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October 31, 2016

Pennsylvania Man Sentenced Today to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Hacking Apple and Google E-Mail Accounts Belonging to More Than 100 People, Including Many Celebrities

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

LOS ANGELES – A Pennsylvania man was sentenced today on felony computer hacking charges related to his illegal access of over 100 Apple and Google e-mail accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in United States District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to 18 months in federal prison for a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was taken into custody immediately after sentencing.

Collins pled guilty in May to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. Collins was originally charged in Los Angeles, but the parties agreed to transfer the case to Harrisburg in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, near Collins’ home, for the entry of his guilty plea and sentencing.

The case against Collins stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014, known as “Celebgate.” Investigators have not uncovered any evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks or that Collins shared or uploaded the information he obtained, however.

“Hackers violate federal law whenever they access private information stored online and in digital devices,” said Eileen M. Decker, United States Attorney for the Central District of California. “Today people store important private information online and in their digital devices, which is why my office is deeply committed to holding hackers accountable, even when they do not sell or distribute the stolen data.”


October 28, 2016

Former CEO of Hollywood Payroll Company Convicted for Tax Fraud Conspiracy

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

RIVERSIDE, California – The former CEO of Axium International, Inc., a leading Hollywood payroll services company until its 2008 collapse, was convicted late yesterday afternoon of tax evasion, conspiracy to defraud the IRS, and filing a false tax return.

John Visconti, 74, of Beverly Hills, was convicted by a federal jury following a one-week trial. United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, who presided over Visconti’s trial, set sentencing for Visconti on January 23, 2017.

Axium was one of the largest payroll services companies serving the entertainment industry, and its clients included a list of high profile studios, Fortune 500 companies, television and cable companies, and media outlets. At its height, Axium’s gross revenues were well over $1 billion per year.

As the payroll services provider and employer of record for its client entities, Axium regularly submitted payroll tax returns to the IRS and to the taxing authorities of several states. In several instances, those tax returns generated refunds in six-figure dollar amounts. Axium collapsed in 2008, after revelations that its tax delinquencies exceeded $100 million and that, as a result, Axium’s lender foreclosed on its bank accounts. Axium’s tax delinquencies resulted in the IRS assessing a recovery penalty against Visconti of $15 million.


German Shipping Corporations Convicted of Environmental Crimes

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

Two German shipping companies that owned and operated the Motor Vessel (M/V) Nils B, pleaded guilty today to an environmental crime in federal court in San Diego before the Honorable Jan M. Adler, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden and United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy.

W. Bockstiegel Reederei GmbH  & Co. KG (which operated the vessel) and W. Bockstiegel GmbH & Co. Reederei KG MS “NILS B” (which owned the vessel), pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to accurately maintain an oil record book for the M/V Nils B.  In doing so, the firms failed to disclose that oil contaminated water had been discharged into the ocean from the vessel without the use of pollution prevention equipment.

According to the plea agreement, on August 5, 2014, personnel from the United States Coast Guard boarded the vessel after its entry into the Port of San Diego, California.  Once onboard, the Coast Guard discovered that the crew had failed to keep an oil record book for a significant period of time, modifications had been made to piping coming from the oil water separator and oil was discovered in discharge piping that should not have been present.

The defendants acknowledged that Coast Guard examiners took oil samples from the oil water separator’s overboard discharge valve and from the vessel’s sludge tank and the samples from the two locations matched.  Under U.S. and international law, sludge is never to be discharged through an oil water separator.  The Coast Guard also discovered a black hose near the oil water separator that contained oil slightly weathered light fuel oil mixed with lubricating oil.  In the industry, such a hose is known as a “magic hose.”  The defendants, in pleading guilty, admitted that the oil record book on board the vessel did not disclose any discharges of sludge between the time that the overboard discharge valve had been cleaned while the vessel was in dry dock in June of 2014 and its entry into the Port of San Diego in August.


San Jacinto Man Affiliated with Riverside Gang Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Methamphetamine Trafficking

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

LOS ANGELES – A San Jacinto man affiliated with the Riverside San Jacinto First Street gang was sentenced to a decade in prison yesterday for his role in methamphetamine trafficking.

Luis Miguel Castro, aka “Fat Boy,” 27, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who found that Castro was affiliated with the gang.

Castro pled guilty earlier this year to possession with the intent to distribute three large plastic bags containing over a half-pound of methamphetamine, approximately 1,080 days of daily personal use.

“Criminal street gangs continue to sell dangerous drugs as a major source of revenue, so the Department of Justice will continue to attack these gangs by seeking imprisonment for drug-traffickers affiliated with them,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The convictions and sentences in this case demonstrate how cooperation between state and federal law enforcement can bring positive results for a community.”

In its sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said, “Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and harmful controlled substance that wreaks havoc on communities across the country.” Prosecutors also argued that Castro was a member of the San Jacinto First Street gang.


October 27, 2016

Bank Loan Officer Who Demanded Kickbacks as Part of Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme Sentenced to Federal Prison

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

LOS ANGELES – A former loan officer at Broadway Federal Bank who took more than $350,000 in kickbacks in exchange for considering mortgage applications submitted by churches in relation to a fraud scheme that resulted in losses of at least $4.2 million was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison.

Paul Ryan, 49, of Torrance, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge S. James Otero. In addition to the prison term, Judge Otero ordered Ryan to pay $353,925 in restitution to Broadway Federal Bank.

Ryan pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count of receiving bribes and rewards as a bank employee. During the time Ryan worked at the bank, from early 2007 until March 2010, the bank paid rebates to brokers who brought loans applications to the bank. Ryan “demanded from the brokers that all or part of that rebate amount be paid to him…intending to be rewarded and influenced in his processing and approval of these church loans,” according to the sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

Ryan worked with brokers and provided a template for presenting financial information for the churches that ensured the loan applications would be approved. Based on the false information concerning the financial status of the churches, Broadway Federal Bank issued loans to the churches.

“This bank insider accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in a scheme that led his employer to suffer millions of dollars in losses,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “After investigators began looking into the scheme, Ryan encouraged another bank employee to lie about the fraudulent loan applications, which further complicated but did not deter this investigation.”


Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Attorney Pleads Guilty to Willfully Failing to File Tax Returns

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

LOS ANGELES – A Santa Barbara-based criminal defense attorney has pled guilty to three counts of willfully failing to file tax returns and has also admitted, in his plea agreement, to willfully failing to pay his taxes for those three years as well as several additional years, costing the IRS $679,958.

Darryl W. Genis, 60, pleaded guilty this morning to willfully failing to file tax returns for his law practice for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011, federal misdemeanors.

Genis admitted that he made enough money in his law practice to require that he file tax returns in those years, but that he knowingly and intentionally chose to not file his tax returns despite his legal obligation to do so. Genis also admitted that he did not pay the full amount of taxes that he owed for the years 2005-2012.

“As an attorney this defendant had a heightened responsibility to follow the law, and instead he cheated the IRS and every law-abiding taxpayer in the country,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Today’s guilty pleas will deprive the defendant of the fruits of his crimes and send a message that everyone must pay their taxes.”


Orange County Man Pleads Guilty to Flying Private Jet with Passengers Onboard Without Having Properly Issued FAA License

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

LOS ANGELES – An Irvine man pleaded guilty today in federal court to charges of illegally flying on two separate occasions turbo-jet powered aircraft with passengers onboard without having a valid license.

Arnold Gerald Leto III, 36, pleaded guilty to a two-count indictment that charged Leto with violations of a federal statute that prohibits the knowing piloting of an aircraft without having the requisite “airman certificate.”

According to his plea agreement, in January 2015, Leto piloted a Cessna Citation aircraft from Santa Monica to Phoenix, and, in April 2016, Leto piloted a Falcon 10 turbo-jet aircraft from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas. On both of those occasions, Leto piloted the aircraft with passengers onboard knowing that he did not have the requisite airman certificate to pilot that aircraft.

“Federal laws regarding the operation of passenger aircraft protect the public,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Today’s guilty pleas demonstrate that the defendant willfully disregarded the rules and regulations of the FAA and operated jet aircraft, thereby endangering the passengers on board and the safety of the communities of Santa Monica, Van Nuys, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and everywhere in between.”


October 26, 2016

Imposter Attorney, 2 Others Arrested in Immigration Fraud Scam

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

LOS ANGELES — An Inland Empire man who allegedly posed as an immigration attorney and two female accomplices face a federal indictment charging them with operating an immigration fraud scheme in which they created phony employment visas and other bogus documents for foreign nationals who were seeking a way to remain in the United States legally.

Alexander Smirnoff, who also went by the name “Alex Scott,” 48, and his “legal assistants” – Ekaterina Vladimirovna Zamurueva, 28, and Anna Kirillovna Solodovnikova, 29 – were arrested late last week by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at the residence they share in Corona.

The three defendants were charged in a 16-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on August 16. The indictment, which was unsealed following the defendants’ arrests, charges them with conspiracy, visa fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and identification fraud.

The trio was arraigned on the indictment Friday afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. At the arraignment, United States Magistrate Judge Karen L. Stevenson ordered Smirnoff released on a $50,000 appearance bond subject to electronic monitoring and restriction to his residence and both Zamurueva and Soldovnikova detained without bail. Trial in the matter was scheduled for December 13.

According to court documents, Smirnoff and the two women told prospective clients they operated a consulting firm called ABC Flex, which purported to offer “legal support” to foreign nationals wanting to obtain immigration benefits that would enable them to stay in the U.S. For fees as high as $8,000, the services offered by the defendants allegedly included creating phony employment visas, which they told clients were genuine.


Licensed Occupational Therapist Pleads Guilty to $2.6 Million Medicare Fraud Conspiracy

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

A licensed occupational therapist pleaded guilty today in Los Angeles for his role in a $2.6 million Medicare fraud scheme that involved billing for occupational therapy services that were not provided.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California and Special Agent in Charge Christian Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region made the announcement.

Keith Canlapan, 38, of West Covina, California, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge George H. Wu of the Central District of California.  Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2017, before Judge Wu.

As part of his guilty plea, Canlapan admitted that he was a licensed occupational therapist employed with JH Physical Therapy, an occupational therapy clinic located in Walnut, California.  Canlapan further admitted that through JH Physical Therapy, he billed Medicare for occupational therapy services when no such services were provided to the Medicare beneficiaries.  Instead, the Medicare beneficiaries received massage and acupuncture services, which are not reimbursable under Medicare rules, he admitted.  In fact, on dates that Canlapan purportedly provided occupational services to Medicare beneficiaries at JH Physical Therapy, Canlapan was admittedly not present at JH Physical and instead was either out of the country or at his other places of employment on some of those dates.

Between approximately October 2009 and approximately December 2012, Canlapan, through JH Physical Therapy, billed Medicare $2,669,618 in false and fraudulent claims, of which Medicare paid $1,860,786, he admitted.


Southern California Man Convicted of Tax Evasion and Lying to IRS After Fraudulently Applying for a Passport While Attempting to Flee

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

SANTA ANA, California – A former resident of Orange County who now lives in northern San Diego County has been found guilty of tax evasion and lying to the IRS after applying for a passport in a false name as he attempted to flee from the prosecution.

Louis Joseph Vadino, 75, currently of Ramona and formerly of Lake Forest, was convicted yesterday by a federal jury after a five-day trial. He had previously pleaded guilty to failing to appear for court, conspiracy, two counts of passport fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

From 2002 to 2006, the IRS was actively attempting to audit and assess Vadino’s taxes owed. Vadino had purchased five residential properties in Lake Forest between 1999 and 2002 under the name of a shell company. Vadino, his three adult daughters, and his mother resided in these homes. In the fall of 2006, Vadino directed his daughter to obtain refinance loans on three of the Lake Forest properties and sold a fourth Lake Forest property, resulting in $2.1 million in loan and sale proceeds being wire transferred to a bank account in Greece controlled by Vadino.

From 2006 to 2011, defendant took steps to evade his 1999 taxes, including concealing and attempting to conceal the nature and extent of his assets and the location thereof, lying to Special Agents of the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division, placing funds and property in the names of others, and using offshore accounts to place funds and property beyond the reach of the IRS.

When scheduled to go to trial in the case, Vadino cut off his ankle bracelet and absconded. In October 2014, he applied for a U.S. passport using another person’s identity. Vadino was captured in December 2014 and has been in custody since then.


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