Monday, November 16, 2009

Three Houston Men Charged with False Car Inspections

I understand that waiting in a long line of idling cars to have your vehicle inspected is not the ideal way that most people would choose to spend a morning. However, knowing that your vehicle is safe to transport your own passengers as well as to be among the other cars on the highway is important. It would be nice if we could trust that others also place some value on what they are allowing to enter the road. However, three Houston men who were arrested last week prove that we are not necessarily surrounded by safe, clean vehicles.

The men worked at a vehicle inspection station, 5 Minute Inspections, in the Heights-area. They allegedly issued inspection stickers to cars and buses that had never even been to the station. Instead, the men used the same car repeatedly with the knowledge that it would pass inspection and then gave the "all clear" to vehicles that actually may have been quite dangerous. In fact, this station issued the sticker given to the bus that killed seventeen passengers from the Houston area last year as they traveled to a religious festival.

All three men have been charged with tampering with a federal document by the Texas Department of Public Safety. If found guilty, they could face up to twenty years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Perhaps the men will find themselves making license plates for the cars that could have used their actual inspections.

If you operate a business and you are being threatened with legal action based on the actions of your employees, Bertolino LLP has attorneys experienced in business litigation who can help you. Or, if you are facing criminal charges following bad choices you made at your job, we have criminal defense lawyers ready to work with you as well. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fifteen People Killed in One Day in Mexican Border Town

Texas, more than most states in our country, has a lot at stake concerning immigration policy. As a border state, Texas sees the issues of border violence, illegal workers, and drug trafficking forming the headlines of its newspapers nearly every day. The lack of stability of the Mexican government and the rampant crime that exists in so many areas of our neighbor to the south has a direct impact of the safety of people who reside in the Lone Star State. Therefore, recent events like the one in Ciudad Juarez present a serious reason for concern.

Fifteen people, including a seven-year-old boy, a university professor, and three women, were among those killed in just one day of violence in that border town. The victims were shot seemingly just going about their daily lives, with the murders happening in a neighborhood, while riding in a pickup truck, and in other unassuming environments.

Ciudad Juarez is the deadliest city in Mexico, which, unfortunately, is really saying something. There have been more than 1700 killings there already this year, which makes for around five murder victims every single day. The city is just across the border from the Texas city of El Paso, and killing does not stop at some arbitrary line. We all have heard of incidents in which American citizens have been caught up in the violence as well.

At Bertolino LLP, we know that there are many immgration issues involving crimes that bleed over from Mexico into our state. There may be the need for partnership with the Mexican authorities, completion of paperwork to determine legal status, and work with members of ICE and other law enforcement agencies in our country. Our firm has both immigration attorneys and those with experience in criminal defense to assist you in this process. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Austin Man Sentenced After Masturbating in Front of Children

When you first learn that a man has been sentenced to seven years in jail for masturbating, perhaps your reaction is one of shock. Certainly that punishment seems quite harsh for such an activity, even for a state like Texas that is known for dealing with criminal offenders in the strongest way possible. When you then learn that the man was participating in this solo activity while in public, the need for some incarceration becomes more apparent. It is when the final pieces of the story are revealed, that he secretly took videos of undressed women and even stood behind a young girl in a book store while masturbating, that the seven year sentence now seems to fit the crime.

Christopher Carney, a 37-year-old Austin man, was arrested in December 2008 when he was caught masturbating while looking inside a private window. He was charged with indecent exposure and window peering and released awaiting trial. When the police then searched Carney's cell phone and discovered hundreds of incriminating videos, including one taken in the children's aisle of the Book Stop, his presence was requested within a jail cell immediately.

Earlier this week, State District Judge Julie Kocurek sentenced Mr. Carney to his seven-year stint in jail after he pleaded guilty to public indecency with a child and improper photography. He already has been a resident of the Travis County Jail since turning himself into authorities at the end of January.

The criminal defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP want you to know that we are ready to provide aggressive and experienced legal representation for anyone accused of criminal activity. While we strongly recommend that you keep the activity practiced by Mr. Carney within private and discreet locations, we can help if you are accused of poor or even dangerous judgment concerning your personal practices. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Day to Thank Heroes

Today is the day that we honor the veterans who have served our country. There is no more amazing and courageous group of people than the men and women of the United States military. Everyone here at Bertolino LLP thanks you for your service and your sacrifice. While we set aside this one day in November, the people of this country can never thank you enough for what you do in the defense of freedom.

Our thoughts are particularly with the families who are grieving the horrific events that occurred at Fort Hood several days ago. The military is such an important part of our great state of Texas, and we are honoring those fallen heroes today.

We appreciate every veteran and active duty member of the military. Thank you.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Houston-Based Contractors in Iraq Face Cutbacks

When President Obama won the presidency at about this time last year, he did so in part by declaring his consistent opposition to the war in Iraq and his promise that as president he would bring an end to American military conflict in Iraq as quickly as would be considered responsible. The President seems to be moving in this direction, with the current plan to have all American forces out of that country by December 2011. The gradual withdrawal of troops affects not only members of the military but also the thousands of civilian contractors who are currently working in Iraq. There is no need for a support service to be present in order to clean soldiers' laundry if there are no soldiers around. With that in mind, an audit just completed by the Defense Department shows that a Houston-based company did not seem to get the memo about the policy change.

KBR Inc. is a private company that contracts with the United States military to provide a wide variety of services. They have a ten-year deal worth $33.8 billion that was signed in 2001. This figure amounts to $8425 a month in salary and benefits for each full-time employee. The Pentagon is charging that the KBR Inc. may be unnecessarily increasing the number of employees in the war zone as a way of earning more profit. The company has been ordered to cut more than 2000 jobs or face $200 million in penalties.

As an excerpt from the audit states, "Each day that passes without taking action results in continued overstaffing and inefficiency." KBR Inc. argues that they have been waiting to make staff cuts until the administration's plans for drawdown of its forces.

You may not be facing an audit and financial repercussions from the Defense Department, but there may be another instance in which the reputation of your business is being threatened. If this is the case, you should seek legal representation. There are attorneys at Bertolino LLP who are experienced in the area of business litigation. Please contact our Austin, Houston, and San Antonio office today to discuss your case.