MLK said: "Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere"

End Corruption in the Courts!

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Monday, November 29, 2010

New York Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Public Corruption

Lawyer Mangone pleads guilty in Yonkers public corruption case
The Journal News by Timothy O'Connor - November 29, 2010

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK — Lawyer Anthony Mangone said today that he paid "tens of thousands of dollars" to a go-between to bribe former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi. Mangone, 37, of Purchase, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to public corruption charges stemming from the investigation into the city council's handling of the Longfellow School project, a housing re-development plan involving two shuttered city schools. The one-time protege of former state. Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Yonkers, also pleaded guilty to tax charges in a separate case, admitting that he hid more than $120,000 in income from the IRS in 2006 and 2007. He faces up to 45 years in prison when he is sentenced in the two cases March 18. Annabi and former Yonkers Republican Party Chairman Zehy Jereis have pleaded not guilty in the case. They were indicted along with Mangone on Jan. 6. Their charges also include accusations that Jereis and Annabi conspired to sell her vote on the controversial $630 million Ridge Hill project. Annabi was a vocal opponent of the project but switched her vote allegedly at Jereis' behest. Federal prosecutors said Jereis paid Annabi $160,000 in bribes between 2004 and 2008. Annabi's vote was decisive in getting the council to approve the project. In the Longfellow School project, Mangone said he gave $30,000 to Jereis in 2006 to give to Annabi to change her vote on the project. Mangone represented the developer in the project, Milio Management. "I told my client that he would have to pay the cash to Sandy Annabi to get her to switch her vote," he said. tpoconnor@lohud.com

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Law School Class: How To Fake Billing Under Assumed Names

Ex-BigLaw Associate Who Faked $500,000 in Billables Loses Law License
The National Law Journal by Leigh Jones - November 23, 2010

A former Greenberg Traurig associate has surrendered his law license to the Supreme Court of Georgia following a finding that he billed nearly $500,000 under assumed names. The court on Nov. 22 accepted Michael Shaw's petition for the voluntary surrender of his license, noting that it was "tantamount" to disbarment. The court previously rejected petitions by Shaw to suspend his license. According to court records, while he was an associate at Greenberg Traurig from 2003 to 2009, Shaw used the fictitious name of an independent investigator to submit invoices for work on bankruptcy cases. He also submitted invoices for fake title-examination services. Greenberg Traurig fired Shaw in June 2009 when it learned of his conduct. Shaw had moved for a six-month suspension and, after the court rejected that petition, for a two- to four-year suspension, which it also denied. In ordering his removal from the state's attorney roster, the court observed that Shaw used someone else's Social Security number, obtained from bankruptcy filings, and submitted fake tax forms. The court said that Shaw had admitted most of the allegations and that he had repaid the firm $527,000. Shaw could not be reached for comment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Corrupt Ethics Lawyers Friedberg and Cohen Forced To Retire

Much To Be Thankful For: Alan W. Friedberg and Sherry K. Cohen Forced To Retire.....Both to be gone for Thanksgiving!!

3 High-Level Officials At First Department to Retire
The New York Law Journal by Noeleen G. Walder - News In Brief - September 22, 2010

Three high-level officials in the Appellate Division, First Department, have given notice that they plan to retire in November, Presiding Justice Luis A. Gonzalez announced yesterday. David Spokony, the court's clerk, Alan Friedberg, chief counsel to the Disciplinary Committee, and James Shed, secretary to the Committee on Character and Fitness, are among 1,650 non-judicial personnel who have informed the court system that they intend to take advantage of an early-retirement program being offered to state employees. Mr. Spokony joined the First Department in 1978. He served as a supervising appellate court attorney and a deputy clerk before assuming his current title earlier this year. Before becoming chief counsel in 2007, Mr. Friedberg, who began his career as a staff attorney at the New York City Board of Education, was deputy administrator in charge at the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. Mr. Shed worked as a staff attorney at the disciplinary committee before being appointed as a secretary of the character committee. In a statement, Justice Gonzalez said the three officials' decades of valuable experience will be missed by the bench and bar alike."

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Note: Sherry K. Cohen, deputy chief counsel, is also retiring and taking early-retirement, and as previously posted here on September 16, 2010, "Corrupt Ethics Attorney Sherry K. Cohen Departing, Finally"

Iviewit Shows Federal Court Exceptional Circumstances

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

ELIOT I. BERNSTEIN, INDIVIDUALLY and P. STEPHEN LAMONT
ON BEHALF OF SHAREHOLDERS OF IVIEWIT HOLDINGS, INC., Plaintiffs,

-against-

APPELLATE DIVISION FIRST DEPARTMENT PLAINTIFFS’ REPLY
DEPARTMENTAL DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, et al., Defendants.

DOCKET NO: 07Civ11196 (SAS)

PLAINTIFFS' REPLY TO DEFENDANTS’
OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO REOPEN BASED ON
EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

ORAL ARGUMENT REQUESTED


On October 11, 2010, Plaintiff, P. Stephen Lamont, individually, and on behalf of shareholders of Iviewit Holdings, Inc. moved this Court for an order reopening the above captioned case, Docket No. 07-Civ-11196 (SAS), based upon exceptional circumstances that ensued after the Court’s granting of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and its Opinion and Order of August 8, 2008 (“Order”). Respectively, Plaintiffs have been properly served with answers that oppose such Motion to Reopen by the Proskauer Defendants, the Foley Defendants, Raymond A. Joao Pro se, the Virginia Defendants, the Florida Bar Defendants, and the New York State Actors (collectively, “Reopen Oppositions”). Additionally Plaintiffs have been properly served with an answer by the State Actors that opposes the removal of the Office of the Attorney General from representation of the State Actors (“Disqualification Opposition”). The Meltzer Defendants did not answer Plaintiffs’ Motion.

REOPEN OPPOSITIONS

In each and every instance, the Reopen Oppositions singularly point to Plaintiffs’ lack of standing to challenge attorney discipline complaints. Such a defense erroneously interprets Plaintiffs’ singular claim: it is not the disposition that Plaintiffs claim is a violation per se, but it is the method employed to reach that disposition that clearly and convincingly gives exceptional substance to support Plaintiffs’ original cause of action in 07-cv-11196, civil racketeering, in violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983 (which this Court likened to Plaintiffs’ direct constitutional claims in its Order and Opinion) and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1961-1968, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Plaintiffs claim that the State Actors committed all methods employed to sanctify and preserve the politically connected law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP and its reckless member Defendant Kenneth Rubenstein and his accomplices Defendant Raymond A. Joao and the Meltzer Defendants to preserve and protect a profitable client, MPEG LA LLC. Respectfully, in skewing from the actual claim (method employed), this Court erroneously concluded Plaintiffs’ lack of standing in its Order, but made no mention of the methods employed to reach said racketeering dispositions.

The Reopen Oppositions make no mention, lest no defense of: After four and one half years of handling the Plaintiffs’ grievance complaint against Thomas J. Cahill, Defendant Martin R. Gold suddenly reached a disposition exactly seven (7) business days after Plaintiffs filed their motion with the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division First Department (“First Department Court”) requesting an order requiring the immediate investigation of Thomas J. Cahill (“Cahill”); and When after said disposition, Defendants Hon. Andrias and Hon Saxe sat on a panel in the First Department Court to deny Plaintiffs’ motion.
These circumstances are exceptional instances in the pattern of racketeering and are direct violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968 that continue along with, and of which no statute of limitations may belie, the seminal instances as follows: Deposition testimony will show evidence that dismissed Defendant Joseph Wigley stated “Mr. Cahill has taken the Rubenstein complaint away and is handling the complaint on his own,” or words to these effects. The handling of a grievance complaint by the Chief Counsel himself is quite inapposite to the testimony offered in Anderson v. The State of New York (S.D.N.Y. filed October 26, 2007). This Court, simply, must allow discovery to take place.

Deposition testimony will show evidence that in the filing of a response to a grievance complaint against Rubenstein by a referee, the late Steven C. Krane, where, the former Clerk of the First Department Court, dismissed Defendant Catherine O’Hagen Wolfe, stated “Steven Krane? Of course, he is a referee, and I have a meeting with him tonight along with a few others folks,” or words to these effects. This Court, simply, must allow discovery to take place.
Deposition testimony will show evidence that the State Actors caused the merging of the Rubenstein complaint with the grievance complaint against Raymond A. Joao that was filed in another Disciplinary Department so as to impart a conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety in light of the Krane response. This Court, simply, must allow discovery to take place. That in making no mention, lest no defense of these exceptional circumstances of 1 and 2 above, Plaintiffs maintain that skirting the issue and providing no defense, clearly and convincingly gives further exceptional substance to support Plaintiffs’ original cause of action in 07-cv-11196, civil racketeering, in violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983 and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1961-1968, all methods employed by the State Actors to sanctify and preserve the politically connected law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP and its reckless member Defendant Kenneth Rubenstein and his accomplices Defendant Raymond A. Joao and the Meltzer Defendants to preserve and protect a profitable client, MPEG LA LLC.

Plaintiffs argue that, as to the Foley Defendants, the Virginia Defendants, and the Florida Bar Defendants, further deposition testimony will show evidence which will further define the who, what, where, when, and how of the allegations that sufficiently state claims which will become more fully evident, as to whether they acted in collusion with the State Actors in clearly and convincingly acting to preserve and protect the politically connected Proskauer Defendants and their accomplices and/or whether they contrived their own racketeering scheme for securing the backbone, enabling video technology and the invention that stakes the claim as the inception of digital zoom. This Court, simply, must allow discovery to take place.

STANDARDS OF PLEADING

18 U.S.C. § 1961 – Definitions

Where 18 U.S.C. § 1961 (1) (B) section 1503 defines “racketeering” as activities relating to relating to obstruction of justice, section 1511 defines “racketeering” as activities relating to the obstruction of State or local law enforcement, and section 1952 defines a catch all as activities relating to racketeering.

Where 18 U.S.C. § 1961 (4) defines “enterprise” that includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.

Where 18 U.S.C. § 1961 (5) defines “pattern of racketeering activity” as requiring at least two acts of racketeering activity, where the exceptional circumstances of Section I subsection (a) and (b) and the seminal circumstances of Section I (c), (d), and (e) meets Plaintiffs’ standard of pleading in obstruction of justice, obstruction of State or local enforcement, and the catch all of racketeering.

18 U.S.C. § 1962 – Prohibited Activities

Where 18 U.S.C. § 1962 (a), (b), (c), and (d) Defendants’ pattern of racketeering clearly and convincingly acted to preserve and protect the politically connected Proskauer Defendants. The Proskauer Defendants and their accomplices contrived their racketeering scheme to sabotage the backbone, enabling video technology and the invention that stakes the claim as the inception of digital zoom from competing in, and affecting, interstate or foreign commerce for such technologies from the original encoding of video and images and downstream to display on any screen device by an end user.

Deposition testimony will show evidence from a one Wayne Smith, former intellectual property counsel of Warner Bros. Entertainment, a unit of Time Warner, Inc. as to the sabotage of Plaintiffs patent applications that affect interstate and foreign commerce, and this Court, simply, must allow discovery to take place. Deposition testimony will further show evidence from a one Gregory B. Thagard, one of the principal inventors and proponents of the DVD6c Licensing Group as to the sabotage of Plaintiffs patent applications affect interstate and foreign commerce, and this Court, simply, must allow discovery to take place. Deposition testimony will conclusively show evidence from the intellectual property department of Greenberg Traurig LLP (counsel to the Florida Bar Defendants herein), who conducted a full review of Plaintiffs’ intellectual property in or about Spring 2002 as to the sabotage of Plaintiffs patent applications that affects interstate and foreign commerce, and this Court, simply, must allow discovery1 to take place.

18 U.S.C. § 1963 Criminal Penalties

Where 18 U.S.C. § 1963 attaches criminal penalties to the actions of Defendants to preserve and protect the politically connected Proskauer Defendants and their accomplices, Plaintiffs respectfully request this Court to bring such actions to the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for a full investigation.

18 U.S.C. § 1964 – Civil Remedies

Where 18 U.S.C. § 1964 (a) grants the district courts of the United States jurisdiction to prevent and restrain violations of section 1962 by issuing appropriate orders, and by 18 U.S.C. § 1964 (c), Plaintiffs injured in their business and property by reason of a violation of section 1962 provides civil remedies by instituting the action prayed to reopen herein, including the recovery of threefold damages the Plaintiffs sustained and the cost of the action, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

18 U.S.C. § Section 1965 – Standing

Where 18 U.S.C. § Section 1965 provides that any civil action under §§ 1961 to 1965 by Plaintiffs’ may be instituted against Defendants in this Court or in any district in which such Plaintiffs reside.

DISQUALIFICATION OPPOSITION

That in making no mention, lest no defense, counsel to the State Actors do not plead the existence of an ethical barrier between different departments of the Attorney General’s office (“AG”) to avoid conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety, in complete separation of such bilateral functions, but suffices to regurgitate this Court’s Order. Where no defense is pleaded, this Court must conclude that there is no existence of an ethical barrier between different departments of the Attorney General’s office to avoid conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety, and must immediately disqualify the AG.

CONCLUSION

For all the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ respectfully request this Court to: (i) reopen the action and grant relief from the Court's August 8, 2008 Order; (ii) deny any Defendants’ request for leave to file a sur-reply; (iii) disqualify the AG’s office in representing the State Actors; and (iv) grant Plaintiffs leave to retain counsel and file an Amended Complaint within one hundred and eighty days (180).

Attorney for Plaintiffs, P. Stephen Lamont, Pro Se
35 Locust Avenue, Rye, N.Y. 10580, Tel.: (914) 217-0038
By: P. Stephen Lamont



AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been furnished to all defendants by facsimile this 14nd day of November 2010. Defendants are served by facsimile as opposed to hand delivery to the Court for the sake of Pro se expediency.

P. Stephen Lamont, Pro Se

Joanna Smith/Gregg M. Mashberg Proskauer Rose LLP
Counsel for the Proskauer Defendants, Facsimile: (212) 969-2900

Monica Connell, Esq., Office of the New York State Attorney General
Counsel for the New York State Defendants Facsimile: (212) 416-6075

Kent K. Anker, Esq., Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP
Counsel for the Foley Larder LLP Defendants, Facsimile: (212) 373-7944

Raymond A. Joao, Pro se, c/o Fried & Epstein LLP
Counsel for Defendant Joao, Facsimile: (212) 268-3110

Stephen H. Hall, Office of the Virginia State Attorney General
Counsel for the Virginia Defendants, Facsimile: (804) 786-1991

Richard Howard, Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone
Counsel for Meltzer Defendants, Facsimile: (516) 747-0653

Glenn T. Burhans/Bridget Smitha, Greenberg Traurig LLP
Counsel for Florida Bar Defendants, Facsimile: (850) 681-0207

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NY Lawyer Walks Out of Congressional Hearing, Guilty Anyway

Charlie Rangel and the farce known as congressional ethics
The Washington Post by Dana Milbank - November 16, 2010

Charlie Rangel's trial began with an admonition from House ethics committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that the matter should be conducted "with the dignity and decorum befitting any proceeding before the House of Representatives." Talk about setting a low bar. Within minutes of its opening Monday morning, the trial degenerated into exactly the level of dignity and decorum we have come to expect from our lawmakers. Rangel immediately requested a postponement of the trial - never mind that the New York Democrat had spent the last three months demanding that the trial be expedited. The man who until recently had sway over hundreds of billions of dollars as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee was now claiming that he was too indigent to hire a lawyer. Half an hour into the public hearing he had demanded for so long, Rangel announced that he was leaving. "I object to the proceedings, and I, with all due respect, since I don't have counsel to advise me, I'm going to have to excuse myself from these proceedings," he told his eight colleagues, who wore expressions of surprise and amusement. Rangel, in his agitation, stepped away from his microphone as he berated the panel members. This forced the C-SPAN sound man to rush forward with a boom microphone, and caused problems for the stenography services, one of which transcribed the beginning of Rangel's diatribe this way: "RANGEL: (OFF-MIKE) On several occasions I've spoken with (inaudible). I've spoken with the chair. And I have (inaudible). . ." After Rangel departed, he treated reporters who chased him down the hall to more of his treatise on fairness and justice. The committee members huddled in private, then decided to proceed with the trial of Rangel in absentia, as if they were a Hague tribunal judging an at-large war criminal.

This was but the latest act in the ongoing farce known as congressional ethics. Rules are so flexible, and enforcement so lax, that even instances that look like outright influence-buying don't get prosecuted. And there's no sign that the situation will improve, as key figures make noises about abolishing the new Office of Congressional Ethics, a semi-independent body designed to make ethics investigations more transparent. Now comes Rangel, who seems determined to take down with him any remaining credibility of the ethics committee. "I am being denied a right to have a lawyer," he informed the committee with righteous indignation. "You may hire whoever you wish as a lawyer," the chairwoman told him. "That is up to you." There is some truth to Rangel's complaint. His law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder, withdrew from the case after his trial date was set, and after Rangel had paid them at least $1.4 million. (The firm says it "did not seek to terminate the relationship.") Rangel, after a tough reelection campaign (and the loss of fundraising clout associated with his committee chairmanship), has little campaign money left to pay another lawyer, and House rules prevent him from accepting pro bono help. (Celebrated criminal lawyer Abbe Lowell, seated with Rangel's family in the hearing room Monday morning, was willing to take the case for a pittance.)

Still, it's difficult to feel sorry for Rangel. He could pay for lawyers by selling off his villa in the Dominican Republic (the one for which he's accused of avoiding taxes - one of the 13 charges against him). Or he could have maintained better relations with his legal team, rather than publicly rejecting their advice in a speech on the House floor. Rangel sauntered into the hearing room - a chamber much less grand than his former Ways & Means lair - wearing a striped tie as loud as the TV test pattern. Rangel smiled as if arriving at a cocktail reception, then stood at attention at the defense table until the committee members walked in, five minutes later. After opening statements, Lofgren asked Rangel, alone at the defense table, if he was represented by counsel. The 80-year-old lawmaker interpreted this as an invitation to make a speech. He delivered a lengthy complaint about the process and a reaffirmation of his innocence. After several minutes of this, the chairwoman interrupted. "Mr. Rangel?" "If the chair is suggesting that I conclude my remarks," Rangel said - Lofgren nodded her agreement - "then I would do that." But not before he made another statement, this one invoking his wartime service and his work for the New York state legislature in the 1960s. The prosecutor attempted to enter his 549 exhibits into the record. "Is there objection?" Lofgren asked. Rangel took this as a cue to make another lengthy speech. Lofgren eventually interrupted. "Mr. Rangel, if you could be seated," she requested. Rangel, ignoring the chairwoman, remained on his feet - the preferred position of a man about to stage a walkout. danamilbank@washpost.com

Judge Slams Conflicted Prosecutor, Boots Case

Exclusive: Judge takes Soares off steroids case
The Albany Times Union by ROBERT GAVIN Staff Writer - November 15, 2010

ALBANY, NY -- A judge Monday dismissed the Albany steroids case against five pharmacy operators from Florida, ruling that the alleged conspirators' federal civil lawsuit against Albany County prosecutors has created a "conflict of interest" that merits removing prosecutors from the case. In response, District Attorney David Soares blasted Judge Stephen Herrick's ruling, saying it gave defendants an easy path to get rid of a prosecutor. In a six-page ruling, Herrick decided the 33-count indictment against the owners of the former Signature Compounding Pharmacy in Orlando can still be brought again in Saratoga County. He named Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy's office as a special prosecutor. Murphy could not immediately be reached for comment. "The court finds a demonstrable potential for prejudice and a conflict of interest that the court cannot ignore," Herrick wrote. "When an impermissible conflict of interest has been established disqualification of the district attorney's office becomes necessary to prevent the undermining of the public confidence in our criminal justice system. In the present matter, the court has found a conflict of interest sufficient to warrant dismissal of the indictment. Likewise, the court finds that this demonstrated conflict of interest warrants disqualification of the Albany County district attorney's office from further prosecution of this matter." Soares fired off a statement blasting the ruling. "Judge Herrick's decision is a get out of jail free card for every criminal defendant in New York state,' Soares stated. "His message to defendants is: 'if your DA is being too tough on you, sue him, and you can get a new one.' The court's decision undermines the criminal justice system and the DA's who represent the interest of the people they serve. We are seeking immediate relief from Judge Herrick's decision and to close this dangerous loophole that he has created." The decision marked the second time Herrick has tossed an indictment in the steroids case, which started in February 2007 with a raid on the pharmacy. The case linked elite professional athletes to performance-enhancing drugs that were allegedly supplied through the Orlando pharmacy. At least 17 guilty pleas were later secured by prosecutors.

Herrick dismissed the indictment against the remaining defendants in September 2008 finding prosecutorial missteps were made in grand jury proceedings. An appeals court would later uphold his decision -- but allowed Albany County prosecutors to once again present the case to a grand jury. Prosecutors represented the case. In June, a grand jury indicted ex-pharmacy operators Naomi Loomis, her husband, Robert "Stan" Loomis; his brother and former Signature pharmacy operator Kenneth Michael Loomis; former business manager Kirk Calvert and former business manager Tony Palladino. But the defendants also filed a federal lawsuit in Florida against Soares, Orlando police and other law enforcement officials the next month seeking millions of dollars, claiming false arrest and malicious prosecution. And a federal judge, Gregory A. Presnell, later upheld the lawsuit. He stated that Soares "not only participated in, but directed (assistant District Attorney Christopher) Baynes and others to violate plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful arrests," adding, "Rather than wait for any documentary evidence that plaintiffs had committed a crime in New York and comply with the very limited requirements of federal and state extradition statutes, Soares decided to orchestrate plaintiffs' arrests without valid New York warrants and, in the process, garner significant media attention." In his decision Monday, Herrick stated the judge's decision was a "scathing analysis" that "chronicled the alleged actionable conduct by members of the Albany County district attorney's office with regard to the criminal case defendants." Herrick stated that while defendants are not allowed to "manufacture a conflict to create a tactical advantage," the civil suit against Soares had survived a motion to dismiss it and is scheduled for trial before Presnell in Florida. The indictment against the defendants alleged steroids were sent from Florida to Colonie, Cohoes and Albany in 2005 and 2006. It said the defendants used affiliates such as Palm Beach Rejuvenation in Jupiter, Fla.; Infinity Longevity in Deerfield Beach, Fla.; MedXLife in Orlando; Oasis Longevity & Rejuvenation in Delray Beach, Fla. Cellular Nucleonic Advantage in Houston. Defense attorney E. Stewart Jones, who represents Kenneth Loomis, Calvert and Palladino, said he expects to meet with Murphy. He said he hopes the Saratoga County prosecutor will determine the case does not need to be tying up courts in New York state. "The case should never have been prosecuted in New York -- if there was any offense at all, it should have been prosecuted in Florida," Jones said. "New York should be done with these cases ... it's time to move on."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Former NY Attorney Rears Ex-Con Head in Miami

From con to condo
The New York Post by THOMAS FRANCIS in Miami and PHILIP MESSING in NY - November 12, 2010

Disgraced former Bronx political boss Stanley Friedman -- who served four years behind bars during the city's infamous corruption scandals in the 1980s -- now wants to help run a ritzy Miami Beach condo board, The Post has learned. Friedman, 74, a cigar-chomping, disbarred lawyer convicted of rigging city contracts along with crooked cronies, would help oversee The Alexander condominium's financial dealings as a board member. "Not everyone knows about his past," one source insisted. Friedman works for the Alexander's nearby hotel operations as "acting general manager." He is being offered up as the hotel "owner's representative" to the five-member condo board for the election, which is set for Nov. 23. The ultimate political insider, Friedman sent out a biography to woo condominium owners at The Alexander, located on Collins Avenue in the Millionaire's Row section. In it, he describes himself as a "husband, father, grandfather (8 granddaughters)" and lists his past educational accomplishments, including having attended prestigious Stuyvesant High School, City College and Brooklyn Law School. He also lists an impressive array of official positions he's held -- as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission; as Bronx County prosecutor; counsel to the majority leader of the New York City Council; former Mayor Ed Koch's legislative representative in Albany; deputy mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs and Bronx Democratic Party leader. Conspicuously absent is news of Friedman's checkered past. Friedman and three other men were found guilty in November 1986 of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the city Parking Violations Bureau in a case that was personally prosecuted by Rudy Giuliani. The Post caught up to the dapper Friedman at the Alexander condo's valet-parking site, where he was puffing on a cigar, just like he did before his fall from power in New York. Wearing a salmon-colored shirt and sports jacket, Friedman was initially amused when The Post confronted him. "I don't know if I want to talk to you, but you can go ahead and ask your questions," he said. When a reporter asked him whether condo owners knew of his criminal past, his good humor faded. "Everybody knows!" he snapped. He refused to talk further. In his letter to condo owners, Friedman told them he would try to help end the recent feud between the hotel and condo tenants, a source said. The oceanfront property features one-bedrooms selling for $350,000 and three bedrooms for roughly $1.7 million, according to one online real-estate listing. philip.messing@nypost.com

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Federal Ethics Panel Sets Monday Hearing for New Yorker

Ethics panel sets Monday hearing for Rangel
The Washington Times by David Sands - November 12, 2010

A House panel has set a Monday morning date to hear the ethics case against New York Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and long one of the most influential black lawmakers in Congress. The 9 a.m. Monday session announced by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will come on the first day lawmakers arrive back in Washington to begin the lame-duck legislative session following the November mid-term elections. Mr. Rangel, who easily won re-election in his Harlem district to a 21st term Nov. 2, has insisted he is innocent of the charges and has rejected offers to settle the charges. The ethics case — and one still pending against another top black Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Maxine Waters of California — proved an embarrassment to the party in an election where congressional Democrats suffered heavy losses. Committee Chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, announced last month that hearings into the two cases would be held during the lame-duck session. Mr. Rangel, who recently fired the attorneys representing him and could defend himself at Monday's hearing, is accused of 13 violations of congressional ethics, including failing to disclose at least $600,000 in assets and income in a series of inaccurate financial-disclosure reports to Congress and using a rent-subsidized New York apartment for a campaign office, when it was designated for residential use. The hearing could reportedly last several days. Mrs. Waters' case, relating to charges she improperly aided a bank with ties to her husband, is tentatively scheduled to start Nov. 29.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Future Lawyers Study Sex Scandals for Committee on Character and Fitness

Brooklyn Law School furious over steamy photo shoot
The New York Post by Kevin Fasick and Dan Mangan - Nobember 13, 2010

There oughta be a law -- against being this naughty.

Brooklyn Law School officials rented Diesel its library expecting a tasteful photo shoot for a jeans ad -- but what they got was a steamy display of writhing young models in skimpy lingerie grinding against books and computers. "It's gross. I work on those computers every day!" fumed a female student, referring to a shot showing two bra- and panty-clad women climbing over the machines toward an open-mouthed man. "Ugh. The library fantasies are now relentless." Red-faced school officials said they were duped by Diesel. "We are as shocked and mortified as you must be by these photographs," interim dean Michael Gerber wrote in an e-mail yesterday to students, faculty and staff. "When the school gave its permission to do the shoot, the school was assured that the photos would be in good taste. They are not." And how.

The frisky photos, shot last spring, show off the hot bodies of male and female models as they prowl around the library's floors, tables and bookshelves -- while wearing tight-fitting panties bearing various seductive messages. In one shot, a woman crouches over a man lying facedown on a desk covered with legal tomes, with the rear of her pink panties bearing the words, "Today I am your school teacher." His gray undies answer, "Tonight I am your student." In another photo, a topless, bespectacled brunette bashfully bends over -- cupping her breasts with her hands -- while wearing black panties, thigh-high stockings, and high heels amid stacks of law books. "I thought the ad was disgusting," grimaced Jordan Hersch, 22, a first-year student. "For a law institution to have people in their underwear where we study and work is unbecoming of a law institution." Not only did the saucy snaps scandalize students and staff, they may also have been a breach of contract. All of the racy photos are showcased on Diesel's Web site, but it's unclear if they will be used in any ad materials. Brooklyn Law was paid an undisclosed fee by Diesel -- which had hired an ad company for the shoot -- for use of the library during spring break last March, a school spokeswoman said. The school previously has done such deals with TV and movie productions. "Our understanding was that they were going to be doing a shoot for jeans, not intimates," the spokeswoman said. But she admitted that Brooklyn Law events director Chris Gibbons was in attendance during the shoot, while the nearly nude models crawled all over the library's desks and each other. The spokeswoman said she did not know whether Gibbons shouted "Objection!" when the ladies got lewd in the library. Spokesmen for Diesel, an Italy-based apparel company, declined to comment yesterday. Some more broad-minded scholars at Brooklyn Law were laissez-faire about the ads. "I guess a lot of people are upset about it, but I saw the photos, and I thought they were kind of funny, because the library is such an unfunny place," said Margaret Garrett, 29, in her second year. But a fellow second-year student wasn't laughing. "I am embarrassed, and the faculty and administration are embarrassed," said the student, who requested anonymity. "They should have been more suspicious. How could they let this happen?" dan.mangan@nypost.com



Government Watchdogs Say NY Ethics "A Joke"

State inspector general pushes for government watchdog
The New York Post by Carl Campanile - November 12, 2010

Corrupt Albany politicians may have finally met their match.

State Inspector General Joseph Fisch yesterday proposed the creation of a crimebusting office with sweeping powers to investigate all branches of state and local governments -- including members of the scandal-scarred Legislature. "These are drastic times that require unorthodox solutions," Fisch told The Post. He said he wanted a watchdog "with the authority and power and jurisdiction to look at the whole ball of wax." Fisch noted that, under the law, the state inspector general only has authority to probe wrongdoing in the state executive branch or officers who fall under the employ of the governor -- not state lawmakers. And he said there was no credible, independent agency to police the Legislature. A beefed-up corruption-fighting agency would require approval of the governor and Legislature. Fisch said the appointment of the agency should be made by Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo. "He has demonstrated his commitment to reform," Fisch said during a meeting with The Post editorial board. Asked if the state's legislative leaders are committed to ethics reform, Fisch said, "I think the facts speak for themselves." His bold plan comes on the heels of a devastating report he issued about the Aqueduct casino bid-rigging scandal. The probe accused Albany players -- particularly Senate Democratic leader John Sampson and other key Senate officials -- of cavorting with lobbyists to steer the contract to a favored bidder, AEG.

A rogues' gallery of lawmakers from both parties has ended up in handcuffs for various crimes in recent years, largely thanks to federal prosecutors -- not state ethics probers. They include former Queens Assemblyman and labor leader Brian McLaughlin, Queens Assemblyman Tony Seminerio, ex-Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Bronx Sen. Guy Velella, among others. Fisch said a new watchdog agency could be modeled after the defunct State Investigations Commission. "I was saddened by the elimination of an entity which had all the authority and power to look at every aspect of government -- city, local, state, legislature, judiciary, executive -- everything," Fisch said. Fisch said he intends to meet with Cuomo to discuss corruption fighting and ethics reform. A Cuomo spokesman, asked about Fisch's proposal, referred to the incoming governor's "Clean Up Albany" campaign policy book. In it, Cuomo proposed setting up an "independent" state ethics commission with enforcement powers to probe and punish ethics violations and law-breaking by members of the executive and legislative branches. Government watchdogs consider the Legislative Ethics Commission, which should police lawmakers but rarely does, a joke.

Another NYS Top Judge To Leave Dysfunctional OCA

Family Trumps Love of Law for Departing Justice
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - November 15, 2010

Justice James M. McGuire said he likes nothing better than ferreting out "a fascinating legal issue lurking in a simple case," a passion that is reflected in the dozens of dissenting opinions he has authored in his five years with the Appellate Division, First Department. "I love this work," said Justice McGuire. "I love thinking and writing about the law." Nevertheless, Justice McGuire said he soon would leave the bench to seek a job in the private sector that is more remunerative than the $144,000 he earns as a judge. Married to a federal prosecutor with whom he has a 5-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, and with no immediate prospects for additional pay as a public servant, Justice McGuire said he had no other choice. The state's judges have not received a pay raise since 1999. Justice McGuire, like many others, said that he has been forced to dip into savings to make ends meet. In the private sector, "I can plan for my children's future; it is as simple as that," he said. Justice McGuire, 57, is not the first appellate judge to cite the lack of a raise as a factor in resigning from a prestigious legal position. Last year, Robert A. Spolzino left the Second Department bench to join Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, for the same reason. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in an interview that the resignation of Justice McGuire at "the height of his powers" shows that the Legislature must act now to raise judicial salaries. "This is beyond ridiculous," said Judge Lippman. "The judiciary is being torn down brick by brick and we are now losing the judges who shape our jurisprudence." Judge Lippman worked closely with Justice McGuire when Judge Lippman served as presiding justice of the First Department in 2007 and 2008. Justice McGuire's immersion in the law is obvious from a glance around his chambers, where a desk and three tables are jammed into quarters smaller than many bedrooms. Every surface is strewn with law books, many of them open, as well as piles of papers, often well over a foot high. A Westlaw search found 90 dissenting opinions written by Justice McGuire, making him far and away the leader on the First Department bench in that category. Justice James M. Catterson, the runner-up, had 66. In addition to his dissents, Justice McGuire has authored dozens of concurring opinions and 22 majority opinions, according to a Westlaw search.

'Obligation' to Dissent

A Cornell Law graduate, Justice McGuire is a former Manhattan prosecutor and counsel to Governor George Pataki who was elected to the Supreme Court from Queens in 2004. When he joined the First Department in August 2005, his willingness to dissent raised some hackles on the court. "When I disagree with my colleagues," he said, "I have an obligation to dissent." Advised of the Westlaw tally, he chuckled and said, "I'm surprised. I thought my colleagues were wiser." First Department Presiding Justice Luis A. Gonzalez said that other judges on the court sometimes got "impatient" with Justice McGuire's focus on "sub-sub-issues." Over time, however, at least some of the judge's critics have come to accept his detailed approach as "a function of intense caring about getting the law right," said Justice Gonzalez in an interview.

Exhaustive Preparation

Justice Catterson said that in preparing a recent dissent, Justice McGuire exchanged drafts with Justice David B. Saxe, the author of the majority opinion, about a dozen times. In the process, both the majority and minority opinions became sharper and more nuanced. "The analysis became more complex and lines of cases that had never been thought of were uncovered," said Justice Catterson, who joined in Justice McGuire's dissent. Justice Saxe also pointed to Justice McGuire's "exhaustive" preparation for oral argument. His performance at oral arguments has stirred "the competitive juices" of other judges who "are now better prepared and sharper in their analysis than ever before," he said. A veteran criminal defense lawyer, who frequently argues before the court, said that at oral argument, Justice McGuire is "clearly very familiar with the issues and facts—more so than many of his colleagues. " Several lawyers said that Justice McGuire has a reputation as an astute and tough questioner. Brian Shoot, an appellate lawyer at the plaintiff's firm, Sullivan, Papain, Block, Cannavo & McGrath, said the questions are "only hard because he asks good, well-prepared questions that don't have easy answers." Mr. Shoot also called Justice McGuire a "refreshing" thinker who is willing to examine "whether a rule established by precedent has an adequate rationale." Justice McGuire is married to Lisa Barone, a veteran prosecutor in the Southern District U.S. Attorney's Office, who has worked on the prosecution of Bernard Madoff for his role in a massive Ponzi scheme and the investigations his arrest spawned. Justice McGuire said that he has not set a departure date but expects it will be when he finishes work on the cases that have not yet been decided. He will not start an active job search until after he last hears oral arguments, a date that should come sometime in the next few weeks. Daniel Wise can be reached at dwise@alm.com.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NY Judges Chastise Banks, Finally

Some judges chastise banks over foreclosure paperwork
The Washington Post by Ariana Eunjung Cha - November 9, 2010

EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. - A year ago, Long Island Judge Jeffrey Spinner concluded that a mortgage company's paperwork in a foreclosure case was so flawed and its behavior in negotiations with the borrower so "repugnant" that he erased the family's $292,500 debt and gave the house back for free. The judgment in favor of the homeowner, Diane Yano-Horoski, which is being appealed, has alarmed the nation's biggest lenders, who say it could establish a dramatic new legal precedent and roil the nation's foreclosure system. It is not the only case that has big banks worried. Spinner and some of colleagues in the New York City area estimate they are dismissing 20 to 50 percent of foreclosure cases on the basis of sloppy or fraudulent paperwork filed by lenders. Their decisions illustrate the central role lower court judges will have in resolving the country's foreclosure debacle. The mess came to light after lawsuits and media reports showed lenders were routinely filing shoddy or fraudulent papers to seize the homes of borrowers who had missed payments. In millions of cases across the United States, local judges have wide latitude to impose sanctions on banks, free homeowners from their mortgage debts or allow the companies to proceed with flawed foreclosures. Ultimately, the industry is likely to face a messy scenario - different resolutions by courts in all 50 states. The foreclosure dismissals in this area of New York have not delivered free homes for borrowers. With so much at stake, lenders in this part of New York are aggressively appealing foreclosure dismissals, which is likely to keep the legal system bogged down, foreclosed homes off the market, and homeowners like the Yano-Horoski family in legal limbo for years. "We believe the Yano-Horoski ruling, if allowed to stand, has sweeping and dangerous implications for the entire mortgage lending industry," said OneWest Bank, the family's mortgage servicer.

The situation in Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island and Kings County in Brooklyn- which have among the highest rates of foreclosure in the state and where the 81 judges handling foreclosures have become infamous over the past few years for scrutinizing paperwork for errors - provides a window into how the crisis could unfold across in the country. While the level of tolerance for document mistakes varies from judge to judge, the group as a whole has a reputation for ruling against mortgage companies when paperwork issues or other problems arise. At least one bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, requires document processors to separate foreclosures cases from these three counties from those in the rest of the country. A high-ranking executive of the company is specially assigned to sign off on the area's foreclosure filings. Judge Dana Winslow of Nassau County says he's thought a lot about why judges in his area are more apt to question filings. He said it comes down to one thing: Lack of trust for Wall Street. In this region, judges have seen a lot of inaccurate filings from the financial sector. Trust "of the lending institutions and Wall Street has eroded in some areas of the country more than others," Winslow said. Craig D. Robins, a foreclosure defense attorney who authors the Long Island Bankruptcy blog, said of the Yano-Horoski case: "I think we're going to see more decisions like this across the country. Many judges are finding their court calendars clogged with cases that have all these flaws in them that never should have been brought in the first place or should never have been brought without more due diligence."

Going forward, mortgage companies trying to foreclosure in the state of New York will face stiffer requirements. On Oct. 20, the state's chief judge said attorneys for lenders will have to vouch personally for the accuracy of documents. "We can't have the process being a fraud," New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in announcing the new procedure. "It has to be real and based on credible information." Even before Lippman's order, however, lower court judges were already raising questions about faulty paperwork in foreclosures. On June 17, for example, Judge Karen Murphy of Nassau County ruled that Wachovia Bank lacked standing to foreclose on a home because the document used to prove ownership of the mortgage was incomplete. On Sept. 21, Judge Peter Mayer of Suffolk County delayed a foreclosure by Ally Financial's GMAC mortgage unit after noticing that the paperwork transferring the mortgage to the bank was dated two days after the foreclosure was initiated. And on Oct. 21, Judge Arthur Schack of Kings County dismissed a OneWest foreclosure motion because the bank had not adequately documented how the mortgage had been sold and resold to investors. He also questioned why the employee who signed many of the documents claimed to be a vice president of several different mortgage companies at the same time.

In a different case in May, Schack ruled that HSBC Bank could not foreclose on a home because the paperwork that assigned the mortgage to HSBC from the original lender, Cambridge, was "defective." That didn't mean the borrower, Lovely Yeasmin, a 28-year-old cashier who immigrated from Bangladesh, got her three-story townhouse in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood for free. Wells Fargo, the mortgage servicer for HSBC, has not appealed the case. Instead, it has offered to temporarily lower her monthly payment from $4,700 to $3,000. Yeasmin's eldest brother, Mohammed Parpez, 35, said that before the judge's order, Wells Fargo was resistent to a loan modification. "The banks are crooks. They tell everyone they are trying to help people like us, but they are really doing the opposite," Parpez said. Tom Goyda, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said that although the company "disagrees with the court's findings," it is continuing to try to work out a longer-term solution with the family. Members of the Yano-Horoski family said they struggled similarly to get their lender to modify their loan after Greg Horoski fell ill in 2005 and his online business selling specialty dolls suffered. After he underwent a triple bypass surgery, two stents and two hip replacements, he and his wife, Diane - who teaches an online English composition course - found themselves unable to pay the bills.

Despite his pleas, Horoski said, he failed to get OneWest to come to an agreement, even though he became able to pay the debt after his company's sales picked up. In his November 2009 ruling, Judge Spinner of Suffolk County blasted OneWest for negotiating with an "opprobrious demeanor and condescending attitude." He also cited the bank's "duplicity" in offering a forbearance agreement with a deadline that had already passed and for presenting contradictory paperwork claiming different amounts for what the family owed. With their case under appeal, the Yano-Horoskis now find themselves in a tricky position, wary of putting more money into a house that an appeals court could take away from them. While the other houses on their quiet suburban street are meticulously maintained, their front-porch light remains shattered and the paint on their house is peeling. They've shelled out $3,000 for a new hot-water system. They paid $2,000 for tree trimming after a neighbor complained. But they've let the $10,000 property tax bill become delinquent, and they worry an appeals court could not only reverse the earlier ruling but demand that the family pay back the mortgage for every month that has passed since. Nonetheless, Horoski remains optimistic. "People thought people who didn't pay their mortgages were automatically deadbeats," he said. "People are educated now. They are realizing all of a sudden how many hundreds of thousands of these homes that were foreclosed may have been done so with fraudulent documents." Staff researchers Julie Tate, Alice Crites and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

Corrupt Florida Lawyer Mistakenly Called Most Crookedest Ever

US Marshals Tracking Down Crookedest Lawyer Ever's Loot
The Daily Business Review by John Pacenti - November 9, 2010

MIAMI, NY - The federal government knows where a former U.S. bankruptcy trustee panelist funneled $1 million earmarked for the victims of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and has filed a lawsuit to get it back. Marika Tolz is a Hollywood real estate broker who became one of South Florida’s most prolific trustees and receivers in recent years. She was ousted from the U.S. trustee’s panel in May after she tried to cover a shortfall in a bankruptcy case with a Rothstein donation to Holy Cross Hospital, according to court documents. The U.S. government sued Tolz’s successor handling the account where the $1 million allegedly landed. But an FBI inquiry goes beyond the Rothstein funds and tracks money moving among various cases where she served as a court-appointed receiver or trustee. The FBI mailed letters to Tolz’s successors, notifying them they may have been victims of fraud. So far, questions have been raised about $5.3 million in at least five cases handled by Tolz, and sources say financial improprieties have been found in two other cases. In another lawsuit, trustee Robert C. Furr, who succeeded Tolz in a bankruptcy case, alleges she falsified financial books submitted to the court and the U.S. trustee’s office and created red-herring bank accounts to pilfer $1.5 million from a personal bankruptcy case. Tolz expanded from a real estate career by serving as a caretaker for seized assets starting in 1987. She has served as a trustee in bankruptcy matters, a personal representative on estates and a receiver for businesses and proprieties that ran aground. One of her many companies, State Wide Realty, was hired in April by the U.S. Marshals Service to safeguard $1 million retrieved for the fraud victims of disbarred lawyer Rothstein. Instead, she moved the $1 million a day after receiving it to cover a shortfall in a Chapter 7 case under scrutiny by the U.S. trustee’s office, according to Marshals Service lawsuit filed Oct. 18 and Furr’s complaint filed last week. Joel Tabas, one of the many trustees who inherited Tolz’s cases, told a bankruptcy judge in September that trying to figure out where all the money went was akin to dissecting a bowl of spaghetti, and says it will take forensic accountants months to figure out exactly how much is missing. An FBI form letter was mailed Oct. 14 to Seth Heller, who succeeded Tolz as receiver in two Miami-Dade Circuit Court cases, telling him his name was forwarded to the federal victim assistance program "as being a possible victim of a federal crime." "This case is currently under investigation," the letter stated. "This can be a lengthy process, and we request your continued patience while we conduct a thorough investigation." Assistant U.S. Attorney Grisel Alonso, who is handling the Marshals Service case, referred questions to office spokeswoman Alicia Valle, who had no comment. "The federal government is about to do something," said Heller, managing partner of Heller & Co. "I think everybody who has anything to do with Tolz got this letter." Tolz has not been charged. Her attorney, Ben Kuehne of Miami, confirmed Rothstein’s $1 million has not been returned to the government as requested months ago. Tolz and Kuehne, who was traveling Tuesday, did not respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department has focused on the bankruptcy case of James Driscoll to get back the money.

Follow The Money

Fort Lauderdale’s Holy Cross Hospital returned the tainted donation from Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for running a $1.2 billion settlement financing scheme. Federal marshals hired Tolz in April to hold the money until a final order of forfeiture was signed by the judge in Rothstein’s criminal case. Holy Cross wired the $1 million to the Marika Tolz General Trust Account at First Citizens Bank & Trust in Hollywood on May 20 for a total balance of $1,000,390. The next day, the account balance was $133,300, according to an exhibit attached to the federal lawsuit seeking $967,856 plus court costs and attorney fees. The Rothstein money was moved to a Bank of America account for the personal bankruptcy of James P. Driscoll of Fort Lauderdale, according to the adversary complaint. "Upon discovery of the withdrawal of the diverted funds from the First Citizens account, the marshals made demand upon Tolz to remit the sum of $1 million wire transferred," the lawsuit stated. "Tolz failed to turn over the funds to the marshals." The federal government ended up suing Furr as Tolz’s successor in the Driscoll case. The Boca Raton trustee filed a 74-page third-party complaint Thursday against Tolz and Liberty Mutual Insurance, which issued bonds on behalf of U.S. trustee panelists on condition of "faithful performance." Panelists for the U.S. trustee’s office are appointed on a rotating basis as caretakers for commercial and personal bankruptcies in federal court. Tolz was one of 12 panelists until she was forced to resign in May when Driscoll’s case came to the attention of the office. The U.S. trustee’s office did not comment on the matter. Furr, in his complaint against Tolz, seeks $1.5 million allegedly misappropriated from Driscoll and more than $76,900 in fees paid to her. He alleges Tolz filed a false accounting in Driscoll’s case March 31, stating the estate had $888,000, when in fact the account was barren. When confronted with the discrepancy by the U.S. trustee’s office, Tolz listed a nonexistent account at Sun American Bank and fake accounts to support her filing, Furr alleges. Furr, who inherited about 10 of Tolz’s cases, details a busy shell game as Tolz moved money to and from several accounts to hide her trail, culminating in the transfer of Rothstein money into Driscoll’s account. Furr’s lawsuit claims Tolz took $1 million from the Driscoll account and deposited it into her general trust account in April 2009. Tolz "accounted for" the money by creating fake receipts and disbursement records for the purchase of high-yield certificates of deposit at Bank of America, the lawsuit stated. The trustee’s office later determined the account did not exist. On May 18, the day before Tolz resigned from the trustee’s panel, she issued a $967,856 check from her personal trust account to the Driscoll case. On May 20, she covered it with money from the Rothstein case, according Furr’s lawsuit. Furr also alleges Tolz illegally transferred $500,000 from Driscoll’s account to her personal account in April 2008, taking investigators further back in time. Financial irregularities also have been documented in numerous other cases. Heller took over receiverships of two financially troubled Miami-Dade commercial properties from Tolz: Douglas Centre REB-GEM, owner of a share of a Coral Gables office complex, and Monticello 856, a condominium conversion. Heller’s Miami forensic accounting firm, Pontis Advisors, found $856,000 in checks from Douglas Centre REB-GEM had been deposited in outside accounts controlled by Tolz and that $456,000 could not be traced. Drew M. Dillworth, who succeeded Tolz in the bankruptcy case of Wilkinson Hi-Rise, a Hollywood trash and linen chute manufacturer, told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Olson in September that Tolz should not be immediately paid her $13,000 fee because of "questionable financial transactions."

‘Over Her Head’

Then there is the Fuzion bankruptcy case, which allegedly received $715,000 meant as an inheritance for the children of man whose probate assets were administered by Tolz. The children’s new trustee claimed in court documents that the estate was $965,000 short due to diversions by Tolz. Two adversary lawsuits trying to retrieve money have been filed in the Fuzion matter, one by Heller and one by the successor trustee in the probate case. Heller said Tolz represented "the old school" of receivers and trustees, who intermingled money among accounts — even for personal use. The drama surrounding Tolz has drawn comparisons to former Miami attorney-accountant Lewis Freeman, sentenced earlier this year to more than 10 years for stealing $2.6 million and misappropriating at least $6 million from accounts he oversaw as a court-appointed receiver and trustee. Like Freeman, Tolz was considered one of the best. "Tolz was a very respected individual," Heller said. "She got in over her head."

NY Lawyer Convicted in $300,000 Adoption Scam Theft

"Cruel" NY Lawyer Convicted of Stealing $300,000 From Would-Be Parents in Adoption Scam
The New York Law Journal by Andrew Keshner - November 2, 2010

A jury found a Long Island attorney guilty yesterday of stealing more than $300,000 from the families he promised to help adopt children who did not actually exist. The Nassau County Court jury deliberated for about a day before finding Kevin Cohen, 42, a Roslyn lawyer, guilty of 37 counts, including second-degree grand larceny, 11 counts of third-degree grand larceny and 10 counts of third-degree forgery. According to the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, Mr. Cohen now faces up to 92 years in prison. His sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 7. His felony convictions also mandate his disbarment. Mr. Cohen, who represented himself during trial, had no reaction when the jury announced its verdict, according to several people inside the courtroom.

Adam Moser, the Rockville Centre attorney who was Mr. Cohen's court-appointed legal adviser, said Mr. Cohen planned to appeal. During opening statements, Mr. Cohen argued he could not be held criminally responsible for his actions, saying he was suffering from mental illnesses. The prosecution countered that Mr. Cohen, who is a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law admitted to the bar in 1996, knew exactly what he was doing and manipulated clients to take their money. County Court Judge John Kase ruled there was insufficient evidence to support Mr. Cohen's insanity defense and said the jury could not consider it. The jury heard testimony from 13 prospective parents during the three-week trial. Assistant District Attorneys Karen Bennett and Andrew Garbarino said that from October 2007 to the time of his arrest in September 2009, Mr. Cohen, who previously had headed a defunct agency called the Adoption Annex, held himself out as an adoption expert. Prosecutors said he obtained large sums of money from couples by fabricating birth mothers and forging records. Brigid Vogt, a 42-year-old Seaford homemaker who was one of Mr. Cohen's clients, testified against him and stayed to watch the verdict. "It felt good" to see the lawyer convicted on every count, she said. Mr. Cohen represented the birth mother in a planned 2006 adoption by the Vogts that fell through. Three years later, he approached them and told them that he wanted to make it up to them. "He used this against us, which was kind of cruel," Ms. Vogt said in interview. Just before Mr. Cohen's arrest, he showed Ms. Vogt fake sonograms and medical records to convince her and her husband that he had a child ready for adoption, but he said they needed to act fast. The couple came up with $22,500. "This is the cruelest crime I've ever dealt with," said Ms. Bennett, the assistant district attorney, in an interview. "There are no words to describe the pain and torment this defendant inflicted on kind and generous couples looking to provide a child with a loving home," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. "Now, with Kevin Cohen going to prison, he will never again have the chance to destroy another family's dream of adopting a child." The Lawyers Fund for Client Protection has reimbursed the Vogts and Mr. Cohen's other victims for their down-payments and fees. Ms. Bennett said prosecutors will press at the sentencing next month for restitution of other expenses, such as strollers, airplane tickets and the interest on loans—one with a 30 percent rate—that some families took out. Mr. Cohen failed to make $500,000 bail when he was arrested and he has been in jail since then. He also faces unrelated charges for allegedly assaulting a corrections officer in the Nassau County Correctional Facility. Andrew Keshner can be reached at akeshner@alm.com

Little Time for Corruption; NY Federal Judge's Hands Full with "Right to Masturbate"

NY Cop Had No Constitutional Right to Pleasure Self in Tanning Booth, Judge Finds
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - November 8, 2010

A police officer fired for masturbating in a tanning room had no constitutional right to privacy, a federal judge has ruled. Sexual activity in "public places" is not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Northern District Judge David N. Hurd ruled in Fiore v. Town of Whitestown, 6:07-cv-00797, in upholding an upstate town's decision to dismiss the officer. "Here, the right of privacy may provide protection for plaintiff's act if it took place where he had a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in his home," Judge Hurd wrote from Utica. "However, a tanning booth in a tanning salon, which is open to the public, is a commercial establishment and thus a public place where plaintiff has no protectable constitutional privacy interest in his sexual activities. Simply because the room was enclosed by four walls does not make the setting a private one for this act." Judge Hurd rejected arguments from former part-time Whitestown Town Officer Michael Fiore that statutes in several states, including Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico, regard tanning booths as akin to private places such as bathrooms and fitting rooms. Mr. Fiore, who was still under probation, was dismissed in 2007 after a woman told a police commission member that she had seen him while he was off-duty in a local tanning saloon with his gun visible. The woman also recounted a conversation with the owner of the salon in which the owner allegedly described having seen Mr. Fiore masturbating in a tanning room. The police commission notified Mr. Fiore that his "performance" as a police office was not "at a level acceptable" to the town. Mr. Fiore and his wife, Susan, sued the town and police commission members. On June 25, Judge Hurd threw out the federal claims without issuing a written opinion and refused to consider his state-law arguments. Mr. Fiore then asked Judge Hurd to reconsider. The judge held last week in a 14-page ruling that he had not made any errors of law and let his previous ruling stand. The judge acknowledged that "an individual's private sexual activities are generally within the zone of privacy protected from unwarranted government intrusion." But he added that such protection generally does not extend to public places. Mr. Fiore claimed that there was no evidence that he had purposely "exposed" himself to an unsuspecting woman in a public place. Rather, he argued that he had masturbated as part of an "intimate, consensual encounter" with the owner of the tanning salon in a private room. But Judge Hurd concluded that the circumstances of the ex-officer's conduct was irrelevant because "the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide protection to sexual activities, whether consensual or not, in a public place." The judge also ruled that the police department did not violate Mr. Fiore's right to procedural due process because Mr. Fiore did not request a name-clearing hearing, and the town was not obligated to offer him one. Edward J. Smith III, Eric G. Johnson and Gabrielle M. Hope of Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet represented the Town of Whitestown and police officials. A.J. Bosman of the Bosman Law Office in Rome was the attorney for Mr. Fiore. Joel Stashenko can be reached at jstashenko@alm.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trial Set for Judge Arrested for Exposing Himself to Undercover Cop

Trial Set for Judge Arrested in Public Restroom for Exposing Himself to Undercover Cop
The Associated Press - November 2, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — A December trial has been set for a Millard County Justice Court judge accused of exposing himself to an undercover police officer in a Salt Lake City park restroom. The Salt Lake Tribune reports 63-year-old Ronald R. Hare remained silent during a pretrial conference Monday in Salt Lake City Justice Court. Judge L.G. Cutler denied a request by Hare's attorney for a continuance, saying Hare had been granted a previous continuance. Hare, who is on the November ballot for retention as a judge, has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the case. He was issued a misdemeanor citation for disorderly conduct after the incident at Glendale Park in July. Hare and his attorney declined to comment on the case Monday.

BACKGROUND

Judge Hare charged
by Dean Draper - October 20, 2010

Judge Ronald R. Hare, who is on the November ballot for retention as a justice court judge, is charged in the Salt Lake City Justice Court with a Class B misdemeanor of disorderly conduct. Hare is charged with allegedly engaging in sexual conduct and/or exposing himself under the Salt Lake City municipal code. Rick Schwermer, assistant Utah court administrator, said Hare will appear in court on Monday, Nov. 1, for a pre-trial conference. No further details regarding the court action are available. Case # 10CR08058 is set for 2 p.m. Schwermer said Hare was placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 17 by Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham until the case is resolved. “The county has no contract with Judge Hare. He is a full-time county employee, yet he is a quasi-elected official. Jurisdiction regarding his employment is in question until an administrative hearing by the Judicial Conduct Commission,” said Daron Smith, County Commission chairman. Smith said the commissioners became aware of the charges through rumor. Inquiries made by the commission as to what the charges might be resulted in “no comment” according to Smith. The reasoning being a presumption of innocence until the charges have been proven or dismissed. What is known surfaced through court records. “I was given a message by another county employee from Judge Hare that he was on administrative leave,” said Smith. The court’s case history shows Hare being arrested on July 9. The Salt Lake Tribune reports “Salt Lake City police Detective Dennis McGowan said the incident involved Hare and an undercover vice officer in a men’s restroom at the Glendale Park at 5:30 p.m. SLC Municipal Code 11.16.100(B)(C) states:

  • B. Engage in sexual conduct, alone or with another person or an animal;
  • C. Make an intentional exposure of his or her genitals….

Judge Hare, 63, was sworn in as the Justice Court judge for the East Millard Justice Court in January of 1979. Hare also serves as Fillmore’s municipal court judge. “We had to call in a substitute to handle the cases until this issue is resolved.” said Fillmore Mayor Eugene Larsen. The pre-trial conference is a step in the judicial process usually followed a waiver hearing. Next would be a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to take the case to court unless the defendant pleads guilty.

***************************************

Millard County judge cited in vice operation
The Associated Press - October 17, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A 63-year-old Millard County justice court judge has been suspended with pay after being charged with disorderly conduct for either engaging in sexual conduct or exposing himself at a city park. Salt Lake City police Detective Dennis McGowan told The Salt Lake Tribune the incident involved Ronald R. Hare and an undercover vice officer in a men's restroom at Glendale Park in July. Hare could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Sunday. Rick Schwermer, assistant Utah court administrator, says Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham placed Hare on paid leave Sept. 17, the first day court officials learned of the citation. Hare is on the November ballot for retention as a justice court judge.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2