Mark Smith Investigations    
PI 27675

Past Cases & Media Links

Modesto Bee, Dec 7, 2011: Abbey Case: Ex-Stanislaus County detective accused of harassing tenants.

"Mark Smith, another district attorney investigator, testified that Abbey's co-workers said the detective spent about 50 percent of her work time conducting personal business related to her rental properties. Smith said he searched Abbey's department-assigned silver Chevrolet Impala. In the trunk, he found "For Rent" lawn signs, sink faucets and a lot of paperwork from the rental properties."

6-10-2009: Help to Fight Bank Foreclosure Listings Rescue Fraud Available.

"Now, the arm of the law gets longer in the valley as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service joined the local law enforcement in going after mortgage loan fraudsters. Gulley and his fellow investigator Mark Smith were named U.S. marshals and given authority to process subpoenas and make arrest. According to District Attorney Birgit Fladager of Stanislaus County, fraudulent companies offering to help homeowners avoid bank foreclosure listings are becoming rampant throughout the Central Valley. Fladager explained that unscrupulous people do not limit their illegal activities in just one place so it is better to deal with the problem on a global level."

8-5-2005: Peterson Case Lie Costs PI his License

"A private investigator stands to lose his license and has been ordered to pay a $2,500 fine for passing himself off as a police officer while poking around Modesto, looking for leads in the Laci Peterson murder investigation. The case began when Lt. Mark Smith, an investigator with the district attorney’s office, spotted Bernstein on Court TV. The private investigator was holding up booking photos of local residents while talking to host Catherine Crier. The district attorney’s office filed charges against Bernstein in August, during the third month of Peterson’s double murder trial in Redwood City. Peterson was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his wife and their unborn son, Conner. Bernstein at first faced 11counts accusing him of impersonating an officer, fraudulently using a badge and simulating an official inquiry from June 24 to July 9, 2004."

10-1-10: Ex-Modesto auto dealers suspected in $1M swindle

Two former south Modesto car dealers face multiple theft and fraud charges on suspicion they swindled $1 million from investors and rigged bogus auto deals worth $500,000. Brothers Amel and Haythem "Mike" Attalla were arrested late last week in Arizona, where they may have been selling used vehicles under assumed names, an arrest warrant suggests. Mike Attalla, 35, faces 65 felony counts, including grand theft, securities fraud and passing bad checks, and Amel Attalla, 36, faces several grand theft charges, the release says. The older brother also uses the name Ataalaha, according to court documents and the DMV. The arrests came after a two-year joint probe conducted by Mark Smith, a Stanislaus County district attorney fraud investigator; John Heilman, a sheriff's investigator; and a Stockton DMV investigator."

11-6-2010: Echos of Bernard Madoff Reverberating in Modesto

"Victims listed in recent affidavits told The Bee in early 2009 that they had invested $3.2 million in the brothers car lots ... The unusually high bail [$1 million for each man] for a white-collar accusation reflects investigators' worries, cited in affidavits, that the brothers, born in Iraq, could flee to the Middle East.

'I believe (Mike Attalla) never had any intent of paying these loans back,' but used new money to make small lulling payments to keep former investors at bay, 'similar to a pyramid scheme,' " The Bee reports Stanislaus County District Attorney Investigator Mark Smith as saying. Smith's office, along with DMV investigator Sean Cook and Stanislaus County Sheriff's investigator John Heilman were the team extending the long arm of the law to the Attallas. "The key word is teamwork," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona, whose association represents DMV investigators. "This is a textbook case on how very vital the state's participation in consumer protection is and how impossible the Attalla case would have been to crack by the two local agencies going it alone."

12-4-2004, Life Magazine

"Lt. Mark Smith, with the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office, escorts Sharon Rocha, mother of Laci Peterson, to court for the penalty phase of the Scott Peterson trial December 7, 2004 in Redwood City, California. Kim Peterson, director of the Sund-Carrington foundation, is at center. Scott Peterson was found guilty of first degree murder of his wife, Laci, and second degree murder of their unborn son and could face the death penalty."

1-13-2005, Phoenix News Times: The incredibly true story of two Tempe women and the photograph that helped convict Scott Peterson

"On October 11, they got the e-mail. Forwarded by a regular on the Court TV boards, it was from a Lieutenant Mark Smith with the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office. He was trying to find Katie and Jordy; they needed to call his office. Immediately. It was late, but Monkman picked up the phone and dialed. Smith answered. Right away, he started asking questions about the photograph of the bag of cement on the Petersons' driveway: Who had taken it? When? Did anyone see them? He didn't explain much. "All he said was, they might need to use that photograph as evidence," Monkman says. "I was just freaking out." After talking to both women that night, Smith explained that he would need to subpoena McCallie. She'd have to fly to California in two weeks and be ready to testify. She was to tell no one. As a witness, she was under Judge Delucchi's gag order, which meant she'd have to stop discussing the case on the boards. Monkman, who might have to be summoned to back up McCallie's account, could keep posting, but was to say nothing about the photograph."

Aug, 1, 1998: State Urges Policing of Land-Based Securities; Waterford City Attorney Faces Charges

(This is from a case I worked involving $250 million dollars in municipal bonds issued all over the state of California by what was determined to be illegal entities. I was the primary investigator on the case and worked on it from 1997 until it was resolved with the conviction of Mr. Gnass in 2004. During the investigation of this case I worked with The Department of Corporations, the State Treasurer, the Attorney General, the FBI, and the SEC. Numerous administrative actions were taken by various agencies in addition to the criminal charges that resulted from my case.)

"As if to underscore the urgency of the report, a grand jury in July returned a criminal indictment of the city attorney of the City of Waterford relating to his activities as a bond disclosure counsel in several Marks-Roos deals, while an allegation has been made that $70 million of the city's Marks Roos bonds may be illegal. Waterford City Attorney William E. Gnass surrendered to a Stanislaus County Judge on July 20 to answer charges of 11 separate violations of the California Government Code. He pled innocent to all charges. Since 1996, the city has issued $76 million in Marks Roos bonds. Gnass was both disclosure counsel and city attorney at the time the deals were executed."


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