Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cannonball Stolen from Alamo Earlier This Week Found in Park


Our Alamo in San Antonio is one of the most beloved and famous landmarks in the nation. Who didn't learn the battle cry "Remember the Alamo!" during an elementary school history class? Who doesn't feel a sense of pride in the small, courageous group of Americans who refused to leave the mission even when faced with an overwhelming Mexican Army led by Santa Anna? Even though the site is now surrounded by all the conveniences of a modern city, it is a part of our history that should be preserved. For this reason, I was pleased to learn that a cannonball that was stolen from the Fairmount Hotel in San Antonio earlier this week has been recovered.

The cannonball, used by Santa Anna's army during the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, had been kept in a display case at the hotel for the past twenty-three years. The hotel owner offered a $5000 reward for the recovery of the softball-sized object and checked online auction sites in case the thief was now trying to make a profit from his crime. In a mysterious turn of events, the cannonball was discovered by two pedestrians who were jogging through a park in the northwest part of the city. The 19th century weapon was wrapped in a plastic bag with note that said "valuable artifact." That is certainly more exciting than the empty water bottles and random shoes that I sometimes encounter along random paths in a city.

I have some free legal advice. Do not steal important pieces of our nation's history. Be it Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument, the Gettysburg battlefield, or The Alamo -- just leave it alone and leave the site intact for others to enjoy. However, if you do find yourself accused of taking items from a national treasure, the attorneys at Bertolino LLP will make sure you are afforded all of your rights in court. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your situation.

On another note, all of us at Bertolino LLP wish you a safe and fun New Year's Eve and a great start to 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Austin Agencies to Crack Down on "Nuisance" Bars


Bars and restaurants certainly market their establishments to attract the type of clientele they want to claim as regulars. A biker bar may advertise half-price beer to anyone wearing leather chaps or a Harley Davidson jacket. Owners who wish to see wealthy professionals darken their doors might offer a wine tasting or a specialty martini bar. Word of mouth and customer reviews on websites are common ways for bars to earn both positive and poor reputations. So, what is a fine watering hole of Austin to do when it earns the official description of "nuisance"? That's certainly not going to garner a four-star rating in any traveler's guide!

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has started a new initiative to crackdown on bars that seem to breed criminal activity, which it has deemed "nuisance bars". The Commission will be working with the Austin Police Department and the Travis County District Attorney's Office to track the problem locations. The difficult task faced by these agencies is proving that the crime occurring near or at a bar is directly linked to the way in which the place operates. To avoid accusations of unfair persecution, however, the TABC will work with suspected nuisance bars to help them improve any areas of concern.

Right now, only one bar in Austin, La Rumba, is under investigation for crimes that have taken place on its premises. However, if your bar becomes tagged with the label of "nuisance" and you believe this determination is unfairly hurting your business, the attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We have lawyers who specialize in business litigation who will work to protect your rights as a hard-working owner. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let us know what we can do for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Man with Possible Terrorist Connections Who Married Houston Stripper to Stay in Country Faces Deportation


When I think about the role that an exotic dancer plays in the time-honored ritual of joining lives through marriage, I usually assume that her contribution is made the week before the wedding ceremony during the bachelor party. Instead, in the case of professional pole gyrator Kathy Ann Glant, the dancer was paid to be the actual bride. No word on whether or not the $5000 payment for the honor of her hand in marriage was paid in the form of a particularly large wad of one dollar bills.

Back in 1984, Ms. Glant was asked by Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi to participate in a sham wedding so that Mr. Elzahabi could obtain his green card. The financially generous groom apparently was unfazed by the fact that the woman with whom he agreed to this romantic agreement was a drug addict whose place of employment was named the Pink Pussy Cat Club. True love, or at least the need to obtain permanent residency, is blind to such unsavory details.

Unfortunately, Elzahabi's intentions for remaining in America have raised some eyebrows. There is some evidence that he was not necessarily falling asleep singing "The Star Spangled Banner" every night, not the least of which being his admission to taking part in a jihad training camp, being a sniper in Afghanistan, and calling high-ranking member of Al Qaeda his friends. He was convicted of possessing fradulent immigration documents in August of last year and handed over to ICE. The Department of Homeland Security has now initiated a case against him concerning possible terrorist intentions, and the Justice Department must decide if the concerns warrant deportation to Lebanon.

Are you married to a stripper and now you find the authenticity of your love being questioned by the authorities? Are you being threatened with a one-way ticket to your home country because some cynical people don't believe that you have really found your soul mate? At Bertolino LLP, we have immigration attorneys who can fight for that legal residency that you desire. We also can work with you on any other paperwork that stands in the way of achieving your proper status in our country. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let's discuss your situation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas


From our family to yours, all of us at Bertolino LLP wish you a very merry Christmas. We will be taking the rest of this week to celebrate with family and friends. Those of us with children will share in the excitement at the discovery of what Santa has left while all were sleeping. Even adults can share in this innocence and joy that Christmas offers to everyone. Wherever the holiday season takes you, I hope that you are surrounded by the peace and love that comes with this time of year.

Happy Holidays from Everyone at Bertolino LLP!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Six Texas Men Arrested for Illegal Deer Trading


When Santa Claus became concerned that he would not be able to guide his reindeer through the foggy skies on the one night of the year that his driving skills were essential, he found an amiable reindeer with a red nose to guide the way. Rudolph was just hanging out by himself along the side of the ball field, since he wasn't allowed to play in any reindeer games. Santa simply walked up to the lonely creature and asked to employ his illuminating olfactory organ. He did not have to tranquilize the unsuspecting reindeer with a dart and then illegally transport him to rooftops around the world. On the other hand, six men in Texas found that such criminal activity was the only way for them to get possession of the deer they desired.

Wardens with the Special Operations Unit of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement arrested the men on charges of trapping, purchasing, or selling wild native Whitetail deer. While deer breeding is a legal business in the state of Texas, breeders must only sell to one another to avoid the possible spread of unchecked diseases. The most common fear is Chronic Wasting Disease that, without knowing any details, simply does not sound very pleasant. In this instance, wild deer whose medical charts were not able to review were being sold to the legitimate breeding facilities, as several of the men worked in this field.

The six deer thieves face up to a $2000 fine and 180 days in jail for violating state regulations involving Whitetail deer. In addition to the current charges, the men likely face additional felony charges of tampering with a government document and illegal possession of tranquilizer drugs. They should have simply followed Santa's lead and befriended the deer in the forest instead of sedating them for selfish profiteering.

Have you been accused of illegally trading bunnies at Easter or turkeys at Thanksgiving? The criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Are you operating any business, animal-related or not, without the needed permits? We have attorneys who specialize in business formation and contracts who can make sure your paperwork is in order. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your situation.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Austin Scout Leader to Be Sentenced Today for Molestation


There is always a heightened sense of disappointment and sadness in a community when a trusted role model for our children ruins that important relationship. Several Houston teachers have been arrested during this school year on drug charges, including the possession of illegal substances on campus and the intent to sell. Other educators have decided to use a school filled with young students as a personal dating pool, the most recent being a PTA leader on Long Island who was found in a compromising position with a teenage boy in the back of her SUV. Back here in Austin, a Boy Scout leader will be sentenced today after pleading guilty to sexually molesting boys from his troop.

Martin Turner pleaded guilty to two counts of indecency with a child by contact and another count of an attempt of the same crime. The charges stem from Turner's fondling of two brothers between 1999 and 2003. Turner was a trusted family friend and mentor for the boys, which may explain why the acts unfortunately were not reported by the parents until 2006. The contact appeared to have occurred at Turner's home and not during an official scouting event or trip which, of course, does not lessen the legitimate anger felt by parents who trusted this troop leader.

Even though the charges focus on the two brothers, evidence during the sentencing hearing showed that Turner molested six boys over the course of thirty-five years. Despite this long pattern of abuse, District Judge Melissa Goodwin has not decided if prison or probation is more appropriate for the 64-year-old disgraced Scoutmaster. Based on the crimes committed, Turner could face decades behind bars.

As I have shared before on this blog, there are no greater crimes than those inflicted on innocent children. However, no matter the charges, everyone who stands accused is entitled to specific rights. At Bertolino LLP, we have criminal defense attorneys who will fight aggressively for you during your day in court. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let's discuss the charges you are facing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Daughter of Houston Judge Sues Driver She Hit While Drunk


There are endless examples of criminals blaming either the victim or an innocent third party for the consequences of their illegal actions. Burglars have sued homeowners after being shot in an act of self-defense. Shoplifters blame store owners for high prices when the proprietor is simply trying to keep with the changes in the economy. And, who can forget the Twinkie defense? If high levels of preservatives and processed sugar in one's blood stream can be used as an excuse for violent acts, how can any other excuse dreamed up by the defense seem implausible? Perhaps Elizabeth Shelton was thinking of some of these examples when deciding to sue the truck driver she hit while drunk.

Ms. Shelton, the 21-year-old daughter of Houston juvenile judge Pat Shelton, decided to get behind the wheel in October 2007 even though her blood alcohol level was three times more than the legal limit. In her impaired state, she rear-ended a truck and killed her boyfriend who was riding in the passenger seat. She was convicted of intoxicated manslaughter and received four months in jail and eight years of probation.

Now, Shelton has decided that she wants to sit at the other attorney's table and, along the family of her deceased boyfriend, is filing her own lawsuit against the truck driver. She claims that the driver, Lance Bennett, swerved into her lane and his negligence caused the fatal accident. She wants $20,000 to pay for the ruined Lexus SUV and additional money for mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Considering her decision to drive after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and the resulting death that occurred, I question how sympathetic her efforts will appear to a jury.

If you have been accused or even convicted of a crime, but you believe someone else is really to blame, the attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We have criminal defense attorneys as well as business litigators and other specialists who can assist with your specific needs. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Settlement Reached Concerning Raid at San Antonio Bar


Here's a reality check. If you own a quaint pub where philosophers gather in the evenings to discuss current events or the validity of different fiscal models in today's challenging economy while sipping scotch, you probably do not have to worry about law enforcement paying a surprise visit to your establishment. However, if your business is a place at which those who are drawn to gangs and drugs, and who occasionally participate in homicides in the name of the Mexican Mafia, choose to drink late into the night, the police may take a greater interest. Patrons who just happened upon the latter option looking for a good time were not pleased with the treatment they received from San Antonio cops and now they are receiving payment for their unhappiness.

The Wild Turkey Saloon was raided by police officers in April 2007 after weeks of escalating violence and other criminal activity. According to the lawsuit filed by some of the customers that night, the officers turned off the music, turned on the lights, and locked the doors. Everyone inside was detained for over an hour, and two women claim that they were strip-searched when they asked to use the bathroom. The female San Antonio cops who conducted the search insist that no clothing was removed and everything was done by the book.

Thirteen people, including the two women who made the accusations of the inappropriate search, filed charges against the San Antonio Police Department and the city after bar owners encouraged them to do so. The suit alleges that bar checks are unconstitutional and that the searches against female patrons went beyond reasonable action by the officers. We will never know how the federal court would have ruled in this matter, as the city agreed to a settlement of $450,000 to be split among the patrons. City Attorney Michael Bernard admitted no wrongdoing, but wanted to avoid the "expense and uncertainties of litigation".

Are you an upstanding owner of a business whose good name has been tarnished simply because some violent gang members enjoy your food and beverage selection? At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who specialize in business litigation who can assist you with any legal problems you may be facing. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let's discuss how we can help you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Survivor Show Brings Contaminated Items to Houston


There are many television programs that come with a unique set of props critical to the storytelling element of the show. Saturday Night Live must have a room filled with the clothing and hairpieces needed to transform cast members into today's top political figures. Deal or No Deal undoubtedly has enough suitcases for every woman to hold her assigned dollar amount. With all of its exotic locations throughout its eight years on the air, Survivor is certain to have some of the most interesting accessories available to provide a sense of reality to the viewing audience. Some freight arriving in Houston recently from the West African nation of Gabon, the most recent destination for the popular series, was not only fascinating but also quite illegal.

A container of props from the Survivor show being sent back to the United States included termite-infested masks, a baboon skull with possible contamination, animal hides, feathers, and undetermined bones. Most of the items were seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for further evaluation. It is possible that such lovely keepsakes could harbor deadly diseases such as the Ebola virus. The CBS network, which airs Survivor, may be subject to fines as determined by the Department of Agriculture. Jeffery Baldwin Sr., Houston customs field operations director, accurately shared that items of a dangerous nature that are imported "may have serious effects on our nation".

The discovery of a primate skull or a ceremonial mask is certainly not a common occurrence in the daily routine of a customs agent. However, drugs, live animals, and other contraband items do pose a serious concern to those who are working to keep our airports and waterways safe and free of crime. If you decide to test the system and attempt to bring illegal material into this country, Bertolino LLP has attorneys who can assist you in the criminal defense that you certainly will need. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to share your story.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cockfighting Ring Busted in Texas

I certainly am one who can appreciate an outstanding athletic performance. For example, our own Houston Texans were quite impressive last weekend against a Tennessee Titans team that had only lost one previous game. I have great hope that the playoffs might await those guys next season. And, I recognize the right of those who have the desire to risk large amounts of money during this time of questionable economic stability to gamble on the assumed outcome of a given game, as long as it is done through legal venues, of course. However, strapping razors to a chicken and betting on which piece of poultry will not be killed is not only an unfortunate choice of a hobby. It is also illegal in the state of Texas and may lead to jail time.

Six people were arrested in Montgomery County, north of Houston, over the weekend following the bust of a cockfighting operation. All of the involved parties were charged with promotion of gambling and gambling paraphernalia. The owner of the fine establishment also was charged with keeping a gambling place. All crimes are considered Class A misdemeanors.

In addition to the collection of roosters and hens, both dead and alive, police officers recovered drugs, guns, spurs and $4000 in cash. They also towed about fifty-five cars from the property, many belonging to the spectators who ran into the woods when the authorities arrived. All of the surviving animals were taken to the Houston SPCA for examination. If it is determined that animal cruelty has occurred, which I cannot imagine requires a great stretch of the imagination, the owners of the fighting fowl will face additional charges.

If you have become such a regular at illegal cockfights that you have your own ringside seats and now you are facing criminal charges for this poor decision, the defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP will make sure that all of your rights are intact as you progress through the legal system. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baseball Player from Texas Arrested for Years in Child Support Owed


Alex Rodriguez, star third baseman for the New York Yankees, is in the middle of a high-profile divorce from his wife of six years. The media frenzy that has surrounded the dissolution of the marriage was furthered heightened by the rumors that Mr. Rodriguez was having an affair with singer and Kabbalah-enthusiast Madonna (both denied any improper relationship). Alex Rodriguez has two children with his estranged wife. While there is no indication that he will not fulfill all of his fatherly obligations, Rodriguez would be wise to review the story of Troy Lee Neel and make sure those child support checks are always on time.

Mr. Neel was a first baseman and designated hitter for the Oakland Athletics for a couple of years in the early 1990s, and then enjoyed five years playing professional ball in Japan. During his stint with the Orix Blue Wave in Asia, divorce papers were filed back in San Antonio. As part of the settlement, Neel was ordered to pay $5000 a month in child support for his two children. Ten years later, Neel can tout his status as one of the top ten child support evaders in Texas with a total of $724,345 owed to his family.

After leaving baseball in 2000, Neel thought it best stay off American soil and instead moved to Vanuatu, a group of island which which was featured on the 2004 season of Survivor. He purchased a local resort and enjoyed great popularity with the local residents. A federal jury in San Antonio issued an indictment against Neel in 2005 on a charge of traveling abroad to avoid paying child support. This was followed by the refusal of the State Department to issue a new visa to Neel earlier this year and efforts to get to Neel to Australia, which has an extradition agreement with the United States. Neel's tropical avoidance of responsibility ended on Thursday with an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport. He is now in San Antonio pending further legal decisions concerning how he will move forward with payments.

Are you a dad who is accused of falling short of his financial responsibilities to his children? Are you a mom who cannot get her ex-husband to pay what he owes? Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in family law and who can help with the delicate situation of child support. If you also happen to be famous, we have celebrity, sports, and entertainment lawyers who can make sure your name is defended. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Austin's "Rockabilly Bandit" Arrested After Disguise Discovered


When standing in front of the mirror in the morning, I wonder how much consideration your typical bank robber gives to the disguise he will use when perpetrating his crime. Should he just throw on the typical ski mask, as it provides great facial coverage and requires very little effort? Or, should there be a visit to the costume store for a complete Easter bunny costume? This unexpected hat tip to a beloved holiday character might confuse people to the point that no details of his exploits can be remembered. One man in Austin decided that the look of a Southern rocker would be the best disguise for those moments during which he was threatening tellers and running away with money, but this "rockabilly bandit" has now lost his freedom due to the very costume he selected.

Robert Graham, Jr. tossed a paper bag containing a fake beard, hat, and other clothing that was linked to four robberies in the Austin area out of his car last month. Perhaps he did not stop to think that he was throwing out pieces of DNA at the same time. A man discovered the bag and its contents along a creek bed and gave the suspicious pieces to the police. Graham's genetic make-up was already in the system due to an earlier stint in a California jail, and the DNA proved to be a match.

Graham was arrested in Austin on Wednesday. In addition to the new charges he faces for robbing four Austin banks between April and October of this year, Graham also must address a parole violation he committed stemming from previous crimes in Texas. His boss should not count on his presence at the upcoming office Christmas party.

If you have been accused of a crime while dressed as a member of Lynryd Skynyrd and you now need legal representation, the defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fireworks Ban to Begin in San Antonio


If you are like my 15-year-old son and you have always considered fireworks to be an essential part of your Fourth of July or New Year's Eve revelry and you are a resident of San Antonio, then the kickoff to 2009 is certain to be a disappointment for you. As many people living in Texas already know, we are experiencing a serious drought in our state. This week's amazing snowfall in Houston aside, the Lone Star State is in desperate need of precipitation. Therefore, official steps are now being taken to prevent any fires from sparking on the dry land. County Judge Nelson Wolff declared yesterday that a Bexar County fireworks ban will begin on December 20, the day on which fireworks stands were set to open for the holiday season.

Obviously, vendors who make money selling explosive devices which create colorful aerial displays, exciting booms or spinning spectacles of light are not happy with the judge's decision. They hoped for a compromise that would allow for the use of fireworks within specially designated safe zones that would be monitored by the local fire department. However, Judge Wolff decided that drastic measures needed to be taken in the name of public safety.

Before you decide to ignore this ban and buy some contraband fireworks from a guy who whispers to you from a dark alley, you should be aware of the penalties you would be facing. Violators may receive a fine of no more than $1000 or up to 180 days in jail. This is a pretty stiff penalty. I'll have to explain this very carefully to my son.

Is a rocket-propelled device that spells out 2009 in red and green sparkles once ignited really worth this price? While I certainly feel for the vendors who will be hurt by this ban, we must respect the need to preserve a fire-free environment and the safety of our fellow citizens in San Antonio.

The defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help if you have been accused of breaking any law, be it related to fireworks or not. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your case.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Texas Woman Leaves Four Children Unattended to Run Errands


I advise all of my clients and readers of this blog to be attentive drivers at all times. Especially during this busy holiday season, we are distracted by thoughts of shopping lists, party menus, and travel plans. Do not let these issues prevent you from keeping your distance from the driver in front of you and maintaining the speed limit. This advice is especially true if any poor driving decisions result in an accident that requires the attention of police officers and these officers discover that you have left four small children alone at home while you run errands. This horrible revelation will lead to more than just a dented fender or time in traffic school. You could end up facing years in prison. Just ask Edel Sum.

Ms. Sum runs a day care facility out of her home and, on Monday of this week, she was supposed to be caring for a two-year-old and three little ones who were only a year in age. Assuming that the four toddlers were old enough to take care of themselves for a while, Sum decided to run a few errands around her Round Rock neighborhood. She might have gotten away with this crime, but she was involved in a car wreck and police were called to the scene. Sum got real nervous and insisted that she had to leave immediately because her kids were home alone. An officer who went to her house discovered the frightening situation.

Endangering or abandoning a child is a charge not taken lightly in Texas, and Ms. Sum now faces four felony counts of this crime. She faces up to eighty years in prison for leaving the four preschoolers alone in their playpens while she took care of personal business. She now waits in the Williamson County Jail with her bail set at $20,000.

Nothing angers a community, and this law firm, more than crimes involving children. However, every accused individual has a right to her day in court and a thorough defense effort on her behalf. If you have been accused of any crime, Bertolino LLP has defense attorneys who can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Austin Police Taser Naked Man Jumping on Car


There are certain accessories that you expect to see on the top of a car, especially during this time of year. It is rare to make that drive home from work without passing a vehicle that has a freshly-cut Christmas tree tied to the roof. Perhaps your truck has small flags flying above both side windows as you proudly proclaim your support for the University of Texas football team as its members prepare to take on Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. (The Longhorns should be battling Florida for the national championship, but that's a topic for another blog.) Who expects, though, to find a naked man as an additional piece of the automotive machinery?

Residents reported a disturbance in their North Austin neighborhood on Sunday morning and officers arrived on the scene to discover Ray Eliot Brown jumping on a vehicle naked. Unwilling to reply to the request to place his feet on stable ground and wrap a blanket around himself, Brown found himself on the receiving end of a Taser gun. No word yet on whether or not Brown screamed, "Don't tase me, bro!" as he fell to the ground in the most compromising of circumstances.

Mr. Brown has been charged with criminal mischief, which is a misdemeanor. Since the man shared his most personal components with the general public, sex crimes is also investigating the possibility of further charges. I would not be surprised if the 28-year-old also finds himself facing a bill from the car owners for a thorough scrubbing and waxing of their violated vehicle.

Did you recently feel the need to perform some acrobatics in a public place without the silly constriction created by pants and a shirt? Are you now facing criminal charges for this decision? The defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to schedule an appointment. We will kindly request that you wear appropriate clothing when visiting our office.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Houston Man Killed During Game of Russian Roulette


Closing the deal on a new home is certainly a reason to celebrate. Be it a mansion in Beverly Hills or a small trailer in the outskirts of a Southern town, the moving of boxes and furniture means a fresh start. Many people choose to enjoy this moment with a housewarming party at which friends and family can admire the place. Others may quietly sip some champagne and congratulate themselves on this new beginning. If you are like a group of young people in Houston, perhaps you prefer the thrilling option of repeatedly pulling the trigger of a gun and hoping that a bullet does not enter your skull and instantly kill you. That's much more exciting than hanging a few picture frames, after all!

On Saturday night in Houston, four men and one woman decided to celebrate the new apartment of one of the men by playing a game of Russian roulette. As everyone who is familiar with this high-skill game requiring unparalleled wits and athleticism knows, participants are to point the gun at their own heads and hope that the resulting squeeze reveals an empty chamber. One of the men successfully completed his turn but then decided, for some unknown reason, to test to luck of one of his buddies. This time, there was a bullet ready to escape and a 22-year-old man died as a result.

Displaying a chivalry that is all too rare in this day and time, the three surviving men fled the scene following the murder and left the woman to fend for herself. Luckily, the inability of this female witness to escape as quickly as the terrified men has given police a starting point for their investigation. However, more details are still needed to catch the shooter in this case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 713-308-3600.

Did you throw a party and find that your guests quickly became bored with Scrabble and Scattegories? Did you then think to yourself, "Hey! I bet I can liven up this party with a gun!" If the sequence of events that followed resulted in criminal activity, you will need the aggressive defense offered by the attorneys at Bertolino LLP. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your case.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Houston Man Charged with Killing Ex-Girlfriend's Dog


When a romantic relationship comes to an end and one of the partners involved is not happy with this development, there is a tendency for some form of retribution to take place. Maybe a woman grabs a pair of scissors and removes her ex-boyfriend's head from all of the photos they took together. Perhaps a guy spills all of the most private secrets of the girl he had loved only a week before on his MySpace page. While some level of anger is certainly understandable, there is never any reason to take out your hurt on an innocent canine. And if, like Adam Lemus, you choose to kill the dog of your former girlfriend, you should be prepared to face jail time.

Lemus, who has used the interesting alias of Jose Juan Ramirez, broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend outside of Houston. Once in the apartment, he slit the throat of an unsuspecting Chihuahua and then tore the place apart. The dog owner returned home to find the destruction and Lemus allegedly assaulted her before running away.

Appearing in Harris County court yesterday, Lemus was charged with aggravated assault, animal cruelty and criminal mischief. While he could earn his temporary freedom for $100,000 if he was just facing the charge involving the dog, the judge decided to deny bail altogether for the assault. Also, there is the possibility that Lemus is in the country illegally. ICE and related enforcement agencies may be offering the man a one-way ride south.

Did you make the poor decision to punish the beloved pet of a former flame? Or, has your immigration status been questioned during a criminal investigation? We have defense attorneys as well as attorneys who specialize in immigration who are ready to help. Contact the offices of Bertolino LLP in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio today to discuss your case.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Houston Couple Guilty of Hidden Sex Business


You never can tell the creative ways in which business owners will hide their illegal practices. Perhaps the neighborhood deli is a cover for a cockfighting arena that lurks behind the pastrami slicer. Could it be that the local dry cleaning operation uses all of those rotating shirts and suits to hide a thriving meth lab? Who would notice the smell of Sudafed cooking over all of the starch? Here's a warning to all aspiring models in the Houston area. The modeling studio that has offered to produce your photographs may be operating a prostitution ring in the dark room.

Man Hui Cho and his wife, Ki Sun Park, supposedly owned a studio for models in Houston. In reality, the business was a place for South Korean women who were in the country illegally to work as prostitutes. The husband and wife team of sex vendors thought they were successfully concealing their employees, as they paid undercover officers more than $40,000 over a year and a half to let them know when inspectors would be coming to the studio.

Yesterday, the couple entered guilty pleas on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, and conspiracy to import aliens for purposes of prostitution. So, essentially, the law is charging them with all kinds of conspiring. If convicted, Cho and Park face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Perhaps the women, if allowed to stay in the country, can now find legitimate modeling work. Are you reading this, Tyra Banks?

Were you brought into this country for illegal purposes and feel that you were taken advantage of by your employer? We have attorneys who specialize in immigration law who can help you. Have you been accused of running a prohibited business disguised as a legitimate operation? You should discuss your case with one of our criminal defense attorneys. Please contact the law offices of Bertolino LLP in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Houston Congressman Drops Lawsuit Against Former Employee


Politics and sexual misadventures have a long, intertwined history. It was a great President named Ronald Reagan who said, "Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to believe it bears a very close resemblance to the first." Governors, senators and even presidents have faced political and personal consequences to their extracurricular behaviors. However, one of the current members of the Texas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives has avoided the fate met by many of his peers and been released from any penalty for his alleged relationship with an ex-employee.

Rep. Al Green, a Democrat from Houston, had a self-described "romantic encounter" with Lucinda Daniels, who was the director of his district office. Nearly a year and a half after the incident, Ms. Daniels decided to file a claim of sexual assault and asserted that the sex was not consensual. Rep. Green took offense to this delayed accusation and filed his own lawsuit with a federal judge. Apparently, Green said that Daniels threatened to charge him with workplace discrimination if he did not pay for her silence. That makes for quite the legal back and forth between these two!

Last week, the entire landscape of the situation changed. Green decided to drop his lawsuit because, "without payment or promise of money," Daniels agreed to dismiss all claims against her former employer. The sudden resolution is certainly suspect to constituents who have followed the story, especially because Daniels has refused to offer further explanation. But, we must assume that both parties have reached an acceptable understanding and that Rep. Green is ready to resume his focus on the people's business.

Have you been unfairly accused of sexual assault by an employee? Do you need legal representation to clear your name in court? Whether you are a popular congressman just reelected without significant opposition or a manger at the local doughnut shop, Bertolino LLP has criminal defense attorneys who can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your case.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Houston Rapper Plans to Release Album from Jail

It's inspiring when you see someone continue to work hard and fight for success in life, no matter what obstacles may stand in the way. Many of our country's most successful business owners and inventors met with countless failures before finding the one product that financially set them for life. How many times did Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt get turned down for even the smallest roles in a movie? Now, these superstars get to pick their scripts. So, why should a little hiccup like a forty-five year sentence for the aggravated assault of a child get in the way of a rapper's dream?

Carlos Coy of Houston, who goes by the catchy stage name of South Park Mexican, maintains his innocence in the molestation of his nine-year-old daughter's friend. However, a paternity test proved that he does have a history of involvement with underage girls, as he is the father of a baby born to a fourteen-year-old child. Still fighting to prove his innocence through appeals in the Harris County court system two years ago, Mr. S.P. Mexican took some time out of his court schedule to record some new rap songs from a prison pay phone. Now, the label that was lucky enough to snag this imprisoned artist, Dopehouse Records, wants to release an album featuring some prison tunes as well as songs recorded before his confinement began.

Obviously, the victim's family is not happy with the idea that Coy could gain new fame with this album and therefore have details of the case resurface. Coy tries to offer some solace with the reminder that he cannot profit from his music while behind bars. But, it is convenient that Dopehouse Records is owned by his brother and employs his wife and other family members.

We certainly despise the crimes that landed Mr. Coy in prison. However, if you are a rapper who has been falsely accused of a crime and you need someone to defend your innocence in court, Bertolino LLP can help. We have defense attorneys, as well as attorneys who specialize in entertainment law who can help you with a record contract once your name has been cleared. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.