FBI corruption probe goes beyond L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar to include other City Hall figuresA search warrant says federal agents are seeking evidence related to an investigation into an array of possible crimes at Los Angeles City Hall, including bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering. No charges have been filed.
An L.A. County deputy faked evidence. Here's how his misconduct was kept secret in court for years
Criminal Liability for Preparing False Proofs of ServiceJune 11, 2015 PSIAdmin Uncategorized
Criminal Liability for Preparing False Proofs of ServiceBy Tony Klein
Revised on 6/11/15
In 2007, I wrote an article relating to a number of incidents involving the preparation and filing of a proper proof of service, entitled “What is a Proper Proof of Service?” That article can be found here: https://psinstitute.com/whatisaproperproofofservice/
Since then, this issue has continued to vex process servers, and has led to a number of anecdotal incidents that have resulted in criminal prosecutions.
In 2008 a process server was charged and in Siskiyou County, California for falsifying proofs of service. He was charged with Identify Theft, Forgery, False Personation, Preparing False Evidence, and Uttering (Filing) a False/Forged Instrument. The process server pleaded nolo contende, and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He did so under house arrest, and filed proof of completion. See Docket Sheet and Complaint
In another case, a Boston process serving agency, Stokes & Levin, was sued by a witness who was never served with a subpoena. The process server who purportedly served the witness had stopped working for the agency several months earlier, and his signature had been placed on the proof of service with a rubber stamp.
The suit was brought after the witness, a former president of a Bermuda bank, failed to attend an administrative hearing. News of his failure to honor the subpoena resulted in damage to his reputation, and cost him two positions on the board of directors of two companies. The process serving agency defaulted in the civil suit, and the judgment was rendered in the amount of $3.3 million. Subsequently, the Massachusetts Attorney General petitioned the court to prohibit Stokes & Levin from acting as a process server, advertising legal process services, or accepting money for serving legal papers, and forming another legal process serving business or operate under another name. The court granted the Petition and entered an Order accordingly.
In another astounding case, in April, 2009, American Legal Process (ALP) of Lynbrook, New York was accused by the New York Attorney General of falsifying thousands of affidavits of service, describing it as a “massive fraud scheme.” The AG has also petitioned the court to issue show cause orders to the 38 lawyers and law firms who retained APL, alleging that they knew, or should have known, that the services were invalid. OSC and Petition
The New York court has vacated 100,000 default judgments for cases served by ALP, and the defendants in those cases are beginning to file their own lawsuits for the damages they have incurred.
The following is a short overview of what a proof of service is, and what it represents to the court. Additionally, I will describe the crimes that occur when a proof of service is improperly prepared, signed, and filed.
Once a summons is served, a proof of service is signed by the process server attesting to the date, time, and manner of service. Some states allow for that declaration to be made under penalty of perjury, while others require the process server to swear to the facts before a Notary Public. The Notary Public then signs a jurat, a short statement that the person swore to the truthfulness of the statement and, in most cases, verifying the process server’s identity. That notarial act is memorialized in a notary journal of the notary who is a commissioned public official.
A “return” of service is not necessarily equated with “proof of service”, but contemplates that the return will be made either to the court or a judge.
Upon filing, the court treats the proof of service as evidence. It is not conclusive evidence that service was made, but rather “prima facie evidence” of the facts stated therein. Prima facie is a Latin term meaning “at first sight; on the face of it; so far as can be judged from the first disclosure; a fact presumed to be true; etc.” (Black’s Law Dictionary)
California provides for an enhanced status of a proof of service signed by a California Registered Process. California Evidence Code § 647 gives a proof of service signed by a Registered Process “rebuttable presumption status”, statutorily shifting the burden of proof to a defendant to prove that he or she was not served.
The appellate court recently address this issue in Palm Property Investments, LLC v. Yadegar (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1419.
So what crimes are being committed when a proof of service is falsified or signed on behalf of another?
Using the Siskiyou County case as an example will help illustrate these crimes charged. Although the common law and statutory crimes described may be referred to by another name in other jurisdictions, it can provide some insight on how a criminal prosecutor might view these acts.
The facts stated in the felony complaint are as follows: The defendant, a San Jose process server, forged the signature of another process server who had apparently served one defendant in a case pending in Siskiyou County, 300 miles away. That proof of service was then filed with the Siskiyou County Superior Court.
The defendant committed Forgery, a violation of California Penal Code (PC) 470(d), by his willfully and unlawfully making, altering, forging, counterfeiting, and signing the name of another, namely the process server, and did utter, publish, pass, and attempt to pass as true and genuine the document, knowing that the document was false.
The defendant committed False Personation and violated PC § 539(2) when he unlawfully and falsely personated the process server in a private and official capacity and in such assumed the character and “verified, published, acknowledged and proved in the name” of the process server, a written instrument, with the intent that the same be recorded, delivered and used as true a proof of service that was to be filed.
The defendant committed Identity Theft and violated PC § 530.5 willfully and unlawfully obtained the personal identifying information of the process server and used it for unlawful purpose, by using the information on a proof of service.
The defendant Prepared False Documentary Evidence, a violation of PC § 134 by forging the signature of the process server, under penalty of perjury, with the intent to produce it, and to allow it to be produced for a fraudulent and deceitful purposes, as genuine and true, and allowing it to be filed with the court.
The defendant was charged with Filing a False or Forged Instrument with the court under California PC § 115(c) because he willfully, unlawfully, and knowingly procured and offered a false and forged instrument, to wit, a proof of service of summons, and filed, or caused to be filed, said document with the court.
Perjury is defined as the willful assertion as a matter of fact, opinion, belief, or knowledge of a material issue, known to be wrong, in a court or by affidavit. This crime was not charged in this case, so one could assume that the facts in the forged document were likely accurate. It is noteworthy that the prosecution went forward even though the facts in the proof of service were accurate.
California proofs of service are made under penalty of perjury. When a notarized affidavit is signed, as they were in the recent New York case, the notarized affidavit provides another layer of protection that the document is authentic. Hypothetically, if this one proof of service was signed as a notarized affidavit, and the Notary Public knew that it was not the person who actually signed it, the false notarization would implicate the notary public as well. A false statement made by the affiant, sworn to before a Notary Public as a public official, is a perjury.
Unfortunately, the process server and the process serving agency, and perhaps a notary public may be involved in the same set of crimes, especially when the company simply operates a business that routinely sign proofs of behalf of their process servers, and the process servers acquiesce to the practice. If that occurs, a criminal conspiracy could be charged against all of them, and could result in accomplice liability. This is the exception, but is not unheard of.
LAPD officer faces 3 counts of murder for alleged drunken driving crash on 605 Freeway that killed Riverside family
A Los Angeles police officer was charged with murder, drunken driving and other charges in connection with a fiery wreck on the 605 Freeway last September near Whittier that killed a Riverside family of three, authorities announced Friday.
The car carrying Mario Davila, 60, Maribel Davila, 52, and their 19-year-old son, Oscar Davila, became engulfed in flames following the crash. They could not escape the vehicle, and died at the scene.
The officer, Edgar Verduzco, 27, of Santa Ana, was injured in the three-car crash along with Berly Alvarado, 32, of Wilmington who was driving the other car he hit. The CHP said Alvarado’s 1-year-old son was not injured.
Verduzco, who was arrested in Long Beach on Friday, appeared in a Los Angeles court later in the day to be arraigned on three counts of murder, three counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of driving under the influence causing injury and one count of driving with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content causing injury.
But the arraignment was continued to May 16, according to Greg Risling, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He said Verduzco faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of all the charges.Expla
Explaining why Verduzco was charged with murder instead of lesser charges, Risling said that Verduzco’s training and experiences as an officer made him aware of the dangers of reckless driving and driving under the influence.
The case stems from the Sept. 26, 2017 crash on the southbound 605 Freeway, south of Saragosa Street, in the unincorporated community of West Whittier.
L.A. sheriff's narcotics detective accused of involvement in drug-trafficking operation can't be fired, court says
April 10, 2018 06:24 PM
Updated 8 hours 17 minutes ago
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told the City Council on Tuesday that "our community is crying out for change" following the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Meadowview last month at the hands of two of his officers.
The meeting began with Stephon Clark’s brother helping to lead a packed City Council Chambers in prayer. There were tense moments – one protester was removed from the City Council Chambers by police – but the hearing was peaceful.
Hahn vowed that his department would make the policy changes necessary to ensure “tragic situations like what happened March 18 don’t happen again.”
Clark was shot March 18 by officers pursuing a man suspected of breaking car windows. Officers said they thought Clark had a gun when they fired 20 shots, but Clark was found with only his cellphone. He was killed in a backyard later determined to be his grandparents' house.
Hahn, who grew up in Oak Park and is the city’s first black police chief, spoke quietly with Clark’s brother, Stevante, before the meeting began. Clark placed his arm around Hahn’s shoulder, then invited him to join a small group of pastors at the front of the room for a prayer. As the pastors spoke, Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the members of the City Council held hands and bowed their heads.
Nearly two hours into the hearing, Stevante Clark walked into the chambers and sat in a chair next to a podium where Hahn was addressing the City Council. He put his feet up on a desk, but then moved to a seat in the audience. Addressing the council a few minutes later, Clark urged the media to stop showing police video footage of his brother being shot and killed.
Two weeks ago, Stevante Clark leaped onto the council dais and onto the lectern. He told Steinberg several times to shut up as the mayor shouted his name to get his attention, and the meeting soo
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