Best Defender Bytes:

June 12, 2017

Former Orange County Income Tax Return Preparer Sentenced to One Year in Federal Prison for Falsifying Deductions on Clients’ Returns

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:02 am

LOS ANGELES – The former owner of a Tustin income tax preparation business called First Quality Tax Services was sentenced today to one year and one day in federal prison for preparing and filing fraudulent federal income tax returns claiming false deductions for his clients.

Thomas P. Butcher, 62, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge John A. Kronstadt.

In addition to the prison term, which he will begin serving by July 25, Butcher was ordered to pay $197,549 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Butcher pleaded guilty in January to two counts of aiding and abetting in the preparation of a false income tax return.

According to court documents Butcher prepared and filed tax returns for tax years 2009 through 2011 that claimed false credits and deductions that his clients were not entitled to receive.

Butcher “inflated or completely fabricated various itemized deductions on his clients’ Schedules A, particularly those involving gifts to charity and alleged job expenses,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

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June 9, 2017

Two Florencia 13 Gang Members Convicted of Racketeering Acts, Including a Murder, Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Federal Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:16 am

LOS ANGELES – Two Huntington Park men who are members of the Florencia 13 street gang and participated in the murder of another gang member have been sentenced to life without parole in federal prison after being convicted at trial of racketeering, narcotics, and weapons offenses.

Jose Dorado, also known as “Yogi,” 35, and Tannous Fazah, aka “Terist,” 27, were sentenced on Monday by United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell.

Judge O’Connell sentenced the two men after presiding over a four-week trial last summer that ended with a jury returning guilty verdicts on multiple charges against the two defendants – including conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR), conspiracy to traffic narcotics, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, and felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Dorado and Fazah received an order from an incarcerated, senior member of the F13 gang in March 2010 that instructed them to beat and kill a junior member of the gang. Within hours of receiving the order, in an alley in Huntington Park, Dorado, Fazah and other members of the gang circled the victim and proceeded to punch and kick him repeatedly. While the victim lay unconscious, Fazah brandished a handgun and fatally shot the victim in the face.

“[T]here is no crime more serious than murder, and the brutality of this particular homicide – that is, a vicious beating carried out at the center of a circle of gang members, who continued to pound on the victim even after he had lost consciousness, and concluding with Fazah shooting the victim in the face at point blank range – supports a sentence at the statutory maximum,” prosecutors wrote in sentencing memorandums that recommended life sentences for Fazah and Dorado.

The drug trafficking charges against Dorado and Fazah were based on the F13 gang’s street sales of illegal narcotics and smuggling of drugs into the Los Angeles County jail system.

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U.S. Army Contracting Officer Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from South Korean Companies that Were Paid for Work Not Performed

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:12 am

LOS ANGELES – A U.S. Army Contracting Officer Representative pleaded guilty today to federal bribery charges stemming from his approval of fraudulent invoices issued by South Korean contractors in return for payments totaling at least $170,000.

Marcus D. Flowers, 50, of Enterprise, Alabama, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

Flowers pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 11.

Flowers, who worked as a Contracting Officer for the United States Army, was responsible for approving invoices issued by various South Korean contractors that installed closed circuit televisions at U.S. military installations in the Republic of Korea. According to court documents, Flowers accepted between $170,000 and $543,783 in cash and other items of value in return for approving payments to contractors despite their non-installation of CCTVs, or the installation of cheaper, inferior CCTV models than those required by the contracts.

As part of his plea, Flowers has agreed to forfeit to the government any remaining proceeds of the bribery scheme, which includes cash and real estate purchased in the Philippines.

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Los Angeles Strike Force Indictment Targets Traffickers that Allegedly Shipped Hundreds of Pounds of Narcotics to U.S.

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

LOS ANGELES – The first major narcotics trafficking indictment resulting from an nvestigiation by the Los Angeles Strike Force was unsealed today as authorities arrested seven defendants charged with drug trafficking, money laundering and weapons offenses.

The indictment charges a total of 22 defendants who allegedly were members of a drug trafficking organization linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. The charged defendants allegedly were responsible for the importation of hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin from Mexico into the United States. The narcotics were distributed throughout the country via a network of cartel associates, and the proceeds from the domestic narcotics sales were then funneled back to Mexico, according to the indictment.

In addition to the seven defendants arrested this morning, one of the defendants was already in a California prison on unrelated charges. The remaining 14 defendants, including four whose true names are not yet known, are fugitives, most of whom are believed to be in Mexico.

During the two-year wiretap investigation, members of the Strike Force seized narcotics with an approximate street value in Los Angeles of more than $6 million, including approximately 290 pounds of methamphetamine, 280 pounds of cocaine, 30 pounds of heroin and 81 pounds of marijuana. During the investigation, authorities also seized 33 firearms, three vehicles with hidden compartments and $1.3 million in cash.

The indictment specifically details 14 significant seizures, one of which involved more than 15 kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as over 28 firearms. Another seizure involved more than 70 pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin as well as two vacuum-sealed bundles of cash.

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June 8, 2017

United States Intervenes in False Claims Act Lawsuit Against the City of Los Angeles and CRA/LA for Knowingly Failing to Provide Accessible Housing

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

The United States has intervened in a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the CRA/LA (formerly the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles) alleging that they falsely certified compliance with federal accessibility laws in connection with claims submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for housing grants, the Department of Justice announced today. The accessibility laws allegedly violated include Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the duty to affirmatively further fair housing, which are meant to ensure that people with disabilities have fair and equal access to public housing.

The lawsuit alleges that the City applied for and received from HUD millions of dollars in federal housing funds, a portion of which it provided to the CRA/LA, to develop affordable housing that was accessible for people with disabilities. As recipients of HUD funds, the City and the CRA/LA must comply with the accessibility laws allegedly violated. Among other things, these laws require that five percent of all units in certain federally-assisted multifamily housing be accessible for people with mobility impairments, and an additional two percent be accessible for people with visual and auditory impairments. They also require that the City and the CRA/LA maintain a publicly available list of accessible units and their accessibility features. Likewise, they require that the City and the CRA/LA have a monitoring program in place to ensure people with disabilities are not excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in, federally-assisted housing programs and activities solely on the basis of a disability.

The City annually had to certify compliance with Section 504, the Fair Housing Act, and the duty to affirmatively further fair housing as a precondition for receiving HUD funds. The lawsuit alleges that none of the HUD-assisted multifamily housing supported by the CRA/LA, or other developers, met the minimum number of accessible units. The lawsuit also alleges that the City and the CRA/LA neither monitored sub-recipients of HUD funds for compliance with federal accessibility laws nor maintained a publicly-available list of accessible units and their accessibility features.

“Recipients of federal housing funds must honor their commitments to accommodate people with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Denying people with disabilities equal access to public housing deprives one of the most disadvantaged groups in society of fair housing opportunities.”

“This case alleges that the City of Los Angeles repeatedly violated the law by falsely certifying that millions of federal dollars were being used to build housing that included units accessible to people with disabilities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California. “While people with disabilities struggled to find accessible housing, the city and its agents denied them equal access to housing while falsely certifying the availability of such housing to keep the dollars flowing. The conduct alleged in this case is very troubling because of the impact on people who did not have access to housing that met their needs.”

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PALMDALE FELON CHARGED WITH PANDERING SEVEN VICTIMS AND PIMPING TWO YOUNG WOMEN IN COSTA MESA AND GARDEN GROVE

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Palmdale felon is facing additional charges for pandering seven victims and pimping two young women in Costa Mesa and Garden Grove. His co-defendant faces initial charges in the amended complaint filed yesterday.

Defendant

Felony Charges

Maximum Sentence

Court Date

Antonio Alon Johnson, 23, Palmdale

  • (7) Pandering
  • Pimping
  • Attempted pimping
  • Conspiracy to commit pimping

Prior strike conviction

  • Robbery in 2013 in Los Angeles

29 years in state prison

Pre-trial hearing

June 13, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Davishawn Paul Terrell-Kennedy, 22, Palmdale

  • Pandering
  • Conspiracy to commit pimping

Six years in state prison

Pre-trial hearing

June 13, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

Johnson and Terrell-Kennedy are accused of being pimps who exploit women for financial gain. Pimps often establish rigid rules their victims are expected to follow including requiring victims to speak only when spoken to, address the pimp as “Sir” or “Daddy,” assigning seats in the car based on “rank,” and setting daily quotas that the victims are expected to fulfill. The victims are required to turn over all payments they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp. Failure to follow these rules can result in deprivation of food and/or physical and/or emotional abuse.

  • Between September 2016 and June 2017, Johnson is accused of pimping 19-year-old Jane Doe 1 in areas of Orange County known for human trafficking and prostitution. The defendant is accused of posting advertisements containing sexually explicit images of the victim on websites known for soliciting commercial sex.
  • On Feb. 2, 2017, the victim’s mother contacted the Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) to report her daughter as a potential victim of human trafficking due to contact with the victim.
  • CMPD responded to a motel in Costa Mesa, located Jane Doe 1 in a room booked under the defendant’s name, and investigated this case.
  • Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) discovered Johnson is accused of pandering five different women to commit prostitution between November and December 2016.
  • On May 19, 2017, Johnson was charged with pimping and pandering while out of custody.
  • Johnson and Terrell-Kennedy are accused of pandering and conspiring to pimp 18-year-old Jane Doe 2, driving the victim from Las Vegas to Orange County to commit prostitution for their benefit.
  • On June 1, 2017, OCHTTF detectives located the defendants at a motel in Garden Grove, and they are accused of leaving a room where Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, and a sex purchaser were located.
  • Detectives arrested the defendants at the Garden Grove motel scene.
  • Johnson and Terrell-Kennedy are accused of possessing cash and other evidence of pimping.

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Northern California Man Sentenced to Prison for Rigging Bids at Public Foreclosure Auctions

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

After being convicted at trial, a Lafayette, California, man was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Thomas Joyce was charged on Dec. 3, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California.  Joyce was convicted on Feb. 6, 2017, of conspiring to rig bids at real-estate foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County.  In addition to his term of imprisonment, Joyce was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

Between June 2008 and January 2011, Joyce and other bidders at the auctions conspired not to bid against one another for selected properties, instead designating a winning bidder to win the property at the auction.  The members of the conspiracy then held second, private auctions, known as “rounds,” to award the properties to members of the conspiracy and determine payoffs for other conspirators who had agreed not to bid against each other at the public auctions.  The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held.  When real estate properties are sold at public auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with the remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner.

The sentence is a result of the division’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office.

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June 7, 2017

Attorney General Becerra: California To Receive $53 Million From Dish Network LLC for Illegal Telemarketing

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that California was awarded a $53.25 million judgment yesterday against Dish Network after it engaged in a nationwide campaign of illegal telemarketing and made unwanted calls to thousands of people registered on the Do Not Call registry, many of them California residents. The ruling was made by Judge Sue Myerscough of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

“As families gather around the dinner table each night, they shouldn’t be bombarded by unwanted telemarketing calls,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Congress established the Do Not Call list to empower consumers and prevent these calls. Dish Network chose to ignore the rules, repeatedly and intentionally violating state and federal telemarketing laws. That type of abuse of Californians guarantees that my team at the Department of Justice will prosecute the wrongdoers.”

The Court entered the judgment against Dish after a five-week bench trial. The Court also ordered robust injunctive relief requiring Dish Network to reform its telemarketing practices. California was joined by co-plaintiffs the federal government, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio in this action.

When he assumed office, Attorney General Becerra committed to protect consumers as a top priority. Since then, he has announced a $33 million multi-state settlement with Johnson and Johnson marketing over-the-counter medicines that failed to meet quality standards; a $586 million multi-state settlement with Western Union for wire fraud scams; and a record $18.5 million multi-state settlement with Target, in response to allegations that over 40 million customers had their payment card information compromised during the 2013 holiday season after the company failed to provide reasonable data security.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra / Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FORMER OCC STUDENT FACES ADDITIONAL CHARGES FOR VANDALIZING CAMPUS SAFETY VEHICLES AND VIOLATING PROTECTIVE ORDER TO STAY AWAY FROM CAMPUS

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

WESTMINSTER, Calif. – A former Orange Coast College (OCC) student was charged with additional counts yesterday for vandalizing two campus safety vehicles and violating a protective order to stay away from the school campus.

Defendant Charges Court Date
Robert Bouton McDougal, 21, Costa Mesa Charged on March 29, 2017 with one misdemeanor count of:

  • Disturbing the peace on school campus

Charged on June 5, 2017, in an amended complaint with the following counts:

Felony

  • Vandalism – Damage $400 or more

Misdemeanor

  • Disturbing public school
  • Remaining on campus without consent
  • (2) Resisting and obstructing an officer
  • (5) Violating a protective order
Pre-trial hearing

  • June 20, 2017
  • Department W-15, West Justice Center, Westminster
  • Maximum Sentence: Three years in state prison and seven years in county jail

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Feb. 27, 2017, McDougal is accused of disturbing a public school after running into his former professor’s classroom and shouting a racial slur at the campus security officer who subdued him.
  • Shortly after the incident, McDougal was suspended from OCC for two years.
  • Additionally, McDougal was ordered by a court to stay away from the OCC campus and have no contact with his former professor.
  • The defendant is accused of returning to OCC campus several times between on April 21, 2017, and May 25, 2017, in violation the protective orders against him.
  • On March 7, 2017, McDougal is accused of remaining on campus without consent, and resisting and obstructing an officer when being removed from the campus.
  • On or about March 13, 2017, McDougal is accused of vandalizing two campus safety vehicles with obscenities, including a swastika and racial slur, and slashing their tires.
  • An OCC campus security officer approached the defendant, who then fled the scene.
  • Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) was notified of the vandalism and arrested McDougal at his home later that day.

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High School Track & Field Coach Charged with Child Abuse

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

A 51-year-old man has been charged with reaching out to a teen girl for sexual purposes over two months, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Danny Lee Harris (dob 9/7/65) of Pasadena has been charged with six counts in case GA101246: two counts each of contact with minor for sexual offense, child abuse and child annoyance.

The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Department T of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Alhambra Branch. Prosecutors are asking that bail be set at $200,000.

Between April and May 2017, Harris, a track and field coach at Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel, allegedly sent inappropriate messages to an underage female student.

A relative of the victim reportedly discovered the messages and alerted authorities, prosecutors said.

On June 2, Harris was arrested in connection with the crimes and charged four days later.

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