Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

May 26, 2017

U.S. Files 9 Lawsuits Seeking Forfeiture of Properties Worth over $30 Million Allegedly Bought with Proceeds of EB-5 Visa Fraud Scheme

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

LOS ANGELES – Federal Prosecutors have filed nine civil complaints that seek the forfeiture of nine real properties across Southern California that were allegedly purchased with proceeds generated by a fraudulent scheme that collected more than $50 million from foreign investors seeking “Green Cards” through the EB-5 visa program.

The nine lawsuits filed yesterday afternoon in United States District Court allege that much of the money collected from the primarily Chinese investors either was refunded to the foreign nationals or was stolen by participants in the scheme.

The asset forfeiture complaints allege that attorney Victoria Chan and her father, Tat Chan, operated a business called California Investment Immigration Fund, LLC (CIIF) from 2008 until this year. In April, authorities executed federal search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation.

According to the lawsuits filed yesterday, CIIF exploited the EB-5 visa program, which provides lawful permanent residence – commonly known as a “Green Card” – to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a domestic business that creates 10 new American jobs. Those involved in the scheme allegedly convinced more than 100 Chinese nationals to invest over $50 million in CIIF and related companies.

“Rather than legitimately investing the funds into American businesses, CIIF either refunded the funds to the EB-5 investors while the investors’ EB-5 petitions were pending, in direct violation of the EB-5 program, or stole millions of dollars to use for personal expenditures, including buying million-dollar homes,” according to the lawsuits that allege “many foreign nationals were able to improperly obtain U.S. green cards.”


Idaho Man Serving Sentence in Terrorism Case Indicted on Attempted Murder Charges Stemming from Attack on Federal Prison Warden

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

RIVERSIDE, California – A man who was convicted and sentenced to a quarter century in prison for providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization has been indicted on attempted murder charges for allegedly trying to kill the warden of the federal prison where he was serving his sentence.

Fazliddin Kurbanov, 34, was named in a three-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury. The indictment that charges Kurbanov with attempted murder of a federal officer, assault on a federal officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon, and possession by an inmate of a prohibited object intended to be used as a weapon.

The indictment alleges that Kurbanov used a prison-made knife to attack Warden Calvin Johnson at the Federal Correctional Institute at Victorville on May 31, 2016. Warden Johnson, who is now serving at another facility operated by the United States Bureau of Prisons, was seriously injured in the attack, but he has recovered.

Kurbanov currently is serving a 25-year sentence imposed last year by a federal judge in Idaho after being found guilty of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and possessing an unregistered destructive device.

In relation to the new indictment filed yesterday in Riverside, Kurbanov will be brought into United States District Court for an arraignment in the coming weeks.



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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A woman was arraigned today for killing a pedestrian while driving under the influence of prescription medications with children in the backseat.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
Anna Marie Mcpherson, 45, Irvine Charged on May 17, 2017, with the following felony counts:

  • Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
  • (2) Child abuse and endangerment
12 years and eight months in state prison Pre-Trial

June 22, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

Department W-1, West Justice Court, Westminster

Circumstances of the Case:

  • At approximately 2:30 p.m. on June 10, 2016, Mcpherson is accused of driving southbound on the 55 freeway as it turns into Newport Boulevard with two children in her vehicle.
  • As traffic slowed, the defendant is accused of veering right onto the sidewalk and striking two light poles, a bus bench, and 64-year-old John Doe. (more…)

May 25, 2017

13 Defendants, Many Linked to Local Street Gangs, Charged with Credit Card Skimming and Narcotics Trafficking

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

LOS ANGELES – Thirteen people, most of whom are linked to La Mirada- and Norwalk-based street gangs, have been charged in federal court in a bank fraud scheme involving “skimmed” credit cards, and in narcotics cases, one of which alleges a transaction involving over three kilograms of methamphetamine.

Authorities this morning arrested 11 of the defendants, the lead defendant in the credit card fraud case was arrested late this afternoon, and law enforcement continues to search for one more defendant who remains at large.

The credit card skimming operation was allegedly operated by a man linked to a criminal street gangs known as the La Mirada Punks and the Carmelas. Russell Jay Ogden, along with his wife, are accused of leading the scheme that allegedly skimmed credit cards – meaning victims’ credit cards were surreptitiously run through an electronic device that collected the cards’ information. Members of the scheme then encoded the stolen information on counterfeit credit cards and used the fraudulent cards to purchase big ticket items that were later sold for a profit. The investigation has determined that many of the credit cards in this case were skimmed at a restaurant in Huntington Beach.

In total, the conspiracy compromised more than 500 credit cards and caused various financial institutions to suffer losses of more than $500,000 after the cards were used across Southern California at department stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, sporting goods stores and Toys R Us, according to the bank fraud indictment unsealed today.

Those charged in the 27-count bank fraud indictment are:

· Russell Jay Ogden, also known as “Big Dog,” 43, of La Mirada, who was taken into custody late this afternoon and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow;


California Man Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Prisoner Identities and Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns

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

A San Francisco man was sentenced to serve 84 months in prison yesterday for stealing identities and conspiring to file fraudulent tax returns, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg, of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.

In January, at the conclusion of a two-week trial, a federal jury in the Northern District of California convicted Howard Webber, 52, of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  According to the evidence presented at trial, from June 2010 through January 2012, Webber conspired with Clifford Bercovich to obtain the names and social security numbers of fellow inmates while Webber was incarcerated at several prisons and jails, including San Quentin State Prison and Santa Clara County jail in California, and the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Webber and Bercovich convinced inmates to give them their names and social security numbers by explaining that they could help the inmates take advantage of government stimulus programs or secret tax loopholes.  Webber and Bercovich recruited inmates to help them solicit the identities of other inmates, and created a limited-liability company, Inmate Assets Recovery and Liquidation Services LLC, to make their scheme appear legitimate.

Webber and Bercovich used the identities they obtained to file false federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The returns falsely represented that the individuals earned wages or other income and fraudulently claimed refunds.  Webber and Bercovich opened a post office box, which they listed on each false return and used to receive the fraudulently obtained refund checks. In some cases, they also directed that refunds be wired to bank accounts, which they opened and controlled.  According to the evidence presented at trial, Webber and Bercovich filed more than 700 false returns and received over $600,000 in fraudulently obtained income tax refunds.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, Webber was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release.


Foster Care Executives Sentenced For Embezzling Public Funds

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

A couple were sentenced today for misappropriating public funds for a group of foster homes they ran, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

CSJ Kidogo, 76, was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and placed on five years of formal probation. His wife, Hitaji Kidogo, 65, was sentenced to three years of summary probation.

Both were ordered to no longer operate foster homes. They also paid $109,093 in restitution.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Ser of the Public Integrity Division prosecuted the case.

CSJ Kidogo, the former executive director of Little People’s World Inc., pleaded guilty to one felony count of misappropriation of public money in September 2015. Hitaji Kidogo, the company’s former assistant executive director, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of embezzlement.

Little People’s World operated four group homes that provided foster care to more than two dozen children in the county. An audit by the county’s Auditor-Controller discovered that CSJ Kidogo borrowed money tabbed for foster care to purchase real estate for himself and pay mortgages on properties not used for the foster care program.


May 24, 2017

California Man Sentenced to Prison for Stealing IDs and U.S. Treasury Checks

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

An El Cerrito, California, man was sentenced to serve 54 months in prison today for aggravated identity theft and conspiring to steal government funds, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California.

According to documents filed with the court, from about August 2013 through April 2015, Brandon Robinson, 35, and his co-conspirators, stole names of deceased individuals and used them to file federal tax returns seeking refunds. Robinson paid cashiers at stores in the Richmond-area to cash the fraudulently obtained refund checks. Robinson also cashed stolen tax refund and social security benefit checks that were intended for other individuals. Robinson admitted that he and his co-conspirators attempted to cash more than $500,000 in fraudulently obtained and stolen checks.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, Robinson was also ordered to serve 36 months of supervised release and to pay $30,119 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.  Robinson previously pled guilty in February to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit theft of public money.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and U.S. Attorney Stretch commended special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Newman and Jose A. Olivera, and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Justice Department Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.


Attorney General Becerra: Target Settles Record $18.5 Million Credit Card Data Breach Case

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

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a record $18.5 million multi-state settlement with Target, in response to allegations that over 40 million customers had their payment card information compromised during the 2013 holiday season after the company failed to provide reasonable data security. California will be receiving more than $1.4 million from the settlement, the largest share of any state. Today’s settlement reflects the commitment of the California Department of Justice to defending Californians from cybersecurity threats and holding accountable companies that fail to fulfill their responsibility to protect customer information.

“Families should be able to shop without worrying that their financial information is going to get stolen, and Target failed to provide this security,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This should send a strong message to other companies: you are responsible for protecting your customers’ personal information. Not just sometimes – always. As our state’s chief law enforcer, it’s my job to give Californians the confidence to know that I’ve got their back.”

As part of the settlement, Target is required to adopt advanced measures to secure customers’ information. The settlement requires Target to employ an executive to oversee a comprehensive information security program and advise its CEO and Board, encrypt or otherwise protect payment card information to make it useless if stolen, and adopt other technological measures. In addition, today’s settlement in part requires Target to integrate business practices recommended in the Attorney General’s Data Breach Reports previously published by the California Department of Justice.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting consumers. Since taking office in January 2017, he has announced a $586 million multi-state settlement with Western Union for wire fraud scams; a $9.8 million settlement with Walgreens for failing to adhere fully to requirements imposed by California law for the dispensing of certain prescriptions drugs under Medi‑Cal; a five-year prison sentence for Oswaldo Cabrera of Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional for defrauding immigrants; opposed actions by the Trump administration to roll back important protections for student loan borrowers and working families saving for retirement; and joined a federal antitrust lawsuit with 39 other states charging six generic drug-makers with an illegal conspiracy to divide customers and markets and increase prices for two generic drugs.


Pomona Woman Arrested on Federal Charges that Allege Scheme to Smuggle Restricted Space Communications Technology to China

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

LOS ANGELES – A Pomona woman was arrested this morning on federal charges that accuse her of conspiring to procure and illegally export sensitive space communications technology to her native China.

Si Chen, also known as Cathy Chen, 32, is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court on charges contained in an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on April 27 and was unsealed today after her arrest.

The 14-count indictment accuses Chen of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which controls and restricts the export of certain goods and technology from the United States to foreign nations. Chen is also charged with conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements on an immigration application, and using a forged passport.

According to the indictment, from March 2013 to December 2015, Chen purchased and smuggled sensitive items to China without obtaining licenses from the U.S. Department of Commerce that are required under IEEPA. Those items allegedly included components commonly used in military communications “jammers” from which Chen removed the export-control warning stickers prior to shipping. Additionally, Chen is suspected of smuggling communications devices worth more than $100,000 that are commonly used in space communications applications. On the shipping paperwork Chen falsely valued the items at $500. The indictment further describes how Chen received payments for the illegally exported products through an account held at a bank in China by a family member.

“Federal export laws are designed to protect American interests by preventing the proliferation of technology that may fall into the wrong hands,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “We will vigorously pursue those who traffic items that could harm our national security if they land in the wrong hands.”


May 23, 2017

Defense Contractor Employee Pleads Guilty to Selling Satellite Secrets to Undercover Agent Posing as Russian Spy

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

LOS ANGELES – An engineer who worked for a cleared defense contractor pleaded guilty today to federal charges of economic espionage and violating of the Arms Export Control Act for selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service.

Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, who worked as an engineer on military and commercial satellite programs, pleaded guilty to two felony offenses that could send him to federal prison for as long as 35 years.

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.

In addition to their proprietary nature, the documents contained technical data covered by the United States Munitions List and therefore were subject to controls restricting export from the United States under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments. During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built, according to the plea agreement.


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