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January 30, 2013

Former Mayor of Cudahy Sentenced to Federal Prison for Taking Bribes from ‘Medical Marijuana’ Businessman

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 6:41 am

LOS ANGELES – The former mayor of the City of Cudahy was sentenced this afternoon to one year in federal prison for taking cash bribes in exchange for supporting the opening of a “medical marijuana” store in the city.

David Silva, 62, the then-mayor of Cudahy and an elected member of the city council, was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Manuel Real.

“Mr. Silva sold the integrity and authority of the mayor’s office for his own personal gain,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Elected officials are expected to obey the law. When they don’t, those officials should expect to go to prison.”

Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Office, stated: “Today’s sentencing serves as evidence that corrupt practices by public officials who use their power to get rich quick and abuse the trust of their constituents will not be tolerated. The FBI will continue to investigate alleged corrupt offenders and work toward restoring reliable services to the citizens they’re expected to serve.”

Angel Perales, 44, who ran the Code Enforcement Division of the Cudahy Community Services Department and who was involved in the bribery scheme, was sentenced by Judge Real two weeks ago to probation.

A third person who took bribes from an FBI informant – Osvaldo Conde, 51, who was a member of the Cudahy City Council, and who accepted two separate bribe payments – is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Real on February 25.

According to an affidavit filed in this case: “On the afternoon of February 28, 2012, following weeks of bribe solicitations and related discussions, made during recorded meetings and telephone calls, Conde, Silva and Perales met an FBI confidential informant at the El Potrero nightclub in Cudahy, California. The three Cudahy city officials accepted a total of $15,000 cash as bribe payments. Later that evening, Conde met the confidential informant to receive an additional $2,000 cash as a bribe.”

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January 28, 2013

POLICE OFFICER SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRACY VIA TEXT AND PHONE CALLS TO ILLEGALLY DISMISS LEGITIMATE TRAFFIC CITATION

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 9:55 pm

WESTMINSTER - A police officer was sentenced today for conspiring in text messages and phone calls with an officer from a different agency to illegally dismiss a legitimate traffic citation. Erik Michael Krause, 44, and Michael John Zannitto, 47, were both found guilty by a jury Dec. 6, 2012, of one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Zannitto was sentenced today to one year of probation and 30 days in jail stayed pending completion of 100 hours of community service. Krause faces a sentence ranging from probation up to one year in jail at his sentencing Feb. 15, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Department W-12, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At the time of the crime, Krause was a 22-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) and Zannitto was an 11-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD). The defendants did not know each other prior to the crime.

On Nov. 9, 2011, Krause issued a traffic citation for speeding in the immediate vicinity of a stopped school bus to 32-year-old Jane Doe. He wrote detailed notes regarding the violation on the ticket. Later that same month, Zannitto met Jane Doe at Knott’s Berry Farm. The defendant was off-duty and not in uniform. During this initial meeting, Zannitto told Jane Doe that he could have her traffic citation dismissed.

On Dec. 6, 2011, Zannitto sent Jane Doe a text message requesting a copy of her citation. On Dec. 13, 2011, Zannitto received a text message from Jane Doe, who works in the alcohol industry, in which she included pictures of alcohol and an offer of free alcohol in exchange for getting the traffic citation dismissed.

On Jan. 20, 2012, Zannitto received a text message from Jane Doe with a picture of the citation issued to her by Krause. Sometime between November 2011 and Jan. 20, 2012, Zannitto instructed Jane Doe to contest her traffic citation by written declaration.

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January 10, 2013

Former Lynwood School Official Sentenced to Eight Years in State Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:21 pm

LOS ANGELES – A former official of the Lynwood Unified School District who admitted diverting more than $700,000 in public money over four years to pay for personal expenses was sentenced today to eight years in state prison, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan also ordered William Douglas Agopian, 61, of Santa Ana, to pay $700,000 in restitution to the Lynwood Unified School District and $121,220 to the Franchise Tax Board, said Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani of the Public Integrity Division.

Agopian pleaded guilty in November to one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and filing a false tax return.

Agopian, the district’s former chief business officer, admitted taking the money from a bank account that had been established to facilitate a sister-city trip to Mexico for Lynwood students, the prosecutor said.

November 8, 2012

Ex-Member of Santa Fe Springs City Council Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Taking $10K in Bribes from Pot Store Operator

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 6:29 am

LOS ANGELES – A man who was a member of the Santa Fe Springs City Council was sentenced today to two years in federal prison for taking $10,000 in bribes from the operator of a marijuana store who wanted to influence the city to allow his store to stay open.

Joseph Serrano Sr., 62, who from the end of 2010 through October 2011 served as the mayor of Santa Fe Springs, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson. In addition to the prison term, which Serrano was ordered to begin serving by December 4, Judge Wilson ordered him to pay $10,000 in restitution in the FBI – which is the total amount of bribes paid by an informant while he was working with the FBI.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Wilson rejected a defense plea for a probationary sentence, saying, “This was pure greed. The defendant sold himself out.”

Serrano pleaded guilty in United States District Court on July 30 to one felony count of bribery. Speaking of the crime today, Judge Wilson said it was “a serious offense that attacks the integrity of government.”

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September 6, 2012

Former Lynwood School Pleads Guilty to Stealing District Money

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:44 pm

LOS ANGELES – Lynwood Unified School District’s former chief business officer pleaded guilty today to diverting more than $700,000 in public money over four years to pay for sporting event tickets, hot tub equipment, hotels and paying his personal taxes, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani of the Public Integrity Division said William Douglas Agopian, 61, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and filing a false tax return. Aratani said he also admitted aggravated white-collar crime and excessive-taking allegations.

Agopian entered his plea just before his preliminary hearing was set to begin.
He returns to court Dec. 6 and is expected to be sentenced to five years in state prison before Judge Michael Tynan.

He agreed to pay back $700,000 to the school district and $121,220 to the Franchise Tax Board by Dec. 6, when he surrenders to begin his prison sentence.

Agopian pleaded guilty to diverting money from a bank account that was not on the school district books. The account had initially been established to facilitate a sister-city trip to Mexico for Lynwood Unified School District students, the prosecutor said. The district discovered the secret account when officials were researching ways to save money on bank fees, Aratani said.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors will ask that the remaining 22 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer and filing a false tax return, be dismissed when he is sentenced.

If he fails to pay back the money, he will be sentenced to eight years in state prison, Aratani said.

August 28, 2012

Former Long Beach City Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 5:48 am

LOS ANGELES – A former clerk who handled cash transactions for the City of Long Beach Care Services Bureau pleaded guilty today to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds and filing a false state tax return.

Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani of the Public Integrity Division said that as part of a negotiated plea, Jongluck Mutrais, 59, is expected to be sentenced to three years in state prison on Sept. 12. Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Robert M. Kawahara also is expected to order the defendant to pay $600,000 in restitution to the City of Long Beach and $48,194 to the California Franchise Tax Board.

Besides pleading guilty to embezzling public monies and filing a false state tax return in 2008, Mutrais admitted two allegations that the amount of money taken was excessive; more than $100,000. Additional embezzlement and false tax return charges are scheduled to be dismissed after sentencing.

The defendant was arrested by Long Beach Police Department officers on May 10, a day after a felony criminal case was filed. She has remained in custody since that time.

Mutrais was accused of embezzling public funds over an 11-month period between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 1, 2010. The theft came to light in August 2010 after the Animal Care Services Bureau implemented a comprehensive computer system to track funds. She resigned the same month that the audit was reported.

The Animal Care Services Bureau is responsible for kennel operations, dog licensing, adoption and general animal control in Long Beach.

August 11, 2012

Former Upland Mayor Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison for Accepting Bribe from Businessman Seeking Permit from City

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 2:44 pm

RIVERSIDE, California – The former mayor of the City of Upland was sentenced today to 24 months in federal prison for his conviction on a federal bribery charge stemming from a $5,000 payment he accepted in exchange for helping a business obtain a conditional use permit from the city.

John Victor Pomierski, 58, who resigned as mayor last year after he was named in a grand jury indictment, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips.

Pomierski is among four people who have been convicted in relation to a corruption investigation in the City of Upland, and he is the first to be sentenced.

“While he’s serving his sentence in federal prison, Mr. Pomierski will have time to reflect on the principle that public service is a sacred trust that should not be abused for personal enrichment,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that the public receives honest services from the persons they elect to public office – and that those officials who break the law are prosecuted and punished.”

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August 2, 2012

Two Former Lynwood Council Members Convicted

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:54 pm

Two Former Lynwood Council Members Convicted

COMPTON – A jury today found two former Lynwood City Council members guilty of misappropriating nearly $500,000 under several different schemes, including charging personal expenses on city credit cards, the District Attorney’s office announced.

A jury of 10 women and two men deliberated about four days before finding Louis Byrd, 80, and Fernando Pedroza, 47, guilty of one count each of misappropriation of public money and an allegation of taking in excess of $65,000, said Deputy District Attorneys Ed Miller and Sean Hassett, who prosecuted the case.

The two were taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read. They return for sentencing Aug. 27 before Compton Superior Court Judge Eleanor Hunter. Byrd is facing six years in state prison. Pedroza is facing five years in state prison.

The D.A.’s Public Integrity Division discovered the crimes through a four-year investigation launched on April 15, 2003, following a tip by a former Lynwood city manager. Five current and former council members were charged in May 2007. Charges against two, Armando Rea and Ricardo Sanchez, were later dismissed. Another former councilman, Arturo Reyes, pleaded guilty to grand theft and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5.

Prosecutors argued that Byrd took about $330,000 for personal use and Pedroza took more than $160,000.

Under one scheme, they paid themselves up to $40,000 a year in addition to their council pay for participating on two city agencies, the Lynwood Public Finance Authority and Lynwood Information Inc. Prosecutors argued that the work council members performed in connection with these agencies was nothing beyond the normal responsibilities for a council member and they were not entitled to additional pay.

They also charged personal expenses on city credit cards. For example, during a May 2002 trip to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend a sister-city conference, Pedroza charged $1,500 on a city credit card to pay for an evening at a gentleman’s club that included a dancer and private room.

July 23, 2012

Third Cudahy city office agrees to plead guilty to federal corruption charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 1:19 pm

A former member of the Cudahy City Council – Osvaldo Conde – has agreed to plead guilty to federal extortion and bribery charges, becoming the third official with the City of Cudahy to admit that he took bribes in exchange for supporting a permit to open a marijuana store in the city. Conde, 50, who resigned from the City Council last Friday, has agreed to plead guilty to extortion and bribery.  Conde will appear in Untied States District Court – along with the two others who have agreed to plead guilty – tomorrow (Thursday, July 19) at 1:00 p.m. for arraignment. A charging document called an “information” and Conde’s plea agreement are attached to this email. These documents were filed a few minutes ago in federal court in Los Angeles.

The other two officials — David Silva and Angel Perales – will join Conde in arraignment court tomorrow. They will be appearing in Courtroom 341 of the Roybal Federal Building at 255 E. Temple Street. A press release about the Silva and Perales plea agreements can be viewed at:  http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2012/091.html.

At tomorrow’s arraignments, all three cases will be assigned to a United States District Judge who will formally take their respective guilty pleas at some point in the future (i.e., they will not formally enter their guilty pleas on Thursday).

May 29, 2012

CITY JAIL GUARD CONVICTED OF ACCEPTING iPAD AND OTHER BRIBES IN EXCHANGE FOR ALLOWING INMATE PROHIBITED CONTRABAND AND UNAUTHORIZED PERSONAL VISITS

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:07 am

WESTMINSTER - A detention center officer at the Seal Beach City Jail was convicted and sentenced today for accepting bribes, including an iPad and money, in exchange for allowing an inmate prohibited contraband and visitor contacts. Jose Alday, 33, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to one felony count of an officer receiving bribes, one felony count of possession for sale of a controlled substance, and one misdemeanor count of possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. He was sentenced to two years in state prison, $3,000 in restitution, is forever disqualified from holding any public office or employment, including law enforcement, in the State of California, and was ordered to forfeit his employment at the Seal Beach City Jail.

At the time of the crime, Alday had worked as a non-sworn detention center officer at the Seal Beach City Jail for approximately four years.

Between July 1, 2011, and Dec. 25, 2011, Alday accepted bribes from an inmate on multiple occasions while working in his official capacity. The defendant allowed unsearched visitors to enter the jail to have unauthorized contact with this inmate. He allowed prohibited contraband, including alcohol, to be brought into the jail for the inmate. These crimes occurred while Alday was working alone and other officers were not present.

In exchange for allowing and facilitating the unauthorized visits and contraband, Alday received bribes including money, an iPad, a cell phone, two leather jackets, and other items.  These items were brought to the defendant by the inmate’s visitors.

The Seal Beach Police Department (SBPD) received a tip in December 2011 and began investigating this case. Alday was arrested Dec. 25, 2011, by SBPD while at work.

At the time of his arrest, the defendant was in possession of a substantial amount of anabolic steroids at the jail. During a subsequent search of the defendant’s home, Alday was in possession of a used methamphetamine pipe.

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