August 2012 Archives

Actor and an Accountant Agree to Plead Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Case

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LOS ANGELES -- Actor Tommy Lister and San Fernando Valley accountant agree to plead guilty in a $3.8 million mortgage fraud case, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles

Lister, of Chatsworth,  who appeared in about 100 movies and the accountant were charged with conspiring to commit mortgage fraud in a scheme that resulted in $3.8 million losses,  federal prosecutors stated.

Lister, who is known as "Tiny" and "Zeus," was charged this afternoon in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy. A second person, Arcelia Chavez, 48, of Northridge was also charged with conspiracy today.

Chavez is a certified tax preparer.

Federal authorities stated that Lister, Chavez and others --  including Sami Sager Sweiss, formerly a mortgage loan officer based in Woodland Hills; Jason Patterson, a real estate agent in Long Beach;  J.R., formerly a manager of a Washington Mutual branch in Woodland Hills; and Wanda Tenney, former an escrow based in the San Fernando Valley - conspired with individuals to fraudulently acquire title to four residential properties that Lister could not afford.

Lister with the help of others got mortgages through fraudulent means, including submitting mortgage applications that included inflated income and assets amounts, fabricating bank statements and falsifying other documents to deceive lenders into believing that Lister made the required down payments, according to federal prosecutors.

Lister and his co-conspirators received kickbacks from sellers after the real estate deals closed.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, prosecutors stated.




Court Records Manual Being Updated for Next Year

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The latest version of the California Trial Court Records Manual that governs the  Superior Court civil and criminal records is scheduled to be released on Jan. 1, according to Mr. Cathal Conneely.

Why should you care?

Well, it spells out how the state's trial court administrators, including Ventura County, should maintain the court records so that there is uniform compliance with state laws.

The revised Records Manual will be reviewed in December by the Judicial Council of California.

"The control and management of the record is with the trial court," said Conneely in an interview last week. "It is the administrative officer that has the authority as the clerk of the court."

An excerpt from the current version of the Records Manual states:

 "The MAINTENANCE of the court record addresses the continued existence and accessibility of the record. The record must be kept in a manner that ensures its completeness and availability both during the life of an active case and after it is closed, where the result may still be relevant to the parties and the public. It must also be kept in a manner that allows easy and convenient access to those wanting to see it. 

The court should be able to find the record easily when the record is needed. Making copies of the record should also be convenient and inexpensive. Finally, the format in which the record is kept should allow ready access over time, despite changes in technology, in particular, obsolescence of equipment and software required to access electronic forms of a record.

Another aspect of maintenance is preserving the record's integrity; the court record should be the whole record and nothing but the record. The system for maintaining court records should minimize the risk of misfiling, loss, or damage of the court record or any of its parts.

Finally, good records management involves controlling who has access to the record or its component parts. There may be portions of the record that, by law or judicial decision, are accessible only to certain individuals, parties, or groups of individuals based on their role in the justice system. 

 good records management program should provide convenient and timely access to those allowed to see information, and prevent access by those not authorized to see it.

To thumb through the current version go to:


Today's Quote

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"I do not understand a mind which sees a gracious beneficence in spending money to slay and maim human beings in almost unimaginable numbers and deprecates the expenditure of a smaller sum to patch up the ills of mankind." -- Harry Truman

South El Monte Man Agrees to Plead Guilty to a $2.5 Million Mortgage Scam

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LOS ANGELES -- A South El Monte man, who duped 200 distressed homeowners into giving him $15,000 each to eliminate mortgage debts via a "secret process," agreed on Tuesday to plea  guilty to a federal mail fraud charge, according to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

The scam fleeced homeowners who were left with worthless paperwork of $2.5 million, federal prosecutors allege.

Ernesto Diaz, 57, who worked as a realtor, has agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation against his company, Crown Point Education, Inc, which had offices in Montebello and El Monte, federal authorities stated.

Federal prosecutors stated that Diaz joined the Crown Point scheme in March 2010 after the company had been in business for a year, the U.S. Attorney's office stated.

Diaz and others held seminars and promised distressed homeowners that in exchange for $15,000 per property, Crown Point would eliminate the homeowners mortgages within six to eight months through a secret process that involved sending packets of documents to lenders, according to prosecutors.

Diaz, however, failed to tell distressed homeowners that earlier Crown Point clients - including Diaz's own brother - had lost their houses to foreclosure and been evicted from their houses.

The claims made to distressed homeowners were based on discredited "Sovereign Citizen" claims that the mortgages are invalid because the banks did not actually lend the money used to fund mortgages, according to federal prosecutors.

Diaz is facing up to 20 years in federal prison and is schedule to be in court on Sept. 13.



Today's Quote

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"The best cure for the body is a quiet mind." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

Sheriff and County Clerk Admit to Voter Fraud During 2010 Primary Election

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CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA -- The former Lincoln County sheriff and the Lincoln County clerk are going to prison for election fraud committed during the 2010 primary election, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sheriff Jerry Bowman, 58, was sentenced to a year in prison and County Clerk Donald C. Whitten, 62, to 18 months behind bars.

"A citizen's right to vote is the foundation of our democracy," stated U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in a press release. "A stolen election shakes the public's faith in government itself. It's disgraceful for anyone to rig an election and even worse when the criminal is a public official."

Bowman pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Whitten pleaded guilty to making a false statement in connection with the fraud scheme, according to federal authorities.

Bowman said that during the conspiracy, he falsified more than 100 absentee ballot applications for voters who did not have any legal basis to vote absentee, federal officials stated.

Whitten admitted that on Dec. 7, 2011, he lied to an investigator about his role in the election fraud conspiracy, say officials.

Elderly Arsonist Who Started A Number of West Texas Fires Sent to Prison

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MIDLAND, TEXAS  -- An elderly West Texas resident who was first to call 911 and report a fire and kept showing up where fires were burning was sentenced to six years in federal prison for arson, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Federal officials stated that during the summer of 2011, the counties of Midland, Ector, Andrews and Crane all experienced unexplained roadside fires.
There were more than a dozen fires from April 2011 to June 2011.
The fires had one thing in common, federal officials stated:  Sixty-four-year-old Jimmie Doyle Farris, of Odessa, Texas.
Fire marshals began getting suspicious when Farris kept showing up at the scene of various fires.
Farris was the first to call 911 and report the fire, and witnesses saw Farris at the scene of the fire even though he had no reason to be at those remote locations in the county, federal officials stated.
At one fire, Farris received a burn injury, was taken to a hospital and later, he was interviewed by a local television news crew, according to federal authorities.
In the interview, Farris claimed to be a Good Samaritan by traveling around the area and looking for wildfire so that he could quickly notify the fire department, according to federal officials.
Farris was put on surveillance by authorities on June 15, 2011,
Authorities said he drove from his residence to a remote oilfield in Midland County and a few minutes later, an officer noticed smoke in the field.
Farris was arrested and later admitted setting eight fires.

Today's Quote

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"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -- Benjamin Franklin

Thought You'd Like to Know

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Before the start of a trial, there is legal housekeeping to be done.

This is when pretrial motions are filed by prosecutors and defense lawyers.

There are a number of motions that can be filed including motions to suppress evidence, dismiss the criminal charges, continue the court proceedings and motions for discovery.

The judge also hears motions in limine where he or she decides, based on case law, what evidence is relevant or irrelevant to the trial.

A lawyer for a defendant who objects to evidence that will be admitted in the trial or objects to a motion that is denied usually makes a record of his objections through the court reporter.

 The defendant who loses a pretrial motion waits until after the conviction to appeal.

But sometimes, the defendant can filed a writ in an appellate court seeking to reverse the court's decision before the start of a trial.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, can immediately file an interlocutory appeal to the appeals court when the court grants the defense a motion to suppress certain evidence.


Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime and is Facing Up to Ten Years in Prison

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WASHINGTON-- A Detroit Michigan man who assaulted another man at a convenience store because he believed the victim was gay is facing up to 10 years in prison, according to federal prosecutors.

Everett Dwayne Avery, 36, struck the victim who suffered a fractured eye socket and other facial injuries as a result,  federal officials stated.

Avery pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime.

"Hate-fueled incidents have no place in a civilized society," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to using all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to prosecute acts of violence motivated by hate."

Avery will  be sentenced in November.



Software Engineer Who Stole Motorola Trade Secrets Sentenced to Prison

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CHICAGO--A former software engineer for Motorola Inc., now Motorola Solutions Inc., a telecommunications company, was sentenced today to four years in federal prison for stealing Motorola trade secrets relating to its proprietary iDEN technology,according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The defendant, Hanjuan Jin, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, was secretly working for a Chinese company that developed telecommunications technology for the Chinese military when she was stopped by U.S. customs officials at O'Hare International Airport from traveling on a one-way ticket to China in February 2007, according to federal officials.

Customs officials seized more than 1,000 electronic and paper Motorola documents found in Jin's possession as she attempted to leave the country, federal authorities stated.

Jin, 41, a nine-year Motorola software engineer, conducted a "purposeful raid to steal technology," U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo said in imposing the sentence in Federal Court in Chicago.

Today's Quote

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"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Two Southern California Men Tried to Dupe Undercover FBI Agent

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WASHINGTON - Two Southern California investment advisors were convicted today of high-yield investment fraud for trying to con a wealthy investor of $1 billion - the investor turned out to be a part of an undercover FBI team, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

"Undercover operations are an integral part of our efforts to stop financial fraudsters before they wipe out the life savings of innocent victims. Based on today's verdict, the defendants will not pay a heavy price for their conduct," Assistant Attorney General  Lanny Breuer stated  in a press release.

The Santa Ana jury convicted William Ferry, a former stock broker and investment advisor, and Dennis J. Clinton, a former real estate investment manager, of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud, federal authorities stated.

Ferry, 70, of Newport Beach, and Clinton, 64, of San Diego, face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on  each fraud count and will be sentenced in February.

Glendale Man Going to Prison for Concocting a Complicated Loan Scam

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RIVERSIDE -- A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Glendale man to 10 years in prison for concocting a loan fraud scheme that netted him and his associates well over $5 million in less than eight months, according to the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office.

Henrik Sardariani, 44, was ordered to pay $5.4 million as restitution to his victims and $100,000 fine.

Sardariani assured his lender that the loans that they were making were safe when in fact he had no intentions of paying the loans back and did not own the properties he had pleaded as collateral, federal prosecutors stated.

Sardariani's criminal conduct included creating false real estate documents with cut-and-paste notarizations and falsifying government records to hide problems that would have sent red flags to his lenders, say officials.

Officials stated that Sardariani used the loan proceeds to place bets on horse races.

Sardariani's brother, Hamlet, and his gambling partner, Christopher Woods who were also implicated in his scam pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in September.




Today's Quote

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"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."  -- Aristotle

Thought You'd Like to Know

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Fascinating Facts About the Supreme Court

When the first session of the Court convened in 1790, the tradition of justices wearing wigs still lingered. Justice William Cushing was the only justice to arrive at the court wearing the white wig he had worn on the Massachusetts bench. The ribbing he took from boys outside the court apparently turned the tide against the headgear, and he took the advice of Thomas Jefferson: "For heaven's sake, discard the monstrous wig which makes the English judges took like rats peeping through bunches of oakum."

During the Supreme Court's first term (1790) it had no docket & made no decisions. When the nation's capitol moved to Washington D.C., in 1800 it did not even have a courtroom. Congress provided a small committee room in the basement of the Capitol, where the Court remained until the Civil War.

In 1789, the Chief Justice's salary was $4,000, while associate justices made $3,500. By 2010, the Chief Justice's salary had risen to $223,500, with associate justices receiving $213,900.

The tradition of the "conference handshake" began with Chief justice Melville W. Fuller in the late 1800s. Before they take their seats at the bench, each justice shakes hands with the others. Chief justice Fuller cited the practice as a way to remind justices that, although they may have differences of opinion, they share a common purpose.

The longest serving justice was William O. Douglas, who retired in November, 1975, after 36 years and six months on the bench. John Rutledge had the briefest Court tenure. He was appointed chief justice and served for four months, at which point the Senate rejected his nomination.

information: Courtesy of

"Bucket List" Elderly Men Who Conspired to Buy Weapons Going to Prison

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GAINSVILLE,  GEORGIA -- Two elderly men who compiled a "Bucket List" of government officials, politicians, corporate leaders and media people who needed to be "taken out" were sentenced to federal prison on Wednesday for conspiring to obtain an unregistered explosive device and silencer, according to federal prosecutors.

From March and April 2011, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Georgia and Dan Roberts, 68, of Toccoa, Georgia,  met with each other and others to discuss forming a self-described "covert group," its purposes, and their need to get weapons, the U.S. Attorney General stated.

Thomas and Roberts were both sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of the criminal charges, according to prosecutors.

"These defendants didn't just talk about killing government officials and law enforcement officers, they purchased equipment, including a silencer and what they thought were explosive devices, to carry out their plans," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian stated in a press release.

Thomas compiled what he called a "Bucket List" that listed government employees and others, including members of the media, to be "taken out"  to "make the country right again," according to federal prosecutors.

Thomas also talked about the need to get more weapons, ammunition, food and survival gear, and the need to set up a silent means of assassinating people,  federal  authorities stated.

On April 30, 2011, the plan came to light after Thomas met a person he believed could get weapons  for the covert group. This person who is on active duty military reported the activities of the covert group to military personnel after he was concerned about a potential attack, say federal authorities.

Thomas provided a handwritten list to the active duty military serviceman that included 28 items including firearms, silencers, and explosives, according to federal prosecutors.

Thomas made the following statements during meetings with others:

"There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that's highly, highly illegal. Murder.  That's f***ing illegal, but it's got to be done."

"Who is the primary topics, targets? DOJ. Everybody is DOJ. That includes judges, ATF, IRS, and the hierarchy thereof...I could shoot ATF and IRS all day long."

The case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI, Federal Protective Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.



Today's Quote

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"We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out."  -- Winston Churchill

Lawyer who is a Boy Scout Leader Arrested for Child Porn

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BOSTON - A lawyer who is also a Boy Scout leader and part-time middle school teacher was arrested today and charged with possessing child porn and enticing children, according to federal prosecutors.

Andrew J. Myers, 34, communicated with minors, including a 12-year-old boy, to engage in sexual acts,  using  Skype, which is a streaming video service, and emails, the U.S. Attorney Office stated.

Myers is facing not less than 10 years and up to life in prison when he is sentenced, officials stated.

According to an affidavit, Myers worked as a substitute teacher and is presently the Scout Master of a local Boy Scout Troop. Myers is also a former member of the Northbridge School Committee, authorities stated.

Iraqi Citizen Pleads Guilty to Trying to Buy Stinger Missiles for Terrorist Group

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LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY -- Iraqi citizen Mohanad Shareef Hammadi  pleaded guilty in federal court today to trying to buy Stinger missiles to give them to the terrorist group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

Hammadi is facing up to life in prison with a mandatory sentence of 25 years when he goes back to court in December for sentencing.

Hammadi's co-defendant, Waad Ramadan Alwan, pleaded guilty to a 23 count indictment in December.

Alwan was charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens abroad and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. citizens abroad, according to federal officials. He was also charged with trying to buy Stinger missiles.

Hammadi admitted his involvement in insurgent activities in Iraq, including his membership in an insurgent group and his participation in various attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.

Both Hammadi and Alwan were arrested by the FBI on May 25, 2011, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Today's Quote

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"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart." -- Helen Keller

Virginia Man Convicted of Trying to Kill Black Corrections Officer

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ATLANTA --  A federal inmate who was scheduled to be released in Feburary 2012 was sentenced to 20 more years in prison for trying to strangle a guard with a rope because the corrections officer was black, according to federal officials.

Morgan Siler, 28, of Portsmouth, Virginia was serving time for committing a series of robberies of convenience stores in Virginia, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

Silar, who arrived at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta in 2008, had said he was going to attack the first Black guard that he saw that day, federal authorities stated.

Siler and the Black corrections officer had never met each other.

Silar who is white had been convicted on June 1, 2012 of trying to kill the corrections officer, federal officials indicted.


DEA Seizes $150 Million In Terrorist-Related Laundering Scheme

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The DEA announced today that they have seized $150 million in connection with a Hizballah-related money laundering scheme.

The DEA stated that the evidence indicated that the massive international scheme in which entities linked to Hizballah, including the now defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank, used the U.S. financial system to launder narcotics trafficking and other criminal proceeds through West Africa and back into London.

According to the complaint, the affidavit in support of the seizure warrants and other documents filed in the case: From about January 2007 to early 2011, at least $329 million was transferred by wire from the Lebanese Canadian Bank and other financial institutions to the U.S. for the purchase of used cars that were then shipped to West Africa.

Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds  of narcotics trafficking, were funneled to Lebanon through Hizballah-controlled money laundering channels, the DEA stated in a press release.

"Our relentless pursuit of global criminal networks showed that the U.S. banking system was exploited to launder drug trafficking funds through West Africa and into Lebanon," DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart  stated in a press release.  "DEA and our partners are attacking these groups and their financial infrastructure, while establishing clear links between drug trafficking proceeds and terrorist funding."


Sex Trafficking Bodyguard and Gang Member Gets 10 Years in Prison

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ALEXANDRIA, VA -- The bodyguard and driver for a gang-led prostitution business that recruited and trafficked high school girls was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

 Christopher Sylvia, 23, of Springfield, Virginia, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a juvenile. Sylvia was an associate of the Underground Gangster Crips and served as a bodyguard and driver in the prostitution of minors, according to federal officials.

"Predators involved in sex trafficking of juveniles should receive severe sentences," said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride in a press release. "Sylvia worked with others to steal adolescent years of these high school girls and now, he will pay the price."

Sylvia also walked with prostitutes for protection on multiple occasions, the feds stated.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Sylvia transported three 17-year-old girls to engage in commercial sex acts, according to federal authorities.

Sylvia is the third of five gang members or gang associates who have been convicted of sex trafficking crimes.

Today's Quote

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"When Jesus comes back, these crazy, greedy, capitalistic men are gonna kill him again." -- Mike Tyson, former heavyweight champion

Judge Gags Prosecutors and Defense Lawyers in Packer Case

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The judge slapped a gag order on prosecutors and defense attorneys during Friday's hearing for Joshua Graham Packer who is accused of slaying the Husteds and their unborn child.

Judge Patricia Murphy's gag order means that attorneys from the District Attorneys Office and lawyers from the Public Defender's Office are prohibited from talking to the media or the public about the case.

Basically, a gag order is intended to prevent pre-trial publicity which would influence potential jurors. Also a gag order is issued to keep lawyers via the media from stirring up public sentiment one way or  another towards a defendant.

The gag order was issued after prosecutor Michael Frawley responded to questions about his adult children possibly being put on the stand to testify in the capital-murder trial which is scheduled to begin in January.

In a recent newspaper article, Frawley made comments in response to remarks made by Packer's lawyer Benjamin Maserang who works at the Public Defender's Office. Maserang claims that Frawley's adult children -- Elizabeth and Kyle Frawley were in a Christian group with Packer in high school.

Elizabeth and Kyle Frawley could be called up as witnesses if Packer is convicted, and the trial proceeds to a penalty phase, according to Maserang.

The comment that apparently got the Public Defender to cry foul was Frawley's response shortly after learning that his children could be served with subpoenas.

"It's probably the lowest sort of trial tactics I've ever seen," Frawley told the Star.

That statement could violate the state's rules of professional conduct, which limit what attorneys can say publicly about opposing counsel, said Attorney Michael McMahon who also works at the Public Defender's Office.

If Frawley's children were in the Christian group with Packer, that could at the least give the appearance of a conflict of interest if Frawley stayed on the case, McMahon said.


Some Thoughts by a Brilliant Writer and Poet

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If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

Rudyard Kipling

Prosecutor Upset by Perjury Allegation by Medina's Lawyers

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There is apparently no love lost between the lawyers of a 17-year-old boy accused of murder and prosecutor Bill Haney who told a judge on Friday shortly before a preliminary  hearing ended that he wanted contempt charged be brought against  defense attorneys Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson.

Mr. Haney and Mr. Wippert and Ms. Bramson have sometimes engaged in emotionally charged legal discourse during court proceedings filled with accusations, counter-accusations, bickering and passionate courtroom pleadings

Friday,  Mr. Haney told Judge James Cloninger that  Mr. Wippert and Ms. Bramson, who represent murder defendant Alex Medina, accused him of perjury when, he said, this is false and there is absolutely no basis for the allegation.

The allegation of perjury was made in a legal motion filed by the defense attorneys where they claim Mr. Haney perjured himself without no details or facts to back up this allegation, according to Mr. Haney.

Mr. Haney  threatened to take this matter to the California State Bar Association and Friday, he asked Judge Cloninger to hold Mr. Wippert in contempt of court.

"It is so inappropriate, and I ask that you do so now for the record," Haney told Judge Cloninger.

Mr. Haney said the allegation was very specific against him, noting that he is an officer of the court. Adding that Mr. Wippert needs to "spit out" what evidence he has to accuse him of perjury.

The judge asked Mr. Wippert what evidence he had that Mr. Haney perjured himself. When it was apparently that Mr. Wippert wasn't going to give specific details to back up his perjury claim, the judge decided not to take up the matter.

The judge said his first and foremost responsibility was to see that Alex Medina case gets to trial, and he wasn't going to turn the legal proceedings into a discovery forum between Mr. Haney and the defense lawyers.

"That's my function here to get the Medina case to trial," the judge told the attorneys.

The judge said he could revisit the perjury matter, if he is required to do so by law, and if it is determined what specifically, Mr. Wippert is alleging.

In an interview after Friday's hearing , Haney who usually gets high marks from defense attorneys for being straightforward and easy to work with was visibly frustrated and upset about Mr. Wippert's perjury allegation.

Mr. Haney said he didn't know whether he will return to the court to ask for a contempt of court hearing against Mr. Wippert or g to the State Bar and file a grievance.

"It's just an effort to remove me from this case," Mr. Haney said, about Mr. Wippert's perjury accusation.

On Thursday, the judge denied a motion by Medina's lawyers to recuse the District Attorney's Office from prosecuting the case.

Mr. Wippert and Ms. Bramson represented another youthful offender in a high-profile case, Brandon McInerney.

Mr. McInerney who is now 18 years old pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, a plea agreement stated that he would serve time only for manslaughter and firearms charges.

In December, Mr. McInerney was sentenced to 21 years for the 2008 homicide of 15-year-old classmate Larry King.

Some say Mr. Wippert and Ms. Bramson are very hardworking lawyers who employ pit bull-style legal tactics when they represent their clients.   Other attorneys, including prosecutors, however, say they engage in legal maneuvers attorneys have described in court as "gamesmanship" solely designed to delay and obstruct justice by filing piles of meritless and frivolous motions.


More Than Two Dozen Accused of Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosures

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WASHINGTON - A Northern California real estate investor who conspired with others not to bid against one another but to designate a winner bidder to get selected property at public foreclosures agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

After an investigation, 25 people including Danli Liu who agreed or have pleaded guilty for their roles in bid rigging process, say federal authorities.

Private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public actions were held, say officials.

The public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda County began as early as April 2009 and continuing until about March 2010, according to federal officials.

Anyone with information about bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division's San Francisco Office at 415-436-6660.


Former Georgia Prison Guard Facing Prison Sentence for Beatings

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WASHINGTON - A former Georgia  state prison guard pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of inmates along with falsifying records in a federal investigation in connection with the beating of three inmates in separate incidents in order to punish them, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Darren-Douglass Griffin, 35, admitted that he and other corrections officers assaulted and injured the inmates in 2010, say federal prosecutors.

One inmate was beaten so severely that he had to be taken from prison to a hospital, according to federal prosecutors.

Douglass Griffin, who was a former member of the Correctional Emergency Response (CERT) at Macon State Prison, also admitted to writing false reports and lying to investigators, according to federal attorneys.

"The Justice Department will continue to vigorously to prosecute correctional officers who violate the constitutional rights of inmates and use their official position to try to cover up their crimes,"  Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez.

Douglass-Griffin faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, according to federal authorities. 

Today's Quote

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"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." - Emiliano Zapata

Nursing Home Owner Who Stole from Medicare was Sentenced to 20 Years.

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ROME, GA - A man who conspired with his wife to defraud the Medicare and Georgia Medicaid programs by billing them for "worthless services" in the operation of three nursing homes was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

George D. Houser, 64, was convicted after a bench trial in April.

Federal officials stated that Houser kept an unsanitary, filthy, rodent and insect infested  homes that were under staffed.

Medicare and Medicaid paid Houser more than $32.9 million between July 2004 and September 2007 for food, medical care, and other services for nursing home residents, according to federal prosecutors.

"Criminals don't need to be lip readers to get this message. Provide horrendous care, while at the same time wallowing in luxury, and you will be punished--severely,"Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for the Atlanta region, stated in a press release. "Working with other law enforcement agencies, we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute these taxpayer-funded, worthless services cases."

During the trial, evidence indicated that a shortage of staff started when Houser began writing bad paychecks to his employees, which resulted in staff resignations.  Houser also withheld health insurance payments to his workers, leaving many with unpaid medical bills.

The roof at two of the nursing homes were so leaky that employees used 55-gallon barrels and plastic sheeting to catch and divert the rainwater.  The leaks got worse over time but Houser never replaced the roofs or repaired or replaced broken air conditioning and heating units, according to prosecutors.

Also fiberglass ceilings tiles would become saturated with water until they fell out of the ceiling, occasionally on residents' beds. The residents kept their windows open to vent the foul odors in the homes,  but flies and other insects along with rodents easily entered the homes through ill-fitting screens and doors.

The insect problems was made worse by mounds of rotting garbage, which piled up around the dumpster near the homes because Houser failed to pay the trash collection services.

The moisture and humidity in the homes resulted in mold and mildew growth, according to federal officials.

Houser also failed to pay vendors which lead to food suppliers and vendors of pharmacy and clinical laboratory services,  medical waste disposal, trash disposal and nursing supplies stopping their goods and services, say federal authorities.

The nursing home suffered continuous food shortages, and employees spent their own money to buy milk, bread and other groceries so that residents didn't starve,federal  prosecutors allege. Also employees bought nursing supplies and cleaning supplies for the residents, and some took the residents laundry to laundromats or their own homes to be cleaned.

The homes' workers were rarely reimbursed by Houser for buying supplies, according to federal authorities.

One nursing home resident testified in court that residents used to pass the time by making bets on which service or utility would be cut off for nonpayment.

Houser's wife, Rhonda Washington Houser, pleaded guilty to felony medical care fraud in December 2011, and her sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.


West Virginia Serial Bank Robber Gets 20 Years in Federal Prison

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CLARKSBURG, WV--A federal judge today sentenced  a serial bank robber from Pennsylvania to 20 years in prison for robbing a bank in Morgantown, West Virginia in 2010 while failing in an attempt to rob a credit union, according to U.S. Attorney's Office.

Rudolph Todd Haladyn, 36, was also alleged in the indictment to have robbed multiple banks in Pennsylvania in 2010 and to have planned a robbery of a credit union in Wheeling, West Virginia, federal prosecutors stated.

Today's Quotes

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"In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said 70 times 7. Well, I want you all to know that I'm keeping a chart."  -- Hillary Clinton

"I would have made a good Pope." -- Richard Nixon

New York Man Who Illegally Uploaded Movie Sent to Prison

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LOS ANGELES - A New York man who illegally uploaded a workprint copy of the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" was sentenced today to  a year in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The federal judge also order numerous computer restrictions  against Gilberto Sanchez, 49, who resides in The Bronx and used the screen name "skillz," federal prosecutors stated.

U.S. District Court Judge Margaret M. Morrow described the offense as "extremely serious."

Sanchez uploaded the work copy of the movie more than a month before the theatrical release, according to federal prosecutors.

He had been regularly uploading pirated movies for four or five years, and "didn't appear remorseful after the charges were brought," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

"The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates," United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. stated in a press release. "The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation."

The Brandon McInerney Link at Alex Medina's Competency Trial

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In the civil competency trial of Ojai teen Alex Medina, there was a strong link to another high-profile homicide involving another youthful offender, Brandon McInerney.

McInerney who is now 18 years old pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, a plea agreement stated he would serve time only for manslaughter and firearms charges.  In December, he was sentenced to 21 years for the 2008 homicide of 15 year-old classmate Larry King.

Both Medina and McInerney hired Attorneys Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson to represent them.

Before the start of the competency trial, prosecutors wanted to admit as evidence two separate grievance complaint forms that Medina wrote and circulated among those in his juvenile detention housing unit.

The prosecution wanted to show that not only Medina was intelligent but he also possessed leadership skills.

Basically, one grievance circulated by Medina complained that the youthful offenders were required to participate in gym activities. However, they were complaining that they weren't allowed to shower after they did so or given gym clothes to engage exercises. So they went back to their cells in the same juvenile-issued-detention garb, sweating and smelly.

The other complained about an unfair disciplinary point system, and that there were some on the staff at the detention center who simply didn't care how they performed their jobs

Both were signed by several boys including Brandon McInerney whose name appears up high on both grievances.

After objections by Medina's lawyers, the judge allowed the grievance complaints to be seen by jurors but McInerney's name was redacted because it might prejudice the jury against Medina.

During the closing arguments of Medina's competency trial, prosecutor Maeve Fox showed up to listen to Senior District Attorney Bill Haney make closing arguments in the civil case.

Fox prosecuted McInerney.

 Also McInerney's mother Kendra showed up one day at Medina's competency trial to listen to the testimony.

She sat with Medina's family members including Medina's mother.


Today's Quote

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"You don't straighten the fence by whitewashing it."  -- Unknown

Blackwater Agrees to Pay Fine for Violating Arms Export Laws

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RALEIGH, N.C. -  Blackwater Worldwide which the federal government states thumbed its nose at laws governing arms exports and international arms trafficking rules agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated today.

Federal prosecutors announced the unsealing today of a bill of information against Blackwater, which is now Academi LLC and Xe Services. Also unsealed was a deferred prosecution agreement which acknowledges the company's efforts to reform its conduct, provides for a period of supervision, noting the $7.5 million fine, according to federal prosecutors.

The agreement also references a $42 million settlement between the company and the Department of State, federal authorites stated.

"For an extended period of time, Academi/Blackwater operated in a manner which demonstrated systematic disregard for U.S. government laws and regulations. Today's announcement should serve as a warning to others that allegations of wrongdoing will be aggressively investigated," Chris Briese, special agent in charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.

The bill is part of a five-year, multi-federal agency investigation that resulted in 17 criminal charges against the company involving the manufacture and shipment of short-barreled rifles, fully automatic weapons, armored helicopters and armored personnel carriers.

Between October 2004 and March 2006, the company exported ammunition and body armor to Iraq and Afghanistan  without first obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of State.

Blackwater also lied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Explosives that five firearms were owned by certain person when, in fact, the weapons were given as a gift to the King of Jordan and his traveling entourage in June 2005, according to federal authorities.

 "High-ranking corporate officials hold positions of trust in their companies but also in the eyes of the public," stated IRS Special Agent in Charge Jeannine Hammett. "That trust is broken when such officials abuse their power and commit crimes to line their pockets."

Former Upland Mayor Going to Prison for Two Years for Bribery

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RIVERSIDE - A federal judge sentenced the former mayor of the City of Upland to two years in prison in connection with a bribery charge stemming from a $5,000 payment he accepted in exchange for helping a business get a conditional use permit from the city, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

John Victor Pomierski, 58, resigned as mayor last year after he was named in a grand jury indictment.

Another defendant Anthony Sanchez, 37, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to solicit bribes. Sanchez and another co-defendant collected money from the business owner on Pomierski's behalf, say federal prosecutors.

Sanchez is facing a five year prison sentence when he is sentenced next week.

Another defendant Jason Roy Crebs, 39, pleaded guilty in April 2011 to aiding and abetting bribery, federal authorities stated.

Crebs and Sanchez, who were co-owners of a Rancho Cucamonga business called Venture West Capital, acted as middleman, accepting a check from the business owner and writing a $5,000 check to Pomierski's business, JP Construction.

Crebs will be sentenced on Sept.10 and is facing a maximum 10-year sentence.

The fourth defendant John Edward Hennes, 55, a former member of the Upland Building Appeals Board, pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy and making false statements to special agents with the FBI, according to federal prosecutors.

Hennes communicated Pomierski's extortionate demands to the business owner and collected money on behalf of Pomierski. Hennes entered into consulting agreements with the business owner to disguise the nature of the payments and to protect Pomierski, federal prosecutors state.

 Hennes is facing a 10 year prison sentence later this month.'

Former Alabama Governor is Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Prison

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WASHINGTON - Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman was re-sentenced today to more than six years behind bars for his role in bribery, conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice involving former HealthSouth CEO Richard M. Scrushy, according to federal prosecutors.

Siegelman was convicted by a federal jury in June 2006 of seven counts of an indictment involving several felonies including bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

The crimes occurred while Siegelman was in office.

In January 2007, Siegelman began serving a prison term on those convictions but was released on bail in March 2008, pending an appeal in which two mail fraud counts were reversed, federal prosecutors stated.

The five remaining counts were upheld by a federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, according to authorities.

ACLU Settles "Texas Highway Robbery" Lawsuit

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NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union today settled a class-action lawsuit filed against police in an East Texas city who took cash from Black and Latino motorists during traffic stops by threatening them with baseless criminal charges, according to ACLU officials.

It is estimated that police fromTenaha and Shelby County seized $3 million in at least 140 cases between 2006 and 2008 after asking Black and Latino drivers if they were carrying cash, according to the ACLU.

If they were, ACLU officials claimed that the drivers were ordered to sign over the cash to the city or face charges of money laundering or other serious crimes, say ACLU officials.

Almost all of the stops involved Black and Latino drivers, according to the ACLU.

None of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU in 2008 were arrested or charged with a crime.

In one incident, the ACLU stated that a Black man and his partner, a white woman, were detained during a 2007 traffic stop. The officer threatened to charge the couple with money laundering and to put their children  who were traveling with them, in foster care, if they refused to sign papers agreeing to forfeit the $6,000 they had, ACLU officials stated.

"This was a brazen case of highway robbery, plain and simple," Elora Mukherjee, a staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program stated in a press release. "Law enforcement needs to focus on protecting communities they serve, not policing for profit."

Under the consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas, police will be required to follow rigorous rules that govern traffic stops in Tenaha and Shelby County.  All stops will be videotaped, the officer must state the reason for the stop and basis for suspecting criminal activity, according to the ACLU.

In addition, officers can no longer use dogs in conducting traffic stops. No property may be seized during a search unless the officer first gives the driver a reason for why  it should be taken.  All property improperly taken must be returned within 30 business days.

Also any asset forfeiture revenue seized during a traffic stop must be donated to non-profit organizations or used for the audio or training required by the settlement, ACLU officials state.

In Texas, the law allows for the confiscation of personal property that police believe is connected to the commission of a crime.


Pain Clinic Owner Gets a 15-Year Sentence in Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - An out-of-state pain clinic owner who told his employees to recruit residents of Kentucky to visit his Pennsylvania and Ohio clinics to unlawfully receive tens of thousands of prescription drugs was sentenced today to 15 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

Michael Leman, 46, of Louisiana, was ordered to pay $1 million as restitution, federal authorities stated.

"Leman turned his patients into addicts and facilitated others in drug dealing, lining his own pockets with the ill-gotten cash proceeds," Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI in Kentucky stated in a press release.

According to evidence presented at Leman's March trial, Leman conspired from December of 2004 until January of 2008 with two doctors and other clinic officials to distribute oxycodone and methadone to hundreds of Kentucky residents from Pike and Floyd Counties. Court records indicate that approximately 90 percent of the patients who visited Leman's Philadelphia and Cincinnati clinics were from eastern Kentucky, say federal officials.

The clinics took in a combined $1.2 million in cash over a 26-month period.

Today's Quote

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"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." -- William Shakespeare

Baltimore Cops Receive Sentences in Federal Court for Tow Truck Scam

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BALTIMORE - Federal prosecutors stated that the last of more than 50 police officers involved in a towing extortion scheme was sentenced today to more than three years behind bars .

Officer Kelvin Quade Manrich, 43, and  other  officers were arranging for Majestic,   a car repair company, rather than a city-authorized company to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The company was owned by brothers Hernan Moreno, 32, and Edwin Mejia, 29, who paid Manrich $300 for each vehicle sent to Majestic, say federal officials.

Manrich would persuade accident victims to allow their cars to be towed or taken to Majestic by telling victims that Majestic could tow the car, provide repair services, help with the insurance claim, assist in getting a rental car and waive the deductible on the owner's insurance, federal officials stated.

Moreno and Mejia have pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Fourteen police officers including Manrich have pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy, one officer pleaded guilty in state court, federal authorities stated. Another officer was convicted by a federal jury after a six day trial.

The officers received between eight and 42 months in prison.

Millions to be Repaid to Victims of, Feds say

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LOS ANGELES--Millions of dollars will be repaid to victims who made investments or deposits with, a website that was operated by a man who is currently on California death row,  the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.

James Fayed who sent to death row in a state court for contracting with hit men who murdered his wife operated, say federal officials.

The repayment is a result of the United States and Australian authorities securing court orders in asset forfeiture actions.

e-Bullion provided opportunities to invest in precious metals through its website.

Investors would open accounts with money, which was used to buy "e-currency" which was reportedly backed by precious metal reserves maintained by Fayed's companies in the United States and Australia. e-Bullion accountholders could then trade their e-currency with others on the web site, according to federal prosecutors.

While there were no upfront fees to set up an account on the website, there were fees associated with changing e-currency back into real money.

e-Bullion let individuals engaging in fraud to obtain money from their victims and move the money throughout the world will sidestepping many global banking reporting requirements.

During the course of the investigation,  Fayed hired hit men to murder his wife and business partner, Pamela Fayed, according to federal officials.

e-Bullion accountholders who wish to be considered for repayment should include documents to verify their claim and send an e-mail to:


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