June 2012 Archives

Barrio Azteca Prison Gang Leader Gets Life Prison Sentence

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El Paso -- A leader and two soldiers in the Barrio Azteca prison gang allied with the Juarez Drug Cartel were sentenced to life, 30 and 20 years in prison, respectively, according to federal officials. 


Hector Galindo, 38, aka "Silent," of El Paso, currently serving a 25-year Texas state sentence for murder, was sentenced to life prison.  Ricardo Gonzales, 44, aka "Cuate," of Anthony, N.M., was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Adam Garcia, 35, aka "Bad Boy," of El Paso, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

 

Galindo, Gonzales and Garcia were charged in a 12-count third superseding indictment unsealed in March 2011.  They were sentenced yesterday in the Western District of Texas.  Galindo, Gonzales and Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering (RICO) on Jan. 26, 2012, Jan. 18, 2012, and Jan. 29, 2012, respectively. 

 

"As members of the Barrio Azteca gang, Hector Galindo, Ricardo Gonzales and Adam Garcia participated in a brutal criminal enterprise dedicated to spreading fear and violence on both sides of the border," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a press release  "These prison sentences send a strong message that even the most powerful and ruthless gangs cannot evade justice.  Our prosecution of the Barrio Azteca gang, including for the U.S. Consulate-related murders in Juarez, Mexico, in 2010, has led to convictions against 24 gang members and leaders.  We will continue aggressively to pursue the Barrio Azteca and other gangs so that communities in the United States and Mexico can live free from the violence and destruction of organized crime."

 

     

Today's Quote

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"If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"

United Technologies Pleads Guilty to Helping Chinese Army

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BRIDGEPORT, CT - A United Technologies subsidiary pleaded guilty Thursday to helping China develop a  new attack helicopter and agreed to pay more than $75 million to the federal government, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Pratt and Whitney Canada Corp, a Canadian subsidiary of the Connecticut-based defense contractor United Technologies, pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Act and making false statements in connection with its illegal export to China of U.S.-origin military software used in the development of China's first modern military attack helicopter, the Z-10, federal officials stated.

The Z-10 helicopter is in production and some deliveries have been made to the People's Liberation Army of China in 2009 and 2010, according to federal authorities. The primary mission of the Z-10 is anti-armor and battlefield interdiction. Weapons of the Z-10 have included 30 mm cannons, anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles and unguided rockets.

Legislators Overhaul How Money is Funneled to State Courthousess

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Legislature Enacts Limits on Judicial Council Spending

By MARIA DINZEO 

Courthouse News Services reporter

SACRAMENTO  - In a major victory for the state's reform-minded trial judges, the California Legislature has stripped the judiciary of its ability to spend money on projects like a recently failed court IT system without legislative approval, and has ensured that money appropriated by the Legislature for the trial courts is spent on keeping the courts running.
     The provisions enacted in a budget trailer bill Wednesday is a triumph for sponsors of AB 1208, a fiscal bill intended to keep the judiciary's central bureaucracy, the Administrative Office of the Courts, from siphoning funds for special projects from the cash-strapped trial courts.
     "The plan was to make 1208 law through whatever channels we could. There are many ways around the same bush," said the bill's author, Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon (D-Industry) in an interview late Wednesday. "This allowed for the policy to be put in place without anybody crowing about it one way or the other. 1208 is done. It's been enacted without the Calderon name on it."
     He added, "The issue has attracted the attention of the Legislature and it has acted. There's an interest in the Legislature in making sure that its appropriations are being spent accordingly. I took on this issue because I thought it was the right thing to do. I also understood that it was a big task. But then again, anything worth doing is never easy to do. I also knew I had a fighting chance because the AOC would do most of the work for me," he said.
     The budget trailer bill makes explicit the Legislature's intention to keep the judiciary's costly and much-maligned computer project, from being revived. "The bill would prohibit the Judicial Council from expending funds on the Court Case Management System without consent from the Legislature, except as specified. The bill would prohibit construing any provision of law as authorizing the Judicial Council to redirect funds for any purpose other than allocation to trial courts or as otherwise appropriated," the bill's language states.
     The budget bill also changes the government statute to prohibit raids on the Trial Court Trust Fund, money that many judges have said is only intended to keep the courts operating, for other statewide projects.
     "Nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall be construed to authorize the Judicial Council to redirect funds from the Trial Court Trust Fund for any purpose other than for allocation to trial courts or as otherwise specifically appropriated by statute," it says.
     "The Judicial Council and the AOC are prohibited from taking any money from the TCTF for any statewide or general expenditure, if it would otherwise reduce the allocation of funds to any courts, without the express authorization of the courts or Legislature," said a statement from the Alliance of California Judges.
     The Legislature has agreed with the Alliance that all Trial Court Trust Funds not legislatively authorized for use by the AOC should be allocated to the trial courts, and not held in reserve, or disposed of at the discretion of the Judicial Council without trial court authorization."
     Judge David Lampe of Kern County, an Alliance Director, said in an interview, "The actual budget numbers and reductions we face are disastrous. In the face of that, the Legislature has essentially built into law that the trial courts have to get the money that the Legislature appropriates for trial court operations."
     He said the reforms proposed by the Alliance-sponsored AB 1208 were enacted in basic principle through the enacted trailer bill language. "Whether its 1208 or through a different mechanism, it reaches the same principle. In practical terms they have put those measures into play," Lampe said.
     The budget trailer bill also provides some relief to the trial courts from cuts imposed by this year's budget, by cutting $15 million from the AOC's budget and redirecting that money to the courts. This leaves the courts with $285 million in cuts this year, rather than the expected $300 million outlined Governor Jerry Brown's May revised budget.
     Calderon said a recent, highly-critical report from the Strategic Evaluation Committee put together by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye played a major role in convincing lawmakers to change trial court funding statutes to reflect the reforms of AB 1208. The voluminous report took on the much criticized bureaucracy's spending, hiring and mismanagement.
     "It was the pivotal event," said Calderon. "Up until their report, insiders understood what was going on, but to the greater body it's always like a black hole out there in terms of trying to disseminate information. But when the Chief Justice's hand picked committee validated the complaints and criticisms that were being made about the AOC, I think that was pretty much definite and incapable of the spin." 
      "That was the final evidence that was needed to put the issue in perspective," he said. "It's going to give reformers more leverage to bring about reforms. It may take a while, but the AOC can't hide anymore. They can't spin, they can't ignore and they can't make up their own facts."

Today's Quote

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"A man is about as big as the things that make him angry," -- Winston Churchill 

Army Sgt. and Associate Guilty of Iraq-War Contracting Bribery

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WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Army Sgt. First Class and his associate were 

convicted Tuesday on bribery and money laundering involving the 

awarding of Iraq-war contracts for supplying troops with such things as 

bottled water, catering services and the installation of security barriers 

between 2005 and 2006, according to federal prosecutors.

Richard Evick and his associate Crystal Martin manipulated the 

contracting process, including disclosing confidential information 

about the U.S. military's plans to procure good  and services and 

accepting fake bids.

Evick and two of his fellow contacting officials, former Army Majors 

James Momon and Chris Murray, then steered nearly $24 million 

worth of contracting business to certain contractors. In exchange, these 

contractors paid  Evick more than $170,000 in bribes, a free New 

Year's Eve trip to Dubai, and parties.

"As the highest ranking enlisted officer in the U.S. Army's contracting office at 

Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, Mr. Evick had a special duty to strike deals in 

the best interests of the American people,"  Assistant Attorney General 

Breuer stated  in a press release.  "Instead, he steered business to dirty 

contractors in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in cash and 

other items. Mr. Evick, Ms. Martin, and their co-conspirators 

defrauded the government they had sworn to serve. To date, our 

investigation has led to the convictions of  19 individuals, and we will 

continue aggressively to pursue corruption and procurement fraud 

wherever we find it."

Evick and Martin face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for 

bribery conspiracy, 20 years in prison for money laundering 

conspiracy, and 20 years in prison for each count of money laundering, 

according to federal officials

Evick also faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for each count of 

bribery, five years for obstructing an agency proceeding, and the

forfeiture of the proceeds of his bribe scheme, which includes his 

West Virginia residence. 

They also face maximum fines of $250,000 per count.

Their sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

 

Connecticut Pediatrician Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Porn

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A 48-year-old  Connecticut  pediatrician pleaded guilty today to one count of receiving and distributing child pornography, admitting that he possessed more than 100,000 images and videos of child porn, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Todd Parilla was arrested on April 23, 2011 following the execution of a search warrant at his residence, federal authorities stated.

Law enforcement officials found in Parrilla's computers and printed images child pornography depicting images of boys under the age of 12 years engaging in sexually explicit conduct, according to federal authorities.

Some of the material portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence, according to federal prosecutors.

Parrilla faces from five years to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in October, say officials.

Federal Jury Finds Man Guilty of Defrauding Thousands of Investors

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LEXINGTON -- A federal jury convicted the former president of a Lexington-based company today for defrauding thousands of investors nationwide  out of more than $18 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The jury convicted 66-year-old James Norman Turek of eight counts of securities fraud and five counts of tax fraud following a two-week trial,  federal prosecutors stated.

Turek was the head of Pasticon International Inc., a penny stock company that made recycled plastic products but had a few sales, according to federal authorities.

From 2004 toi 2006, Turek  convinced 8,500 investors to purchase Plasticon stock by falsely claiming that his company was profitable when it was losing millions of dollars, say federal prosecutors.

Turek will be sentenced in September and is facing 20 years on each count of securities fraud and three years on each count of tax fraud.

Today's Quote

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 "Knowledge will give you power, but character respect".

Bruce Lee

Thought You'd Like to Know

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An arraignment is the formal reading in court of a criminal complaint against a defendant.

Most of the time, a defendant will waive the formal reading and enter a guilty or not guilty plea.

A not- guilty plea doesn't necessary mean, I didn't do it.  It can mean,  prosecutor prove your criminal case against me.

A criminal complaint spells out the crimes the defendant allegedly committed, and it is given to the defendant or defense lawyer by the prosecutor.

Prosecutors have great discretion and ultimately decide what charges to file against a defendant or if multiple defendants and crimes should be charged.

Ethically, prosecutors should only file criminal charges against defendants if they believe they can go to trial and prove the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

During an arraignment, a defendant will be assigned a lawyer if he or she doesn't have one.  Also at an arraignment, the defendant can ask the judge  for a bail review if he or she believes the bail, which is set by a magistrate, is excessive.

Sometimes, a defense attorney can ask the judge to postponement  the arraignment because he hasn't reviewed the criminal arrest or police reports against his client or for other reasons.

FYI: There is also a misconception that a jury  found a person  innocent because they returned a not-guilty verdict.

A jury has never found a defendant innocent; That is not a legal standard.   Basically, a jury decides that the prosecution proved its case with a guilty verdict or didn't prove its case with a not-guilty decision.

 

Today's Quote

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"God created man because he was so disappointed in the monkey." -- Mark Twain 

Chief Assistant DA Post Left Unfilled for Right Now But.......

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After working at the District Attorney's Office for 31 years, Greg Totten's second-in-command James Ellison retired on May 4.

(Mr. Ellison's portrait and job description, however, still appear on the DA's website.)

Anyway, I emailed DA Totten yesterday to find out whether he was going to appoint a new chief assistant district attorney and if so, when he would do this?

Totten who was out-of-town asked Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Frawley to respond to my questions.

Mr. Frawley said that right now  DA Totten isn't going to fill this position. But he has appointed prosecutor Chuck Hughes as interim Chief Deputy District Attorney to help with the management responsibilities in the office.

 Hughes also handled the April 18 report on the DA's two-year criminal investigation of Oxnard.

"So he (Totten) is not filing the position right now as a chief assistant," said Mr. Frawley.

Mr. Frawley said this is a cost-savings move not to fill the second-in-command post.

The courthouse scuttlebutt is that DA Totten will eventually appoint Hughes as his new chief assistant district attorney.


 

Today's Quote

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Raul, here is a quote you might like, I have no idea who made it, but it was on a church in Ventura at Seaward and Ocean. "Be the person your dog thinks you are".

Submitted by Greg Coats

More Layoffs Announced at Administrative Office of the Courts

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Following a scathing report this month about being bloated with staff, the state's Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco laid off seven more employees who had been working on the controversial computer system that critics denounced as being too costly, according to Office of the Courts officials.

In April, the Judicial Council, which is the governing body of the Office of the Courts, pulled the plug on the California Court Case Management System or CCMS, which was supposed to link the state courthouses and law enforcement agencies.

The Administrative Office of the Courts or AOC is the administrative arm of California's 58 Superior Courts.

Including the layoffs, the AOC has reduced its total CCMS workforce by  33, which includes fulltime employees, contractors, and temporary workers, Office of the Court  officials stated in a press release issued this week.

Tuesday's layoffs are part of a second phase of reductions in the AOC's workforce, AOC officials stated.

The first phase occurred on June 7.

With these actions--added to the ongoing layoffs of contractors and temporary employees, voluntary separations, as well as retirements--the AOC will have reduced its number of employees by about 235 (regular, temporary, and contractor) by the end of this fiscal year on June 30,  AOC officials stated.


Today's Quote

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"If any of you cry at my funeral, I'll never speak to you again," -- Stan Laurel

Three Men Guilty of Defrauding 5,000 investors of $200 Million

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WASHINGTON -- Three former executives of Fair Financial Company, an Ohio financial services business, were found guilty of defrauding about 5,000 investors of more than $200 million, the U.S. Justice Department stated today.
After an eight-day trial in federal court, guilty verdicts were returned on Wednesday against Timothy S. Durham, 49, the CEO of  Fair; James F. Cochran, 56, the former chairman of the board of Fair and Rick D. Snow, 48, the former CFO of Fair, federal prosecutors state.
Durham, Cochran and Snow each face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each on the wire fraud count, and 20 years in prison for the securities fraud count, say federal authorities.
Additionally, each defendant could be fined $250,000 for each count.

Man on Trial for Allegedly Stealing Money for Home Construction

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A man, who was once tabbed as "Mr. Ventura" for his downtown revitalization effort, is on trial in Ventura County  Superior Court for allegedly stealing $220,000 in 2006 from a business partner's son.

Prosecutors allege that James  "Jimmy" Mesa told Skyler Ditchfield in 2006 that he could build a house in Ojai for $220,000.  But Mesa never constructed the house, instead pocketed the money and put it into other construction projects , a prosecutor told jurors today.

During opening statements in Mesa's trial today, prosecutor Dominic Kardum told the jury that Mesa took advantage of Ditchfield,  a na├»ve, young man who built up a computer business and later sold it.

Ditchfield was 24 years old at the time he gave Mesa two checks totaling $220,000 in June 2006.

Mesa's lawyer Nicholas Gray, however, told jurors that the $220,00 was a loan that Skyler Ditchfield gave to Mesa and that Mesa and others lost money during the economic recession and falling property values.

"I am confident that you are going to see this for what it is, a loan," said Gray who works at the Public Defender's Office.

Gary told jurors that Mesa wants to repay the loan and made efforts to do so.

 Mesa is on trial for grand theft by false pretense and grand theft by embezzlement.

The prosecution's first witness, 30-year-old Skyler Ditchfield  testified that he met Mesa when he was in his late teens through his father, who was involved in some of Mesa's financial investments.

He said he was aware that Mesa was doing several downtown revitalization projects and did good construction work.

"I felt like I was his friend," said Ditchfield.

Adding  "He was at our house regularly" and that he had given him and his friends tickets to go see the Los Angeles Clippers' basketball team.

In 2005, Ditchfield said he sold his half of the ownership of a computer business to his partner for $270,000. The business was started in 2001 and had most of its customers in Ventura and Ojai,  Ditchfield testified.

Also in 2005, Ditchfield said he started doing research on pre-built houses and planned to build his house on a lot in Ojai that his uncle sold him.

In 2006, Ditchfield said he went to the lot with Mesa who told him that he could build the three-bedroom  house for what Ditchfield had budgeted,  $220,000. This included a garage, landscaping, septic system and driveway.

"I trusted him completely. I had no reason not to," Ditchfield testified.

Mesa wanted to "move as quickly as possible" on building the house "because the rain was coming," Ditchfield testified.

Ditchfield said he tried for about 18 months to get his money back from Mesa before he went to the District Attorney's Office with his case.

Mesa was arrested in July 2010, according to Kardum.

During his opening statements, Gray said Mesa started from "humble beginnings" and was very successful in buying undervalued property, fixing it and then, selling or renting it.

"This business about building a house was all a ruse," said Gray in response to Ditchfield's allegations.

The prosecution, however, intends introduce as evidence a business letter dated Nov. 3, 2009 where Mesa states that he promised to build a house for Ditchfield, according to Kardum.

"This is an admission. This is a confession," Kardum told jurors.

"I made a grave mistake that severely injured these people," Kardum said  Mesa wrote in the letter about failing to build Ditchfield's house.

 

 

Missouri Woman Sent to Prison for Racially Motivated Crime

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WASHINGTON-- A Missouri woman was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison for conspiring to intimidate and scare a biracial man into moving out of the neighborhood, according the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Teresa Witthar, 43, wanted to keep Nathanial Reed from moving to the Highland Manor Mobile Park in Independence, Missouri because of his race, federal authorities stated in a press release.

Witthar and co-conspirators Charles Wilhelm and David Martin entered Reed's mobile home on June 6, 2006 without his permission, and vandalized it by writing at least 15 racially derogatory slurs on the walls of his trailer, federal officials stated.

Two days later, Witthar drove Martin and Welhelm to a neighborhood behind Reed's home so that they could set fire to it without being detected.

"Violent and destructive acts such as the arson of this man's home seek to undermine the guarantees of equal justice and equal opportunity that are central to our laws," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to act aggressively to ensure that every American enjoys the right to occupy a home free of racially motivated intimidation and violence."

Sentencing for Wilhelm is scheduled for July 24, 2012. Sentencing for Martin is scheduled for July 26, 2012, federal authorities stated

"Everything You Wanted to Know..." Weekend Workshop

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THE VENTURA COUNTY DIVERSITY BAR ALLIANCE PRESENTS:

"EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT
BECOMING A JUDGE, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK"


Panelists:

Judge Manuel J. Covarrubias, Ventura County Superior Court
Judge George C. Eskin, Santa Barbara County Superior Court
Judge Holly J. Fujie, Los Angeles County Superior Court
Judge Matthew P. Guasco, Ventura County Superior Court

Referee Cynthia Loo (Moderator), Los Angeles County Superior Court

Following This Panel Presentation There Will Be a Mentoring Workshop Held with Other Judicial Officers from Ventura and LA County

DATE: Saturday, June 23, 2012
TIME: 8:30 a.m. - 12 Noon 
PLACE: Courtyard by Marriott
600 E. Esplanade Drive
Oxnard, CA 93036

**Continental Breakfast Provided**

Sponsored by: DCR Litigation Services

For more information about the workshop or its costs:  bar@vcba.org or call 650-7599.


Today's Quote

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"WHY SHOULD THE GUILTY HAVE THE BENEFIT OF THE LAW?," Sir Thomas Moore answered in "A Man for All Seasons. "Is that when the law is disregarded to better pursue the guilty, it is also taken away from the innocent. 'What are we to do?' he asks. 'If those chasing devils decide to chase after us? If the law is cast down, what protection do the innocent have?'"

Dallas Man Gets More Than 17 Years for Possessing Porn

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DALLAS - A 27-year-old man was  sentenced last week  to more than 17 years in prison for possessing and shipping child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney Office.

FBI agents executed a search warrant at the home of Ernest Mata last year and found 1,000 images and 100 videos of child pornography, federal officials stated.

Mata admitted that he had been viewing child pornography since he as about 12-years-old,  federal authorities stated.

LA Courthouse Budget Cuts Impact Hundreds of Employees

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This week, Ventura County Superior Court officials said 20 employees, including seven temporary court reporters, are going to be let go by June 22 because of a state budget reduction of as much as $14 million.


All but one part-time court have been relocated to Ventura from the Simi Valley courthouse because of the financial reduction.


In Los Angeles, it's much worse. 


The state-budget wrecking ball impacted hundreds of  jobs along with closing down dozens of courtrooms,  LA court officials announced today in a press release.


Los Angeles Superior Court officials stated that 431 court employees will be impacted because of its $30 million budget deficit.


This will affect nearly 1 of every 10 workers at Los Angeles Superior Court, the largest trial court in the nation, officials stated today in a press release.

 

To save $6.8 million, 56 civil and criminal courtrooms will be closed.

 

The 431 court staff impacted includes 157 employees being laid off, according to court officials.


There will be 108 workers who will lose 40 percent of their salaries when they are moved to a three-day-week schedule.


Eighty six of the staff will suffer pay cuts of between 5 percent to 40 percent when they are reclassified to lower-level positions.


Eighty workers will be transferred to new jobs because their old positions have been eliminated.

 

 

Today's Quote

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"If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber." - Albert Einstein

Three Arrested for Allegedly Duping Home-Buyers and Investors

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LOS ANGELES -- Three men who were named in a federal indictment were arrested today by the FBI and U.S. Secret Service for defrauding homeowners, financial institutions and real estate investors, according to the U.S. Attorney General.
The men used schemes to target distressed homeowners and caused more than $10 million in losses, according to federal authorities.
In some cases, the defendants used short sale approval letters that had been entirely fabricated to carry out their schemes. As a result, home-buyers and investors purchased homes they thought had a clear title but were actually devalued and subjected to hundreds of thousands of dollars in liens, federal officials allege.

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Los Zetas Leader and 13 others

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AUSTIN  - A federal grand jury  indictment was unsealed today against 14 defendants, including Los Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, also known as "40," and his brothers, Oscar Omar Trevino Morales,  also known as "42," and Jose Trevino-Morales,  for conspiracy to launder Los Zetas drug profits, according to the U.S. Attorney General's Office.

The defendants used drug profits to purchase, train, breed and race American quarter horses in the United States, federal authorities state.

Earlier today, federal law enforcement officers arrested seven of the 14 indicted defendants, including Jose Trevino-Morales and his wife Zulema Trevino in Lexington, Oklahoma.

Los Zetas are a powerful drug cartel in Mexico and generate multi-millions of dollars through drug trafficking.

The indictment also seeks a monetary judgment in the amount of $20 million, representing the amount of money derived from the defendants' scheme, according to federal authorities.

 

 

Afghan Heroin Drug Kingpin Sentenced to Life in Prison

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Washington -- An Afghan national with ties to the Taliban was sentenced to life in prison today for conspiring to distribute heroin to the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.


Haji Bagcho was also ordered to forfeit $254.2 million in drug proceeds along with this property in Afghanistan, the DEA stated in a press release.

 

Profits from his heroin business were used to support high-level members of the Taliban, according to the DEA.

 

Bagcho was convicted by a jury on March 13 after a three week trial.

 

Bagcho, who had been in business since at least the 1990s, was one of the largest heroin traffickers in the world and manufactured the drug in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan's border region with Pakistan, according to the DEA.


The DEA, in cooperation with Afghan officials, conducted the investigation.

 

Crime Rates Are Down Across the Nation, an FBI report states

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The number of violent crimes and property crimes reported by law enforcement across the nation during 2011 decreased compared to 2010, according to an FBI report released today.

Violent crimes fell 4 percent and property crimes dropped by 0.8 percent, according to the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, January- December 2011.

Murder and manslaughter declined 1.9 percent, while forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault each declined 4 percent, the FBI report states.

Today's Quote

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 "The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing." --

Socrates

Scathing Report States That Judicial Agency Bloated With Workers

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The Administrative Office of the Courts, the state agency that doles out billions to county courthouses throughout California, was torched in a scathing report released this month that found the state agency "top heavy" with upper management, bloated with employees and lacking in transparency and oversight.

"In recent years, the AOC's staffing level grew steadily - even as trial courts encountered budget shortfalls and staff layoffs," the Strategic Evaluation Committee or SEC's 200-plus-page report states.

The committee was established last year by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to look into the role and operations and staffing of the Sacramento-based Office of the Courts.

Cantil-Sakauye, is the chairwoman of the Judicial Council, which is the governing body of  California's 58 Superior Courts.  The Council also  appoints the administrative director of the AOC, which develops rules of the courts, disperses court funding, handles human resources and addresses technology needs.

Last week, Interim Administrative Director Jody Patel's issued a status report, saying that 57 of the 147 SEC recommendations are already completed or in the process of being completed.

"When Jody became interim director four months ago, at my direction she began fast-tracking reorganization plans whenever possible in view of potential further financial depredations to the judicial branch," Cantil-Sakauye stated in a press release.

The report comes at a time when state courthouses are facing serious budget deficit, including at Ventura County Superior Court.  Its deficit is expected to grow from $10 million to an additional $3 million.

California's judicial budget  in fiscal year 2011-2012 was $3.17 billion after a  $350 million budget cut that fiscal year, according to the AOC. It states that the Judicial Council and the AOC budget is only 4.2 percent of the $3.17 billion.

Across the state, the budget crisis  forced courtroom closures, hundreds of courthouse employees were let go and the lines to file or retrieve civil and criminal cases got longer.

After 55 weeks, the SEC made 147 recommendations in the report including that the Judicial Council demand transparency, accountability and efficiency in all the AOC's practices.

Last week, Interim Administrative Director Jody Patel's issued a status report, saying that 57 of the 147 SEC recommendations are already completed or in the process of being completed.

The report states that AOC hasn't been forthcoming with legislators, judges, its staff and the public.

 "This lack of full disclosure - or shading information to make it appear more favorable to the AOC - has created mistrust," the report states. "Unless credibility and truthworthiness  are instilled as core organizational values, modeled from the top down, the AOC cannot expect to be successful in its dealings with its employees, the courts, the legislature, its stakeholders, and the public."

It details how AOC grew to be a mammoth bureaucracy.

In 1961 when the Office of Courts began its operation, it had 18 employees but much less responsibilities, according to the SEC report.

By 1992, its staff had grown to 225 employees and last year, the Office of Courts staff had grown in number to more than 1,100, including temporary employees and contract staff, the report states.

From 1997 to 2002, state legislators passed bills that increased the judicial branch's size and responsibilities: The Lockyer-Isenberg State Trial Court Funding Act of 1997 transferred from counties to state the funding of the courts; In 1998, Proposition 220 lead to the merger of Superior and Municipal courts; the Trial Court Employment Protection and Governance Act of 2000 turned 20,000 county court employees  into state workers.

And, the Trial Facilities Act of 2002 led to the transfer of over 500 court facilities from counties to the judicial branch control.

The report states that there are simply too many divisions and high-level managers:  "...the AOC had evolved to include twelve separate divisions, two specialized offices, and three regional offices, all managed by high-level directors - all reporting directly to the Executive Office."

In May and before the SEC report was released, AOC announced that it was slashing its workforce by 180 employees by the end of June as a result of the budget crisis.

Patel stated that the AOC's budget of $112.2 million was cut by 12 percent this fiscal year and bigger cuts were expected. 

Lessons from "Wild" Can Be Found In This Week's Judicial Race

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The lessons of the jungle aren't far from this week's race to don the black robes at  Ventura County Superior Court.

I love watching National Geographic's television program "Wild" because the animal kingdom sometimes seems to be one up on the human race.

As long as I've been watching the program, I've never seen a lion take down a bull elephant, even if the four-legged beast is up in years. I am sure there are rare examples when this happens, especially if the elephant is limping or mortally wounded.

This is why I and others were baffled when Attorney Bradley Bjelke who is a bright judicial candidate and constitutional scholar who works at a Westlake law firm, decided to challenge veteran Judge Harry Walsh --  "Papa Bull with a Bowtie," who is a well-respected justice.

There were seven judicial candidates up for reelection, including Walsh. None of the other six drew an opponent.

So, there were other candidates who had little or some courtroom experience, no name recognition and who would have a hard time raising campaign contributions.

(In Nat Geo "Wild," the lion usually goes after the weakest prey like the antelope. And it's usually the one who appears to be daydreaming standing near a waterhole and is the last one to finally figure out that the herd's collective bolt means "ruuuuun!")

There was speculation that Mr. Bjelke believed that Judge Walsh would decide that he didn't want to go through the ardous task of running for reelection and simply decide to hang up the robe and retire.

Mr. Bjelke denied it, saying age had nothing to do with his decision.

Adding that it didn't matter who his opponent was.

"I bring new life and a new vision. It's really all that I am running on. It's not about picking apart another person," he said.

It's hard to find  weaknesses in an opponent who has more than 10 years on the bench, who seems to have a law library in his head, is as sharp as a razor, and doesn't seem play favorites in his court.

(Yeah, sometimes he can be cranky on the bench. As I wrote before, the judge looks like he could be type cast to play in the role of the school teacher in the novel, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" by James Hilton.  And, when lawyers irritate and frustrate him, he leans forward toward the bench, lowers his head and peers above the eyeglasses and bowtie and stares at them. Stares hard like they forgot to turn in an assignment.)

By his own admission, the judge said he has to work on his deportment on the bench. The Ventura Bar Association gave him a score of less than perfect score on that.

Judge Walsh said judges aren't "political animals" so they have to figure out what to say and what not to say to get reelected. Their campaign people probably tell them how to stand and pal around a bit.

I saw a glimmer of hope.

In a rare glimpse of Judge Walsh on the main floor of Hall of Justice just days before the election, I saw a bounce in his step and a very spirited mood while talking to a couple of lawyers.

I thought, wow. What a transformation. I said to myself, thanks Brad.

The judge said he took Mr. Bjelke as a serious challenger.

When Judge Walsh won the judicial race not too many people at the courthouse were surprised. But when he got the lion's share of the votes -- 80 percent of the vote - it made more than a few jaws drop.

In an email sent Wednesday, Mr. Bjelke stated: "As anyone involved in politics knows, it is difficult to win when you are outspent more than 10 to 1."

(Oh yeah, that's another thing I learned from Nat Geo. When the bull elephant charges the lion, it brings its massive body and big tusks.)

Bjelke tried to put a "Happy Face" on very lopsided defeat.

"We received nearly 17,000 votes (20% of the vote) which is a huge accomplishment and a testament to our hard work and dedication over the past 3 months," he stated in the email

The final tally was that Mr. Bjelke raised nearly $9,000 in contributions. He had nearly $8,000 in expenditures.

Judge Walsh raised $144,910 in contributions and spent nearly $98,000 in his campaign.

Walsh's top contributors were Ventura Attorneys Diane and Peter Goldenring who each contributed $1,499. Bjelke's biggest contributions were $100 donations.

The list of the judge's contributors included a Who's Who in the legal community along with many of the judicial brethren. In addition, Judge Walsh and Co. were able to get the endorsement of more than 500 lawyers.

Running for a judgeship in Ventura County takes a lot of money and time to persuade voters to oust the incumbent judge.

The judicial races simply come down to who has the most experience and the thickest and most impressive resume.

A judge or judicial candidate is limited to what he or she can say about such things as crime, abortion, gun control or the death penalty or the judge can later be recused by lawyers who end up in his or her courtroom.

Unless a sitting judge moonwalks on top of the bench during trial or if the judge catches  some serious attention from the state's Commission on Judicial Performance's disciplinary unit or gets continuously reversed by the appellate court, they're hard to take down.

It was interesting. There were rumblings at the courthouse when the race began picking up steam: "Who is this Bjelke guy?" and "Who does he think he is."

Truth to the matter is that it takes a bit of courage and a thick skin to run against a judge in Ventura County or almost anywhere else. And, when it happens, it is good.

It keeps everyone at the Hall of Justice on their toes and contributes to a healthy judicial process, and so, the residents of Ventura County benefit.

Mr. Bjelke said his passion is law and his dream is to become a judge.

He told me that he isn't sure when or if he'll run for judicial post, again. If he does and wins, I get to write the story about the "Come Back, Kid."

For now, Brad, go click on the National Geographic Channel.

 

U.S. Army Soldier Indicted for Lying About Combat Service

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RIVERSIDE  -- A federal grand jury today charged an active U.S. Army soldier with lying to the government regarding his military service, military awards, including Purple Hearts.

William John Roy, 57, a command sergeant major was charged in a seven felony count indictment with defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense by falsely claiming to have seen combat in Vietnam and Afghanistan, as well as lying about military honors he claimed to have been awarded,  according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Roy, of Winchester, claimed that in 1974 he served as a combat medic in Vietnam in a special forces unit and was twice injured in combat.  He provided false records that purported to detail his bravery during combat incidents in Vietnam,

During the period that Roy claimed that he was in Vietnam he was actually in Germany in a non-combatant role.

He also said he was in Afghanistan in March 2005, and in 2008, he sent a letter to the Army requesting a Purple Heart for injuries he claimed was a result of a mortar and rocket attack in Jalalabad.

As a result of his 2007 application, Roy was awarded more than $27,000 as disability benefits. Roy also obtained more than $30,000 in educational benefits for his daughter as a result of the fraud, according to federal prosecutors.

Roy remains on active duty, and is facing up to 55 years in prison if he is convicted for these crimes,  federal authorities stated.

Today's Quote

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"Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR." What's my mother going to do?"
  - Unknown

New Study Released Today Finds Increase in Prison Time Served

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A new study found that prisoners released in this country in 2009 served an average of nine additional months or 36 percent longer than offenders released in 1990.

The Pew Center found that the additional time behind bars cost states $23,300 for each offender, or a total of $10 billion. More than of than half of these prisoners released in 2009 were non-violent offenders, the study by the Washington D.C.-based organization   indicated.

The average offender released in California in 2009 served 2.9 years in custody or 51 percent more than the average offender released in 1990, according to the Pew Center study.

The study noted that sentences for drug offenses and violent offenses increased at about the same rate: Drug offenders served 36 percent longer in 2009 while violent offenders served 37 percent longer.

California taxpayers average cost for one month in prison was $3,952 in 2010, the study states. The average cost of keeping prisoners locked up longer in California longer was $46,396.

There were 47,599 offenders released in California in 2009; The average cost in California for keeping offenders longer in 2009 was $2.2 billion, the Pew Study states.

Among prisoners released in 2009, Michigan had the longest overall time served at 4.3 years followed by Pennsylvania at 3.8 years, according to the Pew study. South Dakota had the shortest average time serve at 1.3 years, followed by Tennessee at 1.9 years, the study states.

For more information on the Pew Center Study: http://www.pewstates.org/research/reports/time-served



Closing Arguments in Murder Trial Begin Wednesday Morning

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Closing arguments in the murder trial of Alex Compian begin Wednesday morning in Courtroom 35 at Ventura County Superior Court.

Judge Charles Campbell, who is presiding in the trial, ordered the jury Tuesday to return to court at 9 a.,m. 

The judge will first read the jury instructions, which take about half an hour. Afterwards, attorneys will make closing arguments.

Prosecutor Rameen Minoui finished putting on evidence and testimony Tuesday morning. Compian's lawyer Willard Wiksell told the judge that he didn't have any witnesses to put on the stand.

During opening statements in the trial, Wiksell told jurors that Compian would testify. But the defense changed  its mind and decided to keep him off the stand.

Compian, 24, is on trial for the murder of his neighbor, Mario Cisneros, 50, who was found shot and lying near the side of his home in the 200 block of Alpine Street in Oxnard about 11:20 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2009, according to court testimony.

 

 

Today's Quote

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"You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."  -- Wayne Gretzy

Judge Rules that Key DNA Evidence Can Be at Admitted at Packer Trial

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A judge on Tuesday denied a request by attorneys representing murder suspect Joshua Packer to suppress robbery-related evidence gathered after detectives put a GPS tracking device on his vehicle.

Defense attorney Benjamin Maserang unsuccessfully argued that there wasn't probable cause for police to put the tracking device on Packer's SUV.

Packer, 22, of Ventura, is accused of fatally stabbing Brock and Davina Husted and killing their fetus on May 20, 2009, at the couple's Faria Beach house north of Ventura. He has pleaded not guilty.

The judge's decision is important for the case against Packer, according to prosecutors. 

A swab for DNA was obtained from Packer by Santa Barbara Sheriff's deputies as part of the jail's routine booking process after Packer was arrested in that city for a September 2009 robbery.

"It was real important," Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Frawley said in an interview, adding that this DNA evidence, which was sent to a state DNA computer bank, was key to making an arrest in the killings.

 Maserang argued in court that the physical descriptions of the suspect in a string of robberies in 2009 varied to a large degree, including discrepancies in height and hair color.

Prosecutor Michelle Contois countered that there was probable cause to use GPS and that "similar descriptions" of suspects were more than sufficient to satisfy legal and constitutional requirements.

Court testimony indicated police were baffled by several Ventura robberies in September 2009, including at a Shell gasoline station on Harbor Boulevard, an Arco gasoline station on East Main Street, a Dairy Queen restaurant on Telegraph Road and a liquor store on Telegraph Road.

On Sept. 23, 2009, a Thrifty gasoline station in Santa Barbara was robbed.

Several law enforcement officers from Ventura and Santa Barbara police departments and an investigator with the District Attorney's Office testified Monday for several hours about the robberies.

Ventura police tried to find the suspect vehicle involved in that robbery. Police twice stopped a vehicle matching that description, a 2002 beige or light brown Trailblazer.

Jarrod Wilfert, who was then an officer with the Ventura Police Department, testified that Packer was going 85 mph when he stopped him in Ventura. Packer's clothing and other clothing inside the Trailblazer, including dark hoodies and a black baseball hat, matched items worn by the Santa Barbara robbery suspect, according to court testimony.

Wilfert testified that Packer said he was going to a casino near Santa Barbara and had recently won money. Wilfert said just two screws held the license plate, which had no frame. Police maintained in court that is indicative of being able to easily change plates.

More than two hours later, another officer stopped Packer in Ventura. The same items of clothing were found inside the car along with two passengers and a small amount of marijuana. Packer was cited and warned, but not arrested after either stop.

On Oct. 1, 2009, Ventura police placed a GPS tracking device on Packer's SUV and monitored Packer's travel to the Chumash Indian Gaming Casino in Santa Ynez using a route that passes near the Thrifty gas station in Santa Barbara.

In an ongoing investigation, the casino's surveillance cameras indicated Packer had no license plates on the back of his vehicle, according to court testimony. Two search warrants were executed at Packer's residence.

On Jan. 14, 2010, Santa Barbara sheriff's deputies arrested Packer in connection with the Thrifty robbery, saying he made criminal threats using the victim's stolen cellphone.

Frawley said Packer's DNA taken in jail was entered into the state's computer data system and it linked him to the Husted killings around March or April 2010.

"Hey, we've got a match here," Frawley said state officials told the district attorney.


Camarillo Facing Long Prison Sentence for Alleged Forgery and Theft

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A 69-year-old Camarillo woman who held leadership positions in civic organizations will stand trial for allegedly stealing more than $400,000 from a family-owned farming company in Oxnard, a judge decided Tuesday.
Prosecutor Marc Leventhal said in an interview that Pearl Paige Jones, who uses many aliases, is charged with 10 counts of forgery, five counts of money laundering, five counts of grand theft and one count of computer fraud.
"It's one of these circumstances that we see pretty frequently because the victim says the suspect developed tremendous trust because of the way she presented herself and over the course of time, she basically had unconstrained access to all the business records," Leventhal said.

Hibbits started working at Scarborough Farms Inc. in Oxnard in 2007 and was fired in August, sheriff's Sgt. Cary Peterson testified Tuesday.
He said Hibbits persuaded Scarborough Farms owners to give her the title of chief financial officer because it would be easier to work with banks.
Leventhal said Hibbits started as a part-time temporary worker at Scarborough Farms, doing financial audits and financial oversight. Later, she became an independent bookkeeper and did contract work for the company. She was paid more than $1,100 a week, Leventhal said.
For two years, Hibbits allegedly transferred funds she intended to steal into less active Scarborough accounts, drew the forged checks from the unmonitored accounts and falsified data for the corresponding transactions in Scarborough 's electronic account, officials said.
Hibbits allegedly issued the forged checks to personal and business accounts she owned and used the stolen funds to pay personal business expenses and maintain a "privileged lifestyle," according to the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.
Outside the courtroom, Hibbits' lawyer, Anthony Rista, criticized Tuesday's preliminary hearing, saying it is such a low legal standard that anyone can be held to answer based on speculation.

He said he requested that Judge Kevin DeNoce use stricter standards on what evidence is accepted by the court before making his decision. DeNoce ignored him, he said.
According to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, Hibbits had a felony conviction in 2004 for embezzlement and forgery. As part of her probation, she was ordered to disclose her fraud crimes to any future employer but did not do so when she was employed by Scarborough, officials said.

She also was arrested in 1990 for assault with deadly weapon and served time in state prison, officials said.

Hibbits, who goes  served in leadership positions in Camarillo community organizations, including a position in the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce and was reportedly a speaker at local charity and fundraising events.

Hibbits, who uses several aliases like Pearl Klenoski, Paige Jones and Pearl McClelland, also served as president of the Pleasant Valley Historical Society.

Judge to Rule on Whether To Allow DNA And Other Evidence In Packer Case

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Defense lawyers for Joshua Packer asked a judge Monday to throw out evidence police gathered after they put a GPS tracking device on Packer's SUV when he became a suspect in robberies.

The evidence includes DNA taken from a robbery scene in Santa Barbara that later linked Packer to the slayings of Brock and Davina Husted and their fetus on May 20, 2009, at their beach house north of Ventura.

Packer, 22, of Ventura, is facing the death penalty. A jury also can sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After listening to testimony Monday, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Patricia Murphy said she will hear closing arguments Tuesday on whether to suppress robbery-related evidence obtained by Ventura and Santa Barbara police officers.

Packer's lawyer, Benjamin Maserang, says the evidence was obtained illegally.

At the hearing, police officers from Ventura and Santa Barbara and an investigator with the District Attorney's Office testified about robberies in September 2009 in which Packer was a suspect. They included incidents at a Shell gasoline station on Harbor Boulevard in Ventura, an Arco gasoline station on East Main Street in Ventura, a Dairy Queen restaurant on Telegraph Road in Ventura, a liquor store on Telegraph Road in Ventura and a Thrifty gasoline station in Santa Barbara.

Officers testified about cellphone records, cellphone tower location information and witness descriptions of the suspect and the suspect's vehicle. Two search warrants of Packer's residence were executed.

In October 2009, Ventura police put a GPS device on Packer's sport utility vehicle and monitored his travel, including trips to the Chumash Indian Gaming Casino in Santa Ynez.

On Jan. 14, 2010, Santa Barbara sheriff's deputies arrested Packer on suspicion of robbing the Thrifty station, and his mouth was swabbed for a DNA sample. Packer was arrested on suspicion of the Husted killings in April 2010.

Maserang questioned officers about the inconsistencies of witnesses in describing the suspect, repeatedly asking whether the clothing used in the robberies was commonly worn by people, including dark hoodies and baseball caps.

Officers said more than one person could have committed the robberies.

Also Monday, Murphy rejected legal efforts by Maserang challenging a grand jury indictment filed last month. Maserang said prosecutors should have gone to Murphy before going to the grand jury to get the indictment.

Murphy said interfering with the district attorney's right to go to the grand jury would be inappropriate.

Murphy also ruled that a July 2010 indictment and last month's indictment can be consolidated. In the 2010 indictment, Packer is charged with three counts of murder and the special allegations that he committed burglary and robbery during the killings and that he committed multiple killings. The indictment filed last month charges that Packer committed forced oral copulation against Davina Husted. Packer's DNA was found on her, officials have said.

Packer has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Today's Quote

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"Lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at you."  --  

David Brinkley

Thought You'd Like to Know

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Under the law, a person can be charged with illegally possessing a weapon without ever touching or holding the weapon, according to prosecutor John Barrick.

During closing arguments in the trial of Jeremy McCubbin, Barrick told jurors that all prosecutors have to do is prove that McCubbin had control of the shotgun found in a truck.

"It's not really whether you are holding the item or touching it," Barrick later said in an interview. "It's really about if you are exercising some control over the item. So you can possess something without really touching it."

McCubbin was found guilty Thursday by a jury for being a felon in possession of a loaded shotgun and being a felon in possession of ammunition. Jurors also found him guilty of street terrorism because of his involvement in the Skin Head Dogs, a white supremacist criminal gang.

In McCubbin's case, a shotgun was found in a stolen car by police

On Sept. 5, 2007, Ventura Police Department Officer Teddy Symonds recognized the passenger in a truck as being McCubbin, a wanted parolee. The truck was driven by Eric Nestroyl who was also on parole, Symonds testified.

McCubbin ran out of the truck, jumped a fence, ran across Highway 126 and jumped another fence and continued running. He was arrested a week later and charged with being felon in possession of a loaded shotgun along with ammunition.

DNA found on the shotgun and on the ammunition was linked to McCubbin. His lawyers said it was a trace of DNA and banked on the theory of secondary transfer.

In other words, this is how that works: Larry shakes hands with Sam, for example. Sam touches a knife or gun. Under the secondary transfer theory, Larry's DNA would be transferred from Sam to the weapon.

But in the McCubbin case, DNA was also found in the shell in the Mossberg 500 shotgun's chamber. McCubbin's DNA was found in the areas that a person would touch if he was holding the weapon, according to Barrick.

Nestroyl testified at McCubbin's trial that the shotgun found in the truck belonged to him. Nestroyl said he knew of McCubbin and offered to give him a ride in the truck when he saw him at the side of the road.

The first question asked by Barrick to Nestroyl was whether he was a white supremacist.

Nestroyl quickly replied, "Absolutely not."

"Well, let's talk about your tattoos," Barrick told Nestroyl.

Minutes later, booking photographs showing Nestroyl's large tattoos were being passed around in the jury box. These tattoos indicated that at least two of them were signs and symbols linked to white supremacist gangs, according to court testimony.


 




Police Roundup 15 LA County Gang Suspects for Drug Dealing

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LOS ANGELES - Fifteen suspects were arrested this morning for alleged narcotics trafficking charges, according to federal officials.

The arrest of members of a criminal street gang, the Pasadena Denver Lane Bloods, came after an 18-month investigation where authoriities seized eight firearms, about $40,000 in cash, 11 pounds of cocaine and more than five pounds of crack cocaine.

 The investigation by DEA, FBI, Pasadena Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation targeted the gang's drug trafficking in the Antelope Valley, according to federal authorities.

Defendant's Former Girlfriend Testifies About Christmas Eve Slaying

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The former girlfriend of murder defendant Alex Compian testified today that she received a cell phone call from Compian on Christmas Eve 2009  saying that he had just  "smoked a homie" who had accused him of being a snitch.

Joanna Hernandez testified that she understood the word "smoked" to mean that he had killed someone.

Compian, 24, is on trial for the murder of his neighbor, Mario Cisneros, 50, who was found shot and lying near the side of his home in the 200 block of Alpine Street in Oxnard about 11:20 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2009, according to court testimony.

Hernandez told jurors that she had met Compian on November 2006 when she was 16 years old and he was 18. The two have a son who was born in July 2009, she testified.  Hernandez said she and Compian moved out of her mother's house in Oxnard  a month after the birth of her son.

She testified that they moved into the 200 block of Alpine with Compian's uncle. She said she knew the victim and his wife Connie Cisneros was aware that the couple had children. She said her relationship with Compian was stormy, and she left the Alpine residence in November 2009.

 On Christmas Eve around 5 p.m. , Hernandez said Compian went to see her and his son at  her mother's house in Oxnard to take him shopping for gifts. She said she decided to go with Compian, and they ended up at a fast-food restaurant parking lot, eating and talking about their relationship. Hernandez said she told him that she was ending their relationship.

She testified that Compian told her that she was going to make him do "something stupid"

Late that night as Hernandez, her mother, Compian's son and another child were driving to a relative's house, Hernandez said she spotted a wide-eyed Compian driving fast in Oxnard.  Minutes later, Hernandez got the call from Compian telling that he had shot a "homie."

A short time later, Hernandez said she could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles.

Earlier, Hernandez's mother testified that her daughter was hysterical and was shaking when Compian called and told her that he had shot someone.

Hernandez told jurors about getting more calls from Compian. He told her to delete caller ID information, cell phone recording and tell police that his car was stolen. Also Compian told her to tell police that he had been at a fast-food restaurant with her.

Hernandez said she became fearful of Compian, who wanted to see Hernandez one more time.

"Did he specifically say for the last time?" asked prosecutor Rameen Minoui.

"Yes," she replied.

Under cross examination, Hernandez told about agreeing to cooperate with the Oxnard police investigation, saying officers told her that they could take her son away if she was uncooperative.

Later conversations with Compian were secretly recorded by detectives. Hernandez said Compian said he was on the phone that he innocent and that he didn't do anything.

The trial, which ended late Friday morning,  resumes Monday.  Compian's lawyer Willard Wiksell said his client will testify.

 

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 rhernandez@vcstar.com.