January 2013 Archives

Two Men Convicted of Concocting a Tax Fraud Scheme To Get $250 Million in Tax Refunds

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          SANTA ANA - Two Inland Empire men who ran the Fontana-based Old Quest Foundation have been convicted of running a tax fraud scheme that resulted in more than 400 fraudulent federal income tax returns being filed with the IRS that cumulatively sought more than $250 million in fraudulent refunds, according to federal officials.


Arturo S. Ruiz, 55, of Moreno Valley, who was the chief executive officer of Old Quest, was found guilty Wednesday of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and 41 counts of filing false claims against the United States, including four of his own federal tax returns.


Francisco J. Mendoza, 51, of San Bernardino, who was the president of Old Quest, was also found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and 37 counts of filing false claims against the United States, according to officials.


Ruiz is facing a  maximum sentence of 215 years in federal prison, and Mendoza faces a statutory maximum sentence of 195 years.


            This is how Ruiz and Mendoza did business, according to authorities.


            Ruiz and Mendoza fraudulently told Old Quest clients they each could receive tax refunds of hundreds of thousands of dollars by accessing "secret government accounts" through a process that included the filing of IRS forms, federal authorities stated.


            During presentations in the Southland, members of Old Quest promoted the secret account theory and other anti-tax arguments.


            Ruiz and Mendoza falsely told clients who attended seminars that they had employees who were attorneys, accountants, CPAs and former IRS employees to give their scheme the appearance of legitimacy.


            Taxpayers who signed up were required to pay fees as high as $10,000, and were made to promise to "donate" to Old Quest 25 percent of any tax refunds they received, federal authorities stated.


            Old Quest filed false income tax returns that routinely sought hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes, millions in income tax refunds, federal officials stated.

        Bank records showed that Old Quest received approximately $1.9 million from clients who used the fraudulent scheme, a figure that includes kickbacks from tax refunds erroneously issued by the IRS.


        When customers received IRS letters warning that their tax returns were frivolous, Old Quest employees assured customers that the IRS sent letters only to "intimidate" them because the "IRS did not want to pay," according to authorities.


After several refund checks were erroneously issued and the IRS froze the bank accounts of the customers who had received them, Ruiz and Mendoza instructed their employees to open new accounts for customers at different banks in an attempt to avoid further IRS scrutiny, authorities stated. 


Prior to the tax refund scheme,  federal officials stated that Ruiz and Mendoza had promoted a "land patent" program to many of the same clients, according to the evidence at trial. Under this program, Ruiz and Mendoza promised to eliminate the clients' mortgages through an obscure and mysterious process, again in exchange for substantial fees, authorities state. The land patent program quickly failed, and dozens of clients lost their homes to foreclosure.


In addition to selling the fraudulent schemes to customers across the Southland, Ruiz and Mendoza failed to report to the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own income, and they filed their own false federal income tax returns that fraudulently sought refunds, officials stated.


The evidence at trial showed that Ruiz bragged about not paying taxes for more than 25 years, federal officials stated.



For New York State Senator Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Money From a Non-profit Agency

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A former New York State Senator pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with embezzling thousands of dollars from an non-profit organization that helped educate parents about the New York City public school system, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

The senator, Shirley Huntley, served in the New York State Senate from 2007 to 2010. During part of the time of the charged conspiracy, Huntley was a senator.

"Huntley's experience and influence were supposed to be used for the benefit of her constituents. Instead, Huntley used her knowledge of the system to steal funds intended to help some of her neediest constituents, lining her own pockets at the expense of parents in need and, ultimately, their children," stated U.S. Loretta Lynch. "She will now be held to account for her crime. This guilty plea underscores our unwavering commitment to hold responsible those who abuse their authority and pursue their own financial interests instead of the public interest."

Federal officials stated that Huntley ran a Queens non-profit organization known as Parents Information Network Inc or PIN.

From October 2005 through October 2008, officials stated Huntley embezzled approximately $87,700 from PIN.

Huntley falsely certified to New York State that these funds would be used, and had been used, to support PIN's charitable mission, according to officials. Instead, Huntley used the money for her own personal benefit and for the benefit of her family members and associates. During this time period, PIN received nearly all of its funding from New York State.

Huntley could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced.

Union Official Convicted for Embezzling Money from SEIU Locals

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LOS ANGELES - Tyrone Ricky Freeman, the former president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 6434 and 434-B, was convicted  today of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union that represents home healthcare workers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


Freeman, 43, who is currently residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was found guilty of four counts of mail fraud, seven counts of embezzlement and/or theft of labor union assets, one count of making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution, and two counts of subscribing to a false tax return, officials stated.


"This was a case about abuse and betrayal," United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. stated in a press release.  "Freeman abused his position as leader of the SEIU, and he betrayed the hardworking people whose interests he was supposed to represent."


The evidence presented during a 10-day jury trial showed that Freeman pilfered money from SEIU Locals 6434 and 434-B by diverting reimbursement payments from a public-sector union that had close ties to the SEIU locals, federal prosecutors stated.


 Freeman collected $2,500 per month from Local 6434 and the California United Homecare Workers (CUHW), which was established in 2005 by SEIU and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees to represent public sector employees working in the homecare industry in California.


According to federal authorities, this is what happened:


From the beginning of 2007 through the summer of 2008, Freeman concealed from the Local 6434 Executive Board and the CUHW Executive Board that he was receiving payments of $2,500 per month in addition to the regular salary that he received from Local 6434.


Freeman also used a Local 434-B credit card to pay $8,105 in personal expenses he incurred during a 2006 trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, which included expenses related to Freeman's wedding ceremony.


Freeman also stole money from Local 6434 by routing funds through another entity closely aligned with the union - the Long Term Care Housing Corporation (LTCHC), which was a not-for-profit corporation organized in 2004 for the purpose of developing affordable housing for members of Locals 6434 and Local 434-B. The indictment alleges that Freeman took nearly $17,000 from Local 6434 in June 2008 by requesting the Local 6434 Executive Board to make payments to LTCHC without disclosing to the Executive Board that Freeman would then divert those funds to himself.

The false statement charges relate to lies that Freeman told to Countrywide Bank when he told a bank representative that Local 6434 paid for his personal American Express credit card debt and the monthly lease payments for his Land Rover.


Freeman was also found guilty of subscribing to false tax returns in 2006 and 2007 when he failed to report approximately $63,000 in income he received during those tax years.


Freeman will be sentenced in April





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"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself." -- Harvey Fierstein

Former Mayor of Cudahy Sentenced to a Year in Prison for Taking Bribes

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LOS ANGELES - The former mayor of the City of Cudahy was sentenced this afternoon to one year in federal prison for taking cash bribes in exchange for supporting the opening of a "medical marijuana" store in the city, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

David Silva, 62, the then-mayor of Cudahy and an elected member of the city council, was sentenced to a year in federal prison by Judge Manuel Real.

"Mr. Silva sold the integrity and authority of the mayor's office for his own personal gain," United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. stated in a press release. "Elected officials are expected to obey the law. When they don't, those officials should expect to go to prison."


Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Office, stated: "Today's sentencing serves as evidence that corrupt practices by public officials who use their power to get rich quick and abuse the trust of their constituents will not be tolerated. The FBI will continue to investigate alleged corrupt offenders and work toward restoring reliable services to the citizens they're expected to serve."


Angel Perales, 44, who ran the Code Enforcement Division of the Cudahy Community Services Department and who was involved in the bribery scheme, was sentenced by Judge Real two weeks ago to probation.


A third person who took bribes from an FBI informant - Osvaldo Conde, 51, who was a member of the Cudahy City Council, and who accepted two separate bribe payments - is scheduled to be sentenced next month.


On February 2012, following weeks of bribe solicitations and related discussions, made during recorded meetings and telephone calls, Conde, Silva and Perales met an FBI confidential informant at the El Potrero nightclub in Cudahy.


The three Cudahy city officials accepted a total of $15,000 cash as bribe payments. Later that evening, Conde met the confidential informant to receive an additional $2,000 cash as a bribe."

Prior to a meeting with Conde and Silva at a Pico Rivera restaurant, Perales instructed the informant how he should broach the topic of paying the bribes, and later instructed the informant on how to present the bribes, specifying that the payments should be in cash only, according to the court affidavit.


Former Texas Choir Teacher Going to Prison for Showing Pornographic Video to a Minor

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DALLAS--A former choir teacher at Cross Timbers Middle School in Grapevine, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography, and is facing a sentence of at least five years and no more than 20 years behind bars, according to federal authorities.

Daniel Oberlender, 45,  used his computer to connect to the Internet and use Skype software to show a video file depicting a minor engaged in sexual explicit conduct.

On Aug. 5, 2012, Oberlender allowed DJH to remotely view the entire contends of his computer screen. Oberlender then began playing a video file, which was viewable by DJH, that depicted an adult male and a minor male engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to federal officials.

The minor male, whose eyes are shut during the entire video, appears to be approximately 5 or 6-years-old, authorities stated.

 DJH, who was located in Dallas, used Evaer software to capture and record the contents of Oberlender's computer screen, to include the transmission of the video, federal officials stated.


Former LA Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Identities To File Fraudulent Tax Returns

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LOS ANGELES - A former employee with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services pleaded guilty today to stealing the identities of 64 people while working as a receptionist for the county and using the information to file fraudulent tax returns, according to officials with the Internal Revenue Service.


The identities she stole resulted in a loss to the IRS of more than $357,000, according to federal officials.


Veronica Niko, 36, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty to one count of transfer/use of means of identification to commit an unlawful activity. 


Niko is facing up to 15 years in prison. She will be sentenced in June.


Niko, who formerly worked as a receptionist in the Lancaster office of Public Social Services, used her position to obtain the names and Social Security Numbers which were used to file the fraudulent tax returns, according to IRS officials.


She had contact with people who were applying for aid from the county agency.


Niko admitted giving the stolen identities her husband and co-defendant Thomas Marshall, 37, of Lancaster, who has admitted his role in these crimes.


In addition to Niko, four other defendants were charged in the scheme. Marshall pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy and will be sentenced in March.





A Powerful Victim Impact Statement By A Young Woman

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 Waiting for a man to be sentenced on Thursday for attempted murder in Courtroom 12, I listened to a young woman make a victim impact statement against a man with his head slightly bowed and standing inside a detention cell.

The man had  sexually abused her for several years - it was her father.

What this young woman said was powerful.

"He was my hero and I loved him very much," she said with tears streaming from her face.

She recalled how she was once "daddy's little girl" who looked up to the man now dressed in jail garb and who stood behind a Spanish language interpreter who translated for him.

"I couldn't wait for my daddy to come home," she said. "We were a normal and happy family."

Then she said that one day, the man she trusted and loved, started drinking a lot and began putting his "filthy hands" on her when she was 9 years old.

She told about how she dealt with the sexual abuse.

"I learned to leave my body," she said. "I went to another place in my mind and pretended to be another little girl."

She said he had low self-esteem issues, saying that she was raped by someone else when she was 14 years old and involved in an very abusive relationship with a boyfriend.

"I never learned to speak up," she said.

She said she had to decide to stay with her abusive boyfriend or go back to her home, to face her abuser.

This woman credited her aunt who she said shielded her, who she described as her consistency, stability and her love. She said her aunt was always there when she needed her.

She said her mother turned her back on her and didn't believe that her father was sexually abusing her.

The woman said she came to court to seek justice.

"All I ask for is justice and nothing more," she said. "An apology won't relieve me of my pain and suffering I have endured."

"I am also protecting all the children in my family. I represent the abused children who are too afraid to speak."

She told the judge that she wanted to say something in Spanish to her father who stood near a Spanish language interpreter.

She told him in Spanish, "I am not afraid of you. I don't feel pity for you. You abused a young girl who adored you. I wish that God will always bless and protect you and give you peace."

She paused, adding "I never want to see you again. Don't look for me, again."

The courtroom which was full of lawyers, Sheriff's deputies, and the vicitm's and the defendant's family members - who sat rows apart from each other - was silent when this young woman spoke.

Judge Kevin McGee thanked her, saying she was a "very strong woman," encouraging her to help others who have also been sexually abused  

"It will help them know they are not alone," the judge said. "You are a survivor not a victim."

Footnote: I will not use the name of the defendant to protect this young woman's identity.


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"It is in the character of a very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered" --

Ohio Man Who Had Thousands Of Child Pornography Images Pleads Guilty

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COLUMBUS--Zdenek Hrouda, 37, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, had more than 10,000 still images and 300 video files of child pornography stored on three computers and two external hard drives inside his house, according to U.S. Attorney's Office.

Hrouda was in federal court today pleaded guilty today and is now facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to law enforcement, an investigator was monitoring the Internet and identified an IP address that was a download candidate for child pornography.

The FBI and local police searched Hrouda's house on July 5, 2012 and found the pornography.



Man Who Made Extortion Demand Using Computer Is Facing Prison Sentence

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COLUMBUS--Donald Christopher Dailey, 37, of Delaware, Ohio, pleaded guilty in federal court today to extortion for demanding money from the company where he was the information technology administrator in exchange for not disclosing internal financial and other information, according to law enforcement officials.

Dailey also admitted to hacking into an ex-girlfriend's e-mail account, federal officials state.

Court records indicate that Dailey abruptly resigned from the engineering company where he worked on October 1, 2012.

Employees found a laptop connected to the company network and streaming live e-mail of the company's CEO. The laptop was in Dailey's private and secure workroom, according to federal authorities.

Dailey sent a letter to the CEO claiming that he had knowledge of what he alleged was damaging financial and other information about the company's internal communication that he would disclose to authorities and certain customers unless the CEO and his business partner sat down and talked with him, stated federal officials.

On October 13, officials stated Dailey called the CEO and made an opening demand of 75 percent of the $92,500 expected salary if he had stayed with the company.

FBI agents arrested Dailey on October 16 and searched his residence.

An analysis of Dailey's computer revealed that he had gathered personal information about the company's employees, including everyone's names and salaries, and had stored the data on his personal computer, according to authorities.

The alleged documents or information referenced by Dailey as part of the extortion were not found, officials stated.

Officials state that Dailey also admitted illegally accessing an ex-girlfriend's e-mail and bank accounts from a computer at the engineering company where he worked before he resigned.

Dailey is facing up to two years for extortion and a year for illegally accessing a computer without authorization, federal officials state.


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Ventura Gang Member Convicted of Robbery/Assault at Grant Park

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UPDATE:  A jury on Tuesday found Maximiliano "Max" Ledezma  guilty of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the 2011 robbery and assault during an incident near the Cross at Grant Park.

Jurors also found that Ledezma that used a weapon while committing the gang-related crime.

Prosecutor Anthony Sabo said in an interview today that Ledezma is facing 33 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

The incident took place on May 27,2011 at about 6:45 p.m., and Ledezma, 23, was arrested on June 23, 2011.

Ledezma approached Ricky Garcia and demanded his backpack but was told that he couldn't have it, according to court testimony.  Ledezma  pulled out a gun and fired once, struck Chase Christiansen with the gun butt in the forehead and left with the backpack, according to court testimony.

Garcia, Christiansen and others were in the park inside a vehicle smoking marijuana or had been drinking alcohol, according to court testimony,. 

According to Sabo, the strongest evidence against Ledezma was a 14-second video recording by Jacqueline Ayala, who was in the backseat of the vehicle, showing  Ledezma's chin and neck.  Sabo said that from this 14-second piece of evidence that gang-unit Detective Todd Hourigan did a "fantastic job" in trying to match the neck and chin with several gang members and coming up with Ledezma.

Hourigan, a gang expert, then showed Christiansen a six-photo-lineup and Christiansen was able to pick out Ledezma and testified in court that he was positive that Ledezma was the assailant.

During closing arguments, Ledezma's lawyer Claudia Bautista cautioned jurors against drawing conclusions solely on eyewitness testimony.

Right after the robbery, Sabo told jurors that the backpack was found during a traffic stop by police with known gang members inside the vehicle who Ledezma knew.   Ledezma, however,  wasn't in this vehicle, said Sabo.

Sabo said the "fatty deposit" on the chin and "cleft chin" matches Ledezma's chin; Bautista countered that nobody said anything on the stand about a "fatty deposit" or cleft chin up until Sabo brought it up during closing arguments.

Bautista put up images of famous celebrity chins, asking jurors if they knew who these men where before revealing their identity.

Hourigan who is a gang expert testified there are 250 members of the Ventura Avenue criminal street gang, and the city only has two officer, including himself, in the gang unit.

In an interview, Sabo said Hourigan is a busy gang officer.

"It's the most active gang in the city of Ventura," said Sabo.


Prison Gang Member Sentenced to 21 Years for Drug Trafficking

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SACRAMENTO, CA-- A federal judge sentenced Juan Gallegos, also known as "Wino," to 21 years and 10 months in prison for conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana along with our other drug trafficking felonies, according to law enforcement officials.

Gallegos, a member of Nuestra Familia, a violent Hispanic prison gang based in Northern California, helped transport and distribute large loads of the drugs from Southern California to Northern California, federal officials stated.

During his guilty plea, Gallegos, 36, of Salinas, admitted that he provided security for the 20 kilograms of cocaine as they were transported in furtherance of the overall NF drug trafficking conspiracy, stated FBI and other authorities.

The initial Indictment of 25 defendants in June 2007 led to two successful jury trials, according to officials.

The jury trials resulted in the convictions of five separate defendants on multiple counts of drug trafficking.

In the 2009 trial, one defendant demanded a speedy trial, was convicted, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to U.S. Attorney's Office.

In the 2010 trial, four of the NF's leadership defendants were each convicted on all the counts in the indictment after a contentious four-month jury trial.

Today's sentencing was the latest result of the new indictment that was handed down by a Sacramento Grand Jury in January 2011, officials stated.



MABA Luncheon Speakers Will Discuss Courts' Finances and Future Plans

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The "State of the Court" luncheon will be held Feb. 1 and is sponsored by the Ventura County Mexican American Bar Association.

Ventura County Superior Court Presiding Judge Brian Back will talk about the evolving plans for the direction of the court.

Michael Planet, the executive officer of the Superior Court, will give a report on the courts' financial situation.

The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at the Tower Club, 300 E. Esplanade Drive, Floor 22, in Oxnard.

For more information: Contact: Tawnee N. Pena at 764-6370 or email her at tpena@rstlegal.com.


Donuts, Bagels, Videos, Photographs and Courtroom 13

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Last Sunday's story about Courtroom 13 cost the courtroom Bailiff Tom Fuchs' $40.

Smiling, Fuchs said this morning that he had to buy the donuts and bagels for the other Sheriff's deputies assigned to the courtroom because his photograph appeared in the newspaper story about Courtroom 13.

There is a long-standing rule among the deputies at the Hall of Justice: If they are photographed or video recorded by the news media and their pictures or images are shown on TV or printed in the newspaper, deputies have to buy the donuts.

Apparently, it can get expensive.

 Star Photographer Juan Carlo did a great job with the help of multimedia producer Anthony Plascencia in putting together the Courtroom 13 video that ran with the story.

Judge Donald Coleman went out of his way to allow us to photograph and video record in his courtroom. Thus, we were able to put together a pretty good story package to allow the public a glimpse into one of Ventura County Superior Courts' busiest courtrooms.



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       "My life Needs Editing" -- Mort Sahl

Texas Chiropractor In Scheme That Cost Auto Insurance Companies $1.2 In False Claims

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HOUSTON--A Bryan chiropractor pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud various automobile insurance companies of more than $3 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Chase Lindsey, 34, who is the co-owner of Lindsey Chiropractic Care located in Bryan, Texas, admitted that during two years he allowed fraudulent claims to be created under his name for treatments that were never performed and were used for fraudulent settlement demand letters sent to auto insurance companies.

The insurance companies paid at least $1.2 million in false claims during 2007-2009.

In some instances, federal officials stated that Lindsey either never evaluated the patient or did so after the patient had already begun receiving treatments. The treatments, if done, were done by unlicensed, untrained, and unqualified individuals whom Lindsey never supervised, federal authorities maintain.

Lindsey will be sentenced in April and is facing up to 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.

Remaining defendants in this case are set for trial in April.

Federal Judge Describes Former Customs Agent's Conduct As An "Abomination"

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A former Customs and Border Protection Officer Thomas P. Silva, of Chula Vista, was sentenced last week to eight months behind bars for concealing a wanted fugitive by allowing him to enter the United States from Mexico without inspection, despite verifying the fugitive's status Customs and Border computer systems, according to federal officials.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Anthony J. Battaglia told Silva, 33, that his conduct was "an abomination" and that he had "brought shame" to the United States by carrying out these criminal activities while working as a Customs officer at San Ysidro Port of Entry, federal authorities stated.

Silva also admitted to engaging in a separate scheme to defraud Farmers Insurance of over $7,000 by falsely reporting that his Nissan Titan pickup truck had been stolen from a local San Diego community, federal officials allege.

Silva  said he took the truck to Mexico prior to reporting it stolen in furtherance of his fraudulent scheme. Thereafter, Silva filed the false claim with Farmers Insurance, which the insurance company then paid based on his misrepresentations, federal officials stated.

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"The good news is that Jesus is coming back. The bad news is that he's really pissed off." - Bob Hope

The "Adam's Apple" Case

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It was Friday evening  nearly two years ago,  a group of young people were inside a car parked at The Crosses at Grant Park in Ventura, some smoking marijuana and others had been drinking alcohol.

An armed gang member walked up to them and demanded a backpack that had been sitting on top of the car and after, he was told he couldn't have it. The assailant fired the gun, struck Chase Christiansen in the forehead with the butt of the gun and left with the backpack, according to prosecutors.

The incident took place on May 27,2011 at about 6:45 p.m. Nobody saw how the assailant left the park, according to prosecutors.

Christiansen was the only person who was able to identify Maximiliano  "Max" Ledezma as the assailant, and pointed  to him in court when he  testified  in Ledezma's  trial.

It ended Friday afternoon with attorneys giving closing arguments.

What lead to 23-year-old Ledezma's arrest was a 14 second video recording taken by Jacqueline Ayala who was in the backseat of the car. The video, which was shown to jurors, only shows a male image from the neck to mid-waist standing beside the vehicle and his voice is heard. The assailant is wearing a T-shirt.

From Ayala's video recording,  a gang investigator was able to make an arrest after an investigation, he said he identified the Adam's apple. He got Christiansen to identify Ledezma as the armed gunman.

But Ledezma's lawyer Claudia Bautista poked holes in the prosecution's case, telling jurors that this case based solely  on witness identification, a gang investigator's linking the Adam's apple in the video to Ledezma.

"This case is solely based on eyewitness identification," Bautista told jurors during her closing argument. "The sole issue here was whether Mr. Ledezma was at the Crosses on May 27."

She pointed out  to jurors that Christensen - the lone witness who identified the gunman - was  intoxicated along with the owner of the backpack, Ricky Garcia, and others in the vehicle.

Adding, "eyewitness testimony  is so sensitive and so dangerous and in order for you to rely on it, you have to be guided by the law."

Bautista said the Ventura gang Detective Todd Hourigan focused on the Adam's apple, which he described in court as prominent and concluded that it was Ledezma's and arrested him on June 6, 2011.

During cross examination of Hourigan, Bautista mockingly asked him if he had "prominent Adam's apple" training. But during her closing, she praised Hourigan, saying that he was a hardworking cop who is doing his best to put Ventura's street thugs who terrorize others in jail.

However, she said Hourigan is a gang expert, and there should be much more evidence than someone's Adam's apple, and a lone witness to put her client at the crime scene. She suggested that Hourigan put his finger on her client's photograph during the six-photo lineup when he showed it to Christiansen who picked him out.

"Detective Hourigan is sincere but he is mistaken, but he is not lying," Bautista told jurors. "He is invested in the conclusion. He is sincere, and he is invested."

Nor,did Hourigan plant evidence or had an axe to grind or was out to convict her client to get even, said Bautista.

Bautista said Hourigan lacks training in witness identification, adding that the fault lies with the Ventura Police Department who, she blames, for not giving Hourigan and other officers the proper resources to do their jobs.

"It's Max Ledezma. I know that Adam's apple anywhere," she said Hourigan concluded.  

Sabo said the defense brought in Nicky Medel as an alibi for Ledezma. She had not said a word until about 11 months ago when shesaid Ledezma was doing yard work for her at the time of the incident.

Sabo questioned why Medel  didn't  call police as soon as she found out he had been arrest.

Right after the robbery, Sabo said the backpack was found during a traffic stop by police with known gang members inside the vehicle. Ledezma knew two of those inside the vehicle but he wasn't inside, said Sabo.

Sabo said the "fatty deposit" on the chin and "cleft chin" matches Ledezma's chin; Bautista countered that nobody said anything on the stand about a "fatty deposit" or cleft chin up until Sabo brought it up during closing arguments.

Bautista put up images of famous celebrity chins, asking jurors if they knew who these men where before revealing their identity.

Sabo said there is plenty of evidence that indicates that Ledezma , whose moniker is Baby Mousie," is a member of the Ventura Avenue criminal street gang;  Bautista said her client admitted this on the stand, saying he was a gang associate.

Bautista urged the jury not to convict her client because he is a gang associate or because of the actions of a criminal street gang.

Sabo said Hourigan looked at hundreds of photo to conclude that it was Ledezma's Adam's apple.

"Clearly, you see the defendant's right eye and his nose" on his profile, said Sabo about the video.

Adding that Ledezma is guilty of aiding and abetting in this crime even though he might not have ever handled the backpack, said Sabo.  

Sabo said Ledezma got a fair trial and is entitled to one. But when jurors examine the facts and circumstances, Ledezma is guilty of robbery and aggravated assault and other related charges, Sabo told jurors.

Bautista said her client didn't do it, and that jurors can't convict him if they surmise that he might be guilty or is likely guilty or probably or perhaps he did it. She said the legal stand is beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted of all the felonies, Sabo said in an interview that Ledezma could be sent to prison for 33 years.

Sabo said the key to this crime is the identification of the Adam's apple.

"That's what it really boils down to," said Sabo.



Three Who Carjacked a Vehicle With Three Children in the Backseat Sentenced to Prison

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Three Montgomery, Alabama residents pleaded guilty Wednesday to carjacking an Isuzu Rodeo with three children in the backset and one pleaded guilty to kidnapping the three children in 2011, federal officials stated.

Around May 21, 2011, the victims' parents met "Nate" on the Internet who introduced them to Melissa McGee who claimed to be a human resources representative from Memphis. She offered to help the couple find jobs and a residence near Ozark, Alabama, according to federal authorities.

The children's parents decided to travel to Ozark and stayed with their children at the Ozark Inn where the motel room was paid for by McGee, officials stated.

 During their stay, McGee met with the couple and gave them small amounts of cash and food, and promised to get one of the parents a job paying $17 an hour.

On June 5, 2011, the victims and three children drove to a rural area outside Brundidge, Alabama to meet with McGee and take possession of a mobile home McGee had promised them, officials stated.

When the victims arrived, McGee introduced them to Robert Rogers, 25, of Ozark and Joshua Gilley, 26, of Enterprise, Alabama who immediately assaulted the young couple and forcibly took them out of their Isuzu Rodeo.

Rogers and Gilley drove off with the couple's three children in the backseat. McGee drove a white SUV ahead of Rogers and Gilley and later, climbed into the Isuzu and all of them drove away, federal officials maintain.

McGee took custody of the 2-month-old baby, while the 2 and 1-year-old children were dumped in the driveway of a residence in Black, Alabama.

When the children who were dumped were found, the occupants of the residence took the children to a nearby hospital, federal officials started.

Within 48 hours, police officers tracked down the other child to a private residence in Dothan, Alabama. The woman who lived there said she agreed to watch the baby for McGee who claimed the stolen child was hers, according to authorities.

"These three defendants not only endangered these young children by kidnapping them from their mother, but they dumped the two older children in a driveway in rural Alabama, showing no concern for their welfare," U.S. Attorney, George L. Beck, Jr. stated.

Gilley was sentenced to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to carjacking; Rogers got nearly three years behind bars and McGee got more than 17 years behind bars for kidnapping.


"Spa" Owner Going to Prison for Running Prostitution Service

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 A woman who owned and managed three "spas" that were a front for prostitution was sentenced today in Omaha to three years and one month in prison, according to the FBI

Kimberly A. Bivens, age 46, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to use facilities in interstate commerce to promote a business enterprise involving prostitution from 2009 to 2011, federal officials state.

Bivens placed advertisements for each of the three spas on the Internet.

The majority of customers received sex acts from the workers, rather than legitimate spa services, in exchange for money. Some customers traveled to the spas from Iowa and from other states to obtain sex for money, state officials.

During the time when Bivens managed or owned these three spa locations, there were more than 20 workers performing sex acts, according to federal authorities.


Texas Politico Arrested by FBI Today For Rigging Construction Bids

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An Eagle Pass, Texas politician was arrested today by the FBI after he was indicted for an alleged bribery, kickback and bid-rigging scheme, according to federal authorities.

Cesar Flores, 46, allegedly manipulated the bidding process to guarantee that contractors he chose would be awarded Maverick County construction contracts, state federal authorities.

The incidents took place in 2010 and 2011.

The contractors deposited checks issued to them by Maverick County and then made cash payments to Flores who is a county commissioner.

The bids were inflated so there would be enough money to perform the work and have enough left over to bribe Flores, federal officials stated.

If convicted, Flores is facing up to 10 years in prison for each bribery charge, federal officials state.

Today's Quote

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"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -- John Wooden

Woman Indicted for Running a Charity Scam for a Newtown School Shooting Victim

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A woman was indicted this week for using her Facebook account, phone and text messages to falsely claim to be an aunt of a shooting victim in order to solicit donations for the Newtown School shooting child, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Nouel Alba, 37, of Bronx, New York, told people she was collecting money for the funeral of a child and supplied fictitious details about the aftermath of the tragedy, federal officials stated.

At Alba's instruction, donor-victims sent money to a PayPal account controlled and accessed by Alba.

The indictment further alleges that, when contacted by FBI special agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to the Newtown school shooting, Alba falsely stated that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account or contacted anyone about such postings, or recently accessed her PayPal account, stated federal officials.

Alba was charged with making false statements and could get up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, authorities stated.

 "Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and any individuals who attempt to profit through these schemes will be prosecuted," stated U.S. Attorney David Fein.


Man Who Beat Prison Guard Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison

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A 22-year-old Des Moines, Washington man will spend 32 years in prison for attacking a guard last year at a federal penitentiary with a pipe during an alleged escape attempt, the U.S. Department of Justice officials stated.

Authorities, however, said the video shows that the beating was just a brutal attack by Sabir Shabazz against the guard.

Shabazz was sentenced this week in federal court.

Other inmates intervened in the assault, likely saving the guard's life, according to federal authorities.

Shabazz was in federal custody for sex trafficking two 13-year-old girls when he and another inmate beat the guard, say officials.

 "This brutal assault on a prison guard rightfully earned this defendant a lengthy term behind bars," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "He preyed on vulnerable 1 3-y ear-old girls while in the streets and viciously attacked one of the people we trust to keep our prisons and communities safe and secure. This conduct will not be tolerated."

The guard suffered significant head wounds, which were nearly fatal, authorities stated.

Today's Quote

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"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail." --  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Agoura Hills Man Going to Prison for Stealing Millions During An Investment Scheme

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An Agoura Hills man who used his business to defraud dozens of victims in a multi-million dollar investment scheme was sentenced to seven years in federal prison this week, according to federal authorities.


A federal judge also ordered Dean P. Gross, 50, to pay restitution of approximately $15.4 million.


The investigation indicated that 29 of the investors suffered $15.4 million in losses.


Gross, who was charged with operating the investment scheme between 2006 and 2009, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on August 6, 2012. 

While running the scheme, Gross collected more than $35.8 million from approximately 39 investors, according to federal authorities.


The investigation indicated that 29 of the investors suffered $15.4 million in losses.


Gross operated the scheme through his home business, which he called Bridon Entertainment.


When recruiting investors, federal officials claim that Gross falsely represented to victims that he was a veteran of the advertising industry. He made claims that he had significant connections with his company Bridon Entertainment that allowed him to purchase advertising time and space at discounted rates, federal officials state.


Gross falsely advised investors that he would then resell the discounted advertising to large, well-known corporations at a substantial profit.


The investigation revealed that Gross never used investors' money to buy or sell advertising and that he did not have relationships with the well-known corporations he said would buy the ads.


In classic Ponzi-style fashion, investors were paid with money from new investors, and none of their returns were generated from advertising sales.


The investigation also revealed that Gross used millions of dollars in investor money to pay for personal expenses, including the construction of a vacation house.



Northridge CPA Used The Names of Dead People To File False Tax Returns

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A Northridge CPA and tax return preparer pleaded guilty today to conspiracy in connection with using the names of dead people to file federal tax returns, according to federal


Masood Chotani got employer identification information from his client files and gave them to his co-conspirator Haroon Amin, of Upland, stated IRS officials.


Amin and another co‑conspirator, Ather Ali, of Diamond Bar, used the stolen employer data, as well as deceased people's Social Security numbers and other identification information obtained from the Internet, to prepare and file fraudulent returns, according to authorities.


According to officials, the scheme resulted in the filing of at least 250 false income tax returns with the IRS, claiming an aggregate of more than $2,000,000 in tax refunds.  Although the IRS rejected the bulk of these refund claims, a number of refund checks were issued and delivered to addresses controlled by Amin, Ali, and their co-conspirators. 


Most offenses occurred in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Ventura counties, state federal officials.   Most of these refund checks were delivered overseas to be deposited in bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan, authorities stated. 


Amin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States on Jan. 25, 2010 and is currently serving a 30-month prison term.  Ather Ali pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States on Feb. 12, 2010 and is serving a 37-month prison term, according to federal officials. 


Chotani is facing sentencing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on April 23.

Female Associate of Violent Prison Gang Gets Prison Sentence

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EL PASO-- A female associate of the Barrio Azteca prison gang was sentenced today to 18 months behind bars after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering offenses,  according to federal authorities.

April Cardoza along with 34 other Azteca members and associates were charged in a 12-count indictment that was unsealed in March 2012.

Barrio Azteca, a violent prison-street gang which began in 1980s, expanded into a international criminal organization and in the 2000s, Azteca members formed an alliance in Mexico with "La Linea," which is tied to the Juarez Drug Cartel.

The Azteca-Linea alliance was to battle the Chapo Guzman Cartel and its allies for control of drug trafficking routes through Juarez and Chihuahua, according to federal authorities.

Federal officials state that the drug routes through Juarez,  known as the Juarez Plaza, are important to the cartels because they are principal illicit drug trafficking conduits into the United States.

The case was investigated by the FBI's El Paso Field Office, Albuquerque Field Office (Las Cruces Resident Agency), DEA Juarez, and DEA El Paso. Special assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; El Paso Police Department; El Paso County Sheriff's Office; El Paso Independent School District Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; New Mexico State Police; Dona Ana County, New Mexico Sheriff's Office; Las Cruces, New Mexico Police Department; Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility; and Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.


Fixing California's Prisons Could Be Very Long and Costly Battle For Taxpayers

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The Star reported Wednesday that Gov. Jerry Brown is asking a federal three judge panel to drop its order for further reduction of the prison inmate population.

Brown is quoted as saying that the prison overcrowding problem has been fixed.

"The prison emergency is over in California is over," Brown is quoted in the front-page article. "The trouble situation in California prisons has been remedied.  It is now time to return control of the prison system to California."

Inmate-advocate groups decried Brown's actions, saying overcrowding remains a severe problem and that remedies exist to fix that situation without endangering public safety, the article stated.

Good luck, governor.

There are two inmate lawsuits that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that should concern  California taxpayers:  the 1972 case of Ruiz vs. Estelle and the  2007 case of Jones vs. Bock.

Ruiz vs. Estelle underscores the staying power of the federal courts, and Jones vs. Bock clears the way for inmates to file civil rights complaints and rejecting the existing law that stated that inmates had to exhaust prison grievance procedures before suing the prison about their treatment.

I recall while working in El Paso and covering the courts and the criminal justice system after the federal courts had taken control over the state's prison system, which resulted in a 10 year takeover.

The litigation started when a prison inmate,  David Ruiz, sued the director of the Texas Department of Corrections, William J. Estelle in 1972.

The Ruiz vs. Estelle case was the longest running prison lawsuit in U.S. history, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

Citing violation violations of the 8th Amendment, inmate David Ruiz said Texas' prison constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" including overcrowding, inadequate security, inadequate health care (sound familiar), unsafe working conditions and severe and arbitrary disciplinary procedures.

"If you cage an animal and kick him every day, one day that animal is going to attack," Ruiz told an AP reporter in a 1992 interview. "I never asked for a Holiday Inn. I asked to be treated as a human being."

After eight years of legal haggling, the case went to trial. The trial lasted 129 days, resulting in a U.S. District Court in Tyler, Texas ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, citing mistreatment, institutionalized neglect and inadequate resources.

In his ruling and after listening to 80 witnesses,  federal Judge William Wayne Justice ruled:  "The evidence before the court revealed a prison in which rapes, beatings and servitude are the currency of power. To preserve their physical safety, some vulnerable inmates simply subject to being bought and sold among groups of prison predators...To expect such a world to rehabilitate wrong-doers is absurd. To allow such a world to exist is unconstitutional."

 Judge Justice ordered sweeping and dramatic changes in the state's prison system.

Texas officials filed appeals that lead to reversing parts of Justice's 1980 ruling.

An agreement was reached that there would be a 95 percent prison capacity, the separation of hardcore offenders from other inmates, the hiring of more prison guards and improving of the medical treatment of prisoners.

Judge Justice had an iron hand on the oversight of the prison system until 1994, and maintained limited control until 2003.

To comply with the 95 percent cap, prisoners were given early releases for good behavior and others, usually nonviolent criminals, served only a fraction of their prison sentences.

I recall an interview with then El Paso Sheriff Leo Samaniego, a no-nonsense and tough lawman, about the inmates convicted in El Paso serving a few years of lengthy prison sentences.

"They just go up there to take a shower and they put them back on the bus and send them back," Samaniego  quipped in frustration with his Mex-Tex drawl. "Why even bother?"

One white-collar criminal given a 10-year prison returned to the county after service less than three years.

There were hundreds of other examples of early prisoner releases to the community. Some were violent criminals.

The state residents were outraged and demanded changes.  State prison officials processed newly arrived prisoners through the front doors and released others through the back door to keep from violating Judge Justice's 95 prison capacity ruling.

The recidivism rate rose dramatically.

The newspaper,  El Paso Herald-Post, sent myself, reporter Jim Bole and a female photographer named Nan (can't recall her last name) to report on the broken Lone Star State's prisons.

I wrote about Judge Justice's ruling dismantled the prison's "building tenders" system.  Building tenders were handpicked goons who were given carte blanche by the prison guards to beat, rape, murder and torture other inmates believed to be troublemakers or who were complaining.

I remember this is what the prison guards called this building-tender brutality on inmates: "A little thump therapy to set his heart right."

After the building tender system was dissolved, there was a power vacuum in the prison system.

Inmates began forming groups, mostly along racial lines.  First the groups were organized for protection and cultural pride. Soon, it was to control the drugs, prostitution, extortion and power inside the prison walls.

Prison gangs -- Texas Syndicate, Mexican Mafia,  Aryan Brotherhood to name a few -- were formed and it resulted in an explosion of violence in 1980s.

By the end of the 1980s, Texas residents, many who had disdain for Judge Justice, decided to pay for a billion dollar prison construction to relieve the overcrowding   that expanded the prison units from 18 at the time of the Ruiz trial to more than 90 units by the 1990s.

The Jones vs. Bock case means that jailhouse lawyers can now circumvent the prison's grievance system

Inmates can now go directly to the federal courts with their civil rights complaints, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007.

David Ruiz, who filed the historic lawsuit, was the son of migrant farm workers and the youngest of 13 children.

He was a self-educated jailhouse lawyer who took on human rights abuses in prison.

Ruiz wrote his 1972 complain that was handwritten at least partially on toilet paper, according to published reports.

Ruiz died of natural causes in prison on Nov. 11, 2005. He was serving a life-sentence for aggravated robbery and had spent all but four years of his adult life in prison.

At his funeral was Judge Justice who was 86 years old, sat quietly among family, friends and ex-prisoners. The funeral service was held at a church in East Austin, according to published reports.


For more information on Ruiz vs. Estelle: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/just/features/0505_01/ruiz.html


Corrections Officer Sent to Prison for Choking Jail Inmate

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WASHINGTON--Demetrio Juan Gonzales, 40, a former corrections officer at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sentenced today in federal court to 33 months in prison for choking a jail inmate in the shower room,  according to federal authorities.

According to federal  court documents, during the early morning hours of December 21, 2011, Gonzales was assigned to the Receiving-Discharge-Transfer (RDT) Unit at MDC where individuals are brought to be booked soon after they are arrested.

Gonzales' job was to photograph and fingerprint those who are brought to RDT for booking. The victim, who had been arrested for driving while intoxicated, was verbally uncooperative during the booking process but was not a physical threat to anyone, federal authorities stated.

Nonetheless, Gonzales became angry at the victim and walked him to the shower room/dress-out area where he knew there were no surveillance cameras. Several other corrections officers followed Gonzales to the shower room/dress-out area, federal officials claim.

 There, Gonzales physically assaulted the victim, striking him multiple times and choking him. As a result of Gonzales' actions, the victim started bleeding. Gonzales acknowledged that the victim did nothing to justify the beating and, as a corrections officer, he was not permitted to assault inmates just because they angered him, officials stated.

"Corrections officers who abuse their authority by physically assaulting prisoners undermine the foundations of the rule of law and violate basic constitutional guarantees that protect every person in America," stated Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in a press release. "The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will continue to aggressively prosecute civil rights violations that occur in our jails and prisons."

Fellow former MDC corrections officers Kevin Casaus, 24, and Matthew Pendley, 26, were indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2012 and are awaiting trial on charges related to this assault.


Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Interfering With Flight Crew

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PITTSBURGH--An irate and belligerent Georgia man who told a flight attendant that he needed to get off a commercial airline that was in flight is facing up to 20 years in prison.

Marc Anthony Malone, 34,  pleaded guilty in federal court today to one count of interfering with a flight crew.

On Oct. 10, Malone board a AirTran flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh. , Pennsylvania. About 30 minutes into the flight, Malone began acting erratically.

According to federal authorities, this is what happened: At one point during the flight, Malone asked a flight crew member, "Where are we?" Upon hearing that the plane was on its way to Pittsburgh, Malone stated, "I need to get off now," and attempted to get to the front of the aircraft. One of the flight attendants tried to calm Malone and asked him to sit in his seat, at which point Malone continued to leave his seat, stating, "Why are you mad at me?" Shortly thereafter, Malone attempted to force his way to the front of the plane, at which point two flight attendants physically stopped him, and Malone yelled "F-- you!" over and over.

As Malone refused to comply with commands to return to his seat, he attempted to get to the front of the plane by pushing a flight attendant with his hands, knocking the attendant backward, federal officials stated.

At that time two, flight attendants and five passengers wrestled Malone to the ground to restrain him and place flex cuffs on him, federal officials allege.

While Malone kicked and attempted to bite those that attempted to restrain him, Malone yelled, "I'm going to get you. When I get out of here, I can't wait to get a hold of you." As such, Malone had to be restrained by flight crew members for the duration of the plane's landing instead of being able to attend to their normal duties.

Malone will be sentenced in May.

Today's Quote

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"I hate every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." -- Muhammad Ali


Happy New Year!

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It's good to be back to work from vacation.

Hope everybody has a great year and wishing everybody a Happy  New Year.

I wanted to start the year by asking readers to call or email me with courthouse story ideas, suggestions or complaints:  437-0264 or rhernandez@vcstar.com.

My New Year's resolution is to work harder to write a better blog.  

Today's Quote

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"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." - Theodore Roosevelt

Former Va. Police Chief Pleads Guilty To Burglary and Drug Conspiracy

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ABINGDON, VA-- The former police chief of Pennington Gap, Virginia Police Department pleaded guilty this morning to felony charges related to his involvement in the distribution of prescription painkillers and the burglary of a pharmacy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

William Bryan Young, 39, of Duffield, Virginia, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute oxycodone and one count of burglary of a pharmacy, related to the burglary of the Rite Aid pharmacy in Pennington Gap on September 28, 2012.

Officials said Young had a drug habit and had ties to drug dealers

Young's co-defendants, Kevin Andrew Young, 35, of Duffield, Virginia; and Chris Miles, 35, also of Duffield, entered guilty pleas to one count of burglary of a pharmacy.

"William Bryan Young abused his police authority and repeatedly broke the law he was sworn to uphold," U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy stated today in a press release. "By arranging a commercial burglary and engaging in numerous illegal drug transactions, Mr. Young tarnished the badge he wore and violated the trust of the people of Pennington Gap. This case demonstrates our commitment to enforce the law and hold individuals accountable, regardless of rank, position, or status."

Officials said that on Sept. 28, Young sent all other officers of the Pennington Gap police department home to ensure he would be the only police officer working the night shift, according to officials.

Around 2:50 a.m., a burglary of the Rite Aid pharmacy in Pennington Gap occurred, officials stated. Just before the burglary, Young contacted officers with the Lee County Sheriff's Office to determine their positions relative to the location of the pharmacy, authorities stated.

After determining that there were no law enforcement officials near the pharmacy, Young contacted Kevin Young, Jimmy Johnson, and Chris Miles to let them know it was okay to break into the Rite Aid pharmacy.

Miles got inside the pharmacy and stole about 5,000 oxycodone pills

William Young received stolen pills and on Oct. 18, 2012, while in uniform, William Young sold 20 oxycodone pills to a confidential informant who was cooperating with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigation, according to federal authorities.

Shortly after former Chief Young did this, he was arrested.

William Young admitted to being a drug user and drug dealer, officials stated.

A search of William Bryan Young's police cruiser located the pre-recorded U.S. currency used by the confidential informant to purchase 20 Percocet pills earlier that day. Agents also located 13 Percocet pills and one oxycodone pill in the police cruiser.

On October 18, 2012, a search warrant was executed at William Young's residence resulted in the officers finding 548 Percocet pills and firearms in the residence along with other evidence.

William Bryan Young faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison and a potential fine of up to $1.25 million Kevin Young faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 20 years' imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $250,000. Chris Miles faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a potential fine of up to $250,000.

"When a police officer violates the trust that our citizens have placed in its law enforcement, that is something we will not tolerate. I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this wanton misconduct that there will be a penalty paid," said Richard Marianos, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service.


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.