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September 15, 2016

Leader of Ring that Stole Dozens of Firearms during Burglaries of Southern California Gun Shops Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

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

SANTA ANA, California – A Los Angeles man has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to a series of burglaries in which well over 100 firearms were stolen from businesses operated by federal firearms licensees.

Eddie Lee Harris Jr., 27, who lives in the Harvard Park district of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy and one count of theft of firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer. When he is sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney on January 30, Harris faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

Over a 2½-month period in late 2015, Harris conspired with several others to steal firearms from gun-related businesses in a series of burglaries and attempted burglaries in Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, according to a plea agreement filed in United States District Court.

Also yesterday, another Los Angeles man who participated in the burglaries was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. Faizon Azante Donnie, 20, who also resides in the Harvard Park district of Los Angeles, pleaded on June 6 to one count of theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee (FFL) and admitted that he participated in two of the burglaries.

“Participants in this ring that targeted firearms dealers directly contributed to an increase in the number of illegal firearms available on the black market and, therefore, indirectly contributed to an increase in violent crime in our community,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This case is the latest example of our commitment to reducing violent crime by working with our federal and local law enforcement partners to curtail the illegal weapons trade and firearms theft.”

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Riverside ‘Prepper’ Who Stockpiled Arsenal near College Campus Pleads Guilty to Being a Felon in Possession of Firearms

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

LOS ANGELES – A Riverside man and self-proclaimed “Doomsday Prepper” who possessed an arsenal of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition has pleaded guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Hector Mariscal, 41, pleaded guilty Monday in United States District Court and admitted that he unlawfully possessed semi-automatic firearms, shotguns, rifles, a receiver for an AR-15 machine gun, and various types of ammunition. Mariscal also admitted in court that he was not legally allowed to possess these items because he previously sustained felony convictions for burglary – and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Mariscal’s residence near Riverside City College in June. During the search, law enforcement seized firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, tasers, silencers, body armor and a flare launcher.

According to an affidavit filed in the case, on the date of the search, Mariscal admitted that he was a convicted felon who illegally possessed multiple firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Mariscal repeatedly described himself as a “Doomsday Prepper,” who in connection with his preparation also collected knives and other dangerous items, including a flare launcher. According to the affidavit, Mariscal told investigators that he regularly goes to the swap meet to obtain firearms and other dangerous weapons, stating, “You’d be surprised what you can find at a swap meet.”

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$10 Million Lawsuit Filed Against Debt Collection Giant For Harassing Calls to Consumers

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

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today a $10 million lawsuit against debt collection giant iQor US, Inc., and its subsidiary Allied Interstate, LLC, for placing unlawful and harassing calls to consumers.

The civil complaint filed today in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that iQor and Allied violated state and federal laws as well as consumers’ right to privacy. The lawsuit was filed jointly by district attorneys in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Clara counties.

The companies are accused of a myriad of offenses, including subjecting many individuals to repetitive calls for months on end, even when no money was owed.

For example the complaint cites the case of a couple from Windsor, Calif., who received hundreds of calls from Allied for more than three years, despite their continual efforts to convince the company’s representatives they called the wrong number. Even after repeated pleas and a call to the company from a police officer, the calls persisted. Allied ceased the calls only after being notified that the couple had contacted the California Attorney General’s Office.

In addition, iQor and Allied used automated dialers to call cell phones without permission in violation of federal law. The companies also called people before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. and tried to collect debts that had been discharged in bankruptcy.

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September 14, 2016

Former State Assemblyman Tom Calderon Sentenced to Federal Prison for Laundering Bribe Payments Made to His Brother

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

LOS ANGELES – Thomas M. Calderon, a former member of the California State Assembly who became a political consultant, was sentenced this afternoon to one year and one day of incarceration after he pleaded guilty to money laundering for allowing bribe money to be funneled through his firm.

Tom Calderon was sentenced today by United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder, who ordered that the sentence be served half in federal prison and half in home detention. In addition to the period of incarceration, Judge Snyder ordered Tom Calderon to serve 100 hours of community service.

Tom Calderon, 62, of Montebello, pleaded guilty on June 6 to one count of money laundering and admitted that he agreed to conceal bribe payments coming from two undercover FBI agents by having the money go through his political consulting company, the Calderon Group.

The bribes were made to Tom Calderon’s brother, Ronald S. Calderon, who at the time was a California State Senator. Ron Calderon pleaded guilty on June 21 and admitted accepting bribes from the undercover agents and a businessman in exchange for performing official acts as a legislator. Ron Calderon, 59, also of Montebello, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Snyder next Monday, although he has asked to continue his sentencing date.

When he pleaded guilty, Tom Calderon specifically admitted that in 2013 he deposited a $30,000 bribe payment from an undercover agent into the Calderon Group’s bank account and then wrote a $9,000 check to Ron Calderon’s daughter.

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Federal Correctional Officer Arrested on Charges of Assaulting Inmate

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

RIVERSIDE, California – A correctional officer employed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at the Victorville Federal Correctional Complex has been arrested on federal civil rights and assault charges stemming from an incident in which she allegedly kicked a female inmate in the head.

Cynthia Flores, 34, of Victorville, was arrested yesterday afternoon and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon on charges in a four-count indictment.

Flores is charged in an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on September 7. The indictment accuses Flores of deprivation of rights under color of law, assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm, falsifying records and making false statements and concealing material facts in a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice.

The charges stem from an incident in which Flores allegedly assaulted an inmate at the women’s prison camp in Victorville on June 2, 2013. During the evening count, when correctional officers ensure that all inmates are present, Flores initiated a physical altercation with the victim inmate. After the inmate’s hands were placed in restraints behind her back, and she was held chest down on the floor, Flores allegedly kicked the inmate in the head.

“Law enforcement officers have a duty to uphold the civil rights of all Americans, and, when those rights are violated, we must act decisively,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “No citizen should have to suffer the physical abuse by a law enforcement authority alleged in this case. Such abuse not only undermines the integrity of our justice system, but undermines the professional work being done by the vast majority of correctional officers.”

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Ten Eastern California Real Estate Investors Sentenced for Roles in Bid-Rigging and Mail-Fraud Conspiracies Involving Real Estate Purchased at Public Foreclosure Auctions

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

Ten Eastern California real estate investors were sentenced yesterday for their participation in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Eastern California, the Department of Justice announced.

The primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at San Joaquin County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices.  When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner.  According to court documents, these conspirators paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties.

“These defendants rigged foreclosure auctions to profit at the expense of mortgage holders and homeowners,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Yesterday’s sentences send a strong message that conspiracies to eliminate competition in any area of our economy will not be tolerated.”

“My office will continue to fight real estate fraud in all its forms, including bringing to justice those who would subvert public foreclosure auctions for their own personal gain,” said Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California.

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September 13, 2016

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with California to Ensure Equal Educational Opportunities for English Learners

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

The Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement agreement today with the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education to improve their compliance monitoring systems and ensure language instruction services to the approximately 1.4 million English Learner (EL) students in the state’s public schools.

The settlement resolves the department’s May 2015 findings that California’s system for monitoring its public schools’ provision of language services to EL students did not satisfy the state’s obligations under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974.  The state cooperated fully during the review.

The department concluded that the state had failed to respond appropriately to schools’ certified reports showing that over 20,000 EL students were not receiving instructional language services each school year since 2007 to 2008.  The two-year agreement requires the state to undertake several actions, including:

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Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty for His Role in Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests

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

James Robert Liang, a Volkswagen engineer, pleaded guilty today for his role in a nearly 10-year conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and U.S. Volkswagen customers by implementing software specifically designed to cheat U.S. emissions tests in hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen “clean diesel” vehicles, the Justice Department announced today.  Liang’s plea agreement provides that he will cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation.

Liang, 62, of Newbury Park, California, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act.  He was indicted under seal on June 1, 2016, by a federal grand jury, and the indictment was unsealed today.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan.

According to the plea agreement, from 1983 until May 2008, Liang was an employee of Volkswagen AG (VW), working in its diesel development department in Wolfsburg, Germany.  Liang admitted that beginning in about 2006, he and his co-conspirators started to design a new “EA 189” diesel engine for sale in the United States.  According to Liang’s admissions, when he and his co-conspirators realized that they could not design a diesel engine that would meet the stricter U.S. emissions standards, they designed and implemented software to recognize whether a vehicle was undergoing standard U.S. emissions testing on a dynamometer or being driven on the road under normal driving conditions (the defeat device), in order to cheat the emissions tests.  Liang admitted that he used the defeat device while working on the EA 189 and assisted in making the defeat device work.  In May 2008, Liang moved to the United States to assist in the launch of VW’s new “clean diesel” vehicles in the U.S. market, according to the plea agreement.  While working at VW’s testing facility in Oxnard, California, he has held the title of Leader of Diesel Competence.

According to the plea agreement, employees of VW and its U.S. subsidiary met with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to seek the certifications required to sell each model year of its vehicles to U.S. customers.  Liang admitted that during some of these meetings, which he personally attended, his co-conspirators misrepresented that VW diesel vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards and hid the existence of the defeat device from U.S. regulators.

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Man Charged with West Covina Murder

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

A 20-year-old man accused of killing his friend and dumping the victim’s body in a canyon pleaded not guilty today, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Phillip Von Wade (dob 3/15/96) of West Covina was charged this morning with one count of murder in case KA113465. The felony complaint includes a special allegation that the defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, an ax, during the commission of the crime.

At today’s arraignment, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Salvatore Sirna set Wade’s bail at $2.02 million.

Deputy District Attorney Marie Cox, who is assigned to the case, said the defendant and victim Rahkeem Reyes, 27, were friends.

On Sept. 5, Wade allegedly bludgeoned Reyes with an ax at a West Covina residence, the prosecutor said. Wade then allegedly dumped the victim’s body in Azusa Canyon, where it was discovered by detectives five days later, the prosecutor added.

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September 12, 2016

L.A. Nursing Home, Two Physicians Pay over $3.5 Million to Resolve Allegations They Participated in Illegal Patient-Transfer Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles nursing home and two physicians who worked at the facility have paid $3,563,140 to resolve civil allegations that they participated in a scheme to improperly transfer patients recruited from the “Skid Row” district to a hospital for medically unnecessary services, and then transfer the patients from the hospital to the nursing home for medically unnecessary stays.

Westlake Convalescent Hospital; Dr. Jasvant Modi, who worked at Westlake; and Jasvant Modi’s wife, Dr. Meera Modi, paid the settlement on August 3 to resolve a federal “whistleblower” lawsuit. The settlement was announced today after United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell dismissed the action.

Between 2008 and 2010, AJIT Healthcare, Inc., doing business as Westlake Convalescent Hospital, allegedly paid illegal kickbacks to a “care consortium” on Skid Row in exchange for patient referrals to Westlake. During that period and after, Jasvant Modi allegedly readmitted patients from Westlake to the now-closed Temple Community Hospital and then back to Westlake to extend the patients’ Medicare-covered stays at Westlake, knowing the patients did not require further services at either facility. Meera Modi allegedly signed medical orders for non-payable services for these same patients. Westlake allegedly billed Medicare and Medi-Cal for medically unnecessary services provided to these patients.

“Patient-transfer schemes such as this victimize vulnerable members of our society as well as taxpayer-funded programs designed to aid them,” said United States Attorney Eileen Decker. “Such schemes are a clear abuse of the physician/patient trust and a fraud on American taxpayers.”

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