San Bernardino tow company owner pleads no contest to fraud

By Melissa Pinion-Whitt
Posted: 09/29/2011 08:06:46 AM PDT

The owner of San Bernardino-based Wilson Towing, who is also a former Los Angeles police detective, pleaded no contest Tuesday to two counts of workers compensation fraud.

John Vach Jr., a 15-year veteran with the Los Angeles Police Department, was ordered to pay $105,000 in restitution to Los Angeles and given three years probation, police said.

Under his plea bargain, the Burbank man agreed to resign from the Police Department.

Investigators said Vach operated two private businesses while off work on a disability claim for stress related to his job at Los Angeles Police Department. He also sought a lifetime disability pension.

A warrant was issued for his arrest in October 2010.

Vach was initially charged with seven felony counts of workers compensation fraud, perjury and attempted grand theft.

Two ordered held, third pleads guilty in Kinzey meth case

SAN BERNARDINO – A Redlands man and woman were ordered held on conspiracy charges at a hearing earlier this week in connection with a methemphetamine trafficking ring that was allegedly run by Cal State professor Steve Kinzey.

Co-defendants in the case, Chelsea Marie Johnson and Eric Cortez, appeared for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday before Judge Douglas N. Gericke in San Bernardino Superior Court, according to court records.

After listening to testimony from three witnesses, Gericke ruled that sufficient evidence existed to hold over the pair for trial, court records state.
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Woman gets prison time for threatening witness in San Bernardino

A woman, who was charged with threatening a witness during a San Bernardino murder trial involving gang members, took a plea bargain Wednesday that will give her eight years in state prison, prosecutors confirmed.

Loretta Ruiz Carrasco pleaded guilty to one count of criminal threats and a street gang sentence enhancement as trial proceedings were underway in her own case in San Bernardino Superior Court, according to Deputy District Attorney Robert Bulloch. The defendant returns to court Jan. 9 for sentencing.

Prosecutors alleged Carrasco, 39, made a threatening gesture to a witness who testified on Sept 25, 2007 at a trial for Jose Ralph Marquez, Daniel Olguin and Yolanda Marie Trivizo. Authorities immediately detained and questioned Carrasco in the courtroom.
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Predatory lending defendant pleads guilty in San Bernardino

Another defendant in the one of the county’s biggest predatory mortgage lending cases took a plea bargain today that will give him three years in state prison.

Defendant Eli Hassine, who is one of seven total defendants in the case, pleaded guilty to four counts and admitted a setence enhancement under the terms of a plea bargain before Judge John Martin in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Hassine, 25, was originally charged with 47 counts, including conspiracy, grand theft, forgery and filing false documents. As part of the plea bargain, Hassine wrote a four-page letter to the court and admitted that $2.5 million was taken from victims.
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After two deadlocked juries, man takes plea bargain in San Bernardino murder

Two different juries have deadlocked this year on murder charges against Edward Hernandez in the death of 22-year-old Jerry Hernandez in San Bernardino.

But Hernandez gave up the fight this week, when he took a plea bargain worth three years in state prison.

Hernandez, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory, under the terms of the agreement with prosecutors, during proceedings Monday in San Bernardino Superior Court, according to court records.
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Former Yucca Valley airport manager used embezzled funds to buy property

Prosecutors say a former Yucca Valley airport manager, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges, must cooperate with them about real estate purchases to get the full benefit of his plea bargain.

Richard Paul Demel, who once managed the High Desert airport, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft in a $1.3 million embezzlement case Monday in Joshua Tree Superior Court.

Under the terms of his plea bargain, the 51-year-old Demel will spend four years in state prison, get fined $323,491 and be required to pay the missing money back as restitution when he is sentenced Dec. 4, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

But before sentencing, Demel must cooperate with prosecutors to ensure there is marketable title on various properties he purchased with the money, explained Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, in a telephone conversation Monday.

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Hearing to withdraw plea in three deaths set Friday for Lanteigne in San Bernardino

A man who took a plea bargain that helped him avoid the death penalty — and who now wants to back out of his guilty pleas in the three deaths — is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

A hearing is expected to be held for Christopher Richard Lanteigne, 29, before Judge Brian McCarville in San Bernardino Superior Court.

A lawyer for Lanteigne announced his client’s intentions in March, shortly before Lanteigne and co-defendant Camille Marie Vredenburg were to be sentenced.

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San Bernardino man sentenced in deadly beating of his girlfriend’s father

A San Bernardino man was sentenced Friday to 15 years in state prison, under the terms of a plea bargain, in the deadly beating of his girlfriend’s father following an argument in April 2004.

James Paul Pineda, 35, was sentenced during proceedings before Judge Bryan Foster in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Neighbors near the apartment that Pineda shared with his girlfriend reported rising tension between Pineda and the victim, 53-year-old John Velasquez, of Colton. The pair had an argument about 1:43 a.m. in April 2004, say San Bernardino Police.

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Fontana man sentenced in real estate forgery

SAN BERNARDINO – A Fontana man was sentenced to 120 days in county jail Wednesday for his role as an accessory in a real estate forgery case.

James Badalian, 45, pleaded guilty to felony accessory charges in connection with forged documents and was sentenced, under the terms of a plea bargain reached with prosecutors, in San Bernardino Superior Court.

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Prosecutors arrest man who bilked soldier again

An unlicensed contractor previously arrested for taking $85,000 from the family of a National Guard soldier was arrested again this week on suspicion of violating the terms of a plea bargain, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

Read more here, as written by Sun Staff Writer Jason Pesick.