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February 16, 2012

Teaching Assistant Charged in Child Sex Abuse Case

Filed under: Los Angeles sexual assault attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:18 am

COMPTON – A teaching assistant and athletic coach at Fremont High School in Los Angeles accused of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with an underage student is expected to be arraigned this afternoon, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Alain Eloym Salas, 40 (dob 8/8/71), of Los Angeles is charged with four felonies – three counts of lewd act upon a child and one count of contact with minor for sexual offense – in case No. TA122002. Salas is scheduled to appear for arraignment in Department 12 of Compton Superior Court.

The alleged crimes, which occurred between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2011, involve a 15-year-old girl, according to the felony complaint.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s SAFE Team, a multi-agency task force that includes the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Office of the Attorney General, State of California Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Prosecutors have recommended that the defendant’s bail be set at $300,000.

February 7, 2012

Former Teacher to be Arraigned Wednesday

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 3:06 am

LOS ANGELES – Former LAUSD elementary teacher Mark Berndt is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on nearly two dozen counts of sexually molesting 23 boys and girls between 2005 and 2010, the District Attorney’s office announced today.

Berndt, 61, is scheduled to be arraigned after 8:30 a.m. at Metropolitan Superior Court, 1945 S. Hill St., Department 69, said Deputy District Attorney Ana Maria Lopez.

Berndt, who was arrested Monday at his Torrance residence by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives, is being held on $2.3 million bail.

Berndt, who taught for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School in the Florence area, was charged in case VA123401 with 23 counts of lewd act on a child under 14 years of age involving 23 victims. All of the alleged victims are between the ages of 7 to 10 years old and all but two of the victims are girls.

The Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau launched an intensive investigation in late 2010 after a film processing company contacted police about photos depicting children in a classroom with their eyes blindfolded and tape covering their mouths. An investigation is ongoing.

If convicted, Berndt faces up to life in prison.

January 27, 2012

Michigan Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Participating in Child Pornography Ring and Producing Child Pornography

RIVERSIDE, California – A Michigan man was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison for filming his sexual abuse of a young boy and distributing a video to members of an international child exploitation enterprise.

Joshua Boras, 34, of Lapeer, Michigan, was sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. In December 2010, Boras pleaded guilty to one count of participation in a child exploitation enterprise and one count of production of child pornography.

The sentencing of Boras was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. and Assistant Director in Charge Steve Martinez of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Boras was affiliated with the “Lost Boy” online bulletin board, which according to court documents and proceedings was dedicated to men who have a sexual interest in young boys and was established to provide a forum to trade child pornography. Federal authorities, working in conjunction with a coalition of international law enforcement agencies, shut down the Lost Boy bulletin board approximately three years ago. As a result of the investigation, 16 named defendants were charged in the United States and arrested for their roles in the bulletin board. To date, 15 defendants have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial, and one defendant died in custody.

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January 26, 2012

SCHOOL BUS DRIVER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR MOLESTING THREE CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 14 IN HIS APARTMENT

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 1:24 am

*OCDA is seeking the public’s help identifying potential additional victims

SANTA ANA - A school bus driver will be arraigned tomorrow on charges of molesting three children under the age of 14 in his Laguna Hills home. Shane Norman Crawford, 37, Laguna Hills, is charged with five felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 with a sentencing enhancement allegation for sexual crimes against multiple victims. If convicted, Crawford faces a maximum sentence of 75 years to life in state prison. The defendant is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled for continued arraignment tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Crawford is accused of gaining access to the children by befriending their parents.

Between Dec. 1, 2011 and Dec. 21, 2011, the defendant is accused of molesting 12-year-old Jane Doe #1 by touching her buttocks, vagina and breasts over her clothing while in his bedroom on more than one occasion.

Crawford is also accused of inappropriately touching 3-year-old Jane Doe #2. The defendant is accused of becoming sexually aroused when playing with Jane Doe #2 and getting an erection when her foot grazed his crotch.

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January 11, 2012

Orange County Man Sentenced to 26 Years in Federal Prison for Filming Sexually Explicit Videos of an 8-Year-Old Girl

LOS ANGELES – A previously convicted sex offender from Huntington Beach was sentenced today to 312 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to production of child pornography for filming sexually explicit videos of an 8-year-old girl.

Gary Samuel Cochran, 53, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson pursuant to a plea agreement Cochran entered into last year.

Cochran pleaded guilty in September to one count of production of  child pornography, a charge that carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years in federal prison.  In the plea agreement, Cochran admitted that he produced sexually explicit videos of the 8-year-old victim while on a trip to the beach with the girl and her family in 2007. When authorities searched Cochran’s residence in 2008, they discovered the videos of the victim, as well as “hundreds of videos and images depicting what defendant knew was child pornography.”

Cochran previously was convicted of child molestation in Orange County Superior Court in 1991.

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December 20, 2011

Riverside County Man Arrested for Possessing, Receiving, and Distributing Child Pornography Via File-Sharing Network

A Homeland man has been arrested on federal charges alleging he used a file sharing network to receive, possess, and distribute child pornography, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

George Devinna, 73, was arrested Monday by FBI agents after being named in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside on December 9. During his initial court appearance Monday afternoon, Devinna was ordered detained without bond. An arraignment date is scheduled for January 18 at 9:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

The complaint charges Devinna with the possession, distribution, and receipt of child pornography. If convicted on all charges, Devinna faces a statutory maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.

Earlier this year, agents conducting an investigation of illegal file-sharing networks in Rochester, New York, and Los Angeles uncovered several images depicting child pornography. Further investigation and subsequent Internet subscriber checks identified the distributor of the illicit images as George Devinna, with an address that matched the defendant’s Homeland address. The downloaded images linked to Devinna’s computer included sexually explicit photographs of pre-teen boys.

On December 2, 2011, a search warrant was executed at Devinna’s Homeland residence, where he resides alone. During the search, agents found child pornography and other evidence linking Devinna to the file sharing network. Files found on Devinna’s computer included sexually explicit videos involving pre-teen boys that investigators recognized as part of a documented child pornography series.

December 7, 2011

8 Inland Empire Child Pornography Suspects Arrested by ICE Agents

Ontario man allegedly possessed more than 500,000 explicit images

RIVERSIDE, California –  An Ontario pipefitter, who allegedly amassed one of the largest collections of child pornography ever found, is among eight Inland Empire men arrested this morning by federal agents as part of a coordinated enforcement effort targeting the possession and trafficking of child pornography.

Michael Peterson, 58, was taken into custody at his residence this morning by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Peterson is charged in a three-count criminal complaint with possessing, receiving and distributing child pornography. In July, ICE HSI agents executed a search warrant at Peterson’s home and seized several computer hard drives and a laptop computer. A forensic analysis of those devices revealed more than 500,000 images and 7,500 videos of suspected child pornography. Peterson initially came under suspicion based on a lead obtained during an undercover investigation by Delaware-based HSI agents targeting a peer-to-peer file sharing network.

“Child exploitation crimes victimize the most vulnerable members of our society,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The victimization of children for sexual purposes is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, and that is why prosecuting child predators is one of the top priorities of the Justice Department.”

Debra Parker, the assistant special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, stated: “Every time these illegal images are produced, transmitted or viewed, a child is victimized. We owe it to the young victims in these cases to pursue the offenders aggressively, since many of the children who are sexually exploited by those who produce child pornography will bear the emotional scars for rest of their lives.”

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December 2, 2011

Child Talent Manager Charged in Sex Abuse Case

LOS ANGELES – A 47-year-old Santa Monica man employed as a children’s talent manager was charged today with multiple felony counts of child sex abuse, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Ronda Brody of the Van Nuys Branch Office said Martin Weiss (dob 08/01/64) is charged with three counts of sodomy of a person under 16; two counts each of lewd act upon a child and continuous sexual abuse; and one count of forcible lewd act upon a child.

Weiss is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in Department 100 of Van Nuys Superior Court. He is charged in case No. LA069524.

The charges involve one victim, an aspiring singer, who allegedly was abused between March 1, 2005, and June 21, 2008. The abuse began when the victim was 11 years old and concluded when the boy was 14, the prosecutor said.

If convicted as charged, Weiss faces a maximum sentence of 34 years in state prison. His bail is recommended at $800,000.

November 25, 2011

California Youth Counselor Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography

WASHINGTON – A Pleasant Hill, Calif., youth counselor pleaded guilty today in federal court in Oakland, Calif., to producing child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California.

Thomas Perez Jewell, 54, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton in the Northern District of California to one count of production of child pornography.

Jewell admitted to sexually molesting two minor victims and to producing child pornography of the molestation.   According to court documents, Jewell was employed as a youth counselor and therapist.   Jewell’s molestation offenses were discovered when law enforcement executed a search warrant on his residence for suspected possession of child pornography.

Jewell has been in custody since his arrest on Nov. 18, 2011.   He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 29, 2012, before Judge Hamilton in Oakland.   At sentencing, Jewell will face a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a maximum term of life on supervised release.   Jewell will be required to register as a sex offender in accordance with state and federal law.

November 22, 2011

MAN SENTENCED TO 55 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR ATTEMPTING TO KIDNAP, KIDNAPPING, AND/OR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING THREE GIRLS

SANTA ANA - A man was sentenced today to 55 years to life in state prison kidnapping and/or sexually assaulting three different girls between the ages of 10 and 16 years old over a 5-month period using two different cars. Alfredo Granados Canchola, 29, Artesia, was found guilty by a jury Sept. 7, 2011, of five felony counts and a sentencing enhancement for the commission of a sexual offense against more than one victim.

Jane Doe #1
As to Jane Doe #1, Canchola was found guilty of one felony count of kidnapping to commit a sex offense and one felony count of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14. At approximately 7:45 a.m. on March 19, 2009, 13-year-old Jane Doe #1 was walking to school in Anaheim. The defendant approached the victim in his white 1988 Toyota Camry and repeatedly asked Jane Doe #1 if she wanted a ride. He finally convinced her to get in his car. He drove away from the school, touched her thigh, and attempted to prevent her from getting out of the car. The victim was able to jump out of the moving car and reported the incident to Anaheim Police.

Jane Doe #2
As to Jane Doe #2, Canchola was found guilty of one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force and one felony count of aggravated kidnap with the intent to commit a sexual offense. At approximately 1:00 p.m. on May 19, 2009, 16-year-old Jane Doe #2 was driving in her car on Interstate 405. The defendant waved to her and asked her for directions. He pretended that he could not hear her and got Jane Doe #2 to follow him to an apartment parking lot. Canchola forced Jane Doe #2 into his burgundy Lexus, fondled her breasts, and forcibly digitally penetrated her. Jane Doe #2 was able to text a male friend for help and was able to get away. She reported what happened to a trusted adult and it was later reported to police.

Jane Doe #3
As to Jane Doe #3, Canchola was found guilty of one felony count of attempting to kidnap to commit a sexual offense. At approximately 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2009, 10-year-old Jane Doe #3 was helping her family clean out the garage of their home in an unincorporated area of Anaheim and went to take the trash out. As the victim rode her Razor Scooter down the driveway to the dumpsters at the rear of the complex, Canchola pulled up next to her in the same burgundy Lexus sedan as used in the case of Jane Doe #2. He pretended to look for someone and asked Jane Doe #3 if she knew the person. When Jane Doe #3 said “no,” Canchola drove to the end of the driveway, pulled over, and parked his car.

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