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October 4, 2017

Compton Man Sentenced to 13 Years in Federal Prison for Illegally Selling Firearms

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

LOS ANGELES – A Compton man with a lengthy criminal history was sentenced today to 156 months in federal prison for firearms offenses, including dealing firearms without a license.

Francisco Juantonio Hilt, 39, of Compton, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner after a jury found him and Sean Ronaldo Alexander, 37, of South Los Angeles, guilty in March of seven illegal gun transactions involving a total of 30 guns, including military-style weapons and stolen firearms. The evidence at trial showed that the men believed they were supplying guns to the Armenian Mafia and the “Mexican Cartel,” and Hilt believed the buyer was a convicted felon. Both Hilt and Alexander were found guilty of conspiracy and engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. Hilt was also convicted of several counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and sale of a firearm to a convicted felon.

On July 12, 2017, Judge Klausner sentenced Alexander to 24 months’ imprisonment.

A third con-conspirator – Jamie Maurice Thomas, 38, of South Los Angeles – pleaded guilty in November 2016 to conspiracy and selling a firearm to a convicted felon.  Judge Klausner sentenced Thomas to 63 months in federal prison in March.

The three defendants were charged as part of an operation last year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) targeting the sale of guns in and around Compton and Mona Park in the Willowbrook area of Los Angeles. During the course of the year-long investigation, authorities took more than 100 illegally trafficked firearms off the streets, and 14 defendants were charged in federal and state court. (more…)

October 3, 2017

Orange County Man Sentenced to over Eight Years for Taking $2.2 Million from Distressed Homeowners in Bogus Loan Modification Scheme

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

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison Friday for fraudulently taking $2.2 million from distressed homeowners based on false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages.

Kevin Frank Rasher, 45, who has been in custody since his arrest at his Coto de Caza residence over a year ago, pled guilty to 12 counts of mail fraud in May. Rasher was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton who also ordered him to pay $2.24 million in restitution to his victims.

According to court documents, Rasher admitted that, between 2011 and March 2016, he falsely told distressed homeowners that he was an employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and/or an attorney, and that the homeowners had been approved for a reduced mortgage payment or interest rate. Rasher then instructed the homeowners to mail their mortgage payments to one of his businesses, claiming that he would forward the money to the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. Instead of forwarding the money to the mortgage lenders, Rasher deposited the money into his bank accounts and used it to pay his own personal expenses.

Rasher admitted that he fraudulently obtained approximately $2.24 million from more than 500 victims.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General; the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more…)

Director of South Korea’s Earthquake Research Center Sentenced to 14 months in Federal Prison for Money Laundering Stemming from Million Dollar Bribe Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A former director of South Korea’s Earthquake Research Center at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) has been sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for using a Southern California bank account to launder bribes he received from two seismological companies, including one based in Pasadena.

Heon-Cheol Chi, 59, of South Korea, was sentenced today by United States District Judge John F. Walter on one count of engaging in financial transactions with criminally derived property stating that this sentence “should send a clear message that this will not be tolerated by the law.”  Chi was convicted in July of the money laundering charge following a four-day jury trial in United States District Court. According to the evidence presented at trial, Chi laundered the proceeds of bribes he had accepted in violation of South Korea law. In addition to the prison term, Chi was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and to serve one year of supervised release following the completion of his term in federal custody.

According to trial testimony, from at least 2009 through 2015, Chi abused his official position at KIGAM to demand and receive over $1 million in bribes from two seismological companies in exchange for providing them with unfair business advantages in the South Korean seismological market. The trial evidence showed that Chi advocated the purchase and use of equipment from these two companies by KIGAM and other South Korean customers. He also provided these companies with market intelligence and inside information, including confidential information about their competitors and the KIGAM bidding process.

The evidence showed that Chi directed that his bribe payments be paid in cash or wired to his personal account at a Bank of America branch in Glendora. Chi transferred approximately half of the bribe payments sent to that account to an investment account he held in New York City, and spent approximately 70 percent of the remaining funds in South Korea, where he resided and worked. (more…)

Owner-Operator of Burbank Clinic that Prescribed Unnecessary Services and Submitted Fraudulent Claims as Part of Scheme to Defraud Medicare Sentenced to 37 Months in Federal Prison

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

LOS ANGELES – The owner-operator of a Burbank medical clinic was sentenced today to 37 months in federal prison on federal healthcare fraud charges for participating in a scheme to defraud Medicare by prescribing unnecessary services and equipment, which often were not even provided.

Knarik Vardumyan, 53, of Burbank, who formerly owned and operated the medical clinic, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer who also ordered Vardumyan to pay $1,711,789 in restitution to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Vardumyan pleaded guilty in April to two counts of federal healthcare fraud.

According to court documents, Vardumyan admitted that she knowingly and unlawfully participated in a scheme to defraud Medicare by billing Medicare for “medically unnecessary office visits and diagnostic tests,” and by arranging “for the issuance of . . . prescriptions and orders for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment” and “home health services.” Vardumyan further admitted, “many, if not all” of the people who visited her clinic “were brought . . . by co-schemers known as ‘marketers,’ who offered promises of free, medically unnecessary [equipment] or food” to those Medicare beneficiaries who were willing to attend Vardumyan’s clinic.

In documents filed in relation to today’s sentence, the government noted that Medicare paid $1,711,789 as a result of this fraudulent scheme, and that a 37-month term of imprisonment appropriately reflects the nature and circumstances of the offense, as well as the need for the sentence to “promote respect for the law and afford adequate deterrence against this kind of serious fraud against our healthcare system and the public fisc.” (more…)

October 2, 2017

O.C. Day Care Agrees to Administer Emergency EpiPen Injections When Needed to Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

LOS ANGELES – A Garden Grove preschool has entered into a voluntary civil settlement agreement with the United States to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to agree to provide EpiPen injections when required and requested at its facility.

OC Kids Infant and Preschool agreed last week to modify its policies to allow its staff to administer emergency EpiPen injections to children experiencing severe allergic reactions.

The agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office resolves allegations that OC Kids was violating Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination by places of public accommodation, including day care facilities, against individuals with disabilities.

“Children with disabilities, including severe food allergies, must be given equal opportunities to attend day care,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown.  “I want to thank OC Kids for acknowledging its responsibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The policies and changes that OC Kids has agreed to implement should serve as a guide for other day care centers to ensure that their admissions policies and practices do not discriminate against children with disabilities.” (more…)

Fugitive Coachella Valley Doctor Who Admitted Running Cosmetic Surgery Scam that Took Tens of Millions of Dollars from Insurance Companies Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

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

SANTA ANA, California – A Rancho Mirage cosmetic surgeon who has been on the run for four months after pleading guilty in a scheme that duped health insurance companies into paying tens of millions of dollars for cosmetic procedures that were not medically necessary was sentenced in absentia this afternoon to 20 years in federal prison.

Dr. David M. Morrow, 72, a former Rancho Mirage resident whose current whereabouts are unknown, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton.

Judge Staton imposed the sentence after Morrow pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and filing a false tax return.

During today’s hearing, Judge Staton noted that Morrow’s “greed knew no bounds,” and that he showed an “utter disregard for patients’ well-being and safety.” As part of the sentencing, Judge Staton found that the intended loss from Morrow’s scheme was $44,265,211. (more…)

Former Employee of City of Glendale Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Offense for Embezzling Nearly $610,000 of City Funds

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

LOS ANGELES – A former employee of the Glendale City Attorney’s Office has been charged with embezzling $609,764 she illegally obtained by creating documents to make it appear the money was being used to pay civil claims against the city.

Cassandra Alexander, 53, who resides in the Winnetka district of Los Angeles, was charged yesterday with one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds. In a plea agreement also filed yesterday, Alexander agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense.

Alexander was a claims and litigation support supervisor at the Glendale City Attorney’s Office, where she was responsible for assembling “Settlement Packets” that were used to resolve claims against Glendale for personal injury or property damage. Each Settlement Packet contained approval of the settlement by a member of the City Attorney’s and the City Council, as well as authorization for the city’s Finance Department to issue a check to the claimant.

Alexander, who had unlimited authority to sign documents directing the Finance Department to issue checks, was responsible for picking up the checks and providing them to claimants’ attorneys. (more…)

September 29, 2017

Law School Dropout Arrested for Impersonating New York Attorney and Defrauding Clients Who Paid for Immigration Services

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

LOS ANGELES – A Lynwood woman who dropped out of law school – but who later allegedly stole the identity and bar license number of a New York attorney – surrendered herself last night on federal charges that accuse her of filing immigration petitions on behalf of foreign nationals who believed she was a legitimate lawyer.

Jessica Godoy Ramos, 36, was taken into custody pursuant to a criminal complaint that charges her with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ramos is expected to make her initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court.

According to the criminal complaint, Ramos accepted thousands of dollars from several dozen aliens who sought her services in an attempt to obtain legal status in the United States. The complaint affidavit alleges that Ramos filed immigration petitions on the behalf of some aliens, but in other cases she never performed any services for her clients. In at least one instance, Ramos created counterfeit immigration parole documents which a client was able to use to enter the United States.

According to the complaint, Ramos’ clients initially believed she was a legitimate immigration attorney, but several became suspicious when Ramos directed them to appear at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices for interviews – but they did not have any scheduled appointments.

“The crimes alleged in this case victimized dozens of immigrants who were attempting to realize the American dream by paying someone they thought was a lawyer,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “This type of scam, which unfortunately targets new immigrants too often, undermines our immigration system and can shatter dreams of obtaining legal status to remain in the United States.” (more…)

MAN CONVICTED OF KIDNAPPING AND FORCIBLY RAPING 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL AND ATTEMPTING TO KIDNAP AND SEXUALLY ASSAULT THREE OTHER VICTIMS AGES 11 TO 16

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was convicted today of kidnapping, forcibly raping, and sodomizing a 14-year-old girl and attempting to kidnap three other victims ages 11 to 16 with the intent to commit a sex offense.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Elias Omar Xicotencatl, 26, Anaheim Found guilty by a jury today of the following felony counts:

  • Forcible rape
  • Sodomy by force
  • (3) Attempted kidnapping to commit a sex offense
  • Assault of a minor with intent to commit sexual offense

Sentencing Enhancements Allegations Found True

  • (2) Personal use of a deadly weapon
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Kidnapping
  • Tying and binding victim
Life in state prison without the possibility of parole Sentencing

Dec. 8, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • On March 31, 2011, Xicotencatl kidnapped 14-year-old Jane Doe 1, who was walking to Loara High School (LHS) in the city of Anaheim.
  • The defendant drove Jane Doe 1 to an unknown location, blindfolded and tied the victim’s hands and feet, then forcibly raped and sodomized her. (more…)

MAN CHARGED WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER DURING ATTEMPTED RAPE FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING 68-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WHO LATER DIED

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was charged with special circumstances murder during attempted rape after the 68-year-old victim died due to injuries sustained in the assault.

Defendant Charges Minimum Sentence Court Date
Michael Aon Varela, 30, Garden Grove Charged on Sept. 22, 2017, in an amended complaint with the following felony count:

  • Murder

Sentencing Enhancement

  • Special Circumstances: Murder during the commission of attempted rape
Life in state prison without the possibility of parole Continued arraignment

Oct. 13, 2017, 10:00 a.m.

Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • On Sept. 10, 2017, at approximately 5:00 a.m., Varela is accused of attacking 68-year-old Jane Doe, whom he did not know, outside of a home in Garden Grove while she was on a walk.
  • The defendant is accused of assaulting the victim and attempting to rape her. (more…)

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