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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.

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GANG MEMBER CONVICTED OF MURDERING INNOCENT BYSTANDER DURING RETALIATORY GANG SHOOTING

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.

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FORMER STAR QUARTERBACK CONVICTED OF DRUG AND TRESPASS CHARGES

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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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March 14, 2017

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against California Janitorial Companies

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

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Paragon Building Maintenance, Inc. (Paragon) and Pegasus Building Services Company, Inc. (Pegasus), related janitorial companies headquartered in Long Beach, California.  The settlement resolves the department’s investigation into whether the companies violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when checking their work authorization documents.

The department concluded, based on its investigation, that Paragon and Pegasus routinely requested that lawful permanent residents show their Permanent Resident Cards to prove their work authorization while not requesting specific documents from U.S. citizens.  Lawful permanents residents often have the same work authorization documents available to them as U.S. citizens, and may choose other acceptable documents besides the Permanent Resident Card to prove they are authorized to work.  The investigation further revealed that the companies required lawful permanent resident employees to re-establish their work authorization when their Permanent Resident Cards expired, even though federal rules prohibit this practice. The antidiscrimination provision of the INA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on the employees’ citizenship or national origin.

“Employers may not discriminate against employees when verifying that their employees are authorized to work in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “We encourage employers everywhere to familiarize themselves with their legal obligations, as Paragon and Pegasus have committed to do by reaching this settlement.”

Under the settlement, Paragon and Pegasus will pay a civil penalty of $115,000 and pay up to $30,000 to compensate any eligible workers who lost pay due to these documentary practices.  The companies also have agreed to post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s antidiscrimination provision, train their human resources personnel, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements.

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California Businessman Sentenced to Prison for Concealing Over $23.5 Million in Israeli Bank Accounts

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

A Los Angeles, California 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.”

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Former Wells Fargo Branch Manager Convicted of Laundering Proceeds of Trademark Scam

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

A former manager of a Wells Fargo branch in Glendale, California, was convicted on Friday of money laundering and false bank entry charges in connection with laundering the proceeds of a trademark scam.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown of the Central District of California, Acting Inspector in Charge William H. Hedrick from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Los Angeles Division, Inspector in Charge Regina L. Faulkerson of USPIS Criminal Investigation and Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

After a four-day jury trial, Albert Yagubyan, 37, of Burbank, California, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, four counts of concealment money laundering and one count of false bank entries.  Sentencing has been scheduled for May 22, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the Central District of California, who presided over the trial.

According to the evidence presented at trial, from June 27, 2014 to Sept. 18, 2015, Yagubyan laundered over $1 million of proceeds from a mass-mailing scam run by co-conspirator Artashes Darbinyan, 37, of Glendale, California, who used companies that they called “Trademark Compliance Center” (TCC) and “Trademark Compliance Office” (TCO) in order to make fraudulent offers to trademark applicants for registration and monitoring services.

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March 13, 2017

Two Inland Empire Men Charged with Operating Residential Drug Lab Where Butane Used to Extract Marijuana’s THC Exploded

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

RIVERSIDE, California – Two men who were allegedly operating a “honey oil” lab in Cherry Valley when it exploded and severely burned one of them now face federal charges of operating an illegal drug manufacturing facility.

Hector Gallegos, 34, of San Jacinto, surrendered to authorities yesterday and made his initial court appearance.

The second defendant in the case – James Ray Wallis III, 34, of Cherry Valley – is currently a fugitive who is being sought by authorities.

The two defendants were named in a criminal complaint filed last Friday that charges both men with endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance, a federal felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Wallis and Gallegos allegedly operated a clandestine laboratory where they used butane to extract tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana. The resulting product is commonly called honey oil or hash oil, and it contains a much higher percentage of THC than found in traditional marijuana products.

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