Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

July 17, 2018

Three California Residents Sentenced in $20 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:58 am

Three owners and/or managers of Los Angeles, California-area foreclosure rescue companies, Dorothy Matsuba, Jamie Matsuba, and Thomas Matsuba, were sentenced to 240, 135, and 168 months in prison today for their roles in a foreclosure rescue scheme, respectively.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna for the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, Acting Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Paul Conlon of the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office, and Sheriff Jim McDonnell of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department made the announcement.

Dorothy Matsuba, 67, her daughter Jamie Matsuba, 33, and her husband, Thomas Matsuba, 67, all of Chatsworth, California, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California.  Judge Klausner also ordered the defendants to serve three years of supervised release. Restitution and forfeiture will be decided at a hearing on Aug. 13.  All three defendants were remanded into custody. Dorothy Matsuba pleaded guilty on Dec. 4, 2017, to one count conspiracy to commit wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured bank or mortgage lending business, and identity theft, five counts of wire fraud, six counts of false statements to federally insured banks, and six counts of aggravated identity theft.  On Dec. 13, 2017, after a one-week trial, Jamie Matsuba and Thomas Matsuba were both convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements to federally insured banks, and committing identity theft and one count of making false statements to federally insured banks.

According to evidence presented at trial, from January 2005 to August 2014, Dorothy Matsuba, Jamie Matsuba, Thomas Matsuba and others engaged in a scheme to defraud financially distressed homeowners by offering to prevent foreclosure on their properties through short sales.  Instead, the conspirators rented out the properties to third parties, did not pay the mortgages on the properties, and submitted false and fraudulent documents to mortgage lenders and servicers to delay foreclosure.  The evidence further established that the conspirators obtained mortgages in the names of stolen identities.  The defendants also used additional tactics, including filing bankruptcy in the names of distressed homeowners without their knowledge and fabricating liens on the distressed properties, the evidence showed. (more…)

Two Additional Southern California Surgeons Indicted in Health Care Kickback Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – Two local physicians were indicted by a federal Grand Jury Thursday as part of Operation “Spinal Cap,” which targeted a long-running health care fraud scheme that generated nearly $1 billion in fraudulent claims to the federal government, the state of California, and private insurers. The scheme involved more than $40 million in illegal kickbacks paid to doctors and other medical professionals in exchange for referring thousands of patients who received surgeries and other services at Pacific Hospital.

Jacob Tauber, 66, of Beverly Hills, an orthopedic surgeon, and Serge Obukhoff, 62, of Malibu, a neurosurgeon, were charged for their roles in receiving illegal kickbacks to influence the referral of patients to Pacific Hospital. The indictment also includes honest services fraud and Travel Act charges against both Tauber and Obukhoff.

“These two physicians leveraged vulnerable patients to participate in a fraudulent kickback scheme,” said First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison. “Their scheme violated their oaths as physicians as well as the law.”

According to the indictment, Tauber performed non-spinal surgeries and referred patients to other surgeons for procedures at Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Obukhoff practiced out of various medical clinics in Southern California. Influenced by the promise of kickbacks and bribes, Tauber and Obukhoff caused patients with insurance or other covered claims to receive surgeries and services at Pacific Hospital.

In the same indictment, Tauber was separately charged with receiving illicit payments to refer urinalysis specimens to a specific lab. (more…)

O.C. Man Sentenced to 41 Months in Federal Prison for Investment Scam that Defrauded Local Businessman out of Nearly $650,000

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:44 am

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who was convicted at trial of defrauding a local businessman through a fraudulent investment scheme was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge David O. Carter to 41 months in federal prison.

Aiman Alexander Ataba, 52, of Irvine, was found guilty on March 20, 2018, of eight counts of mail fraud and three counts of money laundering. The jury’s verdicts followed a two-day trial in the United States District Court in Orange County.

The jury found that Ataba defrauded a Riverside County man out of $648,070 by convincing him to invest in Ataba’s Fountain Valley business, Innovation Validation and Design Technologies. Ataba falsely claimed that the investments would be used to manufacture and sell a device that would be used in hospitals for stem cell research.

Ataba claimed that his company was on the verge of being acquired, and he told the investor that stock in the company could be obtained at a discounted price if he invested quickly. Based on Ataba’s false representations, the victim invested $648,070 in Ataba’s company over the course of 4½ years.

According to court records, after receiving the victim’s money, Ataba immediately spent the money on personal expenses. The money was not invested in any company for the development of a device involving stem cell research. Instead, Ataba simply misappropriated and converted all of the victim’s money to his own personal uses, using the money to pay for rent, living expenses, dining out, and gambling, as well as overseas wire transfers. (more…)

July 16, 2018

Firefighter Charged with Downloading Child Porn at Work

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:14 am

A Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighter was charged today with downloading child pornography while at work, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Matthew David Winters (dob 6/7/67) faces one felony count of possession of child pornography and one misdemeanor count of destroying or concealing evidence in case BA469548.

Winters is accused of downloading the pornography to a computer at a fire station in El Monte from December 2017 to May 2018. He also allegedly destroyed a computer hard drive in order to conceal evidence, according to Deputy District Attorney Teresa de Castro of the Cyber Crime Division, who is prosecuting the case.

He faces a possible maximum sentence of five years and six months in state prison if convicted as charged. The prosecutor is recommending bail be set at $20,500.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Human Trafficking Bureau

Los Angeles District Attorney /  case BA469548 / July 13, 2018

Man Sentenced for Raping Four Women, Killing One in Gardena

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:11 am

A Gardena man was sentenced today to 286 years to life in state prison for sexually assaulting and suffocating a woman and raping three others, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On May 30, a jury found Kevon Takashi Ross, 33, guilty of 25 felony counts in case YA093449: one count each of first-degree murder and sodomy of an unconscious victim, eight counts of rape of an unconscious person, seven counts of forcible rape, six counts of sexual penetration by foreign object and two counts of injuring a girlfriend.

Deputy District Attorney Frank Dunnick said the jury also found true the allegation that the defendant caused great bodily injury.

On Dec. 12, 2015, Ross sexually assaulted and asphyxiated a woman at a Gardena hotel, according to court testimony. Additionally, the defendant sexually assaulted a girlfriend in October 2007, the prosecutor said.

Two other women, who dated Ross, also were raped between June and November 2015, one of them in Riverside County, according to trial testimony.

The case was investigated by the Gardena Police Department.

Los Angeles District Attorney /  case YA093449 / July 13, 2018

Pair Sentenced for Murdering USC Grad Student

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:08 am

A man and a woman were sentenced today for their roles in the 2014 murder of a University of Southern California graduate student, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Jonathan Del Carmen (dob 6/2/95) was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison, while Alejandra Guerrero (dob 6/2/98) was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney of the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

Del Carmen, Guerrero and two others confronted 24-year-old Xinran Ji, who was walking home from a study group near the USC campus shortly before 1 a.m. on July 24, 2014. The victim was struck several times with a bat and a wrench before he ran away.

Co-defendant Andrew Garcia eventually caught up to Ji and hit him repeatedly with the bat. Ji made his way back to his apartment where he died. He was found hours later by a roommate. (more…)

July 13, 2018

Ethiopian Diplomat Arrested on Visa Fraud Charges

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:55 am

LOS ANGELES – An Ethiopian diplomat was arrested today by federal agents for visa fraud violations arising out of the use of non-immigrant diplomatic visas for family members who did not qualify under federal regulations.

Desta Woldeyohannes Delkasso, 54, an Ethiopian national assigned to the Ethiopian government’s Consulate General as the Deputy Consul General in Los Angeles, was charged in a three-count indictment unsealed this morning. She is charged with three counts of visa fraud, including falsely stating that her brother and his wife were “single” and “fully supported by her” and that their minor child was her “son.”

According to the allegations in the indictment, Delkasso caused the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send letters required for the visas to the Embassy of the United States in July and August 2016, stating that Delkasso would be accompanied by family members who would stay in Los Angeles until the end of the diplomatic term. The letters stated that her nephew was her “son” and that her brother and sister-in-law were “dependents” and “fully supported by her.”

Based on this information, her family members were then issued A-1 diplomatic visas to enter the United States.

Delkasso’s brother and his son have lived in Washington, D.C. since their arrival in the United States, and as alleged in the indictment, never resided in Los Angeles.  (more…)

Woman Charged with Attempted Murder for Beating Elderly Man

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:50 am

A 30-year-old woman was charged today with severely beating an elderly man with a brick in Willowbrook last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Laquisha Jones (dob 3/10/88) of Los Angeles has been charged with two counts in case TA146529: attempted murder and elder abuse, infliction of injury.

The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned today in Department 12 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Compton Branch. Prosecutors are asking that bail be set at $1.125 million.

The felony complaint includes special allegations that the defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a brick, during the commission of the crime and that she committed great bodily injury upon the victim.

Additionally, the charging document alleges that Jones was previously convicted of making criminal threats in 2017 in case TA142570. (more…)

Pair Sentenced For Slayings in Prostitution Ring Murder-Robbery Spree

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:43 am

Two women were each sentenced today to more than 10 years in state prison for their roles in a 2014 crime spree that included the murder of two men, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Tenise Dominique Taylor (dob 11/11/92) was sentenced to 13 years in state prison, while Marina Judkins (dob 10/27/97) received an 11-year term.

In January 2017, Taylor pleaded guilty to one count each of voluntary manslaughter and second-degree robbery. In September 2016, Judkins, who was 16 years old when the crimes occurred, pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of second-degree robbery.

Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila of the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

The pair, along with co-defendant Mariah Jiles (dob 12/11/91), were recruited as prostitutes by pimp Michael Mosby (dob 3/23/91).

On April 1, 2014, Mosby and Jiles lured a man and shot him while Jiles’ 2-year-old daughter was inside her vehicle. (more…)

July 12, 2018

Former Prisoner Transport Officer Indicted for Sexual Assault and Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of His Sexual Assault

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

A federal grand jury in Riverside, California, returned a five-count indictment against Eric Scott Kindley, 50, a private prisoner transport officer, for crimes related to his sexual assaults of two different females in his custody during two different transports, and for brandishing his firearm during one of the sexual assaults.

Count One of the indictment charges Kindley with committing a civil rights offense on July 26, 2012, that included aggravated sexual abuse and kidnapping. Counts Two, Three, and Four charge Kindley with committing civil rights offenses on Jan. 26, 2017, against a second female that included aggravated sexual abuse. Count Two also alleges that Kindley’s crime resulted in bodily injury and included kidnapping and the use of a dangerous weapon. Count Five charges Kindley with knowingly brandishing and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Kindley was previously indicted on Sept. 12, 2017, in Little Rock, Arkansas, for committing similar offenses related to his sexual assault of a third female in his custody. That indictment also charges Kindley with possessing his firearm in furtherance of that sexual assault.

If convicted of the charges in the most recent indictment, Kindley faces a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison for brandishing his firearm, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. If convicted of the charges pending in Arkansas, Kindley faces a mandatory minimum of sentence of five years in prison for possession of the firearm, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. If Kindley is convicted of the firearms offenses in both indictments, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence he receives. (more…)

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