And in other news having a questionable financial angle... it's been a very busy week for new and old financial rip-off schemes by blue, black, grey, pink and white collared criminals.
Our old friend Scott Rothstein, who pleads guilty to operating a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme from his law office in south Florida, was sentenced to 50 years in a federal prison. Is $1.3 billion enough to create a cloud of suspicion for other criminal activity? Meanwhile his former office manager awaits her fate after being charged in the matter and the investors await further criminal charges and the recoupment of their investments. This is flimflam accounting at its worse when the firm can generate $8 million in fees and have a payroll of $18 million or so that's the report. If you want to know more about this case follow the link. And don't forget the murder victim Melissa Lewis and the man accused of her murder who was transferred after the judge found him unfit to stand trial due to mental health issues. Tony Villegas linked stories. And the woman charged with money laundering. This story has the office manager pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Read her explanation and ask yourself if friendship can ever justify criminal activity with so many somewhat innocent victims. And of course there is the innocent victim Melissa Lewis that I've discussed several times. I still have to wonder if Tony Villegas isn't being falsely accused of Lewis' murder. Remember the office manager who was his wife at the time provided testimony to the FBI that she feared for her and Scott Rothstein's lives. The saga continues.
View more news videos at: http://www.nbcmiami.com/video.
Feb 2, 2010 ... Michael Mayo of the Florida Sun Sentinel writes today, My gut on Melissa Lewis murder: Confused. ... Did honesty get Florida lawyer, ... www.lombardilaw.com/blog/is-the-melissa-lewis-murder-... -
Nov 11, 2009 ... Labels: death Florida iowa Melissa Lewis murder wrongful ... Post a Comment to " Did honesty get Florida lawyer, Melissa Lewis, killed? ... www.lombardilaw.com/blog/did-honesty-get-flori... -
Also read more details about the Fort Lauderdale Ponzi Schemers with Scott Mayo from the SunSentinel. As Mr. Mayo points out he's confused by all the evidence contradicting a logical connection between Tony as the murdered and the other shenanigan's surrounding Lewis. And in the criminal law arena evidentiary confusion works against the prosecution and in favor of the defendant getting a not-guilty verdict. Hang in there Tony my hunch is as soon as the hoopla dies down you walk again as a free man.
The Des Moines Register reported that a Cedar Rapids man plead guilty to a student loan financial aid scam whereby he would recruit students to attend Kirkwood Community College then use their information to apply for student loans. Two other men involved have not been charged. This story is out of the U.S. District Court in the federal district in Cedar Rapids. The events are reported to have taken place in 2007. This man is 21-years-old. The crime alleged and reportedly plead to is mail fraud.
What were they thinking? Maybe student loan money is too easy to get and there aren't enough safeguards in place for the taxpayers or lenders to make sure the money is going to the right people or the intended expenses.
Terry Branstad former Iowa Governor and once again candidate denied having kept two sets of books for the State of Iowa. Brandstad is reported to say "two sets of books" was a phrase or figure of speech rather than what actually was occurring in the early 1990's. But the state auditor who is also a Republican disagreed and is quoted in the Des Moines Register article as saying: ""I certainly don't want to be critical of Gov. Branstad but I think he does need to be transparent to the public about what actually happened," Johnson said." What they are talking about is delaying payment of expenses to run the state but not showing the account payable. It's accounting gimmickry that CEO's of large corporations use to boost a stock's price when they want to unload shares they have or exercise options allowing them to pocket a huge windfall.
In other news that is being reported in the Des Moines Register as well as the Wall Street Journal accusations are beginning to fly about the takeover of Casey's General Store and its suitor Alimentation Couche-Tard. If the stories are accurate the suitor purchased 2 million shares of Casey's, then announced a takeover bid and as the stock price was run up sold 1.75 million shares for a $10 million profit. Is that illegal? Or is that what some call arbitrage? A lawsuit has been filed in Des Moines against the Quebec Company. The SEC will be examining the timing issues, unless of course the SEC employees are too busy looking at Internet pornography. (CASY) This hostile bid takeover is getting downright hostile.
Casey's Files Suit to Block Takeover, WSJ, June 11, 2010
Casey's sues suitor over 'scheme' , Des Moines Register
In other news the State of Iowa announced there is a road paint shortage. How can there be a shortage of road paint? Is this an attempt to price fix? The claim is there is a shortage of titanium dioxide and methyl methacrylate. The Iowa DOT reported paints 9,400 miles of stripes per year. See the story Paint for striping roads is running low.
And the state's film tax credit controversy is once again heating up as prosecutors filed a dozen new felony charges against three movie makers. The saga continues and Iowa is no closer to attracting the film industry. You'd think someone; anyone who works for the State of Iowa could have caught onto this problem a lot earlier and stopped it before it has the effect of destroying the entire program.
The number of foreclosed homes in Iowa rose 14.7% in May as compared to the previous month. Liar's loans have a way of catching up with those who participate. It's not easy to find any compassion for the lenders who tried to pocket a quick profit with dumping these subprime loans but getting caught without a seat in this game of musical debt financing. Suck it up boys you can always use the paper as a starter in your patio fire pits.
And in a version of house flipping there is the new idea called house flopping. In house flopping buyers and lenders pay off appraisers to give them a low appraisal. After the home is purchased for the lower than market price the owner turns right around and sells it using a real appraisal while pocketing the difference. The lender participates for loan fees. The previous owner eats the difference with a lower than market selling price. As a lawyer the question I have is whether house flopping is violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as an ongoing criminal enterprise. That law allows for treble damages and criminal charges against all those profiting from the criminal enterprise. The black letter law can be found at this link. Study the history of RICO and you'll ask if banking as an institution isn't along with Wall Street the new mafia. Banksters and RICEO's abound with fraudulent schemes that leave the taxpayers carrying the freight charges when these financial schemes collapse.
The Wikipedia definition of RICO: The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO Act or RICO) is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91-452, 84 Stat. 922, enacted October 15, 1970). RICO is codified as Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1961-1968. While its intended use was to prosecute the Mafia as well as others who were actively engaged in organized crime, its application has been more widespread.
To see further financial shenanigans you need look no further than Granger, Iowa. With governments scrambling to find more tax dollars to operate and pay bills it seem absurd that little Granger Iowa would be bickering over paint on a water tower but that's exactly what they are doing. There are two water towers in Granger. One has the word "hot" and the other the word "cold". It seems the fight is over painting the water tower and covering up the words with a nice new logo that the city paid Push Branding $4,500.00 to design a new city logo. Let me see if I understand this. The city has $4,500.00 to spend on designing a new logo and sees that as more important than possibly hiring a part-time worker and helping to relieve the unemployment rate in this state. That's interesting logic by the Granger city officials. Perhaps it's time they find the unemployment line. If you don't know how to get to Granger, Iowa just head towards Gravina Island and look for the bridge to nowhere.
There is more financial rip-off news but I've had enough for one day.