Best Defender Bytes:

June 28, 2016

Paul Tanaka, Former No. 2 in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Obstructing Federal Investigation into Misconduct at County Jails

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:40 am

LOS ANGELES – Paul Tanaka, who was the second in command of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison for his conviction on obstruction of justice charges stemming from him leading the LASD’s efforts to derail a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations by sheriff’s deputies at two downtown jail complexes.

Tanaka, 57, a resident of Gardena who left the LASD in 2013 when he was the undersheriff, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Percy Anderson. In addition to the five-year prison term, which Tanaka was ordered to begin serving on August 1, Judge Anderson ordered the defendant to pay a $7,500 fine.

In sentencing Tanaka, Judge Anderson recounted Tanaka’s career at the LASD, his role in the scheme to obstruct justice, and “the incalculable harm you have caused this community.”

While he was the assistant sheriff in charge of the jails, Tanaka “perpetrated an environment of excessive deputy conduct,” according to Judge Anderson, who said Tanaka’s actions led directly to an increased number of use-of-force incidents against inmates at the jails. The obstruction of justice scheme was designed “to derail the federal grand jury investigation” and constituted “a gross abuse of the public trust.”

A federal jury on April 6 found Tanaka guilty of two felony offenses – conspiring to obstruct justice and a substantive count of obstructing justice. After a 10-day trial, a federal jury deliberated for only a few hours before convicting Tanaka of being the head of a broad conspiracy to obstruct the federal investigation, a scheme that started when the LASD learned that an inmate at the Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) was an FBI informant. Tanaka directed a conspiracy that has resulted in the conviction of other former LASD officials who received sentences of up to 41 months in prison.

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Former Attorney Pleads Guilty to Participating in Fraudulent Mortgage Modification Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:37 am

The Department of Justice announced that a former California licensed attorney pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, for his role in a multi-million dollar fraudulent mortgage modification scheme.

Ronald Rodis, 51, of Irvine, California, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter for the Central District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

“At the height of the mortgage crisis, this defendant and his co-conspirators preyed on desperate homeowners with a series of lies and false promises,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will continue to prosecute individuals who target vulnerable victims for profit.”

“This defendant posed as an accomplished attorney who could provide quality legal services – and hope – to struggling homeowners,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker of the Central District of California. “But the promises were bogus. Rodis Law Group made few efforts to assist homeowners, who paid thousands of dollars in last-ditch attempts to keep their homes, many of which entered foreclosure.”

Rodis admitted that, between October 2008 and June 2009, he participated in a scheme with Bryan D’Antonio, Charles Wayne Farris, and others to induce homeowners to pay between $3,500 and $5,500 for the services of the Rodis Law Group (RLG).  Rodis and his co-conspirators made numerous misrepresentations regarding the RLG’s ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. Rodis recorded radio advertisements encouraging struggling homeowners to call RLG.  In the radio ads, Rodis falsely claimed that RLG consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.”  In fact, RLG was a telemarketing operation that never had a team of experienced attorneys.  During much of the scheme, Rodis was the only attorney at RLG.

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District Court Enters Permanent Injunction Against Sacramento Tofu Company and Senior Officers to Stop Distribution of Adulterated and Misbranded Products

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:34 am

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corporation doing business as Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce International Enterprises (Wa Heng) and the firm’s co-owners, Peng Xiang “Martin” Lin and Yuexiao “Opal” Lin, to prevent the distribution of adulterated and misbranded soy products, the Department of Justice announced today.

The Department filed a complaint in the Eastern District of California on June 17, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing food that is held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce to become adulterated and misbranded.  According to the complaint, the defendants have an extensive history of operating their food manufacturing facility under insanitary conditions, failing to follow current good manufacturing practice requirements and misbranding their food products.

“The American public deserves to be assured that companies and individuals preparing and distributing food subject to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act are complying with federal law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively with the FDA to ensure a safe food supply.”

As detailed in the complaint, the company receives, prepares, processes, manufactures, packs, labels, holds and distributes soy products including fried tofu, firm tofu, seasoned tofu and soy drinks.  The complaint alleged that Martin Lin’s responsibilities include the firm’s daily operations, raw material purchases, facility and equipment maintenance and production schedule and that Opal Lin’s responsibilities include training employees and overseeing employee performance.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to settle the case and to be bound by a permanent injunction that requires Wa Heng to cease all food preparation, manufacturing and distribution.  If the defendants seek to resume preparing, manufacturing and distributing food, they must implement remedial measures set forth in the injunction, notify FDA of the measures taken, and receive written notification from FDA that they appear to be in compliance with the remedial requirements set forth in the injunction and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

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June 27, 2016

MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING VICTIM AND DUMPING BODY BEHIND RESTAURANT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:11 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for murdering a victim and dumping the body behind an Anaheim restaurant. Randy Lee Parkerson, 40, Anaheim, was found guilty by a jury May 17, 2016, of one felony count of second degree murder.

On June 10, 2014, Parkerson met with 28-year-old Cesar Reyes and murdered the victim by choking her. Parkerson then placed the victim’s body in the trunk of his car for two days and dumped the body behind a fast food restaurant in Anaheim.

The Anaheim Police Department investigated this case and arrested the defendant on Oct. 7, 2014.

At the sentencing today, a friend of the victim delivered an impact statement to the court pursuant to Marsy’s Law and described the emotional impact Reyes’ death has had and how her death took a light from the LGBT community.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen McGreevy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.

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MAN IDENTIFIED THROUGH DNA TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR ROBBING, KIDNAPPING, AND SEXUALLY ASSAULTING STORE EMPLOYEE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:08 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man identified through a DNA hit was charged today with robbing, kidnapping, and sexually assaulting a store employee in 2012. Danny Thien Nguyen, 26, Garden Grove, is charged with one felony count each of sexual penetration by foreign object and force, kidnapping to commit a sex offense, second degree burglary, second degree robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 31 years to life in state prison and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration. Nguyen is being held on $1 million bail. His scheduled arraignment in court was continued today to Monday, June 27, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2012, Nguyen is accused of entering a business on the 9000 block of Talbert Avenue in Fountain Valley. Jane Doe was working alone inside the business at the time. Nguyen is accused of robbing Jane Doe at gunpoint and ordering the victim to a back room in the business, keeping her against her will and sexually assaulting her. DNA samples were collected from the crime scene but the defendant was not identified.

On Oct. 3, 2012, Nguyen pleaded guilty to one felony count of attempted second degree robbery and one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon for a crime that took place on Jan. 7, 2012 (Case # 12WF0733). As part of his sentence, Nguyen was required to submit a DNA sample to the national DNA database, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

In March 2016, the DNA samples from the crime scene were processed. In June 2016, the Orange County Crime Lab received a CODIS DNA hit linking Nguyen to the unsolved sexual assault. On June 23, 2016, officers from the Fountain Valley Police Department (FVPD) arrested Nguyen. FVPD investigated this case.

Deputy District Attorney Lexie Elliott of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

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Brothers Convicted of 2013 Murder For Ex-Boyfriend’s Insurance Money

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:05 am

Separate juries have convicted two brothers for killing a Glendale man in a scheme to collect on his $2.5 million insurance policy, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

A jury today found Hovanes “John” Maskovian, 37, guilty of the first-degree murder and attempted kidnapping of his ex-boyfriend, 33-year-old Joshua West. Jurors also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait, murder for financial gain and murder during an attempted kidnapping.

A separate jury on Thursday found his younger brother, Hachik “Kriss” Maskovian, 31, guilty of the same charges in case PA076771.

Deputy District Attorneys Geoffrey Lewin and Richard Dooley co-prosecuted the case.

On April 24, 2013, West was lured to a Sun Valley location where he was beaten, run over by a car and shot by the two men, prosecutors said. West’s body was dumped in the 10200 block of Penrose Street in Sun Valley.

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June 24, 2016

22 Defendants Named in Health Care Fraud Cases involving over $161 Million in Fraudulent Bills to Government Health Care Programs

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:26 am

LOS ANGELES – Culminating investigations by a host of state and federal law enforcement agencies, federal prosecutors have brought 13 criminal cases that charge a total of 22 defendants in health care fraud schemes. Several medical professionals were charged as part of the sweep, including five physicians, a psychiatrist, one pharmacist and an occupational therapist. The cases announced today allege various schemes that led to more than $161 million in fraudulent bills being submitted to publicly funded health care programs such as Medicare and TRICARE.

The cases filed in federal court in Los Angeles and Santa Ana are part of a nationwide sweepannounced today in Washington by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who said criminal and civil charges have been filed against 301 individuals who allegedly participated in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $900 million in false billings. The local cases were filed by Assistant United States Attorneys and Trial Attorneys with the Justice Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

“Health care fraud is a serious offense that costs Americans billions of dollars, and the cases announced today here in Los Angeles alone cost taxpayers more than $100 million,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These crimes affect real people and erode the trust that should exist between a patient and their health care provider. The entire Justice Department and our law enforcement partners are committed and determined to doing everything it takes to ensure the health care system works for the American public – and not those, whether health care providers or others, who seek to abuse the system.”

The cases filed in the Southland involve actual losses of more than $125 million, with the bulk of those losses associated with five cases related to schemes involving compounding pharmacies. In schemes orchestrated by marketers (sometimes called “cappers”), compounding pharmacies were provided with large numbers of prescriptions, generally for pain medications, that carried huge reimbursements, often more than $15,000 for each prescription. The prescriptions were written by doctors who received kickbacks from marketers or from “telemedicine” websites that had little or no contact with patients. The prescriptions were written for “patients” who, in many cases, did not want the prescriptions, had never met the prescribing doctors or had no idea why they were receiving the medications. In many cases, the beneficiary information was being used without the knowledge of the “patients” until the prescriptions showed up at their homes.

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Former Supervisory Contracting Officer Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from Foreign Defense Contractor

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:23 am

A former Department of Defense (DoD) supervisory contracting officer pleaded guilty today to charges that he accepted bribes from the owner of the foreign defense contractor at the center of a massive bribery and fraud scandal.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Acting Director Dermot O’Reilly of the DoD’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.

Paul Simpkins, 61, of Haymarket, Virginia, was a senior DoD contracting official who supervised contracting officers responsible for awarding and administering U.S. Navy contracts.  Sentencing was set for Sept. 9, 2016.

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, from approximately May 2006 until September 2012, Leonard Glenn Francis, owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), provided cash, travel expenses and the services of prostitutes in return for Simpkins’s efforts to steer contracts to GDMA and intervene on GDMA’s behalf in contracting disputes with the U.S. Navy.  Simpkins admitted that during the years-long scheme, Francis provided him with hundreds of thousands of dollars through wire transfers to a bank account in Japan controlled by Simpkins’s former wife.  After Francis transferred the funds to Simpkins’s wife’s account, Simpkins caused payments to be remitted to a U.S. bank account held in his own name.

According to his plea, Simpkins admitted that, in return, he used his influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA.  Among other things, Simpkins admitted that he extended GDMA’s contract after a subordinate recommended the contract not be extended due to high costs; instructed U.S. Navy officials in Hong Kong to discontinue using meters that ensured proper accounting of the amount of waste that GDMA removed from U.S. Navy ships to ensure that no overbilling occurred; and instructed a U.S. Navy official to ignore invoices that GDMA submitted after Francis complained that U.S. Navy personnel were asking questions.

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THIRD-STRIKER GANG MEMBER PAROLEE CHARGED WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES SHOOTING-MURDER OF INNOCENT BYSTANDER FATHER ON FATHER’S DAY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:20 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A third-striker criminal street gang member parolee was charged today with special circumstances murder of an innocent bystander father on Father’s Day. Jose De Jesus Gomez-Ochoa, 30, Tustin, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for criminal street gang purpose, one felony count of unlawful possession of a firearm, and sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, criminal street gang activity, the personal use of a firearm, and prior strike convictions for participation in a criminal street gang in 2011 and 2012, and criminal street gang member in possession of a firearm in 2012. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without parole. The defendant is being held without bail and is scheduled for a continued arraignment on July 15, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

At the time of the crime, Gomez-Ochoa was a parolee and is accused of being a member of a criminal street gang.

On June 19, 2016, at approximately 7:10 p.m., Gomez-Ochoa is accused of being at the 1700 block of South Evergreen Street in Santa Ana. A rival criminal street gang member was purchasing something from a parked food truck, which belonged to and was being operated by 52-year-old Eliu Armando Gramajo. Gomez-Ochoa is accused of spotting the rival gang member from a distance, gesturing a gang sign with his hand, aiming his gun at the rival criminal street gang member, and firing his gun. The defendant is accused of missing his intended target and instead shooting Gramajo, an innocent bystander and husband and father of three. Gomez-Ochoa is accused of then fleeing the scene in a vehicle.

Witnesses called 911 and the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) responded to the scene. Gramajo was transported to a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound in his upper torso. Instead of spending that evening celebrating Father’s Day with his wife and children, Gramajo died at the hospital as a result of the gunshot wound.

SAPD investigated this case and arrested Gomez-Ochoa at his home the next day on June 20, 2016.

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June 23, 2016

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Macy’s

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:47 am

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Macy’s over allegations that the large national retailer violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens at its Glendale, California, location.

The department’s investigation was based on a charge filed by a lawful permanent resident whose hiring was delayed in October 2015.  The charging party alleged, and the investigation found, that she was not able to begin working at Macy’s even though she showed sufficient proof of her work authorization because a Macy’s hiring official incorrectly believed that lawful permanent residents were required to produce unexpired permanent resident cards.  The investigation also found that other human resource employees in Macy’s Glendale location were imposing the same unnecessary requirement on four other lawful permanent residents.  In contrast, U.S. citizens were permitted to choose whichever valid documents they wanted to present to prove their work authorization.  Under the INA, lawful permanent residents do not have to show their permanent resident cards when they start working.  Instead, like all workers, they can choose whichever documentation the would like to present, such as a driver’s license and unrestricted social security card, from the lists of acceptable documents.

Under the settlement agreement, Macy’s will, among other things, provide additional training to its employees and assess its employees’ understanding of applicable rules.  Macy’s will also pay an $8,700 civil penalty and periodically produce Form I-9 information to the department for review.

“Macy’s did the right thing by immediately resolving the charging party’s delayed hiring and by giving her full back pay,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “All employers should take care not to impose unlawful burdens on employees because of their citizenship or immigration status and address issues promptly when they make mistakes.”

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