The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

October 2010 Archives

Irwindale Officials Charged With Misappropriating Public Funds

In the midst of Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo's trial, we're now also seeing Irwindale city officials being charged with misappropriating public funds. It looks like Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are now busy defending officials in various cities of these fraud-related crimes.

Misappropriation of funds is the unauthorized use of someone else's property or funds. In this case, public officials using public funds for an unauthorized purpose.

According to the Los Angeles Times, three current and former Irwindale officials have been accused of taking business trips to New York City, where they reportedly ate at five-star restaurants, stayed at the expensive Ritz-Carlton hotel, and saw Broadway shows in the evenings, all with the city's money. In total, these trips reportedly cost Irwindale taxpayers at least $37,852.

Juan Carlos Cruz Pleads No Contest To Solicitation Of Murder

In an earlier blog post, we reported that the former Food Network chef Juan Carlos Cruz was charged with attempted murder and solicitation of murder after allegedly paying two homeless men to murder his wife. However, the homeless men never went through with the murder and reported the incident to Los Angeles authorities. This prompted investigators to launch a weeklong undercover operation. Once police officer had enough evidence, Juan Carlos Cruz was arrested in a Cheviot Hills dog park.

Just as prosecutors and Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys predicted, the case has ended with a no contest plea to a solicitation of murder charge, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Under a plea deal, prosecutors dropped the attempted murder charge so that Juan Carlos Cruz would enter the no contest plea in court. Now, the celebrity chef only faces sentencing for the lesser charge of solicitation of murder. He can be sentenced to up to nine years in prison for the criminal charge. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 13.

DEA Plans to Enforce Marijuana Use Even WIth Legalization

On election day, California voters will decide if they want to enact a law that would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of marijuana in the state. Proposition 19, the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California, would allow people ages 21 and older to smoke marijuana in their own home or other private places where there are no children.

However, the Los Angeles Times reports that the passage of Proposition 19 would not necessarily stop people from getting arrested when smoking marijuana in their homes. This is because U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents would still be able to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act. Because the federal law would conflict with the state law, there are some unknown legal issues as to what exactly would happen with the passage of Proposition 19.

Former Playmate Victoria Rathgeb Charged With Attempted Murder

Ex-Playboy Playmate of the Year Victoria Rathgeb will need a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer for representation when she appears in court on November 1. The Los Angeles Times reports that the 66-year-old onetime Playmate, also known as Angela Dorian, has been accused of trying to kill her husband with a semiautomatic handgun.

The husband Bruce Rathgeb is now reportedly in grave condition at a local hospital in Los Angeles. Police say that the shooting took place in their apartment at the 7000 block of Hawthorn Avenue in Hollywood after both parties were involved in a domestic dispute.

Women At Redondo Beach Massage Parlors Arrested For Prostitution

After people complained of prostitution of several massage parlors in Redondo Beach, undercover police officers went into the massage businesses to investigate the complaints. KTLA News reports that the Redondo Beach police officers posed as customers at Lee's Acupuncture on Aviation Boulevard and at Ocean Acupuncture on Artesia Boulevard. Officers arrested two masseuses after the women allegedly agreed to perform sexual acts in exchange for money.

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month In Los Angeles

This month you may see purple ribbons hung on doors, tied to police cars, or passed around at local events. This is because the month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Los Angeles County is making an effort to promote awareness of spousal abuse and family violence.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month reportedly came about in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. During the month of October, people now wear purple ribbons as a unifying symbol of courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending domestic violence in the United States. Many groups and individuals also hold events to promote Domestic Violence Awareness Month at the local, state, and national levels.

Federal Program Renewed to Identify Illegal Immigrants In Jails

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors officially renewed the federal program "287(g)" on Tuesday, angering many activists that have been trying to change the policies for illegal immigrant inmates for years.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the County Sheriff's Department had urged the Board to extend 287(g), which is a joint project with federal immigration officials to identify illegal immigrants in the L.A. jail system. Under 287(g), over 11,000 inmates have been referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.

Band Members of Imperial Stars Face Criminal Charges

Musicians of the Orange County band "Imperial Stars" held their biggest publicity stunt yet on Tuesday by blocking the 101 Freeway in Hollywood and singing their song titled "Traffic Jam 101." KTLA News reports that the impromptu concert held up traffic for two hours before California Highway Patrol officers came to the scene and arrested the individuals. CHP officers also reportedly impounded the truck and speakers that belonged to the band.

Vandals Strike Robert Rizzo's Home

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo is now in a great deal of trouble with the law after being charged with 53 felony counts, but another person might also be in need of a criminal defense attorney after news reports showed Robert Rizzo's Huntington Beach home being vandalized.

KTLA News reports that somebody vandalized the home of the former Bell City Manager by tossing many rolls of toilet paper all over the property. In addition, there were three red X's that were spray painted on the sidewalk in front on Robert Rizzo's home. Because the man is hated by many people in the Southern California community, it seems that he could be living in fear until his case is resolved.

Robert Rizzo Posts $2 Million Bail

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, who was accused of paying himself the high salary of $800,000 and giving unauthorized pay raises to several other city officials finally got out of jail on Wednesday after posting $2 million bail. The Los Angeles Times reports that Ex-City Manager Robert Rizzo had been in jail since September 21 and initially had his bail set to $3.2 million.

Leroy Bragg Arrested in Teenage Prostitute Case

A 34-year-old man has been accused of forcing two runaway girls to work as prostitutes in Southern Los Angeles. Because the two girls are only young teenagers, ages 13 and 14, the suspect can face serious consequences if convicted of soliciting a minor.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the suspect Leroy Bragg from Hawthorne was arrested after a family contacted the Los Angeles Police Department, saying that the 13-year-old girl was being held against her will. The suspect was then booked into the Men's Central Jail and was being on held on $1.3 million bail. Last week, the county district attorney's office charged Leroy Bragg with multiple felony counts, including human trafficking involving a minor, soliciting for a minor prostitute under 16, pandering by procuring a minor under 16 and first-degree burglary. The man faces a life sentence in prison if convicted of all the charges

Marijuana Posession In California Is Now Just An Infraction

It looks like those that are caught with small amounts of marijuana will no longer need a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. This is because California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill last week that changes the crime of marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction, which is the lowest level of offense under California law. The New York Times reports that under the new law, SB 1449, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is punishable with just a $100 fine with no arrest or criminal record attached to the crime. 

ESPN's Jay Mariotti Pleads No Contest to Domestic Violence Charge

ESPN personality Jay Mariotti was able to avoid jail time after reaching a plea deal with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. The Los Angeles Times reports that the sports commentator pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, but had six other misdemeanor counts against him dismissed. The dismissed charges included four domestic violence related counts, grand theft, and false imprisonment.