[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 16
1853 - Sarah Gifford, community leader and wife of Newhall's first railroad station agent, born in England [story]

Alleged conspirator awaits federal court trial in connection with bogus debt collection agency
| Monday, Nov 28, 2011

One Santa Clarita man was sentenced Monday and a second local man awaits trial on fraud and money laundering charges related to a bogus debt collection agency they ran out of Bakersfield,  Monrovia and Anaheim.

Stefan Lemar Miller, 32, pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to six years and nine months in federal prison. A co-conspirator, Darrian Jeffrey Summers, 41, of Taft, was sentenced to eight years. Paul Anthony Vasquez, 27, faces trial in February.

Federal prosecutors list Miller and Vasquez as residents of Santa Clarita – although there is some indication Miller may have moved from Santa Clarita to Sacramento shortly before his arrest.

The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a 23 count indictment Dec. 16 against Miller, Vasquez and Summers, charging them with wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy for their roles in a scheme to bilk more than $2.7 million from clients of their companies – Maxwell, Turner & Associates in Bakersfield; Stanley, Morgan & Associates Inc. in Monrovia; and related entities.

An affidavit sworn out Dec. 1, 2010, by IRS investigator Kulbir S. Mand alleges the scheme began in February 2009 when Miller and Vasquez set up a debt collection agency and “engaged in numerous currency transactions in an attempt to conceal and-or disguise the ownership of the money.”

It says Miller was listed as president and CEO of Maxwell, Turner & Associates. “However, in the course of this investigation it became apparent Vasquez is the true owner/operator behind MTA, not Miller. Vasquez and Miller are friends from childhood.”

It says MTA’s website listed a Fresno address but that the “true” business address was in Bakersfield, where the company employed 15 to 20 people “who would cold-call potential new clients.”

“MTA operated a sophisticated website that claimed to collect debt and offer a wide range of services,” the affidavit says, under the names of Nationwide Legal Support, Free Skiptracing on All Accounts, and Timely Remittances.

“However, these claims of debt collection and services are a ploy to trick clients into providing money to MTA without any true resolution of debt by MTA,” it says.

MTA didn’t request money up front from clients, but “after the client signed the contract, (the defendants) would provide false information to their clients about legal proceedings and the whereabouts of the debtor and the ability to collect the funds. This was a ploy used by MTA to get their clients to send them money in hopes of a larger return.”

“In fact when money was collected from the debtor, MTA would not send the money to their clients. MTA would continue to request additional payments from their clients that had already made payments to MTA. This would continue until MTA exhausted all of their ability to get money from their clients. Once the client stopped sending money to MTA, they would stop communication with their clients.”

The affidavit alleges that “hundreds of clients” were duped.

Sixty-five complaints had been filed with the Kern County District Attorney John Mitchell and another 33 were pending at the time the affidavit was filed. Included with the complaints were copies of mail and FAX correspondence from MTA to clients; thus the wire and mail fraud charges.

The money laundering charges stem from a review of the principals’ bank accounts. MTA made $2.816 million in bank deposits from February 2009 to May 2010, of which $2.754 million was tied back to client victims.

During that time, Miller’s personal bank account showed $692,000 in checks he received from MTA. From May 2009 to May 2010, Miller withdrew a total of $1.713 million in cash from both his own account and from MTA’s account.

“These cash withdrawals represent money laundering violations,” the affidavit states.

However, according to the affidavit, “these transactions were conducted by Miller on behalf of Vasquez, who was the true conductor of the cash withdrawals.”

Miller and company shut down MTA in May 2010 and reopened as Daniel, Meyers & Associates Inc. in Monrovia, and as as Stanley, Morgan & Associates Inc. in Anaheim.

Vasquez allegedly used a number of aliases including Jonathan Turner, Gary Marshall, Gregory Marshall, Ian Maxwell and Steven Hammer. A confidential witness who dropped dime on the defendants told Bakersfield police officers that Vasquez’s mother-in-law was also in on the scheme.

Another confidential witness said she was hired as a telemarketer, and Vasquez would “often entice the employees with cash bonuses to anyone who could bring in the biggest check for the day,” according to the affidavit. She said Vasquez made all MTA employees use aliases “to conceal their true identities.” She described Vasquez as “unpredictable and violent.”

A third confidential witness said Vasquez lived near Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield with a woman and three children, but as of December 2010, the FBI had issued a warrant for his arrest in Los Angeles County. The third witness said Vasquez’s in-laws lived on Larkspur Street in Sylmar.

The Bakersfield police officers caught up with the other defendant, Summers, at Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail, where he was being held on a parole violation for narcotics possession. He’d been hiding out in Los Angeles County until his arrest on April 12, 2010.

Summers told the Bakersfield police offers Vasquez would shoot him if he squealed.

Assistant United States Attorneys Mark J. McKeon and Stanley A. Boone are prosecuting the case.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

No Comments

    Leave a Comment

    SCV NewsBreak
    Monday, Oct 16, 2017
    Next Step: Water Agency Officials to Share Merger Details
    Leaders from the CLWA and NCWC will meet in October, November and December to discuss their merger, which creates the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency as of Jan. 1.
    Monday, Oct 16, 2017
    Oct. 28: Route 66 Hosts Benefit for Las Vegas Shooting Victims
    Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country will host a fundraiser for local victims of the October 1 Las Vegas shootings on Saturday, October 28, from noon to 4 p.m.
    Monday, Oct 16, 2017
    Brown Vetoes Bill Requiring Candidates Release Tax Returns
    Gov. Brown has vetoed a President Donald Trump-inspired proposal that would have required presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the statewide ballot.
    Keep Up With Our Facebook

    Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
    The Newhall School District's next Regular Board Meeting is Tuesday, October 17 at 6:15 p.m., and consideration of Newhall Family Theater approvals are on the agenda.
    Oct. 17: Newhall School District Considers Newhall Family Theater OK
    Master’s and Westmont College needed more than 90 minutes again Saturday to settle a Golden State Athletic Conference showdown in Santa Barbara.
    Master’s Men Soccer Players Fall to Westmont in OT
    Leaders from the CLWA and NCWC will meet in October, November and December to discuss their merger, which creates the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency as of Jan. 1.
    Next Step: Water Agency Officials to Share Merger Details
    Master’s women soccer players and coaches alike were adamant after Saturday’s top-10 matchup that Westmont’s 5-2 win wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the score suggests.
    Westmont Tops Master’s Women’s Soccer 5-2
    Although Friday the 13th is a day generally associated with bad luck, CalArts turned the superstition on its ear as the community celebrated the inauguration of its fourth president, Ravi S. Rajan.
    CalArts Inaugurates Ravi S. Rajan as Fourth President
    CalArts School of Theater faculty Janie Geiser brings her collage film program "Double Vision" to REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 p.m.
    Oct 16: ‘Double Vision’: Recent Films by Janie Geiser at REDCAT
    The promising signs the Mustangs showed in their Missouri opener paid off in the evening Friday when Master’s women’s volleyball picked up its first road win of the season.
    Master’s Rallies on the Road, Nets Season’s First Win
    College of the Canyons' women's volleyball team opened Western State Conference play in style, as the Cougars swept visiting West L.A. College in straight sets.
    No. 11 Canyons Sweeps West L.A. at the Cougar Cage
    Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country will host a fundraiser for local victims of the October 1 Las Vegas shootings on Saturday, October 28, from noon to 4 p.m.
    Oct. 28: Route 66 Hosts Benefit for Las Vegas Shooting Victims
    A roundup of the Santa Clarita arts-related events for Oct. 16-20, 2017.
    Oct. 16-20: Santa Clarita Arts Upcoming Events
    The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce's October mixer is set for Wednesday, October 18 at Atria Senior Living in Newhall starting at 5:30 p.m.
    Oct. 18: SCV Chamber October Mixer at Atria
    The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley will host a series of "Great Futures" tours for local residents in an effort to get the word out about the club's programs and services.
    SCV Boys & Girls Club Hosts ‘Great Futures’ Tours
    A special meeting of the Santa Clarita City Council, the Planning Commission, the Parks, Recreation and Communnity Services Commission, the Arts Commission, and the Open Space Preservation District Financial Accountability and Audit Panel is set for Tuesday, October 17 at City Hall.
    Oct. 17: Harassment, Abusive Conduct Prevention Training for City Officials
    The Hart Indians outscored the Canyon Cowboys 35-18 at Harry Welch Stadium Friday, October 13, in the teams' 50th matchup, and Kevin Karzin, president of the SCV Photographers Association, contributed photos from the game.
    Photo Gallery: Hart Indians Beat Canyon Cowboys 35-18
    Gov. Brown has vetoed a President Donald Trump-inspired proposal that would have required presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the statewide ballot.
    Brown Vetoes Bill Requiring Candidates Release Tax Returns
    Gov. Jerry Brown signed a series of bills on Sunday calling for criminal justice reforms, including reduction of penalties for some gun and drug crimes and changes to the Megan's Law sex offender registry.
    Brown Signs Bills for Criminal Justice Reforms
    1853 - Sarah Gifford, community leader and wife of Newhall's first railroad station agent, born in England [story]
    With the stroke of his pen Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District and replaced them with a new water agency for the Santa Clarita Valley.
    Brown Signs Wilk Bill Merging SCV Water Agencies
    1939 - Second, larger OLPH Catholic Church dedicated on site of first (10th & Walnut, Newhall) [story]
    Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises celebrated the New York premiere of “Born to Dance,” the latest offering from its first-of-its-kind partnership with award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz and famed director/creator Daniel C. Levine.
    Princess Cruises Celebrates NY Premiere of ‘Born to Dance’ With Schwartz, Levine
    1980 - Phillies beat Royals in Game 1 of World Series; Hart grad Bob Walk is winning pitcher [story]
    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored 17 student winners from colleges and universities around the world at the 44th Student Academy Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills Thursday night.
    Medalists Revealed at 2017 Student Academy Awards
    The Los Angeles Dodgers will play host to the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the 2017 NLCS at Dodger Stadium on Saturday starting at 5:08 p.m.
    National League Championships Open at Dodger Stadium Saturday
    Santa Clarita ranks No. 5 among Los Angeles County's 88 cities in the assessed value of all taxable real property and business personal property, according to the 2017 Annual Report released by County Assessor Jeffrey Prang today.
    Santa Clarita No. 5 Highest Valued City in LA County
    The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and a coalition of other law enforcement agencies and community organizations will host the 9th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, October 16 from 8:25 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
    Oct. 16: Cyber Crime Symposium for Educators, Parents, Students
    Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, locals found out what it is like to be a school principal. Plus, there are some great events to head out to this weekend. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
    SCV NewsBreak for Friday, October 13, 2017
    Starting Monday night, Oct. 16, the California Department of Transportation will paint new temporary lanes on a section of Interstate 5 aka the Golden State Freeway in and near the city of Santa Clarita.
    New Temporary Lanes Coming Monday on Interstate 5 in SCV
    The William S. Hart Union High School District is looking for someone to become a personnel commissioner to serve a three-year term beginning December 1, 2017.
    Hart District Seeks Personnel Commissioner for Classified Employees
    The College of the Canyons baseball program and Playa Vista Orioles youth baseball organization will host a free instructional clinic for players ages 11-14 at COC's Cougar Field in Valencia on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Oct. 21: COC Baseball, Playa Vista Orioles Youth Classic
    An alumna of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, Cinthya Medrano, is the first recipient of a Duane R. Harte Memorial Scholarship.
    Cinthya Medrano Earns First Duane R. Harte Memorial Scholarship
    The non-profit Santa Clarita Coalition has created a Facebook page to aid the Evans family after the mother of six children died in a car crash on Golden Valley Road.
    Facebook Page Created to Aid Evans Family
    The Golden State Gateway Coalition, a non-profit transportation education and advocacy organization based in Santa Clarita, has published the fall 2017 edition of its newsletter, "Interchange."
    Golden State Gateway Coalition Issues Fall 2017 Newsletter
    The Castaic Lake Water Agency's Budget and Rates Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m.
    Oct. 17: CLWA Budget and Rates Committee Meeting
    A "Tip-a-Cop" fundraiser for the Special Olympics Santa Clarita Valley is set for the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews restaurant in Valencia on Thursday, October 19, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Oct. 19: Tip-a-Cop at Red Robin for Special Olympics SCV
    California Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide hepatitis A outbreak on Friday, and the L.A. County Department of Public Health is on the case.
    Governor Brown Declares Statewide Hepatitis A Outbreak
    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will address issues related to homelessness and the Hepatitis A outbreak among other agenda items in their meeting Tuesday, October 17 starting at 9 a.m.
    Oct. 17: Homelessness, Hepatitis A on Supes’ Meeting Agenda