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August 16, 2016

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against San Diego Staffing Company

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:47 am

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with TEG Staffing Inc., also known as Eastridge Workforce Solutions, a temporary staffing agency headquartered in San Diego, to resolve allegations that their Mira Mesa, California, office discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The department’s investigation found that from at least March 2014 until at least September 2015, Eastridge had a pattern or practice of requesting specific immigration documents from non-U.S. citizens for the Form I-9 and E-Verify processes.  In contrast, Eastridge allowed U.S. citizens to present whichever valid documents they wanted to present to prove their work authorization.  Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose whichever valid documentation they would like to present from the Lists of Acceptable Documents to prove their work authorization, such as a driver’s license and unrestricted Social Security card.  It is unlawful for an employer to limit employees’ choice of documentation because of their citizenship or immigration status.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Eastridge will pay $175,000 in civil penalties, and among other provisions, will undergo department monitoring and review of its processes for verifying the work authorization of newly hired employees.

“Staffing agencies and employers must comply with federal law to ensure they don’t discriminate against lawful, authorized U.S. workers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Workers who get a job through a staffing agency should not confront unfair and unlawful barriers to joining the workforce and contributing to our economy.”

The Civil Rights Division’s Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The law prohibits, among other things, citizenship, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices in employment eligibility verification; retaliation and intimidation.

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTY CONVICTED OF THREATENING AND ASSAULTING WOMAN INCLUDING LIGHTING HER HAIR ON FIRE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:45 am

FULLERTON, Calif. – A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputy was convicted today of threatening and assaulting a woman including lighting her hair on fire. Alejandro Flores, 34, Buena Park, pleaded guilty today, Aug. 15, 2016, to three felony counts of domestic battery with corporal injury, two felony counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of criminal threats, one felony count of dissuading a witness by force or threat, and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace or violence, with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. Flores was sentenced to one year in county jail, five years of formal probation, eight hours of community service, mandatory completion of a domestic violence batterers’ treatment program, and was ordered to pay restitution. The People objected to the court’s offer and stated they believed Flores should be in state prison.

At the time of the crime the defendant was a LASD deputy and was in a romantic relationship with Jane Doe. The defendant lived with the victim and a child relative under two years old in Buena Park.

Around Oct. 22, 2014, Flores struck Jane Doe in the face resulting in the victim suffering a broken nose. The incident went unreported.

On June 28, 2015, Flores argued with the victim about the child’s pacifier and pushed the victim into a wall in their Buena Park home. The defendant hit Jane Doe on the top of her head with his fist and grabbed her neck, causing the victim to fall to the ground.

The defendant dragged the victim into the kitchen after she attempted to get away from him. Flores forcibly held the victim over the stove and turned on the gas burner, causing the victim’s hair to catch on fire.

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Man Sentenced to Prison for Fatal DUI Crash in Palmdale

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:41 am

A 25-year-old man was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for driving under the influence of alcohol and killing a man who was traveling home from work, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

At today’s sentencing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Carlos Chung also ordered the defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $15,934.65 to the victim’s family.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Rochmes, who prosecuted the case, said on the evening of September 26, 2014, the defendant drove his 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to the Park and Ride on Avenue S in Palmdale to meet friends. The group was taking a “party bus” to a club in Los Angeles.

According to court testimony, Brooks began drinking alcohol in the parking lot before boarding the bus and while on the bus. When the defendant arrived at the club, he continued to drink with his friends, the prosecutor added.

At the end o the night, the bus transported Brooks and his friends back to Palmdale and dropped them off at the Park and Ride. Although the defendant’s friends warned him he was too drunk to drive, Brooks got into the driver’s seat of his car and exited the parking lot onto Avenue S, according to the prosecutor.

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August 15, 2016

Georgia Man Sentenced to over 7 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking in Case involving Girl Forced to Work as Prostitute

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

LOS ANGELES – A man who trafficked a 17-year-old girl from Nevada to Southern California and forced her to work as a prostitute has been sentenced to 87 months in federal prison.

Kenyati Jakeen Rahh-Potts, 27, of Hahira, Georgia, was sentenced on Monday by United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.

Rahh-Potts pleaded guilty in February 2015 to one count of sex trafficking.

A second defendant in the case – Tabitha Samaria Walls, 24, of Elk Grove, California – was sentenced last year to 27 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to engage in sex trafficking.

According to court documents, Rahh-Potts and Walls trafficked the victim from Las Vegas to California and forced her to engage in acts of prostitution in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Pomona and Ontario over an 11-day period in 2013. Rahh-Potts and Walls, who were living in Apple Valley when they were arrested in August 2013, created online advertisements on backpage.com to prostitute the victim and then took all of the money that the child earned through the acts of prostitution.

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South Bay Man Pleads Guilty to Obscenity Charge for Sending Photo in Response to Ad to Have Sex with 13-Year-Old Girl

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

LOS ANGELES – A San Pedro man who responded to an Internet advertisement to have sex with a young girl and sent a photograph of his genitals has pleaded guilty to a federal obscenity charge.

Joshua Paul Crouch, 28, pleaded guilty yesterday to attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor.

As a result of the guilty plea before United States District Judge John F. Walter, Crouch faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on October 24.

According to court documents, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and other law enforcement agencies, posted an advertisement for commercial sex acts on backpage.com[external link]. Crouch responded to the ad on March 30 and agreed to pay $60 to receive oral sex from what he thought was a 13-year-old girl, but who in fact was an undercover law enforcement officer.

During the text conversation with the undercover agent and another “girl” that Crouch thought was 15, he sent a photograph of his genitals to the older “girl” to entice the younger “girl” to engage in prohibited sexual conduct, according to the plea agreement filed in this case.

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Online Retailer Pleads Guilty for Fixing Prices of Wall Posters

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

An e-commerce retailer pleaded guilty today for conspiring to fix the prices of posters sold online, the Department of Justice announced today.

Trod Ltd. (doing business as Buy 4 Less, Buy For Less and Buy-For-Less-Online), a U.K. company headquartered in Birmingham, England, pleaded guilty to fixing the prices of certain posters sold online through Amazon Marketplace from as early as September 2013 until in or about January 2014.  Trod Ltd. was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California in San Francisco on Aug. 27, 2015.

“E-commerce is among the fastest growing segments of our economy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “For this robust growth to continue, customers must be confident that they will receive the same benefits of vigorous competition on the web as they do at brick-and-mortar stores.  We will continue to ensure that happens by investigating and prosecuting schemes that harm online shoppers.”

According to the indictment, Trod Ltd. and its co-conspirators agreed to adopt specific pricing algorithms for the sale of certain posters sold on Amazon Marketplace, with the goal of offering online shoppers the same price for the same product and coordinating changes to their respective prices.

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August 12, 2016

Customs Officer Arrested in Bank Fraud Case that Alleges He Stole Mail Containing Checks from International Mail Facility in Torrance

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

LOS ANGELES – A longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has been arrested on federal charges that allege that he stole mail from the International Mail Facility (IMF) in Torrance and arranged to have an accomplice deposit checks obtained from the stolen mail.

Carlos Canjura, 54, of Van Nuys, was arrested yesterday without incident by special agents with the FBI. The arrest came after Canjura, who has been a CBP officer since 2008, was named in an eight-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on August 4.

At an arraignment yesterday afternoon in United States District Court, Canjura pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment and was released on his own recognizance.

According to the indictment, Canjura was a CBP Officer assigned to the IMF, where his duties included examining mail and parcels coming into the United States for contraband, counterfeit goods, and possible fraudulent financial checks or credit cards.  The IMF is operated by the United States Postal Service and serves as a location where international mail is processed by CBP officers and other personnel to ensure compliance with federal law before being delivered to addresses in the United States.

“The public should be able to use the mail without fear that officials charged with safeguarding the system are not abusing it for their own benefit,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mr. Canjura not only abused his position as a federal officer by stealing international mail, he also sought to use the stolen mail in an elaborate scheme to defraud banks and line his own pockets. In so doing, he violated the public trust he swore to uphold.”

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Federal Authorities Target Inland Empire Mail Thieves

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

RIVERSIDE, California –The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has arrested six Inland Empire residents who are charged in indictments that allege federal crimes related to mail theft. The six arrested over the past two weeks are among 11 defendants who have been charged by a federal grand jury as the result of an operation in which Postal Inspectors recovered approximately 1,167 pieces of stolen mail.

Most of the defendants are charged with using checks and personal information stolen from the mail to commit financial crimes, including bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The 11 defendants are charged in seven indictments that were returned by a federal grand jury in Riverside over the past month. The cases were announced today after Postal Inspectors yesterday arrested two of the defendants. Three of the defendants are already in state custody on unrelated charges, and federal prosecutors will seek to have those three brought into federal court. The USPIS is continuing to search for two fugitives.

In one of the cases, Robert Kujaun Thomas, 40, of Hemet, is charged with possessing more than 850 pieces of stolen mail belonging to hundreds of victims who reside in at least 17 Inland Empire cities. Thomas was also charged with possessing stolen credit and debit cards with the intent to commit fraud. Thomas was arrested on Tuesday and is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside. If convicted of the two counts, Thomas faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

“The recent rise in mail theft in the Inland Empire poses a serious problem for the community which relies on the mail for the full range of business and personal matters,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The cases being announced today demonstrate my office’s commitment to combatting this problem, and we will continue to partner with the United States Postal Inspection Service and local law enforcement to see that criminals who steal mail in the Inland Empire are punished.”

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MAN DUBBED ASSISTANT COACH BANDIT FACING ADDITIONAL CHARGES FOR DEFRAUDING OVER $40,000 FROM SIX VICTIMS THROUGH LOAN MODIFICATION SCAM

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man previously dubbed the Assistant Coach Bandit by the FBI is facing additional charges for defrauding over $40,000 from six victims through a loan modification scam. James Allen Ramsdell, 51, Huntington Beach, was additionally charged today with five felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of grand theft from an elder. He was previously charged with one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of foreclosure consultant unlawful advance fee, one misdemeanor count of loan modification unlawful advance, and a sentencing enhancement for a prior prison conviction of a serious and violent felony for bank robbery in 2009 in the San Diego federal court for bank robbery. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years and eight months in state prison. He is out of custody on $120,000 bail and was arraigned today on the additional charges. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Sept. 15, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Between March 1, 2014, and Nov. 1, 2015, Ramsdell is accused of offering to provide loan modification services to Jane Doe. He is accused of illegally collecting an upfront fee of approximately $920, after the victim had received a bank notice of default on her mortgage. Ramsdell is accused of instructing the victim to write multiple checks to complete the loan modification but never performing any services. Ramsdell is accused of operating his fraudulent loan modification/foreclosure consultant firm under the fictitious name of Ramsdell Consulting. He is accused of using the fictitious name of Melissa Hurley when communicating with Jane Doe. The defendant is accused of receiving multiple checks from the victim and cashing them, defrauding over $10,000 from Jane Doe.

After having never received modifications on her home loan, Jane Doe submitted a fraud report to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) Bureau of Investigation, who investigated this case and arrested the defendant on April 29, 2016. After further investigation by the OCDA Bureau of Investigation, it was discovered that Ramsdell is accused of running a similar scam against five other victims defrauding them out of over $30,000 between Sept. 25, 2014, and May 20, 2015.

To watch video of the arrest, please visit the following link: https://youtu.be/z7vsTw1hLHI or https://vimeo.com/164754872.

Prior Prison Conviction for Bank Robbery (more…)

August 11, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Settlement With Privatized Military Housing Contractors Over Allegations of Illegally Evicting Military Servicemembers

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

SAN DIEGO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that California has reached a $252,000 settlement with two privatized military housing contractors over the companies’ unlawful evictions of 18 military servicemembers and their families from private military housing complexes in San Diego and Orange Counties.

Attorney General Harris argued that these evictions violated the California Military and Veterans Code, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and other state debt collection laws which protect servicemembers who are sued while serving on active military duty and are therefore unable to appear and defend themselves in court.  These laws prevent the entry of a default judgment unless a lawyer has been appointed to represent the interests of the absent servicemember, and they prohibit the use of false statements to collect a debt.  In addition, the contractors allegedly violated California privacy laws by filing court documents that included unredacted Social Security numbers, birth dates, or other personal information of nearly 100 servicemembers and military family members.

The defendants, Lincoln Military Property Management LP and San Diego Family Housing LLC and their eviction law firm, Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP, are required to pay $200,000 in civil penalties, as well as provide $52,000 in debt relief for the servicemembers harmed by their conduct and assist victims with restoring and repairing credit history.  The settlement also requires the defendants to provide privacy protections to victims, including identity theft repair and mitigation services for one year following notification.  In addition, any default judgment evicting a servicemember and his or her family that was unlawfully obtained will be dismissed.

“It is unconscionable that companies would prey upon and illegally evict servicemembers and their families from their homes,” said Attorney General Harris. “This agreement holds these contractors accountable for their unlawful conduct – including illegal evictions and privacy violations – and ensures that veterans’ rights under the law are protected.  I want to thank the Navy Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Southwest of San Diego for helping us secure justice for the servicemembers harmed by these companies.”

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