Westlake Village Embezzlement Leads to 6-year sentence
Westlake Village Embezzlement Leads to 6-year sentence
Alanis Morrisette’s former business manager received a six-year federal sentence for embezzlement , wire fraud and tax crimes. Jonathan Schwartz, of Agoura Hills, stole nearly $5 million from the singer. He also stole more than $2 million from other clients of the GSO Business Management investment firm.

Morrisette was the only identified victim in the case. The firm represented other high profile clients, including Tom Petty, Katy Perry and 50 Cent. According to prosecutors, Schwartz began embezzling client funds in 2010, in part to pay for a gambling addiction, drugs and to fund a lavish lifestyle. As a partner in the firm, Schwartz earned a salary of $1.2 million.

A new financial manager that Morrisette hired discovered the scheme in 2014. While investigating the management of Morrisette’s funds, investigators also discovered losses in other client accounts. Schwartz made a great effort to disguise the losses in Morrisette’s account, which delayed the discovery of the scheme.

Federal judge Dolly Gee said that she believed Schwartz deserved a longer sentence, but federal guidelines called for a six-year term. She also ordered Schwartz to repay $8.6 million in restitution to his victims. Bernard Gudvi, who founded the investment firm, said that the firm expects to lose $20 million as the result of the scam, and that the firm laid off a dozen employees in the wake of the discovery. Schwartz’s actions also severely tarnished firm’s reputation.

Westlake Village Embezzlement Attorney


Embezzlement can be a devastating crime, both for the victim and the perpetrator. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced, aggressive embezzlement attorney when you’ve been accused of a workplace crime. Embezzlement victims are often angry, but at the end of the day, they want restitution over retribution.

An experienced criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend knows that a convicted defendant can’t make effective restitution unless he or she is working. Limiting a person’s ability to work limits their ability to provide restitution to the victims.

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.

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Antitrust Conviction for Bid-Rigging
Antitrust Conviction for Bid Rigging
In February, a federal jury handed down an antitrust conviction for a real estate investor accused of bid rigging. The jury found Thomas Joyce guilty on a single charge, after prosecutors dropped two counts of mail fraud against him.

According to prosecutors, Joyce and others conspired to buy foreclosed properties at lower-than-market prices. The conspirators also paid off other prospective bidders to eliminate competition at auctions.

Once Contra Costa County auctioned the properties, the conspirators held a second, private auction. The second auction determined the sale price of the property. It also determined the amount of the payoff for the suppressed bids. Joyce is one of more than 5 dozen people to plead guilty or be found guilty of antitrust violations related to foreclosure auctions. According to prosecutors, they have pending indictments on several other individuals in foreclosure related actions.

California antitrust attorney


Antitrust charges are complex, and often difficult to defend against. Federal prosecutions are also difficult to win. Currently, federal prosecutors have a conviction rate that exceeds 90%. That doesn’t mean you should give up or give in. It means that you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend to defend you in court.

Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney. He takes cases in both federal and state courts. He will fight aggressively for your rights, and will work toward the best possible resolution of your case. Mr. Helfend handles each case personally, so your case receives his full and complete attention. That’s not something you’ll receive from a larger, less personal law firm that relies on less experienced attorneys to try cases.

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 antitrust case.

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Securities Fraud Charge for Software Exec
Securities Fraud Charge for Software Exec
Late last year, federal authorities charged Christopher Salis, 39, of San Mateo with securities fraud and money laundering. According to prosecutors, Salis, who was a global vice president at software giant SAP, disclosed inside information about the company’s planned acquisition of Concur Technologies, a Washington-state based travel management software firm to Douglas Miller, a former Purdue University classmate.

Miller and his brother, Edward Miller, ran a car wash operation that was in financial difficulty. The Miller brothers purchased shares in Concur, based on Salis’ information. The brothers also shared the privileged information with their parents and other acquaintances. Investigators say that the privileged information resulted in profits of more than $500,000 to investors connected to Salis and/or the Miller brothers. Once the Miller brothers sold their shares, they paid a portion of their profits on the sale back to Salis.

According to prosecutors, the brothers made about $270,000 in profits from their investment in the travel company, and paid Salis about $90,000 in cash, which they transported to California on a commercial flight. Other investors made about $240,000 in profits. All three men were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, money laundering and structuring transactions to avoid reporting requirements. Prosecutors also allege that Salis and the Miller brothers had previously engaged in an insider-trading scheme that arose from Salis’ employment at Business Objects, a company that was acquired by SAP in 2007.

Salis is also charged with four counts of wire fraud and five additional counts of securities fraud. Douglas Miller is also charged with six counts of wire fraud, five counts of securities fraud and one count of lying to investigators. Edward Miller is charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of harassing a witness.

Federal securities fraud attorney


If you’re facing federal securities fraud charges, you need the assistance of an experienced securities fraud attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience in federal criminal defense and will fight aggressively on your behalf in court.

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 Man Charged in Emissions Fraud
Ventura Man Charged in Emissions Fraud
A Newbury Park man pleaded guilty to single counts of conspiracy to defraud the federal government, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and violating the Clean Air Act for allegedly designing and implementing software that would falsify emissions reports for Volkswagen vehicles.
Authorities say that James Robert Liang, 62, of Newbury Park, helped create software that covered up the fact that some Volkswagen vehicles exceeded Clean Air Act emissions regulations by as much as 40 times.

As part of the plea agreement, Liang will cooperate with federal authorities as they prepare additional charges against others at Volkswagen who also participated in the fraud. The federal investigation could lead to charges against senior executives at the company.

The fraud began in 2006 when Liang and others at the company began work on a new diesel engine in Germany that was intended for use in US vehicles. According to federal prosecutors, Liang and his team knew almost immediately that the proposed engine design would not meet federal emissions standards. Instead of redesigning the engine, they designed “defeat devices” that could reliably determine when the vehicle was being emission tested. Software then temporarily reduced the engine’s nitrogen oxide emissions below the maximum allowed under the Clean Air Act. When the car was not being tested, the nitrogen oxide emissions were unrestricted.

Liang transferred to the company’s Oxnard test facility in 2008, and worked on improvements to the engine software in an effort to reduce the company’s warranty claims. Liang and his team rolled out the new software to unsuspecting vehicle owners, claiming that the software was intended to enhance vehicle performance. The “defeat devices” were discovered last fall in some Volkswagen and Audi vehicles.

The automaker has agreed to pay nearly $15 billion to settle federal government claims against the company. In addition, the company has agreed to buy back or cancel leases on affected vehicles. In addition, the company will sponsor a trust fund to support environmental programs. Liang faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Ventura Fraud attorney


Work related fraud can be exceptionally difficult to recover from, both personally and professionally. If you’ve been accused of a workplace fraud, you need the assistance of an experienced fraud attorney like Robert Helfend.

Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively for more than 30 years, and takes cases in both state and federal courts. Don’t risk your freedom on inexperience. 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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Securities fraud plea for Ventura man
Securities fraud plea for Ventura man
A Ventura man pleaded guilty last month to charges related to a securities fraud scheme involving California real estate. Peter Woodard, 48, of Ventura pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Between 2007 and 2008, Woodard and his partner Michael Llamas of Tracy, began working with Lee Loomis, of Loomis Wealth Solutions. The men obtained the right to purchase discounted homes in California and other states. The homes were then sold to dozens of investors.

Loomis made a number of representations to the investors regarding the value of the homes, the management of the properties, and the amount of the monthly income associated with each property. As part of the fraud, the investors were not required to make down payments. Several investors purchased multiple properties.

Loomis, Llamas and Woodard the obtained mortgages on the properties for their full market value. They failed to disclose to the mortgage underwriters that the homes had been offered for sale at a discount. Further, the trio used mortgage funds to make the required down payments on the properties without disclosing this to the lenders. The trio split the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage amount, and generated $3.5 million in profits between them. Approximately 220 properties were involved in the scam.

Woodard will be sentenced in February 2017 on the wire fraud charges. He faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Securities fraud attorney


If you’re facing securities fraud, investment fraud or conspiracy charges, you need the assistance of an experienced federal securities fraud attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively for more than 30 years. He takes cases in Ventura County and throughout Southern California, including cases tried in federal courts. Don’t risk your freedom by working with 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 County securities fraud case.
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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