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August 9, 2016

DRIVER SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON FOR KILLING TWO MEN IN HIGH-SPEED CRASH AFTER RUNNING STOP SIGN IN SANTA ANA

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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A speeding driver was convicted yesterday and sentenced to 11 years in state prison for killing two people by crashing into their car after driving through a stop sign in Santa Ana. Jorge Ocampo, 24, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty yesterday, Aug. 4, 2016, to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of hit and run with permanent injury or death, one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid license, and admitted to fleeing the scene after committing vehicular manslaughter.

At approximately 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2013, Ocampo drove at a high rate of speed and blasted loud music in an Audi sedan on Cabrillo Park Drive in Santa Ana. When he reached the intersection at Fruit Street, Ocampo failed to slow or stop at a posted stop sign and illegally drove through the intersection. He crashed into a Nissan sedan, which was legally making a left turn in the intersection.

Ocampo killed two victims, the driver of the Nissan, 54-year-old Alejandro Bravo, and 50-year-old passenger Juan Jose Luna Castro. Both victims died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

Ocampo left his vehicle at the scene and fled on foot. He failed to render any aid to the victims or notify police or paramedics about the crash. Ocampo was driving without a valid driver’s license.

Shortly before midnight on the night of the crash, Ocampo turned himself in to the Santa Ana Police Department, who investigated this case.

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Los Angeles Man Convicted in Federal Court of Distribution of Crack Cocaine

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

LOS ANGELES – A federal jury has returned guilty verdicts against a Los Angeles burger stand owner who distributed cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine.

Brian Sawyers, 57, of Los Angeles, was found guilty yesterday of two felony offenses of distribution of cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine after selling crack cocaine to a confidential informant working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

According to the evidence presented at the three-day trial, in two separate instances, Sawyers sold 26.9 grams and 70.6 grams of crack cocaine to a ATF confidential informant at his business, B.D. Burgers, in South Los Angeles.  In the first transaction, on February 8, 2012, following a series of recorded phone calls in which the informant and defendant discussed the purchase of crack cocaine, Sawyers met the informant at the burger stand, and sold the informant approximately one ounce of crack cocaine for $700.  On March 1, 2012, law enforcement officers and the informant conducted a second operation during which the informant went to the burger stand, where he met Sawyers.  They then went to Sawyers’ home, where Sawyers sold approximately two-and-a-half ounces of crack cocaine to the informant for $1,700.

“Narcotics trafficking poses a serious threat to the health and safety of our local communities,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker.  “Mr. Sawyers chose to conduct his sales of crack cocaine despite having been previously convicted of a federal narcotics offense.  As a result of his misguided choices, he shall now be facing a lengthy prison sentence.”

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August 8, 2016

Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Three Counts

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

LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today indicted former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on federal charges alleging that he conspired to obstruct justice, obstructed justice, and lied to the federal government.

The case against Baca is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is one in a series of cases resulting from an investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities in downtown Los Angeles. As a result of the investigation, 20 current or former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department were convicted of federal charges.

Baca, 74, of San Marino, California, was charged today in a three-count superseding indictment, with one count of conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison, the obstruction of justice carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison and the charge of making a false statement carries a maximum term of five years in prison. If convicted on all counts, the total maximum Baca faces is 20 years in federal prison.

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Kratom Seized in California by United States Marshals Service

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

LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that the United States Marshals Service seized more than 100 cases of products labeled as containing the dangerous and unapproved ingredient Kratom.

The products are distributed by Nature Therapeutics LLC, which does business as Kratom Therapy and is located in Grover Beach, California. The seized products are marketed under the brand name Kratom Therapy, and are worth approximately $150,000.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging that the seized Kratom products are unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The FDA is warning consumers not to use any products labeled as containing the botanical substance Kratom. Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as Kratom, grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Serious concerns exist regarding the toxicity of Kratom in multiple organ systems. Consumption of Kratom can lead to a number of health impacts including, respiratory depression, vomiting, nervousness, weight loss and constipation. Kratom has been indicated to have both narcotic and stimulant-like effects and withdrawal symptoms may include hostility, aggression, excessive tearing, aching of muscles and bones and jerky limb movements.

​”Kratom is a drug that has very serious health effects on users,” said United States Attorney Eileen Decker. “We will continue to partner with the FDA to protect the public from the distribution of unapproved and mislabeled substances like Kratom.”

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Florida Man Found Guilty of Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns with the IRS Claiming Nearly $470,000 in False Tax Refunds

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

LOS ANGELES – A Florida man accused of filing false and fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service claiming nearly $470,000 in fictitious tax refunds and then attempting to file false liens and encumbrances in retaliation against IRS employees for not paying his tax refund claims has been found guilty by a federal jury in Los Angeles.

Taquan Gullett, who also goes by Maalik Rashe El, 38, of Jacksonville, Florida, was convicted this afternoon in United States District Court.  The jury deliberated for two hours before finding Gullett guilty of two counts of making false claims against the United States government and two counts of retaliation against a federal employee or official by attempting to file a false lien or encumbrance.

“Unsatisfied with fraudulently submitting a false tax refund claim for 2009, this defendant doubled down by filing a second fraudulent return for 2010 and by retaliating against the IRS employees who properly rejected his false returns,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As today’s jury verdicts reinforce, everyone has an obligation to report their income accurately to the IRS.  Furthermore, it is unlawful to retaliate against IRS employees who are simply doing their job, and our office will take such actions seriously and prosecute such behavior to the fullest extent of the law.”

The evidence presented at trial showed that in March, 2010, Gullett filed a 2009 income tax return with the IRS.  On that return, Gullett, an exercise physiologist who holds a Master’s degree in Kinesiology, reported that he earned $52,591 in wages, and falsely represented that he generated $221,306 in interest income from three financial institutions.  Gullett further represented that the federal tax withheld from his earnings and interest income totaled $221,687, and that he was therefore due a tax refund of $149,296.  Gullett requested that the refund be paid via electronic transfer to his personal checking account.

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August 5, 2016

Music Promoter Pleads in Coliseum Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:15 am

A music promoter and founder of the Electric Daisy Carnival pleaded no contest today to one count of conflict of interest and agreed to pay $150,000 to Los Angeles County for his role in the 2012 Coliseum embezzlement and bribery case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Pasquale Rotella, 41, who also owns Insomniac Events, pleaded to a single misdemeanor count in a new case filed today as part of a plea negotiation. He was immediately sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy to summary probation for three years

Co-defendants Todd DeStefano, 43, the former Coliseum events manager, and Reza Gerami, 41, a concert promoter, return to Department 109 on Friday at 1:30 p.m. for further hearings in case BA396065.

A Grand Jury indictment unsealed in March 2012 charged DeStefano with diverting Coliseum event funds to his own company.

Rotella’s Insomniac and Gerami’s Go Ventures, both of which sponsored Coliseum events, allegedly participated in DeStefano’s embezzlement scheme.

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Driver Sentenced for Vehicular Manslaughter Death of Cousin

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:12 am

A 43-year-old man was sentenced today to four years in state prison for the death of his cousin who was killed when the car they were in struck a light pole in Lincoln Heights, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

In June, Jose Noe Lugo pleaded no contest to one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Deputy District Attorney Bob Chen prosecuted the case.

Lugo drove a car that had exited Interstate 5 on Feb. 22 when he struck a light pole, killing his 49-yearold cousin, Juan Mendez, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the front passenger seat.

Lugo fled from the crash site on foot but returned and was arrested.

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MAN CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING 4-YEAR-OLD BOY FOLLOWING ARREST AFTER GOOD SAMARITANS HELP SAPD LOCATE MISSING BOY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:09 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was charged today with kidnapping a 4-year-old boy who was reported missing and found after Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) located the victim thanks to the assistance of Good Samaritans. Armando Torreblanca Nunez, 28, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. If convicted, Nunez faces a maximum sentence of seven years to life in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration. The defendant is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned sometime today, July 29, 2016, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

On the evening of July 27, 2016, Nunez is accused of spotting a 4-year-old boy playing with other children in the playground area of Jerome Park in Santa Ana. He is accused of approaching the child and kidnapping him without the victim’s mother noticing.

At approximately 8:20 p.m., the victim’s mother called SAPD to report her son missing after she failed to locate him.

SAPD officers responded to the scene immediately and utilized the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Air Support Unit helicopter and its loudspeaker to search for the missing victim. Two Good Samaritans that heard the loudspeaker announcements and had seen a man and a boy, who fit the description, detained the defendant and kept the boy safe while they contacted SAPD with the information. SAPD responded to the scene and arrested Nunez. At the time of the arrest, Nunez is accused of having a condom in his possession.

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August 4, 2016

Gang Member Sentenced for Murder of Man Outside of Redondo Beach Home

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:00 am

A gang member was sentenced today to 94 years to life in state prison for shooting a man to death as he stood outside of a Redondo Beach home and later writing a song about the murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On June 28, after three hours of deliberations, a jury found Erick Julian Ortega aka Bonez, 30, guilty of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in case YA087978.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Turk said the jury also found true allegations that Ortega committed the crimes in association with a criminal street gang, used a handgun and was convicted in 2005 for making criminal threats and in 2007 for possession for sale of cocaine.

Victim Bobby Reynolds, 38, was shot to death on June 21, 2013, five days after the defendant asked the victim about possible gang affiliation, according to evidence presented at the trial. After killing Reynolds, Ortega fled the state and was arrested in Utah months later, the prosecutor said.

Included in the evidence presented at the trial were the lyrics to a song written by Ortega, containing specific similarities to the murder.

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Woman Pleads in Montebello Restaurant Shooting

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:58 am

A Los Angeles woman was sentenced today to 23 years in state prison for her role in a robbery of a Montebello restaurant that resulted in the fatal shooting of two of her accomplices, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Toni Danielle Lopez, 22, pleaded no contest to one count each of attempted murder and second-degree robbery. She also admitted gun and gang allegations before being sentenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Henry Hall.

Deputy District Attorney Simone Shay prosecuted the case.

On July 17, 2015, Lopez was with Kevin Fierro and Roger Soriano when the trio robbed a 17-year-old boy on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles.

The trio drove to a nearby restaurant in Montebello shortly after midnight where Fierro and Soriano grabbed several items from the owner. Soriano pointed a gun at the man and shot him once.

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