Category Archives:Criminal Defense

DUI Checkpoint - Lake Forest, February 15, 2013

A DUI checkpoint announcement has been issued by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for the City of Lake Forest on February 15, 2013 from 6:00pm to 2:00am.

If you or a loved one is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, contact an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights. Don’t hesitate and contact Don Ho today!

Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, CA.

12-Year-Old Charged In Murder of Neo-Nazi Father

A judge ruled Monday a 12-year-old Riverside boy was found responsible for the second-degree murder of his father, a regional director of a neo-Nazi organization. Along with the murder count, Riverside Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard found true sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations. A “true” or “not true” verdict is the juvenile-court equivalent of guilty. The case was heard without a jury.

Leonard acknowledged the boy’s “long history of abuse and neglect.” Leonard agreed with a psychologist who testified during trial that for the boy, “the potential for violence could have been predicted” based on prenatal substance abuse by the mother, domestic violence between parents and the father’s neo-Nazi philosophy. Leonard said she considered the boy’s age, the circumstance of the crime, the boy’s experience, including family and mental condition, and his understanding of the crime.

The judge laid out the morning of the crime: Before dawn on May 1, 2011, the boy got the family’s .357 Magnum out of his parents’ room while everyone was asleep. He walked downstairs to where his father, 32-year-old Jeff Hall, was sleeping on the couch. He put the gun to his father’s head and pulled the trigger with both hands. The boy then went up to his room and hid the gun under the bed.

Through the course of the trial the young boy admitted that he knew what he was doing wrong at the time of the crime, and that he knew about hate. Leonard said the boy’s statements made within the first 24 hours following the crime were “the most believable.” Those statements gave “a clear picture of whether he understood whether what he did was wrong,” the judge said. The judge said after the crime, the boy – who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity – told police, “if you want to kill someone, you shoot them in the head.”

Prosecutors maintained Hall’s white supremacist beliefs had nothing to do with the crime. The father was a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement, which promotes white separatism. His other children have been taken into protective custody. Prosecutors noted the boy had a history of violence that dated back to kindergarten when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil. The boy was expelled from approximately eight schools, Leonard said. Prosecutors also said the boy told his younger sister two days before the shooting that he planned to kill his father.
The young boy’s defense attorney said his client grew up in an abusive and violent environment and learned it was acceptable to kill people who were a threat. Hardy contended the boy thought if he shot his dad, the violence would end.

“He was kept in an environment where he was conditioned to use violence. He learned that from his dad,” Hardy said, referring to Hall’s neo-Nazi activities and alleged penchant for “slapping, hitting and yelling” at his oldest child. “This young man never had a chance,” the attorney said. “He was genetically programmed to commit violence.”

A dispositional hearing was scheduled for Feb. 15. The county Department of Probation was directed to draw up a pre-sentencing report listing options for the 12-year-old’s placement. The boy is expected to be incarcerated to age 23. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights! Call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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Five People in Custody in Connection with Nordstrom Rack Robbery

Three men and two women were in custody today in connection with a hostage takeover at Nordstrom Rack in Westchester last week.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department Office website, on Thursday, January 10th around 11:00 pm., three armed suspects confronted the employees as they were leaving the closed business.  The suspects forced the employees back into the store and held them hostage while the suspects robbed the business.

During the incident, one of the employees called a relative to inform him that the business was being robbed. That relative then notified the Los Angeles Police Department inciting the immediate response of Pacific Division patrol units.

Based on initial witness statements and the observations of the first officers at scene, it was believed that armed suspects were inside the business and holding the employees hostage.  When members of LAPD’s Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team entered the location, they searched for suspects and rescued the employees.  None of the suspects were found at the location and it was later learned that they left the location in a white Sport Utility Vehicle as patrol units were arriving.

During the course of the robbery, one of the suspects stabbed a female store employee whom he found hiding in a break room.  That employee sustained a non-life threatening stab wound to her neck.  A second employee was sexually assaulted by one of the suspects.  Both victims were treated at a local hospital and released late Friday morning.

Robbery-Homicide Division assumed responsibility for the investigation and more than twenty detectives were assigned to the investigation.  They worked relentlessly for the next forty-eight hours scouring the crime scene, reviewing evidence and identifying the suspects.  By Saturday evening, detectives had identified and arrested the three suspects who committed robbery inside the Nordstrom’s Rack.  Two additional persons were arrested for their actions after the robbery.

Four of the suspects are currently in custody in LA. Sherman is being held in Phoenix without bail. All five suspects are residents of Los Angeles, according to police.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights! Call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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Robbery Suspect Who Caused Cal State Fullerton Lockdown In Custody

English: This is the seal of the California St...

On December 12, 2012, five suspects entered Empire Jewelry and Loan in Moreno Valley about 3 p.m. on Dec.12 and shot an employee, then fled in a dark Lexus, according to the Moreno Valley Police Department.

The men took authorities on a high-speed chase that ended in Fullerton and led to the lockdown of the Cal State campus for more than eight hours.

Two Los Angeles residents, Damine Lavonte Banks, 30, and Jerome Renard Allen, 23, were arrested after they ran from the Lexus after the car chase, according to a police news release.

A third suspect, Traevon Cortez Vidaud, 24, of Compton, allegedly carjacked a second vehicle as he was being chased by officers and led them on a pursuit to Los Angeles, police said. There he stopped and dashed into the midst of a Los Angeles Police Department toy drive, where Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and other officer were distributing gifts to underprivileged youth. He was apprehended at the toy drive. All three were booked on suspicion of attempted murder and robbery, police said.

Recently, a fourth suspect has been arrested in a Moreno Valley jewelry store robbery and shooting that triggered the police chase and lockdown at Cal State Fullerton.

Roosevelt Andrew Fernandez, 26, of Compton, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery, conspiracy, gang association, parole violation and the use of a firearm during the commission of a robbery.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departmentinmate database says Fernandez was arrested Dec. 21 by the Long Beach Police Department without incident.

Fernandez’s alleged cohorts are facing 20-plus years in prison if convicted of attempted murder, robbery, and gang activity charges with multiple sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

They will be arraigned at the Riverside Hall of Justice on January 3, 2013. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an experienced and aggressive attorney who can discuss your options with you.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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Tennis Umpire Cleared of Murder Charges, Gets Job Back

The murder charge against U.S. Open tennis referee Lois Goodman, 70, was recently dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Goodman was arrested in her referee uniform last August just days before the US Open. Police said she had bludgeoned her husband to death with a coffee mug in her Los Angeles home then stabbed him to death with the pieces. Goodman claimed her husband suffered a heart attack and then fell down the stairs.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office dropped the case before Goodman lawyers presented a report by former New York pathologist Michael Baden that attributed Alan Goodman’s death to heart issues and not head injuries from an assault.

The D.A.’s office did not reveal why it sought to withdraw charges in the high-profile case after a month of claiming that Lois Goodman murdered her husband. They said the case remains open. However, the pathology report that disputed the coroner’s finding reveals the head wound portrayed as deadly was, in fact, superficial.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck defended his department’s handling of the investigation. He said investigators were “largely guided” by information obtained through the coroner’s office. “And some other information came up that contradicted some of that. So this is in the D.A.’s hands right now,” Beck said.

Goodman, said she found her husband dead at their Woodland Hills home. She told authorities that she came home and found a bloody trail up the stairs to their bedroom. She believed he had fallen, then made his way to bed. Responding officers believed her and the home was cleaned up.

But three days later, a coroner’s investigator visited the mortuary to sign the death certificate and reported he found ”deep penetrating blunt force trauma” on Alan Goodman’s head and ears. The observations launched a homicide investigation. In a search warrant, a detective described how investigators had found blood throughout the home.

Lois Goodman’s lawyers later revealed that the tennis umpire’s DNA wasn’t even found on the alleged murder weapon. She also passed a defense-arranged polygraph test conducted by a former FBI examiner, according to her lawyers.

The USTA reinstated Goodman as a professional referee in the wake of the decision by prosecutors to drop charges that she bludgeoned her husband to death.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an experienced and aggressive attorney who can help you fight the charges.

Published by Don HoLaw.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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Felony Charge Filed Against Suspect in 'Desperate Bandit' Bank Robberies

A felony charge was filed today against a 47-year-old man who may be the ‘Desperate Bandit,’ blamed for nine bank robberies in Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. Indio police arrested Michael Patrick Downing, 47, of Chino Hills after a bank robbery in that city Friday.

“A FirstBank branch at 82900 Avenue 42 was robbed after a man approached the teller with a note demanding money”, Indio police said in a written statement. According to investigators, after the man exited the bank, he drove from the parking lot in a white colored Toyota Corolla with an undisclosed amount of money. Indio police radioed the car’s description and an officer later observed a vehicle matching that description on westbound 1-10, about a mile west of the bank.

A patrol car followed the vehicle another four miles until back-up units arrived and then pulled the car over. The driver, Downing, was arrested.

Investigators found a two-liter plastic bottle filled with clear liquid and suspicious wiring during a search of Downing’s car. The Riverside Sheriff’s Department sent out its Hazardous Device Team to determine whether the device was a bomb. After inspection the device was determined to be inert.

FBI officials suspected Downing might be connected to the nine other ‘Desperate Bandit’ robberies that occurred over the past year in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties because of the nature of the crime and Downing’s physical description.

In Orange County, the desperate bandit has been blamed for bank robberies in Tustin, La Habra, Anaheim Hills, Fullerton and Placentia.

The robber was given the nickname by the FBI after describing himself as desperate in one of the notes passed to a bank teller.

Investigators allege that Downing admitted he committed several other bank robberies in Southern California and say they are “99.99 percent” certain that Downing is the “Desperate Bandit” bank robber.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an attorney who can help you fight the charges.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is an attorney in Orange County, California, focusing on criminal and employment law.

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Boy Scouts of America 'Perversion Files' Published, Reveal Incidents of Misconduct in Orange County

What began as a newspaper investigation unearthed several hundred descriptions of abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.

This Thursday, thousands of pages of secret “perversion files” kept by the Boy Scouts of America were made public. These files named 19 Orange County members banned from scouting over allegations of child sexual abuse. Previosly, 28 Orange County cases have been made public. Together, they total 47 Orange County cases.

The Scout files were released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court. They had been used in a court case there, brought and won by a plaintiff who alleged an assistant scoutmaster molested him in the 1980s.

The Scouts began keeping files on those suspected of abuse shortly after the group’s establishment in 1910, in a struggle to keep pedophiles out of its ranks. The Scouts said Thursday that the files, consisting of handwritten letters, memos from local leaders, police reports, and newspaper clippings, helped them track offenders and keep children safe.

Though there are numerous documented cases within the files, it is not clear whether the Scout leaders took allegations of abuse to the police in cases that occurred within Orange County. Deron Smith, spokesman for the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has said the Scouts now require all leaders and volunteers to report any instance of abuse to police.

The files hold specific instances of convicted child molesters and sexual offenders serving as Scoutmasters and working directly with children. The files feature cases that span two and one-half decades, from 1959 to 1985. They indicate that a convicted child molester once served as a local Scoutmaster, a registered sex offender worked with a Santa Ana Scout pack and a man later hospitalized as a “sexual psychopath” helped lead a Scout troop in Orange.

One Orange County scout leader, Kenneth Morgan Harper, was listed on the Megan’s Law website as a registered sex offender. Harper was sent to prison for child molestation more than 20 years after the Scouts removed him from a Buena Park troop for having a police record of “sexual perversion”.

Also the files indicate that any effort to keep the sexual deviants out of the Scouts were disorganized and lacked guidance. Within the files there exists at least on memo from a Scouting executive pleading for better guidance on how to handle abuse allegations.

This was the second big release of files detailing allegations of abuse within the Scouts. A set released in the early 1990s as part of another court case detailed nearly 1,900 cases from 1971 through 1991.

Former Boy Scouts still struggle to cope with the abuse they suffered at the hands of Scout leaders, and those who are willing to tell the stories of their abuse have come to feel abandoned by an organization considered a pillar of American society. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, or have been accused of committing sexual abuse, it is important to have representation from qualified attorneys. The attorney at Don Ho Law, is deeply rooted in the Southern California legal community and has established relationships with several district attorneys and judges in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, which can make all the different in the success of your case.

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Football Player Chad Johnson Arrested For Domestic Violence and Battery

On Saturday Chad Johnson (formerly known as Chad Ochocinco), Miami Dolphins wide receiver,  was arrested for allegations of domestic violence and simple battery.

According to Johnson’s neighbor, Johnson’s wife, Evelyn Lozada, fled to his home after a dispute regarding a receipt for condom’s found in Johnson’s car. As they were talking, Johnson allegedly grabbed her and head-butted her on the forehead, causing a laceration.

When officer’s arrived, Johnson confirmed that there had been an argument over a sales receipt, but that Lozada had head-butted him. According to police, Johnson’s wife indicated that she wanted to file charges, signing an affidavit of complaint indicating as much.

Following the domestic violence allegations and Johnson’s arrest, VH1 pulled the couples new reality TV show, ‘Ev and Ocho’, which was slated to premiere next month. In the wake of his arrest, the Miami Dolphins also dropped Johnson from the team.

The same day Lozada released a public statement indicating her disappointment with Johnson’s ‘false accusations’ and her hopes that he ‘receives help’ for the past weekend’s alleged altercation, Lozada filed for divorce. The couple had been married for six weeks.

A criminal conviction is costly, you may have to serve time in prison or pay a fine. Your career and family may be disrupted, as well as your reputation tarnished. The attorney’s at  Don Ho, LLP, are dedicated to providing an aggressive and comprehensive defense for those accused of crime throughout the State of California.

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Teen Sentenced to Jail for Texting and Driving

A Massachusetts teenager was sentenced Wednesday to spend a year in jail for a fatal traffic accident that happened while he was texting.
Person using cell phone while driving.
Person using cell phone while driving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aaron Deveau of Haverhill was sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars with a year to serve and the remainder suspended for the February 2011 crash that took the life of Donald Bowley Jr., 55, of Danville, N.H., and seriously injured Bowley’s girlfriend.  Prosecutors say the then-17-year-old high school student sent 193 text messages the day of the crash, including some just a minute or so before impact and dozens more after it.

It took the jury less than four hours of deliberation to find Deveau guilty on two counts: vehicular homicide and texting while driving.  The Judge sentenced Deveau to two and a half years imprisonment on the former charge and two on the latter, though the sentence was ultimately reduced to one year in jail, three years of probation, the loss of Deveau’s driver’s license for 15 years, and a monetary sum that has yet to be determined.
While citations under Massachusetts’ anti-texting law are fairly common, this is the first time in the state’s history that anyone has been convicted of vehicular homicide while texting.
California has a law specifically banning texting while driving.  The Wireless Communications Device Law took effect in January 1, 2009 and makes it an infraction to write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle.  The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.
The Wireless Communications Device Law actually followed two additional laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving that went on the books in 2008.  The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (California Vehicle Code [VC] §23123).  Motorists 18 and over may use a “hands-free device.  The second law effective July 1, 2008, prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).
California is one of 39 states with laws against texting while driving, and one of 10 with laws against using hand-held phones.
  • Drivers 18 and over are allowed to use a “hands-free” device to talk on their wireless telephone while driving. 
  • The law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.
  • It is legal to use a Bluetooth or other earpiece, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.
  • The “hands-free” law allows you to use the speaker phone functions of your wireless telephone while driving as long as you are not holding the phone. 
  • The “hands-free” law DOES NOT allow divers 18 and over to text message while driving.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even “hands-free.” EXCEPTION: Permitted in emergency situations to call police, fire, or medical authorities (VC §23124).
  • The law stricter for provisional drivers because statistics show that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in crashes because they lack driving experience and tend to take greater risks. Teen drivers are vulnerable to driving distractions such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on wireless devices, which increase the chance of getting involved in serious vehicle crashes.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 may not use the hands-free feature while driving even if the car has the feature built in.
Read more here:
If you received a citation for texting while driving, the experienced Orange County Criminal Law firm of Don Ho, LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
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Tragic Accident Kills Baby During Downtown L.A. Art Walk

A two-month-old baby was killed last Thursday at the Downtown L.A. Art Walk in a tragic accident.  Marcello Vasquez of Montebello was killed when a silver Cadillac DeVille jumped a curb, ran through a parking meter and crashed into Vasquez’ stroller.  LAPD Sargent Jeffrey Siggers addressed the media, stating that the authorities believe the child may have his his head on the concrete sidewalk after being thrown from the stroller.

The driver is a 22-year-old Ladera Heights resident who was driving his girlfriend’s car.  It appears that he was unfamiliar with the vehicle and he was attempting to reverse the vehicle when the accident occurred.  At this point, LAPD authorities are calling this a tragic accident, but the family of the victim is reported angry that the person responsible for the death of their child will not be held accountable.  The child’s aunt, Marlo Ortega, said “[the parents] are devastated and extremely hurt.”

The Downtown Art Walk has been criticized in the past for flooding sidewalks beyond capacity while street traffic remains as busy as always.  The Art Walk’s executive director, Joe Moller, extended sympathies to the family, but declined to directly connect the incident to Art Walk.

Is it fair for this young man to walk away scot-free from any repercussions from this accident?  While he did not intend to commit murder, couldn’t the authorities charge him with involuntary vehicular manslaughter?  Why are the authorities not considering that criminal charge?  It seems that the police considered this a true “accident” that could not be prevented.  Usually, a charge of involuntary manslaughter would follow if someone commits a small crime that resulted in death.  For example, someone who ran a red light and caused a fatal car accident.  In this case, because the driver was not doing anything illegal, the authorities most likely believe it would be difficult to procure a conviction.

All factual information provided by the Los Angeles Times

Don Ho, LLP  Serving the  Riverside and Orange County Metro Areas

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