Plea deal for La Puente’s Mayor Lujan in the works

Louie Lujan allegedly failed to report some campaign cash and faces a lifetime out of politics. 

Here’s the latest from reporter James Wagner:

LA PUENTE – Prosecutors have offered Mayor Louie Lujan a plea deal in a perjury case against him.

Lujan, who faces one felony count of perjury for filing an allegedly false campaign finance report, will appear Thursday in a court that officials said handles cases before they enter the traditional criminal court process.

“If he enters a plea on this count as charged, then that will end the case,” said Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman of the Public Integrity Division.

The plea offer consists of three years probation and a $1,000 fine, Huntsman said.

Thursday’s court date in Superior Court is for an early disposition hearing, where it is determined if a case can be “disposed of early,” Deputy Clerk Lorraine Valdez said.

There is no testimony or witnesses, she said.

The prosecution and defense must both agree to enter the early disposition hearing, Huntsman said.

A judge would have to sign off on an agreed plea deal, officials said.

Lujan and his attorney, Glen Jonas, did not return repeated calls Monday for comment.


La Canada attorney charged in kiddie porn case

From Sandi Gibbons in the District Attorney’s Office:

LOS ANGELES – An attorney investigated as part of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) probe of hardcore child pornography on the Internet pleaded no contest today to one felony count each of possessing child pornography and an assault rifle.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz of the Justice System Integrity Division said Walter Loustari, who remains free on bail, entered the plea before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan. Sentencing was scheduled for March 3.

Schwartz said the 58-year-old defendant entered an “open” plea, meaning it was not part of a negotiated settlement. His sentence could range anywhere from probation to three years and eight months in state prison.

Loustari, who had a law office in La Canada and lived in Glendale, was charged in October 2009 following an investigation by ICE and the Glendale Police Department.

Authorities said the investigation began in October 2006 as part of ICE’s Operation Predator, in which the agency works closely with local agencies to investigate child pornography throughout the United States.

Former Vernon mayor gets probation, fine in corruption probe

This from the DA’s Office:

36701-vernonsun-img_6004-thumb-200x130-36700.jpg

LOS ANGELES – The man who served as Vernon’s mayor for more than a half-century and his wife were sentenced today to probation and ordered to pay more than $600,000 in fines and penalties following their conviction last month for voter fraud and other charges.

Leonis Malburg, 80, was barred from holding any elective office and placed on five years probation and by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson. The judge found the couple guilty Dec. 4 following a court trial. Malburg’s 83-year-old wife, Dominica, was placed on three years probation, said Deputy District Attorneys Max Huntsman and Jonlyn Callahan, who prosecuted the case.

Malburg was ordered to pay a total of $183,800 in fines and penalty assessments and more than $395,000 in restitution to the City of Vernon for salary, benefits and travel for the time he was elected in April 11, 2006. His wife was ordered to pay $36,000 in fines and penalties.

“We’re pleased with the sentence,” Huntsman said. “We hope politicians get the message” that they must live in the district where they’ve been elected to represent and where they are registered to vote.

DA Steve Cooley prepares to take on the Russian Mob

Looks like DA Steve Cooley wants to butt heads with Russian and Armenian gangsters, who are known for their prowess in fraud scams etc. Here’s a release from Mike Antonovich’s office detailing some large grants for Cooley’s efforts:

LOS ANGELES COUNTY – The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved three grants from the California Department of Insurance in the amount of $17.2 million to automobile insurance and worker’s compensation fraud, announced Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

Two grants totaling $12 million will focus on auto insurance fraud rings, syndicates, gangs and other organizations in the County. Perpetrators also include unscrupulous doctors, chiropractors, lawyers and others who profit from fraudulent automobile insurance claims.

A $5.3 million grant for the District Attorney’s Worker’s Compensation Fraud Program will combat fraudulent claims that cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually and have led to thousands of jobs being lost due to local business closures precipitated by escalating workers’ compensation costs caused by fraud.

DA opens probe of Pico Rivera Councilman (and Weinerschnitzel dude) Beilke

29657-SW10-BEI-thumb-200x370-29656.jpg

Ron Beilke, Pico Rivera Councilman and local Weinerschnitzel proprietor might have some ‘splaining to do to the DA and a possible grand jury looking into allegations he engaged in some shady conduct while on the council over the past few years.

Beilke is accused of voting for improvements on Rosemead Boulevard that helped traffic get to his restaurant. He is also accused of vague election code violations from about two years ago. Whatever the case, the accusations probably won’t help his reelection bid this November.
A fellow councilmember, David Armenta, apparently was pleased by the searches Thursday.
“I know that Ron Beilke has had some corruption and that’s what they’re looking at,” Armenta said.

Rockefeller/Chichester trial to start Tuesday

This from Suffolk County DA spokesman Jake Wark:

BOSTON, May 22, 2009–The defendant formerly known as “Clark Rockefeller” will go to trial next week, 10 months after he allegedly abducted his daughter from the heart of Boston’s tony Back Bay and led investigators on a manhunt that ended in Maryland but sparked international curiosity as to his true identity.
Jury selection in the trial of CHRISTIAN KARL GERHARTSREITER (D.O.B. 2/21/61), a native of West Germany who most recently lived across from the Boston Public Garden, is scheduled to begin Tuesday. He is charged with parental kidnapping for the July 27, 2008, incident in which he absconded with his daughter, then 7, during a post-divorce visitation supervised by an independent social worker.
Under Massachusetts law, kidnapping a minor relative is a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.
In addition to that lead charge, Gerhartsreiter is also accused of three additional offenses: assault and battery for allegedly shoving the social worker as he hustled his daughter into a waiting sport-utility vehicle driven by an unwitting accomplice; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon – the SUV – for instructing that driver to “go” as the social worker clung to the door handle and fell to the ground, suffering minor injuries; and furnishing a false name to police after his Aug. 2 arrest in Baltimore.
The latter charge, developed in the course of a far-reaching investigation in the Suffolk County Special Grand Jury, reflects the defendant’s identification of himself as “Clark Rockefeller” during an interview with Boston Police detectives and special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under Massachusetts law, providing a false name to police for a dishonest purpose carries a one-year jail term.
Gerhartsreiter made off with the young girl shortly before 1:00 on the third day of their first visit following his December 2007 divorce from the child’s mother. The driver who chauffeured them from the scene was allegedly told in advance that the court-ordered social worker monitoring the visit was a “clingy” acquaintance from whom they would have to make a quick escape.
Gerhartsreiter allegedly instructed the driver to drop them off at Massachusetts General Hospital, from where he took a taxi to the Boston Sailing Center. There he met a second unwitting confederate he had promised $500 for a ride to New York City under the pretense of making a Long Island boat launch by 8:00. During the course of that ride, prosecutors say, Gerhartsreiter prevented the driver from using her phone – and learning of the Amber Alert that followed the child’s abduction – by secretly turning it off and overtly telling her not to use it.
From New York, Gerhartreiter made his way to Baltimore, where he had earlier purchased a home with cashier’s checks. He had allegedly identified himself as “Charles Smith” to his realtor and assigned a false name to his daughter as well. On Aug. 1, the realtor recognized Gerhartsreiter from media reports of the abduction and notified the FBI. That notice led rapidly to Gerhartsreiter’s arrest and his daughter’s rescue.
Gerhartsreiter was returned to Boston, arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court on Aug. 5, and ordered held without bail. Following his indictment by the Special Grand Jury, a Suffolk Superior Court clerk magistrate set bail in the amount of $50,000,000; a Superior Court judge later revoked that bail at prosecutors’ request. The defendant has remained in custody since his arrest.
Jury selection is expected to last at least one full day and possibly several days. There will be no court proceedings on May 29. Once a panel of deliberating and alternate jurors is selected, an estimated 10 to 15 days of testimony are expected to follow.
Assistant District Attorney David Deakin, chief of District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau, led the grand jury investigation and is prosecuting the case. Gerhartsreiter is represented by attorneys Jeffrey Denner and Timothy Bradl. Judge Frank Gaziano is presiding over the case in courtroom 906 of the Suffolk County Courthouse, located at Three Pemberton Square in Boston.

PUSD wants DA to step in (again)

PUSD believes it got shortchanged by contractors doing work on their last big bond measure.

The district turned the results of its investigation over to Pasadena PD, which turned its investigation over to the DA’s office, where the case was promptly rejected.

The official reason for the rejection was the tangle of convoluted paperwork associated with the claim. Nate McIntire and Caroline An got the same paperwork, and agree it’s a barely dechiperable mess.

In any case, PUSD thinks it can get the DA’s office to reopen the case. Here’s a snippet of their story, which ran in the Star-News today:

PASADENA – School district officials called on the District Attorney’s Office on Monday to reopen an investigation into potential fraud related to school improvement projects.

In an afternoon press conference, Superintendent Edwin Diaz released documents that show two contractors improperly billed the Pasadena Unified School District almost $300,000.

“We’re hoping that at least one of these individuals will be charged,” Diaz said and added he is urging the school board to begin civil action against the individuals.

District officials also released hundreds of pages of documents they claim support their allegations. The documents included invoices for work never performed and records of payments made to an unlicensed contractor working under the supervision of a district employee.

Officials also released transcripts of conversations with an unlicensed contractor in which the contractor confessed to paying kickbacks to the supervisor.

The documents were given to investigators in March.

In May, prosecutors declined to file any charges after citing poor record keeping and faulty project oversight by the district.

Sandy Gibbons, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, said Monday her office had not received Diaz’s letter requesting it revisit the case.

 

 

LAPD picks up suspected Altadena molester

This from staff and wire reports:

LOS ANGELES  — An Altadena man made his first court appearance today on
charges that he molested two 9-year-old girls, including one of his students,
while he was working as a teacher about 20 years ago.

Mark Walter Sonnenburg, 53, is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 20 on three
felony counts filed last Friday involving the two alleged victims, according to
Sandi Gibbons of the District Attorney’s Office.

One of the girls was a student at Eagle Rock Montessori School,
where he taught at the time, Gibbons said.

He had more recently taught at The Walden School in Pasadena where he worked until March, according to a statement released by that
school.

“We have determined that these allegations do not involve any former or current
student from our school and are based on a time more than two decades ago,”
Walden School’s statement says. “Prior to learning of the allegations, the
school never received any information, complaint or allegation of this kind
involving Mr. Sonnenburg — before or during his tenure at the school.”

The Walden School said it had been contacted by authorities during the last
school year, had been fully cooperating with the investigation and conducted
its own independent investigation.

Sonnenburg was arrested last Friday by officers from the Los Angeles Police
Department’s Northeast Division. He has remained jailed since then in lieu of
$300,000 bail.