Best Defender Bytes:

March 20, 2017


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



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A parolee gang member, who was acquitted by a jury two weeks prior to these charges in a gang-related attempted murder and carjacking case, was convicted yesterday of attempting to murder a Fullerton Police Department (FPD) officer by shooting him several times at close range during a traffic stop. Marcos Allen Bush, 33, was found guilty by a jury on March 15, 2017, of one felony count each of attempted murder, shooting from a motor vehicle, assault with a semiautomatic firearm on a peace officer, and possession of a firearm by a felon, three felony counts of shooting at a residence, and sentencing enhancements and allegations for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, the personal use of a firearm, causing great bodily injury, and a prior strike conviction for criminal threats from 2008. He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years to life in state prison at his sentencing on May 19, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-42, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Bush was documented member of an Anaheim criminal street gang and on parole for assault with a deadly weapon with force likely to cause great bodily injury, criminal threats, and domestic violence from 2009.

At approximately 12:15 a.m.on March 17, 2013, Bush was driving in Fullerton with an unidentified passenger and was pulled over in a traffic stop by an FPD officer. The officer approached the driver side door and contacted Bush. The windows of the vehicle had a dark tint and the officer could not see into the back seat area of the vehicle. As the officer stood closer to the car to determine how many occupants were inside, Bush pulled out a firearm and shot the officer at point-blank range in the chest. The officer was wearing a ballistic vest, which prevented the bullet from penetrating his heart.

As the officer stepped back, Bush fired out the window at the officer several more times, hitting him twice in the arm and once in the leg. Bush then fired several more times and hit residences in the area. The defendant then sped away and fled the scene. The officer fired two rounds at the suspect vehicle as it sped away.


March 16, 2017

Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Found Guilty of Orchestrating Scheme to Obstruct Federal Investigation into Jails

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

LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty today of leading a conspiracy to obstruct justice by overseeing a scheme designed to impede a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities. Baca was also convicted of lying to federal investigators when he denied knowledge of key aspects of the obstruction plot.

After about two days of deliberations, a federal jury found that Baca authorized and condoned a scheme that now has resulted in the conviction of 10 former members of the Sheriff’s Department. During the trial, prosecutors described Baca as being the top figure in the conspiracy, which also involved his right-hand man and deputies who implemented orders from the Sheriff.

The jury convicted Baca on three felony counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statement to federal investigators. As a result of today’s guilty verdicts, Baca, 74, faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who has presided over several trials involving members of the conspiracy, is expected to schedule a sentencing hearing during a status conference on Monday.

The obstruction plot began in August 2011 after LASD officials discovered a cell phone in an inmate’s cell at the Men’s Central Jail, linked the phone to the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad and learned that the inmate was an FBI informant. The cell phone had been smuggled into the jail by a corrupt deputy who took bribes. The FBI developed the informant as part of an investigation into the county jail system, which for years had been the subject of allegations of inmate abuse and subsequent cover-ups. The evidence presented at trial showed that the Sheriff wanted to avoid federal scrutiny of his troubled jails.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A gang member was convicted yesterday of murdering an innocent bystander in a retaliatory gang shooting in Santa Ana. Rene Mojarra, 24, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury ON March 14, 2017, of one felony count of special circumstances murder, one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon, and one felony count of street terrorism, with sentencing enhancements for murder committed for criminal street gang purpose, personal discharge of a firearm causing death, and criminal street gang activity. Mojarra faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing on May 19, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. on March 12, 2012, Mojarra, a member of a criminal street gang with a moniker of “Reebok,” and another gang member were driving through rival gang territory with the intent to commit a retaliatory gang shooting. Mojarra was armed with a .40 semi-automatic handgun while riding in the passenger seat of a 1995 Red Nissan Quest Minivan in the area of East 15th Street and Spurgeon Street in Santa Ana. The defendant saw the victim, 20-year-old Mario Hernandez Jr., standing near the driveway of an underground parking structure. Mojarra got out of the vehicle and opened fire, striking the victim three times, before fleeing the scene. Hernandez was pronounced dead as a result of the gunshot wounds at 7:01 p.m. at the Western Medical Center. The victim was not a member of a criminal street gang.

Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) detectives, who investigated this case, identified the vehicle and arrested Mojarra on March 13, 2012.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Dave Porter of the Gangs Unit is prosecuting this case.



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

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A former star quarterback was convicted yesterday of drug and trespass charges. Todd Marvin Marinovich, 47, Irvine, pleaded guilty to a court offer of five misdemeanor counts including attempted aggravated trespass of a residence, trespass with interference of property rights, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and public nudity. Marinovich was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 90 days in county jail stayed pending successful completion of outpatient drug rehabilitation.

Marinovich was a professional quarterback with various American and Canadian football leagues between 1991 and 2001.

Sometime before 9:00 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2016, the Irvine Police Department (IPD) received a phone call from an Irvine resident reporting a naked man on the Venta Spur Trail near a home on Bluecoat.

Marinovich left a brown bag containing methamphetamine, marijuana, syringes, a marijuana pipe, and his wallet and driver’s license on the trail. The defendant was naked and trespassed into the backyard of a home on Bluecoat before he attempted to gain access to the residence by pulling at the sliding back door.

Deputy District Attorney Danielle Mosh of the Harbor Justice Center prosecuted this case.


March 15, 2017

Attorney General Xavier Becerra Announces $3 Million Order for Payment of Civil Penalties from Golden Gate Petroleum for Underground Fuel Storage Tank Violations

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

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the Contra Costa Superior Court yesterday ordered a payment of $3 million in civil penalties in the case People v. Golden Gate Petroleum, et al. The penalties are to be paid by the defendants, the owners and operators of underground storage tank systems at retail gasoline stations in several counties in Northern California: Golden Gate Petroleum, Bay Area/Diablo Petroleum Company, Dennis O’Keefe, and Westgate Petroleum Company, Inc.

The defendants had been sued in 2007 for violations of environmental protection laws at their retail service stations. Those violations included failing to comply with requirements related to monitoring, inspection, and maintenance of underground storage tanks and underground storage tank systems; tampering with or disabling leak detection devices; and improperly handling hazardous wastes and hazardous substances.

The action was settled in 2011, and the Defendants were ordered to pay $3 million in penalties and costs and to comply with specific environmental protection requirements.  The Contra Costa Superior Court suspended an additional $3 million in penalties if the Defendants complied with those requirements.  The Defendants did not comply. The order announced today is the result of the Attorney General’s enforcement of the environmental protection requirements in the settlement.

“As the state’s chief enforcer of laws that protect our environment, I will use my independent authority to safeguard our public health and welfare whenever appropriate,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I am pleased that this order held accountable those who would jeopardize our health and water supply. It should send a message to all environmental offenders that we are serious about protecting Californians and our environment. I want to thank my predecessor Attorney General Kamala Harris for her earlier pursuit of the enforcement of the suspended penalty, as well as Deputy Attorney General Reed Sato, our Office’s lead.”


Los Angeles Businessman Sentenced to Prison for Concealing over $23.5 Million in Israeli Bank Accounts

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

WASHINGTON – A Los Angeles businessman was sentenced to 24 months in prison today for hiding more than $23.5 million in offshore bank accounts, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

According to court documents, Masud Sarshar, a U.S. citizen, maintained several undeclared bank accounts at Bank Leumi and two other Israeli banks, both in his name and in the names of entities that he created. Sarshar owned and operated Apparel Limited Inc., a business that designed, manufactured and sold clothing and other apparel. For decades, with the assistance of at least two relationship managers from Bank Leumi and a second Israeli bank (Israeli Bank A), Sarshar hid tens of millions of dollars in assets in these accounts in an effort to conceal income and obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Between 2006 and 2009, Sarshar diverted more than $21 million in untaxed gross business income to those undeclared accounts and earned more than $2.5 million in interest income from the funds. Sarshar reported none of this income on his 2006 through 2012 individual and corporate tax returns. He also filed false Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as FBARs, with the U.S. Department of Treasury on which he omitted his ownership and control of these offshore accounts.

“Masud Sarshar used every trick to avoid paying his taxes: he moved his money from foreign bank to foreign bank; switched passports and had his statements smuggled to the United States on a thumb drive secreted in the necklace of a bank manager,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg. “He even tapped the funds in his offshore accounts through financial maneuvers that he thought would not leave a paper trail. However, Sarshar found out today — with the imposition of a two-year prison sentence — that secret foreign bank accounts can no longer be safely hidden from the Department of Justice and the IRS.”

“Mr. Sarshar’s conduct was both egregious and staggering,” said Chief Richard Weber of IRS Criminal Investigation. “He knew the laws and purposefully hid his income to avoid paying taxes, cheating not only the U.S. government, but other law abiding tax payers who uphold their tax obligations. Hiding income in offshore banks is not tax planning, it’s fraud.”


U.S. Navy Admiral and Eight Other Officers Indicted for Trading Classified Information in Massive International Fraud and Bribery Scheme

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

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless and eight other high-ranking Navy officers are charged in a federal indictment with accepting luxury travel, elaborate dinners and services of prostitutes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), in exchange for classified and internal U.S. Navy information.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson of the Southern District of California, Director Dermot F. O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.

Including today’s defendants, a total of 25 named individuals have been charged in connection with the corruption and fraud investigation into GDMA, a defense-contracting firm based in Singapore. Of those charged, 20 are current or former U.S. Navy officials and five are GDMA executives. To date, 13 have pleaded guilty while several other cases are pending.

“The defendants in this indictment were entrusted with the honor and responsibility of administering the operations of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which is tasked with protecting our nation by guarding an area of responsibility that spanned from Russia to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “With this honor and awesome responsibility came a duty to make decisions based on the best interests of the Navy and the 40,000 Sailors and Marines under their care who put their lives at risk every day to keep us secure and free. Unfortunately, however, these defendants are alleged to have sold their honor and responsibility in exchange for personal enrichment.”


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