December 2009 News: The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

December 2009 Archives

Church Leader Pleads Not Guilty to Multiple Felony Charges

A 51-year-old defrocked priest from Riverside County is in a heap of trouble with the law, due to his alleged sale of drugs.

Anthony Martinez Garduno, the self-proclaimed Catholic priest at Home Gardens church was charged today with one felony and misdemeanor count each of possession of a controlled substance for sale, two felony counts of possession of controlled substances and one felony count of possession of stolen property. Garduno pleaded not guilty to all the charges. A preliminary hearing for Garduno was tentatively set for Jan. 14.

The Dirty Work of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

The work of a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can be difficult at times, but it's rare for lawyers to be victims of violence in the courtroom. So it certainly came as a surprise to criminal defense lawyer Richard Everett, when he was attacked by his client in the Torrance courthouse yesterday.

Authorities report that Daniel Nunez, of Gardena repeatedly punched his Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer in the face and back, after the jury convicted him of murder and the verdict was read. Deputies immediately got a hold of Nunez and tried to restrain the convicted murderer. Two deputies forced Nunez to the floor, while a third deputy stunned the defendant with a Taser gun, in order to subdue him. Now, that's quite a lot of drama for the courtroom.

Officers Get Away With El Monte Police Brutality

Some people believe members of the El Monte Police Department are getting off easy for beating a car chase suspect, where prosecutors have decided not to charge the two police officers involved in the beatings. Because the two men are not being charged, it looks as though they won't be needing Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, but they may have to deal with angry members of the public for a long time.

Officers George Fierro, 41, and James Singleterry, 40, were seen at the end of a televised high-speed pursuit kicking the car chase suspect in the head and hitting the suspect's arm with a flashlight when the suspect had already been lying on the ground.

The Wonderful World of Prostitution

Everyone in California should be aware that prostitution, solicitation, pandering and loitering are all against the law. Licensed prostitution houses are legal in certain regions of Nevada, but here in the golden state, the law has no tolerance for such behavior. In large cities like Los Angeles, people are often wrongfully arrested on prostitution charges for simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Luckily, there are many criminal lawyers in Los Angeles that specialize in prostitution and solicitation cases.

Let's Hope For a Safe New Year

As the first decade of this century comes to a close, Los Angeles residents can't help but be excited about the upcoming new year. This New Years Eve should be a blast, but the Los Angeles police are advising residents not to blast bullets in celebration of the new year.

Los Angeles officials warn that firing a gun in celebration, is a felony in Los Angeles, where those who violate such a law will go to prison under California law and can even be charged at the federal level if the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Marijuana Found in Teddy Bear

A teddy bear might be the last place somebody would think to look when searching for drugs. 

So perhaps it's obvious that when a person wanted to send marijuana from Thousand Oaks to a Colorado residence, the cannabis was hidden in a teddy bear toy to avoid the possibility of police finding the drugs. Only one problem...the teddy bear filled with marijuana was sent to the wrong address (perhaps intentionally).

Baby Found In Dumpster Leads To Murder Case

A 19 year old Anaheim woman was arrested on Christmas Eve for murder, after police found her baby in a Stanton trash bin.

Juana Perez Valencia faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted of the murder charge. Orange County investigators say that they believe Valencia gave birth to the baby girl in the bathroom of Sombreros, a Mexican restaurant where Valencia works. After an autopsy, investigators concluded that the baby was alive when she was left in the trash bin.

Jonathan Togo Arrested For Domestic Violence

One might say that CSI: Miami star Jonathan Togo is pulling a Chris Brown. Like Brown, Togo will be facing a heap of legal trouble and will need to call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to his rescue.

Togo, 32, was arrested in his Los Angeles home earlier this month after police received a 911 phone call that that he was acting violent toward his girlfriend. When police arrived at Togo's house, they looked into the incident and noted that Togo and his girlfriend got into a physical fight after an altercation. 

Auto Scam in Los Angeles

Have you recently been the victim of an auto scam through Craigslist.com? If so you're not alone. Los Angeles police are now asking residents for any information they can get about a particular person that's believed to be a Craigslist scammer.

Don Atkerson, 44, is probably hoping a skilled criminal attorney in Los Angeles will come to his rescue with a good defense, now that he's been arrested. Atkerson allegedly put multiple ads up on Craigslist last October, claiming to be an Automobile Service Excellence (ASE) certified mechanic in the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley areas with more than 23 years experience. On October 27, he allegedly showed up at a victim's home in Windsor Square, where authorities say that he requested an advance cash payment from the victim that he said would go toward buying car parts, according to LAPD.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Plans To Fight Sparks' Allegations

Last week celebrity dancer Shane Sparks was arrested on multiple felony counts of child molestation (see earlier blog post “Shane Sparks Arrested in North Hollywood”), but the dancer’s Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer says Sparks plans to plead not guilty to all the charges. He is scheduled for arraignment on January 13.

Halibut And Lobsters Stolen From SEA Lab

Redondo Beach police are now after a fish thief that allegedly stole two large halibut and nearly two dozen lobsters from Redondo Beach SEA Lab last weekend.

The two halibut fish were about 10 years old, measured more than 3 feet in diameter, and each weighed about 30 pounds, according to The Daily Breeze. Employees say that the fish educated  kids who came into SEA Lab, and were used to teach children about marine life.

Baby Burned in Compton, Parents Arrested

After a six-month old girl in Compton received second degree burns from a floor heater, police arrested the two parents on suspicion of child endangerment Monday night.

When the mother Monya Denise Earl, 26, took her daughter to Martin Luther King Urgent Care Clinic, the baby was denied treatment. Earl was told that she had to take her daughter to a different hospital for the burn treatment, and that the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services would be called because of her negligence.

Hate Crimes On the Rise Nationally, On the Decline Locally

There were 9,691 reported victims of hate crimes across the U.S in 2008, a two percent increase from that of 2007. The FBI released the new hate crime data and statistics of 2008 last month in hopes of creating an ongoing national dialogue about how to stop bias-fueled crimes across the country. With so many hate crimes in this country, it puts into question whether or not our progressive society is really becoming more tolerant.

Raymond Lee Jennings Convicted of Second-degree Murder

The former security guard accused of fatally shooting Michelle O'Keefe almost 10 years ago was finally convicted earlier today, bringing his lengthy legal battle to an end. 

Prosecutors say Raymond Lee Jennings, 35, killed 18 year old O'Keefe at a Palmdale park-and-ride lot in February 2000, but his case still stirs up controversies years after the murder. 

Look Out For The 'Stun Gun Bandit'

A robber armed with a handgun on Tuesday demanded cash from a store clerk in the 1000 block of Los Angeles Street. The Los Angeles Times reports that once the young woman handed over the money, the robber shocked the clerk "just to be mean" and fled with the cash.

Police have labeled the robber as the "Stun Gun Bandit" and are now asking for the public's help in identifying the man who fled the Fashion District store after shocking the woman. His photograph can be seen on multiple news websites.

Who Has $10 Million In Cash?

There are some LAPD detectives who just can't be trusted. Stephanie Lazarus, who has recently become a suspect for a murder that occurred in 1986, might be one of them.

Lazarus, a 26 year veteran of the LAPD, is accused of killing Sherri Rasmussen nearly 24 years ago. Rasmussen married Lazarus' ex-boyfriend just a few months prior to her death. Acquaintances of Lazarus say that she was very jealous of their marriage and was very much still in love with her ex-boyfriend John Ruetten.

Shane Sparks Arrested In North Hollywood

Shane Sparks may have all the right moves on the dance floor, but the 40-year-old celebrity will now have to make the right moves in the court room. Let’s just hope he can get a good Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to represent him.

Sparks was arrested around 8 a.m this morning in North Hollywood on a felony warrant charging him with molestation. KTLA News reports that he has been charged with 8 counts of molestation, including a lewd act upon a child, which is a felony. The alleged crimes occurred between 1994 and 1997, where all charges are focused around one victim’s case. The victim was one of Sparks’ hip-hop dance students at Millennium Studios in North Hollywood.

Insurance Executive Convicted Of Stalking ESPN's Erin Andrews

ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews confronted her stalker for the first time in Los Angeles federal court last Tuesday, and hopes the Illinois insurance executive will be given the maximum sentence for his crime.

Michael Barrett, 48, pleaded guilty to one felony count of stalking, and was convicted of the crime on Tuesday. Barrett admitted in court that in 2008, he followed Andrews to hotels in three different cities, installed cameras in her hotel room through peepholes, and posted nude videos of her online.

FBI Finds Suspect In 'Wolverine' Uploading Case

Gilberto Sanchez might need to hire the best criminal attorney in Los Angeles if he wants to stay out of federal prison and avoid millions of dollars in fines. The man has been charged by a Los Angeles grand jury with "illegally uploading a Hollywood movie to the internet before its theatrical release," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Authorities say that the man allegedly uploaded the feature film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" last April, a month before the film hit theaters. Sanchez, 47, now faces a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a fine of either $250,000 or an amount of money equal to twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable for the offense, whichever is greater.

Another South Los Angeles Murder Case

The murder case of Dae'von Bailey, a six year old who was beaten to death last summer, was finally wrapped up in Compton Superior Court this week.

Marcas Catrell Fisher, 36, pleaded guilty to a first degree murder charge. On Tuesday December 15, Fisher was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Prosecutors agreed to drop the second charge against Fisher, which was a count of assault of a child causing death, in exchange for his plea to the murder charge. This process of negotiating the charge is typically done by a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. These types of negotiations are made in many criminal cases.

Teenage Murderers Convicted With Harsh Sentence

A judge who called two teenage girls "child monsters" handed over the stiffest prison sentences ever given for a Riverside County homicide when the killers were juveniles.

Last week, Dayana Cordova and Anna Salinas were convicted of murdering Angelina Arias, a twenty year old Lake Elsinore mother. Arias had befriended the two girls at a restaurant where she had worked as a waitress. But when Arias offered Cordova and Salinas a ride home, the two decided to kill Arias so they could take her car and go to the Knott's Berry Farm theme park. They drove away with Arias's 9-month-old daughter, who was in the car at the time of the murder, and later abandoned the baby on the porch of a house in Perris, CA.

Don't Mess With Catwoman

Julie Newmar, a Hollywood actress best known for her role as Catwoman in the original "Batman" television series, noticed she had several of her personal belongings missing from her home in West Los Angeles last October. She didn't even realize that she was a victim of grand theft until she saw three of her missing items for sale on eBay.

Robert Ouriel, 48, who is an acquaintance of Newmar, stands as the main suspect involved in the theft case. He was arrested on November 19 for allegedly stealing $25,000 worth of jewelry, and then released on $50,000 bail. When Los Angeles prosecutors charged Ouriel with a felony count of grand theft on December 9, he pleaded not guilty to the charge the following day in Los Angeles criminal court.

Assault With Duct Tape Leads to Robbery

It's something that you would think only happens in a movie. Any television watcher has probably watched a scene where the criminals tie a person to the wall with duct tape, and then do damage to the property of some sort while the victim is observing.

In real life, people are a little more clever and aren't stupid enough to do such a thing. Or are they? Four armed robbers walked into an unlocked San Juan Capistrano home Sunday night and assaulted two residents by restraining them with duct tape. The robbers then proceeded to take several possessions from the home and escape the vicinity in two separate cars.

The Consequences of Underage Drinking

Many teenagers may not see any harm with consuming alcohol, as long as they're not driving while intoxicated. But California law has strict consequences for those who choose to drink under the age of 21. If caught by authorities, underage drinkers should contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer right away, so that they can learn about what legal rights they have. 

If a law enforcement officer sees a minor holding an object that contains alcohol or catches a minor in the act of drinking, the officer can cite that individual for being a "minor in possession."

LAPD Provides Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

While some people may feel generous during the holiday season, it's important to be aware that this time of year has the highest rate of crime. When people are doing their holiday shopping in Los Angeles, they're particularly prone to be victims of theft or assault. This is why it's important to be alert and guard your belongings when in a mall or shopping center. Officials from the Los Angeles Police Department say that when people are shopping, they often become careless, hence vulnerable to theft and holiday crime.

$1 Million Worth of Marijuana Found In Castaic Home

Just North of Los Angeles in the city of Castaic, police found a stoner's goldmine last Thursday -- 492 marijuana plants growing inside a residential home. Authorities say that the recovered marijuana had a street value of $1 million or more.

Los Angeles County sheriff deputies discovered the marijuana nursery in the 28200 block of Royal Road after a month long investigation. The drug investigation started when an anonymous citizen gave a tip to authorities that the neighborhood smelled of marijuana. After retrieving a search warrant for the Castaic home, narcotics detectives were able to search the house.

Alleged Orange County Rapist Pleads Not Guilty

A Yorba Linda man now faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in prison if convicted of the three counts of rape that he's been charged with.

Jason Ara Erpinar, 20, has been specifically charged with "two counts of using drugs to commit rape and one count of forcible rape with a sentencing enhancement for sex crimes against multiple victims," according to the Orange County district attorney's statement that was reported in The Los Angeles Times.

Declawing Cats Can Result in Misdemeanor

Animal rights activists have won a battle when it comes to outlawing cruel practices on animals. The city of Los Angeles recently banned the declawing of cats, where Ordinance No. 180986 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code went into effect on November 20.

The new law states that no person shall perform an onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy procedure on any animal within the City. Violating this law will result in a misdemeanor, that can lead to a punishment of 6 months in jail and a $500 fine, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Doctor Sentenced To 10 Years in Prison

While driving through traffic in Los Angeles, it's possible that you can be very frustrated and want to hurt somebody. But luckily you probably have the willpower to rise above the rage.

An emergency room doctor at Beverly Hospital in Montebello started his sentence on December 3, where he will face the next 10 years in prison, and it's all because he couldn't manage his own anger on the road.

Unsolved LAPD Cases

Every year the Los Angeles Police Department has dozens of unsolved crime cases, either because they can't identify the suspects involved in the incident or because there's not enough information at the scene of the crime.

Fortunately, the police are doing everything that they can to solve the mysteries, including posting Youtube videos of the crime, and then asking if people can identify the criminals in the videos. That's right, the police are asking people like you for help.

Former Assemblyman Arrested Before USC Game

Former Democratic Assemblyman Walter Karabian allegedly ran over a female parking attendant with his car on Saturday afternoon, just before a USC football game at the university's Coliseum.

Karabian, 71, now faces a heap of legal trouble. Just after the incident, police booked the former Assemblyman on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He later posted $30,000 bail and was released. The Los Angeles Times reports that Karabian's case has since been referred to the Los Angeles city attorney's office for review, where he could be charged with a felony. The county prosecuters have so far declined to take action against Karabian.

Couple Tries Fleeing Crime Scene With Their Children In Car

A Van Nuys couple in a black Nissan Maxima led the Los Angeles Police Department on a high speed chase throughout the Valley, after they allegedly robbed a restaurant.

What's worse? When the police pulled over the woman driving the Nissan Maxima, their two children ages 4 and 6 were in the back seat. Now not only are they booked on suspicion of robbery, but investigators ask that the couple be charged with child endangerment.

Boys Detained For 'Ginger Day' Attacks

Several red headed students at A.E Wright Middle School in Calabasas were bullied, shoved, and kicked on November 20, after a "Kick a Ginger Day" event was promoted by other middle school students on Facebook.com.

The prank was inspired by a South Park episode that aired in 2005. The episode intended to parody racial prejudice by having the character Cartman provoke a hate campaign against red headed children with freckles.

Possible Misdemeanors Over Spiny Lobsters

Former Orange County Department Deputy Phillip Glen Romero and Deputy William Robb might be facing the consequences of illegal lobster poaching at Dana Point.

Romero was arrested in November 2008 for allegedly obstructing a police officer after he lied to protect his friend Robb from being cited by the California Department of Fish and Game. Robb was later cited for catching too many lobsters that were below the illegal size to catch.

Auto Thefts in Mid-Wilshire

Forget about your fear of leaving laptop computers or ipods in the car. What an auto thief really wants is your airbags.

That’s right. The Los Angeles Times reports that over 10 percent of all automobile thefts involve the theft of airbags. Why? Because they’re easy to steal, portable, and are in high demand on the black market.

Hate Crime Legislation Sparks Debate Around The Nation

Gay rights activists around the country are applauding President Obama's efforts of bringing Federal protection to the homosexual, bisexual, and transgender community. On October 28, the president signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was brought along as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010. The new law expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Felony Over A Tree

Who knew that one could receive a felony just for collecting firewood? Apparently you can if you're vandalizing public property while doing so.

Jacob Brill, 18, was arrested last night in Hacienda Heights on suspicion of felony vandalism after he allegedly tried to cut down a 30-foot tall tree in Thomas Burton County Park.

Police Enforce Curfew Laws

Don't let your children out of the house after 10:00 pm. Not only can it be unsafe, but it's also against the law.

That's right, it's unlawful for any minor under the age of eighteen to be present in public after 10:00 pm, any day of the week in Los Angeles, unless they're accompanied by a parent or legal guardian according to The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 45.03. So unless you have the money to hire a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, keep your kids where you can see them.

Spider-Man's Crime

A man dressed as Spider-Man couldn't save the city of Los Angeles from crime, but he may get a misdemeanor on his record for jumping over the the city's Metro subway turn-styles multiple times without paying.

Christopher Loomis, 39, was arrested last month on Hollywood Boulevard while greeting L.A tourists when he was dressed as Spider-Man. Loomis allegedly hit a man on the street, which prompted the police to come and investigate the scene. While the victim said he didn't want to press charges against Loomis, the police found that the Spider-Man impersonator had a warrant for arrest for taking free rides on the Metro.

Man Receives Misdemeanor For Unauthorized Military Uniform

A Palm Springs man now faces charges from federal prosecutors for wearing unauthorized military medals after he was seen and photographed wearing a military uniform with decorations.

Steve Burton, 39, has never served in the military, but he allegedly wore a uniform to a high school reunion that displayed several medals, including the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and others, according to an affidavit filed in United States District Court. A Navy commander, who attended the reunion, contacted the FBI after she developed suspicion that Burton had not really served in the military.