Best Defender Bytes:

March 22, 2017

Former Ontario police officer admits to having sex with minor

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

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> A former Ontario police officer pleaded guilty in January to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl he met while on duty.

“Tyler Stone pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, which does not require registration as a sex offender as a sanction under the Penal Code,” San Bernardino County District Attorney’s spokesman Christopher Lee said.

According to court records, Stone, who was 30 years old at the time of his 2015 arrest, was sentenced to three years probation and was ordered to serve 270 days in county jail.

Stone was still a police officer with the department when the allegations first surfaced, but on Dec. 22, 2015, he resigned.

Investigators learned Stone met the girl while he was on patrol and later developed a sexual relationship with her. The two reportedly had sex at unidentified places in Ontario and at Stone’s Rancho Cucamonga home.


Former Attorney and U.S. Marine Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison in Vallejo Kidnapping

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Matthew Muller, 39, of South Lake Tahoe, was sentenced today to 40 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on March 23, 2015, in Vallejo, Muller broke into the Mare Island home of Aaron Quinn and Denise Huskins. Armed with a stun gun and a simulated firearm with a laser sight, Muller ordered the victims to lie still while he bound them, blindfolded them, and forced them to drink a sedative. Muller played the victims a prerecorded message, which threatened that any noncompliance would be punished by face cutting or electric shock. Muller then placed Ms. Huskins in the trunk of a car and drove her to his residence in South Lake Tahoe. Once there, Muller kept her under his complete control, at times bound and blindfolded. Muller sent Mr. Quinn two emails demanding ransom for a total of $17,000. Muller released Ms. Huskins on March 25, 2015 in Huntington Beach, with no ransom ever being paid.

During and after the kidnapping, Muller sent emails to a reporter in San Francisco that falsely claimed, among other things, that the kidnapping had been carried out by a group of elite criminals who were perfecting their kidnapping-for-ransom tactics.

The case remained unsolved until after June 8, 2015, when Dublin Police Services of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department arrested Muller and searched his South Lake Tahoe residence. The officers had been investigating a home invasion burglary, which led them to Muller’s residence where they located and seized evidence related to the Vallejo kidnapping.


March 21, 2017


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced to 12 years in state prison today for contacting underage victims through social media with the intent of committing lewd acts. Michael Theodore Mordaunt, 47, Cypress, pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, 2017, to 19 felony counts of contacting a child with the intent to commit a specified crime,five felony counts of lewd acts upon a child age 14 or 15,two felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, three felony counts of meeting a minor with the intent to engage in lewd conduct, one felony count of possession and control of child pornography, and a sentencing enhancement allegation for substantial sexual conduct with a child. In addition to prison, Mordaunt was also sentenced to mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.

At the time of the crime, Mordaunt was working in the Information Technology Department of the Boeing Company in Seal Beach.

Between Feb. 25, 2009, and Jan. 15, 2014, Mordaunt created several Myspace and Facebook accounts using the image of a young teenage boy who is surfing. He contacted minor girls, primarily between the ages of 12 and 16 years old, with the intent to commit lewd acts on the victims. He contacted minor Jane Does using these social networking websites as well as through text messages and phone calls. Mordaunt had sexually explicit conversations and attempted to meet with the victims. The defendant requested and received sexually explicit pictures from several victims.

On multiple occasions, Mordaunt committed lewd acts on multiple Jane Does.



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

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A woman was charged with animal abuse today for illegally selling puppies that were suffering from viruses and parasites through a fake rescue organization. Megan Ann Hoechstetter, 42, Cypress, is charged with 20 misdemeanor counts of keeping an animal without proper care and two misdemeanor counts of animal abuse by a caretaker. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in county jail. Hoechstetter is scheduled to be arraigned on April 28, 2017, in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

Hoechstetter, who has previously used names Megan Ann Nunez and Megan Ann Choate, ran a business called Pawlosophy, which she falsely represented as an animal rescue. The defendant is accused of charging approximately $400 for each 8-week-old dog. Hoechstetter is accused of advertising and selling the puppies without seeking veterinary care.

Between March 21, 2014, and March 1, 2017, Hoechstetter is accused of abusing and failing to care for over 100 puppies. The defendant is accused of knowing the dogs suffered from viral and parasitic infections including parvovirus, coccidia, and giardia, and failing to disclose the illnesses to dog purchasers. Approximately 30 puppies died or had to be euthanized soon after they were adopted, and most of them suffered from severe diarrhea.

On Jan. 1, 2017, a family adopted a puppy named Bailey from Hoechstetter. The dog was seriously ill with parvovirus, and died on Jan. 8, 2017. The owners reported the defendant to the Irvine Police Department (IPD), who investigated this case.


Probation Officer Charged With On-Duty Assault of Teens

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

A deputy probation officer has been charged in connection with two separate assaults on teen inmates at Sylmar Juvenile Hall, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy Probation Officer Carlos Portillo (dob 6/13/78) was charged in case BA454703 with two counts of assault under color of authority. Also charged in the same case are Supervising Deputy Probation Officer Sergio Cano, 45, and Deputy Probation Officer Timothy Boundy, 42.

Boundy has pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault under color of authority, while Cano has pleaded not guilty to one count of assault under color of authority. Portillo pleaded not guilty today to two counts of assault under color of authority.

“The probation officers charged in this case were entrusted with the safekeeping and well-being of youths while in their custody,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “Sadly, in this instance, we believe the defendants abused their authority and broke the law.”

Deputy District Attorney Ann Marie Wise of the Justice System Integrity Division is prosecuting the case.


March 20, 2017

Coachella Valley-Based Day Trader Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Bilking Investors in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A former Coachella Valley resident has been sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for soliciting investments in his money-losing day-trading operation that cost victims millions of dollars in losses.

Robert Charles Butler, 50, was sentenced on Monday by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. Butler currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, but was residing in La Quinta when he ran the investment scam.

Butler solicited victims by falsely claiming to be a successful day trader with a proprietary trading program who had created private investment funds. Even though he had actually lost millions of dollars trading stocks, Butler told victims to expect up to a 10 percent return on their investments. After taking at least $7 million from victims and continuing to suffer substantial losses as a result of his trading, Butler produced fake account statements claiming substantial profits and sent them to victims. In addition to the trading losses, Butler used some of the victims’ money to pay personal expenses, including gambling losses.

When he pleaded guilty, Butler specifically admitted that he caused more than $2.5 million in losses. The exact loss figure will be determined by Judge Phillips during a restitution hearing scheduled for March 27.

Butler defrauded at least one family member and friends of the relative who lived in Indio. Many of the investors withdrew funds from their retirement accounts after meetings at Butler’s lavish home office containing seven to eight computer screens showing stock activity.


West Covina Man Faces Federal Charge after 1¼ Pounds of Meth and Numerous Firearms Discovered in his West Covina Residence

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

LOS ANGELES – A West Covina man has been charged in federal court with possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine after authorities found over one-half kilogram of methamphetamine in his residence.

Edwin Francisco Reyes, 44, was charged with the drug trafficking offense in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in United States District Court.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Reyes was arrested by the Chino Police Department on March 2 after they executed a search warrant at the home he shared with his wife and four children. During the search, officers with the Chino Police Department seized 532 grams – or nearly 19 ounces – of methamphetamine.

Reyes, who admitted being a convicted felon, also was in possession of 28 firearms, including six handguns, two bolt-action rifles and two AR-style rifles, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit alleges that Reyes admitted being involved in a drug trafficking ring as a runner who delivered drugs to buyers in exchange for cash. On the day the search warrant was executed, according to the affidavit, Reyes admitted picking up five pounds of methamphetamine to deliver to Ontario.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A private investigator working for a law firm retained by the Costa Mesa Police Officers’ Association (CMPOA) was sentenced today to one year in county jail for committing crimes against two Costa Mesa council members and a competitor attorney. Christopher Joseph Lanzillo, 47, Lake Arrowhead, pleaded guilty to the court on Sept. 28, 2016, to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime of unlawful use of electronic tracking device, one felony count of false imprisonment by deceit, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime of falsely reporting crime to an agency. Lanzillo was sentenced to 364 days in county jail and three years formal probation.

Co-defendant Scott Alan Impola, 49, Canyon Lake, is facing the same charges and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on June 8, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Lanzillo was convicted of and Impola is accused of committing the following crimes:

At the time of the crimes, Lanzillo and Impola worked as private investigators for the former Upland-based law firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill, and Ethir (LDME). CMPOA retained LDME to conduct “candidate research,” including surveillance on Costa Mesa city council members, in the months leading up to the November 2012 election.

On June 19, 2012, Lanzillo purchased a GPS monitoring device using the alias Robert Teller with Teller Investigations.



March 17, 2017

Florida Man Sentenced to over 6 Years for Fraudulently Seeking $470,000 in Tax Refunds, Retaliating Against IRS Officials with Liens

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

LOS ANGELES – A Florida man who filed fraudulent tax returns that sought approximately $470,000 with the Internal Revenue Service – and then filed bogus false liens to retaliate against IRS employees who refused to pay his frivolous claims – has been sentenced to 77 months in federal prison.

Taquan Gullett, who also used the name “Maalik Rashe El,” 38, of Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced yesterday afternoon by United States District Judge Christina Snyder.

Gullett was convicted in August of two counts of making false claims against the United States and two counts of retaliating against a federal employee by attempting to file a false lien or encumbrance.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Gullett filed a 2009 income tax return, in which he claimed that he earned $52,591 in wages as an exercise physiologist and falsely stated that he generated $221,306 in interest income, all of which had been withheld as federal income tax payments. Gullett therefore claimed that he was due a tax refund of $149,296, and requested that the refund be paid to his account at a Los Angeles-based credit union. Gullett also submitted to the IRS several fake Forms 1099, many of which were handwritten by Gullett, to support his fraudulent tax refund claim.

Once the IRS determined that Gullet’s 2009 tax return was frivolous and denied his claim for refund, Gullett retaliated by filing a “commercial lien” with the California Secretary of State. In the purported lien, Gullett falsely asserted that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the then-IRS Commissioner and other IRS employees owed him over $20 million for his “lawful 2009 claim refund.”


Northern California Real Estate Investor Sentenced for Rigging Bids at Public Foreclosure Auctions

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

A Northern California real estate investor was sentenced yesterday for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

John Michael Galloway was charged on Dec. 3, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California. He pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging in Oakland, California, on Nov. 16, 2016.  Yesterday, Galloway was sentenced to serve 12 months of imprisonment and ordered to pay a $74,899 criminal fine and $265,050 in restitution.

Between June 2008 and January 2011, Galloway conspired with others not to bid against one another, instead designating a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County. The members of the conspiracy then held second, private auctions 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. The primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and eliminate competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Contra Costa County public foreclosure auctions at noncompetitive prices. 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.

Yesterday’s sentence is a result of the department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo 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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