January 24, 2015

CEO Arrested on 33 Felony Counts of Lewd Acts and Child Pornography

Qayed Murtaza Shareef, 39, an Orange County CEO is suspected of using a social messaging application to convince two boys to trade explicit photos and videos with him is being held on $2 million bail.

Shareef, of Aliso Viejo, faces 33 felony counts, including over 20 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, possessing child pornography and sending harmful matter to a minor with the intent of seduction.

Shareef, founded Adaptive Media, a Irvine-based digital advertising company. He pleaded
not guilty to the charges at a Friday arraignment.

Authorities allege that between Christmas day and Dec. 29 in 2013, Shareef used an online messaging application called Tango and contacted a 10-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy who lived in Virginia. Using a fake name, Shareef is alleged to have convinced the two boys to "commit sex acts on each other." Further, authorities allege Shareef asked the boys to record their sexual acts and email them to him.

Prosecutors say Shareef recorded “sex acts” he performed on himself, and sent the videos and adult pornography, to the children. No direct physical contact between Shareef fans the boys is known at this time.

In California law, lewd or lascivious act can occur if someone willfully causes a child to touch their body or another child’s body in an effort to arouse someone’s sexual desires.

The mother of one of the boys found the video on his tablet and immediately contacted law enforcement agency in Virginia. The investigation was then turned over to the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force, a multi-agency team that includes investigators from the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Newport Beach Police Department.

January 19, 2015

Two Teachers Arrested for Incidents with Students in San Clemente

Michelle Ghirelli, a teacher at West Covina high school was arrested on suspicion of having sexual relations with an underage student. Ghirelli, 30, is suspected of having the sexual contact with the minor in December while staying overnight at San Clemente State Beach.

A second teacher who planned the outing was also arrested. Melody Lippert, 38, was an English teacher at South Hills High School and has been with the school district for 15 years. Lippert is accused of providing alcohol to the same group of students in November and is alleged to have had sexual relations with a student who was 18 years old.

Lippert was charged with conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor and Ghirelli was also charged with unlawful sex with a minor. Both women have posted bail and are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

January 15, 2015

Anaheim Man Arrested for Counterfeiting

Steven Cervantes, of Anaheim man is facing federal counterfeiting charges after police officers found drugs and counterfeiting equipment in a Fountain Valley hotel room.

Cervantes, and a friend, were arrested last week Huntington Beach officer noticed they were standing too close to an intersection. After speaking to Cervantes, officers learned he was on parole and then went to his motel room to conduct a search. Parole searches of homes, cars and person is a standard condition.

The Huntington Beach officers went to the Ayres hotel in Fountain Valley and found heroin, methamphetamine, cannabis, needles, uncut sheets of $100 bills and the counterfeiting equipment.

January 13, 2015

Coto de Caza Resident Sentenced to 57 Months for Investment Scam

David Rose, of Coto de Caza man was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for defrauding physicians and others out of more than $2 million in a phony investment in medical technology companies.

In addition to the 57 months of incarceration, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna ordered David Rose to pay $2.3 million in restitution for the more than 75 doctors and dentists he defrauded.

In 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Rose on fraud and money laundering charges. The charges were tied to M.D. Venture Partners LP and Technology Innovation Partners LP, both Irvine-based businesses Rose owned and operated.

Authorities alleged, Rose promised investors he would pool their money and invest it in companies that were developing new medical technology, including a technique to remove children’s wisdom teeth without surgery. Rather than invest their money, he spent it on a variety of personal expenses, including renting a Coto de Caza home, college tuition and related expenses for his children, new cars, jewelry and a variety of household expenses. None of the investment money was ever spent on actual investments.

M.D. Venture was the vehicle that Rose used to solicit money from doctors between 2005 and 2011 and Technology innovation was used to get money from dentists and orthodontists from 2011 to 2013.

Rose was arrested in May 2013 following an FBI investigation.

January 12, 2015

Orange Unified School Bus Drive Charged with Child Endangerment and Child Abuse

Gerald Rupple, 25, a former school bus driver for Orange Unified School District has been charged with causing severe injuries to students by passing out behind the wheel and crashing into several trees. Rupple, is charged with one felony count of child abuse and one count of child endangerment, perjury by declaration, and a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. If convicted, Rupple faces a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison. He is currently being held on $100,000 bail.

On April 24, 2014, Rupple was driving a group of 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School students in Anaheim Hills when it is alleged he passed out behind the wheel while driving approximately 50 miles per hour, causing the school bus to veer off the road and crash into trees. All of the students received varying degrees of injuries including four of the students sustained major injuries including fractured bones, intra-cranial hemorrhaging, a shattered spine, and amputation of a toe.

Rupple is accused of having a medical condition that causes dizziness, seizures, and blackouts and not disclosing his medical history to the OUSD knowing that it would affect his employment. Rupple is expected to be transported and arraigned at a later date.

January 11, 2015

Police Chase Leads to Crash and Arrests in Lake Forest

Several people were injured, one critically, in an car crash after a police chase Friday night, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said Saturday.

The chase began around 10:30 p.m. in the area of Toledo Way and Serrano Road in Lake Forest, OCSD Lt. Jeff Hallock said in a statement.

Deputies suspected that the driver of a 2002 Ford Explorer was operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The deputies followed it for about 5 minutes through Lake Forest, Irvine and Mission Viejo.

The pursuit ended on southbound Trabuco Road near Carlota Drive in Mission Viejo, when the Explorer struck an embankment. The female driver, 18, of the Explorer was ejected and suffered life-threatening injuries and remained hospitalized Saturday night in grave condition.

The 20-year-old male passenger had moderate injuries and remained hospitalized, and a 18-year-old female passenger had minor injuries and was treated and released.

An investigation determined that the Explorer was reported stolen on Jan. 7, Hallock said. In addition, illegal narcotics were found at the crash scene, he said.

January 11, 2015

Woman Convicted of Sex Trafficking in Federal Court

Letha Montemayor Tucker, 53, a North Hills resident, was sentenced to 6 years in federal prison on Friday for sex trafficking a girl aged 12 to 13 in an activity that was photographed and circulated widely in child pornography rings.

Tucker could have received more than 12 years in prison, but the judge opted for a lesser sentence after considering her physical and mental health problems and her past as a victim of abuse.

Tucker, was arrested in January 2013 after federal authorities announced that they were looking for a man and woman who appeared to be molesting a girl in photos that were circulating online.

November 16, 2014

Anaheim Physician Charged with Sexually Assaulting Patient

Dr. Sri Wijegunaratne, has been charged with sexually assaulting a patient at a Riverside medical marijuana clinic. According to records, Dr. Wijegunaratne is prohibited from practicing medicine while he is out on bail in his criminal case.

A female patient reported to authorities that she was sexually assaulted on May 19, 2014 while he was working at the clinic. The Riverside County District Attorney's Office filed two felony counts, forcible penetration and sexual battery.

This is not the first time Dr. Wijegunaratne has faced criminal charges, In 2013, a federal grand jury found him guilty of sex counts of health care fraud and conspiracy. While out on bail pending an appeal, Dr. Wijegunaratne faces 27 months in federal prison.

November 16, 2014

Newport Beach Physician Indicted on Child Pornography Charges

A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Mark Rettenmaier, 62, of Newport Beach, on two counts of possession of child pornography. Rettenmaier, who specializes in gynecologic oncology is alleged to have possessed the child porn images on November 20, 2011 and February 14, 2012 on a computer and iPhone. According the indictment, the offenses occurred both in Orange and San Bernardino counties.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs which is the governing body of the California Medical Board shows Dr. Rettenmaier still maintains an active license. If convicted, Dr. Rettenmaier faces lifetime registration as a sex offender which would automatically cause his medical license to be revoked.

October 23, 2014

DaVita to Pay $350 Million Over Allegations of Kickbacks

DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc. has agreed to pay $350 million over allegations they paid kickbacks to induce referral fees for dialysis treatment. The allegations involve kickbacks that were paid between 2005 and 2014 to physicians and physician groups that had large number of patients suffering renal disease.

The United States Attorney General's Office alleged DaVita would employ a three part business model to induce referrals. First, DaVita identified physicians and physician groups with a large number of patients suffering from renal failure in certain geographic locations. DaVita gathered intel on the physicians to determine if they were a "winning practice" which included those young physicians who were in debt.

Next, DaVita offered their targeted physicians/groups a lucrative opportunity to enter a joint venture involving DaVita's purchase an interest in dialysis clinics owned by the physician/groups. Finally, DaVita ensured future referrals through additional agreements with their physician/group partners.

The investigation began as a whistleblower claim (Qui Tam) by David Barbetta who was a Senior Financial Analyst in DaVitas M & A department. Mr. Barbetta will be compensated under the False Claims Act.

October 18, 2014

Canadian Pilot Arrested for Conspiracy to Smuggle Drugs Into John Wayne Airport

A Canadian pilot and his passenger were arrested October 10, 2014 for allegedly trying to smuggle $2 million in ecstasy into John Wayne Airport. Giles Lapointe, 61 and Krista Boseley, 30 are in federal custody on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Lapointe, the pilot was approached by Orange County Sheriff detectives after receiving information that the plane was attempting to smuggle drugs or cash into Orange County. Lapointe allowed officers to search his belongings and plane where they found a large sum of cash and 50,000 ecstasy pills and 90 pounds of ecstasy powder.
Laponte and Bosely are scheduled to appear Friday for a preliminary hearing.

October 15, 2014

Anaheim Physician Placed on Probation with the California Medical Board

Dr. Violeta Moyer De Jesus was placed on five years of probation by the California Medical Board after the board found her unsafe to practice safely due to her bipolar condition. Dr. De Jesus was subjected to a psychiatric evaluation las fall while working as a locum tenens physician at Colusa Regional Medical Center.

Terms of Dr. De Jesus' probation include not practicing medicine alone, not supervising physician assistants, further psychiatric evaluation and treatment.