Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

January 31, 2018

Signs For Elder Abuse To Look For

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

Fraud is a Crime: Spotting Scams that Target Vulnerable Seniors

Although online scams are often trivialized, in fact, online scamming is fraud according to the FBI. Fraud can either violate civil or criminal law, depending on the situation and your state. Sadly, seniors are often the targets of online scams as this demographic may be less technologically savvy than others. Here are some common types of scam that target senior citizens. Read on to make yourself aware and to protect yourself or the seniors you care about.

Medical scams

The National Council on Aging tells us that seniors are often targeted by medical scammers. In the US, every citizen over 65 is covered by Medicaid. While this is often great news for seniors, a downside is that it is unnecessary for a scam artist to find out what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of some money. Typically, the scam artist will pose as Medicaid and send an email asking for the senior’s person or financial information and then use that information to get ahold of the senior’s money.

Reverse mortgage scams

Reverse mortgages help seniors live comfortably in old age and anyone over the age of 62 can apply. Legally, a reverse mortgage is a financial agreement in which a homeowner relinquishes equity in their home in exchange for regular payments. Unfortunately, although this system was created to help seniors, some people are scamming seniors using reverse mortgages, often taking advantage of them when they are most vulnerable. In one form of this scam, the scam artist finds seniors who are in danger of losing their homes due to foreclosure. The scam artist then convinces the senior to get a reverse mortgage to save the property but will then inform the elderly person that they do not qualify. The senior citizen will then be encouraged to take out a traditional mortgage instead, at which point the property and its equity will get transferred to the perpetrator. As you can see, often these scam artists are very well informed in both civil and criminal law. Vigilance is needed to catch them. (more…)

Government Contractor Charged in $2.6 Million Fraud Scheme

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

Charges were unsealed today against a government contractor following his arrest in St. Louis, Missouri, for his role in allegedly carrying out a $2.6 million scheme to defraud at least 35 subcontractors located across the United States.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott of the Eastern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David A. House of the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General’s (DOI-OIG) Western Region Office of Investigations, Special Agent in Charge Ray Park of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (Army CID) Pacific Fraud Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI’s Sacramento Division, Director Timothy N. Ries of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations’ (Air Force OSI) Office of Procurement Fraud Investigations and Special Agent in Charge Chris Hendrickson of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Western Field Office made the announcement.

Chester L. Neal Jr., 43, of Fresno, California, was charged in an indictment filed in the Eastern District of California with two counts of mail fraud.  Neal will have his initial court appearance later today before Magistrate Judge David D. Noce of the Eastern District of Missouri.

According to the indictment, Neal established and controlled several companies through which he secured at least 105 government contracts to provide various goods and services to federal agencies including the Department of Interior, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.  The indictment alleges that Neal subcontracted the work to other vendors who provided all of the goods and services to the contracting federal agencies.  Neal allegedly made several misrepresentations in order to induce the subcontractors to perform the contractually required work.  The indictment further alleges that Neal did not pay his subcontractors even though he was paid by the government for his subcontractors’ work.  Instead, Neal allegedly kept the money for his personal use.  In total, between July 2008 and December 2017, Neal allegedly defrauded his subcontractors out of at least $2.6 million. (more…)


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

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was charged with attempted murder and arson for setting fire to a tent with a homeless man and woman inside in Santa Ana.

Defendant Charges Maximum Sentence Court Date
James Anthony Lawlor, 35, Santa Ana Charged on Jan. 26, 2018, with the following felony counts:

  • Attempted murder
  • Arson of inhabited property
  • Possession of flammable material

Sentencing Enhancements

  • Premeditation
  • Arson with accelerant
Seven years to life in state prison Continued arraignment

Feb. 6, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana

Circumstances of the Case

  • At the time of the crime, John Doe and Jane Doe lived in a tent near the defendant’s residence in Santa Ana.
  • At approximately 8:20 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2018, Lawlor is accused of confronting John Doe outside of his tent and kicking the victim in the face.      (more…)

January 30, 2018

Former Member of Westminster Planning Commission Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Accepting $15,000 Bribe

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

SANTA ANA, California – A former member of the Planning Commission for the City of Westminster was sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison for taking a $15,000 bribe to help a person obtain a liquor license.

Dave Vo, 43, of Westminster, was sentenced by United States District Judge James V. Selna.

Following a three-day jury trial, Vo was convicted in September of one count of bribery.

Vo, who is an attorney, served as a Planning Commissioner in the Orange County city from early 2009 through early 2013. By virtue of his position, he had influence over the issuance of conditional use permits.

In 2011, Vo solicited a $15,000 bribe from a confidential informant. The informant reported to the FBI that Vo had solicited a bribe in relation to the issuance of a liquor license. During August 2011, over the course of four meetings, Vo received cash payments that totaled $15,000 in exchange for pushing the liquor license permit through the city’s approval process. (more…)

Alleged Arsonist Charged with Setting Church Fires

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

A La Puente man was charged today with setting fires at multiple houses of worship, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Christian Michael Garcia (dob 7/28/92) faces 20 felony counts: 13 counts of vandalism of religious property; three counts of arson of a structure; two counts of second-degree commercial burglary; and one count each of attempted second-degree robbery and arson of property of another.

Case BA465045 also charges Garcia with two misdemeanor counts of vandalism under $400 and includes hate crime allegations.

Arraignment was scheduled today and continued to Feb. 26 in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

The felony complaint charges Garcia with vandalism and arson fires between Nov. 25, 2016 and Jan. 25, 2018. A total of four churches located in Pasadena and Los Angeles are named in the charging document. (more…)

Former Claremont Attorney Convicted of Stealing from Clients

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

A disbarred attorney was convicted today of stealing thousands of dollars from clients over a span of two years, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

At a court appearance this morning, James Patrick Stoneman (dob 9/21/52) of Claremont pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts of grand theft in case KA115869.

Under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement, Stoneman paid the victims $11,000 in restitution and subsequently had the original felony charges reduced to misdemeanor grand theft.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jack Hunt additionally sentenced the defendant to three years of summary probation.

Deputy District Attorney Brandy Chase, who prosecuted the case, said at the time of the crimes, Stoneman was an employment law attorney in Claremont. From July 2014 to August 2015, Stoneman represented three separate people in employment dispute cases, according to the prosecutor. (more…)

January 29, 2018

Attorney General Becerra Announces Plea in Crimes Involving Islamic Religious Center

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:55 am

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that defendant Mark Feigin has pled to two misdemeanor charges involving harassing electronic communication to an Islamic center and attempts to dissuade a law enforcement officer from testifying against him. The defendant entered the plea in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Sentencing in this case is scheduled for May 1, 2018.

“We will not turn a blind eye to violent threats targeted at individuals based on prejudice, whether because of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation,” said Attorney General Becerra. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. The California Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who commit crimes motivated by hate. This plea reinforces our commitment.”

In September 2016, Mark Feigin called in death threats to the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles and posted anti-Muslim rhetoric and threats to the Center’s Facebook page. The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department Major Crimes Division and prosecuted by the California Department of Justice. During the service of a search and arrest warrant, officers located fifteen firearms and more than five buckets of ammunition. After the defendant’s arrest and arraignment, he repeatedly sent text and Facebook messages to one of the investigating officers and attempted to dissuade the officer from testifying at trial.

Attorney General Becerra remains committed to working with local law enforcement agencies, schools and local communities to enforce California’s anti-hate crime statutes to the fullest extent of the law. (more…)

Lancaster Man Sentenced to 23-to-Life for Sexually Abusing Child

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:51 am

A 27-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to 23 years to life in state prison for sexually abusing a young female family member, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Deputy District Attorney Myle Phan said Adam Anthony Orona (dob 2/22/90) of Lancaster pleaded no contest on Jan. 17 to one felony count each of oral copulation or sexual penetration with child 10 years old or younger and lewd act upon a child.

The defendant also will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Orona sexually abused the girl at his home over the weekend of March 24 and 25, 2017, the prosecutor said.

Case MA070886 was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims.

Los Angeles District Attorney / Case MA070886 / January 26, 2018

Oklahoma Man Convicted of Murdering Mother and 4-Year-Old Daughter in Long Beach

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:48 am

A 23-year-old man was found guilty today of killing a mother and her young daughter outside their home in Long Beach two years ago, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour before finding Brandon Ivan Colbert guilty of two counts of firstdegree murder and one count of attempted murder. The panel also found true the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders.

Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes of the Major Crimes Division prosecuted the case.

On Aug. 6, 2016, Carina Mancera, 26, was returning home with her 4-year-old daughter, Jennabel Anaya, and the girl’s father, Luis Anaya.

Colbert hid behind a sign and opened fire on the family with a shotgun, killing Mancera and her daughter. Colbert also fired at Anaya who was not wounded. (more…)

January 26, 2018

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in California College Free Speech Case

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

The Department of Justice today filed a Statement of Interest in Young America’s Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans v. Janet Napolitano. The plaintiffs, Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) and Young America’s Foundation (YAF), allege that the University of California, Berkeley, enforced a double standard when applied to free speech. BCR alleges that UC Berkeley applied a more rigorous and highly discretionary set of rules to their organization compared to other campus groups, especially with respect to “high-profile” campus speakers.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit as a result of excessive hurdles BCR faced in bringing speakers of their choice onto campus. They allege that UC Berkeley’s High Profile Speaker Policy and Major Events Policy violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Berkeley’s “High-Profile Speaker Policy” granted administrators unfettered discretion to decide which speakers are subject to arduous curfews, prohibitive security costs, or undesirable venues. In one instance, administrators—who had full discretion to determine who constituted a “high-profile speaker”—established a 3:00 pm “curfew” that conflicted with class times.

While the plaintiffs attempted to book speakers under the restrictions of the “High-Profile Speaker Policy,” a former president of Mexico and a former White House adviser were hosted at the University, but University administrators did not apply the High-Profile Speakers Policy to those events. (more…)

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