In February of 2012, Gregorio Luna Luna of Pasco was convicted of aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Griselda Ocampo Meza, the mother of Luna Luna’s child. According to a news article at the Tri-City Herald, the defendant was awaiting deportation in 2010 and in federal custody when he wrote letters to the victim claiming he would come back and kill her, a threat he had allegedly made on numerous occasions. gavel-952313-m

Luna Luna and Meza had been dating for several years prior to Meza seeking an order to keep him away. Luna Luna was deported to Mexico in May of 2010, however at some point in the following three weeks he crossed back into the U.S., stole a friend’s car in Snohomish, drove back to the Tri-Cities, then confronted the mother of his child at a restaurant in Kennewick before breaking into her Pasco apartment later that evening. Meza was 21 years old when she was stabbed in the heart in front of the couple’s young son.

Luna Luna was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, but appealed his conviction on the grounds that a DNA swab should not have been authorized (then prosecutor of Franklin County Steve Lowe made the application for the DNA sample based on probable cause), and that prosecutors did not prove the samples they wanted to compare the DNA with were blood. Luna Luna’s blood was found at the scene of the murder.

The three-judge appeals court panel found that the defendant’s arguments were without merit. His conviction and sentence will stand.

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In April of this year, 44-year-old Steven Duane Dent was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn to 20 years in federal prison for his role in trafficking narcotics, specifically cocaine and heroin, according to a recent announcement by United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. The DEA and IRS – Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman participated in the investigation of Dent and others in the eastern district of Michigan, including defendant Abel Ruiz. krankenhaus-1303353-m

According to court documents, Dent and Ruiz conspired with others to distribute nearly 13 kilograms of cocaine in this area of the state in March of 2007. Dent pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. Following his 20-year term in a Tucson, Arizona institution and participation in a residential drug and alcohol program, Dent will be on supervised release for 10 years.

Dent was also charged in March of 2010 with money laundering which involved purchasing more than 50 money orders totaling more than $98,000. These money order transactions were an effort by Dent to disguise what the funds were being used for, and to avoid reporting the transactions as required by federal law.

Essentially, Dent and his co-conspirators worked to profit from the sale of illegal narcotics, and attempted to disguise these profits in order to avoid reporting to the IRS. Jarod Koopman said in a press release that like other criminals, drug dealers are motivated by greed. The crimes drug dealers are involved in have a devastating effect on the community. Koopman said that the IRS – Criminal Investigation will continue to provide financial expertise and work in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to strip the profits from drug traffickers.

Trafficking illegal schedule I substances including cocaine and heroin is one of the most serious crimes anyone can be accused of. While possessing or manufacturing illegal drugs is serious, distributing and selling to others will result in substantial prison time and fines that can range into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

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On Sunday morning September 14, one person was killed in a deadly wrong-way crash on I-96, according to Wood TV. The accident occurred at about 3 in the morning when a woman driving a minivan was going east in the westbound lanes of the interstate. Although the woman’s name was not released, police say she is from Grand Rapids and in her 40s. The only person in the vehicle she struck was killed. do-not-enter-sign-751630-m

Michigan State Police claim that the woman was drunk; she was also injured in the crash and pulled from her vehicle by another motorist who stopped at the scene of the crash, according to Sgt. Brian Keely. After the impact, both vehicles caught on fire. Her condition was not known as of last news reports.

According to Fox 17, this was the seventh wrong-way crash on west Michigan highways this year. Michigan State Police find this “trend” both disturbing and troubling, and don’t really know why there have been so many wrong-way accidents. In this case, it is likely the fact that the unnamed woman was intoxicated that resulted in her driving in the wrong direction on the interstate.

News reports do not indicate what charges the woman may face if she lives, however Michigan DUI attorneys know that driving under the influence causing death is extremely serious. If charged with OUIL (operating under the influence of liquor) causing death, the woman may face criminal penalties that include up to 15 years in prison.

Even when no accident occurs, DUI is a serious charge. Even first-time offenders may face jail time, steep fines, driver’s license suspension, community service, and more. A subsequent offense will result in even harsher penalties. A third DUI is a felony offense, and will result in increased jail time, license revocation, vehicle immobilization, and other penalties.

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While having your driver’s license suspended for one or more DUI’s is serious, having your license revoked is much more serious. In Michigan, an individual who is convicted of driving under the influence on multiple occasions within a specific time period may face license revocation. When this happens, the process of getting your driving privilege restored is a long and laborious road. It is critical you obtain the legal guidance of a skilled Michigan driver’s license reinstatement attorney to ensure you have the best chance for success. curves-ahead-259197-m

Certain conditions must be proved to hearing officers with the DAAD, or Driver Assessment and Appeal Division. One of the most important things you must prove is that you have been sober for at least one year. There are several documents used to support your claims of sobriety, including letters written on your behalf (community proofs), a Substance Abuse Evaluation, and more. There is also a drug test that must be passed before hearing officers will even consider restoring your license. An experienced lawyer will guide you through the process to ensure you have all of the documentation, that it is properly formed, and that everything is in order so that you have the best opportunity for having your license restored.

With success, you will likely be granted a restricted license. This license will allow you to drive for specific reasons, or during certain times of day. A restricted license allows you to drive to and from work or school, to alcohol/drug counseling or rehabilitation, etc. In addition, it is often required that the person have an ignition interlock device installed for one year. After that time period, if you have complied with all rules regarding restricted driving, you will likely be given full driving privileges again.

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In January of 2013, 23-year-old Myles Webster was convicted of attempted murder in the March 2012 shooting of Manchester Police Officer Dan Doherty. Webster allegedly shot Doherty seven times at near point-blank range as Doherty pursued Webster in a foot chase. Webster was sentenced to 60 years to life behind bars for the crime. Now, he is appealing his conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. hammer-to-fall-673264-m

On September 11, justices at the supreme court heard Webster’s argument as to why his conviction should be overturned and he should get a new trial. Webster and his defense attorney, David Rothstein, maintain that the release of Webster’s booking photograph tainted eyewitness identifications. According to a news article at Valley News, the suspect’s booking photo was released five hours prior to his arraignment. Rothstein feels that the release of the photo may have influenced the identifications of his client by witnesses, particularly those who police had not yet interviewed. Rothstein told the justices that had Dan Doherty lost his life, his client may have been facing a capital murder charge. He urged the justices to understand the seriousness of the situation.

Doherty said that he was 100% confident that Webster was the shooter as he listened to arguments at Webster’s appeal.

The justices pointed out to Rothstein that video and still photos were generated at Webster’s arraignment. Stacey Pawlik, Assistant Attorney General, argued that the sheer volume of evidence against Webster rendered any error by the trial court harmless. The news report did not say when the justices would rule on the appeal.

Appealing a conviction or sentence is extremely difficult; anyone who was wrongly convicted or who feels mistakes were made at trial must work with a highly experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney to ensure the best possible chance of success. Considering the defendant’s current age and the fact that he will spend a minimum of 60 years behind bars as the situation stands right now, he will be in his mid-80′s before there is even a possibility for release.

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Recently, United States Attorney Barbara McQuade and IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman announced in a press release that Lamarjoire Pharr, a former Clinton Township resident, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for filing fraudulent federal income tax returns. According to the press release, Pharr was also ordered to pay $962,952 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. business-buttons-585040-m

Pharr, a musician and music producer, is alleged to have used the nearly one million dollars he received in refunds to further his career, and on such expenses as casinos, hotels, adult entertainment, bars, and department store purchases. For more than 2 1/2 years beginning in September of 2009, Pharr prepared and electronically filed more than 360 tax returns using the information of individuals who were for the most part deceased. Pharr obtained information on these individuals at a well-known website, Ancestry.com. The individuals who were still living, as well as survivors and estates of those who were deceased had no knowledge of Pharr stealing their information. Atlanta, Detroit, and Miami Beach were just a few of the locations Pharr filed the fraudulent income tax returns from.

U.S. Attorney McQuade wanted to warn the public about the fact that criminals troll death notices and websites in an effort to locate potential victims, who are often times deceased. People should not only make a concerted effort to keep their own taxpayer information safe, but that of their loved ones as well.

When criminals file fraudulent income tax returns, essentially it is the American taxpayers who pay for it. Jarod Koopman warned that the IRS – Criminal Investigation is and will continue to be vigorous in their pursuit of individuals who may be committing identity theft and tax fraud.

Once released from prison, Pharr will be under supervised release for three years.

Michigan criminal defense attorneys understand the seriousness of crimes involving identity theft and tax fraud. While these “white collar crimes” typically do not involve violence or physical injury to others, they do result in financial injury to others, and are punished harshly.

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While sobriety court is already an option for DUI offenders in the Ann Arbor area, recent news reports indicate that this popular court program will soon be available in Wexford County in northern Michigan. The purpose of sobriety courts is to give the offender an opportunity to rehabilitate, rather than punish him or her with jail time, substantial fines, etc. However, sobriety court is not easy, and in fact is quite intensive, designed not only to keep intoxicated drivers off the road, but to change the offender’s behavior. champagne-660188-m

According to a recent article at Upnorthlive.com, one judge gives sobriety courts great praise, calling it a program that works. Judge Mike Haley, who has headed sobriety courts in several northern counties over the past 13 years, says that the data shows that of the thousand or so individuals who have gone through sobriety court in past years, the rate of repeat offenders is down substantially.

Michigan DUI attorneys know that the eligibility requirements to participate in sobriety court vary across the state. In some counties, a first time offender may participate; in others, only second or third time offenders may participate. It is important for offenders to know before choosing this sentencing alternative that this type of program is rigorous. Depending on the county, individuals who participate may be required to breath test on a daily basis, have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle, attend counseling and/or AA meetings on a daily basis, and be subject to home visits and alcohol searches by probation officers.

Sobriety courts are tough not only on the offender, but on the entire family. This is particularly true in cases where the defendant drives the same vehicle as other members of the family, who must blow into the interlock device in order to start the vehicle. Ultimately, if anyone else in the family causes the device to register alcohol, the defendant may be found liable, which could result in the judge imposing jail time. There are numerous drawbacks to the program, but many benefits as well.

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Last month, nine people were arrested by the FBI and are facing federal charges for dealing drugs after an informant dubbed ‘CW1′ made a flurry of phone calls to law enforcement, according to a news article at City Paper. us-dollars-2-182215-m

On August 11, seven of the nine individuals were arrested at the Mondawmin Mall parking lot within a four hour period. Later that day, two other individuals from Washington D.C. were arrested at an apartment complex in northwest Baltimore. A federal grand jury indicted all nine individuals on August 22, charging them in a cocaine and heroin conspiracy.

CW1, the informant, had been arrested after being found with several kilograms of cocaine and heroin. Following his arrest, he “set up” his customers by selling the drugs in the mall parking lot, so that FBI agents could make arrests. One of the arrests involved an individual who allegedly worked as a maintenance man at the Haddon Hill Apartments. A maintenance closet at the apartments contained $216,140 in cash, which agents seized.

Several of the nine individuals arrested appear to have been convicted at the federal level in the past. CW1 placed phone calls to his previous customers, informing them that he had cocaine and heroin. Eight of the nine people arrested brought cash with them; the ninth individual had been alerted by his probation officer, and showed up with no money. He said he did not understand why he was arrested, that he just came to “look at” the drugs and did not have any money on him.

In all, law enforcement seized close to a half-million dollars in cash, and arrested nine kilo-level drug dealers.

Federal drug charges are extremely serious. In Michigan, those who are charged with dealing drugs including heroin and cocaine will face severe penalties; however, the criminal penalties at the federal level are even harsher. For example, someone who is found guilty of trafficking up to 4,999 grams of a Schedule 1 drug such as heroin may spend up to 40 years in prison, and face fines of as much as $2,000,000. This is for a first-time offender. If an individual has a past drug conviction, the punishment will be more severe. The amount of drug or substance involved also plays a role in the punishment an individual will face if convicted.

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On the evening of September 7, an Ohio judge was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and leaving the scene of an accident. 60-year-old Dean L. Wilson, a Perry County judge in Columbus, was driving a loaner car (a 2014 Mercedes-Benz) when he struck a COTA bus while changing lanes at approximately 9:30 on Sunday evening. He then sped away, according to a news report at the Columbus Dispatch. gavel-4-1409594-m

Police claim that Wilson was driving under the influence, although he is widely known for holding DUI trials at the New Lexington High School every year to warn teens of the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol. A passenger on the COTA bus said that Wilson did not sideswipe the bus, but crashed directly into it before backing up and fleeing the scene.

After the accident was reported, Wilson was apprehended by a Columbus Police helicopter that went in search for the black Mercedes. He was found about 12 miles away. Wilson refused to submit to field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test. His driver’s license was suspended at the scene.

Michigan DUI attorneys know even individuals who are upstanding citizens and looked up to by the community make mistakes. Anyone who drinks alcohol even only on occasion has likely gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle at one point in their life. We do not condone driving while under the influence of alcohol, however we do provide legal support and guidance for those who find themselves in an unfortunate situation.

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On August 19, 29-year-old Gerald L. Hawk, Jr. was sentenced to serve 18 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release for his role in preparing fraudulent tax returns. Mr. Hawk was also ordered to pay restitution of the more than $72,000 he received in fraudulent refunds, according to a press release issued by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Detroit Field Office on August 27. taxes-761162-m

Hawk, a Detroit tax preparer, pleaded guilty to preparing false income tax returns in 2009 and claiming the 2008 FTHBC (First Time Homebuyer Credit) in these returns. The FTHBC allowed individuals to receive a tax refund of $8,000 for purchasing a home during 2008. Essentially, Hawk brought in new clients to his tax preparation business by promising an $8,000 tax refund for purchasing a home. Overall, approximately 21 fraudulent tax returns claiming more than $147,000 in refunds using the FTHBC credit were prepared either by Hawk, or with his assistance. Hawk knew that the clients he obtained through his scheme did not purchase a home in 2008, and did not intend to purchase a home with the $8,000 refund.

Jarod Koopman, Acting Special Agent in Charge, said in the press release that the majority of tax preparers provide excellent service to clients, however there are those who attempt to defraud the government by filing false or fraudulent returns. Essentially, when fraudulent refunds are issued by the IRS, it costs American taxpayers.

Tax fraud is a serious criminal offense, whether an individual underreports income, takes credits or exemptions he or she is not entitled to take, or purposely does not file in order to attempt to cover up money laundering schemes. The Internal Revenue Service is an entity you want to avoid having issues with when at all possible. If charged with tax fraud, the criminal penalties are severe for those found guilty.

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