Elder Fraud Nets Camarillo Contractor 10 Years
Elder Fraud Nets Camarillo Contractor 10 Years
Ventura County prosecutors won a 10-year sentence for a man convicted of a fraud scheme that targeted elderly victims. The man operated a plumbing business that offered a low-cost drain cleaning “special.” He used the ruse to gain access to victims’ homes.

Once inside, the man “discovered” severe plumbing problems, which he offered to “fix” for thousands of dollars. Once securing a contract for the work, the man changed the terms and raised prices. If the victims complained, he would turn them over to collection agencies and file liens on their homes.

According to prosecutors, at the time of his arrest, the man held nearly $310,000 in fraudulent liens on victims’ properties. Investigators discovered 31 victims. In addition to a 10-year prison sentence, the judge ordered the man to make full restitution to the victims.

Initially, the man possessed a valid contractor’s license for businesses in Oxnard and Camarillo. They expired in 2011 and 2013, although the defendant continued to hold himself as a licensed professional. In 2014, the Contractors State License Board revoked the expired licenses. The defendant will not be permitted to hold a valid contractor’s license again.

Camarillo Fraud Lawyer


Workplace related fraud convictions can have long-lasting consequences. As this case demonstrates, administrative regulators can permanently impact your ability to hold a job, even after you complete a criminal sentence.

Not being able to hold a job interferes with your ability to make restitution payments, so it makes sense to work with an experienced fraud lawyer who can help the prosecutor and court arrive at a resolution that meets the needs of the victims without permanently scarring the defendant’s ability to live independently.

Robert Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively in Ventura County and throughout Southern California for more than 30 years. As your criminal defense attorney, he will create an effective defense strategy that protects your interests during and after the adjudication process.

Don’t rely 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 fraud/drug possession case.

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Ventura fraud lands Canyon Lake man in jail
Ventura fraud lands Canyon Lake man in jail
A Canyon Lake man has pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and three counts of grand theft in connection with a foreclosure fraud scheme he operated in Ventura.

Patrick Iturra, 46, promised clients that he could help them avoid foreclosure, and often took advance payments of thousands of dollars from them, even though he did nothing to help them avoid losing their homes. Iturra wasn’t the only person charged in the scheme. Robert and Rosalva Sanchez of Oxnard, were also indicted on grand theft and fraud charges pleaded guilty. They were ordered to serve 180 days in jail and make financial restitution to their victims.

The trio operated Mercury Business Group, which purported to offer financial services, including foreclosure avoidance, debt management, real estate investment services and credit education. The business operated out of a Pasadena address since 2009.

Ventura Fraud Lawyer


If you’ve been accused of fraud, grand theft or a similar crime, you should know that Ventura County fraud lawyer Robert Helfend is ready to take your case. Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience in criminal defense, and takes cases in Ventura County and throughout Southern California.

He handles each case personally, so you’ll always have the benefit of his extensive experience. His first priority will be to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. When that’s not possible, he will work with prosecutors to ensure that you benefit from the best possible resolution to your case.

Don’t risk your freedom on an inexperienced criminal defense attorney when you can work with one of the best, most aggressive defense attorneys in Southern California. 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 fraud case.

Photo Credit: Basic Gov, 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.

Photo Credit: Psyche Delia, via Flickr.com

Securities fraud rap for Oak View woman
Securities fraud rap for Oak View woman
An Oak View woman was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison for securities fraud. She was also ordered to repay nearly $500,000 to her victims. Gregoria Mendoza operated a half-dozen fraudulent real estate investment schemes that targeted non-English speaking investors in Los Angeles County, Ventura County and Tulare County.

According to prosecutors, Mendoza told investors that their money would be deposited into different real estate funds or used to purchase real estate, but instead, she redirected the money to herself. She was also convicted of a special white-collar enhancement of taking more than $100,000 from multiple victims. The Ventura County real estate fraud unit investigated the case. The court also appointed a receiver to liquidate Mendoza’s rental properties, and to use the proceeds for restitution to her victims.

At the time of her arrest in 2014, Mendoza was a licensed real estate broker who worked in Oxnard and conducted business there under multiple company names. In 2006, Mendoza completed a refinance of a property for one of her victims, and convinced the client to temporarily transfer $200,000 of the proceeds from the refinance to Mendoza. That person was never repaid.

Mendoza also took deposits for real estate purchases from other non-English speaking victims, then prepared documents in English stating that the deposits were loans. The clients signed the documents without knowing their true contents.

Oak View securities fraud lawyer


If you’ve been accused of securities fraud, investment fraud or mishandling client money, you need the assistance of an experienced Oak View securities fraud laywer like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience in criminal defense and takes cases in Oak View and throughout Southern California. He handles each case personally, and will not reassign your case to a less experienced 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 County securities fraud case.

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Embezzlement Plea for Film Producer
Embezzlement Plea for Film Producer
A local film producer pleaded guilty to embezzlement for his role in the theft of nearly $1.5 million from his business partner. The money represented the proceeds of a film deal.

Julio Caro was charged with embezzling the funds from the Yucaipa Corporate Initiatives Fund over a period of five years. Caro intercepted the proceeds of the deal and transferred it to accounts he controlled privately in New Jersey.

Caro’s film production company, Broken Rose, LLC, entered into a limited partnership with Yucaipa to produce two films, which were later distributed by Warner Brothers. Yucaipa provided much of the funding to produce the films. Warner Brothers gave the distribution proceeds to Caro, who should have forwarded the money to Yucaipa. Instead, Caro redirected the money to pay for his own personal expenses. Caro was arrested and charged with interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison

Ventura Embezzlement Attorney


Large-dollar embezzlements gain a lot of attention in the press, mainly because they involve a lot of money. While embezzlement is a criminal matter, most victims simply want to be made whole. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, you need the assistance of an experienced embezzlement attorney like Robert Helfend.
Robert Helfend has more than 30 years of experience exclusively in criminal defense. He takes cases in both the state and federal court systems, and has provided superior criminal representation for thousands of people in Southern California. You’ll get personal service when you work with Robert Helfend because he handles each case personally. Your case won’t get shuffled to a less experienced criminal defense attorney.

When you’re facing embezzlement charges, your life and livelihood could be at stake. Invest in your future by choosing the best, most experienced defense attorney available.

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 embezzlement case.
Photo Credit: Jason, via Flickr.com

Identity Theft Suspects in Simi Valley
Identity Theft Suspects in Simi Valley
Two men were arrested earlier this year in connection with an identity theft operation located in Simi Valley. Laron Bundley of Lake Elsinore, and Dennis Washington, who operated a copy shop in Inglewood were arrested following the identity theft of a Simi Valley resident.

Police conducted a lengthy investigation and determined that Bundley was connected to the crime. They served a search warrant on Bundley’s home and discovered a credit card skimmer, an encoder and an embosser, as well as false identifications, bogus checks and check-writing software.

Police confiscated more than $100,000 worth of items purchased fraudulently by Bundley. That included clothing, furniture and other household items. His home and car were also purchased using funds gained by fraud. Bundley, who has prior felony convictions, was also found with a handgun and ammunition, a violation of California law.

In addition to searching Bundley’s home, police also searched a copy shop in Inglewood that was owned by Dennis Washington. According to police, the copy shop was a front for a money-laundering operation run by Bundley and Washington. Bundley and Washington used the copy shop to create fake documents, including payroll records and utility bills.

Typically, Bundley and his wife would use stolen personal information to apply for additional credit in the victims’ names and max out the credit lines. According to police, hundreds of people were victimized in the scam, which produced more than $300,000 in fraudulent cash and credit.

Hire an Experienced Identity Theft Lawyer


Identity theft is a serious charge, and you can face significant consequences if convicted. If you’re arrested for identity theft or other charges related to fraud, you need the assistance of an experience identity theft lawyer like Robert Helfend.

Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of practice experience in Southern California courtrooms and will aggressively defend you. You’ll work directly with Mr. Helfend, and your case will not be passed along to less experienced attorneys. Don’t risk your freedom on an inexperienced 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 County identity theft/burglary case.

Photo Credit: Andrew Magill, via FreeImages.com

Securities fraud rap for movie scam
Fraud rap for movie scam
Two Southern California men was arrested and charged last month with securities fraud for their role in a $12 million movie investment scam. James Williams of Calabasas and Steven Brown of Santa Monica are two of three men charged in New York City in connection with the plan.

According to prosecutors, Williams, Brown have been accused of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering for allegedly taking money from investors who thought they were fronting the money for major motion pictures. A third man, Gerald Seppala, of Wayzata, MN, is also charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in the scheme.

Prosecutors say the three men established an advance-fee scheme. They used the money to pay other investors, and for personal purchases, including a car and a house for Williams, and private school tuition for his children. The investors were promised guaranteed returns and profit sharing in exchange for their investments.

The accused co-conspirators allegedly produced frequent falsified accounting documentation for their victims. Williams was able to convince one investor to contribute $2 million to the scam by showing him falsified bank statements for an account allegedly meant for a movie. The falsified statement showed a bank balance of nearly $2 million, when in reality the account was empty.

A securities fraud lawyer you can count on


Securities fraud charges are complex, often because investments aren’t straightforward. If you’ve been charged with securities fraud, you need a securities fraud lawyer you can count on. Robert Helfend has practiced criminal defense for more than 30 years in Southern California, and takes cases in both state and federal courts.

Conviction on securities fraud charges can lead to lengthy prison sentences and expensive restitution requirements that can put the financial security of your family at risk. In virtually all cases of financial fraud, the victims simply want their money back. As your securities fraud lawyer, Robert Helfend will work tirelessly to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. If that’s not a possibility, he will work closely with you and the prosecution to maximize the return for all parties involved and minimize the impact on your freedom.

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.

Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki, via Flickr.com

montana-buck-wildlife-3675652-hCrooks are always coming up with new ways to scam insurance companies, but this is surprising “unique.” Authorities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have arrested 41 people whom they believe to have participated in an elaborate auto insurance scan involving dead deer.

How did the dead deer come into play? Officials say auto body shop owner Ronald Galati Sr. encouraged his customers to stage accident scenes using dead deer carcasses so they would be financially compensated. Since deer collisions are considered “no fault” accidents, insurance companies aren’t legally allowed to raise drivers’ premiums; thus, the customers who participated in the scam were given huge checks by their insurance companies without paying a higher premium.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, Ronald Galati Sr. ran a $5 million insurance scam from his auto body shop, convincing customers to participate in the scam. When investigators searched the auto body shop, they discovered numerous dead deer carcasses, parts, fur and blood, all of which they believe were intended to be used to stage automobile accident scenes. Those involved in the scam would allegedly stage elaborate scenes to make it appear as if the vehicle struck a deer, at which point an insurance adjuster would check out the scene and assume it was authentic since it contained parts of a deer.

Drivers who were participating in the scam allegedly paid Galati Sr. in exchange for his assistance on staging the scene and creating fake repair bills. Among the 41 charges include Galati Sr.’s wife, two children, several insurance adjusters, a Philadelphia official and a local police officer.

They actually kept deer carcasses at their shop and would pour deer blood over cars and they would simulate accidents and take photographs that they called Hollywood photos,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Galati Sr.’s attorney, Anthony Voci, could not be reached for a comment regarding the alleged dead deer auto insurance scam.

Deer collisions are a serious problem in the U.S. According to the Insurance Journal, there were an estimated 1.23 million deer-related automobile collisions between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.  These collisions result in the deaths of approximately 200 people annually and cost $4 billion in property damage.  A deer’s natural reaction to headlights is to freeze, which makes them a standing target for vehicles traveling in excess of 60 mph on the highways. In addition, deer are often spooked across roads by predators, increasing the risk of an automobile collision.