Archive for the ‘CA Attorney General & DOJ’ Category

49 state attorneys general file lawsuit against telecom company over billions of illegal robocalls

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023

An estimated 577 million robocalls sent to California phone numbers on National Do Not Call Registry 

Including Social Security, Medicare and employment scams

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 49 attorneys general, announced a lawsuit against Arizona-based Avid Telecom for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of unlawful robocalls in California and around the country. Those robocalls included Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, and employment scams; two robocall examples can be found here and here. Today’s complaint is the result of efforts by the nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, which Attorney General Bonta helped launch last year and is charged with taking legal action against telecommunications companies that perpetuate robocall traffic.

“As the People’s Attorney, I’ve been laser focused on protecting consumers since taking office, and stopping unwanted robocalls is an important bipartisan and nationwide effort,” said Attorney General Bonta. “In addition to being a daily annoyance, robocalls can and do cause real financial damage. I’m taking Avid Telecom to court for delivering not hundreds, or thousands, or millions of robocalls — but billions of robocalls. Our coalition alleges that Avid Telecom has violated federal and state laws, and we are confident that we will prevail.” 

From December 2018 to January 2023, Avid Telecom sent or attempted to transmit over 24.5 billion calls to consumers. More than 90% of those calls lasted under 15 seconds, strongly indicating that they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid Telecom sent or transmitted over 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, an estimated 577,879,156 of those calls were to telephone numbers in California. Registering for the National Do Not Call Registry allows consumers to legally opt out from receiving telemarketing calls, but robocallers regularly fail to respect such legal prohibitions.

In the multistate coalition’s complaint, among other misconduct, Attorney General Bonta alleges that Avid Telecom:

  • Violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits any person from making a call using an automatic telephone-dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to any cellular telephone;
  • Violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which prohibits abusive and deceptive acts or practices by “sellers” or “telemarketers”; 
  • Violated the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits the transmission of misleading or inaccurate caller-ID information;
  • Violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business acts and practices, by transmitting a colossal number of illegal robocalls into California. 

In filing today’s complaint, Attorney General Bonta joined the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

Mortgage company president guilty on 100 felony counts in $7 million statewide fraud scheme

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

Robert Sedlar of Grand View Financial LLC which operated in the counties of Contra Costa, San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento. 

OAKLAND —  California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Friday, May 12 the former president of a purported mortgage “investment” company, Robert Sedlar, has been convicted of 100 felony counts for operating a mortgage fraud scheme throughout California. The scheme resulted in a combined loss of over $7 million. The victims, including people who were elderly and in financial distress, sought mortgage relief services from Grand View Financial LLC in the counties of Contra Costa, San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento. The operators of Grand View Financial—Steven Rogers, Robert Sedlar, and Audrey Gan—were previously indicted by a grand jury in the Sacramento Superior Court for conspiracy, grand theft, elder abuse, filing false or forged documents in a public office, and engaging in a prohibited act as a foreclosure consultant. Steve Rogers and Audrey Gan entered guilty pleas before trial, and Robert Sedlar, president of the company, proceeded to trial in March 2023 on all counts. Today, Robert Sedlar was found guilty of Conspiracy as well as multiple counts of Filing a False Document, Grand Theft, Elder Abuse, and Prohibited Acts by a Foreclosure Consultant. He will be sentenced on July 21, 2023.

“Let this be a strong warning to anyone seeking to steal people’s hard-earned money: We will find you, and we will hold you accountable,” said AG Bonta. “Individuals who prey on vulnerable communities to enrich themselves will be held accountable by the California Department of Justice. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who disregard the rule of law.”

Between 2015 and 2019, the defendants conspired to steal money and homes from distressed homeowners using a company called Grand View Financial LLC. The company advertised assistance to desperate homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants promised consumers that if they transferred title of their house to Grandview Financial and paid money, the company would eliminate the mortgage lien and deed the home back to the homeowner, clear of any liens. During this time, the defendants filed false court documents, false documents with the county recorders offices, and false bankruptcies that stalled the foreclosures but did nothing to eliminate the liens, all while collecting funds from the victims. Every single victim lost their home as a result.  

The indictment and arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice, Fraud and Special Prosecutions Section and White Collar Investigation Team; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency; the United States Trustee Program; the United States Marshals Service; the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office; and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office. 

A copy of the charges can be found here.

Antioch Police Chief pledges full cooperation with CA DOJ, announces acceptance into new Trust Building Campaign with 25 Key Policies

Thursday, May 11th, 2023
Source: IACP

By PIO Ashley Crandell, Antioch Police Department Community Engagement Unit

On May 10, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a civil rights investigation into the Antioch Police Department. Chief Steven Ford welcomes this investigation and pledges full cooperation with DOJ officials, just as we have done with the joint FBI-Contra Costa DA investigation already taking place. We understand the importance of ensuring our policies, procedures, and practices are in line with expectations of 21st Century Policing.

In furtherance of our commitment toward meaningful reform, the Antioch Police Department is pleased to announce that we have joined other progressive policing agencies across the United States (and globally) in pledging to enhance trust and collaboration between police and the community we serve. The pledge is part of an initiative called the Trust Building Campaign which was started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders. In joining the Trust Building Campaign, the Antioch Police Department has pledged to implement 25 key policies and leading practices within a 36-month period.

As we complete the Trust Building Campaign pledge, the Antioch Police Department will prioritize actions encouraging positive community-police partnerships within six focus areas (bias-free policing, use of force, leadership and culture, recruitment, hiring, and retention, victim services, and community relations). These areas and their associated key practices are designed to promote safe, effective interactions, create strategies to prevent and reduce crime, and improve the wellbeing and quality of life for all.

In a world where information is spread so quickly, it is critical, now more than ever, that law enforcement have the trust of the community that they will provide truth, transparency, and justice.

Through the Trust Building Campaign, the IACP is committed to addressing these, and other issues, on a national and international level.

Statement from Chief Steven Ford:

“We are excited to announce this partnership with the IACP Trust Building Campaign. This initiative aligns with our Strategic Plan goals that we have been progressively implementing during our Public Safety Partnership and emphasizes our commitment to advancing public safety practices through community engagement, transparency, and bias-free policing. We look forward to collaborating with our community stakeholders, justice partners, and industry experts to ensure success in meeting the goals of this campaign.”

For more information about the Trust Building Campaign, visit the IACP’s website at

25 Key Policies and Promising Practices

1. Establish a policy on bias-free policing.

2. Increase transparency and accountability of police use of force. Publish use of force and complaint process policies.

3. Provide officers with training and coaching on cultural responsivity.

4. Train officers on the unique makeup and needs of their communities based on country of origin, religious and cultural practices, etc. which may conflict with local laws.

5. Adopt the elements of the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force into the agency’s policies and procedures. Publish use of force policy

6. Provide regular training on the agency’s use of force policy. Training should include scenario-based exercises that incorporate de-escalation techniques.

7. Document all use of force beyond handcuffing in agency records. Review these records on an annual basis to identify trends that need to be addressed in policy and training.

8. Participate in the National Use of Force database.

9. Establish an agency policy or statement that recognizes the sanctity of life and the importance of preserving human life during all encounters. Adopting the IACP Oath of Honor will meet this requirement.

10. Participate in accreditation, certification, or credentialing process that has an independent organization that reviews an agency’s policies and procedures.

11. Ensure training and policy reflect a culture of equity, diversion, inclusion, accountability, and that promote procedural justice for community members and employees alike.

12. Establish an employee wellness program that includes both physical and mental health.

13. Conduct a culture assessment of the organization, with steps taken to address areas of concern.

14. Provide body armor to officers and require the wearing of soft body armor while on uniformed patrol.

15. Embrace the guardian officer rather than the warrior mindset in recruiting and training.

16. Establish minimum educational standards or equivalency requirements that can be met by prior life experience. Provide officers with the opportunity for advanced education and training opportunities.

17. Verify potential hires with the national decertification database before hiring experienced officers.

18. Include measures of problem-solving, trust-building, and cultural responsivity in metrics of officer performance.

19. Train officers in Trauma-Informed Responses.

20. Train officers on best practices, resources, and tools for communicating with community members who do not speak English or whose ability to communicate is impaired.

21. Establish partnerships to provide for mental health, substance abuse, and youth deflection/diversion resources in their community.

22. Educate communities on the dynamics of policing and set reasonable expectations for their police. Establish shared expectations of the role police have in the community and solicit review and input from the community on agency policies and procedures.

23. Establish a clear and timely complaint process that does not require written or sworn statements to submit. Complaint processes and policies should be accessible to all.

24. Conduct a regular recurring survey of the community to measure the level of trust in the police.

25. Establish written strategies to engage with youth and marginalized groups in the community to develop positive relationships with police officers and how to interact safely with police.

CA Attorney General Bonta launches civil rights investigation into Antioch Police Department

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

Review comes amidst allegations of bigoted text messages and other potentially discriminatory misconduct 

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced initiating a civil rights investigation into the Antioch Police Department (APD). The investigation will seek to determine whether the law enforcement agency has engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing amid deeply concerning allegations relating to bigoted text messages and other potentially discriminatory misconduct. If, through this investigation, the Attorney General’s Office determines that unlawful activity or practices took place, the office will also determine what potential actions are needed to ensure comprehensive corrective action takes place at APD.  (See related articles here and here)

“It is our job to protect and serve all of our communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Police departments are on the front lines of that fight every day as they work to safeguard the people of our state. However, where there are allegations of potentially pervasive bias or discrimination, it can undermine the trust that is critical for public safety and our justice system. It is our responsibility to ensure that we establish a culture of accountability, professionalism, and zero tolerance for hateful or racist behavior, on or off duty.”

Under the California Constitution and California Civil Code section 52.3, the Attorney General is authorized to conduct civil investigations into whether a law enforcement agency has engaged in a pattern or practice of violating state or federal law. As opposed to a criminal investigation into an individual incident or incidents, a pattern or practice investigation typically works to identify and, as appropriate, compel the correction of systemic violations of the constitutional rights of the community at large by a law enforcement agency. With regard to the Antioch Police Department, the Attorney General has made no determinations at this time about specific complaints, allegations, or the agency’s overall policies and practices. The Attorney General’s independent investigation of APD is separate from ongoing or potential administrative or criminal investigations at the local and federal levels.

As interaction and cooperation with the community is at the core of law enforcement’s work to provide public safety and create public trust, the Attorney General encourages anyone with information relevant to this investigation to contact the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section at Members of the public may also send information to the California Department of Justice in other languages. During the course of the investigation, attorneys and special agents at the California Department of Justice will work diligently to consider all relevant information, including from community members and organizations, local officials, oversight entities, Antioch Police Department, and individual officers.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to strengthening trust between local law enforcement and the communities they serve as one key part of the broader effort to increase public safety for all Californians. In February, Attorney General Bonta launched an investigation into allegations of excessive force at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Last year, the Attorney General assumed responsibility for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation related to contracts awarded to a local nonprofit. He worked with authorities in San Francisco to help ensure the continuation of local oversight efforts related to officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and severe uses of force. Attorney General Bonta also opened a pattern or practice investigation into the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. In 2021, the Attorney General launched an independent review of the Torrance Police Department and secured a stipulated judgment against the Bakersfield Police Department requiring an extensive range of actions to promote public safety. Attorney General Bonta also established the Racial Justice Bureau within the Civil Rights Enforcement Section to, among other things, help address issues of implicit and explicit bias in policing.