347 / November 15, 2013



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

FULLERTON – A youth soccer referee was sentenced today to five years in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration for engaging in oral copulation with a teenage boy and molesting two additional boys. Jorge Diosdado Serafin, 31, Anaheim, pleaded guilty Oct. 15, 2013, to three felony counts of oral copulation of a minor under 16 years old, one felony count of lewd act on a child, and one felony count of lewd act on a child under 14 years old.

At the time of the crimes, Serafin was a referee for Oakview Soccer League in Huntington Beach.

In October 2012, Serafin communicated with 15-year-old John Doe #1, with whom he was previously acquainted, on Facebook. On two occasions, between Nov. 1, 2012, and Nov. 30, 2012, Serafin invited John Doe #1 to meet him in the parking lot of the defendant’s apartment complex. While there, Serafin orally copulated John Doe #1 on one occasion and was orally copulated by John Doe #1 on two occasions.

On Jan. 10, 2013, Serafin invited 14-year-old John Doe #2, who lived in the neighborhood, to use the computer in his apartment. While in the apartment, the defendant sexually touched the victim. Later in the day, Serafin massaged 10-year-old John Doe #3’s bare back with sexual intent while the victim, who also lived in the neighborhood, was inside Serafin’s apartment.                                                         (more…)

November 14, 2013

Former Resident of Orange, CA Convicted of Scheme to Defraud Religious Order of Roman Catholic Sisters

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:01 am

SANTA ANA - Linda Rose Gagnon, also known as Linda Gualtieri-Gagnon, age 59, a former resident of Orange, CA, was convicted today by a jury on three counts of Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.  Ms. Gagnon’s trial occurred before the Hon. Andrew J. Guilford in the Ronald Reagan Courthouse of the Central District of California.

The jury found that Ms. Gagnon executed a scheme to defraud the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (“RJM”), an order of Roman Catholic Sisters devoted to educational and charitable work, out of $285,000, which the RJM had set aside for the care of elderly and infirm Sisters.  According to the evidence, Gagnon represented that she was an expert in handling short sale and foreclosure transactions and offered to assist RJM buy a small home in San Diego for use by retired and infirm Sisters.

The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that, contrary to her promises, Gagnon did not use the RJM’s funds to purchase the retirement home for the Sisters.  Instead, Gagnon used the funds to pay for her personal expenses and to fund the unprofitable operations of her real estate finance company, Rose Enterprise, Inc.  After only 64 days, Gagnon spent the entire sum of the RJM’s $285,000.  The evidence showed that Gagnon used the RJM’s funds for Gagnon’s personal expenses, including travel, lingerie, groceries, manicures, hair dressing, restaurants, lease payments for an Audi TT sports car, and valet pet-sitting services for her dog.  The RJM monies were also used to pay salaries, office rent, and supplies for Rose Enterprise, Inc.

After stringing out RJM for months and not disclosing her fraudulent misappropriation of RJM’s funds, Gagnon asked RJM for another $285,000 to buy the San Diego residence, falsely representing that she needed the additional funds because RJM’s original $285,000 was tied up in a “triple escrow” on another property.


November 13, 2013


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:22 am

SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced to death today for murdering an 84-year-old woman after breaking into her home and raping, torturing, and stabbing her before stealing her car. Anthony Darnell Wade, 29, Los Angeles, was found guilty by a jury Sept. 6, 2013, of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of rape, robbery, burglary, and murder with torture, and one felony count each of elder abuse, first degree robbery, first degree residential burglary, torture, forcible rape, and the unlawful taking of a vehicle. The sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury to an elder were found true. The jury recommended the death penalty on Oct. 7, 2013.

Circumstances of the Case

At approximately 12:00 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2010, Wade walked through an Anaheim neighborhood on Paradise Road and looked through windows with the intention of finding a vulnerable victim from whom he could steal a car. The defendant broke into the home of 84-year-old widow Bessie Whyman through a broken window.

Wade raped Whyman, tied her up by her hands and feet, and then punched and kicked the victim. He tortured and murdered her by repeatedly stabbing her with a kitchen knife and a saw. Wade then threw a blanket and other household items on top of the victim’s body and left her in the living room. He ransacked the victim’s home and stole her purse and car before fleeing the scene and driving to San Bernardino. While he drove to San Bernardino in the victim’s car, Wade celebrated by drinking a bottle of Champagne and smoking a cigar.

Once in San Bernardino, the defendant was found to be in possession of Whyman’s stolen credit cards at a Food 4 Less store. Wade got into a physical altercation with an employee and was subsequently detained by staff, who called the police. Police officers in San Bernardino determined that Whyman was from Anaheim and contacted the Anaheim Police Department (APD) for a welfare check of Whyman. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, APD officers discovered the victim after entering Whyman’s home through an unlocked back door.


November 12, 2013

Fugitive Who Faces Charges Related to Pipe Bombs Found in Residential Neighborhoods Arrested in Banning

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:58 pm

BANNING—A Desert Hot Springs man who was charged for illegally possessing pipe bombs he allegedly left in Palm Springs neighborhoods and who became a fugitive after escaping from custody over the summer was arrested Monday following a joint effort by the FBI and the Banning Police Department, announced Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Over the weekend, the FBI received information that Costa had been living in the Banning area in the recent past. A joint effort by the FBI and the Banning Police Department to locate the exact whereabouts of Costa resulted in his capture on Monday in Banning, without incident.

Costa was held overnight in Banning, California, and was transferred to the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside County this morning. Costa is scheduled to have an initial appearance in United States District Court in Riverside this afternoon at 3:00p.m.

Edward Allen Costa, 48, was indicted on September 11, 2013, on six counts of possessing unregistered destructive devices (pipe bombs) and one count of escape from custody. Costa, who pleaded guilty last year to being a felon in possession of a firearm, allegedly walked away from a halfway house in Rubidoux in August 2013.


November 11, 2013

Gang Leader Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison in RICO Case

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:33 am

LOS ANGELES—A Los Angeles man who was the leader of a criminal street gang that used violence and intimidation in an attempt to control the Pueblo del Rio Housing Projects in South Los Angeles was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison.

Kevin Eleby, who was known on the street as “L,” 49, a longtime leader of the Pueblo Bishop Bloods street gang, was sentenced by United States District Judge S. James Otero. During a 10-year period of supervised release that will follow his prison term, Eleby will be banned from entering the Pueblo del Rio Housing Projects, the veritable headquarters of the gang.

Eleby was convicted in October 2012 of four felony charges: conspiracy to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) ACT; conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin; possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The gun offense related to a shooting in which members of the gang used a Thompson submachine gun and other weapons to fire more than a dozen rounds into a residence in the projects where a rival gang member lived. Only the mother and 11-year-old brother of the intended victim were home at the time of the attack. Both victims survived, but the family moved out of the projects shortly thereafter. The evidence at trial showed that the shooting followed a gang meeting where Eleby passionately advocated that younger gang members needed to increase their retaliatory violence against rival gangs and drive Hispanic residents out of the projects.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:30 am

SANTA ANA - Three defendants have been arrested, including one who had fled to Iran, for the kidnapping, torture, and sexual mutilation of a marijuana dispensary owner whom they believed to be burying large amounts of cash in the desert.

Defendants Ryan Anthony Kevorkian, 34, and Naomi Josette Kevorkian, 33, were arrested today, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Fresno by detectives from the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD). They are expected to be arraigned Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

Defendant Hossein Nayeri, 34, was arrested yesterday, Nov. 7, 2013, in Prague, Czech Republic, by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. He will face extradition proceedings in the Czech Republic at a later date to be determined.

Defendant Kyle Shirakawa Handley, 34, was arrested and charged in October 2012. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Nov. 15, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.


Reputed Gang Member Charged in Clerk’s Murder

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:23 am

A 31-year-old reputed gang member was charged today with capital murder in the September fatal shooting of a 99-cent store clerk, the District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Eric William Atkinson (dob 4-10-82) is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, in case BA418132. Prosecutors will ask that he be held without bail, said Deputy District Attorney Larry Droeger, assistant head deputy of the Hardcore Gang Division.

Prosecutors filed one count of murder with the special circumstance of robbery and personal use of a firearm allegation against Atkinson for the Sept. 17 murder of Martha Sanchez. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

The married mother of five children was working shortly before 9 p.m. when Atkinson allegedly entered the Happy Bargain 99 cent store in the 7400 block of South Broadway and pulled a gun on her. A store surveillance video captured the fatal shooting.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Criminal Gang and Homicide Division investigated the case.

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office / case BA418132 / November 08, 2013

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