Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

February 29, 2016

Co-Owner of Huntington Park Towing Company Indicted on Charges of Bribing City Council Member to Secure Tow Fee Increase

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

LOS ANGELES – The co-owner of a towing business was named in a federal grand jury indictment returned today that charges him with paying a bribe to a member of the Huntington Park City Council in an attempt to obtain support for a proposed fee increase for towing and vehicle storage.

Sukhbir Singh, 39, and his company, H.P. Automotive & Tow, Inc., were charged today in a two-count indictment that accuses Singh and his company of paying a bribe “to influence and reward” the city councilmember in relation to official action related to a proposed contract to increase rates to tow and store vehicles in Huntington Park.

The indictment states that the city councilperson was a “cooperating witness,” meaning s/he was working with the FBI when Singh allegedly paid the bribe.

Singh is also charged with making false statements to the FBI in October when he falsely stated that he had never discussed the proposed tow fee increase with the city councilmember and when he falsely stated that he had not discussed how payments could made so as to disguise the source of the money.

According to a criminal complaint previously filed in this case, Singh gave a total of $2,650 in checks to the city councilmember between August 2013 and March 2015, although the affidavit in support of the complaint notes that two checks totaling $800 were rejected for insufficient funds and because a signature was illegible.


Former Officer with Federal Immigration Agency Found Guilty of Accepting Bribes in Large-Scale Immigration Fraud Scheme

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

SANTA ANA, California – A former Senior Immigration Services Officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been found guilty of accepting bribes in a long-running immigration fraud scheme.

Jesus Figueroa, 69, of Tujunga, was found guilty yesterday afternoon of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and to impede the lawful function of government immigration agencies. Figueroa was also convicted of four counts of accepting bribes and three counts of fraudulently misusing his official USCIS seal.

United States District Judge Andrew Guilford, who presided over a six-day trial, is scheduled to sentence Figueroa on June 6, at which time the defendant will face a statutory maximum penalty of 80 years in federal prison.

The evidence at trial showed that Figueroa accepted bribes from a Los Angeles attorney in exchange for approving immigration applications regardless of whether the immigrants applying were entitled to immigration benefits, including lawful permanent residence status.

The attorney who paid the bribes – Kwang Man “John” Lee, 50, of Rancho Cucamonga – pleaded guilty in January 2015 to three counts of bribing a public official and is scheduled to be sentenced in September. (more…)

Two Glendale Men Found Guilty of Laundering Illegal Proceeds of Multi-Million Dollar Health Care Fraud Scheme that Bilked Medicare

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

LOS ANGELES – Two Glendale residents have been found guilty of laundering millions of dollars illegally generated by a health care fraud scheme that billed Medicare for equipment and tests that were not medically necessary and sometimes were never provided.

Edgar Pogosian, also known as “Edgar Hakobyan,” 32, was found guilty today of conspiring to commit money laundering and one count of money laundering.

Karen “Gary” Sarkissian, 44, was convicted Thursday of conspiring to commit money laundering, six counts of money laundering, and five counts of health care fraud.

Pogosian and Sarkissian were found guilty by a federal jury following a three-week trial before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez. The jury returned verdicts against Sarkissian on Thursday afternoon and continued to deliberate on the charges against Pogosian until today.

Judge Gutierrez is scheduled to sentence Sarkissian on June 6, and Pogosian on June 27. At sentencing, Pogosian will face a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison, and Sarkissian could be sentenced to as much as 190 years in prison.


February 26, 2016

Man Who Allegedly Posed as Priest Sentenced For Stealing From Parishioners

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

A 59-year-old man accused of posing as a Catholic priest has been sentenced to one year in county jail after pleading guilty to stealing funds from churchgoers.

Erwin Mena pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of grand theft and was immediately sentenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Horwitz to one year in jail and ordered to pay about $53,000 in restitution.

Mena passed himself off as a priest dating back to October 2014 at a pair of Catholic churches in Los Angeles where he performed Mass, confessions and a wedding.

Mena was accused of swindling parishioners at two churches by selling tickets for a pilgrimage to see Pope Francis during his visit to the United States last September. Prosecutors said he never made the arrangements and the trip did not take place.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Los Angeles County District Attorney / February 25, 2016


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A transient man was sentenced today to nine years in state prison for attacking and critically injuring an 83-year-old man. Demarrea Chante Barnes, 29, pleaded guilty Feb. 4, 2016, to one felony count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, one felony count of elder and dependent adult abuse, a sentencing enhancement for great bodily injury, and three state prison priors for drug possession in 2005 and 2008, and assault on a peace officer with injury in 2012.

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2015, John Doe, 83, drove to a strip mall on West Edinger Street in Santa Ana to get his daily newspaper and coffee. As John Doe was walking in the parking lot to the coffee shop, Barnes attacked the victim, punched him in the face and knocked the victim to the ground. The defendant kicked John Doe multiple times and then fled the scene.

The critically injured victim was transported to a local hospital and treated for broken facial bones and a brain hemorrhage.

The Santa Ana Police Department investigated this case and released a surveillance tape depicting part of the attack. Barnes was identified and arrested the next day, Sept. 26, 2015.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced today to 10 years and four months in state prison for trafficking, pimping, and pandering five women and one minor girl from Texas to Orange County. Henry Ray Perry, 34, Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to a court offer of one felony count each of human trafficking of one minor female, human trafficking of one adult woman, one count of pandering the minor female over 16 years old, one count of pandering the minor female over 16 years old, five felony counts of pimping, and five felony counts of pandering with sentencing enhancements for a prior federal prison conviction for transporting for prostitution in 2012 in Texas and serving a separate prison term of one year and more and not remaining free for a period of five years. The Honorable Robert R. Fitzgerald struck a sentencing enhancement for human trafficking of a minor involving force/fear/fraud/coercion over the objection of the People and offered the defendant a sentence of 10 years and four months in state prison.

Co-defendant Lynn Anthony Bishop, 46, Houston, Texas, is charged with one felony count each of human trafficking, pandering by procuring, human trafficking of a minor involving force/fear/fraud/coercion, pimping a minor, pandering with a minor over 16 years old by procuring, five felony counts of pimping, and five felony counts of pandering. Bishop faces a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction for committing a robbery in 2000 in Harris County, Texas.

Circumstances of the Case

The defendants in this case are accused of being human traffickers/pimps who exploit women and for financial gain. Pimps often establish rigid rules that their victims are expected to follow including setting daily quotas that the victims are expected to fulfill. The victims are required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp. Failure to follow these rules can result in physical and/or emotional abuse.

Bishop is accused of, and Perry was convicted of the following:

Between April 16, 2015, and April 30, 2015, Bishop and Perry traveled from Houston, Texas to Orange County. They are accused of trafficking six women in two vehicles, including one victim who was 17 years old, to have the victims solicit commercial sex. The defendants are accused of dropping the victims off in Santa Ana, Stanton, and cities in Los Angeles County to solicit commercial sex and collecting the proceeds they earned from performing commercial sex acts. Perry set daily quotas for each of the women and ordered them to turn over all the money they earned to the defendants.


February 25, 2016

British Man Named in Federal Grand Jury Indictment that Charges Him with Coming to U.S. to Have Sex with Pre-Teen Boys

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

LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today indicted a British man on federal charges alleging that he travelled to the Coachella Valley in late January in order to engage in illicit sexual conduct with boys who were 10 and 12 years old.

Paul Charles Wilkins, 70, of Littleport in East Cambridgeshire, England, who had dual United States-United Kingdom citizenship, was charged today with one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and one count of attempted sex trafficking of children.

While the first count of the indictment relates to Wilkins travel to the United States to allegedly have sex with two pre-teen boys, the attempted sex trafficking charge stems from a deal he allegedly brokered with an undercover investigator in which Wilkins allegedly paid $250 to have sex with a 9-year-old boy at an apartment he had rented in Palm Springs.

“My office is committed to protecting children from predators – whether the predators are foreign or domestic,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “When this defendant’s original plan was thwarted, he made other arrangements to sexually abuse a child. He must be held accountable for these crimes.”


Former Employee of Sporting Goods Distributor Convicted of Embezzling over $300,000 from Orange County Company

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

SANTA ANA, California – A former office manager for an independent sporting goods distributor was found guilty this afternoon of three counts of wire fraud for using company checks and credit cards to embezzle more than $300,000 from her Los Alamitos-based employer.

Juliana James England, 60, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was found guilty of the three felony counts for embezzling money from her former employer, Callan Western Sales Company (CWS).

The evidence at trial showed that England charged company credit cards and wrote company checks to herself to obtain the company’s funds. As part of her scheme, she altered company records and created false bank stubs to give to the company’s accountant.

England was hired by CWS in 2000 to be a part-time secretary and office manager in charge of office administration, which including preparing checks for the signature of Michael Callan, the founder of the company. England was also in charge of maintaining the company’s check ledger, coding the payments, and providing monthly bank statements to the company’s accountant.

From March 2003 to July 2007, England wrote at least 55 checks payable to either herself or her creditors totaling more than $33,000. To cover her tracks, England wrote false notations on the check stubs to indicate payment to a legitimate company vendor. After using these checks for her personal use, she altered the company’s bank statements and provided these altered statements to the CPA. (more…)

Arraignment Scheduled in Case of Elderly La Crescenta Man Found Dead in His Home

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

A Gardena man is scheduled to be in court today accused of killing a 73-year-old man with a mallet, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

David Xavier Bushman (dob 6/6/71) faces one count of murder with the allegation that he used a mallet as a deadly and dangerous weapon in case GA098019.

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Erlich said the felony complaint includes allegations that Bushman was convicted in 1991, 2003 and 2009 of felonies that include robbery and false imprisonment.

Arraignment is scheduled in Department D of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pasadena Branch. The case was filed on Feb. 3.

Victim Arthur George Palmer was found bludgeoned to death inside his La Crescenta house on July 24, 2015, the prosecutor said. According to the criminal complaint, Bushman killed Palmer on or between July 21 and July 24, 2015.


February 24, 2016

Recruiter in Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Sentenced to Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:29 am

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man who recruited churches into a $4.2 million mortgage scheme that defrauded Broadway Federal Bank has been sentenced to serve one year and one day in federal prison.

Chester Peggese, 59, received the prison sentence yesterday from United States District Judge Manuel L. Real, who also ordered the defendant to pay $4.2 million to Broadway Federal Bank and $38,609 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Peggese pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

“It is beyond dispute that mortgage fraud does significant harm to the country,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Crimes like these in the aggregate place financial institutions in jeopardy, which in turn places the entire economy in jeopardy.”

According to the plea agreement filed in the case, Peggese acted as a “consultant” who targeted Los Angeles-area churches with promises of new mortgages to purchase property or refinanced mortgages from Broadway Federal Bank. Between 2007 and 2009, Peggese met with representatives of churches and obtained financial information required for the loan applications. Others involved in the scheme altered the financial information to make it appear the churches were more financially sound than they actually were, and Peggese caused these false loan applications to be submitted to Broadway Federal Bank.


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