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Former Catholic Priest Charged With Sexual Assault Of Four Children

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Los Angeles Courtroom-2

A former Catholic priest has been charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting four boys at two different parishes, including one in Palmdale, dating back more than two decades.

Christopher John Cunningham, 58, is facing 12 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14. Arraignment will be scheduled for a later date, according to Greg Risling, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

“The victims were innocent children who have spent most of their lives with the trauma caused by the abuse alleged in this case,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “My office is committed to holding accountable anyone who abuses and takes advantage of our children, especially when they hold a position of trust.”

The case was filed for a warrant on April 2, according to investigators.

While working as an associate pastor at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale, the defendant is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy on two occasions between November 1995 and September 1997. Cunningham also allegedly sexually assaulted a boy at the victim’s home sometime between June 1996 and June 1998, prosecutors said.

Cunningham also worked at Saint Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. While there, he is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old on two occasions between July 1998 and January 2001. During that same time frame, the defendant allegedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy on multiple occasions, according to the D.A’s Office.

The case remains under investigation by the Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. If anyone has additional information or was a victim, call the bureau at (562) 946-8531.

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Santa Clarita City Council To Support Sentencing Enhancements For Murder Of Michelle Dorsey

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Dorsey Family Santa Clarita Murder

The Santa Clarita Clarita City Council is set to draft a letter supporting sentencing enhancements for the murder of Michelle Dorsey. 

A five-signature letter is expected to be sent to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, requesting support in urging the District Attorney’s Office to file sentence enhancements in the murder of Michelle Dorsey to the “full extent allowable under state law,” according to the agenda for the May 11 meeting.

Michelle Dorsey’s estranged husband, James Mathew Dorsey, is accused of fatally stabbing the 39-year-old mother of three in her Saugus home. 

The District Attorney’s Office filed five counts against the accused murderer but did not file any sentencing enhancements, according to the City report. 

“By failing to file any sentencing enhancements, law enforcement and criminal justice officials have stated that Ms. Dorsey’s accused murderer potentially faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison,” the agenda reads. 

If sentence enhancements were applied, consistent with state law and findings related to the murder of Michelle Dorsey, including special circumstances of lying in wait and murder committed in the attempt to kidnap, the potential maximum sentence for the accused murderer could be a life sentence without the possibility of parole, according to the report. 

As part of the series of special directives, unilaterally adopted in December 2020, District Attorney George Gascon issued Special Directive 20-08, restricting prosecutors from filing a range of sentence enhancements. 

Specifically, Special Directive 20-08 restricts the filing of any prior-strike enhancements, including the Three Strikes Law; gang-related enhancements; violations of bail; and Special Circumstances allegations resulting in a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The City Council adopted a resolution of a vote of no confidence in District Attorney Gascon on March 9, citing significant concerns and opposition to some of the special directives adopted in December 2020, including Special Directive 20-08.

A GoFundMe has been created to support the Dorsey boys, ages 13, 11 and 9.

“Please help the Dorsey/Smith/Jordan family during this difficult time,” wrote Dayna Reed. “All donations will go to the boys and any extra costs the family will be accruing at this time.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity.  Please keep their families in your prayers.”

To donate to the fundraiser, visit here.

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$15 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme Results In 12 Arrests

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Crime LAPD Slider

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced the indictment and arrest of 12 individuals on 133 felony counts for allegedly operating a sophisticated mortgage fraud and green loan scheme throughout Southern California. 

The scheme resulted in a loss of approximately $15 million over several years. A dozen suspects were charged with conspiracy, mortgage fraud, grand theft, identity theft, forgery, filing a false or forged document, money laundering, as well as a special allegation for aggravated white-collar crime, according to the LAPD.

A Los Angeles County grand jury indicted Tamara Dadyan, Richard Ayvazyan, Artur Ayvazyan, Grigor Tatoian, Andranik Petrosyan, Artashes Martirosyan, Arshak Bartoumian, Lilit Malyan, Lubia Carrillo, Rosa Zarate, Estephanie Reynoso and Vanessa Bell, according to investigators. 

11 out of the 12 defendants were arrested on April 29 and pleaded not guilty at their arraignments on May 5.

The arrests were the result of a multi-year investigation led by the Los Angeles Police Department, assisted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG). The Fraud and Special Prosecutions Unit of the California Department of Justices prosecuted this case.

Between 2014 and 2020, defendants collectively ran a scheme that used stolen identities to obtain mortgage and green loans. The identities belonged to real persons, some of whom were in state prison, had developmental disabilities or were deceased. 

The defendants allegedly seized control of these identities and commonly constructed synthetic identities with real identities. In constructing the synthetic identities, defendants created email accounts, shell companies, and bank accounts. 

They altered tax documents, payroll statements, and bank statements to reflect the identities as high-net-worth individuals. The suspects also forged the signatures, names, and personal information of the identities on loan applications, financial documents and county recorder documents. 

Using this fake construction, the defendants applied for millions of dollars in loans from unsuspecting lenders of mortgage and green loans, which were subsequently wired to bank accounts within the defendants’ control.

As a part of their operation, the suspects exploited Ygrene Energy Fund and Renew Funding. These companies provided funding to licensed contractors for energy-efficient home improvements for homeowners. 

The defendants also used the identities to obtain mortgage loans from conventional banks and hard money lenders. For years, they successfully applied for loans, culminating in a $15 million loss, according to police.

Additional victims or anyone with information is asked to please contact Detective Lyle Barnes, Commercial Crimes Division, at (213) 486-6979. During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-527-3247. 

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or go directly here.

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Carjacking With Suspects Impersonating Police Officers Under Investigation

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Burbank Police Crime

An investigation is underway following an early morning carjacking by suspects impersonating police officers.

On Saturday at about 1:48 a.m., the Burbank Police Department (BPD) responded to the 3000 block of North Naomi Street after receiving a “suspicious circumstances” call, according to Sgt. Emil Brimway, spokesperson for the BPD.

Officers arrived on the scene and encountered two victims who were handcuffed, according to Brimway. 

“During their investigation, officers learned the victims had been carjacked at gunpoint by two suspects impersonating police officers,” the spokesperson said. 

The suspects were wearing shirts with the word “POLICE” written on the front, according to investigators.

The two suspects were described as Hispanic males, with shaved heads. The suspect vehicle

was described as a gray sedan, according to Brimway,

The investigation into this incident continues. No additional details are available as of Monday afternoon.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Burbank Police Department Investigations Division at (818) 238-3210.

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