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December 12, 2016

Man Found Guilty of Murdering Girlfriend’s Grandparents in Rosemead

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:47 am

A 27-year-old man was convicted today of murder for the slayings of his then-girlfriend’s grandparents in 2010, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Scott McPheron of the Family Violence Division said jurors deliberated for two days before finding Roldolfo Lopez guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. Jurors also found true a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.

Lopez is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 24, 2017 and faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Lopez and Sophia Cristo, now 20, fatally stabbed her grandparents, 71-year-old Jack Bezner, and his wife Susan, 64, on Aug. 9, 2010. Lopez and Cristo, who was 14 years old at the time of the murders, then fled to Texas.

In March 2015, Cristo was found guilty of first-degree murder. Special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders were found to be true. Jurors also found true that Cristo personally used a knife to stab Susan Bezner.

Cristo faces life in prison when she is sentenced next month. She was ineligible for the death penalty because of her age at the time of the murders.


December 9, 2016

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, 42 Other Attorneys General, Announce $19.5 Million Settlement with Pharmaceutical Company Bristol-Myers Squibb Over Unlawful Promotion of Abilify Drug

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:11 am

SAN FRANCISCO – California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that California, along with 42 other states and the District of Columbia, has reached a $19.5 million agreement with biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb over allegations that the company illegally marketed the popular atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify. Attorney General Harris secured $1.3 million of the overall settlement for California.

In 2009, California and other states launched a multistate consumer protection investigation of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., which manufactures Abilify, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is largely responsible for promoting Abilify. The states’ investigation found that Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in off-label marketing by illegally promoting Abilify for therapeutic uses for which it was not approved, such as certain pediatric uses and to treat dementia. In addition to incentivizing sales representatives to engage in off-label marketing, the investigation found that the company misled doctors and patients about the drug’s risks and side effects and misrepresented the findings of scientific studies concerning the drug in marketing messages.

“These companies endangered and compromised the health and well-being of millions of Americans in order to turn a profit,” said Attorney General Harris. “This settlement makes clear that pharmaceutical companies using deceptive and unlawful tactics to promote drugs will not be tolerated in the United States.”

Abilify is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and Tourette’s disorder. Abilify, known as a blockbuster drug because of its popularity, generated $5.5 billion in sales in 2014, with Bristol-Myers Squibb receiving approximately $2.02 billion of that amount.


Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Criminal Charges Against Oswaldo Rafael Cabrera of Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional for Defrauding Immigrants

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:07 am

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced felony charges against Oswaldo Rafael Cabrera, owner and operator of a Los Angeles-based business known as the Coalicion Latinoamericana Internacional (CLI), for defrauding immigrants.  Cabrera, who is not licensed as an attorney in California, is charged with 22 counts of grand theft, attempted grand theft, attempted perjury, and conspiracy to engage in the unlawful practice of law.  Charges have also been filed against his wife, Maria Marcelina Rodas.

“We must be vigilant against predators, including unscrupulous lawyers and immigration consultants, who take advantage of vulnerable undocumented immigrants, then often use scare tactics to prevent them from reporting these crimes,” said Attorney General Harris. “Mr. Cabrera’s deception cost dozens of immigrants their hard-earned savings and tore families apart. Scam artists who exploit immigrants trying to navigate a complex system must be held accountable.”

The arrest warrant affidavit alleges that Cabrera often posed as an attorney and provided legal consultations and services, charging up to $9,000.  Despite lacking accreditation or a license to practice law, he posed as an immigration lawyer and expert with a proven record of helping immigrants on major media platforms in both mainstream and Spanish-language media. The defendant used his prominent profile to solicit customers who he then duped.

Cabrera repeatedly misled his victims about the status of their cases, misinformed them about their eligibility for immigration relief, and completed immigration forms improperly while continuing to collect victims’ money.  Cabrera also ignored or lied to victims in an attempt to avoid giving refunds, sometimes for thousands of dollars, while denying any wrongdoing.  In some instances, Cabrera’s handling of immigration cases had irreparable consequences, leading to the deportation of victims’ family members. (more…)

Man Charged with Accidental Fatal Shooting of Friend at Tarzana Hiking Trail

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:05 am

A 20-year-old man has been charged with accidentally killing a 24-year-old woman at a Tarzana hiking trail, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Heriberto Gonzalez, aka Kirby, (dob 5/27/96) was charged yesterday with one felony count each of involuntary manslaughter and unlawful firearm activity and two felony counts of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.

Case LA084913 includes one misdemeanor count each of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle in a city and carrying a loaded firearm in one’s person in a city.

Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to return on Dec. 19 in Department 122 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.

On Dec. 4, Gonzalez and a group of friends which included victim Angela Hernandez allegedly went on a hiking trail near Vanalden Avenue to shoot a handgun, prosecutors said. After returning to their vehicle, the defendant is alleged to have accidentally discharged the firearm, fatally shooting the victim who was sitting in the front passenger seat, prosecutors added.


December 8, 2016

Los Angeles Man Who Ran Burger Restaurant Sentenced to 15 years in Federal Prison for Distributing Crack Cocaine

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:19 am

LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles man was sentenced this morning to 15 years in federal prison for distributing crack cocaine on two occasions, including one transaction that took place at his hamburger stand.

Brian Sawyers, 57, was sentenced by United States District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew for his conviction on two counts of distribution of cocaine base in the form of crack cocaine for selling the drug to a confidential informant working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The sentence was based in part on Sawyers’ three prior felony drug convictions, two of which were federal convictions, which meant he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

“Crack cocaine remains a highly addictive drug that poses a danger to its users, and the trafficking of crack poses dangers to the community at large,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Removing this defendant from the street for the next 15 years increases the safety of the law-abiding residents of South Los Angeles.”

According to court documents, Sawyers sold over an ounce of crack cocaine and, later, approximately 2½ ounces of crack cocaine to an ATF confidential informant. The first transaction took place on February 8, 2012 in the parking lot of B.D. Burgers, the restaurant that Sawyers owned in South Los Angeles. On March 1, 2012, there was a second operation in which the informant met Sawyers at the burger stand, and they went to Sawyers’ home, where they completed the transaction.


Former Teacher’s Assistant Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison for Distribution of Child Pornography

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:18 am

LOS ANGELES – A West Los Angeles man who previously worked as a teacher’s assistant was sentenced today to 96 months in federal prison for distributing child pornography via a peer-to-peer file-sharing system on his computer. The images involved in this case depicted children under the age of 15, including child images deemed to be “sadistic” under the federal sentencing rules.

Steven Petlak, 53, was sentenced by United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald. Following the completion of his prison term, Petlak will be on supervised released for the rest of his life.

Petlak pleaded guilty in July to one count of distribution of child pornography. In a plea agreement filed with the court, Petlak admitted that, on multiple dates, he used peer-to-peer software on his computer hard drive to share graphic images of child molestation.

“Predators who seek out child pornography online threaten the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in our real-world community,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant’s conduct exemplifies a horrific and dark part of our society, and the sentence today reflects the harm caused by defendants who trade in these heinous materials.”


First Charges Brought in Investigation of Collusion in the Packaged Seafood Industry

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:16 am

The current senior vice president of sales of a leading packaged seafood company has agreed to plead guilty for his role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of packaged seafood such as canned tuna sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, Walter Scott Cameron and his co-conspirators agreed to fix the prices of packaged seafood from as early as 2011 until about 2013.  In addition to his guilty plea, which is subject to court approval, Cameron has agreed to pay a criminal fine and cooperate with the division’s ongoing investigation.

“Today’s charge is the first to be filed in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing among some of the largest suppliers of canned tuna and other packaged seafood,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “All consumers deserve competitive prices for these important kitchen staples, and companies and executives who cheat those consumers will be held criminally accountable.”

“FBI San Francisco Division echoes the comments of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Division. “These charges demonstrate our continued commitment to investigate and pursue those individuals and companies seeking to victimize consumers through illegal business practices that threaten our community’s ability to pay fair prices for food for their families.”


December 7, 2016

Canadian Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison in ‘Secret Shopper’ Mass Marketing Scam that Bilked Victims Across United States

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:55 am

LOS ANGELES – A Toronto couple who were extradited earlier this year to the United States have been sentenced for their roles in a mass marketing scheme that targeted hundreds of victims across the United States with counterfeit checks that accompanied bogus claims they had been selected to become “secret shoppers” at MoneyGram counters inside Walmart stores.

Idris Nuradin 35, was sentenced yesterday afternoon to 27 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez. In addition to the prison term, Judge Gutierrez ordered Nuradin to pay $110,109 in restitution to 33 victims.

Nuradin’s wife, 34-year-old Habone Gayad, 34, yesterday received a “time served” sentence, which is approximately eight months in custody.

The couple and others mailed out hundreds of letters from Toronto to people across the United States that falsely stated they had been selected to act as secret shoppers at Walmart and MoneyGram, according to court documents. The letters included bogus checks that the victims were instructed to deposit to their own bank accounts. The victims were told to immediately wire most of the proceeds of the checks at MoneyGram counters located inside Walmart stores. The balance of the checks would serve as the payment for the secret shoppers.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:52 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – An Orange County man was convicted and sentenced yesterday to 10 years in state prison for running an $11 million Ponzi scheme and victimizing over 27 people with sale of unsecured securities based on fraudulent insurance policies. Joseph Francis Bartholomew, 77, Lake Forest, pleaded guilty to a court offer on Dec. 5, 2016, to one felony count of the use of a device or scheme to defraud and 28 felony counts of using an untrue statement in the purchase or sale of a security with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and loss greater than $3.2 million. In addition to prison, Bartholomew was ordered to pay restitution.

Co-defendant Wendy King-Jackson, 56, Laguna Niguel, pleaded guilty yesterday to two felony counts of the use of an untrue statement or omission in connection with the purchase or sale of a security. King-Jackson faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison at her sentencing on Feb. 2, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

The defendants engaged in a “Ponzi scheme,” which is a fraudulent operation that offers investors high, short-term returns on investments. Instead of using the money to generate actual income and legitimate profits, the money from the investors is kept for the benefit of the defendant or used to repay earlier investors.

Bartholomew owned and operated MBP Insurance Services, Inc. (MBP), which offered and sold unsecured securities based on fraudulent insurance policies. Between July 2005 and May 2014, Bartholomew defrauded over 27 investors, the majority of whom were senior citizens, and falsely promised them he would provide a return of 15 to 40 percent in interest from their investment.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:50 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Northern California man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiring to pimp a woman and illegally possessing a stun gun in his vehicle. Binh Cong Thai, 29, San Jose, pleaded guilty on March 3, 2016, to one felony count of conspiracy to commit pimping and one misdemeanor of unlawful possession of a stun gun with a prior conviction, and admitted to a prior strike conviction for a 2013 armed robbery in Santa Clara County. He was sentenced to five years of formal probation and 12 years in state prison was suspended. Due to a probation violation, Thai will serve 12 years in state prison.

Circumstances of the Case

Thai is a pimp who exploits women for financial gain. The victims are often required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.

Prior to January 2016, Thai met and transported 19-year-old Jane Doe from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Orange County with the intent of having the victim perform commercial sex acts for his benefit. Thai took sexually explicit photographs of the victim and posted the photos in advertisements soliciting commercial sex on websites known for prostitution and human trafficking.

In the early morning hours on Jan. 1, 2016, Tustin Police Department (TPD) officers responded to a call for service at an apartment complex. TPD located Thai at the apartment complex, contacted him, and arrested him at the scene after further investigation. At the time of his arrest, Thai is accused of possessing a stun gun in his vehicle.


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