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March 14, 2017

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.”


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.


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.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The former Finance Services Manager for the City of Placentia (Placentia) was sentenced today to 25 years in state prison for embezzling approximately $5.2 million from the city. Michael Minh Nguyen, 34, Irvine, pleaded guilty to 36 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, 67 felony counts of money laundering, two felony counts of falsifying records, and one felony count of making a non-sufficient funds check, with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property loss over $3.2 million. In addition to prison, Nguyen was ordered to pay $2,649,155.57 in restitution to Placentia and was fined $10,321,471.

In Case # 17NF0497, Herbert Norris Trotter Jr., 45, Beverly Hills, was charged in a felony arrest warrant on Feb. 23, 2017, with 14 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and 14 felony counts of money laundering, with sentencing enhancement allegations for theft over $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and money laundering exceeding $1 million. If convicted, Trotter faces a maximum sentence of 37 years and four months in state prison. He is wanted by law enforcement.

In Case # 17NF0498, Michael Todd McDonald, 40, Henderson, Nevada, was charged in a felony arrest warrant on Feb. 23, 2017, with 46 felony counts of money laundering and 15 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, with sentencing enhancement allegations for theft over $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and money laundering exceeding $150,000 but less than $1 million.. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 58 years and eight months in state prison. McDonald is wanted by law enforcement.

“I am extremely proud of the quality work produced by our office and the outcome of this case,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “Today’s conviction sends a strong message to all stewards of the tax payers dollar; if you abuse the power entrusted in you and steal from the people in Orange County, our office will work long, hard, and fast to uncover the truth and prosecute those involved to the fullest extent of the law.”


Felon Sentenced to Prison for Attacking Boy in Long Beach

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

A 48-year-old man was sentenced today to 22 years in state prison for assaulting a boy in a Long Beach restaurant last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

At today’s court appearance, Herbert Laurence Harris pleaded no contest to two felony counts in case NA103694: child abuse and kidnapping.

The defendant also admitted he was previously convicted of making criminal threats and battery by gassing in 2014.

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kelley of the Victim Impact Program, who prosecuted the case, said on March 3, 2016, Harris followed a 13-year-old boy into a restaurant bathroom and attacked him.

The defendant put the boy into a chokehold and started to drag him into a bathroom stall when a customer walked into the bathroom and intervened to stop the assault, the prosecutor added.


March 10, 2017

Rite Aid Corporation Pays $834,200 to Settle Allegations of Violating the Controlled Substances Act

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

LOS ANGELES – Rite Aid Corporation has paid $834,200 in civil penalties to the United States to settle claims stemming from alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

Rite Aid paid the civil settlement yesterday as part of an agreement reached last week to resolve allegations that certain Rite Aid pharmacies in Los Angeles dispensed and/or recorded controlled substances using a medical practitioner’s incorrect or invalid DEA registration number. The government alleged that the incorrect or invalid registration numbers were used at least 1,298 times as a result of Rite Aid’s failure to adequately maintain its internal database.

The settlement also resolves allegations that Rite Aid pharmacies dispensed, on at least 63 occasions, prescriptions for controlled substances written by a practitioner whose DEA registration number had been revoked by the DEA for cause.

In 1970, the United States Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which created “a closed system” of distribution for controlled substances. The CSA established a regulatory framework to control every facet of the handling of the substances, from their manufacture to their consumption.

The CSA became law against the against the backdrop of increasing diversion and abuse of legitimate controlled substances, but the law was also designed to ensure an adequate supply of those substances needed to meet the medical and scientific needs of the United States.


Customs Officer Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison for Stealing Checks and Money Orders from International Mail Facility in Torrance

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

LOS ANGELES – A longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer was sentenced on Monday to over three years in federal prison for stealing checks and money orders from international mail and depositing those items into bank accounts.

Carlos Canjura, 54, of Van Nuys, was sentenced on Monday to 37 months in prison by United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell. In addition to the prison term, Judge O’Connell ordered Canjura to pay $20,145 in restitution.

A federal jury in November found Canjura guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, four counts of bank fraud and four counts of possession of stolen mail.

Canjura was a CBP Officer assigned to the International Mail Facility in Torrance, where his duties included inspecting mail and parcels arriving from other countries for narcotics, counterfeit goods, and possible fraudulent checks and negotiable instruments. The evidence presented during the three-day trial showed that Canjura used his position to steal personal checks, traveler’s checks and money orders from international mail.

Over the course of a year, Canjura stole more than 108 checks and money orders with a cumulative value of $249,212. He worked with co-conspirators to deposit those stolen checks and money orders, often fraudulently altering the checks before depositing them through ATMs or mobile phone applications.


Former CEO of Hollywood Payroll Company Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison in Tax Case Related to Purloined Company Funds

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

RIVERSIDE, California – The former CEO of Axium International, Inc., a leading Hollywood payroll services company until it collapsed in 2008, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by failing to report as income millions of dollars he skimmed from company coffers.

John Visconti, 74, of Beverly Hills, was sentenced on Monday by United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, who also ordered the defendant to pay $1.75 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Visconti was convicted by a federal jury in October of tax evasion, conspiracy to defraud the IRS, and filing a false tax return.

Axium was one of the largest payroll services companies serving the entertainment industry, and its client list included studios, Fortune 500 companies and broadcasters. 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 some cases, those tax returns generated substantial refunds, which were supposed to be held in trust by Axium.

As the result of gross mismanagement, Axium collapsed in 2008 after revelations that its tax delinquencies exceeded $100 million. These tax delinquencies resulted in the IRS assessing a $15 million recovery penalty against Visconti.


March 9, 2017

Alleged Drug Courier from Detroit Arrested on Federal Charge of Attempting to Smuggle Cocaine Through LAX

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

LOS ANGELES – A 28-year-old woman arrested early this morning at Los Angeles International Airport has been charged with trying to smuggle at least a kilogram of cocaine to her hometown of Detroit.

Kennsha Mason, 28, was arrested by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration after boarding a Spirit Airlines flight. Mason is scheduled to make her first court appearance this afternoon United States District Court.

A criminal complaint filed this morning alleges the narcotics were discovered in Mason’s luggage after she checked in for a flight bound for Baltimore, which was a layover on a trip to Detroit. After seeing something suspicious in one of the bags during an image scan, the Transportation Security Administration inspected the bag, and discovered three individually wrapped items that were vacuum sealed and wrapped with a layer of carbon paper.

Los Angeles Airport Police responded to the scene, located Mason on her Spirit Airlines flight, and escorted her off the airplane. During a subsequent interview, Mason admitted to DEA special agents that she had previously transported drugs from Los Angeles to Detroit on four or five occasions, and that she was paid $3,500 each time she transported narcotics to Detroit. During the interview recounted in the affidavit, Mason stated that she was working for an individual in Detroit who purchased Mason’s airline tickets and directed Mason to a residence in Pasadena, where she obtained the drugs to be delivered to Detroit.


Inland Empire Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison for Possessing Child Pornography while on Probation in a Similar Case

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

LOS ANGELES – A Murietta man has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography, an offense he committed while on probation after being convicted of similar conduct in a state case.

Anthony Michael Scotti, 21, of Murrieta, yesterday received the 168-month sentence from United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

Scotti pleaded guilty in the federal case last April, admitting he had more than 1,000 images and videos of child pornography on an iPod and that he used the KIK messaging app to distribute images of children engaged in sex acts with adults.

In the plea agreement filed in this case, Scotti also admitted that he used text messages to convince a 15-year-old girl in another state to take sexually explicit pictures and send them to him.

Scotti committed the federal offense while on probation after being convicted in Riverside Superior Court about six months earlier of distribution/exhibition of lewd material to a minor.


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