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May 16, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:53 am

WESTMINSTER - Two roommates were convicted and sentenced today for stealing a check from a Newport Beach law firm and changing the value to over $285,000 to spend on a private jet to New York, multiple hotel rooms, and a shopping spree at Tiffany & Co. and Montblanc for them and their friends. Alexa Antonella Polar, 35, Garden Grove, pleaded guilty to one felony count of forgery, and Robin Johzen Pabello, 34, Garden Grove, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of forgery and a sentencing enhancement for white collar crime over $100,000. The defendants each were sentenced to three years of formal probation and 305 days in Orange County Jail with credit for time served. Restitution was paid back in full.

At the time of the crime, Polar and Pabello were friends who lived together in Garden Grove. Polar worked as a paralegal for a Newport Beach law firm.

Between Sept. 21, 2011, and Nov. 16, 2011, Polar and Pabello stole a check worth over $19,500 made payable to the law firm where Polar was employed. The defendants removed the payee’s name and replaced it with Pabello’s name. They changed the check amount to over $285,000.

On Nov. 16, 2011, the defendants used an ATM to deposit the fraudulent check into a bank account jointly held by Pabello and Polar. They used the fraudulently obtained money to charter a private jet to fly themselves and several friends to New York City, rent five rooms at a hotel in Times Square, and purchase items from Tiffany & Co. and Montblanc.

Polar and Pabello also obtained cashier’s checks in the amounts of $33,000 and $100,000 from the fraudulently obtained funds to lease and/or purchase a $3.7 million, 11,000 square foot house in Murietta, CA.

The theft was discovered after the issuing bank rejected the check that the receiving bank had processed. Prior to pleading guilty, the defendants paid full restitution of over $42,000 to the receiving bank. The Cypress Police Department investigated this case.

Lawyer for Coachella Valley Indian Tribe and Three Others Charged in Bribery Scheme Related to Projects at Spotlight 29 Casino

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:51 am

LOS ANGELES—An attorney for the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians is among four people who have been indicted on federal bribery and money laundering charges for allegedly participating in scheme in which associates of the lawyer hired to provide assistance to the tribe paid kickbacks to the attorney.

The 48-count grand jury indictment returned yesterday afternoon names:

Gary Edward Kovall, 66, of Ely, Minnesota, a licensed California attorney who acted as legal counsel for the tribe;
David Alan Heslop, 74, of Templeton, who, on Kovall’s recommendation, was hired by the tribe to oversee some tribal business;
Paul Phillip Bardos, 57, of Rancho Cucamonga, a general contractor; and
Peggy Anne Shambaugh, 56, of Ely, Minnesota, who is Kovall’s wife.
All four defendants have agreed to appear for arraignments tomorrow in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

According to the indictment, Kovall advised the tribe to create a limited liability company to purchase real estate, and the attorney convinced the tribe to hire Heslop as the company’s manager. Kovall and Heslop then recommended that the tribe hire Bardos to act as the tribe’s “owner’s representative” in several construction projects at the Spotlight 29 Casino. When additional construction or construction oversight became necessary in relation to casino projects, Bardos submitted proposals to perform the work, and Kovall persuaded the tribe to give Bardos the contracts. After being paid by the tribe, Bardos paid kickbacks to Heslop who, in turn, paid kickbacks to Kovall though Shambaugh.


South Bay Resident Charged in Commodities Scam that Caused Dozens of Victims to Lose as Much $2.5 Million

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:48 am

LOS ANGELES – A South Bay man was charged today in a commodities fraud scheme in which several dozen investors lost as much as $2.5 million, announced United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office is prosecuting the case.

Michael J. Leighton, who also used the name Michael Santora, 53, a commodities trader and former mortgage broker based in Torrance, California, was charged with one count of commodities fraud in a criminal information filed this morning in United States District Court.

In conjunction with the criminal charges, prosecutors filed a plea agreement in which Leighton admits that he made a series of material misrepresentations to victim-investors, which included his friends and former colleagues who lived in Southern California.

According to court documents, for roughly the past three years, Leighton told a series of lies and failed to disclose information to those seeking to invest in a commodities pool. Specifically, Leighton told investors that their funds would be invested in futures linked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index that trade on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is regulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Leighton also falsely told investors that only half of their funds would be at risk at any one time and that they would receive a certain rate of return.

In fact, Leighton invested more than half of the investors’ funds in the futures and used some of their funds to pay for his living expenses. The investors did not receive the promised rates of return because the investments were not successful. In order to conceal his fraud, Leighton created false spreadsheets and account statements falsely showing that the commodities pool was earning certain returns.

The charge of commodities fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison.

Leighton has agreed to appear in federal court for an arraignment on June 4.

May 15, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 8:23 am

SANTA ANA - A man dubbed the “Snowboarder Bandit” was charged today with committing robberies in 10 Orange County banks. Michael Brandon Franks, 29, Riverside County, is charged with 10 felony counts of second degree robbery and two felony counts of attempted robbery. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. He is being held on $250,000 bail and is scheduled for a continued arraignment hearing on May 18, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Between Dec. 20, 2011, and March 21, 2012, Franks is accused of committing 10 robberies at nine different banks in Orange County. The bank chains included Bank of America in Anaheim, Chase Bank in Laguna Hills and Laguna Niguel, Citibank in Irvine, two robberies at the Schools First Federal Credit Union branch in Anaheim, Union Bank in Newport Beach, US Bank in Irvine and Ladera Ranch, and Wells Fargo in Irvine.

Franks is accused of attempting to rob a bank teller at the Citibank branch in Irvine and the US Bank branch in Irvine where he is accused of committing robberies before.

In each of the cases, the defendant is accused of carrying out similar acts: entering the bank wearing distinctive headgear which included a beanie, approaching a teller, and slipping the teller a note stating he had a gun and demanding money. The defendant is accused of causing the tellers to give the money to him out of fear. The defendant is accused of taking the money and walking out of the bank. From the 10 robberies, Franks is accused of taking a total of approximately $30,000.

The case was investigated by multiple agencies including Anaheim Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Irvine Police Department (IPD), Newport Beach Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

On Friday, May 4, 2012, IPD arrested Franks at his home in Riverside County.

Israeli Organized Crime Figure Pleads Guilty in U.S. to Narcotics and Racketeering Offenses, Including Murder

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:21 am

Itzhak Abergil, 43, a citizen of Israel, today pleaded guilty in United States District Court to charges including racketeering conspiracy to commit extortion and murder and conspiracy to import ecstasy into the United States.  Israel Ozifa, 52, a citizen of Israel, today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import ecstasy into the United States.  The guilty pleas were announced today by United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office is prosecuting the case.

Abergil and Ozifa were charged in July 2008 in a 77 page federal grand jury indictment in the Central District of California with federal racketeering charges including conspiracy to import ecstasy, a popular and powerful “club drug,” into the United States from Belgium.  Agents from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency intercepted approximately 100,000 pills of ecstasy at hubs in the Midwest that were being transshipped for ultimate distribution in Southern California.  The street price for the drugs approached $2 million.  At the time of the shipment, Abergil, Ozifa, and their co-conspirators were under investigation by Belgian law enforcement authorities.  According to the indictment, Abergil was the leader of the Abergil crime family and used the power and influence of the Abergil family to conduct criminal activities in Israel and around the world.

Abergil was also charged with racketeering conspiracy to extort repayment of usurious loans to individuals in the United States and with racketeering conspiracy to murder Sami Atias.  Atias was gunned down, execution style, in August 2003 in Sherman Oaks, California.  Abergil admitted during his guilty plea hearing that Atias was killed for interfering with a drug deal in which Abergil and others were involved.

Earlier this year, another co-defendant, Meir Abergil, the brother of Itzhak Abergil, who is 58 and also a citizen of Israel, was convicted in federal court of one count of extortion for making threats against individuals in the United States and Israel in an effort to collect $1,350,000.   On August 22, 2011, Meir Abergil was sentenced to thirty-six months custody, including time served previously in Israel, and he was subsequently returned to Israel.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:18 am

SANTA ANA - A 14-year-old gang member was charged today with attempted murder for shooting and causing great bodily injury to a 16-year-old boy outside Santa Ana High School. Oswaldo Sotello, 14, Santa Ana, is being charged as an adult with one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of street terrorism with sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and criminal street gang activity. If convicted, Sotello faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in state prison and is being held on $1 million bail. Sotello is scheduled for a continued arraignment hearing on May 25, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. on April 27, 2012, as students were leaving Santa Ana High School, Sotello is accused of getting into a verbal altercation with 16-year-old John Doe just outside the school grounds. During the argument Sotello is accused of pulling out a gun and shooting John Doe in the chest. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the upper torso and remains in critical condition.

Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), who investigated this case, arrested the defendant on May 3, 2012.

May 13, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:44 pm

*Defendant led police on high-speed freeway chase before he was captured

SANTA ANA - A man has been charged with the special circumstances stabbing-murder of his girlfriend and her two young sons. Shazer Fernando Limas, 31, Orange, is accused with three counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders with sentencing enhancements for the multiple murders and the personal use of a deadly weapon. The special circumstances in this case makes Limas eligible for the death penalty. He is being held without bail and is scheduled arraignment, today, May 7, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Death Penalty Decision
In the majority of special circumstances murder cases, the District Attorney convenes a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases after an indictment or preliminary hearing. The committee discusses the defendant’s record, the nature of the crime, and the vulnerability of the victim, among other factors. The committee also considers mitigating circumstances from the defense attorney.  The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney. The decision will be determined at a later date.

Circumstances of the Case
On April 14, 2012, Limas is accused of stabbing and murdering his girlfriend 31-year-old Arlet Contreras and her sons, 2-year-old Fernando L. and 4-month-old Emmanuel L. at an Orange apartment they occupied in the 3000 block of West Chapman Avenue.

On April 15, 2012, Limas is accused of going to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for surgery on a cut to his hand.


Jury Recommends Death for Serial Rapist, Murderer

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:42 pm

LOS ANGELES – A jury today recommended death for an ex-felon convicted last month of multiple sexual assaults and the first-degree murder of a 16-year-old girl, whose bound and burned body was discovered in an alley in 2003.

The jury of eight men and four women deliberated a day before returning with the death recommendation in the penalty phase for 41-year-old Latece Megale Brown. Judge Bob Bowers set sentencing for June 21.

Deputy District Attorneys Beth Silverman and Eric Harmon with the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

The same jury on April 11 found Brown guilty of 24 felony counts, including the first-degree murder and rape of Jacquiese Williams, and the kidnapping, rape and sodomy of five other young women, who ranged in age from 14 to 25 years old.

Williams, who lived in Las Vegas, was visiting her father in Los Angeles when her body was discovered in an alley on 151 W. 121st Street on Oct. 24, 2003. She had been raped, then tied and bound. Her body was wrapped in a comforter, doused with gasoline and set on fire.

Silverman said the documented 117th Watts Crips gang member preyed on vulnerable young women, tied and bound many of them before sexually assaulting them in 2002 and 2003. He was charged with the murder of Williams and a 21-year-old woman, Aisha High. The jury convicted Brown of raping High, but they deadlocked on the murder charge.

“Brown is a career criminal with a record dating back to 1988,” Silverman said. “While in jail, he committed other crimes, including sodomizing his cellmate. This is a just verdict.

Transient Charged with Assaulting LAPD Officer

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 7:40 pm

LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors today filed assault charges against a 23-year-old transient suspected of hitting a female LAPD officer on the back of the head with a drum during a May Day demonstration.

Brian German Mendoza, (dob 3-10-89), is scheduled to be arraigned after 1:30 p.m. in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Deputy District Attorney Frances Young with the Crimes Against Peace Officers Section said Mendoza is charged with assault on a peace officer and assault on a public official, both felonies, and a misdemeanor assault on a peace officer and misdemeanor battery with injury to a peace officer. Prosecutors will ask bail be set at $130,000.

Mendoza allegedly struck the officer on the head from behind after she passed by him on Tuesday afternoon. Young said the officer sustained a concussion. The attack was caught on videotape.

If convicted of all counts, he faces up to nine years in state prison.

May 11, 2012

Beverly Hills Dentist Accused of Insurance Fraud in Excess of $300k

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 1:33 am

LOS ANGELES – A Beverly Hills dentist was arrested today on a 101-count felony complaint alleging insurance fraud exceeding $300,000 in losses, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Tom K. Kalili, 57 (dob 9/24/54), is charged in case No. BA394506 with grand theft and tax evasion with an excessive-taking allegation. Kalili is expected to appear for arraignment early next week in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

The filing concludes a multi-year joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance, the California Dental Board and the California Franchise Board. Kalili owns and operates Beverly Hills Medical Suites, a dental office.

The defendant’s office manager and biller, Claudia Ventura, 38 (dob 9/19/73), is charged with 10 felony counts including insurance fraud and accessory after the fact. She will be arraigned with Kalili next week.

Bail for Kalili is recommended at $500,000. Co-defendant Ventura’s bail is recommended at $25,000.

If convicted as charged, Ventura faces more than seven years in state prison. Kalili could be sentenced to more than 50 years in prison.

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