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December 7, 2016

Canadian Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison in ‘Secret Shopper’ Mass Marketing Scam that Bilked Victims Across United States

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

LOS ANGELES – A Toronto couple who were extradited earlier this year to the United States have been sentenced for their roles in a mass marketing scheme that targeted hundreds of victims across the United States with counterfeit checks that accompanied bogus claims they had been selected to become “secret shoppers” at MoneyGram counters inside Walmart stores.

Idris Nuradin 35, was sentenced yesterday afternoon to 27 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez. In addition to the prison term, Judge Gutierrez ordered Nuradin to pay $110,109 in restitution to 33 victims.

Nuradin’s wife, 34-year-old Habone Gayad, 34, yesterday received a “time served” sentence, which is approximately eight months in custody.

The couple and others mailed out hundreds of letters from Toronto to people across the United States that falsely stated they had been selected to act as secret shoppers at Walmart and MoneyGram, according to court documents. The letters included bogus checks that the victims were instructed to deposit to their own bank accounts. The victims were told to immediately wire most of the proceeds of the checks at MoneyGram counters located inside Walmart stores. The balance of the checks would serve as the payment for the secret shoppers.

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MAN CONVICTED AND SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR RUNNING $11 MILLION PONZI SCHEME BASED ON FRAUDULENT INSURANCE POLICIES

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:52 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An Orange County man was convicted and sentenced yesterday to 10 years in state prison for running an $11 million Ponzi scheme and victimizing over 27 people with sale of unsecured securities based on fraudulent insurance policies. Joseph Francis Bartholomew, 77, Lake Forest, pleaded guilty to a court offer on Dec. 5, 2016, to one felony count of the use of a device or scheme to defraud and 28 felony counts of using an untrue statement in the purchase or sale of a security with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and loss greater than $3.2 million. In addition to prison, Bartholomew was ordered to pay restitution.

Co-defendant Wendy King-Jackson, 56, Laguna Niguel, pleaded guilty yesterday to two felony counts of the use of an untrue statement or omission in connection with the purchase or sale of a security. King-Jackson faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison at her sentencing on Feb. 2, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

The defendants engaged in a “Ponzi scheme,” which is a fraudulent operation that offers investors high, short-term returns on investments. Instead of using the money to generate actual income and legitimate profits, the money from the investors is kept for the benefit of the defendant or used to repay earlier investors.

Bartholomew owned and operated MBP Insurance Services, Inc. (MBP), which offered and sold unsecured securities based on fraudulent insurance policies. Between July 2005 and May 2014, Bartholomew defrauded over 27 investors, the majority of whom were senior citizens, and falsely promised them he would provide a return of 15 to 40 percent in interest from their investment.

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STRIKER SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CONSPIRING TO PIMP WOMAN AND POSSESSING STUN GUN

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Northern California man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiring to pimp a woman and illegally possessing a stun gun in his vehicle. Binh Cong Thai, 29, San Jose, pleaded guilty on March 3, 2016, to one felony count of conspiracy to commit pimping and one misdemeanor of unlawful possession of a stun gun with a prior conviction, and admitted to a prior strike conviction for a 2013 armed robbery in Santa Clara County. He was sentenced to five years of formal probation and 12 years in state prison was suspended. Due to a probation violation, Thai will serve 12 years in state prison.

Circumstances of the Case

Thai is a pimp who exploits women for financial gain. The victims are often required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.

Prior to January 2016, Thai met and transported 19-year-old Jane Doe from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Orange County with the intent of having the victim perform commercial sex acts for his benefit. Thai took sexually explicit photographs of the victim and posted the photos in advertisements soliciting commercial sex on websites known for prostitution and human trafficking.

In the early morning hours on Jan. 1, 2016, Tustin Police Department (TPD) officers responded to a call for service at an apartment complex. TPD located Thai at the apartment complex, contacted him, and arrested him at the scene after further investigation. At the time of his arrest, Thai is accused of possessing a stun gun in his vehicle.

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December 6, 2016

Federal Jury Convicts California Man of Hate Crime

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:21 am

After a five-day trial, a federal jury found Justin Cole Whittington, 25, of Bakersfield, California, guilty of federal hate crimes for firing a shotgun while yelling racist slurs at a Latino man.

The conviction was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California.

Whittington was convicted today of interfering with a person’s housing rights because of his race, color or national origin by use of force or threat of force; use of a firearm during a crime of violence; and making a false statement to a special agent of the FBI.  Whittington had earlier pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm in connection to the same crime.

“Whittington used violence to terrorize an innocent man and his family,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta.  “The harm from hate crimes like this one extends beyond individuals and threatens the security, freedom and well-being of entire communities.  No conviction can reverse that harm but this verdict does provide a measure of justice for the victim, his family and his community.”

“The Eastern District of California is a community of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert.  “This defendant tried to strike at the diversity that enriches us by making a cowardly and unprovoked attack on a man who was simply standing in his front yard with his family.  Hate crimes like this have profound effects not only on the victims, but on those in the victims’ communities, making them feel vulnerable and unsafe.  Our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who violate the civil rights of others and enforcing laws against hate crimes will remain one of the core missions of this office.”

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UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL WATER POLO COACH ARRAIGNED FOR UNLAWFUL SEX WITH 17-YEAR-OLD STUDENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:19 am

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A water polo coach at University High School in Irvine was arraigned today for unlawful sex with a 17-year-old student. Coleman Michael Pickell, 23, Irvine, is charged with three felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, two felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object of a minor, and one felony count of oral copulation of a minor. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of six years and four months in state prison. Pickell is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 23, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

During the summer of 2015, Pickell was a water polo coach and volunteered as a swim coach at University High School in Irvine where he met the victim, 17-year-old Jane Doe. The defendant is accused of violating his position of trust with access to minors.

On multiple occasions in September 2016, Pickell is accused of contacting the victim and engaging in unlawful sexual acts.

The night of Oct. 8, 2016, the defendant is accused of taking the victim to a hotel room. Jane Doe’s parents located her at the hotel the next morning and contacted the Irvine Police Department (IPD).

On Oct. 11, 2016, Pickell was arrested by IPD, who investigated this case.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces 21-Year Sentence in Long Beach Human Trafficking Case

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

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that Andrew Jordan, 37, was sentenced to 21 years, 4 months in prison in Los Angeles County Superior Court after being found guilty on felony charges, including human trafficking, pimping, pandering, domestic violence, and assault.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime where perpetrators profit from the trading and selling of human beings. Today’s sentence sends a clear signal that this form of modern-day slavery will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Harris. “I want to thank the Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Simi Valley Police Department, the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office and the lawyers and Special Agents of our own California Department of Justice for their continued efforts to work collaboratively to hold human traffickers accountable and secure justice for the survivors.”

The guilty verdict follows a joint investigation by the Long Beach Police Department’s Vice Investigations and Gang Enforcement Sections, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Custody Investigative Services, Operation Safe Jails, the Simi Valley Police Department, and the Los Angeles Human Exploitation and Trafficking Task Force, who helped identify human trafficking victims who were exploited by Jordan, leading to Jordan’s September 2015 arrest. Jordan has been in custody since his arrest.

After a nearly two-week trial, the jury returned its verdicts on September 15, 2016, finding the defendant guilty as charged. The victims testified that the defendant forced them to commit commercial sex acts and kept the proceeds. He dropped each victim off in known prostitution areas and ordered them to solicit business. He monitored their whereabouts by circling the streets and via text message. He collected the money in between sex acts and set strict rules, including how much time the victims should be with a client, what geographic areas they could go to, and how much they needed to make each day. Each victim recounted occasions where she broke one of the rules and was severely punished by Jordan with a physical beating.

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December 5, 2016

Customs Officer Convicted by Federal Jury of Stealing Checks and Money Orders from International Mail Facility in Torrance

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:34 am

LOS ANGELES – A longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has been convicted of federal charges for theft of mail from the International Mail Facility (IMF) in Torrance and arranging to have an accomplice deposit checks obtained from the stolen mail.

Carlos Canjura, 54, of Van Nuys, was convicted in federal court on Wednesday afternoon of all nine counts alleged in the superseding indictment, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and possession of stolen mail.

According to court records, Canjura was a CBP Officer assigned to the IMF, where his duties included examining mail and parcels coming into the United States for contraband, counterfeit goods, and possible fraudulent financial checks or credit cards. The IMF is operated by the United States Postal Service and serves as a location where international mail is processed by CBP officers and other personnel to ensure compliance with federal law before delivery to addresses in the United States.

During the three-day trial, federal prosecutors proved that the defendant stole personal checks, traveler’s checks and money orders from international mail. Canjura then informed his co-conspirator about the stolen checks using messages with coded language like “centurions,” “troops,” “projects” and “cases” to refer to the checks. Canjura gave the stolen checks to his co-conspirator, who fraudulently endorsed the checks or altered them before depositing the checks at ATMs or through mobile phone applications. Canjura stole well over 100 checks with a cumulative value of at least $65,000.

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Former Supervisory Contracting Officer Sentenced to 72 Months in Prison as Part of Expanding Navy Bribery Scandal

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:32 am

A former supervisory contracting officer was sentenced to 72 months in prison today for accepting bribe payments in exchange for steering U.S. Navy contracts to the president and chief executive officer of a defense contractor.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Director Dermot F. O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) made the announcement.

Paul Simpkins, 62, of Haymarket, Virginia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California for his role in steering contracts to Leonard Francis, the president and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).  Judge Sammartino also ordered Simpkins to pay $450,000 in restitution, to forfeit $150,000 and pay a $50,000 fine.  Simpkins pleaded guilty on June 23 to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery.

“Paul Simpkins abused his position as a Navy contracting officer to obtain cash, air travel, hotel rooms and prostitutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Along with others convicted in this ongoing investigation, Simpkins tarnished the reputation earned by the U.S. Navy officers and enlisted and civilian personnel who honorably serve this nation every day.”

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Former Property Management Company Agrees to Pay More Than $1.6 Million for Defrauding Military Housing Projects

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:29 am

American Management Services LLC, based in Seattle, agreed to pay more than $1.6 million pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve criminal charges that the company defrauded the U.S. Army and Virginia-based Clark Realty Capital LLC (Clark) while performing property management services for military housing at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Irwin, California; and the Presidio at Monterey, California.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia; Director Frank Robey of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit; Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office; Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Director Anita Bales of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia entered an order approving the agreement.

In connection with today’s resolution, American Management Services (also known as AMS or Pinnacle) admitted that from 2004 to 2011, it fraudulently obtained approximately $1 million by skimming and concealing undisclosed fees from insurance premiums paid by entities that oversaw privatized housing at the four bases.

According to factual stipulations agreed to by AMS, beginning in or about 2003, the U.S. Army entered into a series of agreements with AMS and Clark to implement the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, which was established to improve housing conditions for members of the armed forces.  At each base, a Clark-affiliated entity was given responsibility for developing new housing and general oversight, and an AMS-affiliated entity was given responsible for routine property management services, including obtaining property and general liability insurance.

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December 2, 2016

Court Authorizes Service of John Doe Summons Seeking the Identities of U.S. Taxpayers Who Have Used Virtual Currency

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

A federal court in the Northern District of California entered an order today authorizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to serve a John Doe summons on Coinbase Inc., seeking information about U.S. taxpayers who conducted transactions in a convertible virtual currency during the years 2013 to 2015.  The IRS is seeking the records of Americans who engaged in business with or through Coinbase, a virtual currency exchanger headquartered in San Francisco, California.

“As the use of virtual currencies has grown exponentially, some have raised questions about tax compliance,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo, head of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.  “Tools like the John Doe summons authorized today send the clear message to U.S. taxpayers that whatever form of currency they use – bitcoin or traditional dollars and cents – we will work to ensure that they are fully reporting their income and paying their fair share of taxes.”

“Transactions in virtual currency are taxable just like those in any other property,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.  “The John Doe summons is a step designed to help the IRS ensure people doing business in the emerging economy are following the tax laws and meeting their responsibilities.”

Virtual currency, as generally defined, is a digital representation of value that functions in the same manner as a country’s traditional currency.  There are nearly a thousand virtual currencies, but the most widely known and largest is bitcoin.  Because transactions in virtual currencies can be difficult to trace and have an inherently pseudo-anonymous aspect, taxpayers may be using them to hide taxable income from the IRS.  In the court’s order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley found that there is a reasonable basis for believing that virtual currency users may have failed to comply with federal tax laws.

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