Embezzling Orange County Bank Tellers Face Federal Judge

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Two Irvine bank tellers embezzled more than $112,000 in 2013 and faced potential prison trips, but walked out of Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse April 7 visibly relieved with comparative wrist slaps.

Nether U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, a federal prosecutor nor defense lawyers thought prison would be the appropriate punishment for first-time offenders Duy Nguyen and Tuan Luu, both born in 1987.

Carter ordered Nguyen to repay at least $450 a month for the $24,000 he embezzled from United Central Bank, undergo four months of home detention and then spend five years on supervised probation.

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Ex-California Cop Turned Bank Robber Has A Request From Federal Prison

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Bank surveillance photo
Cantu in action
Vincent Edward Cantu--a former California police officer turned serial, armed bank robber--is now living in federal prison, but he is making a demand: He wants the FBI to return $3,000 agents confiscated from one of his jacket's during a pre-conviction search of his Whittier residence.

It's an unusually bold move given that Cantu has only paid $100 in restitution on the more than $37,000 he stole during in a three-year crime spree.

The onetime Pasadena Police Department cop recently told U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney that the confiscated funds were part of a loan from his mother-in-law prior to his arrest and that his family is enduring severe financial hardships with him incarcerated in a Fort Worth, Texas prison until the end of May 2020.

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Charles Keating Jr. Dies: 5 Weekly Pokes at the Disgraced Lincoln Savings Operator

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Charles Keating Jr., who parlayed running Irvine-based Lincoln Savings & Loan into a starring role as poster boy of the savings and loan crisis of the late-1980s, has died, his family announced. He was 90. Keating died late Monday at a Phoenix hospital; the cause of death was not released.

Keating was famously played by James Cromwell in the 1996 Milos Foreman film The People vs. Larry Flynt. The moral crusader accused the titular Hustler publisher of ''the destruction of the soul of our country'' years before Keating crushed the souls of elderly Orange County savers and investors who lost everything.

Between pop culture and hard news you'll find the gooey nougat center occupied by OC Weekly, which allowed Mr. Keating to infiltrate our content over the years. Enjoy five examples after the jump . . .

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Secret Service Busts Alleged Orange County Counterfeiters Targeting . . . Target

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OC Target cashier: It "felt funny"
If the U.S. Secret Service is right, a January plot devised in a Costa Mesa Motel 6 to pass counterfeit $100 bills in Orange County wasn't a smart one.

Marcus Antonio Redick wanted to dupe a Huntington Beach Target store out of more than $600 worth of goods by placing two genuine $100 around four fakes sheets bearing Benjamin Franklin, according to a Secret Service report.

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SoCal White Collar Crook Wins Federal Prison Trip

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Hunter: Served his OC church and charity but had a dark side
From a distance, Orange County's Daniel Clyde Hunter III seemed to be a superbly decent person.

Hunter's history includes: successful businessman, church bishop, sports enthusiast, college student body president, loving older brother of nine siblings, contributor to the Southern California Special Olympics as well as beloved husband and father of six good kids.

But, sadly, despite those impressive facts, Hunter was also a greedy criminal, who concocted and then executed a multi-year plot to steal millions of dollars from innocent investors while guaranteeing 30 percent annual returns for his proposed Clearwater Waterpark Development.

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Polar Vortex Back East Helps Home Listers in Orange County: Web-Search Research

Categories: Cha-Ching!

Lovin' it in OC
It used to be the Rose Parade showed those rubes freezing in the Midwest and back east what a warm-weather paradise we Southern Californians live in.

But now there's research that suggests as the mercury drops in other parts of the country, online searches for homes for sale increase in Orange County.

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Independent Audit Proves Massive Larry Agran Corruption At The Orange County Great Park

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Illustration by Bill Hunt
Since the late 1970s and until about a decade ago, Larry Agran served as the most beloved liberal politician in the heart of California's Ronald Reagan-style conservatism, Orange County. Democratic Party activists cherished his words and followed him around as loyal disciples. Lefty academics hailed him as a refreshing political reformer dedicated to good, honest government.

But 2004 ended up being a watershed year for Agran, who'd fought Bill Clinton for the 1992 Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States. Having become the undisputed boss of a political machine that controlled the City of Irvine, his deep character flaws revealed themselves to his close political and personal allies: journalist Will Swaim, then my editor here at the Weekly, UC Irvine professor and onetime an Agran-appointed city planning commission chairman Mark Petracca and defense lawyer Chris Mears.

Swaim allowed me to investigate and uncover numerous, corrupt Agran moves involving shenanigans with public funds and backroom, sweetheart deals for his pals.

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FBI-Arrested Little Saigon Cop Accused of Aiding Loan Shark Hires Celebrity Lawyer

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FBI: Little Saigon cop was muscle in loan-shark operation
The Westminster Police Department officer arrested by the FBI in August with a Little Saigon businessman for allegedly running a loan-sharking operation has dumped his Newport Beach defense lawyer for a Hollywood celebrity attorney who once worked as a federal prosecutor.

According to court records, Anthony Duong Donner booted court-appointed John W. Barton to retain Donald Etra, who has represented rapper Snoop Dogg, singer Rihanna (against slugger Chris Brown) and actress Fran Drescher.

In two separate criminal actions (drug and weapon counts) against Snoop Dogg in Orange County, Etra--who is a President George W. Bush appointee to the board of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.--claims he won reductions in charges.

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Federal Judge: Orange County Satellite Pirates Owe Dish Network $5.3 Million

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Dish Network wins another piracy case
A federal judge is ordering Orange County stores and two corporate officials to pay nearly $5.3 million to Dish Network for selling more than 25,000 devices that break the satellite broadcaster's encryption codes.

Inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter sided with Dish Network lawyers, who accused defendants Johnny Tran, New Era Electronics Corp., Satellite Dish Expert, Inc., Swyft Products LLC, Rene Valdez and FTA Republic of selling decryption devices such as Sonicview, iHub, SV Lan and WizHub.

Federal law allows victims of satellite piracy to recover as much as $2,500 per act of theft, but Dish Network lawyers said they would agree to the statutory minimum of $200 per violation, a move that resulted in Carter determining the defendants owe approximately $5.3 million.

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Mexican Boat Captain Gets Punished For Human Smuggling Into San Clemente

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Come aboard. We're expecting you!
It's safe to say that the cabin cruiser driven by Jesus Quinones-Chavez in September 2012 was not The Love Boat.

Loaded with eight other Mexicans who boarded the boat in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California after agreeing to pay between $7,000 and $12,500 each, Quinones-Chavez aimed to illegally smuggle the foreign nationals into Newport Beach.

But the occupants--some of whom are felons--became stranded at sea when the boat ran out of fuel as well as food and water.

Quinones-Chavez threatened to shoot one person who suggested they contact the U.S. Coast Guard to be rescued.

"Whomever calls the police, I will fill them with bullets," he reportedly said.

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