Best Defender Bytes:

June 27, 2016


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.”


Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Endorses Legislation to Reduce Recidivism

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:44 am

SACRAMENTO – Today Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced her support for two legislative proposals, Senate Bill 1157 and Assembly Bill 1597, that would help individuals reintegrate into their communities and avoid return to custody.

“We must hold criminals accountable for their crimes, but our criminal justice system should also provide tools and support individuals in their efforts to successfully reenter society and rebuild their lives,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud Senator Mitchell and Assemblymember Stone for championing ‘smart on crime’ bills that will curb recidivism and help inmates get their lives back on track.”

Senate Bill 1157, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles), would guarantee that city and county correctional facilities that elect to utilize video and electronic visitation also provide a certain number of in-person visits for their inmates.  Research shows that in-person visits are a crucial component of successful rehabilitation and reentry, and cultivating positive influencers in the inmates’ lives has been integral to Attorney General Harris’ recidivism reduction pilot program, Back on Track-Los Angeles.  SB 1157 will be heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee this morning, Tuesday, June 21.

Assembly Bill 1597, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Monterey), would enable inmates in county jail who have not yet been sentenced to earn credit reductions toward any resulting sentence by participating in rehabilitative programs and completing performance objectives known as “milestones.”  The bill would further specify that an inmate’s participation in such a program could not be used as evidence of guilt in court.  Under current law, only inmates who have been sentenced are eligible to participate in these programs and earn time off of their confinement.  Studies show that inmates who receive educational and vocational training are much less likely to return to prison and much more likely to succeed upon reentry into the community.  AB 1597 was enrolled to the Governor on Friday, June 17, and awaits his signature.

Attorney General Harris has been a longtime leader in the fight to curb recidivism in California. In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created the original Back on Track initiative, a reentry program that aimed to reduce recidivism rates of low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  The program successfully reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent over a two-year period and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a model for law enforcement.


Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Supports Legislation to End Juvenile Confinement

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:42 am

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her support for Senate Bill 1143, legislation authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that would significantly limit the practice of isolating juveniles in room confinement.

“Subjecting young people to prolonged periods of isolated confinement is cruel, inhumane and counterproductive to rehabilitation. This unnecessary and punitive practice undermines the goal of helping this vulnerable young population become healthy and productive members of our society.  Through this legislation and other reforms, California will lead the nation in providing standards that improve the safety and welfare of both youth and staff at juvenile facilities,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud Senator Leno for his leadership on this issue.  I am proud to support common-sense, ‘smart on crime’ legislation that helps those currently and formerly incarcerated overcome obstacles to get their lives back on track, and meet their full potential. ”

SB 1143 would restrict the use of juvenile room confinement in facilities throughout the state. SB 1143 would limit the amount of time a minor may be placed in a locked sleeping room or cell without contact from others, aside from attorneys or facility staff. The bill expressly bans punitive, coercive, retaliatory confinement, as well as confinement used purely for convenience. It also expressly states that confinement shall not be used to the extent that the mental and physical health of the minor would be compromised. The bill then sets reasonable baselines for how long a minor may be confined prior to steps being taken to reintegrate them into the general population.

“The extensive support of SB 1143 is a testament to the harmful effects of prolonged confinement and isolation on the troubled youth in our care,” said Senator Leno. “This bill will help ensure detained young people receive the rehabilitative opportunities they need to safely reintegrate into the community. I am grateful for Attorney General Harris’s commitment to protecting vulnerable children in our state.”

Attorney General Harris created the Bureau of Children’s Justice in 2015, a first-of-its-kind bureau within the California Department of Justice to enforce children’s civil rights in education, foster care, and juvenile justice; hold those who prey on children accountable; and work with policymakers to craft and implement policies that improve outcomes for children.


June 22, 2016

Two California Men Convicted of Conspiring to Join ISIL

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:54 am

A federal jury today convicted two Orange County, California, men – one of whom attempted to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization – of conspiring to provide material support to ISIL.

The verdict was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California and Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Nader Elhuzayel, 25, and Muhanad Badawi, 25, both of Anaheim, California, were convicted today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California following a two-week trial.  Elhuzayel was found guilty of attempting to provide material support and Badawi was found guilty of aiding and abetting the attempt to provide material support to ISIL.

“Foreign terrorist fighters have traveled from countries around the world to join ISIL and are responsible for some of the most despicable acts of violence committed by the terrorist organization,”  said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “ISIL depends on these travelers as a significant part of its fighting force.  Stopping Americans from engaging in terrorist activity on behalf of ISIL here or abroad will remain one of the highest priorities of the National Security Division.”

“These two defendants betrayed their country and sought to join ISIL, a terrorist organization dedicated to brutally murdering innocent people,” said U.S. Attorney Decker.  “The FBI and the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force did outstanding work in investigating and apprehending these men before their plans could be completed.  The fine work of law enforcement undoubtedly saved lives, both in the United States and abroad.”


Organizer of $9 Million Scam Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison in Scheme to Provide Hospice to Patients who were not Terminally Ill

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:51 am

LOS ANGELES – A Placentia woman was sentenced today to 96 months in federal prison related to her operation of a hospice that submitted more than $9 million in fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medi-Cal for purportedly providing end-of-life care to patients who were not actually dying.

Priscilla Villabroza, 70, was sentenced by United States District Judge S. James Otero, who characterized the defendant’s conduct as “callous” and “despicable.” In addition to the eight-year prison term, Judge Otero ordered the defendant to pay $7,433,329 in restitution.

Villabroza is one of 10 defendants who were charged in relation to a fraud scheme run out of the Covina-based California Hospice Care, which Villabroza purchased in late 2007 while under investigation in a prior health care fraud case.

Between March 2009 and June 2013, California Hospice submitted nearly $9 million in fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medi-Cal for hospice-related services, and the public health programs paid nearly $7.5 million.

“This scheme is one of many that has victimized taxpayers who fund public healthcare programs,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This scheme also victimized patients who were needlessly put into hospice and had changes made to their treatment for non-medical reasons. As this case clearly demonstrates, healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime.”


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