Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

November 27, 2015


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was arraigned today on charges of tax evasion and insurance fraud for failing to report over $5.6 million in payroll and failing to pay over $384,000 in taxes. Darrin Shawn Wilson, 50, Newport Beach, is charged with 15 felony counts of misrepresenting facts to the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), five felony counts of misrepresenting facts to a workers’ compensation insurance company, 20 felony counts of failing to file a return with the intent to evade tax, 20 felony counts of willful failure to pay tax, and a sentencing enhancement for white collar crime and committing a theft exceeding $500,000 and a taking that exceeded $200,000. The defendant is out of custody on $500,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial Feb. 9, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

What is premium insurance fraud?
California law requires that all employers maintain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Payroll records showing the number of employees and their income must be submitted to both the insurance company and Employment Development Department (EDD), who oversee the audit and collection of payroll taxes and employment records for workers in California. Workers’ compensation insurance rates are determined by a formula, which takes into consideration the factors above and the company’s loss history on claims.

Premium insurance fraud is committed when an employer intentionally misrepresents to the State or his/her insurance company the number of employees, the nature of work performed by certain employees, the amount of payroll, and the loss history. These illegal misrepresentations allow deceitful employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance at a significantly lower rate, or to avoid purchasing the insurance at all. This practice also places their competitors at a disadvantage because it forces them to compete against a company with lower operating costs.

This type of deceptive under or non-reporting drives up the cost of insurance premiums for legitimate businesses, which pay higher rates for their employee’s workers’ compensation insurance. These legitimate businesses are less competitive against crooked companies who are able to under-bid their competitors due to lower business costs resulting from insurance fraud. This also endangers injured employees who may be denied the workers’ compensation benefits intended to meet their physical, psychological, and financial needs for a work-related injury.


Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Joint Prosecution with Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten in Santa Clara Waste Water Facility Explosion Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

VENTURA – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that the California Department of Justice will be formally joining the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in the ongoing prosecution of multiple individual and corporate defendants charged with environmental crimes and other specified offenses related to the November 18, 2014 explosion at the Santa Clara Waste Water Company facility located in Santa Paula, California.

The explosion disbursed toxic chemical residue and is alleged to have caused serious injuries to employees and first responders. In August 2015, a Ventura County grand jury indicted nine individuals and two corporate entities on multiple criminal counts including conspiracy to dispose of hazardous waste, failure to warn of a serious concealed danger, handling a hazardous waste with a reckless disregard for human life, withholding information regarding a substantial danger to public safety, filing a false or forged instrument, and dissuading a witness.

“The reckless handling of hazardous waste is a danger to public health and safety, and will not be tolerated in California,” said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.  “My office will continue to prosecute serious environmental and health violations and will work closely with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office to hold all perpetrators accountable.”

Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten stated, “We are pleased with the Attorney General’s decision and welcome the contribution of prosecutorial resources and environmental expertise the Department of Justice will bring to this case.”


Santa Fe Springs Man Sentenced for Murder of Victim Discovered Encased in Concrete

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

A 49-year-old man was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for killing a former coworker and then hiding his body by encasing it concrete under a Santa Fe Springs business, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner said Juan Alberto Galvez was found guilty on Oct. 23 of one count of first-degree murder.

The jury also found true the allegation that Galvez used a shotgun to commit the murder and found him guilty of misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine in case VA128108.

On Dec. 23, 2012, Galvez shot Guillermo Díaz, 38, at a skylight manufacturing business where both men previously worked together, according to court testimony. Galvez had grown resentful toward Díaz after being fired from the skylight business, according to the evidence presented at trial.

In an effort to hide the victim’s body, Galvez encased it in cement and buried it under a makeshift shower he constructed at an auto repair business where he worked within the same industrial park area, the prosecutor said.


November 26, 2015

L.A. Man Pleads Guilty in $2.6 Million Federal Tax Refund Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:20 am

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty late yesterday afternoon to conspiring to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service that sought more than $2.6 million in false tax refunds.

Heber Cotton, 39, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by obtaining the payment of false claims, namely tax refunds.

According to a plea agreement filed in the case, beginning in December 2008 and continuing through March 2010, Heber Cotton and his co-defendant caused at least 275 fraudulent income tax returns to be filed with the IRS, which sought income tax refunds of over $2.6 million.

The co-defendant – Adel Cotton, 63, a Hacienda Heights resident who is currently in federal prison after pleading guilty in another case involving fraudulent tax refunds – is pending trial.


Former Rosemead Resident Sentenced to nearly Five Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking in Counterfeit Marlboro Cigarettes

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 9:18 am

LOS ANGELES – A former resident of the San Gabriel Valley who was a major distributor of counterfeit cigarettes in the Los Angeles area has been sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Su Qin Yang, who also used the names “Lily” and “Anita Chang,” was sentenced yesterday to 57 months in prison by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow.

Yang, 45, who resided in Rosemead prior to fleeing to China in 2012, pleaded guilty in May to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods and admitted in her plea agreement that she trafficked in almost 4 million counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes and almost 4,000 counterfeit Viagra pills. The counterfeit products were seized during searches of Yang’s residence and storage locations in the summer of 2012.

Yang “sold an extremely large quantity of counterfeit cigarettes to great profit, and showed no signs of slowing down,” prosecutors wrote in a brief that sought the 57-month sentence. “Indeed, the government is advised that after defendant’s arrest, the illegal sale of counterfeit cigarettes in the Los Angeles area decreased dramatically.”



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:03 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man previously convicted of the shaking abuse of his girlfriend’s 11-month-old daughter in 2005 was charged yesterday with murder after the victim died as a result of the injuries she sustained 10 years ago. Christopher Edward Byrd, 39, La Habra, is charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death. If convicted, Byrd faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. The defendant is currently in custody for a 2012 conviction for possession of methamphetamine and identity theft. He was sentenced to eight years and eight months in jail on April 30, 2013. Byrd is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Case

At the time of the crime, Byrd lived with his girlfriend and her 11-month-old daughter, Savannah Lee Quake, in La Habra.

On Jan. 12, 2005, the defendant was watching Savannah while her mother left the home for several hours. During that time, Byrd is accused of shaking the victim until the victim was unconscious. Byrd took the infant to a neighbor, who called 911. Paramedics responded to the scene and the victim was subsequently placed on a ventilator.

The La Habra Police Department (LHPD) investigated this case. On Jan. 18, 2005, Byrd was charged with one felony count of child abuse and one felony count of possession of methamphetamine. The defendant pleaded guilty to both charges on May 18, 2007, and was sentenced to four years and eight months in state prison.


November 25, 2015

Former California Attorney Pleads Guilty in International Investment Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:39 am

A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy for his role in an investment fraud scheme that promoted fraudulent investment opportunities and caused more than $5 million in losses to investors.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Laura A. Bucheit of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.

Joseph Micelli, 62, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson of the District of Nevada to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud.  His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23, 2016.

As part of his plea, Micelli admitted that he conspired with others in the United States and Switzerland to promote investments and loan instruments that he knew to be fraudulent.  The conspirators told victims that, for an up-front payment, a Swiss company known as the Malom Group A.G. would provide access to lucrative investment opportunities and substantial cash loans.  In connection with his plea, Micelli admitted that he held himself out to investors as an attorney, when in fact he had lost his license to practice law.  In addition, as part of an effort to defraud an investor who held an equity stake in a corporation that had filed for bankruptcy, Micelli submitted a sworn affidavit to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire, in which he made false statements about the Malom Group’s ability to provide financing to the debtors.

Five other defendants have been charged in the case and are awaiting trial or extradition.


Five People, including Two Doctors, Charged in Kickback Schemes Involving nearly $600 Million in Fraudulent Claims by SoCal Hospitals

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:35 am

Santa Ana, California – In a series of related cases announced today, the former CFO of a Long Beach hospital, two orthopedic surgeons and two others have been charged in long-running health care fraud schemes that illegally referred thousands of patients for spinal surgeries and generated nearly $600 million in fraudulent billings over an eight-year period.

Two of the defendants have previously pleaded guilty, and three others have agreed to plead guilty in the coming weeks. All five have agreed to cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation into kickbacks for patient referrals and fraudulent bills for spinal surgeries.

The schemes involved tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others. As a result of the illegal payments, thousands of patients were referred to Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, where they underwent spinal surgeries that led to more than $580 million in bills being fraudulently submitted during the last eight years of the scheme alone. Many of the fraudulent claims were paid by the California worker’s compensation system and the federal government.

In a second, similar scheme – also involving spinal surgeries – doctors received illegal kickbacks for referrals to a Hawaiian Gardens hospital.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 3:31 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A 24-year-old man is expected to be arraigned tomorrow on charges of attempted murder for repeatedly shooting at an on-duty peace officer, who was responding to a call. Evan Williams Taylor, Orange, is charged with one felony count of attempted murder of a peace officer, one felony count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm on a peace officer, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in state prison. The People will be requesting the defendant be held on $1 million bail at his arraignment scheduled tomorrow, Nov. 25, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 9:20 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2015, two officers from the Orange Police Department (OPD) were dispatched to a home for a family disturbance. When the OPD officers entered the home with permission from a family member, Taylor is accused of retreating to his room and shutting the door. When Officer King ordered Taylor to open the door, the defendant is accused of opening the door and pointing a semiautomatic rifle at Officer King, who started to draw his weapon as Taylor quickly shut the door. As Officer King backed away from the door, Taylor is accused of firing a shot through the door at chest level, then pausing and firing two more shots. The defendant is accused of firing the semiautomatic gun at himself, grazing his head.

Taylor was arrested and transported to a nearby hospital with a superficial wound. The OPD officers never discharged their firearms during the incident.

The defendant is accused of possessing three firearms, including an AR-15 pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a Glock pistol, ammunition, light-armor piercing ammunition, and two bullet proof vests.


November 24, 2015

Man Ordered Held without Bond after Being Arrested on Charges of Retaliating Against IRS Employee by Filing $10 Million Lien

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:02 am

RIVERSIDE, California – A man facing federal charges related to a $10 million lien filed against an Internal Revenue Service employee has been ordered held without bond pending trial after being arrested last week by federal agents.

James R. Vanderveldt was arrested Thursday morning and arraigned on Thursday afternoon in United States District Court. The Court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf under the name of “John Doe” after he refused to enter a plea to the charges.

A federal grand jury on Wednesday returned a two-count indictment that charges Vanderveldt with retaliation against a federal law enforcement officer by filing a false lien and obstructing the administration of the internal revenue laws. The indictment alleges that the crimes took place in San Bernardino County.

At Vanderveldt’s court appearance on Thursday, a trial was scheduled for January 12, 2016 before United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal. If he is convicted of the two counts, Vanderveldt would face a statutory maximum sentence of 13 years in federal prison.


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