On June 7, it was reported that a former California attorney pleaded guilty to wire fraud after he falsely represented to his clients that the legal resolutions he obtained for them were favorable. The 36-year-old attorney faxes a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud charge.
Attorney Michael Avenatti says that he plans to plead not guilty to a raft of felony charges including embezzlement and fraud when he appears in California district court. The 48-year-old litigator is accused of using millions of dollars that should have gone to his clients to fund his lavish lifestyle. Avenatti faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars if he is convicted on all of the charges against him.
Controversial attorney Michael Avenatti became a media sensation in March 2018 when he took legal action against President Trump on behalf of an adult film star, and he was even said to be mulling a 2020 presidential bid. However, those aspirations took a major hit on March 25 when federal prosecutors in both California and New York filed felony charges against Avenatti that could put him behind bars for many years.
Law enforcement says a California man is at the center of the so-called "Varsity Blues" scandal, in which wealthy parents paid large sums of money to get their children into prestigious universities using bribes, falsified test results, fake reports of athletic prowess and other illegal methods. Among those facing charges in the case are actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
California residents may have heard that Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison by a judge in Virginia. He was charged with bank and tax fraud, which the judge acknowledged were serious charges. The judge said that Manafort's actions were akin to stealing from every taxpayer in the United States. In addition to the jail time, Manafort was ordered to repay $24.8 million and pay a $50,000 fine.
A 43-year-old California woman was sentenced to five years in a state prison on Feb. 4 for embezzling $474,000 from the owners of a Paso Robles company. Prosecutors say that she took advantage of the elderly owners of the company over a period of about three years after being hired as a bookkeeper. Media reports reveal that the woman is being held at the San Luis Obispo County Jail and may serve her sentence at the California Institution for Women.
A man who pleaded no contest to walking out on checks at restaurants in Pasadena, California, surrendered to police in January, 2019, to serve his 120-day jail sentence. The man, aged 45, allegedly used numerous first dates as an opportunity to not pay for meals at multiple restaurants. In addition to a jail sentence, the man was ordered to pay $240 in restitution to victims and to stay 100 yards away from five restaurants.
Prosecutors in California have filed felony charges against a 29-year-old woman who allegedly embezzled about $38,000 from the San Miguel Community Services District. The woman reportedly took the money while working as a bookkeeper for the Community Services District between February and November 2015. Attorneys from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office filed the charges on Oct. 5.
Some California residents might have been lured by the promise of robust returns in a debt reselling scheme that bilked hundreds of people out of millions of dollars according to federal prosecutors. A 14-count indictment unsealed on Sept. 19 in Maryland alleges that three men maintained lavish lifestyles with money that they told investors would be used to purchase portfolios of delinquent mortgage, student loan and credit card debt. The men face decades behind bars if convicted according to media accounts.
Trade fraud is a growing problem in California and throughout the United States, according to new study published in the Oregon Review of International Law. According to the authors of the study, the issue costs the U.S. millions in lost tax dollars every year and puts the public at risk. However, trade fraud crimes are difficult to detect and prosecute.