Best Defender Bytes: Crime after Crime

May 31, 2018

Attorney General Becerra Sues EPA for Suspending Critical Safeguards for Agricultural Workers

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:55 am

SACRAMENTO – Joining the Attorneys General of New York and Maryland, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to suspend critical safeguards for agricultural workers. The Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation first implemented by the EPA in 1992 to reduce the number of illnesses and injuries to agricultural workers nationwide from exposures to pesticides.

In 2015, after determining that many incidents of pesticide exposure might have been avoided if farmworkers had better training, the EPA strengthened the WPS and required employers to provide agricultural workers and their families with new training. This new training resulted from more than 15 years of stakeholder meetings and the consideration of over 2,400 public comments. However, despite the availability of updated training materials, the Trump Administration’s EPA suspended the new training requirements without following the necessary public notice and comment procedures. The lawsuit being brought by the Attorneys General is based on the fact that the EPA’s suspension is arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is not above the law. He does not get to do away with protections simply because he does not like them.” said Attorney General Becerra. “It’s because of agricultural workers — many of whom are immigrants — that families across America can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Agricultural workers deserve to know that we have their backs. We will continue to hold the EPA accountable. That’s why, with today’s lawsuit, my Office has sued EPA Administrator Pruitt a total of 11 times.”

Among other things, the training requirements that Administrator Pruitt wants to discard would allow agricultural workers to: (more…)

District Court Issues Order to Prevent California Individual From Distributing Adulterated Fish or Fishery Products

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:55 am

A federal court enjoined Michel G. Blanchet of Los Angeles, California, from preparing, processing, and distributing adulterated fish or fishery products without first taking required remedial action, the Department of Justice announced today.

The injunction ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California requires Blanchet to implement various consumer safety measures before resuming the preparation, processing or distribution of fish or fishery products.  The injunction stems from a complaint the Department filed on Oct. 3, 2017, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Blanchet was the owner and President of a business in Los Angeles, California, that processed and distributed fish or fishery products, including salmon, trout, and sturgeon.

Blanchet agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, Blanchet represented that he is not engaged in receiving, preparing, processing, holding or distributing fish or fishery products.  Under the permanent injunction, if Blanchet intends to resume such activity, he must notify FDA in writing in advance, comply with specific remedial measures set forth in the injunction, and allow his facility to be subject to FDA inspection. (more…)

Man Found Guilty of Raping Four Women, Killing One in Gardena

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:54 am

A jury found a Gardena man guilty today of sexually assaulting and suffocating a woman and raping three others, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Kevon Takashi Ross, 33, was convicted of 25 felony counts in case YA093449: one count each of firstdegree murder and sodomy of an unconscious victim, eight counts of rape of an unconscious person, seven counts of forcible rape, six counts of sexual penetration by foreign object and two counts of injuring a girlfriend.

Deputy District Attorney Frank Dunnick said the jury also found true the allegation that the defendant caused great bodily injury.

Sentencing is scheduled on July 13 in Department O of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Inglewood Branch. Ross faces 286 years to life in state prison.
(more…)

May 30, 2018

International Hacker-For-Hire Who Conspired With and Aided Russian FSB Officers Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:49 am

Karim Baratov, aka Kay, aka Karim Taloverov, aka Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov, 23, was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine, which encompasses all of his remaining assets.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Acting U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse for the Northern District of California, and Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.  The sentence was handed down today by U.S. District Judge the Honorable Vince Chhabria.

“Criminal hackers and the countries that sponsor them make a grave mistake when they target American companies and citizens.  We will identify them wherever they are and bring them to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “I would like to thank Canadian law enforcement authorities for their tremendous assistance in bringing Baratov to justice.  We will continue to work with our foreign partners to find and prosecute those who would violate our laws.”

“The sentence imposed reflects the seriousness of hacking for hire,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tse.  “Hackers such as Baratov ply their trade without regard for the criminal objectives of the people who hire and pay them.  These hackers are not minor players; they are a critical tool used by criminals to obtain and exploit personal information illegally.  In sentencing Baratov to five years in prison, the Court sent a clear message to hackers that participating in cyber attacks sponsored by nation states will result in significant consequences.” (more…)

COMPANY AND THREE SUPERVISORS CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR VIOLATING SCAFFOLDING LAWS NEAR HIGH VOLTAGE POWER LINES THAT KILLED ONE EMPLOYEE AND INJURED ANOTHER AT MISSION VIEJO HIGH SCHOOL

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:46 am

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – A company and two of its supervisors pleaded nolo contendere today for violating scaffolding laws near high voltage power lines that killed one employee and injured another at Mission Viejo High School.

Defendant Charges Sentence
  • Five Star Plastering, Inc.
  • Thomas Aaron Blythe, 46, Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Timothy Scott Gordon, 52, Lake Elsinore
Pleaded nolo contendere today, May 29, 2018, to one misdemeanor count each of:

  • Willful violation causing death
  • Willful violation causing injury
Five Star Plastering, Inc. and Blythe

  • $564,270 fine ($164,270 paid to CalOSHA and $400,000 paid in victim restitution)
  • Community service
  • Workplace safety training program

Gordon:

  • Community service
  • Workplace safety training program
John Lawrence Alberts, 57, Apple Valley Pleaded nolo contendere on Sept. 8, 2017, to one misdemeanor count each of:

  • Willful violation causing death
  • Willful violation causing injury
  • Community service
  • Workplace safety training program

Circumstances of the Case

  • At the time of the crime, Blythe was the president and owner of Five Star Plastering, Inc. (Five Star), and the vice president of the Mission Viejo High School (MVHS) booster club. Alberts was the crew supervisor, and Gordon was the company’s safety coordinator. (more…)

Convicted Murderer Pleads Guilty to Three Murders

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 1:44 am

A convicted felon serving a life sentence for a 2007 murder pleaded guilty today to committing three additional murders in 2004, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Gilton Pitre (dob 5/4/72) entered his plea to three counts of first-degree murder and admitted two special circumstance allegations: multiple murders and murder with a prior murder conviction.

Pitre is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 29 when he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Deputy District Attorney Samuel Hulefeld prosecuted the case.

Pitre murdered Maribel Medina on or about Jan. 31, 2004, and Irma Barboza, 24, on or about Sept. 2, 2004. Barboza was about eight months pregnant when she was killed. (more…)

May 29, 2018

United States Moves to Forfeit Antiquity from Time of Roman Empire that was Looted from Syria and Recovered from High Desert Home

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:31 am

LOS ANGELES – The United States this week filed an asset forfeiture complaint against an ancient mosaic depicting Hercules, believed to have been made in the 3rd or 4thCentury, that likely was looted from war-torn Syria, allegedly illegally imported into the United States, and seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at a Palmdale residence.

The mosaic, which is approximately 18 feet long and weighs approximately one ton, was seized by FBI and HSI special agents in March 2016 as part of an investigation into the “smuggling [of] looted items believed to be from a foreign conflict area into the United States.”

The complaint, which was filed Wednesday in United States District court under the caption United States v. One Ancient Mosiac, alleges that a Palmdale man smuggled the antiquity into the United States with false and fraudulent documents with the intent to avoid import duties.

The complaint alleges that Mohamad Yassin Alcharihi further violated federal law by concealing the mosaic at his residence. (more…)

MAN IDENTIFIED THROUGH DNA CONVICTED OF ROBBING, KIDNAPPING, AND SEXUALLY ASSAULTING STORE EMPLOYEE

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:28 am

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man identified through a DNA hit was convicted yesterday of robbing, kidnapping, and sexually assaulting a store employee in 2012.

Defendant Charges Sentence
Danny Thien Nguyen, 28, Garden Grove Pleaded guilty yesterday, May 24, 2018, to one felony count each of:

  • Sexual penetration by foreign object and force
  • Kidnapping to commit a sex offense
  • Second degree burglary
  • Second degree robbery
  • Assault with a deadly weapon

Sentencing Enhancement (Admitted)

  • Personal use of a deadly weapon
22 years in state prison

Mandatory sex offender registration pursuant to PC 290

Circumstances of the Case

  • At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2012, Nguyen entered a business on the 9000 block of Talbert Avenue in Fountain Valley.
  • Jane Doe was working alone inside the business at the time. Nguyen robbed Jane Doe at gunpoint and ordered the victim to a back room in the business and sexually assaulted her against her will. (more…)

Woman Charged With Triple Murder in Leimert Park

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:24 am

A woman is facing capital murder charges for the slayings of three people earlier this week in Leimert Park, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Nancy Amelia Jackson (7/7/62) was charged in case BA468363 with three counts of murder along with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, making her eligible for the death penalty. She is expected to be arraigned today in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila of the Major Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.

On May 21, Jackson is accused of killing Phillip White, 65, William Carter, 79, and Orsie Carter, 83, in a home in the 3900 block of South Bronson Avenue. The defendant was an acquaintance of White and had been staying at the house, the prosecutor said. The victims’ bodies were found the following day.

She faces the death penalty or life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged. A decision on whether to seek capital punishment in this case will be made at a later date. (more…)

May 25, 2018

Attorney General Becerra: Cox Communications to Pay $3.3 Million for Violations of California’s Hazardous Waste Laws

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:44 am

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a $3,318,700 settlement with Cox Communications California, LLC (Cox) and other related entities to resolve allegations that its California facilities unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste – including hazardous batteries, electronic devices, and aerosols. These acts constitute violations of California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law, and of California’s Unfair Competition Law, as such conduct gives Cox a competitive advantage over other regulated entities that are complying with the law. Cox also is alleged to have discarded customer records without rendering personal information unreadable. This settlement was the result of a partnership between the Attorney General’s Office and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

“If a company wants to do business in our state, it must abide by our laws,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste can lead to serious health and environmental risks. Unlawfully disposing of personal customer information can seriously jeopardize a person’s right to privacy and open the door to identity theft. The California Department of Justice will continue working with state and local agencies to prosecute those who violate our environmental and customer record laws.”

“The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has an environmental protection unit and a consumer protection unit dedicated to ensuring that all entities abide by state laws protecting our natural resources and consumer protection laws,” said District Attorney O’Malley. “Today’s settlement marks a victory for both the environment and for the customers of Cox Communication. The legal action also serves as a warning that companies who unlawfully dispose of hazardous waste will be brought to justice.”

As part of the settlement, Cox will: (more…)

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