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June 28, 2017

Former Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration Pleads Guilty to Stealing Fraud Proceeds

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

A former special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) pleaded guilty today to stealing fraud proceeds that she had been assigned to recover on behalf of fraud victims, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Artemis Papadakis, 57, of Richmond, California, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt of the Southern District of California to an information charging her with theft by a government official. Sentencing has been scheduled for September 11 before U.S. District Judge John A. Houston.

According to the plea agreement, Papadakis admitted that she was stationed by the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, between 2008 and 2014. While in Cyprus, Papadakis was assigned to help the U.S. Government recover the proceeds of an American fraud scheme that had been frozen in the banking system in northern Cyprus. When Papadakis was transferred from Cyprus to San Francisco in June 2014, the funds had not yet been recovered. Papadakis admitted that she was told not to pursue the matter regarding the funds following her transfer. But when she was in Cyprus in October 2015 on personal business, Papadakis took possession of $310,000 of the funds without notifying anyone at the DEA or in the U.S. Government that she had done so.

According to the plea agreement, Papadakis mailed approximately $230,000 of those funds from Cyprus to her home address in California and later took possession of an additional $20,000 of those funds from a third party when he visited her in the U.S. Papadakis admitted that she hid the $250,000 in her flower pots at her home in California, and did not disclose to anyone at the DEA or in the U.S. Government that she had taken possession of the fraud proceeds. Papadakis further admitted that on or about Feb. 22, 2016, she surrendered the $250,000 to the U.S. government under the false cover story that she had just received it via an unexpected package from Cyprus.


California Resident Pleads Guilty to Stealing Homeless Individuals’ IDs and Using Them to Seek Fraudulent Tax Refunds

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

A California resident pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds, submitting false claims for tax refunds, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.

According to documents and information provided to the court, Diep Vo aka Nancy Vo, 74, conspired with codefendant Trong Nguyen aka John Nguyen, to use the IDs of homeless and unemployed individuals in the San Jose, California area to file fraudulent claims for refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Vo went to homeless shelters and halfway houses and falsely represented to individuals that she could get them money from a government program designed to assist people who had not worked in previous years. Vo convinced people to write down their names and social security numbers and to sign blank income tax returns. Vo and Nguyen then falsified the signed returns including bogus income and income tax withheld amounts and sought fraudulent refunds from the IRS. Vo and Nguyen directed the refund checks to private mailboxes they controlled. Nguyen previously pleaded guilty to submitting and conspiring to submit false claims for refund.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14. Vo faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count of conspiring to file false claims and submitting false claims for refund, 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. Vo also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. Nguyen is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25.


Uber Driver Charged With Sexually Assaulting Passenger

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

An Uber driver was charged today with raping a female passenger in a motel while she was unconscious, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Alaric Spence (dob 9/17/70) was charged in case BA458608 with three felony counts: kidnapping to commit rape, rape of an unconscious person and rape by use of drugs.

The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned today in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Prosecutors are asking that bail be set at $1.1 million.

District Attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.

On June 23, Spence is accused of picking up a 24-year-old woman in downtown Los Angeles. The defendant then allegedly drove the victim to a motel in North Hollywood where he raped her, the prosecutor said.

The victim was intoxicated and unconscious at the time of the sexual assault, the prosecutor added.


June 27, 2017

Attorney General Becerra and District Attorney Lacey: Car Donation Charity Agrees to Injunction to Stop Charity Fraud

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

SACRAMENTO — A Los Angeles-based car donation charity accused of soliciting vehicle donations using false and misleading advertising entered a stipulated final judgment ordering its dissolution and other provisions, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced.

In December 2015, the California Attorney General and Los Angeles District Attorney filed a lawsuit against the People’s Choice Charities. At the time of the filing, the lawsuit alleged the organization promised 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of cars would be given to charities selected by donors. However, an estimated 97 percent of funds were purportedly used toward administrative costs, including advertising, towing and car repairs.

“Any time charities lie to consumers, they breach the public’s trust,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I won’t stand for that. As the chief law enforcement officer of California, I will vigorously investigate and prosecute any charity that deceives and exploits the good will of generous Americans.”

“This settlement should serve as a warning to any other organization that takes advantage of the kindness of consumers,” said District Attorney Lacey. “Donations generated through deceptive advertising take valuable resources away from legitimate charities.”

The stipulated final judgment places a permanent injunction on Gary Stone, the nonprofit’s president, barring him from serving as a director, officer, trustee or employee of any California charitable organization. Moreover, Stone is permanently enjoined from doing contract work with charities, holding any management or supervisory position, or engaging in fundraising activities. People’s Choice Charities will also be dissolved.


Swimming Coach Pleads to Sexually Assaulting 7-Year-Old Girl

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

A swimming coach was sentenced today to six years in state prison after pleading no contest to sexually assaulting a girl at a Commerce aquatic center, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Steven Matthew Garcia, 28, entered his plea to one felony count of lewd act upon a child and one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure. He also was ordered to register as a lifetime sex offender.

Deputy District Attorney Emily Spear of the Sex Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

Garcia fondled a 7-year-old girl in an employee lounge at an aquatic center and threatened the victim, ordering her not to tell anyone. The complaint said the sexual assault occurred between October 2016 and January 2017.

Case BA453670 was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / Case BA453670 / June 23, 2017

El Monte Teacher Charged with Lewd Act, Child Molesting

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

A Miramonte Elementary School teacher accused of inappropriately touching young female students was charged today, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Joseph Alfred Baldenebro (dob 9/12/62) of Montebello has been charged with five counts in case KA115591: one felony count of lewd act upon a child and four misdemeanor counts of child molesting.

The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Department N of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pomona Branch. Prosecutors are asking that bail be set at $102,000.

Deputy District Attorney Babette Huley of the Victim Impact Program, who is assigned to the case, said Baldenebro allegedly engaged in improper touching with five female students on school grounds between August 2015 and May 2017.

The reported victims were in 4th and 5th grade at the time of the alleged crimes, the prosecutor added.


June 26, 2017

Monterey Park Woman Arrested on Federal Charges after Allegedly Injecting Foreign Substance into Woman for Buttocks Enhancement

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

LOS ANGELES – Law enforcement authorities have arrested a Monterey Park woman on federal charges of injecting a currently unknown substance – possibly silicone – into a woman’s buttocks during cosmetic procedures that caused so much damage the woman needed a major operation to correct the problem.

Ana Bertha Diaz Hernandez, 47, was taken into custody late yesterday afternoon by special agents with the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and investigators with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Division of Investigation, Health Quality Investigation Unit, Operation Safe Medicine Unit (formerly known as the California Medical Board).

The arrest followed the filing yesterday of a criminal complaint charging Diaz with three felony offenses – receipt of an adulterated and misbranded medical device, smuggling, and misbranding prescription drugs.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, a victim identified as “I.T.”, filed a complaint with the California Medical Board after seeking treatments from Diaz to enhance her buttocks. I.T. stated that the product Diaz had injected into her buttocks had migrated to her “back, hips and legs,” the affidavit states. I.T. explained that she had to have surgery and was ultimately hospitalized due to the injections administered by Diaz.

During a series of treatments that cost thousands of dollars, Diaz explained to I.T. that she was injecting a “natural product,” at points claiming the injections were “lamb’s fat.” (more…)

Pasadena Man Indicted in Bank Robbery Spree Attributed to the ‘Dual Valley Bandit’

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

LOS ANGELES – A Pasadena man was named today in a seven-count indictment that charges him with committing a series of bank robberies culminating in an armed robbery in which he allegedly used a loaded shotgun.

Shownee Shon Smith, 41, was charged robbing a Wells Fargo Bank branch in East Pasadena on June 10 while armed with a loaded shotgun.

The Pasadena Police Department responded to alarms and a 911 call from inside the Wells Fargo branch and arrested Smith immediately after he exited the bank.

The indictment alleges that Smith committed six bank robberies between May 15 and June 10. In addition to the Wells Fargo robbery, Smith is charged with robbing branches of US Bank in Burbank on May 15, Wells Fargo in South Pasadena on the same day, Chase Bank in East Pasadena on May 20, Chase in North Hollywood on May 27, and Citibank in Tarzana on the same day. Prior to the Wells Fargo robbery on June 10, Smith had allegedly used notes to demand money from bank employees.

Smith is additionally charged with brandishing a firearm during the June 10 robbery.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A woman was sentenced yesterday to three years in state prison for pimping women out of luxury Irvine apartments operating as brothels.




Jian Zhen Zhu, 42, Santa Ana

Pleaded guilty to the court on Nov. 15, 2016, to felony counts:

  • (3) Conspiracy to commit a crime
  • (3) Pimping
  • (3) Pandering
  • (3) Money laundering derived from criminal activity

Sentencing Enhancement

  • Money laundering transaction over $50,000

Court offer of three years in state prison

Codefendant John Tzu-Lung Lan, 67, Chino Hills, is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit pimping and pandering and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 11, 2017, in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Case

Zhu is a pimp who exploits women for financial gain. The victims are often required to turn over payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.


June 23, 2017

Orange County Man Who Led Conspiracy that Illegally Imported and Distributed Synthetic Narcotics Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

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

SANTA ANA, California – A Newport Beach man who orchestrated a wide-reaching conspiracy that smuggled, manufactured and distributed millions of dollars worth of analogue drugs which were used, among other things, to manufacture synthetic marijuana has been sentenced to 120 months in federal prison.

Sean Libbert, 41, was sentenced late last night by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

According to court documents, Libbert organized and led a drug trafficking conspiracy that manufactured, marketed and sold synthetic marijuana – commonly called “spice” – under the brand name of “Da Kine Blend.” When he pleaded guilty last year, Libbert admitted that at least 100 kilograms of synthetic marijuana was manufactured using the analogue chemicals he provided, and that he knew the “spice” was being distributed for human consumption.

Libbert pleaded guilty last November to federal offenses related to the distribution of “spice.” Libbert pleaded guilty to four felony offenses: conspiring to manufacture, possess and distribute controlled substance analogues; conspiracy to smuggle controlled substance analogues into the United States; being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition; and money laundering.


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