May 172017
 

City Attorney Mike Feuer Secures Restitution For Victims

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER SECURES RESTITUTION FOR VICTIMS ALLEGEDLY SCAMMED BY CHATSWORTH WATER DAMAGE RESTORATION COMPANY

California Restoration to pay $88,000 to 23 victims, $150,000 Civil Penalty, Establish Restitution Fund of $250,000

In his continuing efforts to protect consumers, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced his office has secured restitution for 23 victims allegedly scammed by Chatsworth-based California Restoration, a $250,000 restitution fund for additional victims and a civil penalty of $150,000. The City Attorney’s lawsuit alleged that for at least the past four years, California Restoration regularly engaged in fraudulent business practices.

“Imagine your home is flooded with sewage and the company you call for help takes advantage of you instead,” said Feuer. “Whether it’s Wells Fargo creating fake accounts, phony lawyers scamming immigrants or sewage removal companies allegedly victimizing customers, we will fight to hold L.A. businesses accountable and stand up for consumers. That’s why, in addition to the restitution we’ve gotten for 23 victims, we’ve set up a fund for other customers who believe they’ve been victimized. We’re now asking them to come forward.”

California Restoration, owned by Matthew and James Monroe, is a Chatsworth-based water damage restoration company that removes water and sewage from residential homes. The City Attorney’s complaint alleges that for at least the past four years, the company regularly engaged in the following unlawful business practices:

  • Used contracts that omitted the description of the work to be completed, the cost of the project, the approximate date of completion, and the customers’ three-day right to cancel.
  • Made substantial misrepresentations in the procurement of the contract and defrauded customers with false and fraudulent pretenses.
  • Made false and fraudulent statements in support of claims submitted to insurance companies.
  • Unlawfully initiated legal action against former customers and dissuaded them from cooperating with the Contractor’s State License Board.

Feuer’s office spearheaded the case following a collaboration with the Contractor’s State License Board, the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Insurance. After California Restoration had its contractor license suspended, the City Attorney moved to address past violations, identify victims and ensure that future violations do not occur.

In addition to requiring California Restoration to pay restitution and penalties, the company will remove all liens placed against former customers and dismiss all pending lawsuits against former clients. California Restoration also must:

  • Allow customers to cancel contracts up until midnight of the third day after the contract is signed.
  • Use the same language in its contracts that it used during its oral sales presentations.
  • Not dissuade customers from reporting their experiences to regulatory agencies, including Contractors State Licensing Board.
  • Make only truthful statements to customers and the public at large about their services.
  • Include in all its contacts key information, including the cost of the work to be completed, the approximate dates upon which the work will be completed, its contractor license number, a description of the project including materials and equipment being used, among other items.

Consumers who used the services of Cal Restoration, Inc., and/or California Restoration, LLC between July 15, 2012 and May 15, 2017, and believe they were victimized, may be eligible to receive restitution. They should contact (213) 978-8070 or email mike.n.feuer@lacity.org.

 

 

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May 112017
 

Wage Theft Prosecuted In Los Angeles

 

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER FIGHTS FOR RIGHTS OF HOME CARE WORKERS AGAINST ALLEGED WAGE THEFT

Lawsuit Alleges Valley Homecare Provider Paid Employees As Little As $5.50 Per Hour or Less, Failed to Provide Overtime Wages

 

Continuing his aggressive fight against alleged wage theft, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced his office has sued a Canoga Park-based home care provider for allegedly routinely failing to pay its employees minimum wage and overtime.

“Stealing wages from hard-working men and women is reprehensible,” said Feuer. “No worker should be forced into poverty because an employer denies them their basic rights to a minimum wage and overtime. My office will aggressively combat wage theft and fight to ensure all workers are paid what the law demands.”

“This case is sending the important message that here in Los Angeles City, immigrant workers rights are being protected” said Aquilina Soriano, Executive Director of the Pilipino Workers Center.. Immigrant workers like the Filipina homecare workers of this homecare agency have suffered from poverty wages while providing heart-felt, quality care to the elders of our city.”

“SEIU 2015 fights every day for the rights of our dedicated home healthcare workers,” President Laphonza Butler, Local SEIU 2015. “We applaud City Attorney Mike Feuer’s leadership and commitment to fighting wage theft and look forward to continuing to support those efforts in the days ahead.”

The complaint alleges that during the last four years, Emelyn Nishi and her corporations Health Alliance Nurses Corp., and Hand Homecare Provider, Inc., have employed two hundred workers or more, mostly Filipino, immigrants. Defendants allegedly charge between $170 and $250 per day for 24-hour in-home domestic care to families. However, these employees allegedly were paid only $100 to $125 per shift, equating to as little as $5.50 per hour or less. According to the lawsuit, defendants allegedly pressured their employed caregivers to falsify time records to avoid overtime payments, and routinely threatened them with termination or blacklisting within the industry.

The defendants allegedly also prohibited caregivers from discussing rates directly with clients and often threatened exorbitant contractual penalties for entering into a direct hire position with clients. Defendants allegedly misclassified their caregiver employees as independent contractors to avoid paying federal and state payroll taxes and sidestep government investigations.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against further alleged unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts as well as restitution to all current and former employees who were not paid minimum wages or overtime. In addition, defendants could face civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation.

Feuer asked other workers who may be the victims of wage theft to come forward and report it directly to his office by e-mail at mike.n.feuer@lacity.org or by phone at 213-978-1868. Feuer emphasized that wage theft victims may report to his office anonymously.

Deputy City Attorneys Ben Delfin and Miguel Bahamon of Feuer’s Affirmative Litigation Unit are handling the litigation.

 

 

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Apr 212017
 

L.A. Cracks Down On Gang And Drug Dens

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER ESCALATES

CRACKDOWN ON GANG AND DRUG DENS THROUGHOUT LA

 

Five Lawsuits Seek to Curb Rampant Criminal Activity at Properties In the San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles

Intensifying his ongoing effort to rid the city of gang and crime infested properties, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office has filed five lawsuits against the owners of six properties across the city. The properties include single family homes, an apartment building and two motels and have been the sites of rampant criminal activity including drug sales and gun possession.

“For too long, residents of these communities across our city have been plagued by the rampant criminal activity we allege at these properties,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “Enough is enough. My office will continue to fight to rid our neighborhoods of illegal guns, drugs and gang conduct that devastate communities.”

Recent narcotics and nuisance abatement filings include:

  • A single family dwelling located at 6548 Cleon Avenue in North Hollywood allegedly continues to be the site for heroin and methamphetamine sales on a regular and continuous basis. In the past year, LAPD has made 18 narcotics related arrests at the property. The property is located within a half mile of Fair Avenue Elementary School and the Victory-Vineland Recreation Center. Emile Gosline, the property owner, was named in the lawsuit.
  • Three separate bungalows located at 709-711 ½ W. 54th Street in Vermont Square in South Los Angeles are allegedly used as hangouts for two allied criminal street gangs: 51 Nothing But Trouble Gangster Crips and 52 Hoover Gangster Crips. Gang members and associates allegedly use the property to store firearms, use narcotics and tag gang graffiti. In the past two years, there have been several arrests at the property and at least four firearms have been recovered. The bungalows are located within a half mile of two parks, one church and six schools (52nd Street Elementary School, Nativity School, Dantzler Middle School, Summit Prep Charter, Hawkins High School, and Budlong Elementary School). Emaline Harris, as trustee of the Eddie & Emaline Harris Revocable Living Trust Dated October 12, 2007, the property owner, was named in the lawsuit.
  • A single family dwelling located at 333 W. 58th Street is allegedly used to sell crystal methamphetamine, including four controlled buys by undercover officers in 2017. The property has also been the location of at least two shootings as well as the arrest of an individual illegally possessing a loaded semi-automatic handgun. The property is located less than 2,000 feet from a public park and three schools (Estrella Elementary School, Aspire/Tate Elementary School, and 61st Street Elementary School). Putative property owner Tyreca Deshon Angrum and alleged narcotics dealers Frank Hall and Tyson Hall were each named in the lawsuit.
  • A single family dwelling located at 900 East 24th Street is allegedly used by relatives of the elderly property owner for the sale of narcotics including crack cocaine and heroin. The property has also allegedly been the location for several threats, batteries, and assaults, including an assault with a deadly weapon. The property is located one block away from the Second Baptist Church, a historic site and cultural landmark in South Los Angeles. The property owner Julia Griffith and Aaron Novel, a resident at the property and alleged drug dealer are named in the lawsuit.
  • The 4 Star Motel, an 18-unit property located at 7400 S. Figueroa Street in South Los Angeles and the Showtime Motel, a 12-unit property, located at 11122 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City both allegedly serve as a magnet for criminal activity including individuals who sell and use narcotics, batteries, and sexual assaults. The properties also allegedly serve as a haven for pimps and rampant prostitution activity. Four Star is located within a half mile of four elementary schools (75th Street Elementary, Miller Elementary, 68th Street Elementary, and St. Raphael Elementary), one middle school (Bethune Middle School) and two churches. Showtime is located within a half mile of Rio Vista Elementary, a Senior Living Community and Weddington Park Community Center. The owners and operators of the motels are Sureshchandra N. Patel and Bhavnaben S. Patel who own the properties at which the Motels are located. Four Star Motel Corporation, Bhavna Suresh LA, LLC, Suresh Bhavna SC, LLC, and Showtime Motel Corporation are also named as defendants.

The lawsuits seek injunctions against each of the property owners prohibiting criminal activity (and, where relevant, gang activity) at the locations, physical and managerial improvements to the properties, where applicable, including: an internet-connected video monitoring system covering all public areas at the property; improved lighting; secure gating and fencing; improved tenant screening and lease enforcement procedures including earlier closure times for businesses; and armed, licensed security guards. If those measures aren’t successful, closure of the properties may be sought.

City Attorney Feuer has expanded his Federal and Local Special Abatement Operations Unit, which, since July, 2013, has filed 52 abatement actions and obtained 58 injunctions requiring comprehensive physical and managerial improvements to nuisance properties. In this same time period, the office has also successfully secured the closure of nine gang/narcotics locations and recovered over $500,000 in costs and fees. Feuer also recently established an easy-to-use online method through which residents may report properties with gang and/or narcotics activity in their neighborhoods. He’s asking residents to report these properties by calling his office at (213) 978-8340 or visiting the City Attorney’s website: www.lacityattorney.org. All reports may be made anonymously.

 

 

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Mar 272017
 

LA City Attorney Warns Against Immigration Fraud

 

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER LAUNCHES PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN AGAINST IMMIGRATION CONSULTANT SCAMS, SUPPORTS LEGISLATION TO LICENSE NOTARIOS

 

In the wake of increased action by Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced a multi-agency collaboration to educate the public on immigration consultants and to crack down on those who misrepresent the services they may provide under the law. As part of this effort, the City Attorney supports legislation proposed by City Councilwoman Nury Martinez to establish a permitting and enforcement system for immigration consultants.

“Immigration fraud schemes can have devastating and long-lasting impacts on families,” said Feuer. “It’s especially important now, at a time of heightened anxiety in our immigrant communities, to prevent residents who turn to immigration consultants out of desperation from being victimized. My office will continue to work closely with our partners on the City Council and the County to safeguard families’ dreams and hold accountable those who would prey on immigrants’ fears.”

“During such uncertain times, it is unfathomable that people would take advantage of Angelenos who are just trying to take care of their families,” said Councilwoman Nury Martinez. “By establishing a license for immigration consultants, we will be doing two things: Providing a resource of legitimate consultants for people to access; and giving the City the tools necessary to prevent more people from being victimized. Our number one goal must continue to be to protect families in Los Angeles.”

“It is unfortunate that at a time when some of our most vulnerable Angelenos seek immigration advice, they find themselves victims of notario fraud and immigration consultant scams,” stated Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “I thank City Attorney Mike Feuer for his leadership and educational campaign, and Councilwoman Nury Martinez for her motion to regulate notarios in the City of Los Angeles. People’s lives are at stake especially under the Presidency of Donald Trump, and anyone seeking to profit from these misfortunes should be ashamed of themselves,” added Cedillo.

“Fraudulent immigration consultants and ‘notarios’ take advantage of the most vulnerable residents in Los Angeles County,” said County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Director Brian J. Stiger. “We stand together with City Attorney Mike Feuer and other partners to fight all types of fraud affecting immigrants.”

The motion, presented by Councilmember Martinez and supported by Feuer and Cedillo, calls for the development of an immigration consultant licensing process through the Office of Finance that will monitor and identify consultants as well as fund investigations. Enforcement and citation of businesses not in compliance with the law would be done by the City Attorney in coordination with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (LACBCA). The motion would also require all immigration consultants and notaries to comply with all provisions of the California Immigration Consultant Act in order to curb immigration services fraud.

Under current regulations, immigration consultants are not lawyers and have a very limited and specific role in helping someone complete the process to change their immigration status. The limited services immigration consultants can offer include completing immigration forms but can’t tell consumers which forms they need, translating answers without advising consumers what answers to provide, securing supporting documents, submitting forms and making free referrals to licensed attorneys.

The City Attorney and LACBCA have partnered to enforce current laws governing immigration consultants. There are currently several referrals from LACBCA that the City Attorney is reviewing. There is also an ongoing case against Eddie Bonilla, a notario, set for trial next week that alleges violations of unlicensed practice of immigration law that was investigated by LADCBA.

Immigration consultants must give customers a written contract, in English and in the consumer’s language that gives customers a three-day right to cancel it without any charge. Immigration consultants must also post signs to make it clear that they are not licensed attorneys, and they must tell customers that they can’t provide legal advice.

Support for new legislation calling for licensing of consultants is part of an ongoing and comprehensive enforcement and education campaign spearheaded by City Attorney Feuer, the LA County Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, and legal aid organizations to address immigration scams. Individuals who believe they have been a victim of immigration scams should contact the DCBA at (800) 593-8222, or file a complaint DCBA’s website: www.dcba.lacounty.gov.

Consumers can find additional tips and information on the City Attorney’s website http://www.lacityattorney.org/immigration-fraud, and on DCBA’s website: www.dcba.lacounty.gov.

 

 

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Mar 182017
 

CONVICTION IN LGBT CENTER HATE CRIME

 

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER SECURES CONVICTION IN LGBT CENTER HATE CRIME VANDALISM CASE

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office has successfully secured a conviction and jail sentence against a graffiti vandal for damaging a Los Angeles LGBT Center facility with hate speech.

“In these increasingly precarious times, it’s particularly important that my office stand at the forefront in protecting all our residents against acts of violence and hate,” said Feuer.

“We will not tolerate hate or bullying of any form. Los Angeles is and will continue to be a place of refuge for all. I commend the City Attorney’s office for their work prosecuting this case and protecting our residents.” Said Councilmember David Ryu.

“Messages of hate and violence will not be tolerated in the City of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who is openly gay and shares representation of the Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood. “I commend our City Attorney for taking swift action regarding this crime, and for working with my office to create an environment where our diversity is celebrated and one’s truth is respected.”

“This hateful incident was not an isolated event,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “There has been a rash of similar incidents targeting LGBT centers nationwide. We are living in a very different climate—when LGBT people, Muslim people, Jewish people and others are increasingly under attack—but we must remain resilient. We’re grateful to the Los Angeles Police Department and to City Attorney Mike Feuer.”

Damario Brown, 23, was charged on March 13, 2017 with one count each of hate crime damaging property and vandalism. The defendant pled open to the charges on March 14, 2017 and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, nine days in jail, 45 days of graffiti removal and was ordered to stay away from the Center. A restitution hearing is scheduled for April 27, 2017.

On February 9, 2017, the Center’s Director of Facilities reported an unidentified individual had spray painted the phrase “F–k Trannies,” among other slurs, on the front facing wall of the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza located at 1125 N. McCadden Place. Defendant Brown was identified by officers after recognizing him on surveillance video at the location and was arrested on March 9, 2017.

Deputy City Attorney Chadd Kim of the City Attorney’s Special Trials Unit successfully prosecuted the case.

 

 

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Mar 082017
 
L.A. Congratulates Mayor Garcetti On His Re-Election

Mayor Garcetti Re-Elected! Photo property of the Mayor’s office.

Los Angeles 42nd Mayor Eric Garcetti won the Tuesday (03/07/2017) election by a landslide! Not all votes have been counted yet, but those that have been indicate that our Mayor won over 80% of the vote, leaving other contenders in the dust and setting a new Los Angeles mayoral popularity record.

Just like the president of the United States, the city mayor serves a 4 year term. Because of the upcoming change in the electoral calendar – beginning in 2020 all elections: federal, state and city will take place at the same time – Mayor Garcetti’s new term will last longer than usual: five and half years.

(Some members of Los Angeles City government, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Controller Ron Galperin and Councilman Bob Blumenfield have been re-elected virtually without opposition. Most of other local politicians faced newcomers vying for their seats, still it is expected that the majority will retain their offices.)

Like the majority of Angelenos, Mayor Eric Garcetti is a liberal democrat. Even so, he faced some criticism from democrats for his less than forceful stance against the immigration policies of President Trump and for not declaring Los Angeles a “sanctuary city”. The overwhelming majority of Angelenos however appreciate Mayor Garcetti’s numerous achievements in the areas of economy, affordable housing, his efforts to combat homelessness and improving mass transportation.

The latest and overwhelming electoral victory of Mayor Garcetti might serve him well beyond Los Angeles, too. Being re-elected in a landslide will help ensure his future on California’s – and perhaps even, national – political scene.

Anything L.A. Magazine congratulates Mayor Garcetti on his SPECTACULAR re-election victory! Good for the Mayor! Good for Los Angeles! Angelenos look forward to five and half more years of prosperity, safety and DEMOCRACY in Los Angeles.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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Mar 062017
 

L.A. Convicts Irresponsible Father

 

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER SECURES CONVICTION, JAIL SENTENCE IN UNSAFE FIREARM STORAGE CASE

 

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office successfully obtained a conviction and jail sentence against a father for leaving a semi-automatic firearm and multiple large capacity magazines unsecured in his Studio City apartment while his 12-year old son was visiting.

“Thousands of children are injured or killed by firearms each year, often because unsecured weapons fall into the wrong hands,” said Feuer. “Safely storing firearms saves lives, and my office will hold adults accountable when they fail to secure their guns properly.”

Following a 14 day jury trial, Calvin Devereaux, 50, was found guilty on four criminal counts including criminal storage of a firearm, improper storage of a firearm, possession of an extra capacity magazine, and import of an extra capacity magazine in the State.

The defendant was sentenced on February 24, 2017 to three years of probation, 120 days in the county jail, and was ordered to complete 52 Alcoholics Anonymous Classes, 52 parenting classes, and six months of psychological counselling. A protective order was also issued for the defendants’ ex-wife and son.

On July 5, 2016 LAPD officers responded to the defendant’s Studio City apartment after receiving a call from the defendant’s ex-wife relating to her concern about their son and multiple firearms in the house after receiving disturbing text messages. Responding officers observed the defendant with observable signs of alcohol intoxication. During their search of the home, officers observed an unsecured and loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic firearm in the nightstand draw of the master bedroom. Multiple large capacity magazines were also found along with the firearm.

The defendant was subsequently taken into custody and the child was returned to his mother in Seattle. All weapons, magazine and ammunition found in the home were confiscated.

Deputy City Attorney Margie Barron successfully prosecuted the case.

 

 

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Mar 042017
 

Los Angeles Reacts To Arrests For Anti-Semitic Threats

According to multiple sources, an arrest has been made and a suspect in multiple threats against Jewish Community Centers is in custody. The 31 year old African American man, identified as Juan Thompson was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri. He is accused of making at least eight threats nationwide.

It appears that the anti-Jewish threats have been made as a part of his campaign to get even with his white ex-girlfriend. Thompson is not suspected of committing any acts of violence but attempting to destroy the ex-girlfriend’s reputation by falsely reporting her as a racist and anti-Semite, creating and carrying out a nationwide campaign of fear by phone and Online which included making anti-Semitic threats in her name.

In response to the arrest (and possibly others which have not been made public, yet), City Attorney Mike Feuer released the following statement:

“We applaud the work of federal law enforcement officials in this morning’s arrest of a suspect in connection with threats made against Jewish community centers. While these threats targeted the Jewish community in particular, they are part of a broader wave of acts of hate that assault our most basic American values.

Here in Los Angeles, my Office, LAPD, federal law enforcement and interfaith leaders are unified in our condemnation of such acts and in strong support of all members of our community.”

In a statement praising the arrest, Mayor Garcetti said:

“The acts of hate and antisemitism that have threatened our Jewish community in recent weeks are an attack on all of us — and they undermine our most fundamental American values. On behalf of our entire city, I thank our federal law enforcement partners for their commitment and hard work to arrest a suspect today in connection with these unconscionable acts.
“Los Angeles has always been a city of kind, compassionate people who stand together, and speak up for one another in the face injustice. I am committed to protecting those values, and we will not stop working until we know every Angeleno can feel safe.”

 

 

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Jan 192017
 
Police Officer Convicted Of Inappropriate Conduct With A Minor

The picture features LAPD Metro Cadets. None of the individuals shown were involved in the case.

CITY ATTORNEY MIKE FEUER SECURES CONVICTION AGAINST LAPD OFFICER FOR INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT WITH TEENAGE CADET

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that this afternoon his office secured a conviction in a jury trial involving an LAPD Officer accused of inappropriately interacting with a female teenage cadet under his supervision.

“This was an egregious breach of trust by an LAPD officer responsible for supervising student cadets,” said Feuer. “It is essential to hold the officer accountable for taking advantage of his position to victimize a minor. Our cadets commit to public service. They deserve our respect–and our protection.”

Abel Montes De Orca, 32, was convicted of distribution of harmful matter and illegal destruction of documents or digital images following a five day jury trial. The defendant could face up to one year and six months in jail and mandatory sex offender registration. The judge remanded Montes De Orca into custody and set bail at $100,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Friday, January 20, 2017 in Department 105.

In September 2015, Officer De Orca met the 16 year-old female victim in the case while she was enrolled as a cadet in the LAPD’s Youth Service Officer Program. Through October 2015, defendant De Orca allegedly pursued an inappropriate relationship via text messages and other social media. Many of the text messages were allegedly sexually explicit in nature.

When the relationship was disclosed, the defendant allegedly attempted to delete photos and messages from his phone and personal computer and also advised the victim to delete any evidence of their communication. All devices were seized during the execution of a search warrant and the case was referred to the City Attorney’s office for prosecution.

Deputy City Attorney Lara Drino of the City Attorney’s Family Violence Section successfully prosecuted the case.

 

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Jan 132017
 

L.A. City Attorney Prosecutes Talent Scams

CITY ATTORNEY FEUER TARGETS TALENT SCAMS

FILES CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST

UNLICENSED BEVERLY HILLS AGENCY

 

Warning that unsuspecting aspiring young actors and models could be victims of unscrupulous talent schemes, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office has filed multiple criminal charges against the operators of an unlicensed talent agency for allegedly unlawfully charging the parent of an underage child for fees and photographs.

“The promise of Hollywood has lured thousands of people from around the globe to pursue careers in television and movies. Unfortunately, that promise also attracts unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of those hopes and dreams,” said Feuer. “My office will hold accountable those who prey on aspiring performers to the full extent of the law.”

Patrick Arnold Simpson, 48, Paul Atteukenian, 51 and their business, P&P Boyz, lLC dba “Network International Models & Talent” were each charged with seven criminal counts including violating the Krekorian Act (advance fees for talent services); operating without a “Child Performer Service Permit”, falsely representing that the business was a licensed talent agency, petty theft, attempted grand theft and criminal conspiracy. If convicted, Simpson and Atteukenian could face up to four years in jail and $33,500 in fines. Arraignment is scheduled for January 25, 2017 in Department 48.

“When I wrote this law eight years ago, I wanted to create a tool to protect budding performers from being exploited by seasoned scammers,” said City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, author of California’s Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. “I applaud City Attorney Feuer for boldly enforcing the law as I intended. This prosecution should put all dubious talent businesses on notice that, if they break the law in Los Angeles, they will face the consequences.”

In April 2016, Network International Models & Talent (NIMT), a Beverly Hills talent agency, signed a teenage girl from Inglewood to a contract for representation. While the contract stated that NIMT was licensed by the State Labor Commissioner, the businesses agency license had expired in December 2015 and was not renewed until September 2016. NIMT also failed to obtain a “Child Performer Service Permit”, a condition for representing minors without state licensing.

The artist’s mother was allegedly charged $560 by NIMT for photographs and a portfolio for her daughter. After the photo shoot at a Los Angeles studio, the mother allegedly paid an additional $184 to NIMT for photo services. The mother was later allegedly informed that NIMT selected her daughter to attend an NIMT Convention in New York costing $8,245, and that she would need to pay NIMT. The mother began researching the company and the law and ultimately made a complaint to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, who launched an investigation. Feuer’s office and the Department have been working together to combat alleged talent scams.

Under the law any talent agency providing an artist representation is prohibited from charging advance fees or requiring artists purchase photographs, lessons, or attend seminars as a condition of that representation.

Any individuals who believe they may have been victimized or wish to file a complaint, should be made to the LA County Department of Consumer Affairs at (323) 881-7095, Attn: Investigator Karine Israelyan, or online at www.DCBA.lacounty.gov.

Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert is prosecuting the case.

 

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Jan 062017
 

L.A. City Attorney Breaks Catalytic Converter Theft RingCITY ATTORNEY FEUER TARGETS RING FOR ALLEGEDLY STOLEN CATALYTIC CONVERTERS

Seeks injunction against alleged illegal activity and civil penalties

City Attorney Mike Feuer took aim at two businesses alleged to have been involved in a catalytic converter theft ring. Feuer has filed a civil lawsuit against two Southern California businesses which allegedly repeatedly received or sold stolen catalytic converters and failed to keep proper bookkeeping records to cover the allegedly illicit nature of the fencing operation.

“California has more catalytic converter theft than any state in the nation, a problem that’s plagued L.A. motorists for far too long,” said Feuer. “Today we focus on breaking up the allegedly illegal operations that drive these thefts, and fighting to hold accountable business owners whom we allege don’t play by the rules.”

In just the last four years, LAPD has received more than 4,367 reports of catalytic converters stolen from vehicles, typically resold on the black market. In an effort to curb the growing trend of catalytic converter thefts, the California legislature adopted California Senate Bill 267 in 2009, requiring businesses or individuals who purchase used catalytic converter parts to follow strict record keeping and payment requirements. Unless otherwise exempted, purchasers of catalytic converters are to keep detailed records of the date, name, driver’s license number and description of the parts purchased, and are prohibited from providing cash payments at the time of sale.

In April, 2015, the LAPD formed the Catalytic Converter Task Force (CCTF) to investigate, identify and target the illicit market for catalytic converters in Los Angeles. The City Attorney’s lawsuit alleges that the CCTF identified Gonzales Brothers LLC, an auto parts recycling business located at 12970 Branford Street in Pacoima and Kinsbursky Brothers Supply Inc., a scrap metal recycler in Anaheim which buys scrap metal and parts from sellers across southern California, for alleged violations.

The lawsuit alleges the operators of Gonzales Brothers knowingly purchased thousands of stolen catalytic converters off the black market and resold them to other recyclers, including the operators of Kinsbursky Brothers, for profit. The businesses allegedly avoided required recordkeeping and payment obligations in order to facilitate the fencing and laundering of stolen property.

During a 2015 surveillance investigation, CCTF allegedly observed employees with Gonzales Brothers engage in numerous paperless, cash sales of used catalytic converters, often with known catalytic converter thieves. A subsequent search warrant of the location allegedly recovered tools used to remove catalytic converters, various records and over 300 catalytic converters. None of the records involving catalytic converter sales were alleged to contain the identifying information required by law and investigators did not locate any written agreements with other businesses regarding accepting and recycling converters.

Further investigation by CCTF discovered Kinsbursky Bros. was one of the largest buyers of Gonzales Brothers, allegedly purchasing more than seven thousand catalytic converters over the course of two and half years. Between August, 2015, and September 18, 2015, alone, Kinsbursky Bros. allegedly purchased 23,822 catalytic converters through 364 transactions from a variety of sellers. The lawsuit alleges that none of the transactions included the legally mandated information that Kinsbursky Bros. was obligated to retain. CCTF Officers also failed to locate, and were not provided, any written agreements between Kinsbursky and any other business regarding accepting and recycling catalytic converters, as required by law.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the operators of Gonzales Brothers and Kinsbursky Bros., prohibiting further illegal activity and enjoining them from operating as a clearing house for stolen catalytic converters. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation.

City Attorney Feuer encourages motorists to use common sense and consider additional measures to protect themselves against potential catalytic converter theft including:

  • Park your vehicle in well-lighted secured areas and near the entrance of businesses.
  • Engrave your license plate number to the converter to make it traceable.
  • Visit a muffler shop to have converter secured to the vehicle’s frame.
  • Look into different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online.

The litigation is being handled by Deputy City Attorneys Travis Austin and Jaclyn Blankenship.

 

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Sep 022016
 

CityAttorneyMikeFeuerj

City Attorney Mike Feuer secured convictions against Gloria Dora Saucedo (Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional) for the unlicensed practice of immigration law which allegedly adversely affected the immigration status of some of her clients.

City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced his office has secured convictions against a San Fernando Valley woman, Gloria Dora Saucedo, for the unlicensed practice of immigration law, and her business, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, for performing unauthorized paralegal services, which allegedly adversely affected the immigration status of some clients.

“My office will fight to protect immigrants striving to gain lawful status in this country,” said Feuer.

Saucedo, 65, entered a plea of no contest to one count of unauthorized practiced of law and was sentenced to 24 months of probation and 200 hours of community service. A restitution hearing for seven individuals who were clients of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional is scheduled for October 7, 2016.

The business, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Inc. (7915 Van Nuys Boulevard), also entered a plea of no contest to an infraction for performing unauthorized paralegal services and will pay a $2,000 fine. Payment of the fine, restitution and fulfillment of community service has been stayed by the court pending appeal.

In September, 2012, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) received a complaint from a consumer alleging she had paid $4,275 to employees of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional for assistance in obtaining a U Visa. The customer allegedly did not receive any service and was later denied an immigration petition for failure to submit the requested documentation. Investigators subsequently conducted three undercover investigations in 2014 and noted numerous alleged violations of the Immigrant Consultant Act, including non-lawyer employees allegedly providing legal advice on two occasions. This conduct allegedly took place prior to the defendants receiving accreditation from the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Immigration consultants are not lawyers and have a very limited and specific role in helping clients complete the process to change their immigration status. The limited services immigration consultants may offer include completing immigration forms, but they can’t counsel consumers on which legal forms they need. They may translate answers but cannot advise consumers what answers to provide. They may secure supporting documents, submit forms and make free referrals to licensed attorneys.

Immigration consultants must give customers a written contract, in English and in the consumer’s language, and provide customers a three-day right to cancel without any charge. Immigration consultants must also post signs to make it clear they are not licensed attorneys, informing customers they can’t provide legal advice.

The conviction of Saucedo is part of an ongoing comprehensive enforcement and education campaign spearheaded by City Attorney Feuer, DCBA, and legal aid organizations to address alleged immigration scams. Individuals who believe they have been victimized by Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional or others should contact the City Attorney’s Office at (213) 978-8070 or DCBA at (800) 593-8222, or file a complaint through DCBA’s website.

Deputy City Attorneys Travis Austin and Onica Cole successfully prosecuted the case.

Consumers can find additional tips and information on the City Attorney’s website and on DCBA’s website.

Jul 262016
 
L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer Takes Action To Reclaim South L.A.

Fighting crime and gangs: Federal and Local Special Abatement Operations Unit has filed 40 actions and obtained 56 injunctions requiring comprehensive improvements to nuisance properties. (Including buildings’ security surveillance)

City Attorney Mike Feuer Takes Action to Take Back South L.A. Community from Notorious Crips Street Gangs; Buildings Sites of Rampant Drug Sales, Gang Activity, Gun Possession

In a sustained effort to rid the city of gang and crime infested properties, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed lawsuits against the owners of a duplex and fourplex in South Los Angeles. The apartment buildings are alleged strongholds for the Neighborhood Crips street gangs and have been the sites of rampant criminal activity including drug sales and gun possession.

“No neighborhood should have to endure these conditions,” said Feuer. “We’ll continue to target centers of illegal activity like these and take back our communities.”

“When we confirm clear evidence of drug sales and illegal weapons, it is incumbent on the city to take proactive steps to get to the source of the problem” said Councilmember Harris Dawson. “This is a smart approach that will mitigate the immediate problem of drug sales as well as prevent future problems by placing corrective conditions on the property, so that it doesn’t go right back to being the neighborhood drug house.”

The City Attorney has filed an abatement lawsuit against Christopher Darnell Evans and Carl Amos, trustees for the duplex building located at 4406 S. Gramercy Place and within a half-mile of four public schools and two churches. Evans is a documented 46 Neighborhood Crips gang member and has taken over the property following the death of his father in 2012, allegedly encouraging and participating in narcotics sales and gang crime.

Just in the past two months, LAPD officers have conducted four controlled narcotics purchases at the property and made multiple narcotics-related arrests of gang members. Defendant Evans was allegedly involved in selling narcotics during at least two of the purchases. LAPD also made two arrests at the property including one of a gang member for concealing a gun in a vehicle and one of a felon in possession of a stolen gun.

A concurrent lawsuit was filed against Darwin and Ethel Hudson, the owners of a fourplex apartment building located at 5700 South Budlong Avenue. The property is allegedly controlled by the 57 Neighborhood Crips criminal street gang and used as a walk-up site for narcotics sales out of the garage. The property is located within 1,000 feet of a middle school and elementary school.

City Attorney Mike Feuer Takes Action To Reclaim South L.A.

Between September 2015 and May 2016 LAPD conducted 12 controlled narcotics purchases at the property including 10 rock cocaine purchases by informants.

Both lawsuits seek an injunction prohibiting gang and criminal activity on the property, physical and managerial improvements to the property including: an internet-connected video monitoring system; improved lighting; secure gating and fencing; improved tenant screening and lease enforcement procedures; and armed, licensed security guards.

Since July, 2013, City Attorney Feuer’s Federal and Local Special Abatement Operations Unit has filed 40 actions similar to these and obtained 56 injunctions requiring comprehensive physical and managerial improvements to nuisance properties. In this same time period, the office has also successfully secured the closure of five gang/narcotics locations and recovered over $270,000 in costs and fees.

Feuer also recently established an easy-to-use online method through which residents may report properties with gang and/or narcotics activity in their neighborhoods. He’s asking residents to report these properties by calling his office at (213) 978-8340.

Jun 172016
 

 

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer praised the California Supreme Court’s refusal this week to review an appellate decision upholding Los Angeles’ landmark billboard ban.

“This was billboard company Lamar’s last gasp in its attack on Los Angeles’ billboard ban. Now the Supreme Court has made clear our billboard ban stands,” said Feuer, who had urged the Supreme Court to reject Lamar’s effort to overturn the appellate ruling. “This is a great victory for our neighborhoods, heading off what would have been a torrent of new billboards inundating Los Angeles.”

Lamar Central Outdoor v. City of Los Angeles is a lawsuit challenging the City’s authority to regulate outdoor signs and to establish specific sign districts and limitations on digital billboards. In March, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District upheld the City’s authority to set billboard regulations, reversing a Superior Court ruling. Lamar requested that the California Supreme Court review the Court of Appeal’s decision, but the Supreme Court refused, preserving the City’s ability to control the proliferation of new billboards.

 

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