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December 19, 2016

MAN EXTRADITED FROM OREGON TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR MURDER OF HUNTINGTON BEACH WOMAN

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:35 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man extradited from Oregon to Orange County is scheduled to be arraigned for the murder of a Huntington Beach woman. Jason Joseph Becher, 41, Anaheim, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for lying in wait and a prior strike conviction for assault with a deadly weapon in 2001 in Orange County. If convicted, he faces a minimum of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Becher is scheduled to be arraigned today, Dec. 16, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Prior to Dec. 2, 2016, Becher is accused of having been in a dating relationship with the victim, 50-year-old Marylou Sarkissian. The victim had a restraining order against the defendant at the time of the crime.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2016, Becher is accused of going to the victim’s residence in Huntington Beach after he had gone out for drinks with an acquaintance the night before. The defendant is accused of beating and strangling Sarkissian to death. Becher is accused of then fleeing the scene.

On the afternoon of Dec. 2, 2016, an individual contacted the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD), who investigated this case, with information and requested a welfare check on the victim. HBPD officers responded to the residence and found Sarkissian deceased in the residence. An arrest warrant for Becher was obtained by HBPD.

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VIETNAMESE ENTERTAINER “MINH BEO” SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING MINOR BOY AND ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT LEWD ACT ON FICTITIOUS MINOR

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:32 am

WESTMINSTER, Calif. – Vietnamese entertainer “Minh Beo” was sentenced today to 18 months in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration for sexually assaulting a minor boy and attempting to commit a lewd act on a fictitious minor. Minh Quang Hong, who goes by the stage name “Minh Beo”, 38, Garden Grove, pleaded guilty on Aug. 10, 2016, to one felony count of oral copulation of a minor and one felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under 14 years old.

Prior to the crime, Hong traveled from Vietnam to visit Orange County and Atlanta, Georgia. Hong is a well-known Vietnamese entertainer with access to children.

On March 20, 2016, Hong spoke to a group of dancers at a talent show held at a radio station in Huntington Beach and told the dancers that he was hosting auditions for a video project.

On March 23, 2016, Hong orally copulated 16-year-old John Doe when the victim arrived for the audition. He violated his position of trust and exploited his celebrity status. Shortly thereafter, John Doe reported the crime to the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD), who investigated this case.

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81-YEAR-OLD FORMER MISSIONARY SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS IN PRISON FOR SEXUALLY ASSULTING THREE GIRLS UNDER AGE 10

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:29 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An 81-year-old former missionary was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in state prison yesterday for sexually assaulting three girls under the age of 10. Douglas Dale Whinery, 81, Tustin, pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 with a sentencing enhancement allegation for committing lewd acts upon multiple victims.

At the time of the crime, Whinery was a former pastor and missionary and was actively involved at Olive Crest Church in Santa Ana, Foothill Family Church in Foothill Ranch, and Grace Church in Yorba Linda. The defendant was in a position of trust with access to children.

Between January 2005 and June 2006, Whinery invited 9-year-old Jane Doe 3 and her sister to California to go to a popular local theme park. The defendant molested the victim while she was in his care.

Around Nov. 7, 2011, Whinery approached 10-year-old Jane Doe 1 and her relative, 8-year-old Jane Doe 2, while they were in a park in Tustin. Whinery groomed the victims by befriending their family member, providing money for a place to live, taking the victims to school, having the victims spend the night in his home, and inviting them to attend church with him.

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December 16, 2016

Justice Department Opens Investigations of Orange County, California, District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:14 am

The Justice Department today opened a civil pattern-or-practice investigation into the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

The investigation will focus on allegations that the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s department systematically used jailhouse informants to elicit incriminating statements from specific inmates who had been charged and were represented by counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment.  Additionally, the investigation will seek to determine whether the district attorney’s office committed systematic violations of defendants’ 14th Amendment due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 Supreme Court case, by failing to disclose promises of leniency that would have substantially undermined the credibility of the informants’ trial testimony.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas requested that the Justice Department review his office’s informant policies and practices and offered unfettered access to documents and personnel.

“A systematic failure to protect the right to counsel and to a fair trial makes criminal proceedings fundamentally unfair and diminishes the public’s faith in the integrity of the justice system,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “Our investigation will examine the facts and evidence to determine whether the district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department engaged in a pattern or practice of violating these rights.  We are grateful to District Attorney Rackauckas for the unrestricted access he has offered to provide.”

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Three More Individuals Indicted for Their Roles in Capacitors Price-Fixing Conspiracy

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:12 am

A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment today charging three more executives from two different companies for conspiring to fix prices of electrolytic capacitors sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.  This indictment supersedes a previous superseding indictment returned on Nov. 2, 2016, in which six individuals from four different companies were charged with price fixing.

The indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California in San Francisco, charges the following individuals for conspiring to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of electrolytic capacitors:

•    Takeshi Matsuzaka, an executive of Company A, who is charged with conspiring from approximately January 2003 until January 2014;

•    Kaname Takahashi, also an executive of Company A, who is charged with conspiring from approximately July 2003 until April 2013; and

•    Takuo Tatai, an executive of Company D, who is charged with conspiring from approximately January 2009 until January 2012.

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REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER CONVICTED OF SPECIAL-CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER OF FOUR WOMENAFTER KIDNAPPING THE VICTIMS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:09 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A registered sex offender was convicted today of the special-circumstances murder of four women after kidnapping the victims. Steven Dean Gordon, 47, Anaheim, was indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 2, 2014. He was found guilty by a jury today of four felony counts of special circumstances murder with sentencing enhancements for kidnapping and multiple murders. The OCDA announced on Dec. 11, 2015, that it would seek the death penalty against Gordon. The jury trial penalty phase is scheduled to begin Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Prior to seeking the death penalty against Gordon, 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 met and discussed the nature of the crime, the vulnerability of the victims, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors. The committee also considered mitigating circumstances presented by the defense attorney.

California law permits the District Attorney to seek the death penalty if the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are any facts above and beyond the circumstances of the crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, the enormity of the offense, or the harmful impact of the crime. Mitigating factors are any facts that reduce the defendant’s blameworthiness or otherwise support a less severe punishment. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.

Co-defendant Franc Cano, 30, Anaheim, was also indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 2, 2014, and is charged with four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of forcible rape. The special circumstance sentencing enhancements are for murder during the commission of rape, multiple murders, lying in wait, and kidnapping. The OCDA announced on March 15, 2016, that it would seek the death penalty against Cano. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Dec. 29, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Case

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December 15, 2016

NEWPORT COAST WOMAN CHARGED WITH ANIMAL NEGLECT AND ABANDONMENT OF GOLDEN RETRIEVER WITH 42-POUND MALIGNANT TUMOR

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:09 am

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A Newport Coast woman was charged today with animal neglect for failing to provide care for her 7-year-old golden retriever, resulting in the dog’s cancerous tumor growing to 42 pounds. Sherri Haughton, 52, Newport Coast, is charged with one misdemeanor count of animal endangerment, one misdemeanor count of failure to care for an animal, one misdemeanor count of animal abandonment, and one misdemeanor count of providing false information to an animal control officer. If convicted, the defendant faces two years in county jail. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 13, 2017, in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach. The time is to be determined.

On May 12, 2016, Haughton is accused of bringing a golden retriever named Henry to an animal hospital in Huntington Beach claiming that she found the dog abandoned on the sand in Newport Beach. Animal hospital staff located a tumor on Henry’s right side that was approximately the size of a basketball, affecting the dog’s mobility and other basic functions. The staff contacted Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) Animal Control staff and told Haughton that the dog should be dropped off at the City of Newport Beach animal shelter. The defendant is accused of refusing to transport the dog and abandoning him at the animal hospital.

NBPD Animal Control took custody of Henry and provided a veterinary assessment. The tumor on his right side was 42 pounds and malignant, severely impacting his ability to walk and function. NBPD Animal Control determined that Henry’s veterinary situation required immediate treatment.

In June 2016, NBPD Animal Control coordinated surgery through donations. Since the surgery, Henry has lived with a local foster family.

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DRUNKEN DRIVER CHARGED WITH CRASHING INTO POLICE OFFICER WHO WAS STANDING BEHIND PATROL VEHICLE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:07 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A drunken driver was charged today with crashing into a police officer who was standing behind his patrol vehicle on a residential street. Ashley Victoria Bertolino, 27, Tustin, is charged with one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs causing bodily injury, one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more causing bodily injury, with sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison. The defendant is scheduled for a continued arraignment on Jan. 6, 2017, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2016, three officers from the Orange Police Department (OPD) responded to a call for service on a residential street. While at the scene, Officer Doe stood near the back of his patrol vehicle, which was parked alongside the curb, to gather paperwork. Bertolino is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .13 percent and being under the influence of drugs while driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone. The defendant is accused of drifting towards the curb and crashing into Officer Doe and the back of his patrol vehicle. The other officers at the scene ran to assist Officer Doe, who was underneath Bertolino’s vehicle, and the defendant is accused of exiting her vehicle. Bertolino was detained by OPD officers until officers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), who investigated this case, arrived on scene.

Officer Doe was transported to a local hospital and remains hospitalized with major injuries. Bertolino was evaluated at a local hospital and arrested the following morning by CHP.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 16CF3123 / December 13, 2016

Man Sentenced to Prison for Fatal Car Crash Near High School in Whittier

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:04 am

A 19-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to 11 years in state prison for driving under the influence of alcohol and crashing his car, killing one teenager and severely injuring another, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Oct. 25, Daniel Vasquez pleaded open to the court to two felony counts in case VA142422: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury.

The defendant also admitted special allegations that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on one victim and caused a second victim to become comatose due to brain injury and to suffer paralysis.

Deputy District Attorney Garie Lynn Oehler, who prosecuted the case, said on the morning of April 26 Vasquez consumed alcohol before driving five teenagers to La Serna High School in Whittier.

During the drive, the defendant drove at excessive speeds, lost control of the vehicle and overturned his car, according to the prosecutor.

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December 14, 2016

O.C. Man Charged with Selling Pet Meds Without a Prescription, Some of Which Were Not Approved for Distribution in the United States

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

LOS ANGELES – A Laguna Hills man was arrested this morning on charges that he used the internet to sell misbranded veterinary medications without a prescription.

Sean Gerson, 48, the owner of a business called Vaccination Services in Lake Forest, was taken into custody this morning by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Gerson is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

Gerson was arrested pursuant to a two-count criminal complaint filed on December 6. The complaint alleges that Gerson delivered into interstate commerce two misbranded drugs: Comfortis, an anti-flea medication, and ciprofloxacin, a powerful antibiotic commonly called “Cipro” that can be used in dogs and cats to treat skin, respiratory and urinary tract infections. The complaint, which contains one felony count and one misdemeanor count, alleges that the drugs were knowingly dispensed without a prescription.

The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that Gerson sold Comfortis that was designed for the South African market and was not approved for distribution in the United States.

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