March 2019
Volume 4, Issue 3
Dear Friends:
For almost two decades, I have led efforts within my office to address nonviolent crime through alternative sentencing options.

I have diverted low-level offenders — beginning with military veterans, and then mothers with small children — out of our jails and into restorative justice programs, where they can get the help they need and deserve.
Spotlight: Notario Fraud Unit
People seeking legitimate legal assistance to secure immigration documents sometimes are preyed upon by scam artists who portray themselves as attorneys and government officials.

To prosecute these financially devastating crimes, District Attorney Jackie Lacey created the Notario Fraud Unit. Since its founding in 2017, the unit has made contact with more than 600 fraud victims.

The two full-time deputy district attorneys and one investigator assigned to the unit develop cases and prosecute immigration fraud and the unlawful practice of law.

“Everyone – regardless of their immigration status – deserves to be protected against crime and to receive justice when they have been victimized,” District Attorney Lacey said at a Feb. 12 news conference highlighting the unit’s work.

“I will aggressively prosecute anyone who preys upon another person because of their language, cultural differences or their residency status,” she said.

Eight cases have been filed against predators who have taken more than $3 million from at least 300 victims in the past two years. Four cases resulted in prison or jail time and restitution orders for the defendants. The other four are awaiting trial.

Those convicted include Romina Aida Zadorian, 49, of Montebello, who targeted 91 victims and pleaded guilty to grand theft, extortion and falsifying government documents. She was sentenced to 15 years in state prison and ordered to pay $667,396 in restitution.

Criminal investigations involving an additional 300-plus victims are underway.

District Attorney Lacey credited the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for providing her office with the resources needed to support the specialized prosecution of these large and complex cases.

The funding comes from a 2016 consumer protection settlement with Wells Fargo.

Deputy district attorneys assigned to the Notario Fraud Unit also conduct public outreach and education. They participate in immigration task forces and draft legislation to better protect consumers.

Please report immigration fraud to the District Attorney’s Notario Fraud Unit at 213-257-2450.
Fraud Alert
  Significant Cases
Consumers should beware of scammers trying to steal personal information as some credit card companies issue new “tap-to-pay” cards.

Read the Fraud Alert and watch the video here .
  • A Beverly Hills doctor pleaded guilty to two felony counts of billing fraud. Learn how much he must repay nine insurance companies and other terms of his sentence.

  • A Pacoima man was extradited from El Salvador and then charged with murder and torture. Read about the 9-year-old crime and the defendant’s possible sentence. 

  • An El Segundo-based marketing firm agreed to pay $8.5 million in penalties and restitution and change its sales practices. Find out what the firm was accused of doing to its customers.
A Day in the Life: Parole Division Prosecutor
David Dahle has a view of the justice system that few prosecutors see: a view from behind prison walls.

He is one of 14 part-time deputy district attorneys, all of them retirees, and four full-time deputy district attorneys in the office’s Parole Division. They participate in roughly 2,200 parole hearings a year. More than 1,400 are conducted in California prisons and the remainder through video-conferencing.

The job requires that Dahle catch puddle-jumper flights or take long drives (sometimes both) to get to places like Blythe, Wasco, Avenal, Crescent City, Folsom and other California prison towns.

Behind electrified fences and heavy doors, Dahle works in concrete-walled rooms with members of the California Parole Board, opposing counsel and inmates who are eager to get out.

He needs to pack a lunch and be ready to put in long hours. Most of all, he needs to be prepared.

Before he makes that trip, Dahle spends hours studying case files and prison records of potential parolees. Preparation and knowledge of the facts of each case are critical to his work.

If the prisoner speaks to the Parole Board panel, Dahle needs to be ready to make sure what is said is consistent with case records and past statements. It is Dahle’s job to note if the inmate poses an unreasonable risk to reoffend if released.

“The prisoner wants to convince the board he is going to be a model citizen,” Dahle said. “The prosecutor’s responsibility is to make sure the panel of the Parole Board weighs and considers all the information and background in making a decision whether to release the inmate.”

He makes two trips to prisons a month, where he can be stationed for up to three days and handle up to six hearings. Each hearing can last for several hours.

“It starts early in the morning, and you’re there until it is over,” Dahle said, noting the accommodations behind bars are sparse. “Being there gives you a sense of what prison life is like.”
Courageous Citizen Awards
District Attorney Jackie Lacey presented Courageous Citizen Awards to five Los Angeles residents who exhibited extraordinary courage by putting their lives at risk while helping victims of crime. The honorees included, seated from left: Mark Johnson, who came to the rescue of a woman being sexually assaulted in a grocery store parking lot; and Juan Vanegas and his 16-year-old son, Christian Vanegas, who stopped a drunken driver as he tried to flee a fatal car crash. Not pictured are: Andrew Norman and Lauren Taylor, who were assaulted after they intervened in a domestic dispute. Standing with District Attorney Lacey, center, are, from left: Deputy District Attorneys Paul Thompson, Andrea Mader and Jessica Kronstadt and Tori Hettinger, president of the Rotary Club of Westchester, which hosted the Feb. 13 ceremony.
Did You Know...?
Approximately 1,126 inmates have petitioned the District Attorney’s Office for resentencing under Proposition 36, which modified California’s Three-Strikes Law, and Proposition 47, which reduced some felonies to misdemeanors, since 2012. In each case, deputy district attorneys review the petitioner’s record in an effort to determine if he or she poses an unreasonable threat to public safety. More than 60 percent of the petitions have been granted.
Did You Know...?
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office | (213) 974-3512 | info@da.lacounty.gov

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