Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

April 30, 2016

Gardena-Based Pimp Faces Life in Federal Prison for Trafficking Seven Children Forced or Coerced to Work as Prostitutes

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

LOS ANGELES – A Gardena man has been found guilty of 14 felony counts for trafficking seven girls who worked as prostitutes, several of whom worked under threats of force, fraud or coercion.

Laron Carter, also known as “Birdd” and variations of that moniker, 39, was found guilty yesterday afternoon by a federal jury in Los Angeles.

Following a five-day trial, the jury convicted Carter of seven counts of sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion, and seven counts of transporting a child to engage in prostitution.

The evidence at trial showed that Carter trafficked girls as young as 13 and subjected some of them to beatings, which included victims being punched in the face and whipped with a belt.

The case was tried before United States District Judge Virginia Phillips, who is scheduled to sentence Carter on July 18. At sentencing, Carter will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life without parole.


Three People Connected to Shooter in San Bernardino Terrorist Attack Arrested on Federal Conspiracy, Marriage Fraud and False Statement Charges

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

RIVERSIDE, California – Three people with family connections to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the perpetrators of the December 2, 2015 terrorist attack at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center (IRC), were arrested this morning on federal conspiracy, marriage fraud and false statement charges.

A five-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury charges three defendants in a marriage fraud conspiracy that involved making false statements under oath for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits for one of the defendants.

The three defendants arrested this morning are:

· Mariya Chernykh, 26, of Ontario, who, according to official records, is married to Enrique Marquez, Jr., who is awaiting trial on charges of conspiring with Syed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists;


District Court Enters Permanent Injunction Against San Francisco Rice Noodle Company and Senior Officers to Stop Distribution of Adulterated Products

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

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kun Wo Food Products Inc. (Kun Wo) and the firm’s co-owners, Zi Xing Liu and Zi Cheng Liu, to prevent the distribution of adulterated rice noodles, the Department of Justice announced today.

The department filed a complaint in the Northern District of California on April 12, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The complaint alleged that the defendants have a history of processing rice noodles under insanitary conditions.  As detailed in the complaint, the company prepared, processed, manufactured, packed, held and distributed rice noodles to local customers in the San Francisco area.  The complaint alleged that Zi Xing Lui has ultimate authority over all of the firm’s operations, including financial expenditures, production processes and employee supervision and that Zi Cheng Liu shares responsibility with Zi Xing Liu for the firm’s production processes and is also responsible for product distribution.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to settle the litigation and to be bound by a permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location.  Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must first inform FDA, take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.

“Kun Wo Food Products was repeatedly informed that the sanitation practices at its facility were deficient,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively pursue food companies and individuals responsible for the production of food under insanitary conditions in order to protect the American people and make sure America’s food supply is safe.”


April 29, 2016

Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd. to Plead Guilty for Fixing Price of Electrolytic Capacitors

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

Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd. will plead guilty for conspiring with competitors between 2002 and 2010 to fix prices for electrolytic capacitors sold to customers in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.

“Hitachi Chemical subsidiaries and co-conspirators fixed the prices of capacitors, a fundamental component of widely used electronic products,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder.  “This is the second guilty plea in this investigation, and we will continue to pursue companies and individuals that conspire to undermine competition for technology components of all shapes and sizes.”

“We will not tolerate the behavior of companies or individuals who attempt to profit unfairly from business practices that ultimately hurt our economy and the consumer,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Bertram Fairries of the FBI’s San Francisco Division.  “We will pursue and bring to justice those who commit these types of crimes.”

Electrolytic capacitors store and regulate electrical current in a variety of electronic products, including computers, televisions, car engine and airbag systems, home appliances and office equipment.

The one-count felony charge was filed today in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California in San Francisco.  In addition to pleading guilty to that charge and paying a criminal fine, Tokyo-based Hitachi Chemical has agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement is subject to court approval.


Orange County Pilot Charged with Flying Private Jet with Passengers Onboard without Having Proper License Issued by FAA

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

LOS ANGELES – An Irvine man was arrested this morning on federal charges of illegally flying a twin-engine Falcon 10 turbojet airplane with passengers onboard without having a valid pilot’s license.

Arnold Gerald Leto III, 36, was charged in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District court with operating an aircraft in air transportation without a valid airman’s certificate.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Leto’s pilot’s license was revoked earlier this year, he operated the Falcon without having the required co-pilot, and he was never certified to fly this type of aircraft.

Leto is scheduled to be arraigned on the felony offense this afternoon in United States District Court.

Leto is charged will illegally flying the Falcon 10 from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 8. Leto allegedly operated the aircraft with approximately eight passengers on board.


Manager of Clothing Factory Found Guilty of Offering Bribe to Federal Labor Investigator in Exchange for Closing Wage Investigation

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

LOS ANGELES – The general manager of a La Puente garment factory has been found guilty of federal charges of offering to pay bribes to an investigator with the United States Department of Labor in exchange for the investigator closing an investigation into wage violations.

Howard Quoc Trinh, 42, of Arcadia, the manager of Seven-Bros. Enterprises, was convicted late Tuesday by a federal jury. The jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of bribery after prosecutors presented evidence that Trinh offered to pay $10,000 in bribe, and actually paid $3,000 to a Department of Labor Wage and Hour investigator. As part of the bribery scheme, Trinh promised to pay the balance when the investigation was closed.

“Companies and their managers victimizing their own employees through wage violations cannot perpetuate their conduct through bribes,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This jury verdict strikes a blow against both corruption and the exploitation of workers.”

The Labor Department investigator was investigating Seven-Bros. for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets standards for minimum wage and overtime pay. The Wage and Hour investigator led a team that conducted an unannounced visit to Seven-Bros on March 10, 2015. The investigation into wage violations covered a period from May 2012 through March 10, 2015, and found that Seven-Bros owed approximately $100,000 to compensate employees for FLSA violations over that period. As part of the investigation, the Labor Department issued a “hot goods” Notice to Restrain the Shipment of Goods, which prevented the company from shipping certain inventory until the back wages were paid to employees.

The investigator returned to Seven-Bros on March 18, at which time Trinh said he did not owe his employees any back wages and that he wanted to “take care” of the investigator. In response to Trinh’s statements, the Labor Department’s Office of Investigator General (OIG) initiated an investigation and outfitted the investigator with recording equipment. On the evening of March 18, during a recorded meeting, Trinh offered the investigator $10,000 to close out the investigation without finding any violations and to lift the Hot Goods objection.


April 28, 2016

School Police Officer Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Attempted Sex Trafficking Charges for Allegedly Using Internet to Entice Minor

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:59 am

LOS ANGELES – A police officer employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District was taken into federal custody this morning after being named in an indictment that charges him with the attempted sex trafficking of a child.

Mauricio Edgardo Estrada, 28, who has been placed on administrative leave by LAUSD, surrendered himself to federal authorities after he was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury.

The two-count indictment charges Estrada with attempted sex trafficking of a child and use of the Internet to induce a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The case against Estrada is the result of an undercover operation by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes representatives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. The Task Force was conducting an anti-sex trafficking operation in Artesia and posted an advertisement on the Craigslist website that was designed to attract individuals interested in engaging in commercial sex acts with minors.

“Protecting children from sexual exploitation means focusing our resources on all aspects of the industry that preys upon young people,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Prosecutors in my office who deal with sex crimes against children have a long history of targeting those who produce, distribute and possess child pornography. We also aggressively prosecuted pimps who prostitute minors and use physical violence to establish and maintain control over their victims. Now we are turning our attention to customers who seek out young prostitutes, because their demand fuels an industry that causes so much harm to so many young people.”


Federal and State Authorities Charge 11 Men with Trading Child Pornography through Use of Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Programs

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:55 am

LOS ANGELES – Concluding a three-year investigation, authorities today arrested 11 defendants who are accused of using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to receive and possess – and, in some cases, distribute – child pornography.

The arrests are the results of eight indictments filed in United States District Court and three cases filed by local prosecutors.

Today’s arrests are part of Operation “Wide Net,” an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. ICAC includes special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service, who work in conjunction with local law enforcement partners, including the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The Long Beach Police Department and the California Highway Patrol assisted in today’s operation.

Over the past three years, Operation Wide Net has resulted in a total of more than 80 defendants being prosecuted for child pornography offenses and the execution of over 100 federal and state search warrants in the Los Angeles area.

Those arrested today include Luis Gutierrez, 49, of Chino, who was previously indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography obtained through the use of the Ares file-sharing program. Gutierrez was an engineer with the Los Angeles City Fire Department in 2013 at the time of the alleged offenses, and investigators believe that he used Internet connections at three different fire stations to download the child pornography found on his computer.


Health Products Company and Owners Sentenced for Smuggling Seal Oil and Dietary Supplements into the United States from China

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 2:53 am

LOS ANGELES – A couple from Walnut, California and two of their import and distribution companies have been sentenced after previously pleading guilty to a wide variety of criminal activity, including smuggling Harp Seal oil into the United States from China, falsely classifying goods to avoid import duties, and importing mislabeled food into the United States from China.

Lynn Leung, 61, the former president and co-owner of the UBF Group, Inc., doing business as the Nu-Health Products Company, was ordered yesterday to serve five years of probation, which will include one year of home detention. Leung was also ordered by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer to pay a $20,000 fine. Additionally, Leung was banned from working as a manager, officer or director of any business entity – including her own family companies – for a period of five years.

Daniel Fu, 65, Leung’s husband and the former vice-president of UBF Group, Inc., was also sentenced Monday to five years of probation, ordered to spend six months under home detention and fined $20,000. During the period of probation, Fu is also banned from working as a manager, officer or director of any business entity – including his own family companies.

Leung and Fu jointly owned and operated a number of local dietary supplement import and distribution companies doing business as the Nu-Health Products Company, including UBF Group, Inc. and ASN Group, Inc.

Judge Fischer also sentenced UBF Group, Inc. yesterday, ordering it to pay a total monetary penalty of $1.29 million. The company was ordered to pay a $230,000 fine, to forfeit $941,000 in proceeds derived from criminal activity, and to pay $119,000 in restitution to the United States Customs and Border Protection agency for import duties it avoided as a result of the criminal scheme.


April 27, 2016

Two Plead Guilty to Federal Fraud Charges Related to Multi-Million Dollar Pyramid Scheme that Targeted Chinese-American Victims

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

LOS ANGELES – A Hacienda Heights couple pleaded guilty today to federal fraud charges related to their participating in a scheme that generated millions of dollars by soliciting investments in a company that purportedly offered children’s educational courses – but in reality was a pyramid scheme designed to generate revenue by adding new investors.

Cheong Wha “Heywood” Chang, 48, and Chang’s wife, Toni Chen, 47, each pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and admitted that they made materially false representations and omissions in order to induce people to invest in a series of Hong Kong-based companies collectively known as CKB. With other names that included WIN168 Biz Solutions, Ltd.; CKB168 Ltd.; and Cyber Kids Best Education Limited, these companies claimed to generate substantial profits from the sale of web-based children’s educational courses. The scheme operated from at least September 2012 through at least the beginning of 2014.

Chang and Chen each admitted that made false statements to investors, including: CKB was a successful and profitable business; with each investment of $1,380, an investor would receive “Profit Reward Points” (PRPTs) that were worth $750 and could be exchanged for money; PRPTs would increase in value as a passive investment, even if investors did not actively recruit new investors to CKB or sell CKB courses; and PRPTs were analogous to, or could be converted into, pre-IPO or future shares of CKB that would increase greatly in value when CKB went public. These statements to investors were false.

Authorities have yet to accurately determine the amount of losses suffered by victims in this CKB scheme, but in their plea agreements Chang and Chen admit they received approximately $2 million as a result of the fraud scheme.

“These defendants defrauded investors out of millions of dollars, and then they attempted to obstruct justice when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The fraudulent conduct in this case has harmed many people, both in the United States and abroad.”


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