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October 11, 2016

Prosecutors Secure Guilty Pleas and File Asset Forfeiture Actions in International Money Laundering and Identity Theft Scheme involving Fraudulent Tax Returns that Sought $38 Million in Refunds

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 11:08 am

SANTA ANA, California – Federal prosecutors have secured guilty pleas from seven defendants who participated in a large-scale international identity theft scheme that laundered more than $14 million in fraudulently obtained tax refunds by using bogus Republic of Armenia passports.

This week, special agents with IRS Criminal Investigation posted a forfeiture notice on a Woodland Hills residence that prosecutors are seeking to forfeit based on allegations that it was purchased with illegally obtained money. Last month, the United States Attorney’s Office filed a civil asset forfeiture lawsuit against three Van Nuys properties and alleged criminal forfeiture against the Woodland Hills property, which cumulatively have more than $1 million in equity. According to the civil complaint, some of those properties were purchased with cash with fraudulent Armenian passports used as identification.

And, in a third development stemming from the investigation, a federal grand jury in Santa Ana last month returned an indictment charging an eleventh defendant with mortgage fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. While not directly related to the stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) case, Aramais Airapetian, 24, of Woodland Hills, was charged as a result of the same investigation with using fraudulent documents, including fake pay stubs and altered bank statements, to obtain a mortgage from loanDepot.com. Criminal forfeiture is also alleged against the Woodland Hills house that Airapetian allegedly purchased using the mortgage proceeds he fraudulently obtained. If he is convicted, Airapetian could face decades in federal prison.

With the indictment of Airapetian, 11 defendants now have been charged as a result of the investigation. Seven defendants have pleaded guilty, one is a fugitive, and three (including Airapetian) are pending trial.

“Stolen identity refund fraud schemes have become a significant, nationwide problem that victimize the United States government, individuals who are identity theft victims and all taxpayers who end up paying for these fraudulent schemes,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These defendants created a complex, international scheme in an effort to conceal their fraud, but it was not sufficient to shield them from discovery and prosecution.”

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Riverside County Man Indicted on Federal Charges of Producing Child Pornography by Filming Sexual Molestation of Young Boy

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 11:04 am

RIVERSIDE, California – A federal grand jury has indicted a San Jacinto man on charges of producing child pornography for allegedly making videos while he sexually molested a 5-year-old boy.

Steve Alonso Marquez, 31, of San Jacinto, was named in a four-count indictment returned by the grand jury Wednesday. The indictment alleges two counts of producing child pornography videos that were distributed to other people.

In addition to the production of child pornography, Marquez is charged with possessing child pornography at his residence and using the Internet in an attempt to have illegal sexual conduct with a young girl.

Marquez was arrested in the Southern District of California on August 12 after he arrived at a hotel in Fallbrook, allegedly for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with the girl. Marquez was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego, where he is currently being held without bond.

The child pornography charges contained in this week’s indictment stem from a search warrant executed at Marquez’s residence on August 23. At that time, FBI agents recovered digital devices that contained the alleged child pornography, which included videos Marquez is charged with making while molesting a young boy at a location investigators believe is in Hemet.

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Parolee Charged with Execution-Style Murder of LASD Sergeant

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 11:02 am

A capital murder charge was filed today against a parolee for the alleged execution-style shooting death of Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steven Owen, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Trenton Trevon Lovell (dob 8/3/89) faces one count of murder with the special circumstance allegations of murder for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest and murder of a peace officer.

Arraignment is scheduled today in Department A01 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch.

Case MA069699 also charges Lovell with one count each of attempted murder with an allegation that he used a patrol car as a deadly and dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon with priors, and two counts each of first-degree residential robbery and false imprisonment by violence with a knife use allegation.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake of the Crimes Against Peace Officers Section said the criminal complaint includes allegations that the defendant was on parole at the time of the crime and that he was convicted of robbery as a juvenile in 2006 and then again as an adult in 2009.

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October 10, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Criminal Charges Against Senior Corporate Officers of Backpage.com for Profiting from Prostitution and Arrest of Carl Ferrer, CEO

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

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of Carl Ferrer, the Chief Executive Officer of online advertising website Backpage.com, on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping.  Michael Lacey and James Larkin, controlling shareholders of Backpage, have also been criminally charged with conspiracy to commit pimping, a felony. Backpage hosts ads for “escort services”, essentially operating as an online brothel and generating millions of dollars off the illegal sex trade.

“Raking in millions of dollars from the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims is outrageous, despicable and illegal,” said Attorney General Harris.  “Backpage and its executives purposefully and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world’s top online brothel. Thank you to the California Department of Justice Special Agents, investigators, attorneys, and our partners in law enforcement who have worked tirelessly to bring the operators of this online brothel to justice and protect thousands of victims of trafficking.”

While Backpage hosts ads for sales of a range of items and services, the arrest warrant alleges that the vast majority of Backpage’s revenue is generated through prostitution-related ads in its “adult services” section.  Backpage collects fees from users who post “escort” ads, offering sex for money using coded language and nearly nude photos. The California Department of Justice’s investigation found that many of the ads for prostitution services involved victims of sex trafficking, including children under the age of 18.

Since 2010, Backpage has been expanding operations, creating sites in hundreds of cities throughout the world, including over 30 cities in California.  Backpage’s internal revenue reports show that from January 2013 to March 2015, 99% of Backpage’s worldwide income was directly attributable to the “adult” section. During this 29-month period, Backpage’s self-reporting demonstrates that gross monthly income from California rose to $2.5 million per month, with over $51 million in revenue derived from California in that period.

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Owner of Los Angeles Medical Supply Company Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison for Multimillion-Dollar Medicare Fraud Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A West Los Angeles man who was the owner of a medical supply company has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in a scheme that fraudulently billed more than $4 million to Medicare.

Valery Bogomolny, 44, of Westwood, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge S. James Otero, who also ordered the defendant to pay $1,266,860 in restitution.

The sentencing of Bogomolny was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker; Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre L. Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christian Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Los Angeles Region.

Bogomolny was found guilty by a federal jury in November 2015 of six counts of health care fraud. According to evidence presented at trial, between January 2006 and October 2009, Bogomolny used his company, Royal Medical Supply in the Beverly Grove district of Los Angeles, to bill Medicare $4 million for power wheelchairs, back braces and knee braces that were medically unnecessary, not provided to beneficiaries or both.

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MAN SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS IN JAIL FOR ASSAULTING FEMALE JOGGER WHILE BRANDISHING AN IMITATION FIREARM

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced to four years in county jail today for assaulting a female jogger while brandishing an imitation firearm. Sean Luke Salaber, 23, Riverside, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 7, 2016, of one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, or deceit, one misdemeanor count of brandishing an imitation firearm, one misdemeanor count of assault, and one misdemeanor count of battery.

At approximately 6:40 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2015, Salaber approached 23-year-old Jane Doe from behind and tackled her to the ground as she jogged on a trail near Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park in Laguna Niguel. The defendant held an imitation firearm to her head and groped her. Bystanders heard the victim scream, so they helped her by scaring her assailant off and calling 911.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) located and arrested the defendant within an hour in a residential neighborhood near Kite Hill Drive and Becard Drive. OCSD investigated this case.

At Salaber’s sentencing today, Jane Doe delivered an emotional impact statement to the court pursuant to Marsy’s Law. The victim stated in part, “He underestimated me. He saw a lean 5’7 woman and he saw someone he could dominate. Think again. I outwitted him at his own game. I felt his gun pressed against my head, and without a weapon, I fearlessly fought back anyway. I out-screamed him when he tried to cover my mouth. I drew the attention of the witnesses by refusing to believe that this was my fate. And better yet, I refused to buy into the idea that he wins today or ever. He chose the wrong girl … I will continue to use my strength to fight against evil like him.”

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October 7, 2016

Owner of Los Angeles Medical Supply Company Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison for Multimillion-Dollar Medicare Fraud Scheme

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

A Los Angeles man who was the owner of a medical supply company was sentenced to 60 months in prison for his role in a scheme that fraudulently billed more than $4 million to Medicare.

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, Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre L. Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Christian Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region made the announcement.

Valery Bogomolny, 44, was convicted of six counts of health care fraud following a jury trial on Nov. 6, 2015, before U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero of the Central District of California.  In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Otero ordered Bogomolny to pay $1,266,860.03 in restitution.

According to evidence presented at trial, between January 2006 and October 2009, Bogomolny used his company, Royal Medical Supply, to bill Medicare $4 million for power wheelchairs (PWCs), back braces and knee braces that were medically unnecessary, not provided to beneficiaries or both.  The evidence further showed that Bogomolny created false documentation to support his false billing claims, including creating fake reports of home assessments that never occurred.  PWCs were delivered to beneficiaries who were able to walk without assistance and Bogomolny signed documents stating that he had delivered equipment when, in fact, the equipment was not actually delivered.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California.  Fraud Section Trial Attorneys Ritesh Srivastava and Claire Yan are prosecuting the case.

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Thousand Oaks Man Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years in Federal Prison for Illegal Gun Sales Months After Firearm Conviction in State Court

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

LOS ANGELES – A Ventura County man who illegally sold five firearms in less than a month and agreed to sell three more during an undercover operation last year has been sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison.

Joshua Pineda, 24, of Thousand Oaks, was sentenced on Monday to 57 months in prison after admitting that he illegally sold five rifles during transactions in October and November of 2015 that took place in parking lots in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks. After selling the rifles for thousands of dollars, Pineda agreed to sell three more to an undercover law enforcement officer.

Most of the eight firearms in this case were AR-15-type assault rifles, several of which did not have serial numbers. According to court documents, Pineda also sold more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to the undercover agent.

“Parking lot sales of untraceable assault rifles by a convicted felon pose a serious danger to the community,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Transactions like these supply an illegal market for firearms that endangers law-abiding citizens when the deadly weapons make their way into the hands of criminals.”

Pineda pleaded guilty in February to federal offenses of selling firearms without a license and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Pineda previously pleaded guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court in February 2015 to a felony offense involve an assault rifle.

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West Hollywood Store and Owner Sentenced for Violating Endangered Species Act by Illegally Importing Seahorses

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

LOS ANGELES – Necromance, a West Hollywood shop that sells novelty wildlife items, and its owner were sentenced today in federal court for violating the Endangered Species Act by unlawfully importing seahorses.

Necromance and Nancy Delap Smith, 56, of Studio City pleaded guilty in July to misdemeanor violations of the Endangered Species Act. Both defendants illegally imported items that were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

During today’s sentencing hearing, Necromance was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and was placed on probation for two years.

Smith was placed on probation for a period of one year and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service.

Both defendants were sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge John E. McDermott.

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October 6, 2016

Two Colombian Nationals Extradited to Los Angeles on Charges of Leading Multi-Ton Cocaine Conspiracy via Clandestine Air Shipments

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

LOS ANGELES – Two Colombian drug kingpins have been extradited to Los Angeles on federal charges of overseeing shipments of thousands of pounds of cocaine from Colombian laboratories to Central American distribution hubs, ultimately destined for sale in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States, including more than $70 million in cocaine recovered by international law enforcement.

In an indictment that was unsealed late yesterday, Dicson Penagos-Casanova, 36, and Juan Gabriel Rios Sierra, 34, are charged with spearheading the conspiracy to “coordinate aerial shipments of ton-quantities of cocaine” for sale to “cocaine-trafficking syndicates” in Central America.

Specifically, Penagos and Rios would “transport the cocaine via overland routes from production laboratories outside Meta, Colombia, to underground storage facilities near clandestine airstrips in the western Apure Department of Venezuela.” They would “arrange for bribes to be paid to Venezuelan military and government officials” in an effort to ensure that aircraft carrying cocaine loads “enjoyed safe passage through Venezuelan airspace.” Using jets that they acquired “through straw purchasers in the United States,” Penagos and Rios would hire pilots to fly the cocaine to the “Central American distribution hubs,” where the drugs would be offloaded “for further distribution” in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States and Mexico.

“By taking key players out of commission, we are disrupting the drug cartels’ ability to import their dangerous narcotics into our country,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These defendants’ arrival in the U.S. for prosecution marks a significant victory for law enforcement here and in Central and South America, which have worked in concert to ensure justice is achieved in this case.”

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