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Man sentenced to prison for running Ponzi scheme

On Nov. 3, a California man was sentenced to 34 years in prison for operating a real estate Ponzi scheme. The 58-year-old eluded capture for two years before being convicted in January 2016.

According to authorities, the defendant stole approximately $3 million from 11 victims between 2004 and 2010. He did this by soliciting people to invest in his loan company, Villa Capital Inc., which was based in Irvine. The victims were told they would be funding mortgage loans for people who wanted non-bank lenders. They were also told that the mortgages would provide a quick return on their investment. However, the defendant stole funds when some of the mortgages fell through. He also gave some investors false documentation that led them to believe their loans were secured through collateral. To cover his tracks, he issued small payments to the investors for a while. However, he ceased all payments when the real estate market crashed.

Do the police need a warrant for your phone?

The police are investigating you and they believe you may have committed a felony. They would like to take a look at your cellphone for more information about the case.

So far, you have refused to unlock it and share that data with them, as is your right. Do they need to get a warrant to open the phone and view your personal information? This could include things like:

  • A history of all of the calls you made or received.
  • The contents of your text messages.
  • Your contacts list.
  • Information regarding where you went and when, often collected by modern smartphones through various apps.
  • The pictures and videos stored on the phone.
  • Any voicemail messages that you saved.
  • All of your emails and social media messages.

2 sentenced to prison for siphoning funds from high school

Two California residents, a mother and her daughter, were sentenced to four years on Nov. 10 after they were convicted on embezzlement charges. According to reports, the mother was an account clerk at the high school in Alhambra when she and her daughter embezzled the money from the school's student government over a five-year period.

Prosecutors said that the 62-year-old woman was working as an account clerk for the student body at Mark Keppel High School while the 31-year-old daughter was working as the school's volunteer cheerleading coach. The pair were accused of siphoning money from the school account between 2007 and 2012. They allegedly concealed the thefts by destroying or manipulating banking and accounting records.

2 accused of embezzling money from city

On Oct. 24, it was reported that a California woman and her sister were accused of embezzling approximately $80,000 from the city of Rancho Mirage. It was believed that woman used her position as a city employee to siphon the funds for more than two years.

The 50-year-old Indio woman was the senior manager in the Building and Safety Code Compliance Division. As part of her duties, she was allowed to authorize expenses associated with code enforcement work. She, along with her 40-year-old sister, allegedly opened an account for a company that then charged the city for work that was never performed. The invoices for the deposits were alleged to be falsified as a result.

Tax season is a few months away: Ensure accuracy in your return

Nothing is for certain except for death and paying taxes. Or, at least that's how the saying goes. For some people, having to pay taxes is an opportunity to try and get over on the government. Doing this is illegal.

Tax fraud is a serious matter that can land you in prison. It is important to note that there are differences between being negligent when you file your taxes and filing a fraudulent return.

Woman sentenced to 63 months for embezzlement

A 34-year-old California woman was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison on Oct. 16 after she was convicted of embezzling more than $1.5 million from multiple clients. The woman was the owner and operator of a company that provided financial assistance, including tax, bookkeeping and accounting services for her clients.

The woman obtained money from clients by getting small business owners to give her control of their accounts. She allegedly convinced the clients to make checks payable to "Income Tax Payments" and falsely promised that the money would be used towards the clients' past and future tax obligations. She reportedly stole a total of $1,538,771 from clients based all over the country.

Man sentenced to 8 years in prison for embezzlement

On Sept. 21, the former manager and winemaker at a California winery was sentenced to eight years in prison. He pleaded guilty to grand theft by embezzlement and filing false tax return charges on Aug. 8.

Following an investigation, the Santa Barbara Police Department and several other agencies determined that the man embezzled money from his employer between 2006 and 2013 while he was acting as the winery's manager. He reportedly accomplished this by depositing checks into another account instead of depositing them into the official winery bank account. During this time, the man also attempted to cover up the embezzlement by filing false tax returns.

Parole terms should be taken care of

Being placed on parole is something that many people see as a positive event. Instead of being stuck in prison, you are able to get out and learn how to live in society again. This gives you a chance to prove that you aren't going to go right back to your former criminal life.

When you are on parole, you have to follow specific rules. These terms aren't suggestions that you can comply with if you want to. They are hard and fast rules that can lead to your facing a parole violation if you don't comply with them.

Husband and wife sentenced after being convicted of tax fraud

On Sept. 18, a 59-year-old California man who claimed he was a psychic was sentenced to six years in federal prison after he was convicted of filing fraudulent tax returns. His 51-year-old wife was also sentenced to two years in federal prison for tax fraud.

The two were convicted on multiple counts of tax fraud in April after they were accused of passing bogus checks and bonds. They had allegedly participated in what was being called a "redemption" scheme, where those attempting to avoid paying their taxes use fraudulent financial documents to collect a refund. As a result, the IRS issued a refund of more than $480,000 to the couple. After the funds were deposited into their bank account, the husband and wife attempted to conceal the money by withdrawing cash and opening a new bank account.

Former superintendent charged with embezzlement

On Aug. 31, it was reported that a 57-year-old former superintendent for a California high school was scheduled to be arraigned on multiple felony charges. The man was accused of manipulating the school board to increase the amount he received in pay and benefits.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office said that, in 2013, the former superintendent's retirement plan totaled $500,000 more than the district's next highest-paid worker. Even so, the violations were reportedly not recovered until the office received a copy of an article in February 2014 that reported the excessive salary that the former superintended was receiving. It was alleged that the man was able to get away with the alleged violations by overwhelming the board with potential revisions of more than 3,000 board bylaws and regulations.

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