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Ex-Orange County police officers accused of kidnapping, illegal bounty hunting

November 4, 2022

Two former Orange County police officers are facing criminal charges after allegedly kidnapping a woman while prosecutors contend they were working illegally as bounty hunters.

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Trial begins for man charged in fatal Mission Viejo crash

November 1, 2022

A 28-year-old man who repeatedly had been warned about the dangers of speeding was traveling at nearly 100 mph when he plowed into another car, killing the driver, in Mission Viejo in March 2017, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.

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Former MLB prospect Brandon Martin gets life in prison in triple murder case

November 19, 2020

Attorney Edward Welbourn represents Brandon Martin who has been charged for the three murders of his father, uncle, and bystander. In trial, attorney Welbourn fights for Martin's life and pleads with the jury to not recommend the death penalty for Martin. The defense relies heavily on Martin's diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

To read more about the case from the LA Times click here.

To read more about the case from The Press Enterprise click here.

To watch Attorney Welbourn giving his closing argument click here.

Co-worker charged in on-campus slaying of Cal State Fullerton administrator

August 23, 2020

The man accused of fatally stabbing a Cal State Fullerton administrator this week faces a minimum sentence of life without parole if convicted in the on-campus slaying, California prosecutors said Friday.

Chuyen Van Vo, 51, of Huntington Beach, has been charged with one count of murder with an enhancement for the personal use of a knife "and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait," the Orange County district attorney’s office said in a statement Friday.

Vo is accused of fatally stabbing his co-worker, retired Cal State Fullerton Steven Shek Keung Chan, 57, in a campus parking lot about 8:30 a.m. Monday. Chan retired in 2017 but returned to Cal State Fullerton in January to work as a consultant, the school said.

Read the article on CBS News.

2 O. C. Men Sentence to Prison for Scamming Distressed Homeowners During '08 Recession

August 5, 2020

Attorney Kate Corrigan represents Samuel Paul Bain for his role in a Santa Ana based home loan modification scheme during the Great Recession in 2008. Bain was sentenced to five years in federal prison, but had already served his time after pleading guilt in 2016. Corrigan is quoted saying that Bain "has changed his life quite a bit and Judge Carney recognized the changes".

Read the article on OC Register.

Matt Kirschenheiter Charged for Domestic Violence and False Imprisonment

September 6, 2019

Matt Kirschenheiter, the estranged spouse of Real Housewives of Orange County star Gina Kirschenheiter, is determined to maintain his innocence after being charged with domestic violence and false imprisonment.

Read the article on US Magazine.

In a Lonely Place

December 14, 2018

Co-Worker Fatally Slayed Cal State Fullerton Administrator

August 23, 2019

Chuyen Van Vo has been charged for the fatal stabbing of his coworker on Monday, August 19 at 8:30 a.m. Vo fled the scene and authorities found him two days later. He faces a minimum sentence of life without parole if convicted for this crime.

Read the article on NBC News.

Jailhouse Snitch Planted in Accused Killer’s OC Cell?

October 23, 2017

A 39-year-old charged with killing his business partner in Orange County seven years ago is concerned that Orange County sheriff’s deputies put a confidential informant in his cell, which could be a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, his attorney said Friday.

An attorney for Ed Younghoon Shin, who is charged with killing 33-year-old Christopher Smith in June of 2010, told Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals in court on Friday that he has received information indicating an informant was placed in his client’s cell. Shins’ attorney, Ed Welbourn, wanted Goethals to order more evidence to be turned over in the case.

Goethals explained to Welbourn that he cannot really do that, but reminded Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy that prosecutors are required to turn over all the evidence they can find that could be exculpatory to a defendant. Murphy said he understood that, but he has not been able to find anything backing up Shin’s claim and suggested the sole source for the information was the defendant himself.

Murphy also assured Goethals that even if does find out that Shin’s jailers put an informant in his cell that he would never use the evidence in the trial.

“We would never use it under any circumstances,” Murphy said. “It would be unavailable for any purpose.”

Murphy said he dealt with the same issue in his death penalty prosecution of Daniel Patrick Wozniak and he vowed not to use the evidence in that trial. Murphy did not direct the use of an informant in that case.

The use of informants has become a touchy topic for prosecutors after Goethals found wrongdoing in the use of the jailhouse snitches in the case against Scott Dekraai, who ultimately avoided the death penalty because of the scandal.

Murphy added “even if I get struck by lightning” and can’t prosecute Shin his office still would not use any informant in the trial.

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Accused getaway driver pleads guilty to providing tools that helped 3 inmates escape Orange County Jail

June 22, 2017

A 51-year-old Costa Mesa man was sentenced to a year in custody on Thursday, June 22 for passing along a knife, wire cutters and other items that helped three inmates escape from the Orange County Central Jail last year.

For his role in the brazen Jan. 22, 2016 jailbreak, Loc Ba Nguyen pleaded guilty to felony counts of aiding a prisoner’s escape, smuggling weapons into a correctional facility, and sending an article useful for escape into a prison.

He was immediately sentenced to a year in jail and five years of probation after agreeing to a plea deal offered by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald.

Nguyen had faced up to five years in prison if convicted. Senior Deputy District Attorney Cindy Nichols objected to the sentence, saying it was too lenient.

Hossein Nayeri, now 38, Bac Duong, 44, and Jonathan Tieu, 21, sparked a nationwide manhunt last year after the trio cut and crawled through wall vents and rappelled off of a roof using a rope made of bed sheets, authorities have said. A week later, Duong turned himself in, while Nayeri and Tieu were captured in San Francisco the following day.

Prosecutors said Nguyen, acquainted with Duong, visited him in jail on Jan. 9, nearly two weeks before the escape, and received a list of items necessary to help the inmates with their plans.

About four days later, Nguyen left a backpack containing rope, a knife and clothing attached to a rope at a location on the jail grounds outside of the walls, prosecutors said. He later returned and left a duffle bag with clothing, two pairs of wire cutters and two cell phones, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors believe that at least some of the items were then smuggled inside the jail, but authorities have not said how exactly the items were snuck in.

But authorities have said that, in the early morning hours of Jan. 23, Nguyen parked his car in a nearby neighborhood, waited for the three men to escape and then dropped them off at a residence, authorities said.

Nguyen’s attorney, Ed Welbourn, said Nguyen has been cooperative with law enforcement and deeply regrets his actions.

Welbourn said Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, has no criminal history and is a businessman who works in construction and gives back to local churches. His decision to aid Duong, a former employee, is a “head scratcher,” Welbourn said.

“He got caught up in something that was way beyond him, and ultimately he wants to accept responsibility and apologize to the community,” Welbourn said.

All three accused escapees were in jail awaiting trials for violent crimes.

Duong is charged with attempted murder; Tieu with murder and attempted murder; and Nayeri’s charges include torture and aggravated mayhem for allegedly kidnapping a marijuana store owner and severing his penis. Those cases are pending.

And they now face jailbreak charges as well.

At the time, media coverage captured international attention and cast a spotlight onto the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The agency has since “hardened” its Central Jail with $570,000 in improvements and security upgrades.

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Huntington Beach cop charged with stealing colleague’s retirement gift

January 20, 2017

A Huntington Beach police detective was charged Thursday with stealing cash that his co-workers collected for a colleague’s retirement gift.

Mario Ricci, 48, of Los Angeles, is charged with a misdemeanor count of petty theft, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon.

The prosecutor declined to say how much cash was allegedly taken, but Ricci’s attorney, Ed Welbourn, said the case involves “a small amount of money. We’re talking like a hundred bucks.”

Welbourn said his client “maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court.”

Ricci has been on the force for 17 years, and a detective for 11, Welbourn said.

“He’s been a very proud and hard-working officer for the city, and he’s surprised by these allegations,” Welbourn said.

Between Dec. 8-15, Ricci took cash from an envelope left out for donations that would go toward the gift, Zimmon alleged.

Other officers noticed on Dec. 8 that some of the cash was missing, so they investigated and documented the denominations of the money and the serial numbers of bills remaining in the envelope, the prosecutor said.

As Ricci was leaving the department’s headquarters on Dec. 15, he was confronted by investigators and was allegedly found to be in possession of the bills that were noted, according to Zimmon.

Police Chief Robert Handy said Ricci was placed on administrative leave “when the investigation revealed he was a suspect. He remains on administrative leave pending the completion of a personnel investigation.”

The department issued the following statement on its Facebook page:

“The Huntington Beach Police Department strives for the full trust and confidence of the community we serve. We hold all our employees to a high standard of ethics and integrity, and are truly saddened by this incident.”

Ricci, who is scheduled to be arraigned on March 6 at the West Justice Center, could face up to six months in jail if convicted.

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Convicted of trying to aid terrorist group, Anaheim man gets 30 years in federal prison – just like his friend

October 20, 2016

SANTA ANA – An Anaheim man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for trying to aid a foreign terrorist group, with a federal judge determining that he aimed to recruit others and radicalized a friend who tried to travel overseas to join the Islamic State.

After spending days torn over the role Muhanad Badawi played in his friend Nader Salem Elhuzayel’s alleged plot to travel to Syria and become an Islamic State fighter, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter decided late Wednesday morning that prosecutors were correct in describing Badawi as directly responsible for Elhuzayel’s actions.

“I believe you radicalized,” Carter told Badawi. “I believe you are a recruiter. and I believe you are extremely dangerous. You are just as dangerous, if not more so, than Elhuzayel.”

Badawi stared forward, his face blank and eyes slightly downcast, as Carter announced the sentence. His family and friends wept and consoled one another in the courthouse hallway following the hearing but declined to comment.

The 30-year federal prison sentence, as well as a lifetime of supervision following release, is the same sentence Carter gave Elhuzayel, an Anaheim man the judge referred to in court as “beyond redemption.”

Federal prosecutors, during the trial of Badawi and Elhuzayel, both 25, described Badawi as being a “facilitator” for Elhuzayel. Using his student financial aid, Badawi paid for Elhuzayel’s plane ticket to the Middle East.

FBI agents had monitored the pair for at least a month. They arrested Elhuzayel as he attempted to board at Los Angeles International Airport – discounting Elhuzayel’s claims that he was traveling to marry a woman he had met online. Badawi was arrested hours later.

Prosecutors presented jurors with social-media transcripts and recordings of Badawi and Elhuzayel discussing their support for the Islamic State. They also showed jurors often-graphic photos and videos the two men had shared, including clips of the Islamic State beheading civilians.

The pair’s attorneys described their clients’ discussions as protected free speech and noted that the friends lacked the training and the connections to fight overseas.

During Wednesday’s sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Heinz focused on what she alleged was Badawi’s role in radicalizing Elhuzayel, and his attempt, she said, to recruit at least seven others for the Islamic State.

“If Elhuzayel is beyond redemption, it is Badawi who brought him there,” Heinz told the judge. “How many other Elhuzayels will we see because of Badawi?”

The prosecutor described Badawi as a “focused and forceful” speaker who used his knowledge of the Koran and of Islamic State rhetoric to be the “learned one who can inspire other soldiers.”

Badawi’s attorney, Kate Corrigan, argued Wednesday that her client shouldn’t spend more than 15 years in prison. She noted that he has no criminal record, is a member of a tight-knit family and that there was no indication that he kept in touch with his alleged recruits.

Corrigan questioned why, if Badawi was indeed recruiting others as alleged by the government, none of those individuals are facing criminal charges. “I think if he was really the recruiter the government has described him as being, we would have seen indictments,” Corrigan said.

Heinz said that there are several ongoing investigations related to the case.

“We do have to be resolute in our fight against ISIS,” Corrigan said. “But we also have to be resolute that our rights and the rights of my client aren’t trampled in the name of fear.”

Badawi‘s sentencing was originally scheduled for Monday but was continued so that he could finish reading a probation report about his background. On Monday afternoon, Carter told Badawi that he was still unsure what to think about him. The judge said he wrestled with the case right up until Wednesday’s hearing.

The judge asked prosecutors to replay for him several recorded conversations. Among those recordings was a conversation between Badawi and Elhuzayel in the days leading up to Elhuzayel’s aborted trip overseas, in which Badawi is heard saying “We are five now, I am going to convert more.”

The judge then said to Badawi: “You continued right up to the day you were arrested to spread this evil gospel to the community.”

Despite hours of hearings, testimony, courtroom argument and voluminous evidence presented to the jury, it remains unclear what exactly drew Badawi to the Islamic State.

As part of what both his attorney and the judge described as a loving, hard-working family, Badawi immigrated with his parents from the Sudan at the age of 16. He met Elhuzayel while the two attended Cypress College in 2012.

Leading up to the trial, Badawi underwent a hunger strike. By December, the 6-foot-4 Badawi’s weight had plummeted from 140 pounds at the time of his arrest to a shockingly gaunt 105. Judge Carter ordered that Badawi be force fed. Badawi’s family also helped coax him back to eating and communicating.

The sentencing of Badawi and Elhuzayel, as well as the recent sentencing of Orange resident Adam Dandach, ends a high-profile wave of cases involving local individuals attempting to join the Islamic State.

Read the article on OC Register.

Ex-teacher from H.B. slashes throat in court after being found guilty of sexually assaulting teen

October 20, 2016

SANTA ANA – A 56-year-old man slashed his throat Wednesday with a razor blade – moments after jurors found him guilty of sexually assaulting a teenager in Huntington Beach.

Jeffrey Scott Jones, who was out of custody on bail during the trial, cut his throat in C-28 on the courtroom’s eighth floor just after the verdict had been read, authorities said.

Deputies rendered first aid and Jones, who was uncooperative, had to be handcuffed, sheriff’s Lt. Mark Stichter said.

Jones was transported by paramedics to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, said Capt. Larry Kurtz of the Orange County Fire Authority. He remained under guard Wednesday afternoon by deputies.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating how Jones managed to bring a razor through a security checkpoint at the court building, Stichter said.

Ed Welbourn, who is Jones’ attorney, said he was stunned by the incident.

“It was totally unexpected and very unfortunate,” he said.

Welbourn said a courtroom clerk had just finished reading the jury’s guilty verdict when Jones suddenly cut himself with a standard razor blade.

“I didn’t see it happen, my attention was on the jury, but from what people tell me he had a blade somewhere in his clothing and he pulled it out when the verdicts were read,” he said.

Welbourn said Jones’ head hit the table and blood began pouring out of his neck. Courtroom bailiffs rushed to him and called for medical aid.

He said his client didn’t show any previous signs of mental distress during the trial: “He was confident in his innocconceptence.”

Jones, a Huntington Beach resident, previously taught Advanced Placement English at Libra Academy in Huntington Park.

He sexually assaulted a girl between Sept. 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013, prosecutors said. The Register is not specifying her relationship with Jones to avoid identifying a sexual assault victim.

Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown had told jurors that a sexual-assault test performed on the girl turned up Jones’ DNA.

Since the abuse was reported, the girl has been in youth homes, juvenile hall and has lived on the streets, and at one point was arrested for stealing a bike while attempting to run away, the prosecutor added.

The county is offering counseling services available to court employees and jurors who may have witnessed the incident, said Gwen Vieau, spokeswoman for Orange County Superior Court.

For his conviction, Jones faces a maximum sentence of 68 years to life when he is sentenced on Nov. 4.

Read the article on OC Register.

Trial of ex-teacher accused of raping girl goes to jury

October 18, 2016

The future of a former teacher from Huntington Beach accused of raping a girl when she was 13 is now in a jury’s hands.

The defense and prosecution made their closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of Jeffrey Scott Jones, 56, who is charged in Orange County Superior Court with two felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one felony count of continuous sexual abuse.

If Jones is convicted, he could face a maximum of 68 years to life in state prison, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors accuse Jones of raping the girl —who is now 17 — on May 4 and 9, 2013.

In her closing argument Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown alleged Jones has a history of targeting “young, fatherless, penniless girls.” …

Read the article on Los Angeles Times.

U.S. judge: Sentencing Anaheim man for financing friend’s alleged trip to join Islamic State is not clear-cut

October 17, 2016

SANTA ANA – A federal judge on Monday said he is torn over the proper prison sentence for an Anaheim man convicted of trying to aid the Islamic State and delayed his ruling to give the defendant time to read a probation report.

The surprise delay means that Muhanad Badawi, who authorities say bankrolled his friend’s alleged attempt to join the foreign terrorist group, will return Wednesday morning to the federal courthouse here for sentencing.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter recently sentenced co-defendant Nader Salem Elhuzayel to 30 years in federal prison. On Monday, Carter noted that while he believed that Elhuzayel was “beyond redemption,” he hadn’t yet made up his mind about Badawi.

“I’m not sure about you yet,” Carter said to Badawi. “Each defendant is an individual, and Mr. Badawi presents a difficult problem for me to wrestle with.”

Carter decided to halt Monday’s hearing after learning that Badawi hadn’t read through a probation report about his own background. Such reports are prepared after convictions to aid judges deciding what sentences to hand down.

Badawi’s attorney, Kate Corrigan, has suggested that her client should serve no more than 12 years in prison followed by no more than 20 years of supervised release. Corrigan noted that Badawi has no criminal record and is the member of a tight-knit family.

“As he matures, he will have the ability to change his path and thinking,” Corrigan wrote to the judge. “He will have plenty of time to contemplate the result of being a follower.”

Badawi and Elhuzayel, in numerous social-media postings and recorded conversations captured by federal investigators, shared often-violent and graphic Islamic State rhetoric and images.

The pair, now both 25, were arrested after Elhuzayel tried to board a flight to the Middle East with a plane ticket that Badawi had paid for using federal financial-aid funds.

Both men’s attorneys argued that their online discussions, while unpopular, still represented free speech.

Elhuzayel’s attorney denied that his client was planning to join the Islamic State, saying he was actually going abroad to meet a woman. Both men’s lawyers contended that the two friends didn’t have the means, training or connections to fight oversees.

Read the article on OC Register.

Trial begins for former teacher suspected in rape of 13-year-old relative

September 29, 2016

SANTA ANA – Trial began Thursday for a former teacher accused of raping a 13-year-old relative, with jurors tasked with deciding whether the man took advantage of the young teenager or if he was just the target of false accusations brought by a troubled girl.

Jeffrey Scott Jones, a 56-year-old Huntington Beach resident and former Advanced Placement English teacher at the Libra Academy in Huntington Park, faces felony charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and continuous sexual abuse that prosecutors say occurred between Sept. 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013.

The Register is not specifying her relationship with Jones to avoid identifying a potential sexual assault victim.

Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown told jurors that a sexual assault test performed on the girl turned up Jones’ DNA.

Since the allegations were reported, the girl has bounced between youth homes, juvenile hall and living on the street, and at one point was arrested for stealing a bike while attempting to run away, the prosecutor added.

“You will be sickened, you will be saddened, and you will be convinced that the defendant is guilty of all the crimes he is charged with,” Brown told jurors during her opening statements on Thursday.

Jones’ attorney, Thomas Welbourn, told jurors that the trial will hinge on the alleged victim’s credibility.

The defense attorney said the girl was angry at Jones’ attempts to bring structure to her life.

As to the DNA, the defense lawyer said the two had used the same bathroom and towels.

If convicted, Jones faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison.

Read the article on OC Register.

Man who went on hunger strike in jail fit to stand trial on terrorism charge

March 8, 2016

SANTA ANA – An Anaheim man who lost more than 30 pounds during a hunger strike is mentally fit to stand trial for allegedly supporting the terrorist group Islamic State, a federal court judge ruled Tuesday.

Three months after Muhanad Badawi’s shockingly gaunt appearance and seemingly detached manner led to jail officials force-feeding him, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter adopted the findings of an expert report that determined Badawi’s failure to eat was willful, not an indication of a mental health problem.

Kate Corrigan, a veteran defense attorney representing Badawi, previously indicated that his health problems were because of his declining hope that he could receive a fair trial in light of recent terror attacks in San Bernardino and across the world.

When arrested in 2015, the 6-foot-4 Badawi weighed 140 pounds. By mid-December, his weight was 105 pounds.

Badawi answered several of the judges’ questions, and appeared to interact with Corrigan throughout the hearing. A jail nurse indicated that Badawi’s weight currently averages around 130 pounds.

Federal law enforcement officials allege that Badawi helped bankroll his friend Nader Salem Elhuzayel’s suspected plan to fly overseas and join Islamic State.

Read the article on OC Register.

Accused getaway driver in O.C. jailbreak case appears in court

February 22, 2016

A Costa Mesa man accused of smuggling tools that helped three inmates escape from Orange County Central Jail appeared in court Monday to face several felony charges.

Loc Ba Nguyen, 50, has been charged with possessing tear gas or a weapon in a place of custody, aiding escape, carrying or sending useful aid to escape from jail, and personally using a deadly weapon – for his alleged role in last month’s jailbreak that led to a nationwide manhunt.

Hossein Nayeri, 37, Bac Duong, 43, and Jonathan Tieu, 20, broke out of the jail on Jan. 22. All three men were back in custody within eight days.

Law enforcement officials have not said how Nguyen got the tools into the jail or what kind of tools were smuggled in. Nguyen, an associate of Duong, is also accused of being the getaway driver on the morning of the escape.

Read the article on OC Register.

‘Inside the Snitch Tank’: Read the full story of murder, misconduct and justice delayed

January 1, 2016

On his last day of freedom, Scott Dekraai spoke on the phone with his ex-wife. Let’s meet for coffee, he suggested.

Michelle Fournier was shocked. A day earlier they had squared off at yet another court hearing in their acrimonious battle over custody of their 8-year-old son. Things had not gone Dekraai’s way at the hearing, and the argument had continued on the phone, until Dekraai brought his ex-wife up short with his suggestion that they meet in person.

No way, Fournier responded. She did not want to see him. Definitely not.

This would prove to be a fateful decision. If he couldn’t have a one-on-one, Dekraai decided after hanging up on Fournier, he’d just have to confront his ex-wife at her workplace instead – one last time. Then he walked out to his garage to survey his well-oiled collection of five pistols, four rifles and a 12-gauge shotgun.

The violence that followed just a few hours later would make national head-lines.

It would alter the course of lives and families for years to come…

Read the article on OC Register.

Anaheim terror suspect’s declining health tied to San Bernardino attacks

December 24, 2015

Emaciated, his head drooped and his body shaking, an Anaheim man accused of supporting the terrorist group Islamic State appeared detached from his surroundings in a courtroom last week as a federal judge and jail officials struggled to find a way to stop the prisoner’s rapidly declining health.

Less than a year after Muhanad Badawi’s high-profile arrest, his attorney believes his refusal to eat, and resulting shockingly gaunt appearance, is tied to inner turmoil sparked by a declining hope of getting a fair trial, as recent terrorist attacks, including the Dec. 2 massacre in San Bernardino, have led to a public outpouring of emotion and anger.

“It’s like he is not there anymore,” said Kate Corrigan, a veteran defense attorney who is representing Badawi. “A switch has gone off in him.”

During the Dec. 16 hearing in Los Angeles, Badawi’s mother watched her son and quietly sobbed, her hand covering her mouth, as health officials from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, where Badawi is being held, explained how they have begun to force-feed him.

Read the article on OC Register.

Anaheim man accused of supporting ISIS will be force-fed in prison

December 15,2015

An Anaheim man facing federal charges of providing support to the terrorist group ISIS will be forced-fed in prison after losing a significant amount of weight over the last four weeks due to irregular fasting.

Muhanad Elfaith M. A. Badawi, 24, has refused in recent days to eat food and drink minimal amounts of water. He removed an IV in his arm on Sunday after agreeing to have fluids pumped into him at a Los Angeles hospital, according to federal prison staff who testified in court on Monday in Santa Ana.

The tall man has lost more than 30 pounds since he was arrested in May, said prison officials. He was 140 pounds back then.

“I have to make certain that he is lucid,” said U.S. District Judge David Carter referring to Badawi’s ability to help his defense attorney, Kate Corrigan.

Corrigan said he used to be extremely involved in his defense–he used to discuss the case with her but now can barely communicate with her or focus…

Read the article on

DA Tony Rackauckas Bullies Judge Who Slammed Cheating in Death-Penalty Case

OC Weekly, December 16, 2015

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ 10-month-old gamble that the Orange County snitch scandoal would fizzle out has proven less than prophetic. In March, Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals booted Rackauckas and his office (OCDA) from People v. Scott Dekraai, a death-penalty case, after determining prosecutors can’t be trusted to act ethically. Goethals’ historic move meant California Attorney General Kamala Harris would, given Dekraai’s massacre confession, take over penalty-phase duties.

Until that point, Rackauckas’ staff spent four years blaming Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, Dekraai’s attorney, for torturing the victims’ survivors by stalling the case. We now know OCDA’s tactics of hiding evidence and filing deceptive court records caused the delays. Even the DA’s Kool-Aid-guzzlers had to concede the fake outrage after he urged Harris to fight her assignment. Rather than assume control over Dekraai—a move that may have landed the defendant on death row months ago—the AG is taking what could be a multiyear appellate route…

Judge orders man suspected of aiding terror group to eat

AP, December 10, 2015

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge ordered a California man suspected of trying to aid the Islamic State group to eat dinner tonight or be force-fed.

The order from Judge David O. Carter was given Thursday to 24-year-old Muhanad Badawi, who has been refusing to eat for three weeks.
“Mr. Badawi, this is going to end today,” said Carter, who pulled out his own money to pay for the meal before the marshals in charge of Badawi said they would take care of it.
Carter said at the hearing in Orange County that Badawi looks emaciated and is down to 110 pounds from a previous 140. Badawi has not made it entirely clear why he’s refusing to eat, insisting he’d not on a hunger strike and saying he wants to fast on certain days. But Carter rejected religious claims behind the refusal to eat, saying the fasting does not coincide with any Muslim holy days.

“You’ve got the wrong days and the wrong time,” Carter said. “This is not Friday and this is not Ramadan…”

Doctor known as ‘Candy Man’ convicted of trafficking in pain medications

August 28, 2015

A Santa Barbara doctor known to patients as the “Candy Man” is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison after his conviction Friday for trafficking in highly addictive pain medications.

A federal jury found Julio Gabriel Diaz, 67, who operated the Family Medical Clinic, guilty on 79 counts of writing prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as OxyContin and Dilaudid without a legitimate medical purpose.

His patients typically paid cash and were willing to wait hours for a 10-minute appointment, and as many as 20 subsequently died of overdoses, according to prosecutors…

Read the article on Los Angeles Times.

Physician who allegedly provided illegal prescriptions defends actions

August 26, 2015

A Santa Barbara physician colleagues nicknamed the “Candy Man” denied during testimony Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana that he provided patients with illegal prescriptions for dangerous amounts of narcotics that prosecutors allege led to 20 patient deaths.

Julio Gabriel Diaz during his trial in the courtroom of U.S District Judge Cormac J. Carney, contended that he was “tricked” by patients who he claimed lied to get highly addictive pain killers and sedatives.

Read the article on OC Register.

Judge in a storm: Thomas Goethels surprised many with decision in Seal Beach mass shooting case

June 29, 2015

“Judge Goethals showed he takes his oath seriously,” Corrigan said. “He has an amazing moral compass … and he is not going to put up with Constitutional violations of anyone’s rights, whether he’s a gang member or accused of capital murder.

Read thearticle on OC Register.

Federal grand jury indicts two alleged Anaheim ISIS sympathizers The Orange County Register

June 4, 2015

Two Anaheim men suspected of sympathizing with ISIS were charged Wednesday with conspiring to support the terrorist group, two weeks after FBI officials caught one of them attempting to fly out of the country.

A federal grand jury indicted Nader Salem Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi, both 24, for allegedly trying to provide support to the Islamic State terrorist group. Both men are being held without bail as they await trial.

The indictment alleges that Elhuzayel attempted to join ISIS, while Badawi provided financial support for Elhuzayel‘s plane ticket to Turkey.

In a previously released affidavit, an FBI agent outlined alleged social media postings and recorded conversations which authorities say prove the pair were willing to join, and if need be die for, the Islamic State organization.

Supporters of both men have denied that they are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.

Attorney Kate Corrigan, who is representing Badawi, described the pair as possibly naive college students whose online chatter she claimed hadn’t crossed the line from “stupid guy talk” to criminal activity.

Read the article on OC Register.

OC Judge Officially Asked to Resign 12P (4/22)

KFI AM 640, April 22 2015

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Judge removes DA’s office from California mass murder case

KFI AM 640 April 22, 2015

A judge on Thursday yanked the Orange County district attorney’s office off the case of a convicted mass killer after finding sheriff’s deputies lied or withheld information about the use of jailhouse snitches used to gather evidence for prosecutors.

Judge Thomas M. Goethals turned over the case of Scott Dekraai to the California attorney general’s office after concluding that two sheriff’s deputies “either intentionally lied or willfully withheld material evidence” on the stand and that the county prosecutor is responsible for their actions.

The ruling dealt a blow to prosecutors’ efforts to impose the death penalty on 45-year-old Dekraai, a former tugboat operator who pleaded guilty to killing his ex-wife and seven others in a 2011 shooting rampage at a Seal Beach hair salon.

Woman in ‘birth tourism’ case arrested at LAX as she tries to fly back to China

April 22, 2015

Ying Wu, 31, was taken into custody April 15 at Los Angeles International Airport by Homeland Security Investigations agents as she, her husband and the baby prepared to board a plane to Beijing.

Her arrest comes amid a large-scale federal investigation of several Southern California companies accused of persuading pregnant Chinese women to lie on visa applications so their babies can be born on U.S. soil…n

Read thearticle on Orange County Register.

Prosecutor Appeals Sentence For Man Who Sodomized 3-Year-Old

CBS Los Angeles, April 2015

Medical Marijuana Distributor Sentenced to 22-Year Prison Term Wins 8-Year Reduction

OC Weekly, April 17, 2014

The ringleader of a huge, Southern California medical marijuana distribution network has won a whopping 94-month reduction in his punishment, according to federal court records reviewed by OC Weekly. In July 2013, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna sentenced John Melvin Walker to a term of 262 months in prison, but this week amended the punishment to a term of 168 months for the conspiracy and efforts to evade federal tax obligations. Selna’s dramatic move, done after a secret, April 8 filing by Walker-defense attorney Kate Corrigan, came without public explanation. Asked why the change, Corrigan initially gave a one-word answer: “Justice.” Later, she explained the reduction was the result of “months of work and effort” to get the court to “revisit” the sentence and arrive at a “just result.”” Mr. Walker is relieved that his sentence has been reduced by almost 100 months,” Corrigan said. “He looks forward to reuniting with his family. In the event that the sentencing guidelines are further revisited, I intend to seek further relief for him.”

Jail Informant Under Fire in Orange County

New York Times March 2014

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Attorney Scott Sanders was defending two high-profile death penalty cases in California when he realized evidence in both cases was coming from the same jailhouse snitch. He wondered if it could be more than a coincidence.After poring over thousands of pages of documents and listening to hundreds of hours of recordings, the assistant public defender in Orange County concluded that prosecutors had tried to cover up a jail informant program that violates inmates’ constitutional rights.The allegations leveled in a 505-page motion have created a buzz among defense lawyers now pondering whether their clients were improperly approached by informants recruited by law enforcement. In another motion filed with the court, Sanders wrote that “hundreds to thousands of cases” should be reviewed to ensure defendants were not deprived of vital evidence.”If true, the systematic intentional violation of constitutional rights is breathtaking,” said Kate Corrigan, former president of the criminal defense bar in Southern California’s Orange County.

Smurfing Bad: An OC Judge Shows Mercy on Mini-Meth Users

OC Weekly June 2013

As with a similar controversy regarding the disparity in how the law treats crack vs. powder cocaine, legal experts say methamphetamine laws discriminate against the most defenseless—and least culpable—offenders. Katherine Corrigan, president of the Orange County Criminal Bar Association, says smurfers are on the lowest rung of the totem pole—usually uneducated and financially desperate, often ignorant of the true nature of their crime, sometimes preyed upon by manufacturers. Corrigan represented Climaco, whom she describes as a pious woman who is terribly ashamed of her actions. Corrigan says the Bar has been concerned about “pseudoephedrine guidelines that are so overly excessive it’s preposterous”—laws that, she says, are disproportionally invoked against the poor and vulnerable.

It Takes Thick Skin to be a Defense Attorney

September 2012

Kate Corrigan does not lose sleep over who she represents: people accused of drug smuggling and white-collar crimes. Corrigan was a prosecutor with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for six years before defecting in 1995. “I don’t check my ethics at the door,” she said. “What I do for people is I am there to make sure that their rights are enforced and they are well represented,” Corrigan said. “Most people coming to us for help are at a very desperate moment in their life, and we’re there to help them the very best way we can.” She says it is not her job to judge. Anybody could end up being wrongly accused, and it can change one’s attitude toward the justice system, she said. “Then people see that the justice system can be heavily weighted against defendants,” Corrigan said. “That’s why having good defense counsel is critical.” She recalled a third-strike case of a defendant she represented who was charged with rape. He was adamant he did not do it. Bail was set at $1 million, and he lost his job. The victim identified him, the defense lawyer said, but DNA evidence exonerated him. She often takes clients who she thinks might be guilty. “Come hell or high water, I want his or her rights enforced,” Corrigan said. “It’s not my job to determine when someone’s wrong or right on a moral level.”

Read thearticle on Orange County Register.

Attorney Edward Welbourn Represents Dr. Tseng in Murder Case

ABC News June 2012

Death Penalty: Is the Ultimate Price the Ultimate Justice?

October 3, 2012
Death-penalty opponents call the system dysfunctional. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says abolishing the death penalty would save the state and counties $100 million-plus a year, because of the appeal process and other costs. Proponents dispute the figure. “It should absolutely be abolished,” said Kate Corrigan, president of the Orange County Criminal Defense Bar Association. “If we even risk having one person executed who shouldn’t be, that’s one too many.”

Ed Welbourn, a Newport Beach attorney practicing criminal defense for the past nine years, has defended two death-penalty cases, both in Riverside County. One defendant is on death row; for the other, Welbourn starts a penalty-phase retrial this month. “The average person walks into the courtroom with an eye-for-an-eye mentality,” he said. “Once you start discussing with them the death penalty … once they get educated a bit about what it means, many people feel like it is something they don’t want to be involved in.” Jurors understand the gravity of their decisions and realize they have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Innocent people do get convicted, Welbourn said. And, for families of victims, a death sentence hardly ends the pain, the lawyer said. “I feel for the loss they have,” Welbourn said. “I think as time goes on, there’s never really closure, because you don’t know when that issue is going to come up, and then you have to live it again and again. It just prolongs the suffering of both sides. I don’t know if it ever really ends. It’s not swift justice.”

Read thearticle on Orange County Register.

Man Secretly Owned Pot Stores – Represented by Kate Corrigan

Los Angeles Times March 2013

Attorney Kate Corrigan man who secretly owned marijuana shops. The marijuana shops evoked health and homeopathic care, with names like Dana Point Safe Harbor Collective, Belmont Shore Natural Care, Alternative Herbal Care and Costa Mesa Patients Assn. Nine dispensaries in all, they appeared to be run by different owners around Orange and Los Angeles counties, little different than any of the hundreds of dispensaries that have popped up in the last five years. But they were secretly owned and operated by a 56-year-old convicted drug dealer from San Clemente, who used the stores to make millions.Walker’s attorney, Kate T. Corrigan, said Walker is a “devoted family man, a very active parent” to young children. She declined to say how many.

Pharma Manager Excluded from Medicare Showing Risks of Drug Samples

Report on Medicare Compliance July 2013

In coming after Valentine, OIG exercised its “affirmative” exclusion authority because the exclusion was not derivative or mandatory, OIG spokeswoman Janna Raudenbush says. That means OIG must convince an HHS administrative law judge of its merits instead of just dropping the exclusion bomb. Valentine, however, settled the case before that was necessary and did not admit wrongdoing. His attorney, Kate Corrigan, says Valentine was never properly trained on samples. “This thing blindsided him,” says Corrigan, with Corrigan & Welbourn in Newport Beach, Calif. Valentine apparently is the only individual to face an administrative or enforcement action in connection with the Sanofi case. “He is the only guy who goes down on this. It seems to be
categorically unfair,” she says. Under the terms of the exclusion settlement, no federal health programs will pay Valentine for goods or services, including administrative and management services, furnished, ordered, or prescribed by Valentine.

Missing Couple Case Plot Thickens

February 2009

A man who bought a yacht from a now missing retired couple and may have been the last person to see them alive pleaded not guilty Monday to charges linking him to large scale drug sales.

Skylar J. Deleon, described by his wife’s attorney as a former child actor, was charged with three counts of laundering money from drug sales and three counts of possessing money related to narcotic sales. Court documents show that the allegations involve at least $250,000.

Prosecutor Matt Murphy said Deleon, 25, bought the 55-foot cabin cruiser from the now missing Arizona couple, Tom and Jackie Hawks, but Murphy declined to say whether he is a suspect in their disappearance.

There has been no trace of the Hawks since mid-November, when they sold the cabin cruiser on which they lived for $400,000 to Deleon and his wife, Jennifer. Police found the missing couple’s car in Mexico last week.
Deleon, who lives in Long Beach and has a previous conviction for burglary, was a child actor who appeared in the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” television show, according to Michael Molfetta, an attorney for his wife, Jennifer, who attended the arraignment.

Deleon’s attorney, Ed Welbourn, declined to discuss the case in detail.

“He’s a young guy and obviously he’s scared about what’s going on, but I can’t comment,” Welbourn said.

Read the article on CBS News.

A Long Journey of Service. The Honorable Nho Trong Nguyen

November 2013

Criminal defense attorney Kate Corrigan says, “As a judge in the criminal courts, Judge Nguyen dedicates himself to ensuring that all defendants are treated fairly, and he ensures that their rights are enforced and protected. Judge Nguyen’s legacy will be that of a man of integrity, fairness, and lack of bias. He exemplifies the characteristics that we all hope to see in our bench officers.” When asked what he thinks when he renders a verdict, Judge Nguyen replied, “I know my ruling carries concrete consequences and has a direct effect on the defendants and litigants before me. I also know it will affect their families and the victims’ families. So I treat each case with the highest level of importance and care.”

Read the article on Orange County Lawyer.

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