March 2011 Archives

Economic Climate Ripe for Allegations of Real Estate Fraud in Santa Ana

A 57-year-old woman pleaded "absolutely not guilty" to charges of real estate fraud in Santa Ana after authorities accuse her of swindling nuns out of $285,000 in a fraudulent property deal, according to the Orange County Register.

A Santa Ana real estate defense lawyer should be consulted as early as possible in such investigations. Allegations have skyrocketed since the downturn in the economy. In many cases, it is the same banks or mortgage companies that caused the meltdown that are now claiming fraud over no-doc mortgage loans and other questionable deals. In other cases, legitimate investors were caught holding property when the music stopped and were financially ruined only to face charges of criminal wrongdoing.
And in still other cases investors made bad deals and now want to claim criminal wrongdoing.

These are complex cases. And what has not increased through this process is the resources dedicated to them by state and federal government -- even as the number of allegations and prosecutions exploded. The resulting chances of being caught up in a questionable prosecution are significant. In many cases, authorities hope to just move clients through the system by offering them pleas.

In this case, the defendant surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to face three counts of wire fraud. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Florida claims the defendant used the money to pay for personal expenses, including pet sitting and lingerie. She is accused of defrauding the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, Inc. a congregation of Roman Catholic sisters based in Rhode Island.

The defendant operated Rose Enterprises Inc, in Tustin, a business that assisted clients with delinquent mortgages and real estate transactions. When she learned the sisters were interested in purchasing property in San Diego, she allegedly used a fake letter from a California attorney to convince the nuns to wire the funds.

In other fraud news this month, The Orange County Register reports a broker is facing charges of real estate fraud in Irvine after a longtime friend accused him of stealing $1.75 million.

The allegations involve a plan to buy, rehab and sell distressed homes for a profit.

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Lake Forest Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Should Fight Efforts to Force Closure

The City of Lake Forest is suing two more medical marijuana dispensaries as part of its ongoing campaign against pot shops in the city, the Orange County Register reported.

Medical marijuana defense lawyers in Santa Ana and Lake Forest understand the challenges legitimate dispensaries face in delivery medicine to patients as municipality after municipality continues to infringe upon the rights of dispensaries, collectives and patients.
Los Angeles is fighting hundreds of shops after enacting an ill-conceived and disastrous ordinance that is almost certainly doomed to fail despite millions of tax dollars being spent to defend it. Meanwhile, the city voted to tax medical marijuana sales. The dubious nature of a decision to tax medicine aside, dispensaries are by law required to operate as nonprofits. And nonprofits by their very definition are tax exempt.

Lake Forest dispensaries with shutdown notices
should immediately consult and experienced attorney. It is the dispensaries that have fought for their rights that have the best chance of surviving attacks by local government.

The city attorney said the lawsuits should serve as notice to owners and landlords that marijuana stores violate the city's zoning code. Efforts by local ordinances to criminalize noncompliance have thus far been rejected by the courts, leaving cities no choice by to pursue a civil claim against medical marijuana dispensaries.

Several shops have closed in the face of the city's demands to do so. But five have filed an appeal with the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana. That ruling is pending.

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Santa Ana Drunk Driving Charges a St. Patrick's Day Weekend Risk

Santa Ana DUI Defense Lawyer Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. and the staff at our law offices wish each of you a safe and enjoyable St. Patrick's Day weekend. Please celebrate responsibly and call if you need legal help.

New Santa Ana reports a host of activities that begin today and last through the weekend. Whether it's live music, food or drink, St. Patrick's Day has plenty to offer and many will continue the annual celebration right on into the weekend.
While St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday, and is a national holiday in Ireland, the United States has claimed it as its own for more than two centuries. It is among the busiest days of the year for restaurants and bars and is one of the nation's leading days for beer consumption.

Authorities plan sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols. Both increase the risk of questionable arrests, infringe upon a motorist's rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure, and result in stops and drunk driving charges in Santa Ana that involve questionable probable cause. Consequently, such charges can and should be vigorously contested. The penalties for drunk driving are quite literally becoming more severe by the day -- especially those for a repeat violations. A first offense is often the most beatable; failure to contest the charge will result in a drunk driving conviction on your record, will expose you to more severe penalties in the future (as if the penalties for first-time offenders are not severe enough) and could increase the likelihood that you will be stopped by law enforcement and cited again.

Just this week the Sacramento Bee reported on a new law requiring motorists convicted of drunk driving in California to install an ignition interlock device. The device prohibits a car from starting if it detects alcohol on a driver's breath. The newspaper laments the fact that the devices are being installed in the car of just one out of every 10 offenders as the program gets under way.

We lament the fact that they are being installed at all; the law is a perfect illustration of the increasing penalties and embarrassment that accompany a DUI conviction in Santa Ana or elsewhere in the state. In the past 8 months more than 13,000 motorists have been convicted of drunk driving in just four counties -- Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda and Tulare.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported earlier this year that the government is working to develop a breathalyzer machine that could be made standard equipment in automobiles -- or permanently installed in the vehicle's of offenders.

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Daughter facing receiving stolen property charges in Santa Ana elder-fraud case

The 22-year-old daughter of a couple facing elder fraud charges in Santa Ana now faces charges of accessory after the fact and receiving stolen property, MSNBC reported.

This is classic work by the district attorney's office. An experienced and aggressive Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer should always be called to handle charges of accessory or receiving stolen property. These charges are often beatable and are frequently used by prosecutors against defendants who have refused to cooperate with an investigation.
You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it.

It doesn't matter what prosecutors choose to charge you with -- what you are convicted of is the only thing that counts. As we reported on our Orange County Criminal Lawyers Blog, the 51-year-old Laguna Niguel woman is facing 59 fraud charges alleging theft from the elderly. She is accused of stealing $600,000 from an elderly victim over 28 months while working as a home-health aide.

Her 22-year-old daughter has now been charged with two felony counts of accessory after the fact and receiving stolen property, second-degree commercial burglary and fraudulently using an access card. She also faces sentencing enhancements for loss of more than $100,000, property loss of more than $200,000 and white-collar crime of more than $500,000.

She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted on all counts. Her father also stands charged. Both parents are scheduled for a pretrial hearing March 15.

Her 56-year-old mother faces nearly 50 years in prison if convicted. Six other victims have reportedly come forward since her arrest on Feb. 2. Her daughter is accused of receiving stolen money and using it to pay for a divorce, medical insurance and other expenses.

She also allegedly used fraudulently obtained credit cards to buy tires and a camera.

The 93-year-old victim at the center of the case is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

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