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October 30, 2017

OCDA OBTAINS $13.9 MILLION SETTLEMENT FROM LAWSUIT ALLEGING GENERAL MOTORS DECEIVED BUYERS BY CONCEALING DEFECTS AND SELLING UNSAFE AND UNRELIABLE VEHICLES

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas obtained a $13.9 million settlement in a civil lawsuit againstGeneral Motors LLC (GM) alleging GM endangered motorists and the public by intentionally concealing serious safety defects in GM vehicles to avoid the cost of a recall or replacing defective parts. The settlement was filed in Orange County Superior Court on Oct. 24, 2017, and was signed today by The Honorable Kim Dunning. The 2014 complaint stated that GM endangered the public through deception regarding vehicle safety and reliability and gained advantage over its competitors by engaging in unfair business practices. At least 124 people died, and 275 were injured, as a result of these failures. On behalf of the State of California, the California Attorney General settled a separate multistate lawsuit and received $7 million earlier in October 2017.

“In Orange County and California, our cars we drive must be safe; even if we are not driving a GM car, we rely on the safety of other cars on the road. Second to our homes, our cars must carry precious cargo and hold value for resale,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “We must protect our consumers from businesses that put profits over people by keeping cars on roads safe and avoiding preventable accidents. We must also encourage all businesses to be fair and live up to safety standards, and must not allow those engaging in unfair practices to punish those businesses that don’t cut corners by compromising safety. All businesses should be held to competing fairly.”

Deceptive Practices

The OCDA asserted in its lawsuit that:

  • GM failed to disclose and/or concealed known defects in millions of GM vehicles. The safety defects include power steering, airbag, and brake-related problems. By knowingly hiding the existence of defects and marketing their vehicles as safe and reliable, GM enticed consumers under false pretenses to purchase GM vehicles.
  • GM continued to sell and lease its vehicles while knowingly concealing and suppressing information about the defects from California consumers. GM valued cost-cutting over safety, and intentionally falsely represented to the public that GM-manufactured vehicles were safe and reliable, despite its knowledge of the defects, to avoid the cost and negative attention of a recall. As a result of the defective vehicles and failure by GM to disclose defects to consumers prior to lease or purchase, victims have been injured and killed, owners and lessees of GM vehicles have suffered property damage, economic damage, and many are unable to sell or trade their cars.

Unfair Competition

The OCDA asserted in its lawsuit that: (more…)

CHP Officer Charged With Child Pornography

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

A California Highway Patrol officer has been charged with possession of child pornography, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Robert Tamayo (dob 3/3/80) was charged yesterday in case BA462267 with one count each of distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography. He made his initial court appearance today but arraignment was continued until Dec. 12.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Pellman Pentz of the Justice System Integrity Division is prosecuting the case.

In May, Tamayo is accused of sharing child pornography on a social media app. He also allegedly had more than 600 child pornography images on his computers and cell phones, the prosecutor said.

If convicted as charged, Tamayo faces a possible maximum sentence of five years and eight months in state prison.

The case was investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation after receiving a tip about the defendant from the FBI. The CHP also has cooperated with the investigation.

Los Angeles District Attorney / case BA462267 / October 27, 2017

October 27, 2017

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Pomona Police Officer on Civil Rights Offense for Allegedly Assaulting Minor at L.A. County Fair

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

Three officers with the Pomona Police Department (PPD) surrendered this morning to face federal charges that allege one officer violated the civil rights of a minor who was beaten at the Los Angeles County Fair two years ago, and that all three took illegal steps to justify and cover-up the attack.

PPD Corporal Chad Kenneth Jensen is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly beating the minor victim on September 16, 2015. The indictment alleges that Jensen violated the victim’s constitutional rights, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable and unnecessary force, and that the assault resulted in bodily injury.

Jensen and his partner–PPD Officer Prince Taylor Hutchinson–are charged with preparing false reports that attempted to justify the use of force.  The indictment alleges that, in a report prepared soon after the incident, Jensen falsely wrote that the minor victim attempted to punch Jensen’s face, and that the minor victim came within arm’s reach of another officer who was escorting an individual who had been placed under arrest. Hutchinson similarly is accused of writing a report that falsely stated the victim had come within two to three feet of the officer who was escorting an individual who had been placed under arrest, and that the victim had attempted to incite unrest among at the crowd at the Fair as Hutchinson escorted the minor victim to a holding facility at the Fair.

Jensen and Hutchinson are further charged with obstruction of justice for giving false testimony during state court proceedings regarding criminal charges against the victim.  Both Jensen and Hutchinson gave false testimony similar to that in their reports and created the false impression that the minor posed a physical threat to other officers before Jensen assaulted him. (more…)

Report to IRS Whistleblower Program Leads to Guilty Plea from L.A. Man who Failed to Report to IRS over $3 Million in Overseas Income

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

LOS ANGELES – A West Los Angeles resident who earned more than $3 million over a three-year period while working in Dubai has pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge for failing to report this income to the Internal Revenue Service.

Fallah Alfallah, 49, who resides in the City of Los Angeles adjacent to Beverly Hills, pleaded guilty to the felony offense yesterday afternoon before United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee.

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Alfallah is a naturalized United States citizen who lived in Dubai during the years 2008 through 2010 while working as an investment advisor for the Bahrain-based Unicorn Investment Bank. Alfallah admitted that his salary and bonuses totaled $1,512,557 in 2008, $830,691 in 2009, and $658,794 in 2010.

Although he earned more than $3 million during those three years and despite being advised by his tax preparer that he had a legal obligation to report his overseas income to the IRS, Alfallah did not file income tax returns with the IRS. By pleading guilty, Alfallah admitted that he intended to avoid paying taxes on this income and took affirmative steps to evade the tax due for those three years.

As a result of Alfallah’s conduct, the government sustained losses of $933,492.

Alfallah pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion related to his unpaid taxes for 2009. (more…)

North Hills Man Sentenced for Hate Crime Killing of Son, Murder of Wife

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

A 71-year-old man was sentenced today to two terms of life in state prison without the possibility of parole for stabbing his wife at their North Hills home and then shooting his son because of his sexual orientation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Sept. 28, a jury found Shehadeh Khalil Issa guilty of two counts of willful, deliberate and premeditated murder with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders in case PA086010.

The jury also found true a hate crime allegation and allegations of use of a knife and a shotgun as deadly weapons.

Deputy District Attorneys Emily Cole and Leila Tahmassebi prosecuted the case.

Issa fatally stabbed his wife, Rabihah Shibi Issa, 68, on or between March 27 and 29, 2016, prosecutors said. Shehadeh Issa then fatally shot his son Amir Issa, 38, on March 29, 2016, prosecutors added.

According to evidence presented at the trial, police responding to the family’s home after the shooting discovered the bodies of Amir Issa outside of the house and Rabihah Issa’s body was found inside a bathroom. The murders were motivated by the defendant’s desire to sell the house they all shared and an extreme hatred of his son’s sexuality, prosecutors said.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Los Angeles District Attorney / case PA086010 / October 26, 2017

October 26, 2017

Man Charged With Sexually Assaulting Boy at Pico Rivera Park

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

A man was charged today with sexually assaulting a 6-year-old boy at a park in Pico Rivera over the weekend, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Eduardo Ciarelli (dob 3/27/79) was charged in case VA146133 with one count of forcible lewd act upon a child. He is expected to be arraigned today in Department 5 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Downey Branch.

On Oct. 22, the victim was with his family at Smith Park. The boy went to the restroom that was adjacent to a snack bar where his father was. After a couple of minutes, the father went to check on his son and found the boy crying.

The boy pointed to the defendant who is accused of sexually assaulting him and was standing behind a stall door. Ciarelli ran outside but was apprehended by the father and a security guard.

If convicted, Ciarelli faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Los Angeles District Attorney / case VA146133 / October 24, 2017

Attorney General Becerra Announces $220 Million Multistate Settlement with Deutsche Bank for Manipulating Key Interest Rate

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $220 million multistate settlement with Deutsche Bank for fraudulent conduct involving the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). LIBOR is the rate at which banks lend money to one another. It is a key financial tool that determines interest rates for many financing mechanisms, including government and corporate bonds. Deutsche Bank colluded with other banks to skew borrowing rates in its favor, illegally profiting on contracts with municipalities linked to LIBOR. This unlawful strategy resulted in a sharp increase in profits for Deutsche Bank at the expense of government entities and non-profit organizations in California and throughout the country. Through the settlement announced today, California governmental and non-profit entities that invested with Deutsche Bank will receive approximately $29 million.

“During the financial crisis, Deutsche Bank was consumed with increasing its profits at the expense of Californians,” said Attorney General Becerra. “They manipulated interest rates hoping to turn a quick profit. In the process, they left government entities and non-profits in California hanging out to dry. This conduct is unacceptable and it is illegal. Banks and financial institutions do not get to play fast and loose with the law.”

The investigation was led by the attorneys general of California and New York and conducted by a working group of 43 other attorneys general: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Attorney General Becerra’s investigation into the conduct of several other banks involved in setting LIBOR is ongoing. A copy of the settlement agreement is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news(more…)

Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosure Auctions in Northern California

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

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

Abraham S. Farag, who was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on October 22, 2014, pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging.

According to court documents, Farag participated in a conspiracy to rig bids by agreeing to refrain from bidding against other co-conspirators at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Mateo County.  The conspiracy began no later than August 2008 and continued until January 2011.

The primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress competition in order to obtain selected properties offered at San Mateo County public foreclosure auctions at noncompetitive prices.

Today’s guilty plea is the result of the Department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties, California. To date, 74 individuals have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. (more…)

October 25, 2017

O.C. Man Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison in Scheme that Sought over $800,000 in Fraudulent Tax Refunds for Non-Existent Employees

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

SANTA ANA, California – A Placentia man who participated in a scheme that filed fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and sought over $800,000 in refunds based on non-existent employees at two shell companies has been sentenced to over five years in federal prison

Julien Jitt Noel, 37, was sentenced last Friday to 63 months in prison. United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton further ordered Noel to pay $605,294 in restitution to the IRS.

Following a five-day jury trial in March, Noel was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and five counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Noel and two co-conspirators prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns, most of which were filed in the names of individuals whose identities had been stolen. The fraudulent tax returns stated that the taxpayers were employed by Picaso Fashions, which purportedly withheld excessive taxes from their paychecks. In fact, the evidence showed that Picaso Fashions was a shell company that did not actually have any employees, and the refunds claimed in the tax returns were fraudulent.

Members of the conspiracy fraudulently filed 69 individual federal tax returns during 2009 that claimed tax refunds totaling $621,589. (more…)

Two California Men Sentenced to Years in Federal Prison for Roles in Multi-Million Dollar ‘High-Yield Prime Bank’ Scheme

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

SANTA ANA, California – Two California men have been sentenced to multi-year federal prison terms after being convicted of federal wire fraud charges for participating in a “high-yield prime bank” scam that stole more than $5 million from victims across the nation who were promised huge returns on investments, purportedly with little or no risk.

Francis Wilde, 66, of Mountain View, who was the chief executive officer of Riptide Worldwide Inc. and the owner of Matrix Holdings, LLC, was sentenced yesterday to 51 months in prison and was ordered to pay nearly $6.2 million in restitution. Wilde, who was the leader of the scheme, was actively involved in more than two dozen deals with investors, he admitted in court.

Mark Gelazela, who was also known as Mark Zella, 44, of Marina Del Rey, who operated IDLYC Holdings Trust, was sentenced yesterday to 41 months in prison.

Both defendants were sentenced by United States District Judge David O. Carter, who scheduled a December 11 restitution hearing for Gelazela

Wilde and Gelazela lured victims to invest in their scheme by falsely promising astronomical returns. They told investors that their money would be used to lease and monetize “bank guarantees” overseas. After leasing the bank instruments, credit lines would be drawn from the instruments and those funds would be used for trading, leading to extraordinary profits, they told victims. (more…)

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