California Criminal Attorney Blog

Michael J. Stewart, 68, of San Clemente was found guilty in federal court of 11 counts of mail fraud.  It took the jury six hours to reach their verdict against a man who once had a thriving real estate investment firm.  Stewart, co-woned the firm Pacific Property Assets (PPA) along with John J. Packard, 65 of Long Beach.  Packard had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in exchange for his cooperation and testimony against Stewart.

PPA was founded in 1999 and took advantage of the strong real estate market.  PPA would obtain bank loans and cash from private investors to buy fixer-upper apartment buildings in California and Arizona.  After the properties were remodeled, they would then sell them for a significant profit.  However, when the real estate market collapsed, so did PPA’s profits.  By 2008, PPA was losing an estimated $2 million per month.

The prosecutor argued to the jury that when PPA began to lose money, they resorted to lies and deceptions of the company’s strength to keep the money flowing.  Many of the investors were elderly people who lost their entire savings.  In total, prosecutors alleged PPA became a ponzu scheme where they would seek new investors to pay back older investors.  In total, it was testified that losses reached $170 million.

Stewart, faces up to 220 years in federal prison however, it is expected he will be sentenced to somewhere around 20 years.  Packard, will not be sentenced until after Stewarts November 2, 2015 sentencing date.  Packard also faces significant time but is expected to be sentenced to significantly less time than Stewart due to his cooperation with authorities.

White collar crimes, include a variety of different type of crimes from embezzlement, insurance fraud, stock fraud and ponzu schemes to name a few.  If you are being investigated for a white collar crime, contact our office for a free consultation at 877-750-7550.

A former Corona del Mar High School tutor who was charged with 20 felony counts of computer access fraud has pleaded guilty.  Timothy Lai, 29, admitted to illegally changing several students grades by using a USB device that he attached to teachers computers.  Once the device was attached, it was able to pick up keystrokes that he later used to assist the students.  One of the teachers noticed a change of grades and another teacher found a USB device attached to their computer which kicked off an investigation.

Lai, fled the country and was not arrested until October 2014 when he returned to the United States.  Lai plead guilty to 20 felony counts of computer access fraud and one felony count of burglary in the second degree.  He was sentenced to one year in county jail and placed on five years of probation.  Absent this plea agreement, Lai faced up to 16 years in state prison.

Penal Code Section 502(c)(4) is the knowingly accessing without permission the computer of another to alter, add, delete or destroy data.  This section carries a maximum punishment of 3 years in state prison.  If you are being investigated for a crime involving computer access fraud, call our office today for a free consultation at 877-750-7550.

Ryan Patrick Natividad, a 30-year-old resident of Corona was arrested and charged with several felony counts related to a worker’s compensation claim he made.  Natividad, claimed he injured his fist while attempting to prevent an arrestee from falling into a wall while being escorted to the police car.

Natividad, a Costa Mesa police officer was directed by the police department to seek medical attention for his injury but an internal investigation revealed there were discrepancies as to how and when the injury occurred.

If convicted, Natividad faces up to six years in prison, fines and the likely loss of a carrier.

Worker’s compensation is a fund that both California employers and employees pay into to pay for work related injuries.  Worker’s Compensation fraud typically involves workers making false claims of injuries sustained on the job while employers are likely to face similar charges if they fail to pay the appropriate fees into the fund.

If you need to speak to an attorney representing clients accused of workers compensation fraud, call our office at 877-750-7550 for a free consultation.

Dr. Bruce Hagadorn, 56, was charged in Orange County Superior Court with one felony count of embezzlement and eight felony counts of tax evasion.  If convicted, Hagadorn faces up to 10 years in prison and the potential loss of his California Medical license.

Hagadorn, the chief of staff at Irvine Regional Hospital and member of the Medical Executive Committee is out on $200,000 bail.  Authorities allege that when Irvine Regional Hospital closed, the board voted to donate the remaining charity funds to Hoag Hospital.  However, according to police, instead of donating the money to Hoag, Hagadorn diverted the funds to his personal use.

The criminal complaint also charges Hagadorn with multiple counts of tax evasion for not declaring the proceeds he received from the alleged embezzlement.

Ezequiel Barragan, 48 of Aliso Viejo was arrested yesterday on charges of possessing child pornography and child molestation.  Barragan, a Spanish teacher at Dana Hills High School is being held on $500,000 bail after investigators said he was the focus of a United States Postal Service child pornography investigation.

The minor who authorities say was a victim of the child molestation was not a student at the high school.  If convicted of possession of child pornography and child molestation, Barragan faces lifetime registration as a sex offender and state prison incarceration.

Four people were injured when William Murray, 50, collided almost head-on with a Honda Civic over the weekend.  Murray was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated by Fullerton Police.

A female passenger in Murray’s vehicle was airlifted to a trauma center in Long Beach.  According to law enforcement, she has significant injuries but is expected to survive.  The driver of the other vehicle was taken to UCI Medical Center for internal injuries but he is also expected to survive.  The driver of the Honda also had his minor children in the care and they were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

Murray is likely to be facing felony DUI charges causing great bodily injury if he was driving while intoxicated.

The former co-owner of clothing brand RVCA and professional surfer, Conan Hayes was charged in Orange County Superior Court with Real Estate fraud.  According to authorities, Hayes lied to Bank of America causing them to lose $586,245 on the short sale of a Costa Mesa home.

Hayes, who sold his interest in RVCA for over $7 million is alleged to have told bank officials that he had lost his job and got the bank to agree to short sell the Costa Mesa home.  The bank was unaware of Hayes’ assets from the sale of RVCA which may have been able to prevent the need for the bank to short sell the home.

Hayes, 40 was charged with one felony count of grand theft with sentencing enhancements of property losses over $200,000.  If he is convicted, Hayes faces up to five years in prison.

F.B.I agents arrested Khosrow Afghahi, 71, of Aliso Viejo on suspicion of sending over $24 million worth of electronic supplies over the last five years.  In addition to Afghahi, 4 other people were also arrested.  According to the indictment, the material being shipped is typically used in military type systems including surface-air missiles.

The four suspects face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the illegal exportation of goods and possibly money laundering.

Jackson Roland Westermeyer pleaded guilty to 1 count of meeting a minor to commit a lewd act, 5 counts of possession or control of child pornography and 1 count of extortion.  All felonies, Westermeyer faced up to 10 years in prison before taking a plea that will sentence him to 180 days in county jail and registration as a sex offender.

Westermeyer used various social media sites to lure underage boys with explicit photos, Huntington Beach police reported when he was arrested in January 2014. The victims were 11 to 13 years old, Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke said.

Westermeyer also threatened to tag lewd photos of victims on other social media outlets if they did not send him more photos, police said.

A DUI and valid driver’s license checkpoint will take place in Anaheim tonight.  According to the Anaheim Police Department the checkpoint will last from tonight from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Cerritos Avenue and Euclid Street.

Officers said if you’re planning to be in the area, expect some delays because officers are looking for signs of driving under the influence, VC 23152.