Embezzlement investigation in Moorpark School District
Embezzlement investigation in Moorpark School District
Moorpark Unified School District administrators are examining the possibility that food service workers in the district are responsible for embezzlement and theft from the program. Pending the outcome of the investigation, several employees have been placed on paid administrative leave from the district.

The investigation centers around Moorpark High School, but could involve other buildings. Last week, school district officials contacted the Ventura County Sheriff’s office to report the suspected embezzlement. The embezzlement came to light following the release of a recent audit. Prior to the audit, school district had predicted a $4M budget surplus, but instead uncovered a $3M deficit.

Moorpark embezzlement lawyer


If you’ve been arrested for embezzlement or are suspected of embezzlement and have not yet been arrested, you need the assistance of a competent, aggressive embezzlement lawyer like Robert Helfend.

Mr. Helfend has provided exceptional criminal defense to thousands of clients throughout Ventura County and Southern California for more than 30 years. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal issues that you’ll face if you’re being investigated or arrested for embezzlement.

Most victims of embezzlement simply want to be made whole again. Financial crimes often make headlines because of the amounts involved, but the truth is that those who are accused of embezzlement are often non-violent offenders who may have become involved in a financial crime for one of many different reasons.

In the case of a financial crime, restitution is ultimately more satisfying and more appropriate than incarceration. A smart, aggressive criminal defense lawyer knows that while prosecutors want to see justice, embezzlement is one crime where incarceration is usually not the most appropriate way to restore the victim. Don’t risk your future on an inexperienced criminal defense attorney.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura embezzlement case.

Photo Credit: Joe Crawford, via Flickr.com

Three charged with Simi Valley murder
Three charged with Simi Valley murder
Three people were arrested and charged with a Simi Valley murder that occurred in 2009. Two of the suspects, husband and wife Ronald and Idee Scholz, were arrested in Coeur d’Alene Idaho and extradited to California. The third suspect, Simi Valley resident Glenn Sires, was also arrested.

According to police, victim Janice Richardson at one time lived with Idee Scholz. Scholz had stolen Richardson’s identity while the two lived together. Initially, police believed that Richardson, a known drug user, had died from a drug overdose. Later, friends of Idee Scholz shared details of Richardson’s death that convinced police to reexamine the case. Upon reexamination, policed determined that Richardson’s residence had been staged to make it appear as though she had accidentally overdosed.

Idee and Ronald Scholz left the area and moved to Idaho, where they remained until the time of their arrest. Investigators do not know why the trio killed Richardson

Simi Valley murder attorney


Murder is the most serious accusation California prosecutors can level against a person. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you could face the death penalty, life in prison with or without parole, or a significant prison term. The severity of a murder sentence means that you must have the best possible representation throughout the judicial process against you. You need an experienced Simi Valley murder attorney like Robert Helfend.

Robert Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively in Ventura County and throughout Southern California for more than 30 years, and you will not find a more dedicated, more experienced murder attorney. Don’t gamble with your future.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura murder case.

Photo Credit: Clare Black, via Flickr.com

MN man pleads guilty to securities fraud
MN man pleads guilty to securities fraud
Earlier this year, a Minnesota man pleaded guilty to operating the largest Ponzi scheme in Orange County history. According to federal prosecutors, Gerard Cellette, 51, of Andover, MN pleaded guilty to securities fraudand other charges. In all, Cellette pleaded guilty to 455 felony counts associated with a years-long Ponzi scheme that involved investors from all over the country.

Many of the victims came from Orange County, and provided about $150 million in funding to the scheme. Cellette told investors that he had printing deals with major retailers like Target, but needed capital to perform the work. In some cases, Cellette promised investors returns of 10% over 90 days.

Instead of investing the funds into his non-existent business, Cellette used new investor funds to pay off previous investors, and diverted a significant amount of the money to his personal expenses. Orange County investors lost about $21 million in the scam. Other investors around the nation lost an additional $34 million. According to prosecutors, Cellette used investor funds to purchase lakefront properties, luxury items, and commercial properties.

The guilty plea came with a 35 year sentence, a $40 million fine and a restitution order of $20 million. Cellette does not have the funds or enough assets to make restitution in full or to pay the court-ordered fine.

Ventura securities fraud attorney


Securities fraud charges are frequently prosecuted by the federal government. The size and scope of the fraud often determine who prosecutes the crime. If you’ve been arrested for securities fraud, investment fraud or other similar financial crime, you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend.

Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience, exclusively in criminal defense, and he is ready to take your case. Federal prosecutions are intense, in part because the federal government is very well funded and well prepared to conduct extended prosecutions. You need an attorney who will fight aggressively or you.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County securities fraud/federal defense case.

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Drug possession arrest for 3 from Ventura
Drug possession arrest for 3 from Ventura
Three Ventura residents were arrested in Carpinteria and charged with residential burglary, conspiracy, possession of burglary tools, drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Santa Barbara deputies responded to a report of a residential burglary, and identified a red Ford Fiesta as a vehicle of interest. A few minutes later, deputies spotted a vehicle matching that description and conducted a stop at a local gas station. Upon searching the vehicle, deputies discovered items taken from the burglarized home, as well as methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and burglary tools.

Sarah Ringler, 27, Shannon Salas, 43, and Joseph Grizzaffi, 37, were booked into the Santa Barbara jail. Ringler was held on a $50,000 bond. Salas posted bail in the amount of $50,000 and was released. Grizzaffi was denied bail because he had an outstanding warrant on another matter.

Ventura Drug possession lawyer


If you’ve been arrested for drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia or any other charge, your first response should be to hire an experienced drug possession lawyer like Robert Helfend.

The drug possession landscape in California is changing for marijuana, but all drug laws and penalties are still in effect for every other drug. Drug enforcement is still a very high priority for the State of California, and enforcement efforts are likely to be increased for illegal drugs.

The majority of Californians who are in prison today are there for drug-related offenses. Becoming part of this grim statistic is unlikely to have a positive impact on your life. Aside from spending time in prison, you’re unlikely to recover meaningfully from incarceration.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend is your best defense strategy in a drug possession case. Mr. Helfend will fight aggressively for your rights and freedoms in court. Getting charges against you reduced or dropped is a key part of a defense strategy, especially if you have previous convictions. Additional felony convictions in California can extend prison sentences, so being able to reduce or eliminate charges against you may be critical for a positive outcome.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County drug possession/drug crimes case.

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DUI Arrest for Rams CB
DUI Arrest for Rams CB
Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback Troy Hill was arrested last week on suspicion of DUI. Hill, a Camarillo resident, was arrested following a traffic accident in Encino. According to witnesses, Hill, who had been driving in the left lane of Highway 101 unexpectedly swerved to the far right lane of the roadway and collided with the rear end of a semi-trailer.

Officers responding to the collision conducted field sobriety tests on Hill, and subsequently arrested him. His bail was set at $15,000 and he was released from custody later that afternoon. Hill was charged with misdemeanor DUI because no one was injured in the crash.

Hill has no previous history of DUI, but he has been arrested in the past for threatening a former girlfriend while still in college in Oregon, and was given three years of probation in that incident.

Experienced Ventura DUI attorney


DUI arrests are expensive, time-consuming and can significantly affect your life. The potential negative impact of a DUI arrest and/or conviction should be enough to convince you to hire an experienced DUI attorney like Robert Helfend.

Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense in Ventura County and throughout Southern California for more than 30 years. In that time, he has defended thousands of California residents dealing with a wide range of legal issues, including drunk driving.

Drunk driving arrests have immediate consequences. Unlike other arrests, where you’re subject only to a legal process, with a DUI, you’re also subject to an administrative process. The administrative process is immediate and separate from your criminal process. Upon arrest, your driver’s license will be confiscated immediately and replaced with a temporary license. To have your license reinstated, you must appear at a DMV hearing. Even when you appear at the administrative hearing, your license may remain suspended. This suspension is separate from any suspension that the court may impose when your criminal matter is heard.

Your criminal process may result in a jail or prison term, fines, driving restrictions or additional license suspension, additional requirements (such as interlock devices attached to your car) and driver retraining or re-education among others. You can also be liable for civil suits arising from any accidents or property damage that occur while driving under the influence. Excellent legal representation is the key to a manageable, equitable and reasonable result for a drunk driving arrest.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County DUI case.

Photo Credit: Daniel R. Blume, via Flickr.com

Securities fraud sentencing stalled for dairy farm scheme
Securities fraud sentencing stalled for dairy farm scheme
Sharon Palmer, the Santa Paula woman who was convicted of securities fraud in 2015 has yet to be sentenced for the crime. James Stewart and Larry Otting were convicted of grand theft, and a special enhancement of aggravated white-collar crime for their role in the financing scheme for a farm that sold unpasteurized milk.

Stewart formed Rawesome Foods as a members-only cooperative, and sold raw milk produced at Palmer’s Health Family Farms. Palmer wanted to exercise an option to purchase the farm property, which she leased. Palmer, Stewart and Otting conspired to use Otting’s line-of-credit to secure funds for Palmer’s down payment on the farm. In exchange for the use of Otting’s line of credit, Palmer promised Otting the use of 10 of the farm’s 51 acres.

The trio then attracted other investors to repay Otting’s loan. Under the plan, Palmer would make the mortgage and tax payments. The investors were given unsigned deeds of trust, which proved worthless. Investors were instructed to wire the money directly to Otting, or to Healthy Family Farms in an effort to disguise the source of the funds. Palmer, Stewart and Otting knew that the bank that issued the mortgage would have denied the loan had it known that third party investments were involved in the purchase.

This is not the first time that Palmer has run into legal trouble. In 2011, she was accused of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of meat, poultry and eggs, and selling it at local farmers’ markets while claiming that the products originated from her farm, and that the animals had not been feed commercial feed products. In addition, Stewart was accused of illegally importing unpasteurized milk from Pennsylvania and selling it to consumers.

Santa Paula Securities Fraud Lawyer


If you’ve been arrested for securities fraud in Santa Paula, or anywhere in Southern California, you need the assistance of an experienced securities fraud lawyer like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively in Southern California for more than 30 years, and has established a reputation as an aggressive defender of his clients’ rights.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County securities fraud case.

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Ventura Car Thief Charged With Grand Theft
Ventura Car Thief Charged With Grand Theft
A man who stole a car from a Ventura car dealership was charged with grand theft after being arrested in Santa Barbara County. Officers there noticed a known local drug user driving a brand new Honda. They stopped the vehicle, and the man walked away.

Officers determined that the vehicle had been reported stolen earlier that day from Ventura County. Officers attempted to arrest the driver, Shane Hale, but he fled the scene. He jumped into the ocean and swam about a quarter-mile before being picked up by harbormaster officers. Hale was initially taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, then booked into the Santa Barbara Jail. In addition to grand theft, Hale was charged with resisting arrest. He was also detained on a warrant from San Luis Obispo County.

Grand Theft Attorney


If you’ve been arrested for grand theft in Ventura County or anywhere else in Southern California, your first response should be to hire an experienced, reputable grand theft attorney like Robert Helfend.

Mr. Helfend takes each case personally, and works directly with each client to prepare their defenses. He does not pass clients to less experienced associate attorneys. That means each client gets the full benefit of Mr. Helfend’s immense experience.

Robert Helfend has been a fixture in courtrooms throughout Southern California for more than 30 years. In that time, he has developed a reputation as an effective, aggressive criminal defense experience who works diligently to protect the rights and interests of his clients.

Don’t risk your freedom on an inexperienced attorney, or an attorney who won’t fight aggressively for your rights in court. Choose an experienced attorney with a proven track record.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County grand theft case.

Photo Credit: Mateusz Wolek, via Flickr.com

Fraud Charge for Oxnard Woman
Fraud Charge for Oxnard Woman
An Oxnard woman is being sought by police in Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County in connection with the thefts of wallets from restaurant patrons in Walnut Creek over the summer. Eva Coleman, 47, of Oxnard and Crystal Pratt, 32, of Oakland are suspected of committing similar thefts in Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Warrants were issued for the women, who are accused of multiple counts of burglary, identity theft and credit cardfraud.

The women were identified as suspects in the thefts following the release of video surveillance footage, and a request for information from Walnut Creek Police Department. A tip identified Pratt by name. A probation-related search of Pratt’s residence turned up several stolen credit cards, but she and Coleman fled the area and have not yet been located. Additional charges may be authorized against the women, based on the property recovered from Pratt’s residence. Bail for Pratt has been set at $285,000. Bail for Coleman has been set at $185,000.

Oxnard fraud attorney


If you’ve been arrested for any type of fraud, identity theft or a related crime, Oxnard criminal defense attorney Robert Helfend is ready to take your case. Mr. Helfend is an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney who fights for his clients’ rights. He will work tirelessly to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. When that’s not possible, he will work toward the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.

Don’t rely on an inexperienced criminal defense attorney, and don’t attempt to defend yourself in court, regardless of what you’ve been charged with. Choose only the best criminal defense representation in Oxnard.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County fraud case.

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Drug Crimes Arrest For Medical Marijuana Co-op
Drug Crimes Arrest For Medical Marijuana Co-op
The head of an Oxnard medical marijuana co-operative was arrested last week and charged with drug crimes, including possession of marijuana for sale, conspiracy and perjury.
Chelsea Sutula, 39, who runs the Sespe Creek Collective, was arrested after deputies served a search warrant at her place of business. Investigators say that the collective was operating outside of the guidelines established by Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act.

According to Sutula, who was released on $50,000 bond, officers also raided her home, removed her pets from the home, confiscated her computer and seized cash. Ventura County has targeted marijuana production and dispensary facilities aggressively. Earlier this year, the department seized nearly 3,000 plants and more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana from a different operation outside of Fillmore.

In that raid, officials say that the operators were illegally diverting water from Sespe Creek to provide irrigation for their operation. According to investigators, the Fillmore operation was much larger than its permits allowed.

In April, Ventura authorities also arrested the head of an Ojai medical marijuana cooperative and accused him of embezzling funds from both the cooperative and the Humane Society of Ventura County, as well as overcharging cooperative members for marijuana products.
Sutula says that her cooperative works hard to comply with the provisions of Proposition 215. She has run the cooperative since 2011. She is scheduled to be arraigned in mid-November.

Ventura Drug Crimes Attorney


Ventura County continues to prosecute medical marijuana cooperatives that operate within the county, even as voters in the state prepare to vote on legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. If you’ve been arrested in connection with the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary, you need the assistance of an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively in Ventura County and throughout Southern California for more than 30 years, and is ready to take your medical marijuana case.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County drug crimes case.

Photo Credit: Carlos Gracia, via Flickr.com

Drug Crimes Bust by Simi Valley cops
Drug Crimes Bust by Simi Valley cops
Two men were arrested last month and charged with federal drug crimes related to a large seizure of cocaine and heroin. Federal Drug Enforcement agents and local authorities from Simi Valley arrested Luis Chavez, 61, and Sergio Vega, 47, after finding the men in possession of 46 pounds of cocaine and two pounds of heroin. The drugs had a street value of more than $1 million, and could have been split into as many as 200,000 doses for individual sale.

Officials say the trafficking investigation is still ongoing and they have not released many additional details about the investigation or the arrest. They did indicate that the arrests did not take place in Simi Valley, but that the confiscated drugs were most likely intended for distribution in Ventura County and Los Angeles County.

Ventura County has been the site of other recent high-profile drug trafficking arrests. Last month, five people were taken into custody in Ventura following a raid by Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies at a house on Poli Street. Investigators were tipped off to drug sales being conducted at the home. Undercover officers made several successful purchases from the home in early October. Based on the sales, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office secured a warrant to search the home.

During that raid, investigators found significant quantities of methamphetamine, psilocybin and marijuana, drug paraphernalia and equipment for packaging drugs. Authorities charge that the residence was being maintained for the purpose of using and selling illegal drugs. Four of the five people arrested were booked into the Ventura County Jail on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. One person was released following his arrest.

Ventura County drug crimes lawyer


If you’ve been arrested for drug crimes in Ventura County, you need the assistance of an experienced, informed drug crimes lawyer like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense in Ventura County for more than 30 years.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County drug crimes case.

Photo Credit: National Crime Agency, via Flickr.com