A large plurality of the American public has indicated great doubts about the integrity of the members of the legal profession. Hardly a day goes by without a substantial number of the public disparaging the 2nd oldest profession. The problem that the profession enjoys is the fact that so many of the most outrageous of the remarks have an element of truth to them and all we, the American public, has to do is open a newspaper and it is rare that something negative concerning the profession does not jump out at you.
The ‘coverup’ of elder cleansing has my focus as it has affected me personally and when I called on Illinois Judicial officials to do an investigation of several cases that came to my attention (none of which I was of record in) Attempts were made to intimidate me. The First attempt was about as blatant as could be – the three miscreant attorneys involved in the Mary Sykes case 09 P 4585 threatened me to stop my investigation. When I did not, they went to court and sought sanctions against me. The presiding judge who admitted on page 90 and following of her evidence deposition that she was wired (i.e. had her mind made up to rule adversely prior to hearing a word of evidence) actually directed that sanctions were to imposed upon me. The fact that she lacked jurisdiction over me did not deter her. Finally, after I wrote to the Attorney General of the United States the attorney disciplinary commission came after me and in an attempt to shut me up I got a four year suspension of my law license. (This did not shut me up, as after more than 1/2 century before the bar I am not intimidated by criminals or cover-ups).
All that said, we know that the ABA knows about the JoAnne Denison case and the soviet style censorship that the miscreant criminals engaged in the elder cleansing operation in Illinois sought to impose. The Article read:
Lawyer’s blog posts about ‘sleazy world of probate’ bring ethics complaint
POSTED FEB 04, 2013 01:20 PM CST
Corrected: A patent and trademark lawyer who blogged about alleged corruption in Chicago’s “sleazy world of probate” is facing an ethics complaint that accuses her of undermining the administration of justice.
Chicago lawyer Joanne Denison is accused of knowing that her statements were false or made in reckless disregard of the truth, the National Law Journal reports. The Legal Profession Blog links to the complaint.
Denison began blogging after a judge refused her application to represent a client who was seeking appointment as guardian for her mother. The client’s sister was later appointed guardian.
The court had disqualified Denison because she had notarized signatures for the client and the client’s mother on a document giving the client her mother’s interest in a lawsuit. The court had found that the mother may have been suffering from dementia at the time, the ethics complaint said.
According to the complaint, Denison’s blog posts had claimed impropriety and financial exploitation in the case. Among other things, her blog claimed “garden variety theft, embezzlement, malpractice and malfeasance by attorneys and the court.”
Denison had published a disclaimer. “Sorry, but portions of this blog have to be entertaining so we can get the word out,” she wrote. “There is most certainly a great deal of (stinging) truth in it.”
Denison told the NLJ she has no plans to take down her blog. “Why would I shut up when there’s corruption going on in the courts?” she said.
Corrected on Feb. 5 to say Denison has no plans to take down her blog.
As everyone who has examined the Cook County probate file 09 P 4585 has learned, the allegations made by the Attorney Disciplinary Commission were patently false and the administrator of the IARDC and several attorneys employed by the IARDC are actively in violation of Rule 8.3 and 18 USCA 371 and 18 USCA 242 engaged in a ‘cover up’ and effort to protect the criminal activities disclosed in the Court file.
[NB. the criminal activities were: 1) seizing Mary Sykes and removing her from the County of Cook to isolate her from family and HELP, 2) committing fraud as to service of process – i.e. providing the Sheriff with an address to serve Mary where each of the miscreants and the presiding judge knew she did not reside, 3) failing to serve a summons on Mary as required by 755 ILCs 5/11a – 10, 4) failing to serve prior notice of any hearing as to Mary’s competence of close (near) family members such as her two sisters and younger daughter, 5) failing to hold a hearing as required by statute and in particular failing to require petition to prove Mary’s incompetency by clear and convincing evidence. 6) failing to inventory some 3 million dollars in assets including gold coins valued at a million dollars (see Gloria Sykes affidavit)]
Literally thousands of similar cases exist and many innocent victims and family members have been subjected to unspeakable crimes by corrupt jurists, lawyers, judicial officials and Mr. Larkin and his gang of 18 USCA 371 co-conspirators. No prosecution – that we know of – has commenced and the miscreants appear to be free to continue to prey on the elderly and the disabled. (In another venue – it appears that the USA is prosecuting lawyer Seth Gillman for his miscreant conduct as a banker and in the hospice activity – goggle suggests that next Friday is the trial date)
As a lawyer who paid dues to the American Bar Association for many years I am personally disappointed that the legal profession is AFRAID to comply with the oath that every lawyer takes upon admission to the Bar. The legal profession when hearing of the JoAnne Denison matter is it had any INTEGRITY should have as a single entity got out the tar and feathers and amass knocked down the doors of the Supreme Court of Illinois and the Illinois attorney registration and disciplinary commission. Lawyer who are intimidated and afraid to stand up for the RULE OF LAW and the Constitution of the United STates amongst the most despicable creatures on earth.
The American Bar Association in standing silent while Attorney Denison is openly and notoriously denied her First and Fifth Amendment Rights is reprehensible and devoid of any claim of integrity. The SCOTUS has made in very clear in the Alvarez case that even socially unacceptable speech is protected by the First Amendment. Disclosure of corrupt jurists, criminal conduct by lawyers and others is not only protected by required. The ABA rule 8.3 requires such disclosure! However, if a lawyer does disclose criminal conduct by certain clouted political or judicial miscreants the lawyer can expect to lose his/her law license.
The shame that the ABA has cast on the legal profession by its benign neglect of its 8.3 obligation is shameful and casts ill repute not only on the ABA but on every lawyer in America. If lawyers do not stand up for the Constitution and the Rule of Law – there is no rule of law!
One more point! Every preteen in Illinois prior to being promoted and allowed to enter High School has to take a Constitution test and demonstrate knowledge of America’s core principles. The article quoted supra concerning Attorney Denison demonstrates that lawyers employed as jurists, as part of disciplinary process, ***** apparently are ignorant of the very information that pre-teens must demonstrate knowledge of to be allowed to enter high school. How can these lawyers in good faith charge clients fees for services? These individuals by claiming to be lawyers are engaged in a serious deceptive practice and should return to consumers – and the public – the pecuniary remuneration that they received while lacking the condition precedent for honestly taking the oath as an attorney and the knowledge that is required to enter secondary school.
Just another article on the seniors for cash scandal in the US
For most people, the term human trafficking conjures up images of ethnic young people controlled by sleazy handlers who buy and sell them for sex or labor. We might hear about human trafficking ring leaders that have been arrested and sentenced to long prison terms for their heinous acts.
There’s another practice of human trafficking that goes largely ignored even though it happens daily, sometimes right under our noses. The traffickers don’t hide from the law because the law is either on their side, as in the case of guardianship and conservatorship abuse, or because, even when these offenders are caught, the human trafficking component is ignored by authorities. I’m talking about the use and abuse of our elderly who are sought out for their Medicare/Medicaid dollars. Their predators are doctors, nursing home corporations, hospitals, and long-term care pharmacies.
The schemes are all fairly similar. You need an unscrupulous doctor…
View original post 780 more words
From an article in the Suntimes, it is noted that nursing homes have to provide web cams to concerned family members. Good idea.
Editorial: What to know about ‘senior cams’ in nursing homes
A “senior” version of “nanny cams” is about to hit Illinois nursing homes.
As of Jan. 1, a new state law, the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act allows video or audio recording devices to be placed in Illinois nursing home rooms to monitor treatment.
“Senior cams” could range from a simple battery-operated camera that records action on a memory card to a more sophisticated Internet-connected device that allows live-streaming. Residents, or their relatives, must pick up the tab.
It’s a new option worth spotlighting and, under the law, all nursing home residents and their guardians must be informed about it within 48 hours of admission to an Illinois nursing home or skilled care rehab facility.
The move seems prudent given that Illinois racked up an average score of F in the 2014 Nursing Home Report Card handed out by Families for Better Care, a nursing home watchdog group. Illinois is expected to draw another F in the next report card, due out soon, watchdog officials say.
The law makes Illinois only the fourth state in the nation to require nursing homes to allow monitoring devices in patient rooms, according to a spokesperson for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a key figure in the bill’s passage.
Its Illinois Senate sponsor, Terry Link (D-Waukegan), says he wished he had such an option when his mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, was placed in a Zion nursing home about eight years ago. His mom passed away in 2000.
“This is a huge step forward,’’ said Link, whose House sponsor on the bill was Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).
Link said his mother received fine care, but even so, today he wouldn’t hesitate to place a camera in her room. That’s especially true because, with Alzheimer’s, she could not articulate if she was having a problem.
“If I knew she’d be safe 24/7 and I’d be comfortable and she’d be comfortable, I’d do it in a heartbeat,’’ Link said.
Madigan marshaled a roundtable of stakeholders to address nursing home concerns that stymied somewhat similar Link legislation in 2007.
This time around, residents or their relatives who want such devices must foot the bill for “senior cam” installation and maintenance — not nursing homes.
To address privacy concerns, residents can request that the devices be turned off at certain times — such as during bathing or changing. Roommates must sign off on cameras, although facilities must try to find other accommodations for those with a balky roommate. And, facilities cannot retaliate against those who use such devices.
“Senior cams” are no substitute for a kiss on the cheek, a squeeze of the hand and an in-person assessment and conversation that only an on-site visit from a loved one can provide. However, they will afford relatives the ability to check on nursing home residents from a distance, to observe that they are safe, and perhaps to see if they aren’t.
Some folks have been secretly planting such devices in nursing home rooms for years. A camera that looked like an alarm clock captured workers in one Oklahoma City nursing home flinging a 96-year-old dementia resident onto her bed and stuffing a latex glove into her mouth. The case prompted Oklahoma to pass a nursing home camera law in 2013.
Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, contends any “senior cam” will merely record the “abuse and neglect” that’s been going on in Illinois for years and “beg the question — what’s next?”
The real culprit, Lee says, is the state’s staffing ratio. Illinois’ worst 2014 report card scores came in its “abysmal” number of direct care staffing hours per resident, Lee said.
If Illinois “senior cams” memorialize the need to improve that nursing home staffing ratio – and galvanize even more legislative action to address it — that would be yet another step forward.
See minutes 50 to 54 (approx)
As soon as he sends me text of the bill, I will post or you can friends him on FB.
From Ginny Johnson, herself a probate victim and survivor:
Everyone Start Calling – about guardian abuse
The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 •
For those of you unsure of what to ask for, ask for the wish list previously published on this blog, or ask for Tim Lahrman’s mandatory appeal for guardianships
My wish list:
Every guardianship statute should say it is the public policy of the state:
1) to have family members serve as guardians over non family members;
2) that wards should never be moved to institutions against their will;
3) that disabled persons should always be placed in the least restrictive environment;
4) that no disabled person should be restrained with chemical or other restraints and the use of psychtropic drugs is illegal;
5) waiver of any substantive rights (ie, right to an attorney, right to a trial, right to a jury) shall be recorded by a GAL or attorney for the disabled and made available publicly and may be revoked at any time prior to trial;
6) volunteer guardians and attorneys shall be preferred over for profit guardians and attorneys and the state shall institute programs to recruit and train volunteer or low cost GAL’s and attorneys;
7) a volunteer senior assistant program should be developed to help the disabled pay bills, make good decisions and stay safe shall be preferred over a guardianship;
8) all attorneys, judges and managers of the disabled making any placement decisions or spending the ward’s money shall file Ethics Reports with the Office of the Attorney General annually disclosing all sources of income and any campaign donations;
9) enforcing a patient’s bill of rights in all nursing homes in every state and notifying the disabled of same in large, bold print,
10) lists of all attorneys, GAL’s, case managers, social workers shall be made public with the hourly rate and the senior and family members shall be able to rate their services and costs and publish to the public;
11) ban gag orders and isolation orders, unless the person is a known felon or psychopath– if the disabled person wants to see the ward and the ward wants to see the visitor, this should be their right;
12) make all guardianship records publicly available and the transcripts for all hearings and hearings must have a court reporter or audio recording;
13) provide funding for those that need to appeal termination of right, POA, etc. incluign money for transcripts and a public defender;
14) all wards have the right to attend any guardianship proceedings if they desire and any family member may bring them and no one–GAL, court appointed attorney, etc. shall interfere with that right;
15) gaslighting and failing to inform the ward of the status of the court proceeding is prohibited.
I wish to thank Tim for writing this wonderful letter regarding the state of guardianship.
I also want many to note that Tim writes as well or better than most lawyers, especially in guardianship.
Catherine Falk, Marcia Southwick, Kerry Kasem
In re: Legislative Proposal
Dear fellow advocates,
With all sincerity I applaud your efforts, bravery and dedication to bringing about change in the practices of adult guardianship and elder care. I know the story of each of you and in spite of what might be our differences in how to go about bringing change, the one thing I believe we all stand in unity on is that this madness we know and have experienced has to stop.
Our parents and disabled loved ones’ deserve better, and with this in mind I wish to propose the following legislative effort I would support. MANDATORY appeal of all guardianship appointments1 — and here is why;
“`From the time a person is adjudged to be distracted and incapable of caring for his property and effects, until, if ever, he is adjudged to be restored, he has no more legal power to act for himself than as if he were dead … ‘” (quoting: Turner, J. concurring – In re Estate of Doyle, 838 N.E.2d 355 (2005), citing, In re Estate of Kutchins, 169 Ill.App.3d 641, 645-46, 120 Ill.Dec. 114, 523 N.E.2d 1025, 1028 (1988), quoting Bradshaw v. Lucas, 214 Ill.App. 218, 223 (1919). (emphasis added)
The appointment of a guardian is a death sentence, and sadly many of us can today bear witness to the fact that our parents and disabled loved ones’ are in fact dying2 — while held in and under the captivity of a guardianship or other form of discriminatory and unlawful restraint. In addition, for many of you the “parent/child” relationship has likewise been executed3 by a pack of indifferent bigots and thugs who care more about the money involved than they do the terror and horror inflicted while you are being forced under threat and retaliation to witness the lynching4 and crucifixionlike5 treatment of our loved ones’.
1. I would go so far as to say that a mandatory appeal should lie “at all significant stages of the proceedings” (citation omitted).
2. “Medical murder” is not a concept foreign to our country and social policies. See Dr. P. Breggin – The Role of Psychiatry in the Holocaust (1993) at p. 3. The Ohio Supreme Court has recognized that court orders terminating the parent/ child relationship are the equivalent of a family court death sentence. See In re Hayes, 79 Ohio St.3d 46; 679 NE 2d 680 (1997).
4. Not unlike the slave of past history, in adult guardianship, the ward is chained to an impediment from which they cannot readily escape and the family is forced to watch as the slave-master whips the slave, and terrorized the family, to comply.
5. A few years back in discussion with Danny Tate – himself a ward/victim of Southern Baptist upbringing – I commented to his lamenting, no disrespect intended – “[N]ow you know what Christ felt like when he was hanging on the cross while others sat nearby casting lots for his goods.” For those of you who are Christian believers’ – see, Luke 11:46 and 11:52.
As a “ward” 6 myself – someone on the inside looking out – I can tell you that access to the already existing appeal and review process7 is first and foremost a way of ending this madness. In fact, I will go so far and say that for the ‘ward’ under guardianship access to the courts period is very high on the list of what we lack most8 –
In sum, and for the sake of brevity – a capital murder defendant facing the death penalty has an automatic MANDATORY appeal – a check system built into the process to check the process itself before ever taking a life. In contrast and in the guardianship arena lives are being lost, death sentences are being handed out – often times ex parte9 — and the likelihood of a ‘ward’ ever seeing an appeal and review process is at best next to non-existent.10
In close, legislation to include a MANDATORY appeal in all guardianship cases is legislation I would support and I believe such an effort, once successful, would serve as the first step and front line defense to stopping the madness and suffering we have all been compelled to endure.
Thank you kindly and in advance for your valuable time and attention. If ever you wish to expound upon this discussion point I am always readily available to talk about solutions that fix the problems at their root cause.
6. For those who may not know – a “ward” is a person for whom a guardian has been appointed.
7. In Lane v. Brown, 372 U.S. 477 (1963) the Supreme Court held that “where the state’s own processes substantially impair and impede a litigant’s access to an already existing appeal and review process such processes are unconstitutional.” — and I’ll expound upon this reasoning to add – where that states’ own processes, based solely upon an individual’s disability, substantially impair and impede a disabled litigant’s access to an already existing appeal and review process, such processes are without question, because they are already deemed unconstitutional, patently discriminatory in violation of Title II of the Americans’ With Disabilities Act 1990 (as amended).
8. There exists an inherent conflict of interest between the appointed guardian and the ward where the right to appeal is found. See Matter of Aho, 39 NY 2d 241 (NY Ct. App. 1976). [For those who do not know in NY the Court of Appeals is their state’s highest court and their county trial courts are called the Supreme Court]
9. Most guardianships begin with what is termed to be “a pre-hearing deprivation” for the ward, standing in their own right, never has “a post-deprivation remedy”. This is significant in any constitutional discussion of guardianship and due process.
10. For a ward the right to an appeal is merely illusory because the right to appeal as a ward and on behalf of the ward is in the hands of the appointed guardian, and what are the odds that an appointed guardian is ever going to appeal a decision which they themselves made and imposed upon the disabled ward. See Aho, supra.
As many of you will remembers, back in June of 2014 I first reported on this blog, and filed with the ARDC, a complaint against Seth Gillman and his pilfering $100 million from medicare in an indictment from the FBI charging him with medicare fraud.
The ARDC did nothing.
I know the ARDC reads my blog because they copied every page of it from Nov. 2011 to the date of trial and used it at trial, so I know they download it and keep it all the time.
Now Ken Ditkowsky finds in the Tribune this morning more complaints about Seth Gillman, about how he failed to pay employees, he failed to pay their health insurance and he absconded with 401k funds.
But the ARDC does nothing.
In a complaint I recently filed with them including clouted attorney aldermen and a human trafficked woman they all knew about, the ARDC did nothing and even pretended they did not know what Rules of Professional Resposibility were violated when felonies were committed by attorneys (see prior blog, Senior Counsel Athea Walsh).
I am keeping a file of valid citizen complaints routinely dismissed by the ARDC. It gets fatter and fatter every day.
See below and please pray for all these victims.
FAX TRANSMITTAL SHEET
Fax 312-565-2320 From: Admitted Ill*., N. Carolina and Patent Bars
JoAnne M. Denison, Pat. Agent. Reg. No. 34,150
JUSTICE4EVERY1.COM FAX 312-553-1307
5940 W Touhy Ave, #120
Niles, IL 60714 PHONE 312-553-1300
JoAnne@J4E1.com or http://www.Justice4Every1.com
NOW SUSPENDED IN ILLINOIS FOR OPERATING A BLOG ON COURT CORRUPTION–ILLINOIS’ MOST DANGEROUS BLOG
WWW.MARYGSYKES.COM AND WWW.JUSTICE4EVERY1.COM
we speak for Truth and Justice when the court system cannot
This facsimilie message contains attorney privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copy of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by telephone, collect, and return the original message to the above address. You will be reimbursed. Your cooperation is immensely appreciated.
For transmission problems, please call 312-335-1300
February 8, 2016
RE: Complaint against Seth Gillman
Pursuant to my Himmel duty, I wish to file a complaint against Seth Gillman and his company Passages. Pursuant to a recent 2/8/16 letter to the Chicago Tribune, Seth Gillman, in Jan 2014 was indicted for faud in a 100 page complaint by the FBI. I was published on my blog, (which I know the ARDC reads because it copied my entire blog for my trial), that Seth Gillman was indicted in Jan of 2014 and the ARDC did not file charges against him.
Now further information has surfaced that employees did not receive paychecks, their insurance was terminated because Mr. Gillman took employee funds for it but never paid the insurance carrier, he apparently stole employee 401k contributions. (See attached).
It is not an excuse for your offices to say that theft of employee pay, insurance funds and 401k is not covered by the Rule of Professional Conduct for Attorneys in Illinois, because the Rules clearly cover this. It is further shameful conduct that you would write back, in response to a valid citizen complaint, that one of your senior attorneys “is unaware” under what rule, criminal conduct is covered.
Seth Gillman’s indictment was published on my blog in early 2014, and the ARDC did nothing and did not investigate.
It has been my position (and that of Ken Ditkowsky) that the ARDC protects favored attorneys in the health care industry and “goes after” attorneys that reveal and discuss openly corruption in the legal and judicial professions.
Now more proof has come to surface.
In the nearly 2 years which the ARDC has refused to prosecute Seth Gillman, precious funds have clearly been dissipated by him, never to return to the rightful owners.
I am asking at this time that the ARDC investigate Set Gillman and all other ARDC attorneys that were informed that Seth Gillman had run a medicare scam operation, and had stolen from employees, but did nothing and did not open an investigation, or the investigation was started and then obstructed.
Something is seriously wrong when an attorney is indicted by the feds in January of 2014 in a 100 page $100 million indictment, but instead the ARDC runs after an attorney corruption blogger and another attorney that writes emails to the authorities demanding honest investigations of troubled probate cases.
Now Mary Sykes is dead and she has had no autopsy and no tox screen and the ARDC continues to refuse to open an investigation against the lawyers really involved–Farenga, Schmeidel, Soehlig and Stern. Of course, that would mean that those attorneys would have to explain the theft of $200k of Gloria’s funds from her, the chaining of Gloria Sykes to a chair in Judge Stuart’s offices and threatening pets with euthanization, the repeated break ins into Gloria’s Home, the failed attempts to sell that home and put funds into the estate, the isolation of Mary Sykes from 20+ former friends and family, the pretend ignorance of Videos of Mary on Vimeo indicating that from Summer of 2009 to her death, Mary was clear thinking, lucid, competent and could engage in higher cognitive thinking. The videos are there. I would like to further open an investigation on Adam Stern as to why after a phone conversation with Officer Krakow of the Naperville police, he chased me down in the parking lot of Sunrise Nursing home and ordered me to destroy a 40 minute video of Mary Sykes or he would arrest me. This is obstruction of justice, spoilation of evidence and tampering with evidence–all criminal activites.
I would like a complete, thorough and honest investigation of the conspiracies, frauds and thefts involved in these two cases–both of which involve the health care industry and protection of same. I would like to know why Jerome Larkin and James Grogin investigate bloggers and attorneys who report crime to the authorities, but not those attorneys who engage in theft of employee wages, 401K funds and health insurance money. I would also like to know why Jerome Larkin and James Grogin engage in “go after” proceedings of bloggers to violate and suppress their First Amendment rights which is a crime in the US.
I would also like to know who is paying off Jerome Larkin’s and Melissa Smart’s mortgages and would like copies of the payment sources, all checks and names on any cash deposits that paid off those huge mortgages.
Very Truly Yours,
JUSTICE 4 EVERY1, NFP
/joanne m denison/esignature/
Joanne M. Denison
cc: http://www.marygsykes.com blog
Chicago was’t mentioned, but for sure we have our problems, starting with a $200 street vendor’s license to play music or sell goods to support charities. I’m surprised they haven’t gone after Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn and put a tax on that!
#1 Private Investigator’s License
The state of Texas now requires every new computer repair technician to obtain a private investigator’s license. In order to receive a private investigator’s license, an individual must either have a degree in criminal justice or must complete a three year apprenticeship with a licensed private investigator. If you are a computer repair technician that violates this law, or if you are a regular citizen that has a computer repaired by someone not in compliance with the law, you can be fined up to $4,000 and you can be put in jail for a year.
#2 Business Privilege License… For Bloggers
The city of Philadelphia now requires all bloggers to purchase a $300 business privilege license. The city even went after one poor woman who had earned only $11from her blog over the past two years.
#3 Funeral Director License for Monks
The state of Louisiana says that monks must be fully licensed as funeral directors and actually convert their monasteries into licensed funeral homes before they will be allowed to sell their handmade wooden caskets.
I know everyone was thinking Chicago, but not yet.
Only two of the elected officials in a remote Texas town were left unscathed after the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested six members under a federal indictment that accuses them of taking bribes and helping an illegal gambling operator in exchange for favors, the Associated Press reported. Those arrested in Crystal City, Texas include the mayor, the city attorney who is also the city manager, two current councilmen, and a former councilman.
“The indictment alleges that these public officials and this businessman solicited and accepted bribes in exchange for official action, such as voting to award city contracts to, waive certain tax payments by, and conduct certain inspections to give unfair advantage to those paying bribes,” Richard Durbin, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in a press release. One of the two remaining top officials was previously arrested on federal charges of smuggling immigrants across the southern U.S. border.
According to the Department of Justice indictment, Crystal City’s officials were accused of using “their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting bribes from persons seeking to do business” since February 2015. The city manager, William James Jonas, III, was accused of managing the bribery scheme, in which a contractor provided bribes worth more than $12,000 to city officials in exchange for a city contract and unfair advantages. Ngoc Tri Nguyen, a city councilmember, was accused of providing payment to Mayor Ricardo Lopez, “including $6,000, in exchange for various official acts from Lopez and Jonas.” Nguyen was allegedly running illegal gambling rooms, as well.
Joel Barajas, the remaining councilman without an arrest warrant, said that the city has about $2 million in unpaid bills and was facing bankruptcy.
“For the time being, they remain the elected officials and the representatives of that city,” Durbinsaid.
“Crystal City is a good town,” Maria Sanchez Rivera, a lifelong resident told the Associated Press. “If you do wrong, you have to face your consequences. We’ve got laws for everything and we’ve got to abide by what the law says.”
Whether or not the bar associations agree with this, something needs to be done about both family court and probate court where we regularly see kids for sale, disableds for sale and seniors for sale. Once a wealthy family or wealthy estate appears in these courtrooms, they are then flooded with a sea of tied in attorneys and their court appointed vendors, who frequently come from secret lists, they do not file any ethics reports, their fees are not known until the bill is received, judges rarely, if ever, ask for a competitive bid or budget for a project, and when the money runs out, the senior or disabled is narcotized to death and no autopsy or tox screen is ever performed. In (anti) family court, sole custody is often given to the parent with the largest bank account who pays their vendor bills generously, despite the fact that both parents are fit and both parents should have a co parenting agreement with substantially equal time with the children.
I personally receive scores of complaints every month about cases in probate where significant assets (a million or more) are missing and custody cases where co parenting should have been invoked, but was not even considered.
This petition makes a lot of sense. Panels can be set up and coparenting, equal division of assets can be done using form agreements without an attorney to save everyone tens of thousands of dollars or more in a divorce. Seniors and disableds should have volunteer assistants to help them pay bills and get reasonably priced help to stay in their homes. As published before on this blog, Sunrise nursing homes will give any person placing a senior in their homes $2,000 on the spot.
Many things are seriously wrong in Family and Probate courts, please take a look at the petition and sign it.
As you know, this blog advocates for simpler, easier and less costly systems when dealing with disabled seniors and children. Using numerous attorneys to draft up agreements and handle forms that all of use in our daily lives should not mean that all a family’s wealth is quickly drained.
If this isn’t a reason to test all lawyers for psychopathy right now, I don’t know what is
An investigator from an international corruption prevention NGO poses as a representative of a politician from a West African nation.
All but one of 16 lawyers were interested in helping the representative engage in laundering dirty money in the US.
Every lawyer should know of the “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Note, no one mentions the conspiracy laws, US tax laws regarding criminal income, etc.
Global Witnesses is the organization. Hurray for them.
From the story: 16 lawyers, 13 firms in Manhattan.
How helpful are lawyers in moving milions of dollars in suspicious funds into the US?
It is a mineral rich country in W. Africa.
He wanted a brownstone ($10 million), a jet plane and a yacht. he wants to live her nice, but no one to know his name.
The discussions included what to call the money. Not a bribe, special money payments? special business deals? grey money? black money? tainted money? honest graft (from the lawyer)?
What do you think? Serious flaws in the US legal system?
If you like crime dramas and movies with international intrigue, then you probably have a basic understanding of money laundering. It’s how dictators, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, and other crooks avoid getting caught by transforming their ill-gotten gains into assets that appear to be legitimate.
They do it by moving the dirty money through a maze of dummy corporations and offshore bank accounts that conceal their identity and the source of the funds.
And most of it would never happen without the help — witting or unwitting — of lawyers, accountants and incorporators; the people who actually create these anonymous shell companies and help move the money. In fact, the U.S. has become one of the most popular places in the world to do it.
Tonight, with the help of hidden camera footage, we’re going to show you how easy it seems to have become to conceal questionable funds from law enforcement and the public.
You need look no further for evidence than the changing skyline of New York City, where much of the priciest residential real estate is being snapped up not by individuals, but byanonymous shell companies with secret owners.
There’s nothing illegal about it as long as the money’s legitimate, but there’s no way to tell, if you don’t know who the real buyers are. It is one of the reasons Global Witness, a London-based nonprofit organization that exposes international corruption, came to New York City 19 months ago. It wanted to see how helpful U.S. lawyers would be in concealing questionable funds.
This hidden camera footage was shot in law firms across Manhattan without the lawyers’ knowledge by the man in the gray coat with the German accent.
Lawrence Gabe: OK, so it’s Ralph?
Ralph Kayser: Ralph Kayser.
“Ralph Kayser” is not his real name. He’s an investigator for Global Witness posing here as the representative of a government official from a poor West African country who wants to move millions of dollars in suspicious funds into the U.S., and he needs the lawyers’ help.
Gerald Ross: Are you gonna tell me what country and what minister this is?
Ralph Kayser: I can’t tell you. It’s one of those mineral rich countries in West Africa. There are not so many.
Attorney Gerald Ross and the other lawyers were told secrecy was essential, because the African minister had amassed his fortune collecting special payments from foreign companies that he’d helped obtain valuable mineral rights.
Kayser to Koplik: So companies are eager to get hold of rare earth or other minerals. And so they pay some special money for it. I wouldn’t name it bribe. I would say “facilitation money.”
Kayser said it was all legal. He told attorney James Silkenat and the other lawyers that the minister was shopping for a townhouse, a jet and a yacht, but his name must not be connected to the purchases.
Kayser to Silkenat: If his name now would appear in connection with buying some real estate here and other items, it would look at least, very, very embarrassing.
James Silkenat: Right. ‘Cause his, presumably his salary in, wherever it is, would not cover the kinds of acquisitions we’re talking about.
Ralph Kayser: Oh. For sure. It’s the salary of a teacher here. And so how can we make sure that he is being able to, to buy property here and to live a nice life, but his name being out?
James Silkenat: Right. Any guesses as to how much money we’re talking about for the brownstone and the other items?
Ralph Kayser: I mean, the brownstone, talk about $10 million. For second-hand Gulfstream, I could imagine $10, $20 million. A yacht would be at least, $200, $300 million.
The fictitious story of the African minister was cooked up in Global Witness’ London office, based on an actual money laundering case. The investigator phoned 50 New York law firms with experience in private asset protection and managed to get face-to-face meetings with 16 different lawyers in 13 firms.
Kayser To Jankoff: I’m very frank. It’s, I would say “gray money.” I think somebody told me you name it “black money.”
Global Witness says the pitch was intentionally designed to raise red flags and to give the lawyers good reason to suspect that the minister’s millions came from official corruption and they all did.
Ralph Kayser: It’s only that the money is a bit, let’s say-
Lawrence M. Gabe: Tainted.
Ralph Kayser: Tainted, thank you very much.
Lawrence M. Gabe: OK, that’s a nice word. OK.
Kayser to Koplik: Or, you gave another expression?
Marc Koplik: Honest graft.
Kayser to Koplik: Honest graft! OK, fine. I have to be frank. It’s honest graft.
Kayser to Ross: How would you name it?
Gerald Ross: Some people call it bribes.
Ralph Kayser: Nah, I wouldn’t name it bribe–
Gerald Ross: Never. Right, no, course not.
Ralph Kayser: –because it’s a business deal. So, OK, bribe. Is, actually, bribe.
Charmian Gooch: You know, the story of the fictitious African minister would probably have raised eyebrows for the average person on the street.
Charmian Gooch is the co-founder of Global Witness, a public advocacy group that exposes corruption in the developing world. Previous undercover investigations exposed the global trade in African blood diamonds. This investigation, Gooch says, exposes serious flaws in the U.S. legal system that have made it a hub for international money laundering.
Charmian Gooch: What the lawyers laid out for us in some detail was all the different possibilities and ways in which it could be done.
Steve Kroft: What you’re saying is if you want to get dirty money into the United States, it’s not that hard to do.
Charmian Gooch: What I’m saying is there is an open door and it’s pretty shocking and pretty concerning, because that money could be coming from anywhere.
Of the 16 lawyers that Global Witness recorded in these preliminary meetings, only attorney Jeffrey Herrmann flatly declined to participate and showed Ralph Kayser the door.
Jeffrey Herrmann: I have some real questions about that.
Ralph Kayser: Yes?
Jeffrey Herrmann: Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Ralph Kayser: Right.
Jeffrey Herrmann: And under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, bribing foreign officials is illegal.
Ralph Kayser: By Americans.
Jeffrey Herrmann: By Americans.
Ralph Kayser: But Americans are not involved. So it’s money from other nation– nationals, not American entities, not American nationals–
Jeffrey Herrmann: It’s not for me.
Ralph Kayser: Pardon me?
Jeffrey Herrmann: It’s not for me.
Aside from that one exception, 12 out of the 13 law firms, including 15 out of the 16 lawyers, not only heard Ralph Kayser out, they suggested ways that the suspicious funds could be moved into the U.S. without compromising the minister’s identity.
Attorney James Silkenat was selected by Global Witness because at the time, he was president of the American Bar Association. Yet he and his colleague, Hugh Finnegan, provided what former prosecutors told us was a roadmap of how to conceal the source of the funds using layers of anonymous, interconnected shell companies in multiple jurisdictions.
Hugh Finnegan: Presumably, we would set up a little bit of a series of owners to try and, again, protect privacy as much as anything else.
Ralph Kayser: Yeah.
James Silkenat: So Company A is owned by Company B which is owned jointly by Company C and D and your party owns all of or the majority of the shares of C and D.
Ralph Kayser: So we, we create several companies?
Hugh Finnegan: Yes.
Ralph Kayser: All in New York or different states?
Hugh Finnegan: Well. Like I said, at some point, probably pretty quickly, you’d go offshore.
Attorney John Jankoff and his partner, Lawrence Gabe, recommended variations of the same strategy.
John H. Jankoff: A lot of people in Africa use the Isle of Man. Some of them use Lichtenstein–
Lawrence M. Gabe: So he would just take his millions of dollars, put it in Isle of Man–
John H. Jankoff: He can put it into a Swiss bank account. The Swiss will have it. And– and then–
Lawrence M. Gabe: And then he comes to us.
John H. Jankoff: And then he comes to us and says, “I wanna buy a townhouse.”
Attorney Marc Koplik also suggested that the minister could move his money out of West Africa to Europe, where it could be “scrubbed” in an anonymous corporate entity that his firm would be happy to set up.
Marc Koplik: The money as it sits now, is it in his name?
Ralph Kayser: It’s in different names.
Marc Koplik: OK. So it will come as those different names?
Ralph Kayser: Including his name, yes?
Marc Koplik: So we have to scrub it at the beginning, if we can, or scrub it at the intermediary location that I mentioned.
Ralph Kayser: So how to do this, intermediary? That means a bank in?
Marc Koplik: We’ll say Luxembourg.
Ralph Kayser: Luxembourg.
Marc Koplik: We will set up an appropriate entity call it ClientOverseas-dot-com or whatever, and then that will send money into the United States.
If that was a banker talking instead of a lawyer, he could be in serious trouble. That’s because under U.S. law, bankers are required to report suspicious financial activity to the authorities. Lawyers are under no such legal obligation.
Charmian Gooch: Banks in America are required to know their customer or required to be very cognizant of risk and to report on it if there, if there is an issue there around money laundering. And yet, absolutely bizarrely, American lawyers aren’t. This is clearly an issue. And I think our investigation has shown the potential for what could happen because of that lack of regulation.
Global Witness says that anomaly is just one of the flaws in the U.S. legal system that helps facilitate money laundering.
[Global Witness staffer: And we’re gonna call it here, “Anonymous, Inc.”]
Another is the ease in which anonymous shell companies can be set up here to conceal ownership of money and assets. Last year, two million new corporations were set up in the United States, many with no offices, products or employees, just an address and perhaps a bank account.
Charmian Gooch: In many states across America, you need less identification to set up and open up an anonymous company than you do to get a library card.
Gooch says anonymous shell companies are like getaway cars for crooks, designed to put them as far way as possible from the scene of their crime. According to a World Bank study, the U.S. was the favorite place for corrupt officials to set up anonymous shell companies.
Charmian Gooch: There was a very good academic study and America came up as the easiest place to set up an anonymous company after Kenya, out of 180 countries.
Steve Kroft: After Kenya?
Charmian Gooch: After Kenya.
Steve Kroft: So did that study have anything to do with your decision to go ahead and do these undercover investigations?
Charmian Gooch: It inspired us. I mean, we almost thought, “It can’t be this bad, can it?” And unfortunately, what we found is it is.
All of the attorneys expressed some concerns, like this one from Gerald Ross…
Gerald Ross: I’ve gotta be very careful myself. I don’t wanna do something it’s looks like I’m laundering money. And that would cost me my license and– and I– just don’t do that.
But later, he suggested that the questionable money could be wired directly into his client escrow account, bypassing scrutiny from the banks.
Gerald Ross: When I get money from my other clients it always come here with some strange name on it. I don’t even ask.
Kayser to Ross: And nobody ask?
Gerald Ross: It doesn’t come from Minister Joe Jones. It comes from the XYZ account.
John Jankoff said they would need to get a legal opinion that the money was clean… then suggested that the minister use front men to open up overseas bank accounts.
John H. Jankoff: If it’s not in his name, then he needs what is known as a “straw man.” Practically speaking if the money leaves the country his name should not be attached to the wire. It should be other people’s names.
Chip Poncy: We know this happens. We know this happens. This is how money laundering occurs all over the world. But that does not mitigate the power of seeing it up close.
We showed the tapes to Chip Poncy, a former top official at the Treasury Department whose job was to stop financial crime, terrorist financing and money laundering. He says there’s nothing wrong with lawyers setting up anonymous shell companies to protect a client’s privacy, but if it’s done to conceal criminal activity, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Chip Poncy: There’s a clear pitch consistently presented in every one of these tapes of what amounts to an incredible number of red flags that scream corruption.
Steve Kroft: Dirty money?
Chip Poncy: Dirty money.
Steve Kroft: Bad actors?
Chip Poncy: Bad actors. They don’t want to be found and they have a need. They’ve got to move their money from a point where they’ve received corrupt proceeds in this case to a point where they can enjoy those proceeds. And to get ’em from, to get this money from point A to point B, they need help in laundering it, effectively.
Poncy says he was dismayed with the ease and the comfort with which attorneys seemed to be willing to turn a blind eye and discuss a matter that was likely to be illegal.
Chip Poncy: What’s essential to recognize is that this is after it’s been revealed that the potential client is representing an African minister with hundreds of millions of dollars of funds received through, effectively, bribes.
Steve Kroft: This is more than legal advice?
Chip Poncy: This is legal advice on how to evade controls, or at a minimum, very clear global standards on financial transparency to allow our countries to go after proceeds of crime.
Attorney Marc Koplik told the Global Witness investigator that he preferred using money managers and investment firms to move funds. He thought it was less risky than using banks.
Marc Koplik: And I would suggest three or four to you. Some are bigger. Some are smaller. The smaller ones are often more flexible and understanding and less concerned about their reputation. Because they fly, to a greater extent, below the radar screen.
Sometimes the advice took the form of suggesting banks and countries that might be less vigilant about money laundering.
James Silkenat: We would have to look into how far specific banks looked into, you know, the you know, the know your customer laws and how far they would dig.
Hugh Finnegan: In many ways, you’d probably be better off with a smaller bank because–
Ralph Kayser: That would be a possibility.
Hugh Finnegan: ‘Cause the bigger banks are much more serious about looking into that stuff.
Ralph Kayser: Their reputation.
Hugh Finnegan: Right. Yes.
James Silkenat: And there may be other banking systems that are less rigorous on this than the U.S. would be.
Ralph Kayser: What would it be?
James Silkenat: The usual banking havens, I think, would be ones you would want to consider. We could provide you with a list of countries where the banking systems require less detail on ownership or source of funds.
While James Silkenat, the former president of the American Bar Association, and his partner, Hugh Finnegan, listened to the pitch and suggested ways in which they might be able to help, they were also the most suspicious of Ralph Kayser and his African minister, beginning just five minutes into the meeting.
James Silkenat: We need to talk about the risks or just concerns about where he got the money and how to explain that.
Ralph Kayser: That’s it.
James Silkenat: There is, there are issues there. The transactions is which he would be involved here wouldn’t be part of facilitating payments, but if that’s really where the money came from and if there were, you know, quote unquote crimes committed someplace else, that, that starts to be an issue.
They were also the most cautious about moving forward. Towards the end of the meeting, Hugh Finnegan, who is off camera here, said the firm would feel obligated to report anything it believed to be illegal.
Hugh Finnegan: Bearing in mind of what you said, no American law was violated, no local law was violated, but, you know, if we’re aware that a crime is being committed, we have an obligation to report that.
Steve Kroft: Mr. Silkenat says, “We need to talk about the risks or just concerns about where he got the money and how to explain that.”
Chip Poncy: That, that, and that’s, that’s a welcome–
Steve Kroft: He’s already been told how, where the money came from and how he got the money.
Chip Poncy: Correct. So it, it’s, it’s, it’s a healthy recognition that there’s an issue here.
Steve Kroft: If you could ask him anything about this meeting, what would it be?
Chip Poncy: What’s going through your head? Why are you continuing this conversation? Why not just say no? Is the business that important?
Neither Silkenat nor Finnegan would agree to an on-camera interview. But they sent us a statement saying they only discussed generic information that could be found on the Internet and that their conduct was “entirely appropriate.” “Had the camera followed us after the meeting” they wrote, “it would have shown us… agreeing… Kayser was disreputable and that we would not deal with him again.” None of the other lawyers agreed to give us an on camera interview either. When we come back, we’ll take a look at the legal and ethical implications of what you’ve just seen.
When a nonprofit organization called Global Witness came to New York 19 months ago, it secretly recorded hidden camera interviews with 16 Manhattan lawyers. Its investigator was posing as the representative of an African official trying to move millions of dollars of suspicious funds. Global Witness, which specializes in exposing international corruption, wanted to see how much help the lawyers would provide in setting up anonymous shell companies and offshore bank accounts to move the suspicious funds into the U.S. and at the same time, protect the identity of the fictitious African official.
James Silkenat: Good to see you.
Ralph Kayser: Good to see you.
The undercover investigator, who called himself Ralph Kayser, told the lawyers that the minister had used his official position to collect tens of millions of dollars in special payments from foreign companies to help them obtain valuable mineral rights. He wanted to move the money to the United States to buy a house, a jet, and a yacht.
Kayser To Ross: So therefore, he wants to bring in the money into the U.S. So starting with the brownstone and then, probably, buying a Gulfstream jet– he wants to commission the building of a yacht, and buy, probably, more property.
The story was intentionally devised to raise red flags and lead the lawyers to believe that the minister’s money was dirty. During the meetings, only one of the 16 lawyers, Jeffrey Herrmann, told him no.
Jeffrey Herrmann: This ain’t for me. My standards are higher.
The rest expressed varying degrees of interest, with most of them offering advice on how it could be done.
Marc Koplik: We do everything, soup to nuts. So, there’s no limitation. We don’t say, oh, we don’t do windows, or we don’t deal with the financial money managers, or whatever. No. We orchestrate and organize the entire thing. We’re happy to take that responsibility.
What’s important to point out and it cannot be overstated is that none of the lawyers we’ve shown you broke any laws in part because the African minister didn’t really exist… there were no hundreds of millions of dollars…and Global Witness’ Charmian Gooch said no money ever changed hands.
Steve Kroft: So this is sort of a morality test?
Charmian Gooch: It wasn’t, it was a, it was a test on the system.
Steve Kroft: You know, people could make the argument, “Look, all these guys did, really, was just listen to this person that came into their office. They didn’t make a deal, they didn’t sign up, they said, ‘We need to do some more research.'”
Charmian Gooch: And you know what? They’d be absolutely right to say that, but they’d need to say something else, too, which is that those lawyers laid out, in often considerable detail, a myriad of different ways to bring money into America.
None of the lawyers agreed to take on the African minister as a client, nor were they asked to. It was a preliminary meeting that ended with most of the attorneys expressing interest in continuing the dialogue, and some enthusiastic about landing the business.
James Silkenat: I’m happy to chat whenever it’s possible to move the ball forward on this.
Ralph Kayser: Fantastic, great.
James Silkenat: Good.
Ralph Kayser: Thank you so much.
James Silkenat: Thanks for coming in.
Marc Koplik and Albert Grant foresaw no problem as long as the money was clean, and gave no indication that they planned to do any checking themselves. They went so far as to discuss legal fees.
Marc Koplik: Legal fees will be substantial. Albert, correct me I’m wrong, $50,000 to $100,000.
Koplik also suggested conducting a test in which a portion of the suspicious funds would be sent into the United States.
Marc Koplik: -A million dollars.
Ralph Kayser: A million dollars, so, as a test?
Albert Grant: Yeah.
Ralph Kayser: Because I said, probably you would start with around, $50 million, probably, I could imagine?
Marc Koplik: I would say–a million dollars.
Ralph Kayser: A million dollars.
Marc Koplik: If anything goes wrong, it’ll be painful, but it won’t be life threatening.
Ralph Kayser: Right. Exactly.
John Jankoff and his partner Lawrence Gabe, who is off camera here, also seemed willing to go forward.
John H. Jankoff: We would orchestrate it. One legal fee to cover everything.
However, Gabe did express some concerns about the transactions.
Ralph Kayser: Who can set up this structure? Could you do it?
John H. Jankoff: Yeah, your brother-in-law does it all the time.
Lawrence M. Gabe: Well, OK. But I– I– I don’t think he does it with money that may be questionable. And that we have to find out about.
At the end of that meeting, they looked forward to the next conversation…on the telephone, not on email.
Lawrence M. Gabe: OK, give me a phone number where we can reach you?
Ralph Kayser: Ah–
Lawrence M. Gabe: I’m certainly not putting this in emails.
Ralph Kayser: Sending an email with just an outline would be fine, as well, so it’s-
John H. Jankoff: I don’t like emails.
Ralph Kayser: You don’t like emails?
Lawrence M. Gabe: That’s how you catch people.
The hidden camera tapes raise all sorts of ethical questions not just about the behavior of the lawyers, but about the methods used by Global Witness in making them. We showed the footage to Bill Simon, a law professor at Columbia University, who is one of the country’s top legal ethicists.
Bill Simon: I think it draws attention to the fact that lawyers may be playing an important role in money laundering that requires more scrutiny.
Steve Kroft: Have you ever seen anything like this before?
Bill Simon: No.
Steve Kroft: Never?
Bill Simon: Never.
Steve Kroft: What’s your overall impression of it?
Bill Simon: Any lawyer’s gonna be uncomfortable about the fact that this was a sting in which someone lied his way into a lawyer’s office and secretly recorded statements a lawyer was, thought he was making to a client. That’s kind of unprecedented and it’s kind of inconsistent with the bar’s norms about confidentiality. So I’m a little uneasy about that. On the other hand, I think that the tapes expose conduct of great public consequence.
Steve Kroft: You think it’s valuable that the public sees it?
Bill Simon: Yeah. I think it’s very valuable. Confidentiality is for the benefit of the client, not the lawyer. But the lawyers benefit from it because conduct that goes on under the protection of confidentiality is never scrutinized by the public. And lawyers are never accountable for it. So the sting actually brings some accountability to conduct that oughta be accountable.
In its own report, Global Witness includes an opinion from two legal ethicists, including Bill Simon of Columbia. It says that if attorneys Marc Koplik, John Jankoff and Gerald Ross had been responding to a real request, their conduct would “not comply with the professional responsibilities of lawyers.” It said the attorneys displayed “a cynical and evasive attitude toward law.” The ethicists also noted that the rules are vague, and “we do not expect that all lawyers will agree with us.”
Simon put then-ABA president James Silkenat and his partner, Hugh Finnegan, in a different category, even though they provided advice on how to move questionable funds into the U.S.
Steve Kroft: What makes Silkenat different from the other lawyers?
Bill Simon: Silkenat was quite clear that he would not assist illegal conduct. And he even indicated at one point that he would report the client if he found the client engaged in illegal conduct. And then also, Silkenat was fairly clear that he would need more information before he agreed to represent the client.
Steve Kroft: On the other hand, he clearly seems interested in this.
Bill Simon: He clearly seems interested and even a little enthusiastic about it.
Steve Kroft: Anything wrong with that?
Bill Simon: Well, I– I find it regrettable, but I– I’m not sure as a professional responsibility authority, I could say it was inconsistent with his duties under the rules.
Simon says the only lawyer who truly fulfilled the ideals of the legal profession was Jeffrey Herrmann, who listened to the pitch, decided it probably involved illegal activity, and ended the meeting.
Jeffrey Herrmann: This ain’t for me. My standards are higher. I’m not interested.
Ralph Kayser: Do you– do you know anybody who would be able to do so?
Jeffrey Herrmann: I don’t think so, and I wouldn’t recommend them, either, anyway.
Ralph Kayser: Yeah, yeah.
Jeffrey Herrmann: Because those persons would be insulted.
Charmian Gooch says the point of Global Witness’ hidden camera investigation was not to target or entrap lawyers for bad behavior. The problem, she says, are lax laws and toothless regulations that make it ridiculously easy for criminals to launder $300 billion dollars a year in the United States.
Charmian Gooch: This is real public interest information. How are you gonna get that out to them if you can’t show them what’s happening behind closed doors?
Steve Kroft: You couldn’t have done this any other way?
Charmian Gooch: I think unless the public and policy makers can really see for themselves what gets said across the desk, across the table in a meeting like this, it’s kind of hard to really believe and take onboard.
Gooch says there’s a simple solution, but it’s been politically impossible to achieve in the U.S. Just ask Carl Levin, the longtime chairman of the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigation. Until he retired last year, he spent years trying to pass a law that would require the states to collect one additional piece of information from people forming corporations.
Carl Levin: One line — who’s the real owner. Not, who’s the agent forming it. Not who’s the lawyer representing the owner. Who is the beneficial owner, the real owner? And it’s not at all complicated
But the bill has never made it out of committee…in part because of strong opposition from the American Bar Association.
Steve Kroft: What’s the American Bar Association’s objection to this?
Carl Levin: The lawyers are helping form corporations, and they’re afraid, I guess, that if you put a damper on the formation of corporations, that you’re putting some damper on legal business.
The irony is that the White House, the Justice Department and the U.S. Treasury have been among the world’s strongest proponents for cracking down on money laundering. Yet the U.S. is one of the easiest places in the world to set up the anonymous companies that facilitate it.
Charmian Gooch: It’s a heck of a paradox, isn’t it? And, you know, I think that the American Bar Association needs to get behind the need for regulation, in the way that European lawyers have had to do exactly the same. And I think that you know, it– it’s– I think the American government needs to answer that question.
Global Witness may have inadvertently gotten a sassy answer to that question from attorney Marc Koplik in its hidden camera video. Koplik explained to the representative of the phony African minister why he never worried about government subpoenas.
Marc Koplik: They don’t send the lawyers to jail, because we run the country.
Ralph Kayser: Do you run the country?
Marc Koplik: Still do.
Ralph Kayser: I love it.
Marc Koplik: Still do.
Albert Grant: I should say, some lawyers run the country.
Ralph Kayser: So, you are, you are some of them? Two of them?
Marc Koplik: We’re still members of a privileged, privilege class in this country.
Ralph Kayser: So, how, what does it mean you run the country? It means you?
Marc Koplik: We make the laws, and when we do so, we make them in a way that is advantageous to the lawyers.
© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
FACTS AGAINST FEAR
A proposal to presidential candidates
to reassuringly place the risk of death by terrorism in perspective
by comparing it with other causes of death in America
so that one of them who thinks strategically may emerge as
the enlightening leader that leads an enlightened People
the Champion of Justice
Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.
Ph.D., University of Cambridge, England
M.B.A., University of Michigan Business School
D.E.A., La Sorbonne, Paris
Judicial Discipline Reform
New York City
Dr.Richard.Cordero_Esq@verizon.net, RicCordero@verizon.net, CorderoRic@yahoo.com, Dr.Richard.Cordero.Esq@cantab.net, Dr.Richard.Cordero.Esq@outlook.com
NOTE: Eliminate all blank spaces inside links before clicking on them.
www.linkedin.com/pub/ dr-richard-cordero- esq/4b/8ba/50/
This open letter may be republished and redistributed, provided it is
in its entirety and without any addition, deletion, or modification,
and credit is given to its author, Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.
[Sent as an individualized letter to each of the presidential candidates.]
Dear Presidential Candidate,
This is a proposal for you to emerge as the leader who enlightens and reassures the national public when as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino some presidential candidates have misled the public into thinking that terrorism is the main death risk that it runs. You can put terrorism in perspective by comparing it with other leading causes of death that have mortality rates indisputably and even surprisingly higher, e.g., hospital infections and lightning.
By thinking strategically, you can responsibly use comparative statistics, as illustrated in the supporting table(* >ol:365), in a novel way: to reassure the public and attract it to your website through crowd fact-checking and posting.
To that end, you can reassuringly comment at rallies, debates, and interviews on the need to confront terrorism with a sense of proportion so as not to be unduly impressed by the day to day events or even exploited by demagoguery for political gain at the expense of the public peace of mind. Then you can unfold a paper and read the table’s title aloud: Facts against Fear: a table comparing terrorism with other causes of death in America*.
* All endnote and blue parenthetical references are keyed to my study of judges and their judiciary titled and downloadable as follows (this letter is at page * >ol:362 and the table at 365):
Exposing Judges’ Unaccountability and
Consequent Riskless Wrongdoing:
Pioneering the news and publishing field of
judicial unaccountability reporting*
* http:// Judicial-Discipline-Reform.org/ OL/DrRCordero- Honest_Jud_Advocates.pdf
or http:// 1drv.ms/1NkT7D8
or http:// Judicial-Discipline-Reform.org/jur/ DrRCordero_j ud_unaccountability_reporting.pdf
If these links do not download the file in Internet Explorer, download either of the following browsers, install it, copy the first link above into the browser’s search box, and press ‘Enter’. If the file, which has over 830 pages and is more than 57 MB in size, does not download, try using the other links and then the other browser:
Google Chrome: https://www.google.com/chrome/
or Mozilla-Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/products/firefox/download-and-install.
That table will be only the first of many on a wide spectrum of subjects and serve as a template for the presentation of verifiable data.
So you can invite the public to contribute to researching the incomplete entries of the table and submit their findings to your website for verification.
You can announce that the most prolific submitters of verifiable and enlightening statistics and analysis* will be publicly recognized and invited to become members of your campaign’s virtual teams of enlighters. Their task will be to turn your website into the most trusted and visited source of presidential election information and the most reliable fact-checking entity. Their mission will be to provide the truth-in-fact foundation for your motto: An enlightening leader leads an enlightened people.
You can portray the table(s) as your means of running a campaign based on facts, as opposed to fearmongering, other negative emotions, and hyperbole. This will illustrate how you as president will run a transparent, honest administration based on facts actively shared with, and verifiable by, We the People.
Naturally, the public that is attracted to your website to post and check facts will also find there information about your platform and upcoming rallies, and have the opportunity to donate to your campaign.
The above proposal further illustrates the potential of strategic thinking. Indeed, the latter has given rise to another proposal(ol:311):
You can draw electoral support from the huge untapped voting bloc of people dissatisfied with the judicial and legal systems. Their dissatisfaction derives from judges’ self-disciplining authority, their abuse of it by systematically dismissing complaints against them, and their secretive functioning. By so doing, they are able to disregard the facts and the law applicable to cases to gain benefits risklessly, to the dismay of one or more parties.
You can tap the bloc’s support by presenting at a press conference and rallies the evidence thereof contained in the above-mentioned study.
You can invite the public to post on your website its judicial complaints so that it can analyze them for coordinated wrongdoing patterns, thus attracting Republicans and Democrats alike; and to join you in calling for nationally televised hearings on judges’ wrongdoing (to be known as your hearings), and journalistic and official investigations even as your teams of enlighters conduct their own(ol:194§E).
Judges who give “even the appearance of impropriety” can be led to resign. As president, you can nominate their replacements to secure your legislative agenda’s constitutionality.
By leading We the People’s “petition for a redress of grievances”, you can emerge as their Champion of Justice.
I offer to make a presentation of these proposals to you and your officers at a video conference or in person.
Dare trigger history!(jur:7§5)…and you may enter it.
/Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.
. You can post the accompanying table(ol:365) and ask people to use it as a template when submitting their research findings. The latter will be subject to an initial phase of vetting by the public. Findings that survive such vetting will be posted as your campaign’s official facts.
. After presenting to your audience the Facts Against Fear table, you can ask it and the rest of the American public poignant rhetorical questions to cause them to perform a balancing test:
a. Given the comparative statistics already presented, would you prefer to take your chances with falling victim to terrorism or becoming a victim of any of the other causes of death in America whose chance of occurrence is 10s, 100s, or 1,000s of times higher?
b. When a member of your family, a relative, a friend, a neighbor, a workmate or fellow American dies in a car accident, a house fire, a drive-by shooting, or by food poisoning, do you say that their deaths do not count because they did not die a victim of terrorism?
c. The federal government spends more than it collects in taxes, which explains why its borrowing limit has to be raised so often; otherwise, it would run out of funds and have to close down. Imagine that the government manages to gather $5 billion to reduce the mortality of one of the causes of death in America. If you could vote on how to allocate those funds, would you vote to allocate them to fight terrorism or to combat any of the other causes of death with significantly higher mortality rates, such as cancer or car crashes?
. In the federal and state courts, 50 million new cases are filed annually(jur:8fn4, 5). They involve at least 100 million parties, each of which may consist of two, ten, a hundred persons or the thousands of members of a class. In addition, every case affects the parties’ relatives, employees, clients, shareholders, similarly situated people, etc. To those cases must be added the scores of millions pending and those deemed by parties to have been wrongfully decided by judges who risklessly took their property, liberty, and the rights and duties that determine their lives.
. Official statistics cited in my study(jur:21§1) show that federal judges dismiss 99.82% of complaints against their peers and deny up to 100% of petitions to review such dismissals(jur:10-14). They cover for each other due to the principle of mutually dependent survival(Lsch:16§1).
In the last 227 years since the creation of the Federal Judiciary in 1789, the number of its judges –2,217 were in office on 30sep13(jur:22fn13)– impeached and removed is 8! So they not only are appointed for life “during good Behaviour”, but also know based on that historical record that they are in effect irremovable. Impeachment is a useless mechanism for judicial integrity. They also rely on the constitutional provision that prohibits diminishing their salary(jur:22fn12).
Federal judges dispose of around 75% of appeals to their circuit courts with reasonless summary orders, and of up to an additional 15% with decisions so “perfunctory” that they mark them “not for publication” and “not precedential”, turning them into arbitrary, ad hoc fiats of raw unaccountable power. They are in practice secret because hardly findable, but if found, they are useless since they do not establish a precedent; hence not worth looking for. They are anathema to a legal system based on precedent as a means of keeping judicial power in check and predictable.
If you were in their position, would you be irresistibly tempted to abuse your power for your benefit and that of your peers, other insiders, and your protectors since to do so was riskless?
. The Federal Judiciary and its judges are the most secretive(jur:27§e) branch and public officers, holding all their policy-making, administrative, adjudicative, and disciplinary meetings behind closed doors. Wrongdoing festers in secrecy, which makes it infectious. This requires ‘the best disinfectant, sunlight’, as Justice Brandeis put it(jur:158¶350b). Today, the sun of information and knowledge shines through the Internet. A presidential candidate can out of principle or opportunism use his or her website, in addition to stump speeches and access to journalists, to shine light on judicial wrongdoing and cause an outraged national public to follow his or her bright lead toward Equal Justice Under Law.
 People feel offended by judges who took advantage of their ignorance of the law, inability to afford lawyers, lack of access to the media, and impotence before judges who abused them because they could get away with it. For them, vindicating their position is a driving personal matter. They make for passionate supporters of one who can help them in their quest for justice.
 Official statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and official reports, and statements from justices and judges are presented and their implications analyzed at jur:21§§1-3. Those sections contain the most compelling general evidence of judges’ wrongdoing. For evidence concerning specific justices, see jur:65§§1-4. For the enabling circumstances of wrongdoing, i.e., unaccountability, secrecy, coordination, and risklessness, see ol:191¶6.
 Their Code of Conduct enjoins them to “avoid even the appearance of impropriety”(jur:68fn123).
 Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas failed to meet this standard and was led to resign on May 14, 1969, even though he had been nominated to the chief justiceship by Pres. Johnson(jur:92§d).
This is the law a Texas law maker is thinking about sponsoring.
JoAnne Denison, Executive Director Justice 4 Every1, NFP 5940 W. Touhy Ave, #120 Niles, IL 60714 Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights Email me at JoAnne@Denisonlaw.com Cell Phone 773-255-7608 Work Ph 312-553-1300 or 847-600-3421 efax 312-376-8842 See our website at www.justice4every1.com Please note that this message may contain confidential or attorney client communications. If you have received this communication in error, please contact the sender and destroy all emails you have received in both your inbox and trash or other folders which may contain same. Thank you.
And in the absolute worst vein of fleecing the elderly news comes news from a woman in a coffin in Germany:
A 92-year-old German woman nearly scared an undertaker to death on Monday. The funeral director passed out from shock when the woman opened her coffin and asked, “Where am I?”
The lady was pronounced dead at a retirement home only a few hours earlier and was transported to the funeral home in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Metro reports. She was taken to the Munstermann funeral parlor.
The woman’s emergence from her coffin shocked the funeral director, who passed out. When he awoke, he called an ambulance to tend to the woman. She was taken to the hospital and her family was told that she was still alive. However, she became extremely sick and died on Monday afternoon.
Police are investigating why she was prematurely pronounced dead.
According to the police, the woman lived in a nursing home and was found in bed by a caretaker. The caretaker called a doctor, who pronounced the 92-year-old dead.
The funeral home workers then arrived and brought the woman away.
Lother Burger, the retirement home director, was understandably distraught.
He said: “This is terrible and inexplicable. We are being devoured by the press, we are being pilloried.”
An investigation is ongoing to determine how and why the mistake was made.
Either there is a serious problem here, or she is the reincarnation of Lazarus
apparently this is from Manchester England and they appear to be having the same problems in the US with taking care of the elderly in nursing homes.
FIVE women have been arrested after an 86-year-old man died at a Bolton care home.
Police are investigating allegations of neglect in connection with the death of the man at Lever Edge Care Home in Great Lever on Saturday, January 9.
A full investigation has been launched in a bid to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the man’s death.
As part of these inquiries police have arrested five women, aged 22, 43, 44, 48 and 63 on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
All five have now been bailed until February 26 pending further inquiries.
Greater Manchester Police said it is also providing support to the man’s family while the investigation takes place.
The care home — based in Lever Edge Lane — is run by Hill Care and offers general health care needs as well as dementia care support for its residents.
A spokesman for the home said: “Lever Edge Care Home is working very closely with Greater Manchester Police, Bolton Council and the Care Quality Commission during inquiries into the incident on Saturday, January 9, 2016.
“All staff, residents and relatives are being kept fully informed and management support has been put in place at the care home while inquiries are ongoing.”
The Bolton News has seen a letter which has been sent by Bolton Council to relatives and carers of residents at the home regarding the police investigation.
It states: “The staff members are suspended as a neutral act following an incident being investigated by the police.
“We appreciate that this will be a worry to you, however, we wish to reassure you that the council is working closely with the home, the Care Quality Commission and the police to ensure the safety of residents and to improve quality.”
The letter also points out that as part of the process, staff will be undertaking ‘quality assurance visits’ to the home and two dedicated social workers will regularly be on site to talk to people about their relatives’ care over the next few weeks.
Last week the Care Quality Commission announced that Lever Edge had undergone a new inspection and had achieved a rating of good.
The recent report has since been removed from the website with the latest inspection — which also warranted a good rating — now dating back to November, 2013.
The CQC said it was waiting for the police to conclude its investigation at the home before it carries out its own probe in light of recent events.
A CQC spokesman said: “We are aware of the tragic incident at Lever Edge Care Home, Bolton on Saturday, January 9, 2016.
“We are currently supporting Greater Manchester Police with their investigation and are working alongside Bolton Council regarding the incident and to ensure the safety of the people at the home.
“An inspection of the service was conducted in November and we will return to the service shortly to follow up on the recent event, and we will report on our findings in due course.”
Bolton Council said it was also assisting the police with its investigation.
A spokesman added: “We are also working with the Care Quality Commission to ensure all residents at the home are being appropriately cared for.
“Our sympathies are with the family of the gentleman concerned and we are keeping residents’ families informed of any developments.”
Anyone with information that may assist the police investigation is asked to call officers at Scholey Street police station on 0161 856 5608.
I have heard from soooo many new clients that their cases involve corruption, but it’s in family court and due mostly to the vendors and court appointed attorneys.
One lawyer, Mario Jiminez is working to alleviate these problems, so here is my wish list for family court:
I really think what we need is for all the jurisdictions to
1) use a 50/50 coparenting agreement enacted by the legislature;
2) to use a 50/50 division of assets agreement enacted by the legislature; and
3) 50/50 parenting shall be implemented unless one parent is a felon or psychopath (either party can demand testing–brain scan only, please) or there is sexual abuse allegations ;
4) one parent pays child support and the other accounts for child support and must also spend the child support rate on the kids (this can include utilities, rent, housing, etc.) from their income. If the parents cannot agree on who pays child support, the court should toss a coin. If one parent moves out of the jurisdiction, they must make arrangements for transportation for co parenting.
All we need to do is get the vendors out of the scam business and a lot of the unrest will go away.
All vendor lists must be published on the internet for every court room, and past clients and family members should be allowed to rate any court vendor for quality of services, list any problems, effectiveness, cost, etc. Ratings should be published on the internet. All prices should be published on the internet. Parties should be able to ask for a flat fee or capped fee arrangement. CV’s or Resume’s must be published on the internet.
Anyone who is court appointed MUST file an ethics report yearly disclosing all sources of income from any person or business and the amount received if it is in the probate or family court area. This shall be published on the internet.
The ONLY time vendors can get involved is if there are special needs children, extraordinary medical expenses, one or both parents on disability, and then they should be trained volunteers who work for low cost or free. Courts should always pull from this list first to see if they can get a low cost or free volunteer rather than someone paid.
In the case of parents requiring supervision (felonies, psychopathy, sexual abuse, etc.) this should also be low cost or free. The court should always look on the lowest cost list first and for volunteers, esp. where the parties are not wealthy and the marital estate is not large.
The US dept of justice has announced the following
Justice Department Files Brief to Address the Criminalization of Homelessness
The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest today arguing that making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places, when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless. The statement of interest was filed in federal district court in Idaho in Bell v. City of Boise et al., a case brought by homeless plaintiffs who were convicted under Boise ordinances that criminalize sleeping or camping in public.
As stated by the Justice Department in its filing, “[i]t should be uncontroversial that punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment. . . Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”
“Many homeless individuals are unable to secure shelter space because city shelters are over capacity or inaccessible to people with disabilities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights. Moreover, enforcing these ordinances is poor public policy. Needlessly pushing homeless individuals into the criminal justice system does nothing to break the cycle of poverty or prevent homelessness in the future. Instead, it imposes further burdens on scarce judicial and correctional resources, and it can have long-lasting and devastating effects on individuals’ lives.”
“No one wants people to sleep on sidewalks or in parks, particularly not our veterans, or young people, or people with mental illness,” said Director Lisa Foster of the Office for Access to Justice. “But the answer is not to criminalize homelessness. Instead, we need to work with our local government partners to provide the services people need, including legal services, to obtain permanent and stable housing.”
In this case, the plaintiffs allege that enforcement of the city of Boise ordinances prohibiting sleeping or camping in public outdoor places, on nights when there is insufficient shelter space in Boise to accommodate the homeless population, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In its filing, the United States does not take a position on the factual accuracy of the plaintiffs’ claims, but instead addresses the appropriate legal framework for analyzing their claims. The statement of interest advocates for the application of the analysis set forth in Jones v. City of Los Angeles, a Ninth Circuit decision that was subsequently vacated pursuant to a settlement. In Jones, the court considered whether the city of Los Angeles provided sufficient shelter space to accommodate the homeless population. The court found that, on nights when individuals are unable to secure shelter space, enforcement of anti-camping ordinances violated their constitutional rights. The parties in Bell v. City of Boise disagree about whether the Jones court’s analysis was correct, reflecting the longstanding disagreement among courts analyzing the constitutionality of anti-camping ordinances. The statement of interest was filed to address this currently unsettled area of the law.
Bell v. City of Boise et al. was filed in the District of Idaho in 2009.
PHILLIPSBURG—A Phillipsburg mother has won the right to sue state employees who charged her with child abuse after her husband allegedly stabbed her and kidnapped their child.
Michelle Mammaro, 29, continues to “seek justice in her case against” the state child services workers and police who “pursued her as a child abuser,” her attorney said today.
The Federal District Court in Trenton ruled that these state employees are not immune from suit for conduct in violation of the constitution rights of parents, and Mammaro has won the right to sue department heads and individual employees of the state Department of Children & Families, its Division of Child Protection and Permanency (then the Division of Youth and Family Services, DYFS) and the Watchung Police Department, Kenneth Rosellini of Clifton said in a press release.
Now this is only a lower court decision, so it is not citable precedence, but you can follow the case on UScourts.com or pacer.gov.
It is my impression that the 60 minutes report was a diversion. Every time that the FBI or the IRS gets a handle on a particular money laundering scheme, the bad guys modify it so as to continue their bad ways. Professionals like lawyers have a tendency to have huge blind spots that prevent them from seeking the broad picture and deal with the more sophisticated criminal schemes. Law Enforcement people on the other hand are trained to look for the perverse and the pieces of puzzle that build the puzzle.
The GAO reports to congress, to wit:
GAO-13-140T: Published: Nov 15, 2012. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 2012.
GAO-10-1046: Published: Sep 30, 2010. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 2010.
GAO-13-110: Published: Nov 15, 2012. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 2012.
GAO-16-272T: Published: Dec 10, 2015. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 2015.
GAO-13-626T: Published: May 16, 2013. Publicly Released: May 16, 2013.
All provide a wealth of information that Congress has and is ignoring. Congress is a political body and its members have to worry about getting re=elected. It is very hard to become elected if you cause pecuniary harm to the very people who give you the money to run for office successfully.
How much money did you give your key elected representative? Did you give him any time? Of course you and game our respective senators almost nothing (In my case zero) in campaign contributions and my support was solely advice — BUY LOW, SELL HIGH! or similar. However, our two guardian ad litem in the Sykes can be counted on for a substantial campaign contributions and other contributions. If I operate a nursing home I can guarantee that each of the residents will vote for the candidate of the representative’s choice and when they did – a nice cash contribution.
Yes, I know that this is all illegal and not paying tax on the benefit is tax fraud; however, no one can look under the covers in a free society. (4th Amendment). No we do not have to wear blinders or not listen to the cries of ***** uttered by the participants. That is where law enforcement comes in. The GAO has provided congress with a road map, and the blogs Probate Sharks, MaryGSykes, NASGA have been the GPS that Congress has ignored, law enforcement has ignored and the reason we are in such distress. Equal protection of the law means enforcement of the Law equally and effectively.
Most frustrating is the “fix!” CBS in the program the “Good Wife” last night did a nice job of dramatizing it. Amazingly, it even named one of the masters of the ‘fix’ by name, referring to her in a disguised setting. (Had the name Hillary or Donald been used – it would have been less subtle and more in line with the 60 minute presentation). The ‘fix’ is so frustrating BECAUSE WE ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN. We elect crooked judges who foster elder cleansing and we elect public officials who we know are very frugal with the truth – how can we object when we get what we demand.
On Sun, Jan 31, 2016 at 10:53 PM, Cynthia Stephens <email@example.com> wrote: