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San Diego fraud case leads to a national crime ring

 May 18, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, May 18th.

A San Diego case led to the takedown of a national criminal network preying on the elderly. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A work stoppage is disrupting bus service at M-T-S’s South Bay bus division, because of ongoing negotiations between Transdev and its bus operators.

Transdev is the company currently contracted to run 65-percent of all San Diego routes…

Right now, about 33-percent of M-T-S bus routes are currently not running.

San Ysidro resident Raymundo Carlos just moved to the area, and relies on public transportation to get around.

“I was actually going for a job interview, so i was on my way, hoping to get a job so i don’t have to rely too much on the bus systems and whatnot. it is a little discouraging.”  

M-T-S says it will update schedules via social media, and at s-d-m-t-s dot com.


Starting this month, more ambulances will respond to emergencies in San Diego.

It's part of a new contract with Falck U-S-A, which has struggled to meet response time goals since taking over the city's ambulance service in 20-21.

The City Council this week unanimously approved the new deal, that calls for Falck to pay for a second company to boost its service.

That company will be A-M-R.

It provides service throughout the county.

The arrangement begins on May 29th.


Major league soccer officials will be in San Diego today, to make an announcement about the future of soccer in the city.

Mayor Todd Gloria will join M-L-S Commissioner Don Garber and others for the announcement.

The expansion of the league would make San Diego its 30th team.

They would begin playing in February 20-25 at Snapdragon Stadium.

The announcement is set to happen at 10-45 this morning, at the Stadium.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Elder fraud is among the most underreported crimes.

But investigative reporter Amita Sharma says that could change with a San Diego case that has revealed a nationwide criminal network.

This video shows a 24-year-old member of an organized crime group.  She’s a money courier, part of a sophisticated effort that allegedly bilked people across the country out of millions of dollars. The footage is  from Judith and Ronald Attig’s doorbell camera. KPBS obtained the video from police. The El Cajon couple is seeing it for the first time. For the 78-year-old Judith, the video brings back memories of a fateful call she received in May of 2020. 6it was my grandson, troy he had an accident and the police arrested him 1/58 He told her how much money he needed and she couldn’t tell his father, it would make him angry it was seven thousand six hundred dollars everything was cash 2/55 Judith had a lot of questions … he had all the answers.. He told me someone was going to pick it up and it was the only way to get out of jail. 3/16 so i did what every mother, grandmother does, help them 2/29 But the voice on the other end of the line wasn’t Judith’s  grandson. Law enforcement says the Attig's are among dozens of people in San Diego and across the country who’ve fallen victim to a so-called grandparents scam run by a nationwide criminal syndicate. It’s called The Enterprise. This is so much  more rampant than anyone in the country is willing to admit. That’s Deputy San Diego County DA Scott Pirrello. He says the grandparents scam is an old crime, but The Enterprise has taken it to a new level. on screen she hands over the envelope and asks: "who are you"....the response “Jessica" She's not Jessica, she's Jasmin.  Jasmin Parore from Los Angeles. The indictment explains how couriers like her were at the bottom rung of The Enterprise’s ladder. She allegedly took the Attig’s money and passed it to a crew chief who oversees other couriers. It was then passed up to the national organization. Parore was eventually arrested in 2021  and charged with 33 felonies, including extortion, fraud and money laundering.  This wasn’t her only courier stop. Scott Pirrello, District Attorney’s Elder Abuse UniT that's a pretty good investigative lead 7/38 This San Diego case would open the eyes of the DA’s office to the potential breadth of the Enterprise organization. there was a network of money laundering syndicate above her and that launched a federal   investigation Oleksandra Johnson, is a prosecutor in the US Attorney's office in San Diego. She says Parore’s arrest got the feds interested. The Justice Department doesn’t usually pay attention to elder fraud abuse —but  this one was different. U. S. Attorney  Oleksandra Johnson  she lead us to the others on the west coast. 15/18 Johnson would join Pirrello the FBI,and other law enforcement agencies to form a first-of-its-kind crime fighting team – the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force.  In another first, the Enterprise members were prosecuted under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. or RICO, which can lead to longer prison terms, larger fines. Scott P  A RICO indictment in a case like this is something that is really a watershed moment in the fight against elder scams A Grand Jury Indictment followed in July, 2021, naming 8 Enterprise members. Looking back, investigators say they were able to break the case because The Enterprise got too greedy … couriers tried to squeeze more money out of their victims. That’s what happened to the Attigs. he called back, wanting 21,000 more dollars 3/51 The couple headed to their bank, California Trust,to take the money out the girls at the bank said it was a scam and said no, its my grandson and they said call your relatives, its a scam LB is described in indictment The next breakthrough came when the task force learned of a similar scenario that played out in Ohio. the victim by then realized its not right, so when he showed up, they arrested him, seized his phone devices.  The case got better after that The phones provided a wealth of leads.   Law enforcement now had a roadmap to The Enterprise’s network. In time, operations in Florida, Arizona, New York and Texas would be uncovered. they study psychology, they know exactly how to get their hook into a victim Deputy DA Pirrello says the investigation shows how vulnerable thousands of older Americans are and has brought a new awareness of elder fraud to the highest levels of law enforcement. we’re not going to educate our way out of this problem. We need serious action, from law  enforcement, from the government, from the banking industry, from the retail industry.We need a monumental response to this monumental problem.As for the ongoing effort against the Enterprise gang members? were going to follow the evidence and get it done.

TAG: The U-S Attorney’s office says six indicted members of The Enterprise have pleaded guilty.

Multiple investigations are ongoing.

This story was reported and written by KPBS Freelance Reporter J-W August.


Thousands of University of California front line workers rallied across the state yesterday, protesting wage disparity between employees and the system’s senior management.

Reporter Kitty Alvarado went to the rally in La Jolla, and tells us board members were voting on executive pay at the same time workers were protesting.

We’re fired up Can't take it no more  Patient care and service employees of the UC Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla used their lunch break to rally outside the hospital Treat your workers like you should! This is one of three local rallies at UC campuses that joined thousands across the state to protest the pay gap between UC employees and the governing members of the university system … the rallies were happening at the same time the UC Board of Regents was voting on giving their chancellors a raise  … They’re  asking for all employees to make a minimum of $25 an hour. Isaac Zamora, a respiratory therapist, joined the rally line on his break It really made me feel that they really don’t care about the work that we do here He says he was disappointed when he found out that the regents were voting on giving those at the top of the payscale another raise especially when he sees his colleagues struggling to get by The chancellor for UCSD they approved a 79 percent raise for him over one year 79 percent   meanwhile we’re out here asking for 5 percent just to keep us up so we can afford milk and bread, it stings I can’t say it doesn’t, it stings They are also asking the UC system not to invest in Blackstone … a company they say is contributing to the housing crisis. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News. 

TAG: KPBS News reached out to the U-C Board of Regents… it did not respond.


Earlier this year a massive earthquake demolished parts of Turkey and killed at least 50-thousand people in that country.

Two weeks later, an engineer from S-D-S-U arrived to study the devastation.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us what he learned.

structural engineering professor robert dowell was part of a team of engineers who went to turkey to report on the quake and the damage to structures. “the length of rupture of that 7.8 earthquake was the same as the distance from san diego all the way to santa barbara.” he said modern earthquake design would have made a huge difference there. if you took all of the tens of thousands of buildings that collapsed in turkey and put them on base isolation before the earthquake, not one of them would have collapsed. base isolation means the foot of the building is not fastened to the ground, and the building can slide or rock slightly as the ground moves beneath it. dowell says use of weak concrete was also an issue. but, he said, bridges actually did well. in all of turkey, not one of them collapsed. soq.


Around this time last year, the city of Vista was requesting proposals for a homeless shelter – but got no takers.

But things worked out differently when it came to a safe parking site.

North County reporter Tania Thorne says one is set to open later this year.

This marks the second safe parking site for the North County region. Jewish Family Service will help run the project out of the Vista Civic Center parking lot. The organization operates 5 other safe parking sites in San Diego county, including one in Encinitas. The lot in Vista will be pretty similar to the one in Encinitas, it’ll also be 25 spaces. It'll also be during the overnight hours only and we know from experience in this area that there’s definitely a need and we expect utilization to be high as soon as its ready to open. Chris Olsen with Jewish Family Service says the majority of people using the site are over age 50 and have full time jobs. The Vista safe parking site will accommodate 25 cars from 6pm to 7am and is expected to open in August. TT KPBS News. 


Coming up.... Our KPBS arts reporter gives us a sneak peek of the San Diego International Fringe Festival, that kicks off tonight. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


Representatives from P-B-S stations across the country just wrapped up their annual meeting in San Diego.

Education reporter M.G. Perez was there.

13-hundred public broadcasting managers, producers, and other employees had the chance to take selfies with Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster. “C is for cooke…uhm uhm…uhm” …and they were also in San Diego this week to collaborate and communicate the latest developments in programming and fundraising. Sara Dewitt is Senior Vice President and General Manager of PBS KIDS…which has updated video games and new mobile apps for students on the way. There is more diversity, too. “...that means not just showcasing the characters but get more and more creators and producers…BIPOC creators into our system so we can have really authentic stories.” PBS KIDS serves more than 12-and-a-half million visitors every month on its digital platforms. MGP KPBS NEWS.


San Diego International Fringe Festival celebrates not just 11 days of live theater, but 11 years of bringing artists and shows from all over the globe to San Diego audiences.

Arts reporter Beth Accomando has been covering San Diego Fringe since its inception, and wants to introduce you to its latest team member.

san diego international fringe festival just got a new crusader. austin dean ashford i am putting on this cape and this green lantern ring, and i will find you from around the world and strongly urge you to come. you are strongly invited. that’s austin dean ashford. austin dean ashford okay, austin, bring your excitement down a little bit so you can communicate to humans. kevin charles patterson what i'm really excited about with having him here is the new energy and a new voice for our festival that helps represent the direction we'd like to take the festival. kevin charles patterson founded san diego fringe back in 2013 and this year he wanted to add someone to the team who would amplify fringe’s message of diversity and inclusivity. austin dean ashford i want to hear the asian play. i want to hear the african play. i want to hear the japanese play. i want to hear the latinx play, i want to hear the queer play. i want it all. i want it all here and i want it all now. ashford has enthusiastically embraced his role as not just fringe producer but also as its ambassador for the arts. austin dean ashford i want to bring some innovative ways for us to grow and invite new voices to come to the fringe. ashford was one of those new voices in 2018. austin dean ashford i get to get amplified off of everybody else's first time because i remember my first time. and that perspective allows him to understand what artists need and how to attract a first time fringer like mark vigeant to come down to san diego from l.a. with his show mark pleases you. clip hello i’m mark. i just died. i am in hell… cue the hell lights please. austin dean ashford it's very tough for a lot of artists to go from hobby amateur to feel like they've had a professional moment. this festival did this for me. and it continues to do that for others. plus it upholds the international fringe tradition of giving 100 percent of the box office to artists and providing an uncensored and unjuried platform for them. that’s what appealed to loud fridge theatre group’s kandace crystal. kandace crystal it allows for artists to be that, artistic. they can get a little crazy and maybe we go off script a little bit and we have some fun with it. and to have fun experimenting within a safe space, says kate rose reynolds. she, along with crystal, is part of loud fridge theatre group’s show normal heights. clip i just got a chill kate rose reynolds fringe is just such an incredible theatrical experience because you can see so many different things in this really short period of time. so you can go see a circus show, and then you can go see, like, a very serious drama, and then you can see a dance piece, and it can sort of fill your artistic cup up so quickly in this really incredible way. and the energy is palpable. the fringe show choice words tackles reproductive rights. clip once upon a time i was a teenager like you and i was your age when i got pregnant. gabriella sosa is one of the actresses in the play. she suggests coming to fringe with an open mind. gabriela soso it may not be as polished as what you may see on a broadway show, it's more real and guttural and relevant. but the joy of fringe is that it can be anything an artist can create. part of ashford’s job is to be ready to answer the question artists may be asking themselves as they try out new, crazy, provocative or just plain silly ideas in their living rooms. austin dean ashford is there a platform for me? is there a place where i can have my authentic voice and share it with people, and people would want to hear? and i can say a resounding, unapologetic yes. here at sd, fringe, we want your work. and so do i. because every year i look forward to these 11 days of sensory overload, stepping out of my comfort zone, and just being open to anything fringe wants to throw at me.beth accomando, kpbs news..

TAG: San Diego International Fringe Festival runs tonight through May 28th, with its home base in Balboa Park, and one show running at Les Girls.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Tune in again tomorrow for more local stories, plus, we’ll have some weekend plan suggestions if you’d like some. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Thursday.

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Elder fraud is among the most underreported crimes, but that could change with a San Diego case that has revealed a nationwide criminal network. In other news, thousands of University of California front line workers rallied across the state Wednesday, protesting wage disparity between employees and the system’s senior management. Plus, we have a sneak peek of the San Diego International Fringe Festival, which kicks off tonight.