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July 7, 2017

Attorney General Becerra Sues U.S. Department of Education For Unlawfully Delaying Student Protections

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education for unlawfully delaying the implementation of regulations aimed at protecting students from deceptive practices and fraud. The regulations, known as the “Borrower Defense Regulations,” were set to take effect on July 1, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last month that the Department of Education would refuse to implement them as part of a “regulatory reset” while looking to develop alternative regulations that would likely leave victimized borrowers with far less protection. This refusal is a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act because the Department improperly relied upon a legal challenge to the regulations as a basis for delay and also failed to provide the public with the required notice and opportunity to comment on the delay.

The California Attorney General’s Office played a key role in drafting the Borrower Defense Regulations, which require the Department to provide a streamlined loan forgiveness process to those students who have been defrauded by for-profit universities.

“The Trump Administration should do everything in its power to protect our students,” said Attorney General Becerra. “At the California Department of Justice, we will continue working to ensure that all who seek higher education can do so without worrying that their American Dream will be stolen by unscrupulous purveyors of a sham college education. These regulations should be implemented because they’re good for students and because that’s what the law requires.”

The California Attorney General’s Office led the charge against California-based Corinthian Colleges for targeting low-income, vulnerable individuals through false advertisements that misrepresented job placement rates and the value of school programs. The Attorney General’s Office obtained a $1.1 billion judgement against Corinthian on March 26, 2016, and worked with the Obama Administration to ensure that tens of thousands of former Corinthian students are entitled to federal student loan relief. Subsequently, the Attorney General’s Office worked with the Department of Education as the primary negotiator representing the interests of state attorneys general to enact new regulations and improve the loan forgiveness process for students defrauded by their schools. This process ultimately led to the development of the Borrower Defense Regulations at issue, which incorporate many of the provisions advocated by the Attorney General’s Office, including:

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California Payment Processing Company President and Part-Owner Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme

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

A Santa Ana, California man was sentenced today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for his role in processing unauthorized withdrawals of millions of dollars from consumer bank accounts, the Justice Department announced.

Neil Godfrey, 79, was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release by Judge Eduardo Robreno in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Robreno also ordered Godfrey to pay a $50,000 fine and entered a $100,000 forfeiture money judgment against the defendant. Godfrey pleaded guilty in July 2015 to a one-count Information charging him with wire fraud. The Information described how Godfrey, working as a payment processor, knowingly enabled fraudulent merchants to withdraw money from consumers’ bank accounts without the consumers’ knowledge or consent.

“Payment processors who knowingly facilitate consumer fraud commit a federal offense,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are committed to protecting consumers from unknown withdrawals from their bank accounts, and we will prosecute any individual who knowingly assist these fraud schemes.”

Godfrey used a Santa Ana processing company named Check Site Inc. to assist at least two fraudulent merchants. The merchants operated or worked with websites that purportedly offered subscriptions, clubs, sweepstakes or payday loans. But in many cases, the websites were a ruse to harvest consumers’ bank account information. Instead of providing consumers with payday loans or other services advertised, the merchants operating the websites used the bank information provided by the consumers to withdraw money from the consumers’ bank accounts. Using Check Site, Godfrey knowingly processed the merchants’ fraudulent withdrawals and provided the merchants with access to the banking system.

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Former Nurse’s Assistant Charged with Sexually Abusing Patients Extradited from Guatemala

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

A former nurse’s assistant charged with sexually abusing eight female patients at a Tarzana hospital is scheduled in court tomorrow after being a fugitive for more than a decade, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Ramón Eduardo Rodas Gaspar (dob 7/26/68) faces seven counts of sexual battery by fraud, five counts of sexual penetration by foreign object and three counts of sexual battery on an institutionalized victim.

Gaspar is scheduled to appear in court on July 7 in Department 112 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

Case LA052625 was originally filed in 2006, accusing the defendant of assaulting a patient under his care at Tarzana Medical Center. Gaspar was arraigned on the charges but failed to appear in court on July 18, 2006, nearly a month after posting bail, prosecutors said.

On June 9, 2014, while the defendant was still on the run, the criminal complaint was amended to add allegations of sexual assault of other patients at the same hospital between 2005 and 2006.

Deputy District Attorney Cindy Waterman with the Extradition Services Section said Gaspar was arrested in Guatemala on Feb. 13 and extradited back to Los Angeles on June 29.

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July 6, 2017

WOMAN SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN JAIL FOR HATE CRIME, GRAND THEFT, AND VANDALISM FOR STEALING THREE GOLD STATUES FROM BUDDHIST TEMPLE IN SANTA ANA

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A woman was sentenced to two years in county jail today for committing a hate crime, grand theft, and vandalism for stealing three gold statues from a Buddhist temple in Santa Ana.

Defendant Charges Sentence
Trang Thu Pham, 48, Santa Ana Pleaded guilty today to felony counts of:

  • Grand theft
  • Vandalism of a religious property

Sentencing Enhancement Allegation

  • Committing a hate crime
Two years in county jail

Circumstances of the Case

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MINNESOTA MAN ARRAIGNED FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND ATTEMPTED PIMPING OF TWO FICTITIOUS MINORS HE MET THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Minnesota man was arraigned today for human trafficking and attempted pimping of two fictitious minors he met through social media.

Defendant

Charges

Maximum Sentence

Court Date

Nigel Ezekiel Samuels, 25, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Charged today with:

  • (2) Human Trafficking of a minor
  • (2) Attempted pimping of a minor
  • Pandering

14 years and eight months in state prison

Pre-trial hearing

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

Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

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Basketball Coach Sentenced For Molesting Player

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

A 62-year-old basketball coach was sentenced today to two years in state prison for sexually assaulting one of his players, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Tony Wong was sentenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dorothy Reyes who ordered the defendant to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Deputy District Attorney Christine Von Helmolt of the Sex Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

In May, he pleaded no contest to three counts of lewd acts upon a child.

Wong was a coach at the Alpine Recreation Center in Chinatown when the victim was 14 years old and invited him to play for his team. Between January and August 2004, Wong sexually molested the boy at the recreation center and in hotel rooms when the team traveled.

Case BA448448 was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department

Los Angeles County District Attorney / Case BA448448 / July 5, 2017

July 5, 2017

Former United States Air Force Airman Indicted on Two Counts of Involuntary Manslaughter in Fatal Collision near Vandenberg AFB

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

LOS ANGELES – A former airman with the United States Air Force has been indicted on two counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a traffic collision last summer near Vandenberg Air Force Base that caused the death of two people and the serious injury of a third.

Shaquille Lindsey, 23, of Covington, Georgia, was named in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Wednesday. Lindsey previously served at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc.

The indictment alleges two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the combined influence of both alcohol and marijuana, and while using his cellphone. The third count alleges driving under the influence and causing bodily injury.

Lindsey allegedly drove his car into oncoming traffic and collided head on into the victim’s vehicle, causing the death of the driver and his wife, and seriously injuring the driver’s adult son.

The indictment alleges that on August 28, 2016, Lindsey was driving on Santa Lucia Canyon Road – allegedly going more than 15 miles above the speed limit – when his vehicle veered into the oncoming lane and collided head-on with the victim’s car.

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Man Convicted of Killing Former Fox Executive

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

A San Fernando man was found guilty today of killing a former Fox executive whose remains were later discovered in the Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Jurors found John Creech, 44, guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus ordered Creech to return for sentencing on Sept. 19 in Department 102 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace with the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

Gavin Smith, 57, was last seen on May 1, 2012. Evidence presented at trial showed that Creech found his estranged wife with Smith at a park in the victim’s car. Creech brutally beat Smith, a former UCLA basketball player, while the defendant’s wife pleaded for him to stop, the prosecutor said.

Nearly a year later, Smith’s car was found at a Simi Valley storage facility connected to Creech. Smith’s remains were discovered on Oct. 26, 2014, in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest.

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Man Sentenced For Murdering Girlfriend’s Grandparents in Rosemead

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

A 28-year-old man was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the slayings of his then-girlfriend’s grandparents in 2010, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Roldolfo Lopez was found guilty in December 2016 of two counts of first-degree murder. A jury also found true a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.

Deputy District Attorney Scott McPheron of the Family Violence Division prosecuted the case.

Lopez and Sophia Cristo, now 21, fatally stabbed her grandparents, 71-year-old Jack Bezner, and his wife Susan, 64, on Aug. 9, 2010. Lopez and Cristo, who was 14 years old at the time of the murders, then fled to Texas.

In March 2015, Cristo was found guilty of first-degree murder and the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders were found to be true. Jurors also found true that Cristo personally used a knife to stab Susan Bezner.

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July 3, 2017

Attorney General Xavier Becerra Announces Major Gang Arrests in San Bernardino

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the arrest of 86 individuals; seizure of 43 firearms, 4875 rounds of ammunition, 112 pounds of methamphetamine, 22 pounds of cocaine, 4.7 pounds of heroin, 402 pounds of marijuana, $29,600 in U.S. currency, and 4 stolen vehicles, as part of a takedown of individuals connected to street gang criminal activity in the City of San Bernardino and in surrounding San Bernardino County communities. Out of the 86 arrests, 48 individuals were validated gang members belonging to the Sureño gang – one of the most violent gangs in San Bernardino County.

The arrests come after a four-month investigation conducted by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation, Special Operations Unit (SOU), Southern California Team and the San Bernardino County Gang Intelligence Team. The case was supported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Safe Streets Gang Task Force, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Fontana Police Department.

“I refuse to allow gang violence to terrorize our communities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The San Bernardino community is safer today thanks to the hard work and coordination among law enforcement agencies. These arrests send a strong message to the individuals who believe they are above the law: you will be held accountable.”

Numerous gang-related shootings and violent acts have been caused by the Sureño criminal street gang and the Mexican Mafia. The arrests of these individuals is attributed to various crimes including those associated with conspiracy to commit robbery and/or kidnapping, and for conspiracies related to firearms and narcotic violations.

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