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April 8, 2016

Corona Man Arrested on Federal Charges Related to Scheme to Steal, ‘Wash’ and Cash Checks Stolen from the U.S. Mail

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:08 am

RIVERSIDE, California – A Corona man who had a stolen, blue mail-collection box in his living room was arrested today on federal charges that allege he stole mail, “washed” checks that he found and cashed the checks using a stolen identity.

Paul Wagner, 28, was arrested this morning without incident and is expected to be arraigned in United States District Court this afternoon on a three-count indictment.

Wagner is charged with bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of stolen mail.

Wagner allegedly participated in a scheme that stole mail to find checks. Once Wagner obtained the checks, he would “wash” the checks – meaning that he would remove the payee’s name by physically scraping off the ink or using chemicals to erase the ink. After the check had been washed, Wagner altered the payee to make the check payable to the name of the identity theft victim, according to the indictment.

The indictment specifically alleges that Wagner cashed a check at a Bank of America branch on November 15, 2015 using a driver’s license with the name of an identity theft victim.


Los Angeles and San Francisco County District Attorneys Reach $25 Million Settlement With Uber

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:05 am

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced a $25 million settlement today with Uber Technologies Inc. over allegations the ridesharing company misled the public about background checks on its drivers.

“We are pleased that Uber has agreed to comply with state consumer laws,” District Attorney Lacey said. “With this settlement, the ridesharing company has pledged to communicate honestly about its driver background checks and airport fees, important steps to protecting the residents of California.”

“The result we achieved today goes well beyond its impact on Uber,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. “It sends a clear message to all businesses, and to startups in particular, that in the quest to quickly obtain market share, laws designed to protect consumers cannot be ignored. If a business acts like it is above the law, it will pay a heavy price.”

As part of the stipulated judgment approved today by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss, Uber agreed to pay a civil penalty of $10 million to Los Angeles and San Francisco counties within the next 60 days. Uber will have to pay an additional $15 million civil penalty if the company does not comply with the terms of the settlement over the next two years.


April 7, 2016

Former No. 2 of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Found Guilty of Obstructing Federal Investigation into Misconduct at County Jails

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

LOS ANGELES – Paul Tanaka, who was the second in command of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, was found guilty today of two obstruction of justice charges for overseeing efforts to derail a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations by sheriff’s deputies at two downtown jail complexes.

After only a few hours of deliberations, a federal jury convicted Tanaka of being the leader of a broad conspiracy to obstruct the federal investigation, a scheme that started when the Sheriff’s Department learned that an inmate at the Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) was an FBI informant. Tanaka directed a conspiracy that has previously resulted in the conviction of eight other former LASD deputies.

In addition to the conspiracy count, Tanaka was found guilty of one substantive count of obstructing justice.

Tanaka, 57, faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson on June 20.

“Another jury has spoken and sent a clear message that the former leaders of the Sheriff’s Department who abused their positions by encouraging, and then concealing, a corrupt culture, must be held accountable,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mr. Tanaka joins eight of his former subordinates who have been found guilty of actively working to undermine a federal investigation into illegal conduct at the jails. Law enforcement agencies that house inmates, even dangerous ones, must remain steadfast in upholding the law and protecting the civil rights of all of the individuals in their custody. This is required by both the higher standard to which law enforcement is held and their sworn oath to uphold the law.”


Gang Member Convicted in Meth Case Sentensed to 14 Years

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

LOS ANGELES – A street gang member has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after being found guilty of two narcotics trafficking charges in relation to the sale of about two ounces of methamphetamine during an undercover investigation.

Aaron “Droopy” Ramos, 31, a resident of the Florence-Graham district of Los Angeles, was Monday yesterday afternoon to 168 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder.

Following a jury trial in December, Ramos was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine. (Ramos was also convicted at trial in 2014, but that conviction was reversed by Judge Snyder because of comments made by a juror.)

“Drug trafficking continues to be a core activity of street gangs,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Taking this violent drug trafficker off of our streets both protects the community and cuts off a source of funding for the gang.”

A second defendant in the case – Sharon “Hyper” Paiz, 35, of Lancaster – who obtained the narcotics involved in the transaction, pleaded guilty and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison when she is sentenced by Judge Snyder on June 20.


Northern California Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Interstate Travel to Engage in Sexual Acts with a Minor

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

Blake Robert Johnston, 42, of Martinez, California, was sentenced to 30 years in prison late yesterday and ordered to serve a lifetime on supervised release for traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual acts with a minor, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch and Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin for Homeland Security Investigations.

Johnston pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2015, to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.  According to the plea agreement, Johnston admitted to flying to Oregon for the purpose of engaging in a sexual act with a 14-year-old victim.  Johnston also admitted that, approximately a week later, he drove to Oregon, picked up the victim, drove her to California and engaged in sexual acts with her at his home in Martinez.

Johnston was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 2, 2015.  He was charged with: travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; online enticement of a minor, production of child pornography (two counts with different victims); possession of child pornography; and distribution of child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, this investigation began in October of 2014, when the first identified victim’s mother called police in Salem, Oregon, to report that her 14-year-old daughter was missing.  Based on mobile phone records and the victim’s computer history, Salem police were able to determine the probable location of the victim and the identity of the suspect.  Within 24 hours of the victim’s disappearance, Martinez police found the missing girl in Johnston’s bed.  According to a status conference update filed by the government, a hard drive seized from Johnston’s bedroom contained approximately 500 folders labeled with different females’ names.  The majority of those 500 folders each appear to contain images and/or videos of child pornography no law enforcement investigators had previously encountered.

At the time the government’s sentencing memorandum was filed, investigators identified 94 minor victims, from at least 30 states and six countries, whom Johnston enticed into creating child pornography or sexually exploited online.  Investigators confirmed that four minor victims met with Johnston and engaged in illicit sexual activity with him.  In Johnston’s communications with underage victims, he encouraged the girls to commit harmful and violent acts such as cutting themselves, penetrating their bodies with foreign objects, strangulation and drug abuse.


April 6, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Files Suit Against Morgan Stanley Over False Claims and Securities Violations

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:48 am

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today filed a lawsuit against investment bank Morgan Stanley for misrepresentations about complex investments such as residential mortgage-backed securities, in which large pools of home loans were packaged together and sold to investors.  These misrepresentations contributed to the global financial crisis and to major losses by investors including California’s public pension funds, which are responsible for the retirement security of California peace officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees.

The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that Morgan Stanley violated the False Claims Act, the California Securities Law and other state laws by concealing or understating the risks of intricate investments involving large numbers of underlying loans or other assets. In addition to residential mortgage-backed securities, the complaint also focuses on “structured investment vehicle” investments, which involved not just packages of residential mortgage loans but also other types of debt of individuals and corporations.

“Morgan Stanley’s conduct in this case evidenced a culture of greed and deception that helped create a devastating economic crisis and crippled California’s budget,” said Attorney General Harris. “This lawsuit is necessary in order to hold Morgan Stanley accountable for the destruction it caused to California, our people, and our pension funds.”

Specifically, the complaint alleges that, from 2004 to 2007, Morgan Stanley assembled and sold billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities, many of which contained risky loans made by Morgan Stanley subsidiary Saxon, or by New Century, a mortgage lender which received crucial funding from Morgan Stanley.  Morgan Stanley purchased and bundled high-risk loans from subprime lenders like New Century into seemingly safe investments, even though it knew the lenders were “not [using] a lot of common sense” when approving the loans, the complaint alleges. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Morgan Stanley did not disclose the risks because it did not want its concerns about loan quality to become a “relationship killer” that would cause it to lose its lucrative business with companies making the risky loans.


Man Charged with Stabbing Wife in Domestic Violence-Related Attack in Monterey Park

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

A 63-year-old man was charged today with stabbing his wife in their Monterey Park home last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Kam Hing Wong (dob 12/19/52) has been charged with three felony counts in case GA098540: attempted premeditated murder, injuring a spouse, and making criminal threats.

Wong is scheduled to be arraigned today in Department 5 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Alhambra Branch. Prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $5 million.
The felony complaint includes a special allegation that the defendant personally used deadly and dangerous weapons, scissors, meat clever and knives, during the commission of the crime. Furthermore, the charging document alleges that Wong inflicted great bodily injury on the victim.

Deputy District Attorney Presciliano Duran of the Victim Impact Program, who is assigned to the case, said on March 31 Wong reportedly attacked his wife with a pair of scissors while she was in the shower at their Monterey Park home.

The victim attempted to fight off the defendant, but he allegedly continued to slash and stab her with a meat clever and a knife as the victim ran through the home, the prosecutor said.

Wong’s wife then ran outside naked and bleeding and Wong allegedly stabbed her again with a knife, according to the prosecutor. A civilian saw the severely injured woman and called police.

When authorities arrived, the defendant was found in the backyard of his home and arrested. The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of her wounds. She was slashed and stabbed 32 times, the prosecutor added.

If convicted as charged, Wong faces a maximum possible sentence of life in state prison.
The case is being investigated by the Monterey Park Police Department.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / case GA098540 / April 5, 2016

Former Palmdale Unified School District Administrator, Two Others Plead to Animal Abuse

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:33 am

A former assistant superintendent at the Palmdale Unified School District entered a no contest plea today to animal abuse charges after 19 pit bulls recovered from her home had to be euthanized, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Pauline Ruth Winbush, 53, and her live-in boyfriend Kevin Williams, 52, both pleaded no contest to one felony count each of possession with intent for dogfighting and animal neglect.

Deputy District Attorney Lyle Riggs said the third co-defendant in case MA064988, Rodney Scott (dob 3/6/69), entered a no contest plea to one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.

Sentencing for Winbush and Williams is scheduled for May 5 in Department A16 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch. Scott is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5, 2017.

Winbush is facing 270 days in county jail and Williams faces a year in county jail.


April 5, 2016

Former Baggage Handlers at LAX Arrested on Federal Drug Charges for Allegedly Using Credentials to Bring Cocaine Past Security

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

LOS ANGELES – Two former baggage handlers who worked at Los Angeles International Airport were arrested today by law enforcement authorities investigating the use of employee credentials to breach airport security.

Adrian Ponce, 27, and Alberto Preciado Gutierrez, 26, both of South Gate, were arrested this morning without incident by law enforcement officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department. Both defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances this afternoon at 2:00.

The two defendants are charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine. Both men are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

According to an affidavit by a detective with the Los Angeles Airport Police, who is working with an anti-narcotics trafficking task force at LAX, Ponce and Preciado “were engaged in a nationwide conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine.” As part of this conspiracy, Ponce and Preciado facilitated the ability of third-party couriers to use commercial airlines to smuggle kilogram “samples” of cocaine from Los Angeles to drug customers on the East Coast. At the time of the conspiracy, Preciado was a supervisory baggage handler employed by Swissport International at LAX.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A striker is scheduled to be arraigned today on charges of committing a hate crime assault against an unarmed African American minor and his brother on the campus of Irvine High School. Christopher Qu, 24, Irvine, is charged with one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, and one misdemeanor count of violation of civil rights with sentencing enhancement allegations for committing a hate crime, great bodily injury, and a prior strike conviction for criminal threats in 2013 in Orange County. If convicted, Qu faces a maximum sentence of19 years in state prison. The People will be requesting that Qu be held on $100,000 bail at his arraignment today, April 4, 2016, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

At the time of the crime, Qu was on probation.

At approximately 12:50 p.m. on March 30, 2016, 16-year-old John Doe 1, who is African American, was waiting in front of Irvine High School for his brother, 24-year-old John Doe 2, to pick him up from sports practice.

Qu is accused of carrying a metal pipe, hitting the pipe against several railings, and aggressively approaching John Doe 1 while he was standing outside of the school. At the same time, John Doe 2 arrived in his vehicle. After engaging in a brief conversation with John Doe 1, the defendant is accused of saying racial slurs to the victim.

The defendant is accused of slamming into John Doe 2 with his head after John Doe 2 had exited his vehicle to get to John Doe 1. Qu is accused of hitting John Doe 2 several times on the arm with the pipe.


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