Results tagged “U.S. Attorney's Office” from The Court Reporter

Kentucky Man Gets 110 years in Federal Prison for Producing Child Porn

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

BOWLING GREEN, KY--A man was sentenced to 110 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release for enticing and coercing two girls under 5 years of age to engage in sexually explicit conduct so he could make child pornography,  according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Tony Edwin Davis, 50, of Campbellsville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty on February 5, 2013, to a 15-count federal grand jury indictment that charged him with production and possession of child pornography.

The 14 incidents involving the victims happened between Dec. 18, 2009 and Nov. 28, 2010, authorities stated.

 "Today's sentence of 110 years in a federal prison without parole should send a stark message. We are committed to fighting child exploitation and to holding accountable those who would prey upon and harm young children," stated U.S. Attorney David Hale.

Georgia State Representative Indicted for Misappropriating from Charity

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

ATLANTA--A federal grand jury indictment issued last week charges State Representative Tyrone Brooks, Sr. of misappropriating almost $1 million in charitable funds from Universal Humanities, a charity he founded in 1990, and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office

 "Mr. Brooks exploited two charitable organizations for his own personal financial gain which came at the expense of the intended beneficiaries of the charitable donations. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating individuals who use charitable organizations for their personal gain," said Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Mr. Brooks defrauded not only the donors but also the American taxpayer by evading his tax obligations. Tax compliance should and must be equally shared among all Americans."

Federal Officials said Brooks, 67, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged by a federal grand jury in a 30-count indictment that includes charges of mail, wire, and tax fraud.

The indictment charges that, from the mid-1990s through 2012, Brooks solicited contributions from individuals and corporate donors to combat illiteracy and fund other charitable causes, but then used the money to pay personal expenses for himself and his family.

Nearly 40 Montebello Gang Members and Associates Indicted and Charged With Six "Cold Case" Murders

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

LOS ANGELES - A task force investigation into gang activities in Montebello resulted  in nearly 40 gang members and gang associates being indicted and charged today with six "cold case" murders, according to U.S. Attorney's Office.

The joint investigation called Operation Sudden Impact resulted in 38 gang members and their associates charged with federal and state laws, authorities stated.

Authorities said the two-year investigation stems from a string of "cold case" murders that led law enforcement to the Southside Montebello criminal street gang and their local rivals.

Ultimately, officials said the investigation resulted in six state murder cases, including one charging a gang member who is accused of fatally shooting a man and his 12-year-old son in June 2008, and attempting to murder two other people, who were attending a party where a fight broke out between members of his gang and Southside Montebello.

As part of this investigation, officials said undercover law enforcement officers and confidential informants infiltrated the Southside Montebello gang and obtained evidence of the gang's alleged crimes, including murders and methamphetamine distribution.


During the investigation, law enforcement officers observed approximately 20 controlled purchases of methamphetamine, drug deals that form the basis of the federal RICO case.


These transactions led to law enforcement seizing nearly one pound of methamphetamine.


Additionally, last November, two Southside Montebello gang members sold drugs and fully automatic firearms to an undercover operative in a transaction that also resulted in the seizure of a non-operational, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, according to authorities.


U.S.  Attorney André Birotte Jr. stated: "As alleged in the RICO indictment, members of Southside Montebello gang established what they called a 'Killer Squad' unit within the gang to challenge their rivals. The federal racketeering indictment describes how the gang maintained an arsenal of weapons, engaged in violent acts, and operated a robust drug trade that frightened and intimidated the people of Montebello."





Tennessee Men Plead Guilty to Harassing and Intimidating Black Families

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

WASHINGTON -- Two Tennessee men plead guilty today to conspiring to vandalize homes in the Spring Lake subdivision, admitting to spray painting a swastika and racial slurs on the driveway of an African family's resident, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dakota James Calderhead, 20, and Kristian Chancellor Mathis, 19, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprive a person of his civil rights, authorities stated.

Calderhead admitted that he fashioned a noose that Mathis hung from a tree outside the residence, federal officials stated. Calderhead also admitted to handing a second noose from the driver's side rear view mirror of the school bus located in front of another African American family's residence, officials stated.

"These innocent families were targeted and subjected to acts of harassment and intimidation for no other reason than their race," said David Rivera, acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. "Conduct which seeks to deprive any person of their civil rights will always receive the full attention of this office."

The defendants are each facing 10 years in prison, authorities stated.Te

Twelve LA Residents Arrested for Submitting False Billings to Medicare

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

 LOS ANGELES - Twelve Los Angeles-area residents - including California's second-largest billing group  for chiropractic services, a physician's assistant, and owners of durable medical equipment and ambulance companies - were arrested today for submitting more than $22 million in false billings to Medicare, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


The arrests come as part of a nationwide crackdown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in eight cities that lead to charges against 89 people, authorities stated.


Those charged collectively submitted about $233 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, according to officials.


All of those 12 defendants from Los Angeles are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in federal court. A thirteenth defendant is a fugitive.

Dr. Houshang Pavehzadeh, of the Sylmar Physician Medical Group, allegedly billed Medicare more than $1.7 million for chiropractic treatments he never performed. 


During the scheme, which ran from 2005 through 2012, Dr. Pavehzadeh, 40, of Agoura Hills, became the second-largest Medicare billing group in California for chiropractic services - even though he was not in the United States when some of the alleged services were performed.


In addition to being charged with health care fraud, Pavehzadeh is charged with aggravated identity theft related to Medicare beneficiaries whose information he used to bill Medicare as a part of the scheme.


When investigators tried to conduct an audit of Pavehzadeh's claims, he falsely reported to the Los Angeles Police Department that he had been carjacked and that patient files requested by the auditors had been stolen from his car.


The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.


Four Mexican Drug Cartel Members Convicted of Using Drug Profits to Buy American Quarter Horses

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

Four members of a powerful Mexican drug cartel - Los Zetas - were convicted in federal court Friday in Austin, Texas  for using drug profits since 2008 to purchase, train, breed and race American quarter horses in the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Federal officials said jurors convicted 46-year-old Balch Springs, Texas resident Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of purported Los Zetas leaders; Miguel Trevino Morales, also known as "40", and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, whose moniker is "42", as well as 52-year-old Mexican businessman Francisco Colorado Cessa, 30-year-old horse trainer.

Also convicted was purchasing agent Fernando Solis Garcia, and 49-year-old horse trainer Eusevio Maldonado Huitron of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

During the 12-day trial, evidence revealed that Los Zetas are a powerful drug cartel based in Mexico and generate multi-million-dollar revenues from drug trafficking.

Since 2008, Miguel and Oscar Trevino Morales would direct portions of the bulk cash generated from the sale of illegal narcotics to Jose Trevino and his wife, Zulema Trevino, for purchasing, training, breeding, and racing American quarter horses in the United States.

Testimony also revealed a shell game by the defendants involving straw purchasers and transactions worth millions of dollars in New Mexico, Oklahoma, California, and Texas to disguise the source drug money and make the proceeds from the sale of quarter horses or their race winnings appear legitimate.

Furthermore, federal official stated that the defendants implemented a scheme to structure cash deposits in amounts under $10,000 in order to circumvent mandatory bank reporting requirements.

More than 400 quarter horses seized by federal authorities in June as part of the above mentioned money laundering operation have been sold for approximately $9 million.

Most of the horses were sold at Heritage Place Auction Facility in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the past year including A Dash of Sweet Heat, which sold for $1 million.

Approximately 100 broodmares were sold prior to auction for $35,000.

The federal government still retains possession of nine quarter horses, including Tempting Dash, winner of the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, Texas, on October 24, 2009, according to authorities.

Also Mr. Piloto, $1 million All American Futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day, 2010; Dashin Follies; Separate Fire; and Y516, a yearling seized on Zule Farms in Lexington, Oklahoma, federal officials stated.

"This trial documented the violence, brutality, and corruption generated by Mexican drug cartels--in this case the particularly ruthless Los Zetas. The government was able to show how the corrupting influence of drug cartels has extended into the United States with cartel bosses using an otherwise legitimate domestic industry to launder proceeds from drug trafficking and other crimes," stated U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.

Authorities continue to seek the apprehension of seven co-defendants in this case.

Russian Father and Son Charged with Shaking Down U.S. Businesses

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

  LOS ANGELES - A father and son were arrested Thursday afternoon as they were about to board a plane to Moscow on charges that the older man sent tens of thousands of bogus "invoices" to small business owners in California in a shakedown scheme that caused at least 5,000 victims to send $225 to a fake company that purported to be a state agency, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


The men - Viktor Ryzhkin, 45, of the Little Armenia section of Los Angeles; and his son, Evgenii Ryzhkin, 22, who lived with his father - were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport by federal agents as they prepared to board a Transaero Airlines flight to Russia, federal officials stated.


The Ryzhkins, both of whom are Russian nationals, and two other family members, all had one-way tickets to Moscow that had been purchased on Monday, authorities stated.


According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon in federal court, Viktor Ryzhkin targeted more than 170,000 California small business owners in a mail fraud scheme that would have brought in nearly $40 million had all of the potential victims complied with demands to send payments to "Corporate Business Filings," a Beverly Hills company set up and controlled by Viktor Ryzhkin.


The small business owners targeted in this scheme received invoices that appeared to be from the State of California, notifying them that they each owed $225 to the state and directing them to fill out certain forms related to their businesses.


The letters sent to the victims - all of which were sent over the course of several days at the end of March and beginning of April - each listed the correct, publicly available California Small Business Administration entity number assigned to the particular small business, officials stated.


The business owners were told in the letters that they would face $250 penalties if they did not remit payment by April 15, 2013, and did not fill out the forms as directed. The letters and invoices that appeared to be from the State of California were completely bogus, federal authorities stated.


Texas Aryan Brotherhood General Pleads Guilty to Racketeering

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

WASHINGTON--An alleged general of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang pleaded guilty to racketeering charged and admitted to being a member of the prison gang, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Charles Lee Roberts, aka "Jive," 67, of Beaumont, Texas, and other ABT gang members and associates agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping, and narcotics trafficking on behalf of the ABT gang, federal officials said.

Roberts and numerous ABT gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Texas to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary assaults against fellow gang members, and discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, among other things, federal authorities stated.

Roberts faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he goes back to court.

According to the indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system.

The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s.

 According to the superseding indictment, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.

Roberts is one of 35 defendants charged with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise.

Officials stated that this case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Atascosa County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Orange County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Waller County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Alvin, Texas Police Department; Carrollton, Texas Police Department; Mesquite, Texas Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney's Office; and the Atascosa County District Attorney's Office.



A 75-year-old UCLA Physics Professor Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

LOS ANGELES - A 75-year-old physics professor of UCLA pleaded guilty today to fraud charges and agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million in penalties for submitting fraudulent invoices related to nanotechnology research, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Alfred Wong, of Westwood, was performing research for the Advanced Research Projects Agency and other federal agencies, authorities said.

The federal government stated that Wong and two companies he founded - Non-Linear Ion Dynamics Inc. and the International Foundation for Science, Health and the Environment , both based in Van Nuys - entered into a series of contracts worth more than $25 million with the federal government, according to federal officials.

Wong could get up to five years in prison

Arsonist for Profit Gets More than 100 Years in Federal Prison

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

A resident of Beverly Hills, Michigan was sentenced today to 137 years after having been found guilty of arson and other charges related to wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ali Darwich, 31,along with eight other co-defendants ran an arson-for-profit ring in Detroit, federal officials stated.

Their crimes involved burning down numerous houses and businesses, committing insurance fraud, and submitting false claims for reimbursement.

Specifically, authorities stated that Darwich, along with his co-conspirators, would purchase insurance for various dwellings, businesses, and vehicles.

After purchasing the insurance,authorities stated that  Darwich and others would intentionally burn, vandalize, or flood the various properties or vehicles and then file false insurance claims seeking reimbursement for such things as structural repair, contents replacement, loss of profits, and alternative living costs.

In one incident, Darwich set a delayed fire that caused more than $500,000 in damages, federal officials stated.

Ventura Man Arrested Today for Participating in a Large-Scale Immigration Fraud Scheme

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

LOS ANGELES - A Ventura man who is a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation surrendered to federal authorities today after being named in a federal grand jury indictment accusing him of being involved in a large-scale immigration fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.   


James Dominguez, 46, was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday along with Paul Lovingood, 71, of Newhall, a former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer  and three others who are charged with participating in a widespread immigration fraud scheme that authorities stated was fueled with official corruption.


The conspiracy was allegedly orchestrated by a Los Angeles attorney who paid bribes as high as $10,000 to officials with several agencies in the Department of Homeland Security to help secure immigration benefits for aliens he was representing, federal officials stated in a press release.


The 18-count indictment details a wide-ranging bribery scheme in which attorney Kwang Man "John" Lee - who was previously charged in a criminal complaint and is not named in the indictment  issued Tuesday  - used illegal tactics to procure immigration benefits for clients, federal authorities stated.


Several dozen aliens who improperly received immigration benefits have been identified, but that number is growing as the investigation continues, federal officials stated.


Also named in the indictment are immigration Services Officer Jesus Figueroa, 66, of Tujunga; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Michael Anders, 53, of Torrance; and Mirei Hofmann, 38, of Los Angeles, a native of Japan, who allegedly paid Lee tens of thousands of dollars to secure a permanent resident card.



Thirteen Defendants Receive Prison Sentences for Operating an Austin-based Heroin Ring

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

Austin -- Thirteen defendants have received federal prison terms for their roles in an Austin-based heroin distribution operation where heroin was processed after business hours at Jovita's, a family-owned restaurant, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Also numerous drug transactions occurred behind Jovita's in co-defendant Amado Parado's house, federal officials stated.

The defendants conspired from May 2011 until their arrests in June 2011 to distribute more than 17 kilograms of heroin, authorities stated.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks handed down prison sentences ranging from 30 years to a year in prison.

The suspects' ages range from 69 years old to 25 years.

Lucy Estrada, age 33, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. The alleged ringleader, Amado Pardo, passed away prior to trial.

Arizona Man Sentenced to 14 Consecutive Life Sentences for Sexual Abuse

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

PHOENIX--A federal judge on Monday sentenced a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe to 14 consecutive terms of life in imprisonment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Jefferson Gatewood, 44, of Carrizo, Arizona, was convicted  of 23 counts of aggravated sexual abuse and related charges, mostly involving minors, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, federal prosecutors stated.

At trial, federal officials stated that 15 victims testified that Gatewood had sexually abused them and physically abused some of them as well. At the time they were abused, the victims ranged in age from 5 years old to their early 20s.

Gatewood's abuses began nearly 30 years ago, when he was still a teenager, and continued on a regular basis until 2010 when this investigation was initiated.

The indictment charged Gatewood with sexually abusing nine young girls and teens dating back to 1992, officials stated.

Other sexual assaults were either barred by the statute of limitations or took place off of the reservation and out of the jurisdiction of the federal court, authorities stated.




Two Men Sentenced in Federal Court for "Sextortion" of Poker Players

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

LOS ANGELES - Two Silicon Valley men were sentenced today to federal

prison terms of 3½ years and two years for their roles in a scheme that used naked photographs and other private information stolen from email accounts in an attempt to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from professional players on the World Poker Tour, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Tyler Schrier, 23, of Menlo Park, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison after  pleading guilty to conspiracy, extortion and unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, federal prosecutors stated.

 In addition to the "sextortion" plot, Schrier admitted that he had previously

extorted and received more than $26,000 from professional poker players in another plot, authorities stated..

He further admitted that while free on bond after being charged in the "sextortion" case, he illegally accessed two email accounts that allowed him to steal approximately 4,000 from online poker accounts, officials state.

The second man sentenced today - Keith James Hudson, 39, of San Jose -received a two-year prison term after pleading guilty to unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information for purposes of private financial gain. Hudson admitted that he hacked into a poker player's email account, stole naked photographs from the illegally accessed account, and plotted with Schrier to extort poker players with

those naked images, prosecutors stated.


Virginia Man Admits Conspiring to Steal $1.4 of Smithsonian Parking Fees

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

ALEXANDRIA, VA--Abeselom Hailemariam, 33, pleaded guilty today conspiring to steal about $1.4 million of visitor parking fees when he was employed by Parking Management Inc. the company contracted to manage parking services at the Smithsonian Institution.

Hailemariam faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced on July.

The total loss due to the conspiracy is at least $1,383,195. Based on the $15 entrance fee, it is estimated that Hailemariam participated in a conspiracy that stole from at least 92,213 visitor vehicles over the course of the crime, federal officials stated.

Hailemariam was a full-time location manager for PMI, which managed the 2,000-vehicle parking lot at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center. Between March 2009 and July 2012.

Over the course of three years, federal officials stated that Hailemariam and several booth attendants at the site conspired to steal cash entrance fees paid by tens of thousands of museum visitors.

With Hailemariam's knowledge and approval, federal officials stated that the booth attendants withheld parking ticket stubs from paying customers and unplugged electronic vehicle counters in the entrance booths, according to federal authorities.

At the end of each shift, these attendants would submit false shift summary report to Hailemariam that under-reported the number of vehicles which had entered the parking lot. Hailemariam compiled the fraudulent data and submitted falsified reports to PMI, which were provided to the Smithsonian, federal officials stated.

Some of the booth attendants paid Hailemariam a share of the stolen revenues at the end of the day by bundling unreported cash with the shift summary reports.

Hailemariam also gave instructions to conspiring booth attendants to stop stealing at certain times when the co-conspirators believed the risk of detection of the conspiracy was high.

Prior to today's guilty plea, former PMI employees Meseret Terefe, 37, of Silver Spring, Maryland, and Freweyni Mebrahtu, 46, of Sterling, Virginia, were also convicted and have been sentenced to 20 months and 27 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the thefts, according to federal prosecutors.

Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening ESPN Personalities

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

Evan P. Chaggaris, 42, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to mailing numerous threatening communications to ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Federal court documents indicate that between September 2011 and June 2012, Chaggaris mailed approximately 24 handwritten letters to ESPN. All the letters contained threats to injure or kill certain ESPN personalities.

Chaggaris was previously prosecuted in federal court in Connecticut for the same offense, federal officials state.

 In 2004,  he mailed 31 threatening letters to ESPN in which he threatened to injure and kill ESPN personalities and also made six threatening phone calls to one ESPN personality. Chaggaris pleaded guilty and, on May 8, 2006, he was sentenced to five years of probation. His term of probation concluded on May 8, 2011, according to federal officials.

Federal authorities state that Chaggaris was arrested on a criminal complaint on September 21, 2012, in Atlanta.

Chaggaris will be sentenced in July and is facing up to five years in prison.

Colorado Man Arrested for Groping a Flight Attendant

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

DENVER--Evan Nathaniel Castle, age 24, of Thornton, Colorado, was arrested Friday on charges of abusive sexual contact after groping a Spirit Airlines flight attendant,  according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, obtained Monday,Castle was a passenger on Spirit Airlines Flight 562 en route from Las Vegas, Nevada to Denver International Airport, federal authorities stated.

During the flight Castle was served several alcoholic drinks. He then became loud and used profane language. Ultimately, one of the flight attendants told Castle to stop using vulgar language and to quiet down. He refused and commented that he should date the flight attendant, according to federal prosecutors.

As another flight attendant was walking down the aisle of the aircraft, Castle told her she was beautiful. He then told her to "blow off work and come with me." The flight attendant ignored the comments. As she passed his row, Castle deliberately groped the right cheek of her buttocks and said, "Oh, sexy."

This made the flight attendant not want to walk past his seat. The flight attendant that was groped then told the other flight attendant that Castle had "grabbed her butt."

If convicted, Castle faces not more than two years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine, according to federal officials.


Man Gets More Than Eight Years in Prison for Possessing Child Porn

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

FRESNO  -- Javier Rocha-Vasquez, 22, of Ceres, today, was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for receiving more than 600 images of child pornography on his computer via the Internet, according to federal authorities.

Some of the depictions were of violence and sadistic or masochistic conduct, federal officials stated.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Led by the U.S.  Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims, according to federal officials.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood or visit


San Clemente Man Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion and Drug Trafficking

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

        SANTA ANA -  A San Clemente man, who admitted that he earned about $25 million from marijuana sales over the course of six years, pleaded guilty today to tax offenses and drug trafficking in relation to a string of nine illegal marijuana storefronts that generated millions in profits, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

        John Melvin Walker, also known as "Pops," 56,  pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute well over a ton of marijuana and to maintain  drug-involved premises. He also pleaded guilty to a tax evasion count in a second case that was filed in February.

            Federal authorities allege that Walker specifically admitted that he earned $11.4 million in 2009, but reported to the IRS income of only $200,180 and that he owed $2,656 in taxes. 

            Walker admitted in the plea agreement that he owed the IRS $944,133 in relation to the 2009 tax year alone, officials stated.

           Walker was one of 14 people indicted in October.

            Walker owned and operated at least nine marijuana stores in cities across Los Angeles and Orange counties.

            He has two prior felony drug-trafficking convictions from state court. Walker admitted that he directed the managers of his marijuana stores to shred records as part of his effort to conceal from tax authorities income earned from the sale of marijuana. Accordingly, it was routine for Walker's managers to destroy sales records.

            Walker will be sentenced in July and is facing up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

        The remaining defendants in this case are scheduled to go on trial in September.


Woman Gets 10 Years in Federal Prison for Medicare Fraud

Share: Share on Facebook submit to reddit StumbleUpon Toolbar

LOS ANGELES - A Carson woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison in an $8 million Medicare fraud case in which she illegally paid kickbacks for referrals to patients, whose beneficiary information was used to make bogus claims to the government health care program., according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

        Uben Ogbu Rush, 54, was motivated by greed and the lengthy sentence was necessary, in part, to send a message of deterrence to others who might commit crimes against Medicare, U.S. District Court Judge George King said in court Wednesday.

King said Rush was motivated by greed and the lengthy sentence was necessary, in part, to send a message of deterrence to others who might commit crimes against Medicare.

            Rush owned or controlled six companies that ostensibly sold durable medical equipment, such as motorized wheelchairs and powered pressure-reducing mattresses. The companies were located in Carson, Gardena, Torrance and Paramount, according to prosecutors.

            In November 2011, federal prosecutors presented evidence that Rush paid marketers to recruit Medicare beneficiaries who would allow their identities and Medicare numbers to be used for the submission of false claims. The evidence also showed how Rush paid kickbacks to marketers, who in turn paid kickbacks to doctors who fraudulently wrote prescriptions, even though the physicians had not examined the patients or an examination revealed that the medical equipment was not medically necessary, according to officials.

        During the course of a scheme that ran from 1999 until 2008, Rush submitted more than $15 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare seeking payment for motorized wheelchairs, hospital beds, air pressure mattresses and other items for patients who did not need the equipment. Medicare paid more than $8.1 on the bogus claims.

        A co-defendant in the case, Carlos Alberto Rezabala, 60, of Downey, was sentenced by Judge King in June 2012 to more than three years in federal prison. Rezabala was a recruiter who brought Medicare beneficiaries into the scheme so their information could be used to submit fraudulent bills.

        Another co-defendant, Phitsamay Syvoravong, 58, of Orange County, another recruiter who brought Medicare beneficiaries into the scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20. 

        A related defendant, Dr. Alfred Glover, 57, of Playa Vista, testified at trial that he was paid for writing fraudulent prescriptions for Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom he never saw. Glover is schedule to be sentenced on May 28.



The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at