Articles Tagged with federal

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Peter Herz, a 61-year old Westminster resident, pleaded guilty to a possession of child pornography charge in February. This offense is among many that are eligible for lifetime sex-offender registration. Before his arrest and incarceration, Herz reportedly had a job as a pianist and musical director for Laguna Beach’s “Pageant of the Masters.” Sources say he was also an accompanist at Cal State Fullerton’s Theater Department.

Herz was targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) “Operation Predator,” an initiative designed to protect children from sexual predators and to identify and rescue victims of child exploitation.

While Herz was out on bond and waiting for trial, he allegedly obtained new electronic devices and obtained new images of child pornography on them. In total, Herz was reportedly in possession of more than half a million images and roughly 400 videos of child pornography.

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Until recently, the Federal Government and the State of California defined criminal “misdemeanors” differently. While the federal government defined a misdemeanor as a crime punishable by up to 364 days, California defined it as one punishable by up to 365 days. This one-day difference often proved disastrous for immigrants with convictions, however, because the Federal government considers a crime punished by 365 days a felony and felony convictions often subject immigrants to deportation or exclusion.

In 1996 Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which expanded the crimes for which legal residents can be deported to include crimes which were punished by 365 days. States which continued to defined misdemeanors as including sentences of 365 days unwittingly caused their immigrant-residents to face not only up to a year in jail, but deportation or exclusion from entry as well. This applied to all immigrants, regardless of whether a sentence was suspended or whether a person spent only a few days in jail.

Effective January 1, 2015, California Senate Bill 1310 changed the maximum misdemeanor sentence to mirror the Federal Government’s 364 days. Senate Bill 1242 then applied this change retroactively, allowing those who were sentenced before 2015 to receive the statute’s intended protection.

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Angel Bronsgeest, a 55 year old woman from Lake Forest, plead guilty on Monday to federal charges of being involved in a real estate scam that cost Southern California investors $3.5 million, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Bronsgeest admitted that she, along with Shawn Watkins, a 46 year old man from Utah, would allegedly solicit the victims at Orange County hotel seminars and ask them to invest in their company, The Equity Growth Group. The two claimed that their company managed hundreds of properties, generating income from their rents, which was used to buy new properties. The investors were told they would be getting interest payments and that their money was secured by collateral through filing deeds of property trusts.

“Investor money was not used to acquire new properties, nor was it secured by collateral, and many victims did not receive interest payments. In fact, money that was paid to some victims as purported interest or a return on their investment came from investments made by other victims,” the Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

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A 39 year old Los Angeles woman, Jennifer Choi, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to stealing nearly $1 million over her 10 year career.

Choi’s job was to schedule hairstyling and makeup services for HBO’s actors and actresses. Without HBO’s knowledge, Choi developed her own company called Shine Glossy, which claimed to provide makeup and styling services, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Through her company, Shine Glossy, she submitted phony invoices for services that were not provided, falsely using the names of actors, making the invoices appear legitimate.

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WildfireAn Oregon woman recently pled guilty in Federal court to starting a massive fire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. She allegedly told police that she tossed a lit firework out of a car window because her firefighter friends were bored and needed work. She told officials that she thought it would be a small fire that would take only a few days to put out.

The firework ignited brush alongside the road that quickly spread northwest. Two days later, she reportedly posted a message on Facebook: “Like my fire?”

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With tax day coming tomorrow, it’s tempting to make a few tweaks to reduce the amount of tax you owe to the federal government. But allow yourself to get carried away and you may find yourself in federal prison on tax evasion charges. The former city of Bell chief administrator was convicted of allegedly falsifying losses on his taxes, but that’s only half the story.

As the city administrator, he reportedly misappropriated taxpayer funds to pay himself a salary far in excess of what he should have received, and then claimed more than $770,000 in non-existent losses to the IRS to inflate his take-home pay up to $1.18 million per year.

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