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Category Archives: 100A Computer Crime Victories

State v. Mr. H (DMC No. 11744) – Felony Illegally Conducting an Enterprise/RICO ($132,755 in Counterfeit Checks), Felony Computer Tampering, Felony Attempted Fraudulent Schemes & (2 Counts) Forgery – Reduced to Possession of a Forgery Device with Probation and Zero Days in Jail – Maricopa County Superior Court (Case No. CR2013-002470).

Mr. H was involved in an Illegal Enterprise which was engaged in manufacturing fake checks and then cashing them. The checks were manufactured by utilizing a computer to print false checks with false bank routing numbers. This particular activity is known as “Computer Tampering.” Once the Illegal Enterprise would create the fake checks, they would then be distributed to individuals to cash at various retail outlets. Mr. H. was one of the people who received checks that were created by the Enterprise and he was one of the individuals responsible for cashing them. Once the Police became aware of this, they arrested several of the check cashers and had them become “Confidential Informants.” Eventually, a 61 co-defendant indictment, which included 328 charges, was handed down by a Grand Jury.

When we became involved in the case, we immediately began working with Detectives and Prosecutors in order to cooperate and to provide Mitigation on Mr. H’s behalf. Unfortunately, Mr. H. had become addicted to heroin, and had only gone for various brief stretches in his life where he was sober. He was married and had several small children when he fell off the wagon. He had lost his job and started using heroin again.

He became involved in the Conspiracy in order to receive money to support his drug habit. During the Pretrial phase of the case, we had Mr. H. go into inpatient rehab, which he successfully completed. We also had him make Restitution in full for his portion of the Fraud Scheme. Ultimately, the Prosecutor offered a plea to Possession of a Forgery Device, which included Probation and Zero Days in Jail. If Mr. H. had been convicted of all charges, there would have been mandatory Prison time required due to the amount of the loss being greater than $100,000. He is now sober and his family is intact.

(2 Counts) Felony Computer Tampering & (2 Counts) Felony Trafficking in Stolen Property ($20,400) Reduced to Probation with 30 Days in Jail – State v. Mr. M (DMC No. 13909) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2015-158379):  Mr. M worked for the Life Lock company and was accused of taking approximately 10 laptop computers and selling them online on Craigslist.  The ads on Craigslist claimed that these computers were “recycled”.  An undercover Tempe police officer made an arrangement to meet with Mr. M and purchase a computer for $1,000.  After that purchase was complete, officers then showed up to Mr. M’s house with a search warrant and confiscated other computers.  He was ultimately charged with 2 counts of Computer Tampering and 2 counts of Trafficking in Stolen Property.

The reason for the charge of Computer Tampering was for the deletion of items that were on those laptops originally. Ultimately, we were able to show some mitigating factors on behalf of Mr. M.  The state agreed to a plea which included Probation and 30 days of initial jail. Other jail was left hanging over his head, but that could be deferred upon successful completion of Probation. Mr. M successfully completed Probation, paid restitution and avoided a potential aggravated sentence of over 10 years in prison.

(40 COUNTS) FELONY COMPUTER TAMPERING, TAMPERING with PHYSICAL EVIDENCE, ACQUISITION of a NARCOTIC DRUG, THEFT and FRAUD SCHEMES REDUCED to 3.75 YEARS in PRISON – State v. Mr. M (DMC No. 12321) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2012-007417): Our office was retained after Mr.  M, a former Phoenix Police Detective, was arrested and extradited to Arizona. Initially, we were retained for just the Initial Appearance which involved a 40 count indictment for Computer Tampering per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2316, Tampering with Physical Evidence per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2809, Acquisition of Narcotic Drugs per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-3408, Theft per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-1802, and Fraudulent Schemes per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2310. Subsequent to this, the client retained us for the entire case.

At the not guilty Arraignment, a brief discussion was had with  the  assigned  prosecutor, who  advised  that  there  was  over  5000  pages  of discovery. He advised he would be filing a motion to designate the case “complex.” After this hearing, which was attended by my partner, Certified Criminal Law Specialist Christine Whalin, she and I met to discuss the motion to modify release conditions that had been filed and the anticipated voluminous discovery that was forthcoming.

In Court, co-counsel and I appeared to address the bond on the matter. We ascertained a $50,000 secured bond, which the client’s family subsequently posted. At the initial pretrial conference the, Commissioner granted the State’s motion to designate the case “complex” and reset the last day. An additional motion to modify release conditions had been filed at this time and a hearing was set to address that two weeks after the IPTC date. Subsequent to this court hearing co-counsel and I met with Mr. M to discuss his options in this case and the strategy that would be taken. During this meeting, we determined the best strategy would be for us to try to negotiate the best plea offer possible and  potentially  have  our  client  speak  with  the  Prosecutor  and/or  Detective.  Soon after this meeting, we received our first offer from the Prosecutor, which was five years in the Department of Corrections with a probation tail.  On Two weeks later, myself and co-counsel appeared to address our additional motion to modify release conditions – specifically requesting that Mr. M be able to reside in Pennsylvania while the case was ongoing. This motion was granted by the court.

After having received the voluminous discovery on this case, both co-counsel and I spent hours reviewing and summarizing the accusations being made by the State. We also spoke with our client about sending information to provide in a deviation letter to the Prosecutor.

A deviation letter was prepared and submitted to the Prosecutor for review. Although the deviation was denied, the Prosecutor indicated he was open to reconsideration with additional information. Subsequently, interviews began to commence. Soon after this, the Prosecutor approached us regarding a potential “free-talk” with our client. A free-talk occurred another free-talk occurred shortly thereafter. After the second free-talk, a modified offer was extended to either five years in the Department of Corrections or a range of three to seven years. After conveying this new offer to Mr. M, he requested we counter with a request for intensive probation for a stipulated term of seven years with counseling, community service and a fine of $10,000. This counter-offer was requested and staffed by the Prosecutor and ultimately we were successful in getting a meeting scheduled with the elected Maricopa County Attorney and the Prosecutor. We met at the County Attorney’s Office in an effort to have a probation offer extended. Unfortunately, there was no agreement on that, however, the State advised that we could pick a judge for change of plea and sentencing and they would not oppose whoever we chose.

Eventually a settlement conference occurred before a settlement Judge. At this time, Mr. M entered the plea agreement that allowed for a range in the Department of Corrections of anywhere between three to seven years. The plea was not accepted at the time that it was entered, in order to allow Mr. M to remain out of custody pending sentencing. I appeared for the sentencing and argued mitigating factors. Mr. M was sentenced to the low end of the range at 3.75 years in the Department of Corrections, and given credit for 53 days of presentence incarceration. He was placed on probation for 3 years following that term in the Department of Corrections.

FELONY TAMPERING with PHYSICAL EVIDENCE, FELONY CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT PERJURY, FELONY OBSTRUCTION of a CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION and FELONY FRAUDULENT SCHEMES REDUCED to PROBATION with ZERO DAYS in JAIL – State v. Mr. A (DMC No. 11855) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2013-000547):

Mr. A was cited with a Misdemeanor DUI in the City of Gilbert. He then retained the services of Mr. K (a high profile defense attorney in the Phoenix area) in order to defend him. He provided Mr. K with a cell phone video purporting to be video taken from the front of his vehicle as a “dash cam” at the time of the stop. On the video, it showed him properly exiting a bar parking lot and driving correctly without any traffic violations. He was also narrating while he was driving, and claimed that an Officer was pulling up behind him and stopping him. He then stopped the cell phone video.

Unbeknownst to Mr. K, Mr. A falsified the video. He then had a co-worker alter the date time stamped on the video. It was of such quality that Mr. K’s forensic expert analyzed the video and wrote a report finding the video was accurate and untampered with. All of that information was then submitted to the Gilbert City Prosecutor and the DUI charge was dismissed against Mr. A.

The co-worker who had altered the video for Mr. A subsequently had a falling out with him. He then contacted Police and reported Mr. A. Mr. A was subsequently charged with Fraudulent Schemes, Tampering with Evidence, Obstructing a Criminal Investigation and Conspiracy to Commit Perjury. We were then retained by Mr. A. Myself and my partner, Christine Whalin met and formulated the strategy to (1) legally attack some of the charges as not  being  factually  sufficient  as  to  the crime  actually  committed,  (2)  gather  all  mitigating evidence regarding Mr. A, (3) agree to full restitution as to the Gilbert Police Department’s estimation  (which  was  in  the thousands  of dollars),  and  (4) meet  with  the Prosecutor and Prosecutor’s Supervisor to try and achieve an offer which would not result in any prison or jail time.

As the case progressed, my partner, Certified Criminal Law Specialist Christine Whalin and myself met at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office with the Prosecutor and her Supervisor. Although we could not secure an offer which would allow for only a Class 6 Open/Misdemeanor, we did secure an offer which resulted in the dismissal of the Class 2 Fraudulent Schemes per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2310. Mr. A pled to Obstructing a Criminal Investigation per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2409, (a Class 5 Felony), an amended charge of Tampering with Physical Evidence per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2809, and Solicitation to Commit Perjury per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2704 and 13-1002,  (both Class 6 Open Felonies). There was also no agreement as to sentencing. After I conducted the mitigation hearing, the Judge sentenced Mr. A to supervised probation with no jail time. This was a very high profile case that was covered by the press throughout each and every step of the proceedings.

REDUCED | COMPUTER TAMPERING/THEFT by EXTORTION ($27,000) REDUCED to CRIMINAL IMPERSONATION class 6 open/Misdemeanor with PROBATION and ZERO DAYS JAIL – State v. Ms. Q. (DMC No. 10843) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2011-005962): Ms. Q. was fired from her company, and before she left she logged in on her boss’s computer and sent herself an email making it look like she had been threatened and sexually harassed by her boss. She then went to the HR Department and began negotiations regarding a $27,000 settlement. When all of this was discovered, she was charged with computer tampering and extortion. We were able to have the case reduced to a simple “Criminal Impersonation”, which involved probation and no jail. At the conclusion of probation, her case was designated a misdemeanor, and Ms. Q. has no felony on her record.

COMPUTER TAMPERING and USE of TELEPHONE to HARASS NOT CHARGED – State v. Mr. R (DMC No. 7962) (Tempe Police Department DR08-025032): Mr. R had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was upset. He went on to her “Myspace” webpage and changed her password. He also posted several inappropriate pictures of her in various states of undress. He then went and text her cell phone threatening to send even more pictures to her relatives.

We contacted the detective after Mr. R’s arrest for Computer Tampering per ARS13-2316(A) (S) and Telephone Harassment per ARS 13-2916 (A) and opened up a dialogue. We provided the Detective with a new password so his girlfriend could change the Myspace page. In addition, we agreed to forfeit his cell phone. The detective contacted his ex-girlfriend, and she agreed that was significant punishment. No charges were brought against Mr. R.

NOT CHARGED | COMPUTER TAMPERING NOT CHARGED – State v. Ms. D. (DMC No. 10288) (DPS/Springerville Police Department Investigated): Ms. D. was an employee of the Springerville City Government. She made allegations against her supervisor regarding sexual harassment, and she was asked to resign. She refused, was placed on Administrative Leave and then ultimately terminated. When she went into pick up her personal effects, she cleaned up her computer files on her desk laptop to remove personal file information. She was accused of computer tampering by the Town supervisors. We were able to show DPS that she had not engaged in any computer tampering, and no charges were brought against Ms. D. They returned all computers which they had seized.

REDUCED | COMPUTER TAMPERING/UNLAWFUL USE of an ACCESS DEVICE and ATTEMPTED THEFT REDUCED to MISDEMEANOR ATTEMPT with ZERO DAYS JAIL/SENTENCE LATER MODIFIED to REDUCE COMMUNITY SERVICE HOURS FROM 360 to 50 – State v. Mr. B. (DMC No. 4839) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2004-014814): Mr. B. was set up by a sting operation regarding people who were accessing Direct TV with unauthorized satellite cards. He went to the Detective and purchased several cards and told the Detective he had been doing this for four years. He was securing hundreds of dollars of services every month. We were able to have all charges reduced down to a simple misdemeanor with zero days in jail and 360 community service hours. There is no felony on Mr. B.’s record. Later, we petitioned the court to reduce the 360 community service hours down to a mere 50 hours. We were successful.

REDUCED | COMPUTER TAMPERING/ATTEMPTED THEFT REDUCED to POSSESSION of ACCESS DEVICE class 6 open/MISDEMEANOR with PROBATION and ZERO DAYS JAIL – State v. Mr. S.  (DMC No. 4814) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2004-014804): Mr. S. had made contact with an undercover Detective in order to purchase a cable access card that would allow him to get free cable.  This allowed him to secure hundreds of dollars worth of programming and NFL games on a monthly basis.  When he was finally arrested by the Detectives, he was taken into custody and had to post bond.  He then contacted us and we were able to negotiate with the Prosecutor to get the case reduced down to a class 6 open with probation and zero day’s jail.  Upon the completion of probation, the case was designated a misdemeanor, and Mr. S. has no felony conviction on his record.

 

NOT CHARGED | FEDERAL FRAUD/MAIL SCHEMES and WIRE FRAUD/COMPUTER TAMPERING NOT CHARGED – State v. Mr. S. (DMC No. 10740) (U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office Investigated): Mr. S. was accused of hacking into a International shoe manufacturing website and ordering free shoes and apparel under various pro athletes names.  He allegedly had secured over $100,000 worth of items when the postal inspector began investigating.  We were able to work out a “cooperation deal” with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and no charges were ever brought against Mr. S.

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