Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

January 29, 2016

Former Manager at HBO Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Fraud and Tax Charges in Scheme that Stole about $1 Million from Company

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley woman was charged today with three federal offenses in relation to a scheme in which she submitted fraudulent bills and illegally took approximately $1 million from HBO, where she worked as manager in the Talent Relations Department.

In court documents filed today, Jennifer Choi, 38, of Valley Village, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.

Choi, who worked at HBO for nearly 10 years, where she was responsible for scheduling services – such as hairstyling, wardrobe and make-up – for actors associated with HBO. Choi set up a company called Shine Glossy, LLP, which she used to submit bogus invoices to HBO for style and make-up services supposedly provided to actors. But, according to court documents, the services were never actually provided, and HBO funds instead went directly into a bank account she had established. Through Shine Glossy, Choi submitted nearly 300 fraudulent invoices that led HBO to pay approximately $940,000.

“Ms. Choi has admitted to bilking her employer out of nearly a million dollars through a fraud scheme that used a fake company that provided no services,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This long-term scheme violated both her duty to her employer as well as federal law, and Ms. Choi now faces serious consequences beyond losing her job.”


LAPD Detective Charged with Witness Intimidation

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:52 am

An LAPD detective has been charged with dissuading a witness and false imprisonment involving an off-duty sexual relationship with a man she met on the Internet, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Christine Wycoff (dob 2/10/71) is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 22 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, in case BA443216. Wycoff, who was arrested today by LAPD officers, was released on a $150,000 bond.

Deputy District Attorney Ann Marie Wise with the Justice System Integrity Division is prosecuting the case.

Wycoff allegedly began a sexual relationship with a man in June 2014 that lasted several months. When the relationship deteriorated, Wycoff allegedly made repeated threats against the man, who reported it the Los Angeles Police Department.

During the course of LAPD’s internal investigation, Wycoff allegedly threatened the victim that if he cooperated with the investigation, she would accuse him of domestic violence.


Uber Driver to be Arraigned on Charges of Passenger Assault, Theft

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 9:49 am

A 46-year-old former Uber driver is scheduled to be arraigned today after being ordered to stand trial on charges that he allegedly assaulted a client with his car, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney David Berger said Phillip Reid Bagwell (dob 9/16/69) of Sherman Oaks faces one felony count each of assault with a deadly weapon, car, and attempted extortion and one misdemeanor count of petty theft.

Case SA091234 also alleges Bagwell has previously been convicted of three felonies: grand theft in 1990 and 1998, and forgery in 1991.

Arraignment is scheduled today in Department W82 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Airport Branch. The case was filed on Sept. 9 and Bagwell was ordered to stand trial on Dec. 16.

According to court testimony, Bagwell was the Uber driver for a woman traveling to a comedy club in West Hollywood on July 9. The woman forgot her cell phone in the defendant’s car but managed to call the driver seeking to get her phone back, the prosecutor said.


January 28, 2016

Federal Court Permanently Enjoins California Business from Accruing Payroll Tax Liabilities

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

A federal court has ordered a San Diego, California provider of collection services to pay its payroll taxes as they become due, the Justice Department announced today.  Judge Larry Alan Burns of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California entered a permanent injunction requiring Prolien Services LLC and its owner, Albert F. Quintrall, to pay Prolien’s federal payroll tax liabilities as they become due and owing.

The defendants agreed to entry of the injunction and admitted the allegations in the government’s complaint.  Prolien has repeatedly failed to make sufficient federal employment tax deposits since 2009 and has amassed substantial employment tax liabilities.

Under the terms of the injunction, the business must deposit its payroll taxes and file its employment tax returns on a timely basis.  The defendants are also required to notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that the required tax deposits have been made and tell the IRS if they begin operating any new business.  The defendants are precluded from assigning property or making any payments to other creditors until the employment tax liabilities are paid.  The injunction is effective immediately.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Tax Division thanked the revenue officer of IRS Field Collection for investigating and preparing the civil case and the attorneys who handled the litigation.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the Division’s website.


Long Beach Man Convicted of Killing His Children’s Grandmother

Filed under: Uncategorized — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

A 52-year-old man was convicted today of fatally stabbing the grandmother of his children at a park in 2013, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The jury deliberated for five hours before finding defendant Steven Dwayne Brown of Long Beach guilty of first-degree murder in case BA425401.

Jurors also found true a special allegation that the defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a knife, during the commission of the crime.

The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced March 4 in Department S19 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Long Beach Branch. Brown faces a possible maximum sentence of 86 years to life in state prison.

Deputy District Attorney Diana Martinez, who prosecuted the case, said Brown had three children who were being cared for by their maternal grandmother, Kellye Lynnette Taylor. At the time of the crime, Taylor, 53, was working as a teacher at a Long Beach private elementary school.


Man Sentenced to Prison for Domestic Violence Incident, Police Pursuit

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

A 35-year-old man was sentenced today to four years in state prison for assaulting his wife and leading police on a pursuit, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

At today’s court appearance, defendant Raul Martinez pleaded no contest to two felony counts in case TA137510: injuring a spouse and fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving. The defendant also admitted he was previously convicted of second-degree robbery in 2012.

In addition to the prison sentence, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Abzug also ordered the defendant to stay away from the victim for 10 years.

Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez, who prosecuted the case, said on the evening of June 18, 2015, the defendant attacked his wife.

As law enforcement arrived at the home to investigate the domestic violence incident, the defendant left the residence in his wife’s vehicle, the prosecutor added.


January 27, 2016

Inland Empire Man Who Threatened to Kill U.S. Forest Service Officer Investigating Trash Dumping Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:48 am

LOS ANGELES – A man who repeatedly threatened to kill a United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer who contacted the man in relation to an investigation into trash dumped in the San Bernardino National Forest was sentenced today 18 months in federal prison.

Richard Latka, 57, of Hemet, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

Latka was found guilty by a federal jury in October of threatening to assault and murder the federal officer. According to the evidence presented at the trial, the Forest Service Officer went to a residence on Persimmons Lane in Hemet in October 2014 to investigate a large amount of trash that had recently been dumped in the nearby national forest. The officer encountered Latka in the front yard of the residence, and Latka reacted angrily when the officer said he wished to speak to the owner of the home. Latka then ran toward the officer with clenched fists. Believing that Latka intended to hit him, the officer drew his Taser and ordered Latka to stop. Latka stopped running but continued screaming at the officer. The officer tried to diffuse the situation by retreating to his car, but Latka followed the officer, continued to scream at him, and then pounded with both fists on the driver’s side window of the officer’s marked law enforcement vehicle. The officer drove away, but Latka pursued the officer in his own car, screaming that he was going to kill the officer. At one, Latka pulled up beside the officer and yelled, “Next time you’re dead!” Witnesses reported that Latka later returned to the home and screamed to them that he was going to kill the officer.

“This federal law enforcement officer faced serious threats of assault and murder.  The officer did everything he could to de-escalate the situation,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Instead of de-escalating, Mr. Latka made repeated threats to harm the officer, who was acting both lawfully and prudently. As a result of his dangerous conduct, his unwillingness to comply with law enforcement, and his failure to accept responsibility for his crime, Mr. Latka has earned this prison term.”


Mother and Son Named in Federal Grand Jury Indictments that Allege Smuggling of Ammunition and Firearm Parts to Philippines

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:45 am

LOS ANGELES – A Long Beach woman and her son have been named in federal grand jury indictments that charge them with illegally shipping hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of firearms parts and ammunition to their native Philippines – munitions that were concealed in shipments they falsely claimed to be household goods.

Marlou Mendoza, 60, and Mark Louie Mendoza, 30, are named in separate indictments that were returned by a federal grand jury on December 10.

Marlou Mendoza was arrested last week at Los Angeles International Airport as she returned from a trip to the Philippines. The case against Marlou Mendoza, which charges her with illegally shipping ammunition, was unsealed after she was taken into custody on January 20 by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Meanwhile, Mark Mendoza, who is a citizen of the Philippines, remains at large and is believed to be in the Philippines. The United States Attorney’s Office today learned that a federal judge has unsealed the case against Mark Medoza, who is named in an eight-count indictment that charges him with conspiracy, the unlawful export of munitions, smuggling and money laundering.



Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:42 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Three previously charged defendants were charged today for escaping from Orange County Jail. Bac Tien Duong, 43, Hossein Nayeri, 37, Newport Beach, and Jonathan Tieu, 20, Fountain Valley, are each charged with one felony count of escape from pending felony charges. Duong faces also faces sentencing enhancements for a prior strike conviction for first degree burglary in 1995 in San Diego County, prior prison convictions for second degree burglary in 2007, reckless evading of a peace officer in 2008, and possession for sale of a controlled substance in 2011.

If convicted, Nayeri and Tieu face a maximum sentence of three years in state prison for this case. Duong faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison for this case.

On Jan. 22, 2016, the defendants are accused of escaping from Orange County Central Men’s Jail. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case. The investigation in this case is ongoing. No other information will be released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA).

Senior Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Nichols of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

The defendants remain fugitives and were previously in custody for the charges listed below.


January 26, 2016

Normandie Casino Operator Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Felony Charges of Violating Anti-Money Laundering Statutes

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:17 am

LOS ANGELES – The operator of the Normandie Casino in Gardena agreed in court papers filed this morning to plead guilty to charges that it violated anti-money laundering provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act. As part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, the casino agreed to pay nearly $2.4 million for failing to report large cash transactions to federal authorities.

In a plea agreement filed this morning in United States District Court, the Normandie Club, the partnership operating the Normandie Casino, agreed to plead guilty to two felony offenses – failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and conspiring to avoid reporting to the government the large cash transactions of some of the casino’s “high-roller” gamblers.

Under federal law – specifically, the Bank Secrecy Act – casinos like the Normandie are required to implement and maintain programs designed to prevent criminals from using the casino to launder the large sums of cash that illegal activity can generate. For example, casinos must record and report to the government the details of transactions involving more than $10,000 by any one gambler in a 24-hour period.

“The United States has an array of anti-money laundering statutes designed to prevent criminals from using the American financial system to launder the large sums of cash generated by illegal activity such as organized crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Casinos that fail to follow these rules are particularly vulnerable to criminals who seek to disguise illegal cash as gambling winnings.”


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