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January 26, 2017

Mission Viejo Man Sentenced to 6½ Years in Federal Prison for Orchestrating $2.3 Million Real Estate Investment Fraud Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – A Mission Viejo man who admitted taking more than $2.3 million from investors in a fraudulent real estate investment scheme has been sentenced to 78 months in federal prison.

Francisco “Frank” Hobson, 40, who admitted to engaging in a fraudulent scheme in which he used real estate investor funds to pay for personal expenses and to make Ponzi-style payments to other investors, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Percy Anderson. In addition to the 6½-year prison sentence, Judge Anderson ordered Hobson to pay approximately $1.61 million in restitution to 26 victims.

Hobson pleaded guilty in October to one count of wire fraud, admitting that he solicited money from investors with false promises to purchases properties, including a residence in Lakewood that was not actually for sale and a non-existent home in Downey.

Calling the defendant’s crimes “cold-hearted,” Judge Anderson said that Hobson was motivated by a desire for “a bigger house and bigger car,” and that Hobson’s actions demonstrated that he was “totally absorbed in his self and family at the expense of victims.”

Lake Forest Woman Pleads Guilty in $3.5 Million Real Estate Investment Scheme that Targeted Orange County Investors

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

SANTA ANA, California – A Lake Forest woman who participated in a real estate investment scheme in which Southern California investors collectively suffered nearly $3.5 million in losses has pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Angel Bronsgeest, 55, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of wire fraud before United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

In court yesterday, Bronsgeest admitted that she participated in a scheme in which victims were offered investments in a company known as The Equity Growth Group (TEGG). From through 2014, Bronsgeest and the man allegedly behind the scheme solicited victims during seminars in Orange County hotels offered by Investor Workshops, Inc.

The man who allegedly orchestrated the scheme – Shawn Patrick Watkins, 46, of Layton, Utah – was arraigned on September 1, 2016, after he surrendered to FBI agents in Orange County. Watkins is charged with nine counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in an indictment that alleges he masterminded the scheme that defrauded at least 50 victims. Watkins allegedly presented himself as an expert in the field of real estate investment and attempted to gain trust by telling investors that he previously had worked in law enforcement.

As part of the solicitations, Bronsgeest admitted that she false promises to investors. For example, investors were falsely advised that TEGG controlled hundreds of properties that generated rental income and TEGG would continue its growth by acquiring new properties. Investors were led to believe that they would receive substantial interest payments and that their money would be secured by collateral through the filing of deeds of trust on properties.


Man Sentenced to LWOP for Killing Two in Gang-Related Shooting

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

A 39-year-old gang member was sentenced yesterday afternoon to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for a fatal drive-by shooting committed more than 20 years ago, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On Sept. 28, 2016, a jury found Demecio Carlos Perez guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in case TA136425. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders as well as gun and gang allegations.

Deputy District Attorney Heather Steggell of the Hardcore Gang Division co-prosecuted the case with Deputy District Attorney Russell Moore.

Prosecutors said on Feb. 14, 1995, Perez was the passenger in a black Buick Riviera that drove into enemy gang territory in South Los Angeles. The defendant armed himself with a gun and carried out the drive-by shooting, prosecutors said.

Perez struck three men, killing one man instantly. The second victim died later that day at the hospital, but the third victim ultimately survived, prosecutors added.


January 25, 2017

California Man Convicted for Stealing Prisoner Identities and Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns

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

A Marin County, California man was convicted today by a federal jury in the Northern District of California of identity theft and conspiring to file fraudulent income tax returns, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.

“As the IRS filing season begins this week, today’s conviction sends a clear message to those contemplating stealing identities and using the information to obtain fraudulent refunds – plan on getting caught and facing significant jail time,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg.

“Today’s guilty verdict brings a just end to Mr. Webber’s scheme to defraud the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Stretch.  “This office will continue to devote its resources to ensure that those who enrich themselves by using the identities of others and filing false tax returns are apprehended and prosecuted.”

According to the evidence presented at the two week trial, from June 2010 through January 2012, Howard Webber, 52, conspired with Clifford Bercovich to obtain the names and social security numbers of fellow inmates while Webber was incarcerated at various prisons and jails, including San Quentin State Prison and Santa Clara County jail in California, and the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Webber and Bercovich convinced inmates to give them their names and social security numbers by explaining that they could help the inmates take advantage of government stimulus programs or secret tax loopholes.  Webber and Bercovich recruited certain inmates to help them solicit the identities of other inmates, and created a limited-liability company, Inmate Assets Recovery and Liquidation Services LLC, to make their scheme appear legitimate.


Owners of West L.A. Pharmacy Found Guilty in Sweeping Scheme to Illegally Distribute Prescription Narcotics

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

LOS ANGELES – Two brothers who owned a West Los Angeles pharmacy were found guilty by a federal jury today of operating a years-long narcotic drug trafficking, money laundering and tax fraud conspiracy that illegally sold prescription narcotics to black market customers across the United States.

Brentwood residents Berry Kabov, 46, and his brother Dalibor “Dabo” Kabov, 33, who operated Global Compounding Pharmacy, were convicted of being at the center of a scheme that illegally sold oxycodone (best known by the brand name OxyContin, but also the main ingredient in Percocet and Percodan), hydromorphone (also known as Dilaudid), and hydrocodone (commonly known as Vicodin or Norco).

The Kabovs were found guilty of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, distribution of oxycodone, conspiracy to import narcotics, importation of anabolic steroids, money laundering and subscribing to false tax returns. As a result of the guilty verdicts, Berry Kabov faces a statutory maximum penalty of 309 years in federal prison, and Dalibor Kabov faces up to 315 years.

The brothers are scheduled to be sentenced on March 29 by United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee.

“These defendants used their pharmacy as a front for drug dealing, and they used multiple bank accounts to conceal their illicit proceeds,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this country that causes immense harm, and the use of the pharmacy allowed the defendants to increase greatly the volume of their business and distribute narcotics around the nation. In addition to operating as de facto drug dealers, these defendants cheated the U.S. tax system by failing to report approximately $1.5 million in income while living a life of luxury.”


Encino Doctor Arraigned on Sexual Battery of Patients Charges

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

A 68-year-old general practitioner in Encino has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting two female patients, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Karb said Dr. Michael Popkin (dob 12/8/48) was arraigned yesterday on one felony count each of sexual exploitation of patient by physician and sexual battery by restraint and two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.

Popkin is scheduled back in court on Feb. 23 in Department 122 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

The alleged incidents charged in case LA084895 occurred over the course of two years beginning on June 12, 2014, the prosecutor said.

If convicted as charged, Popkin faces a possible maximum sentence of more than four years in state prison,


January 24, 2017

Judge Overturns Murder Conviction in First Conviction Review Unit Case

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

In the first case brought by the District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, a judge today overturned the conviction of a former security guard charged with killing a young woman in Palmdale after prosecutors said there was newly discovered evidence that pointed to his innocence.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan vacated the conviction of Raymond Lee Jennings, 42.

“I know this process has been very difficult for the O’Keefe family,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “But this ruling represents an important acknowledgement that my office is dedicated to serving justice, even when it means reopening a closed case based on newly discovered evidence.”

The case was reviewed by the Conviction Review Unit, which was launched by District Attorney Lacey in June 2015, and marks the first time the unit has asked a judge to overturn a conviction. The unit reviews wrongful conviction claims made by defendants. To date, it has received nearly 1,100 claims of innocence.

Jennings was found guilty in December 2009 of second-degree murder in the 2000 slaying of 18-yearold college student Michelle O’Keefe. Two juries previously were unable to unanimously reach a decision.


Soulja Boy Facing Felony Weapon Charges

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

DeAndre Cortez Way, better known as rapper Soulja Boy, was charged today with illegally possessing firearms, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Morse said Way (dob 7/28/90) of Studio City faces one felony count each of possession of an assault weapon, a Mini Draco AR-IS; unlawful firearm activity: possession of a firearm in violation of probation, Glock 21 .45 caliber; and one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property, a Glock 21 handgun.

The defendant pleaded not guilty in case LA085196 and is scheduled to return on Feb. 28 in Department 100 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

The rapper was arrested at his house on Dec. 15 after police allegedly found him in possession of the firearms, one of which was reported stolen from a Huntington Beach police vehicle, the prosecutor said.

Way faces more than four years in state prison if convicted as charged.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Fresno man was convicted and sentenced to 10 years and eight months in state prison this week for human trafficking, pimping, and pandering a woman and a minor. Justus Isaiah Morris, 20, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, to a court offer of one felony count of human trafficking, one felony count of human trafficking of a minor, one felony count of pimping, one felony count of pimping a minor, one felony count of pandering by procuring, one felony count of pandering with a minor over 16 years old by procuring, and one felony count of carrying a loaded unregistered firearm in public. In addition to prison, Morris was sentenced to mandatory lifetime sex offender registration and was ordered to have no contact with the victims.

Co-defendant Marcos Rocha, 19, Fresno, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18, 2017, to two felony counts of pimping and was sentenced to six years in state prison and was ordered to have no contact with the victims.

Circumstances of the Case

Morris is a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women and/or children for financial gain. The victims are required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to Morris.

Prior to Nov. 14, 2016, Rocha drove Morris and the victims, 18-year-old Jane Doe 1 and 16-year-old Jane Doe 2, from Fresno to Anaheim with the intent to have the victims engage in commercial sex for the defendants’ benefit in areas known for prostitution in Orange County. Morris posted sexually explicit advertisements of both victims on websites known for soliciting commercial sex.


January 23, 2017


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 10:34 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A police officer was charged today with stealing money from fellow officers out of a collection of donations intended to purchase a gift for a retiring colleague. Mario Ricci, 48, Los Angeles, is charged with one misdemeanor count of petty theft. If convicted, he faces a maximum of six months in county jail. Ricci is scheduled to be arraigned on March 6, 2017, in Department W-4, West Justice Center, Westminster. The time is to be determined.

At the time of the crime, Ricci was a detective with the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD).

Between Dec. 8, 2016, and Dec. 15, 2016, Ricci is accused of stealing donations from other HBPD employees intended to go toward a gift for a retiring colleague from an envelope at HBPD headquarters. On Dec. 8, 2016, other HBPD officers noticed money was missing from the donation envelope. On Dec. 9, 2016, HBPD conducted an investigation into the matter and documented the denominations and serial numbers of the bills in the envelope. On Dec. 15, 2016, HBPD investigators contacted Ricci as he was leaving the building, and the defendant is accused of being in possession of bills that were previously documented as being in the donation envelope. The investigation was turned over to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 17WM00580 / January 19, 2017

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