If you have ever lived paycheck to paycheck, as more than half of Americans do, then you know how much estimating, calculating, and budgeting goes on in your everyday life. Far from being a freebie, government benefits often make life more complicated instead of simpler. How many people have struggled to make ends meet; getting a pay raise is bittersweet when your new job doesn’t provide health insurance benefits, but it does make your income too high to qualify for Medicaid. The emergency benefits provided during the COVID-19 pandemic have undoubtedly saved lives, prevented COVID infections, and kept numerous working parents and their children out of poverty, but they have also caused plenty of confusion. Do you have to pay back the child tax credit payments that the IRS deposits in your bank account at unpredictable intervals? Perhaps the worst thing about public assistance benefits is the number of people who jump at the opportunity to vilify anyone who receives them. Police, bureaucrats, and busybody neighbors are ready to cry welfare fraud if you make a typo on a benefits application. If you are facing criminal charges for welfare fraud, contact a Los Angeles welfare fraud defense lawyer.
A $43,000 Mistake?
When filling out tax paperwork or applications for public assistance, there is always a possibility of making errors in calculation or other details on the forms. If it was an honest mistake, you have an opportunity to correct it. Intentionally falsifying paperwork in order to receive public benefits to which you are not entitled is welfare fraud, and it is a crime, just as intentionally presenting false information on your income tax returns is the crime of tax fraud. If the value of the government benefits you received as a direct result of the false statements is less than $950, then welfare fraud is a misdemeanor, but if it is more than $950, it is a felony.
An investigation led to the arrest of seven Tulare County residents on suspicion of welfare fraud. The defendants are as follows:
- Clarista Aldaco, 26, of Lindsay
- Gabriela Almanza, 31, of Porterville
- Erica Enos, 31, of Visalia
- Lenora Macagbra, 51, of Visalia
- Violet Pack, 34, of Visalia
- Rosie Renteria, 26, of Porterville
- Johnny Vallejo, 26, of Lindsay
The seven defendants allegedly received a total of $43,466 in benefits beyond what they were entitled to receive. It is unclear how much each defendant received individually, and whether these cases are unconnected or whether the defendants are being accused of conspiring with each other to commit welfare fraud. Like all defendants in criminal cases, these defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Welfare Fraud Defense
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of welfare fraud or making false statements on benefits applications. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact the Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
Every night is a good time to party in Los Angeles, and New Year’s Eve is a time to party anywhere. Partying does not have to involve motor vehicles, but anyone who has ridden in a car in the City of Angels can attest that nowhere else does the wind in your hair feel quite as magical through a car window or sunroof. Therefore, New Year’s Eve in L.A. is a perfect storm for drunk driving. There is a chance that yours was one of the vehicles whose festivities were interrupted by a traffic stop, and now a DUI court date now looms in your future in early 2022. It may or may not be of any consolation that David Koechner of Anchorman fame is in the same boat as you are. It certainly should be reassuring that, no matter who you are, you have the right to representation by an attorney when you are facing charges for any crime, including drunk driving. If you spent New Year’s Eve regarding the numbers on a breathalyzer with trepidation instead of watching the ball drop in Times Square, contact a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer.
Life Imitates Art as David Koechner Gets Pulled Over for DUI Before the Sun Even Sets on New Year’s Eve
David Koechner has acted in dozens of film and television roles, but some of his best known, such as Champ Kind in Anchorman and Todd Packer in The Office, are known for their alcohol-fueled misadventures. On December 31, 2021, the real Koechner was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. At around 3:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, police got a phone call about someone driving erratically in Simi Valley; the driver had allegedly crashed into a street sign and then left the scene. When officers located the vehicle and pulled it over for a traffic stop, the driver turned out to be Koechner. They administered field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer which allegedly measured Koechner’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.13 percent, which is well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
According to TMZ, Koechner was booked into jail at about 5:00 p.m., and his vehicle, which had blown out two tires, was towed. A second breathalyzer test then showed Koechner’s BAC to be 0.12 percent. Koechner was released from jail early in the morning on January 1, and his court date has been set for March 30. He is facing charges for DUI first offense and hit and run. Like all defendants in criminal cases, Koechner is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About DUI and Traffic Crimes Defense
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or other traffic offenses, such as hit and run. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact the Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
Unlike most crimes, sexual abuse of children has no statute of limitations. Many children who suffer sexual abuse are afraid to tell anyone what happened until after victims reach adulthood; if they were very young when the abuse happened, then they might not even know until years after the abuse occurred that what the abuser did to them was against the law. Adult survivors of sexual abuse have the right to testify in cases related to abuse that occurred decades earlier. In the case of crimes involving producing and transmitting images or videos depicting exploitation of minors, the court might order people who purchased copies of the content many years after it was produced to pay restitution to the people whose abuse is depicted in the images, pursuant to the federal Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018. Meanwhile, the people who record or distribute the images can face long prison sentences. To find out more, contact a Los Angeles crimes against children lawyer.
Defendant Confesses to Soliciting 35 Preteens Online
In September 2021, Billy Edward Frederick of Redondo Beach pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, according to a press release by the Department of Justice. He was arrested following an investigation which discovered 5,000 images and videos in his Google account of minors engaged in sexual acts. The victims appeared to be between the ages of 11 and 14. Frederick confessed that he would record the victims during Google Hangouts conversations. At least one victim, a boy who lived in the Philippines, received money from Frederick in exchange for his participation in the Google Hangout, as revealed in chat messages between Frederick and the victim. In the plea agreement, Frederick admitted that he had done this with at least 35 victims.
The Department of Justice statement does not give any details about how authorities first became aware of Frederick’s illegal activities except to say that Homeland Security Investigations played a role in investigating this matter. Many investigations involving the distribution of exploitative images have begun when a content moderator notifies law enforcement that a user has uploaded or transmitted an illegal image or video. This may not have been the case in the investigation against Frederick, though, since it does not appear that he distributed any of the illegal content to third parties.
Frederick, 51, will receive a sentence on March 14, 2022. The crimes to which he has pleaded guilty carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Sex Crimes Defense
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of possessing, producing, or purchasing illegal images depicting the exploitation of minors. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact the Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
In 1999, when the singer Carnie Wilson broadcast her gastric bypass surgery live on the Internet, the public’s reaction was “only in Los Angeles.” 22 years later, everyone broadcasts their weight loss journey on the Internet, and gastric bypass surgeries are among the less gruesome sights you will see if you idly scroll through videos on YouTube or Facebook. More importantly, weight loss surgery has become just a normal part of medicine.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to have a gastric bypass; in fact, many health insurance companies cover it, including the notoriously stingy Tricare. Insurance companies will only cover the procedure if it is medically necessary, meaning that the patient already has, or is at high risk of developing, other obesity-associated conditions that require equally costly treatment over the patient’s lifetime, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, or fatty liver disease. One such qualifying condition is obstructive sleep apnea, which can be life-threatening if untreated; to diagnose a patient with obstructive sleep apnea, doctors must conduct a sleep study.
It is obvious to anyone who has spent more than ten seconds in Los Angeles that the weight loss industry is big business. This month, one of L.A.’s superstar weight loss doctors was convicted of health care fraud for billing health insurance companies more than $300 million for medically unnecessary sleep studies and weight-loss surgeries. If you are facing criminal charges for healthcare fraud, contact a Los Angeles fraud crimes defense lawyer.
Julian Omidi Convicted of Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Making False Statements, and Money Laundering
Anyone who has visited Los Angeles has seen the billboards for the 1-800-GET-THIN network of weight loss clinics; Julian Omidi’s face is familiar from these billboards. The 1-800-GET-THIN clinics have attracted their share of controversy; for example, Omidi’s medical license was revoked in 2009 after several patients died from complications of weight loss surgery. Even after the revocation of his medical license, Omidi remained involved with the business aspects of 1-800-GET-THIN.
Omidi was arrested in 2018 and charged with 28 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, two counts each of money laundering and making false statements, and one count of aggravated identity theft. The charges stem from Omidi’s role in billing insurance companies for expensive sleep studies to determine patients’ eligibility for weight loss surgery. In some cases, the sleep studies were medically unnecessary, as the patients had no symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
In other cases, Omidi ordered sleep studies for patients whose insurance plans do not cover weight loss surgery under any circumstances. In some instances, Omidi falsified patients’ medical records to make them appear eligible for weight loss surgery. By the time of his arrest, insurance companies had suffered a total of $355 million in losses due to his fraudulent claims.
Omidi and a co-defendant, Mirali Zarrabi, both pleaded not guilty. Whereas Zarrabi was acquitted, Omidi, whose age news reports give variously as 53 and 58, was convicted on all counts. His sentencing hearing will take place in April 2022. He could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. The identity theft charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years and cannot be served concurrently with any other sentences.
Contact Manshoory Law Group About Fraud Crimes Defense
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of defrauding health insurance companies. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact us at Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
Shopping online is convenient, but often there is a side you don’t see to the stuff you buy from the Internet. Ecommerce boutiques where every item comes with a thank you note signed by the person who crafted the item are the exception to the rule. It’s possible to buy consumer products dirt cheap on Amazon and similar sites, but those leggings or scented candles you are buying for pennies could be someone’s desperate attempt to recoup their losses after a failed multi-level marketing venture.
Even worse, the consumer goods you are buying for chump change could be stolen merchandise. An Orange County woman is currently facing felony charges after allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise from retail stores with the intention of reselling it online. If you are facing criminal charges for stealing merchandise from stores, contact a Los Angeles theft crimes defense lawyer.
When Is Retail Theft a Felony?
Stealing from retail stores seems harmless compared to, for example, stealing valuable items from people’s houses or cars, but the criminal penalties for theft depend as much on the value of the items stolen as on where they were before you stole them. If you steal many thousands of dollars of merchandise from a retail store, you could get felony charges, and if you are convicted, you could get a prison sentence.
For example, Ekaterina Zharkova from Costa Mesa could face a sentence of nine years and two months in prison if she is convicted of all the charges against her; she has been charged with four felony counts of grand theft, seven misdemeanor counts of petty theft, and one felony count of receiving stolen property.
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, she went to several TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack stores in Orange County, entering the store with empty shopping bags and leaving with the bags full but without paying. On November 23, she got caught walking out of a Nordstrom Rack store with merchandise she had not paid for, and she posted her $60,000 bail two days later.
Prosecutors allege that Zharkova stole approximately $328,000 of merchandise bearing brand names such as Gucci, Prada, and Jimmy Choo. She would allegedly resell the stolen items on high-end consignment websites. This is not Zharkova’s only pending case, though. She also has other grand theft cases in Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as possession of burglary tools case. Regarding the latter case, she missed a scheduled court appearance on December 10, and there is currently a warrant out for her arrest.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Theft Crimes Defense
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of petty theft, grand theft, or receipt of stolen property. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact us at Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you will have to go to court for arraignment. Depending on what happens during and after your arraignment, you may not need to go to court for trial if the case is dismissed.
What Happens if You Fail to Attend Court?
If you fail to attend a required court date, you can be charged with Failure to Appear (CA Penal Code 1320 & 1320.5). The judge will issue a bench warrant, and you will be arrested and brought to court. Failure to Appear can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on what you were originally charged with.
As a misdemeanor, failing to show up at court can add six months in county jail and $1,000 in fines to the penalties you are already facing. As a felony, it can result in up to three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000, in addition to any penalties you receive in connection with the existing charges.
You cannot be taken to trial in court without first being charged with a crime and having an arraignment where you hear the charges against you and enter your plea.
How Long After Being Charged Does it Take to Go to Court?
Although you may (or may not) have been told the charges against you beforehand, technically you have not been charged with anything until your arraignment. From this point, you have a right to a speedy trial under both the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 15, of the California Constitution. You also have the ability to waive this right.
What is considered a speedy trial depends on whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony, and whether you are held in custody between your arrest and arraignment.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Court Date For a Misdemeanor?
In the case of misdemeanor charges, you have a right to go to trial within 30 to 45 days of being formally charged. If you were held in custody after your arrest, your arraignment has to happen within 48 hours of the arrest. If you were released after the arrest, your trial must take place within about 10 days.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Court Date For a Felony?
For felony cases, you have the right to go to trial within 60 days of being charged. If you were released or bailed out after your arrest, it can take weeks or in some cases months to be formally charged at an arraignment. If you were held in custody, the arraignment must still happen within 48 hours.
What Happens at an Arraignment?
The arraignment is your first court appearance after getting arrested. At your arraignment, a judge will tell you what the charges against you are and what your constitutional rights are.
You will also respond to the charges by entering a plea, such as guilty or not guilty, although these are not the only pleas you can enter. After you have entered your plea, the judge will decide whether you should be held in jail until your trial.
At this stage, you can be released on your own recognizance until the date of the trial, or the judge can set a bail amount that must be posted for you to be released from jail, or they can refuse to set bail. This decision will be based on the nature of your charges and whether you are deemed a risk to the community, and whether you are deemed likely to run away.
The advice of an expert criminal defense attorney can help you reduce the amount of time you spend in jail while you are waiting for your arraignment and trial, as well as improve the outcomes of these court dates. If you have been charged, or are about to be charged, with an offense, contact us today for a free case analysis.
In California, as in most other states, you can get charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. If your BAC is well above that limit, the penalties will probably be more serious than if your BAC is just slightly above 0.08, even if you do not cause an accident. If you are drunk enough to make a driving mistake egregious enough for the police to notice it, then you are drunk enough to get a DUI.
In some cases, drinking just one alcoholic beverage is enough to put your BAC over the legal limit. It depends on how strong the drink was, your body weight, whether you consumed it with food or on an empty stomach, and how much time passed between the time you finished drinking and the time you started driving. If you drink vodka and cranberry juice that resembles the color of a California sunrise more than the color of a ruby, you are plenty drunk to get a DUI. If you are facing criminal charges for drunk driving, contact a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer.
PK Kemsley Gets Arrested for Driving With BAC Just Above the Legal Limit
Paul “PK” Kemsley is a household name in Britain because of his association with the Tottenham Hotspurs football club and with the British version of the reality show The Apprentice, but American audiences know him best because of another reality show; his wife Dorit Kemsley is a main cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
One evening in November 2021, Kemsley ate dinner at a restaurant with a business colleague, where he drank a glass of wine with dinner. After he left the restaurant, he was driving home on the 101, and a police officer pulled him over; the Page Six celebrity news website did not specify why the officer decided to conduct the traffic stop.
Kemsley took a breathalyzer test, which recorded his BAC as 0.081, just slightly above the legal limit. The officer arrested him for DUI and took him to the police station. Authorities administered another breathalyzer test once Kemsley arrived at the station; this time, his BAC was 0.073, which is below the legal limit. A member of the California Highway Patrol then drove him home.
Kemsley, 54, had never been arrested for DUI or for any other offense prior to this incident. He is a prime candidate for pretrial diversion, where he can get his charges dropped if he complies with the requirements. He may not even get criminal charges at all.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About DUI Defense
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of DUI after a traffic stop where a breathalyzer test showed your BAC as above 0.08, or where you refused a breathalyzer test. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact us at Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
Despite the fact that growing numbers of people own cryptocurrencies, a widespread perception remains that their primary application is to enable people to make transactions that they would not make with bank accounts connected to their legal names. No one buys Bitcoins in the hopes of spending them at In-N-Out Burger. Although this may have seemed impossible 15 years ago, now there are legal regulations regarding cryptocurrencies and legal Bitcoin exchange businesses.
There is nothing inherently illegal about operating a business that enables customers to convert Bitcoins into U.S. dollars, but operating an unlicensed cryptocurrency business is as illegal as operating any other unlicensed business, and money laundering is money laundering whether it is in the form of cash, cryptocurrency, real estate, or any other valuable item. If you are facing criminal charges for money laundering or another financial crime, contact a Los Angeles federal crimes defense lawyer.
Defendant Knew That Clients Were Using His Business to Conceal the Proceeds of Illegal Drug Sales
In May 2018, Hugo Sergio Mejia, Jr. of Ontario, California began operating a business that exchanged Bitcoins for U.S. dollars and vice versa; he would charge clients a commission for using his exchange services. He never registered his business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The unlicensed business remained in operation for approximately two-and-a-half years, during which time Mejia exchanged approximately $13 million.
At least some of the assets he exchanged were the proceeds of illegal drug sales, and he was aware of this. He also actively tried to conceal the true nature of his business by establishing several apparently legitimate businesses. He would communicate with clients by encrypted messages, and the exchanges took place in person at various coffee shops, and some clients referred other clients to him by word of mouth.
One of his clients was a confidential police informant who met with Mejia at a coffee shop on several occasions, between May 2019 and March 2020, to make the exchanges. The informant told Mejia that he was making his exchanges on behalf of a client in Australia who bought methamphetamine online and sold it on the street for a much higher price than the street value of methamphetamine in California. By 2020, the informant had bought Bitcoins from Mejia in exchange for more than $250,000.
Mejia was arrested and charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of money laundering. In July 2021, he entered a plea of guilty. In November 2021, Mejia, 50, received a sentence of three years in prison.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Accusations of Money Laundering
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, or other financial crimes. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact us at the Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
Since the days of America Online in the 1990s or even its predecessors the text-only bulletin board systems that tied up the phone lines of fun-loving nerds for hours on end in the 1980s, conventional wisdom has always dictated that you should not reveal your true identity online. This has led both to people saying and doing horrible things online behind the veil of pseudonymity as well as to friendships, or at least to friendly fan relationships, among people who do not know each other’s real names.
When an influencer or other social media star gets accused of a crime, though, the speculation about it often involves connecting a real name, present on the arrest record or arrest warrant, to the online pseudonym. Whether you have thousands of followers on social media or zero, you have the right to representation by a Los Angeles violent crimes defense lawyer if you get charged with assault or another violent crime.
The Rise and Fall of Shadman
A graphic artist who goes by the name Shadman has been posting his drawings online since 2009, and the consensus is that he is Shaddai Prejean, who was born in Switzerland and is now 31 years old. Shadman, who always wears a face-covering in his videos, is no stranger to controversy. He has attracted criticism for his sexually suggestive drawings of popular animated characters and public figures, so much so that he removed the most controversial content from his site in 2019.
Today, Prejean is facing legal trouble. In late October 2021, he was arrested in Los Angeles County after an altercation. He is now facing criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon, but few other details about the incident are available on news sites.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges in California
You can get criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon if you injure or attempt to injure someone with a weapon such as a firearm or a knife. The charge applies whether or not the victim actually suffers bodily injury. Assault with a deadly weapon is a felony, punishable by up to four years in state prison, or else by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Any of several defenses might apply. You might argue that you assaulted someone but did not have a weapon. In other cases, you might argue that you used the weapon by accident or that you acted in self-defense. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you decide which defense to use or whether you should seek a plea deal.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Accusations of Assault With a Deadly Weapon
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of assault with a deadly weapon or another kind of criminal offense that involves violence or bodily injury. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact us at Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.
The first thing that comes to mind when most of us hear the phrase “workers’ compensation fraud” is a worker faking an injury in order to get workers’ comp to pay the disability benefits when they are actually healthy enough to work, or else suffering a work injury but then filing claims to get workers’ compensation to pay for the treatment of the worker’s pre-existing health problems in addition to the treatment for the work injury.
While some people certainly have received criminal charges after filing fraudulent claims for workers’ compensation, the workers’ comp claims process is sufficiently thorough that employers have ample opportunity to dispute suspicious-looking claims. Employees are not the only ones who can be charged with fraud for lying in order to enrich themselves at the expense of funds meant to pay for the treatment of large numbers of injured workers; employers can also receive charges for financial crimes if they make false statements in order to avoid paying for the workers’ compensation insurance the law requires them to carry.
If you are facing criminal charges for making false statements to a workers’ compensation insurance company, contact us for a Los Angeles fraud crimes defense lawyer.
Former Sheriff’s Reserve Officer Accused of Defrauding Workers’ Compensation Insurance
In 1993, Simon Semaan began working as a sheriff’s reserve officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and he excelled in his work to such a degree that, in 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to a state private security disciplinary review committee. By 2021, Semaan also owned a security guard staffing firm called Pacwest Security Services and another company called PSSM Inc. He did not carry workers’ compensation insurance for the former company; for the latter company, he carried two workers’ compensation policies, but he underreported the number of employees on the payroll, in order to lower his insurance premiums.
By 2021, Semaan had allegedly defrauded California’s workers’ compensation insurance program $17 million in insurance premium payments, making his case the biggest insurance premium fraud case in the history of Los Angeles and the second biggest in California history.
Upon his arrest, the Sheriff’s office terminated his employment. Semaan, 54, has been charged with seven felony counts of fraud and seven enhancements for financial crimes in excess of $500,000. If convicted of all charges, he could receive a sentence of up to 16 years in state prison. Semaan posted $4 million bails and is currently free. He has entered a plea of not guilty and is presumed innocent until proven guilty at a jury trial.
Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Accusations of Insurance Fraud
When it comes to insurance payments, numbers are fuzzier than they may seem, but making false statements in order to receive money from an insurance company or to avoid paying money to one is a crime. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of insurance premium fraud or another kind of fraud involving insurance companies. Your initial consultation is always free, so contact us at Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.