Best Defender Bytes:

January 9, 2013

Six Charged with Santa Monica Art Theft

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 8:00 pm

LOS ANGELES – Six people are awaiting arraignment this afternoon in connection with the $3.2 million theft of paintings, wine, jewelry and a car from financier Jeffrey Gundlach in September, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Darren Agee Merager, 43, allegedly broke into Gundlach’s Santa Monica home between Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, 2012, and stole valuable art work, jewelry and wine, said Deputy District Attorney Alva Lin with the Airport Branch office. Merager then allegedly returned hours later and stole Gundlach’s Porsche at the behest of Jay Jeffrey Nieto, 45.

Nieto allegedly helped conceal the stolen art and other items at his Pasadena store. Pasadena police, who received a tip, and the Santa Monica Police Department investigated the case.

Charged as co-conspirators are Merager’s 68-year-old mother, Brenda Joyce Merager, and two brothers, 29-year-old Wanis George Wahba and his 26-year-old brother, Ely George Wahba. The three allegedly tried to sell and conceal the stolen items. In addition, Wilmer Bolosan Cadiz, 40, is charged with conspiracy and receiving stolen items.

The six, who are charged in case SA082879 with multiple counts, including first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy and receiving stolen property, are scheduled to be arraigned at the Los Angeles Superior Court, Airport Branch, in Department 144.

Prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $10 million for each defendant.

Merager, who has multiple prior convictions, is facing more than nine years in state prison if convicted.

November 29, 2012

Two Men Convicted in Armenian Power Case Each Sentenced to Quarter Century in Federal Prison for Orchestrating Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:28 pm

SANTA ANA, California – Two men who orchestrated an elaborate identity theft scheme from behind the walls of a state prison were sentenced today by a federal judge who ordered both men to spend 25 years in federal prison.

The two men were the lead defendants in one of two federal indictments that targeted the Armenian Power gang two years ago. According to the fraud indictment issued by a grand jury in Orange County, members of Armenian Power worked with members of African-American street gangs and bribed bank insiders to gather information that allowed them to take over bank accounts in a scheme that caused losses of at least $8 million.

Today in federal court, United States District Judge David O. Carter sentenced the masterminds of the Orange County scheme and said this case involved one of the most sophisticated fraud schemes he had ever seen.

The two defendants sentenced today were:
Angus Brown, also known as “Homicide,” 36, who is described in court papers as a “career criminal and identity thief” with numerous prior conviction and was serving time for identity theft when he engaged in the identity theft scheme that led to this case; and Arman Sharopetrosian, also known as “Horse,” 33, of Burbank, a member of the Armenian Power criminal enterprise who was serving a 10-year sentenced for shooting at an occupied vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon when he committed the federal fraud offense.

(more…)

November 14, 2012

One Former, One Suspended Officers Convicted of Conspiracy, Perjury

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 9:34 pm

LOS ANGELES – A former Los Angeles police officer and a suspended officer were convicted by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury today of conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury in connection with a 2008 drug possession case.

The jury failed to reach unanimous verdicts on a third suspended officer and a mistrial was declared.

The jury convicted Evan Samuel, the 40-year-old former officer, and 33-year-old Richard Amio after three days of deliberation. The jury deadlocked 11-1 for guilty on the two counts against 39-year-old Manuel Ortiz, who faces possible retrial. All three will remain free on their own recognizance pending their next court appearances.

Samuel was convicted of the conspiracy count, one count of perjury by declaration and three counts of perjury under oath. Amio was convicted of the conspiracy county and two counts of perjury under oath. Ortiz was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of perjury under oath. He is due back in court on Dec. 6 for a pretrial hearing.

Samuel and Amio are scheduled to appear for sentencing by trial Judge Michael Pastor on Dec. 12. Samuel faces possible maximum prison term of five years and eight months. Amio’s maximum term would be four years and four months. Because of the state’s realignment law, any prison sentences would be served in county jail.

During a preliminary hearing and later during the June 2008 trial for Gillermo Alarcon, the three defendants allegedly falsely testified about seeing Alarcon throw away a black object that turned out to be cocaine base near a trash bin. Ortiz allegedly denied under oath that he was in fact the officer who found a package containing cocaine powder near a dumpster while the others were searching a laundry room for drugs.

Samuel also signed under penalty of perjury a police report.

Alarcon’s drug possession case was dismissed in June 2008 at the request of prosecutors after footage from the apartment building’s security camera contradicted the sworn testimony of the officers.

April 1, 2012

D.A. Announces Six Indicted in Coliseum Scandal

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 10:52 pm

LOS ANGELES – District Attorney Steve Cooley announced today that six people, including three former top managers for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, have been indicted on conspiracy, embezzlement and bribery charges for allegedly stealing millions from the historic stadium.

Cooley said a criminal Grand Jury returned the 29-count felony indictment late Tuesday, charging former Coliseum general manager Patrick Lynch, former events manager Todd DeStefano, former technical manager Leopold Caudillo Jr., music and event promoters Pasquale Rotella and Reza Gerami, and janitorial contractor Antonio (Tony) Estrada.

“Our Public Integrity Division prosecutors and D.A. investigators have done an outstanding job in putting this case together, and I commend them for their tireless efforts,” Cooley said. “My office has thoroughly investigated and will aggressively prosecute this public corruption case.

“We look forward to presenting our evidence in court.”

The indictment was unsealed this morning after DeStefano, Lynch, Gerami and Rotella appeared before Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg and pleaded not guilty. Defendants Caudillo and Estrada have not been arrested or arraigned because they are out of the country.

The indictment alleged that Lynch, 55, and DeStefano, 39, participated in a variety of schemes beginning in 2006 that siphoned money from the city- and county-owned stadium, into their own pockets.

(more…)

March 27, 2012

WOMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR MURDER-FOR-PROFIT CONSPIRACY TO HAVE CANCER-STRICKEN HUSBAND KILLED

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:04 am

SANTA ANA - A woman was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for conspiring to have her third husband murdered so she could save money by not paying for his cancer treatments and financially profit from his insurance and 401(k) death benefits. Sandra Jessee, 61, formerly of Placentia, was found guilty by a jury Dec. 7, 2011, of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count of conspiracy. Jessee was convicted in a re-trial of the case, as a previous jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on July 21, 2009.

Sandra Jessee’s son from a previous marriage Thomas Dayton Aehlert, 42, Gold Canyon, AZ, pleaded guilty in this case Oct. 7, 2011, to one felony count of second degree murder and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison at his sentencing Sept. 7, 2012, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Thomas Joseph Garrick, 36, Laguna Hills, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count conspiracy to commit murder. He faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. The defendant is being held without bail and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 27, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-55.

In the spring of 1998, Sandra Jessee’s third husband of 15 years, 56-year-old Jack Jessee, was diagnosed with cancer.  Sandra Jessee wanted to move to Arizona, where Aehlert had recently moved. The victim did not want to leave California, where his adult children lived.

(more…)

February 19, 2012

Member of Commerce City Council Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Obstruct Investigation into Campaign-Reimbursement Scheme

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 9:26 pm

LOS ANGELES – Commerce City Councilman Robert Fierro has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, admitting that he and others agreed to corruptly influence witnesses to make false declarations before a federal grand jury investigating Fierro’s role in an illegal campaign finance scheme.

Fierro, 40, a resident of Commerce, pleaded guilty to the felony charge yesterday before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

Last Tuesday, Fierro’s sister-in-law and campaign treasurer, Ana Perez, 46, of Commerce, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to her conduct in the scheme.

Fierro and Perez are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Gutierrez on April 23. At sentencing, each defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

“Fierro and his co-conspirators’ attempts to obstruct a federal investigation and the federal grand jury process amount to direct assaults on the integrity of the American judicial system,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We will be always be vigilant in holding those accountable for compromising the integrity of the judicial system.”

(more…)

February 3, 2012

Former Redondo Beach Police Officer Charged with Revealing a Search Warrant

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:09 am

LOS ANGELES – A former Redondo Beach police officer pleaded not guilty today to charges that he warned another police officer seen entering a suspected drug house that it was about to be raided by police, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Christopher Sabosky, 33 (dob 9-28-78), was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Upinder Kalra and pleaded not guilty to the one felony count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and revealing warrant information before the search warrant was served.

On Dec. 16, 2010, officers from the Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and El Segundo Police Departments were preparing to execute search warrants at a suspected drug house on Sheldon Street in El Segundo. Officers conducting surveillance noted the driver of a GMC Yukon entering the house about 1:30 p.m. and radioed information that the truck was registered to Jeff Grau, a Torrance Police Department officer.

Before officers could enter the residence, the complaint alleges Sabosky texted Grau, who was a friend of his, that police were about to search the house. Sabosky also allegedly called Grau as Grau was fleeing the scene. The complaint also alleges that Sabosky tried to influence another officer into not detaining his friend.

Sabosky, who was fired Jan. 24 by Redondo Beach Police Department, surrendered today to court after a felony complaint for arrest warrant was filed Friday by Deputy District Attorney James Garrison with the Justice System Integrity Division.

Sabosky was released on his own recognizance. He returns to court Feb. 14 in Department 33 to set a date for his preliminary hearing.

December 13, 2011

WOMAN CONVICTED OF MURDER-FOR-PROFIT CONSPIRACY TO HAVE CANCER-STRICKEN HUSBAND KILLED

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 10:47 am

SANTA ANA - A woman was convicted today for conspiring to have her third husband murdered so she could save money by not paying for his cancer treatments and financially profit from his insurance and 401k death benefits. Sandra Jessee, 60, formerly of Placentia, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count of conspiracy. She faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole at her sentencing March 2, 2012, in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

This was a re-trial of the case against Jessee, as a previous jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on July 21, 2009.

Sandra Jessee’s son from a previous marriage Thomas Dayton Aehlert, 41, Gold Canyon, AZ, pleaded guilty in this case Oct. 7, 2011, to one felony count of second degree murder and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison at his sentencing hearing March 9, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35.

Co-defendant Thomas Joseph Garrick, 36, Laguna Hills, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count conspiracy to commit murder. He faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. The defendant is being held without bail and is scheduled for continued arraignment Dec. 12, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

In the spring of 1998, Sandra Jessee’s third husband of 15 years, 56-year-old Jack Jessee, was diagnosed with cancer.  Sandra Jessee wanted to move to Arizona, where Aehlert had recently moved. The victim did not want to leave California, where his adult children lived.

(more…)

November 25, 2011

CAPPERS SENTENCED FOR ROLE IN MEDICAL INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME FOR RECRUITING HEALTHY PATIENTS FOR UNNECESSARY SURGERIES IN $154 MILLION

SANTA ANA - A capper was sentenced today for her role in the largest medical fraud prosecution in the nation for recruiting over 255 healthy patients to undergo unnecessary and dangerous surgeries to fraudulently bill medical insurance companies. Pancha Keophimone, 60, pleaded guilty to a court offer Aug. 19, 2011, to 56 felony counts including conspiracy, capping, insurance fraud, grand theft, tax evasion, and sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime and loss exceeding $2.5 million. Keophimone was sentenced to 12 years in state prison stayed pending completion of five years formal probation. She was ordered to serve one year and jail and will be ordered to pay restitution at a hearing on May 18, 2012.

Of the 19 defendants charged in the Unity case, 13 were indicted by a criminal grand jury on June 13, 2008. The Orange County Grand Jury examined 1,054 exhibits and heard testimony from 56 witnesses over 28 days, resulting in a 70-page indictment. The indicted defendants include an attorney, accountant, three doctors, and patient recruiters known as “cappers.”  The recruitment of patients, or “capping,” is illegal in California.

Doctor William Wilson Hampton, Jr., 56, Seal Beach, pleaded guilty May 8, 2009, to 47 felony counts including conspiracy, insurance fraud, and capping and was sentenced to 16 years in state prison. Doctor Michael Chan, 65, Cerritos, pleaded guilty Aug. 4, 2011, to the court to 40 felony counts including conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, insurance fraud, aiding and abetting capping with white collar crime sentencing enhancements. He faces a sentence ranging from probation up to 28 years in state prison at his sentencing March 9, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-41, Central Justice Center.

Capper Sue Nanda, 43, Costa Mesa, pleaded guilty Feb. 20, 2009, to 22 felony counts including conspiracy, capping, grand theft, filing false tax returns, failing to file tax returns, and making false and fraudulent statements. She was sentenced Aug. 7, 2009, to 10 years in state prison and ordered to pay over $500,000 in restitution for personal and corporate back taxes. Capper Maria DeJesus Licea Rosales, 44, pleaded guilty Aug. 7, 2009, to 96 felony counts including conspiracy, capping, insurance fraud, grand theft, filing fraudulent tax returns, and sentencing enhancements for white collar crime and loss over $2.5 million. She was sentenced to eight years in state prison. Capper Olga Lilia Toscano, 41, pleaded guilty Aug. 11, 2009, to the court to 98 felony counts including conspiracy, capping, insurance fraud, grand theft, tax evasion, and sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime and loss exceeding $2.5 million. She was sentenced to eight years in state prison.

(more…)

November 20, 2011

TWO MEN FACE TRIAL FOR CONSPIRACY, REVENGE-MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER OF FAMILY OF THIRD CO-DEFENDANT’S EX-GIRLFRIEND

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 7:42 pm

*The murdered victims’ bodies and house were set on fire

SANTA ANA - Two men face trial tomorrow for their roles in a revenge-murder and attempted murder conspiracy targeting the family of a third co-defendant’s ex-girlfriend. Two victims were murdered and set on fire and a third was left in a coma after suffering life-threatening injuries. Vitaliy Krasnoperov, 26, Hollywood, and Charles Anthony Murphy, Jr., 26, Mission Hills, are each charged with two felony counts of special circumstances murder, one felony count of attempted murder, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder. They face sentencing enhancements for multiple murders, murder during the commission of a burglary, and murder during the commission of kidnapping. Murphy also faces an additional sentencing enhancement for murder for financial gain. If convicted, Krasnoperov and Murphy face a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. This is the second jury trial against Krasnoperov, as a previous jury was unable to reach a verdict on May 10, 2011. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Iftekhar Murtaza, 27, Van Nuys, faces the same charges and enhancements as Murphy. The Orange County District Attorney is seeking the death penalty against Murtaza, who is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Nov. 18, 2011, in Department C-41.

Background
In March 2007, 18-year-old Shayona Dhanak was a freshman at the University of California, Irvine, living in the campus dorms. Her father Jaypraykash Dhanak, 56, mother Leela Dhanak, 54, and sister Karishma Dhanak, 20, lived in the family home in Anaheim Hills.

On March 29, 2007, 18-year-old Shayona Dhanak ended a two-year dating relationship with Murtaza. The Dhanaks disapproved of the relationship partly because they were practicing Hindus and Murtaza was a non-practicing Muslim. Murtaza is accused of becoming angry about the break-up, believing that Shayona Dhanak’s parents were responsible because they did not approve of the relationship and had pressured her to end the relationship.

(more…)

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress