A Los Angeles woman pleaded not guilty last week to 17 felony counts for allegedly operating a fraudulent immigration services business.
Dalila Moreno (dob 11/23/54) faces charges of grand theft of personal property, forgery, counterfeit seal and extortion. Her next scheduled court appearance is a preliminary hearing setting on Feb. 13.
According to prosecutors, Moreno ran the immigration business from her home between May 7, 2011, and October 31, 2014, falsely promising to expedite the processing of visas, resident alien cards and citizenship petitions for her clients and their families.
The defendant allegedly told victims she worked for the government and had special government connections. She allegedly pretended to provide services by creating false visas and passport stamps, collecting $129,000 from 13 victims without providing the promised services.
Moreno faces up to 14 years in state prison if convicted as charged. Bail was set at $550,000.
Investigators believe there may be other victims and ask them to call the Consumer Protection Division's hotline at (213) 257-2465.
NORWALK – On Monday, Nov. 20, between the hours of 12:45 p.m. and 8:40 p.m., six armed robberies occurred within the cities of Norwalk, La Mirada, Santa Fe Springs and Bellflower.
The primary targets were gas stations and convenience stores.
Approximately $780 in cash, cigarettes and other miscellaneous items were stolen at gunpoint. Evidence obtained at several of the incident locations lead detectives to identify two suspects.
At approximately 8:45 p.m., a small 1994 dark blue Toyota 2dr pick-up truck, fitting the description of the suspected vehicle, was observed by Whittier Police Department personnel drive into a gas station at Valley View and Rosecrans Avenue in La Mirada.
Subsequently, the two suspects inside the pick-up truck were detained at gunpoint and taken into custody without incident.
Among the items recovered from the suspect vehicle were cigarettes and approximately $800 in cash. A black airsoft pistol closely resembling the handgun believed to have been used in the commission of the crimes was also recovered.
The suspects, 18-year-old Christian Lopez, a male Hispanic resident of Whittier and 20-year-old Alberto Letona Jr., a male Hispanic of La Mirada, were arrested and transported to Norwalk Sheriff’s Station where they were booked for robbery.
Each are being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
NORWALK – A 42-year-old man was shot and killed following a physical altercation at an Arco convenience store in Norwalk last Saturday.
Authorities say the incident began when the victim, Geronimo Gutierrez, bumped into a 16-year-old Palm Springs girl inside the store, located at 10602 Imperial Hwy.
The bump led to a fist fight between Gutierrez and the girl’s friend, 20-year-old Nakia Smith, of Los Angeles.
During the fight, Smith produced a handgun and shot Gutierrez in the head, authorities said. An innocent bystander was struck in the abdomen.
Gutierrez died but the bystander survived.
Authorities arrested Smith and the 16-year-old girl in Palm Springs. They also found the suspected murder weapon, authorities said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victim’s Bureau is currently investigating a sexual assault case involving a volunteer high school track coach from Norwalk High School, the department announced via its official Facebook page.
The suspect, 26-year-old Johnny Arrellano was arrested on Oct. 5 for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, police said.
It is alleged he sexually assaulted two female students while off campus.
Arrellano is scheduled to be arraigned at Norwalk Court today, Tuesday Oct. 17. His bail is set at $370,000.00.
Investigators believe there may be additional victims or witnesses.
DOWNEY – A 19-year-old Norwalk man was arrested for fleeing a fatal vehicle collision in Downey on Sept. 6, police said.
Authorities say Jose Esparza was driving the vehicle that collided into another car at Bellflower Boulevard and Imperial Highway at about 10:59 p.m.
Esparza allegedly fled the scene but was arrested later by investigators. He was charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, and hit-and-run.
The family of a homicide victim is asking for help to bring their loved one’s suspected killer into custody, now two years after their loved one’s murder.
On Friday, August 14, 2015, 28-year-old Andrew Martin Rosales was shot and killed in the 7000 block of Stewart and Gray Road after an argument turned violent.
The suspect – Jehosua Revalcaba – is a Latino man standing at 5 feet 5 inches tall, with horn tattoos on his hairline. At the time of the murder, he was described as around 165 pounds.
Revalcaba has yet to be brought into custody, a fact that has continuously frustrated and tormented Rosales’s family.
The family says that there have been recent sightings of Revalcaba in areas around Southern California, which they say they have reported to Downey Police. Yet all attempts to try and bring Revalcaba into custody seem to be fruitless.
“I called them [Downey Police] and they told me that they need a location and everything else, where he’s at,” said Lisa Rosales, the victim’s mom. “It’s like you’re doing their job, they’re not doing the job.”
Jennifer Irrobali, the victim’s sister-in-law added to these frustrations.
“When I called and told them about the recent leads and the recent viewings of him -the sightings and stuff – they don’t respond to the phone call,” said Irrobali. “I called them about three times already. I haven’t gotten a response back.”
The family has now resorted to setting up a Go Fund Me page, with the hopes to raise enough money to hire a private investigator in an attempt to get answers.
They say they want justice and communication from authorities.
“Bring him in,” said Irrobli. “Let us know what we should know. We know that there’s boundaries, but still we should have some communication.”
According to Downey Police Detective Steve Aubuchon, there have been some leads, however nothing has led to Revalcaba’s arrest. The investigation remains active.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Downey Police.
NORWALK - The family of two Norwalk teens who were hit by a car on Monday evening is speaking out.
In a statement released to the Norwalk Patriot, the family says that Joy and Carlos Rouse – 17-year-old twins - were crossing at Pioneer Boulevard and Foster Road when they were struck by white sedan with tinted windows.
The family says that the teens did not have enough time to react by the time they noticed the car, which they say was traveling down Pioneer and turning left onto Foster Road.
The teens sustained minor injuries and were transported to a nearby hospital, according to the Norwalk Sheriff's Station.
Both have been put in braces until they can be seen by specialists, the family said.
In their released statement, the family shared their gratitude and praised the military training the twins received that may have prevented a worse outcome.
“We would like to cause awareness towards these types of vicious crimes and show that it is unacceptable to flee a scene and leave the victims helpless, injured and possibly even worse," the statement said.
"We are very thankful that our little brother and sister are alive, but others are not so lucky and this type of cowardly action must stop. We are very thankful for Southeast Military Academy, because of this academy our brother, Carlos, had heroic like instincts and did not hesitate to take the initiative, which is in fact one of the 14 leadership traits you must memorize and master at the academy, and [he] helped our sister as he too was in pain.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Norwalk Station was called for update, but did not received a response before publication.
By Alex Dominguez | Follow him on Twitter here
DOWNEY – Homicide detectives are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred on the 7100 block of Luxor Street in Downey on Wednesday night.
Police officers responded to the location at about 7:30 p.m. after receiving reports of shots fired. They found a male adult suffering from what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds.
Downey Fire Department paramedics transported the man to St. Francis Medical Center where he died. His identity has not been publicly released.
“During the course of their investigation detectives discovered information that suggests this crime may be gang-related,” police officials said.
Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to call Detective Carlos Bejines at (562) 904-2334 or Sgt. Tim Lau at (562) 904-2304. Callers can remain anonymous.
SANTA ANA – The former deputy treasurer for the city of Compton pleaded guilty on July 13 to federal charges stemming from his theft of more than $3.7 million of city funds.
Salvador Galvan, 47, of La Mirada, pleaded guilty to one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Galvan pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for November 3, 2017.
When he pleaded guilty, Galvan admitted that he stole $3,721,924 from the city of Compton from May 2010 through December 2016
Galvan, who worked in the Compton Treasurer’s Office for more than 20 years, was responsible for tallying the cash received by the city as payment for parking tickets, business licenses and other fees. After the cash was counted, Galvan prepared the money for deposit into a city bank account.
According to court documents, Galvan skimmed cash from the daily receipts on numerous occasions, sometimes taking as much $8,000 per day.
Galvan has agreed to forfeit to the government the remaining proceeds of his embezzlement, which includes cash and cars purchased with the stolen money. He has also agreed to pay restitution to the City of Compton as ordered by Judge Staton.
In conjunction with Galvan’s guilty plea, his wife – Rosa Maria Galvan – was charged with money laundering related to the embezzled funds. She pleaded guilty to that charge yesterday as well and will also be sentenced on November 3, 2017.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel O’Brien, Deputy Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.
NORWALK – A man in his 50s suffered multiple gunshot wounds when multiple suspects approached his home, authorities said Monday.
The shooting happened at 8:33 p.m. Sunday in the 14000 block of Madris Avenue, said Sgt. Manuel Flores of the Norwalk Sheriff's Station.
The man was taken to a hospital where his vital signs were stable today, Flores said.
The man was shot as he sat in his vehicle in his driveway, the sergeant said.
The shooting was believed to have been gang-related, Flores said.
Operation Safe Streets, the gang unit for the sheriff’s department, was notified of the shooting and is investigating.
DOWNEY - Detectives recently received a tip informing them that illegal fireworks were being advertised for sale in Downey on Craigslist.
Following up on this information, undercover detective arranged to meet with seller Jose Zepeda at a local restaurant parking lot and purchased illegal fireworks on Wednesday, June 21.
A second purchase of illegal fireworks was arranged on Friday, June 23 and Jose’s brother, Juan Zepeda arrived at the location and was taken into custody for selling illegal fireworks to undercover detectives.
Illegal fireworks were immediately seized from inside Juan’s vehicle.
Detectives served a search warrant at Jose Zepeda’s home in the 7300 block of Dinwiddie and seized numerous boxes of illegal fireworks weighing in excess of 3000 pounds.
Thirty seven-year-old Jose Angel Zepeda of Downey was arrested for possession of illegal fireworks in excess of 100 pounds, a felony, and will appear in court at a later date to face charges. 36-year-old Juan Zepeda of Downey was arrested for selling illegal fireworks, a misdemeanor, and will appear in court at a later date to face charges.
The Downey Police Department has a “zero tolerance” policy towards the possession and use of illegal fireworks. Anyone with information relating to the possession or use of illegal fireworks is encouraged to contact the Downey Police Department at (562) 861-0771.
If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Board of Supervisors renewed a $10,000 reward on Tuesday for information on whoever gunned down a 23-year-old man while he was playing basketball in a Norwalk park nearly two years ago.
Supervisor Janice Hahn recommended extending the reward -- which was set to expire June 26 -- in the hopes that it will encourage witnesses to come forward.
Edwin Morales was shooting hoops at Gerdes Park at 14700 Gridley Road about 9:30 p.m. on July 11, 2015, when he was shot in the neck. He died at the scene.
Investigators said two gang members were seen randomly shooting at other men in the park before running off to a waiting car. Another victim was wounded, but survived.
Morales, who lived in Bellflower, had no gang affiliation, according to detectives.
Hahn urged anyone with information to call sheriff's Detectives Wayne Holston or Karen Shonka, (323) 890-5500.
HUNTINGTON PARK – Two Huntington Park men who are members of the Florencia 13 street gang and participated in the murder of another gang member have been sentenced to life without parole in federal prison after being convicted at trial of racketeering, narcotics, and weapons offenses.
Jose Dorado, also known as “Yogi,” 35, and Tannous Fazah, aka “Terist,” 27, were sentenced on June 5 by United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell.
Judge O’Connell sentenced the two men after presiding over a four-week trial last summer that ended with a jury returning guilty verdicts on multiple charges against the two defendants – including conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR), conspiracy to traffic narcotics, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, and felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Dorado and Fazah received an order from an incarcerated, senior member of the F13 gang in March 2010 that instructed them to beat and kill a junior member of the gang.
Within hours of receiving the order, in an alley in Huntington Park, Dorado, Fazah and other members of the gang circled the victim and proceeded to punch and kick him repeatedly. While the victim lay unconscious, Fazah brandished a handgun and fatally shot the victim in the face.
“[T]here is no crime more serious than murder, and the brutality of this particular homicide – that is, a vicious beating carried out at the center of a circle of gang members, who continued to pound on the victim even after he had lost consciousness, and concluding with Fazah shooting the victim in the face at point blank range – supports a sentence at the statutory maximum,” prosecutors wrote in sentencing memorandums that recommended life sentences for Fazah and Dorado.
The drug trafficking charges against Dorado and Fazah were based on the F13 gang’s street sales of illegal narcotics and smuggling of drugs into the Los Angeles County jail system.
The jury that convicted Dorado and Fazah also returned guilty verdicts against two other F13 members who also were charged in the 2013 federal racketeering indictment. Those other two defendants were sentenced recently to lengthy prison terms.
The RICO indictment named 30 members and associates of the F13 gang. With the four convictions last summer, a total of 25 defendants have been convicted in the case (one charged defendant died, and the other four remain fugitives).
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the Huntington Park Police Department; and the Los Angeles Police Department.
By Raul Samaniego
NORWALK – Two male suspects were taken into custody on Friday after a short car and foot chase with L.A County Sheriff’s deputies near the 15500 block of Fairford Avenue.
According to Cerritos Sheriff’s Station Watch Commander Lt. Richard Hernandez, the suspects allegedly held up a branch of the Bank of the West on Carmenita Avenue in Cerritos.
A pursuit of the suspects began at the bank, but authorities say the pursuit never made it onto any freeways.
“They drove (west) on Artesia, then north on Bloomfield, and finally west on Alondra Boulevard,” said Cerritos Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Stephanie Mandujano.
A spike strip was ultimately deployed at the intersection of Norwalk and Alondra boulevards.
“They worked,” said Mandujano, who described the two men as African-American.
While part of the car pursuit, she was not involved in the foot chase, which brought the neighborhood to a halt.
“I was working on my computer in my room, when I heard someone shouting outside,” said Norwalk resident Dylin Marabot, who witnessed a suspect run past his window.
Marabot said he watched as a male deputy shouted at the suspect to “stop”
“He had his gun in hand, but he wasn’t pointing it at the suspect,” Marabot said.
Authorities said the suspect ran into a neighboring backyard where he was apprehended.
One of the suspects was slightly injured while trying to run away.
“He hurt his ankle,” Sgt. Mandujano said.
No weapons were found in the initial search of the suspects’ vehicle.
“We’re waiting for detectives to arrive so they may go through the vehicle for evidence,” said Mandujano at the scene.
By Eric Pierce
DOWNEY – A 39-year-old woman was fatally stabbed in Downey last week and her alleged killer is now in custody.
Downey police officers were dispatched to the 8300 block of Florence Avenue at about 1:55 p.m. on May 24 after receiving reports that a woman had been stabbed.
Officers discovered the victim, 39-year-old Maria Figueroa of Lynwood, suffering from apparent knife wounds. She was transported to the trauma center at St. Francis Medical Center where she died.
The suspect in the killing, 39-year-old Anthony Jesus Ramirez, of South Gate, fled after the stabbing and crashed his vehicle near Paramount Boulevard and Telegraph Road. He was arrested by police officers and booked for murder.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call Detective Mike Galindo at (562) 904-2330.
LA MIRADA – Thirteen people, most of whom are linked to La Mirada- and Norwalk-based street gangs, have been charged in federal court in a bank fraud scheme involving “skimmed” credit cards.
Authorities also say one of the charges alleges a transaction involving over three kilograms of methamphetamine.
On Tuesday morning, law enforcement arrested 11 of the defendants, the lead defendant in the credit card fraud case was arrested late Tuesday afternoon, and law enforcement continues to search for one more defendant who remains at large.
The credit card skimming operation was allegedly operated by a man linked to a criminal street gangs known as the La Mirada Punks and the Carmelas.
Russell Jay Ogden, along with his wife, are accused of leading the scheme that allegedly skimmed credit cards – meaning victims’ credit cards were surreptitiously run through an electronic device that collected the cards’ information.
Members of the scheme then encoded the stolen information on counterfeit credit cards and used the fraudulent cards to purchase big ticket items that were later sold for a profit. The investigation has determined that many of the credit cards in this case were skimmed at a restaurant in Huntington Beach.
In total, the conspiracy compromised more than 500 credit cards and caused various financial institutions to suffer losses of more than $500,000 after the cards were used across Southern California at department stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, sporting goods stores and Toys R Us, according to the bank fraud indictment.
Those charged in the 27-count bank fraud indictment are Russell Jay Ogden, also known as “Big Dog,” 43, of La Mirada; Rudy Leo Aguilar, also known as “Fats” and “Dreamer,” 32, of Norwalk, who was previously convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a gang-related incident and was sentenced to 13 years in state prison; Blaine Andrew Porlas, 51, of La Habra, who is linked to the Nazi Low Riders; Marco Anthony Alday III, 26, of Whittier; Milan Vukelich, also known as “Bo,” 37, of Artesia; Shelly Anne Ogden, who is Russell Ogden’s wife, 41, of La Mirada; Leo Norman Aguilar, 32, of Norwalk; Ameer Adnan Yousef, 32, of La Mirada; Shawn Phillip Vasquez, 49, of Hesperia; and Lloyd Luis Leyh, 43, of Huntington Beach
Leyh was sentenced to 13 years in state prison in an attempted murder case involving a firearm and is currently a fugitive in this case.
Many of these defendants are members of the La Mirada Punks and the Norwalk-based Carmelas criminal street gangs, and most of the defendants have felony records, according to the court.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, a charge that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Most of the defendants are also charged in other counts of credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Rudy Leo Aguilar is also named in a separate indictment that charges him with distributing nearly two pounds of methamphetamine.
Two additional defendants are charged in another narcotics-trafficking case involving methamphetamine. They are:
· Gustavo Uribe Meza, also known as “Big Boy” and “Goose,” 24, of Whittier; and
· Peter Chiapparine, also known as “Uncle Pete,” 72, of South Gate.
The final defendant arrested in the takedown is charged in an indictment that accuses him of trafficking approximately 3.6 kilograms of methamphetamine and federal firearms violations. He is:
· Norman Aguilar Jr., also known as “Flea,” who is Leo Aguilar’s brother, 35, of Norwalk.
In court, the 11 defendants arrested Tuesday morning entered not guilty pleas and were ordered to stand trial on July 18. Prosecutors said that searches conducted revealed evidence that the credit card scheme was ongoing.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The investigation into the Ogdens and their associates is being conducted by a Task Force that includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Huntington Beach Police Department, the Brea Police Department and the United States Secret Service.
LOS ANGELES – Two key operatives of the Florencia 13 street gang who were convicted of racketeering and narcotics offenses following a trial last year have each been sentenced to over a decade in federal prison.
Giselle Casado, also known as “Guera,” 33, of Downey, was sentenced on May 9 to 121 months in prison for being a “secretary” to the gang’s “shot-caller,” which allowed her to play an inside role in the gang’s illegal operations.
The evidence presented at last year’s trial showed that Casado relayed gang-related messages, controlled illicit monies, and assisted drug trafficking activities.
A second person found guilty last year by a federal jury – Jose Sanchez, also known as “Trouble” and “Troll,” 41, of Huntington Park – was sentenced last month to 238 months in federal prison. Sanchez, a longtime F13 member, was sentenced on April 17 for his role in the gang’s racketeering activities, as well as related drug trafficking and firearm offenses.
Casado and Sanchez were sentenced by United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, who presided over a four-week trial that culminated last July with a jury returning guilty verdicts on charges of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
Sanchez also was found guilty of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime for possessing a handgun at a “casita” – one of the illegal gambling establishments run by the gang.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Sanchez was one of the F13’s “soldiers,” who were required to engage in drug trafficking and violent acts on behalf of the gang. Sanchez served as armed security to protect illegal narcotics sales at several casitas.
He also sold drugs both at the casitas and from his residence in Huntington Park. When she sentenced Sanchez last month, Judge O’Connell described Sanchez as having “consistently led a life of crime.”
The jury that convicted Casado and Sanchez also returned guilty verdicts against two other F13 members who were charged in a federal racketeering indictment in August 2013. The indictment named 30 members and associates of the F13 Gang. With the four convictions last summer, a total of 25 defendants have been convicted in the case (one charged defendant died, and the other four remain fugitives).
The other two defendants found guilty at trial last summer are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge O’Connell on June 5. Jose Dorado, 35, and Tannous Fazah, 27, both of Huntington Park, were also found guilty of the RICO and drug trafficking conspiracies, with the latter offense based on F13’s street sales of illegal narcotics and smuggling of drugs into the Los Angeles County jail system.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Dorado and Fazah were also “soldiers” who, among other things, participated in the murder of a junior member of the F13 Gang. At sentencing, Dorado and Fazah are each facing a maximum sentence of life without parole in federal prison.
The investigation into Florencia 13 was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the Huntington Park Police Department; and the Los Angeles Police Department.
LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who was convicted of overseeing a scheme designed to obstruct a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities, was sentenced last Friday to 36 months in federal prison.
Baca, 74, who also was found guilty of lying to federal investigators, was sentenced on May 12 by United States District Judge Percy Anderson.
Judge Anderson, who presided over a series of trials that led to the conviction of 10 former members of the Sheriff’s Department involved in the scheme to obstruct justice, said Baca “knew what he was doing was wrong, and he had no problem using his office to further his own agenda.”
Judge Anderson ordered Baca to begin serving his sentence by July 25. In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered Baca to pay a $7,500 fine.
“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” Judge Anderson said.
The sentencing follows a trial that ended in March when a federal jury convicted Baca on three felony counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statement to federal investigators. The evidence presented at trial showed that Baca was the top figure in the conspiracy, which also involved his right-hand man and deputies who implemented orders from the Sheriff.
“Rather than fulfill his sworn duty to uphold the law and protect the public, Lee Baca made a decision to protect what he viewed as his empire, and then he took actions in an effort to simply protect himself,” said Acting United States United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown.
“He wore the badge, but ultimately, he failed the department and the public’s trust. Today’s sentence demonstrates that no one is above the law – not even the leader of the largest municipal police agency in the nation.”
“As Sheriff, Mr. Baca should have held himself accountable. He should have corrected the actions of others, rather than shift blame and obstruct a federal investigation,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office. “I’m proud of the team of agents and prosecutors who persevered throughout this lengthy and challenging investigation, and grateful to the victims and witnesses who came forward.”
The obstruction scheme began in August 2011 after LASD officials discovered a cell phone in an inmate’s cell at the Men’s Central Jail, linked the phone to the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad and learned that the inmate was an FBI informant. The cell phone had been smuggled into the jail by a corrupt deputy who took bribes.
The FBI had developed the informant as part of an investigation into the county jail system, which for years had been the subject of allegations of inmate abuse and subsequent cover-ups. The evidence presented at trial showed that the sheriff wanted to avoid federal scrutiny of his troubled jails.
As part of the scheme to obstruct justice, Baca ordered a criminal investigation of the FBI agents conducting the investigation, and he directed his underlings to conceal the informant from federal investigators.
Over the course of approximately six weeks, members of the conspiracy then took a series of steps that successfully hid the informant from federal authorities, engaged in witness tampering in an effort to prevent information from being shared with federal authorities, and threatened to arrest the lead FBI agent on the case.
When Baca watched a recording of his deputies confronting the FBI agent, he reacted by stating “it was the best laugh he had in some time,” prosecutors noted in their sentencing memorandum filed with the court.
While Baca put his right-hand man, then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, in charge of the scheme, Baca participated in dozens of meetings and phone calls with members of the conspiracy and directed his deputies to approach the FBI agent. Baca participated in the scheme after being warned by a top deputy that the actions would amount to obstruction of justice.
The case against Baca is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is one in a series of cases resulting from the investigation into county jail facilities in downtown Los Angeles that has resulted in 21 convictions.
Baca was the tenth member of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department convicted in the obstruction scheme. Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was also found guilty by a federal jury, was sentenced last year to five years in federal prison.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Anderson said Baca would have received a sentence as long as Tanaka’s, except for his medical condition and the former sheriff’s lengthy history of public service.
Eleven other former deputies have been convicted of federal charges, mostly related to unprovoked beatings of inmates and subsequent cover-ups.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
SANTA FE SPRINGS – A Santa Fe Springs man who posed as an attorney as part of an elaborate immigration fraud scheme in which at least 87 foreign nationals – mostly Chinese citizens – paid tens of thousands of dollars to be “married” to United States citizens was sentenced on April 24 to two years in federal prison.
Jason Shiao, who also went by the name Zheng Yi Xiao, 67, who operated the Pasadena-based Jason (USA) International Law Corporation, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.
Shiao “assisted foreign nationals who were seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status to remain in the United States by arranging fraudulent marriages for those foreign nationals to United States citizen spouses,” according to documents filed by prosecutors in relation to April’s sentencing.
Shiao was initially charged in this case in 2015, and in January he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and marriage fraud.
As part of the scheme, Shiao falsely claimed to be an attorney, paid United States citizens thousands of dollars to participate in the scheme, introduced immigrants seeking benefits to American citizens to facilitate the sham marriages, instructed his clients to pose for wedding photographs, and told clients to lie to officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
According to court documents, Chinese nationals paid up to $50,000 to enter into sham marriages in the hopes of obtaining lawful permanent resident cards – often referred to as green cards – that would allow them to legally reside in the United States.
Shiao’s daughter, Lynn Leung, 45, of Pasadena, also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge. Leung was sentenced last week by Judge Fischer to six months in prison.
A third defendant charged in the case – Shannon Mendoza, 50, of Pacoima – was transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he is also being prosecuted for drug trafficking charges based on conduct allegedly committed while on pre-trial release in the immigration fraud case.
While Shiao and Leung served as brokers by arranging the sham marriages and filing immigration applications, Mendoza allegedly acted as a recruiter by finding U.S. citizens who were willing to enter into sham marriages in exchange for payments of up to $15,000.
Court documents describe how the defendants went to considerable lengths to make the fake marriages appear real.
According to Shiao’s plea agreement, he and his daughter prepared documentation that was filed with USCIS to bolster the validity of the fraudulent marriages, including staged photographs of “wedding ceremonies” and bogus tax returns, life insurance policies, joint bank account information and apartment lease applications.
The investigation in this case began in September 2012 based on information provided by an anonymous caller who contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
NORWALK – Detectives on Wednesday released the photo of a man accused of sexually assaulting at least two women in Norwalk. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said they believe there could be more victims.
Ronald Douglas, 33, was arrested on March 5 and booked on suspicion of sexual assault, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
"Both cases occurred in the city of Norwalk," according to a Sheriff’s statement. "[Douglas] offered to walk the victims home or give them a ride. Shortly thereafter, at a secondary location -- Douglas proceeded to sexually assault the victims."
The statement indicates that DNA evidence linked Douglas to a 2015 case where he is suspected of sexually assaulting a 37-year old female.
Douglas is also suspected in the sexual assault of a 40-year-old woman, detectives said.
The criminal complaint alleges that one of the attacks occurred Nov. 19, 2015, and that the other woman was attacked on March 5, the day Douglas was arrested by sheriff's deputies.
Douglas -- who remains jailed and is due in a Norwalk courtroom today -- has pleaded not guilty to three counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation and one count each of sodomy by use of force, attempted sodomy by use of force, false imprisonment by violence and bringing contraband into the jail.
The suspect is being held on $2 million bail, the sheriff’s department said.
Detectives are urging anyone with any information on the case to call the Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-5273, or contact the bureau by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.