Articles Posted in Fraud

Gun Law Enhancement

Gun Law Enhancements Can Result in Lengthy Sentences.


Under California gun laws, a sentence for a felony case can be “enhanced” if a gun was possessed or used during the commission of a crime. These laws can extend sentences well beyond the maximum punishment for the principal crime itself. If there are multiple enhancements or more than one enhancement, the punishment imposed will be the longest possible sentence. 

CDC Prisoners

CDC Prisoners seeking early release via the granting of parole.


Since being sworn in as Los Angeles County District Attorney in December 2020, George Gascon has hardly been out of the headlines. From eliminating sentence enhancements for hate crimes and dismissing gang enhancements to removing firearm allegations and continuing to push for resentencing and sentence commutation; Gascon has shown himself to maintain a progressive approach focused on rehabilitation. His latest changes to the DA’s office have been highly controversial. 


On December 7, 2020, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon was sworn in as the County’s 43rd District Attorney. Following his defeat of Jackie Lacey, a DA who had built a reputation for a “tough-on-crime” approach, Gascon went straight to work making changes to his office true to his platform of criminal justice reform, progressive services, and rehabilitative prosecution. A main goal of his platform being lowering the prison population. 

Gascon’s less punitive approach to crime includes no more gang enhancements, eliminating cash bail (including no longer seeking bail for anyone facing a misdemeanor charge or non-violent or non-serious felony), ending use of the death penalty, and providing resentencing eligibility. These major changes are expected to lead to the early release of thousands of state prison inmates whom Gascon said are unfairly serving overly long sentences.

Facts About Prop 57: “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act” of 2016

In November 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57 (64% to 35%) to enhance public safety, stop the revolving door of crime by emphasizing rehabilitation, and prevent Federal Courts from releasing inmates.

Under Prop 57, CDCR incentivizes inmates to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation with credit-earning opportunities for sustained good behavior, as well as in-prison program and activities participation. Prop 57 also moves up parole consideration of non-violent offenders who have served the full-term of the sentence for their primary offense and who demonstrate that their release to the community would not pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community. These changes will lead to improved inmate behavior and a safer prison environment for inmates and staff alike, and give inmates skills and tools to be more productive members of society once they complete their incarceration and transition to supervision. 


Most of us are familiar with terms like “theft” and “forgery” given that they immediately bring to mind the taking of something that does not belong to someone or making a misrepresentation in writing. When we hear the term “fraud”, we are often left confused by the exact meaning. 

Fraud, technically speaking, is defined as: “A knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment. Fraud includes any intentional or deliberate act to deprive another of property or money by guile, deception, or other unfair means.” In other words, fraud is wrongful deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

How Long Can I File A Petition To Resentence Under Prop 47?

On November 4, 2014 California voters passed Proposition 47, known as the Criminal Sentences, Misdemeanor Penalties, Initiative Statute. This referendum – also called the Safe Neighborhoods and School Act – recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies. These offenses included crimes of theft, fraud, and drug possession.

The objective of Prop 47 was to reduce overcrowding in the state’s prison system and provide an opportunity for nonviolent offenders to obtain release and rehabilitation services. Monies saved as a result of Prop 47 would be allocated toward education and dropout prevention, mental health treatment, and drug abuse programs. All meant to keep offenders out of the prison system.

As experienced Los Angeles white collar crime defense attorneys, we know that regardless of career or social standing, anyone can be accused of or indicted for a white collar crime. These offenses are generally those that are financially motivated, and typically do not involve violence. Still, the criminal penalties if convicted are often extremely harsh, and even life changing.

Anyone who is familiar with the reality show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” is probably well aware of the fact that Joe and Teresa Giudice have been indicted in nearly 40 federal charges including wire and bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to defraud lenders, and more. Charges like these can result in decades behind bars for those found guilty. Unfortunately, there are white collar crimes they may be unknowingly or at least not intentionally committed, such as failure to file a tax return. We are all humans, and mistakes can be made!

Various white collar crimes include:

While certainly not as serious as being indicted for a violent crime, many white collar crimes lead to serious criminal penalties for those convicted.  White collar crimes are generally related to financial matters, and involve no violence.  Whether you are an accounting clerk in charge of the company petty cash box or in a management position with a bank or financial institution, you could be accused of a crime.

Falsifying a loan application, neglecting to report all of your assets when filing bankruptcy, even failing to file a tax return could leave you facing criminal charges.  From highly visible celebrities to those working in a factory, literally anyone can find themselves being indicted for a crime.

Common White Collar Crimes in Los Angeles

Roxana Sanchez, a 25-year-old Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department civilian employee, was recently charged with forgery and grand theft, both felony charges.  Sanchez pleaded not guilty on Monday October 28.

Sanchez worked at the Century Regional Detention Facility as a civilian employee according to Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department.  Whitmore said that when she said she was called up for active duty as a reservist with the U.S. Marines, she lied and forged military activation documents.  Prosecutors in the case claim that Sanchez forged signatures on documents indicating that she would be deployed from March through May.  Ultimately, Sanchez was paid wages by the sheriff’s department while she was allegedly on active military duty.  According to news reports, she was paid just over $1,000 which she should not have been paid due to what authorities call “fraudulent actions.”

Individuals may be charged with a felony offense when forging a document in order to commit fraud.  Considered a white collar crime, fraudulent activity can lead to serious criminal penalties for those convicted.  This case clearly indicates that an individual does not have to commit a violent offense in order to be charged with a crime.

On Tuesday August 20, 44-year-old Douglas Ellingson pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of over $2 million, according to the Courthouse News Service.  Ellingson, along with two other individuals, James Pantazelos and William Ison, allegedly conspired to defraud investors through Olathe Mining Co., a business owned by Ison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Authorities claim Ellingson enticed potential clients to invest in the company by lying about Ison’s background, among other things.  Because of his actions, investors became the victims of fraud.  Ellingson and Ison allegedly told potential investors that Ison contributed more than a “trillion” dollars to a variety of humanitarian causes, and was the head of a large non-profit foundation that contributed this money.  Essentially, Ellingson and his co-defendants enticed potential clients to hand over their money by making promises that charitable causes would be supported by the profits.

In February, Pantazelos was ordered to pay $3.3 million in restitution; he was also sentenced to 19 1/2 years in federal prison.  Ellingson will be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison for wire fraud conspiracy in late October according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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