Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wilson Sonsini Employee Is Charged With Insider Trading

Wilson Sonsini Employee Is Charged With Insider Trading
A computer systems engineer at the Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati was charged with trading on inside information about potential mergers and acquisitions he learned on the job.
Dimitry Braverman, 41, is the second employee in three years at the Palo Alto, California-based firm to be charged with insider trading.
Braverman used computerized records at the law firm to identify companies involved in possible acquisitions, including Gymboree Corp., Inc., Epicor Software Corp. and Seagate Technology Plc, according to charges made public today in Manhattan federal court. He was arrested this morning at his home in San Mateo, California
Braverman temporarily suspended his illicit activity when a Wilson Sonsini lawyer was arrested for an unrelated insider-trading scheme in 2011, according to prosecutors. The lawyer, Matthew Kluger, pleaded guilty and is serving a 12-year sentence, the longest-ever in an insider-trading case.
“Today’s charges against a staff member are deeply disturbing to say the least,” Courtney Dorman, a Wilson Sonsini spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “Client confidentiality is at the center of all we do, and we have strict policies and internal controls established to protect it. We have and will continue to provide our full support to the federal investigation.”
Braverman was put on administrative leave, Dorman said.

Illegal Profit

Braverman made almost $300,000 from the illegal trading, the U.S. said. He had access to billing records and attorney time sheets created when the firm opened new accounts or checked for conflicts of interest, according to the government.
The U.S. charged Braverman with a single count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
Braverman appeared in federal court in San Francisco and was ordered released on $500,000 bond to be secured by $100,000 in cash, according to court records. Brandon LeBlanc, who represented Braverman at the court appearance, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the charges.
Braverman, who worked in Wilson Sonsini’s Palo Alto office, was also sued today by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Eight Transactions

Braverman used inside information, from September 2010 until the end of 2013, relating to eight transactions involving Wilson Sonsini clients to trade, according to prosecutors. The SEC claimed Braverman passed tips to his brother on two of the deals. The brother, who isn’t identified or named as a defendant in the criminal case or the SEC suit, made $1,800 from the illegal tips, according to the SEC.
Braverman also traded securities in an account opened in the name of a relative, Vitaly Pupynin, who lives in Russia. Braverman paid $40,300 to Pupynin, according to the SEC complaint, which names the Russian relative as a defendant.
The SEC claims Braverman and his brother bought Seagate shares and options in March 2011, when Wilson Sonsini was representing the maker of computer hard drives in a transaction with Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) Hours after the arrest of Kluger, a Wilson Sonsini lawyer in Washington, became public, Braverman sold his Seagate holdings at a loss, according to the regulator. Braverman’s brother sold his Seagate call options two days later.

Trades Resume

Braverman resumed his illegal trades, using an account in the name of Pupynin, in November 2012, according to the government.
Kluger, 53, pleaded guilty in December 2011 to leading a 17-year insider trading scheme that generated $37 million in illegal profits. Kluger, the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning social historian Richard Kluger, is serving his sentence in a West Virginia federal prison. He’s due to be released in 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Wilson Sonsini has 14 offices in the U.S., Asia and Europe, according to its website.
The case is U.S. v. Braverman, 14-mg-02031, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
(The spelling of Braverman’s first name was corrected in an earlier version of this story.)
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at Andrew Dunn, David Glovin

Suspended Judge Jones inks plea deal in fraud case


Suspended Family Court Judge Steven Jones has signed an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to participating in a $3 million investment fraud scheme.
His lawyer, Robert Draskovich, confirmed that Jones on Friday signed the agreement, which calls for him to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
As part of the deal, Jones will resign from the bench and give up his law license after he pleads guilty in federal court.
Prosecutors have agreed not to ask for more than 27 months in prison for the longtime judge at his sentencing, Draskovich said.
“He’s looking forward to putting this behind him,” Draskovich said Monday.
The deal is not binding until Jones accepts it in court. Jones could face a dozen years in prison if he goes to trial at the end of the month and is convicted in the decade-long scheme, which prosecutors allege began in 2002.
Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined comment on the plea deal.
The electronic court docket does not show an entry or date for Jones’ change of plea.
Jones and five others, including his former brother-in-law Thomas Cecrle, were indicted by a Las Vegas federal grand jury in late October 2012.
Jones, 56, first elected to the bench in 1992, was suspended with pay by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline following the indictment. He did not run for re-election, and his term expires at the end of the year.
The indictment alleged that between September 2002 and October 2012, the defendants persuaded people to lend them money under the guise of quick repayment with high interest rates. The defendants indicated they needed the money to secure valuable property and water rights, including land on the Strip.
Jones is accused of using the power of his office to further the decade-long scheme and intervening on Cecrle’s behalf to prevent or delay legal processes against him.
Cecrle, 56, was released from federal custody in June while he awaits trial, but he has been accused of violating the terms of his release.
Last month, a minor player in the scheme, Ashlee Martin, 30, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit money laundering under a pretrial diversion agreement. If she abides by the terms of her release over the next year, the charge will be dismissed.
Her plea agreement calls for her to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Another co-defendant, Constance Fenton, is to plead guilty on Wednesday.
That leaves Cecrle and two other defendants, Terry Wolfe and Mark Hansen, to stand trial Sept. 30 before U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey. They face conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Contact Jeff German at or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.

Killing the death tax

Killing the death tax

Benjamin Franklin made this observation in a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
The Founding Father was an astute and learned fellow, indeed. Yet even he would have been surprised to find out his quote eventually revealed a certainty within the nation he so loved: the dreaded combination of death and taxes.
The estate tax, or “death tax,” has been a historical grievance for many American families. Its roots go back to the short-lived stamp tax (1797-1802), and includes the 1862 Revenue Act and 1898 War Revenues Act.
Now the modern estate tax is almost a century old. As Darien B. Jacobson, Brian G. Raub and Barry W. Johnson wrote in the Internal Revenue Service’s Statistics of Income Bulletin in 2007, “The Revenue Act of 1916 created a tax on the transfer of wealth from an estate to its beneficiaries, and thus was levied on the estate.” This estate tax differed from the “inheritance tax that is levied directly on beneficiaries,” which occurs in some U.S. states, and is “applied to net estates, defined as the total property owned by a decedent, the gross estate, less deductions.”
Yet as some people may recall, the estate tax cheated death a few years ago.
Then-President George W. Bush started the process of gradually phasing it out through taxation legislation in 2001. The estate tax disappeared by 2010, and only needed to be permanently repealed to be wiped out forever. President Obama and Democratic politicians predictably sat on their hands, and the estate tax’s exemption of $1 million reared its ugly head (again) in 2011.
Hope — as it so often does — springs eternal.
There seems to be some movement in New Jersey to do something about the state’s lofty inheritance tax. Gov. Chris Christie certainly wants to get rid of it, saying that many residents “can’t afford to die here” and they’re “going to pay significant money when they pass away the assets that they worked all their lives for.”
Republican state Sen. Steve Oroho also pointed out that “New Jersey is one of only two states, us and Maryland, that has both an estate tax and an inheritance tax. Yes, New Jersey taxes dead people. They find a way to tax them in the estate tax and the inheritance tax.”
If New Jersey’s efforts are successful, that would be great for this state. Yet I believe that the United States as a whole can go much further on this issue.
I’ve always been opposed to an estate tax. It’s nothing more than the government taking away a significant portion of a person’s estate earned over the course of a lifetime. Rather, it should always be left up to the individual through his will to make the ultimate decision whether to pass down the money, give a portion of it to charity or another cause (e.g., political donation), or simply give it all away.
The state should not be involved in this decision, and should not be allowed to arbitrarily claim a portion once a person has passed away.
When you think about it, the whole matter is rather puzzling.
Throughout history, most Americans have supported greater degrees of personal liberty and freedom of choice. They trumpeted capitalism and free markets. They rejected the growth of the state and bureaucracy. They thought that citizens, and not the government, could make their own decisions about their daily lives.
While there were a few exceptions to the rule, these positions remained fairly consistent under most Republican and Democratic presidential administrations.
It would be easy to blame Mr. Obama for the current mess. As The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes wrote in the issue of March 5, 2012, “Are Obama’s tax policies perverse, stubborn, or simply driven by ideology? Probably all three.” Yet this problem has nothing to do with the current president. Incredulously, crippling estate and inheritance taxes — which were always anathema to American views and values — survived under a litany of White Houses, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
Moreover, various countries have gradually come to their senses and eliminated this ridiculous measure. My country, Canada, which has hardly been a bastion of free-market economics at times, repealed its estate tax in 1971.
What on earth is the United States waiting for? Kill off the death tax, once for all.
Killing the death tax
The state shouldn’t get the first portion of an American’s worldly wealth
Michael Taube
September 2, 2014
The Washington Times

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mom charged in girl’s death could get trust fund

Mom charged in girl’s death could get trust fund (NY)

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A special education teacher accused of killing her severely disabled 8-year-old daughter by withholding food and medical care could inherit nearly $1 million from the girl’s trust fund — even if she’s convicted.
Nicole Diggs and her husband have pleaded not guilty to charges of negligent homicide and child endangerment in the 2012 death of Alayah Savarese, who was the beneficiary of a trust fund created from the settlement of a malpractice suit that stemmed from complications during her birth.
The indictment doesn’t allege that the trust fund was a motive, but Diggs’ attorney says prosecutors are nevertheless implying that her client “somehow disposed of her daughter in order to obtain the money.” She wants any mention of the trust fund barred from trial and says her client didn’t neglect Alayah.
Prosecutors in Westchester County say Alayah “was not provided required daily food,” did not receive necessary medical treatment, was often left unattended and was frequently kept home from school, depriving her of physical and occupational therapy.
Authorities say Alayah suffered lacerations, bruises and welts from the neglect. According to court papers, Diggs and her husband, Oscar Thomas — who isn’t Alayah’s father — also “failed to maintain the child’s hygiene which caused her to have smelly and dirty hair and clothing, a foul odor about her body and bleeding gums.”
On the day Alayah died in a Yonkers apartment, she was left in the care of one of Thomas’ friends, who wasn’t equipped to deal with her medical issues, court papers allege.
If convicted, the 32-year-old Diggs wouldn’t be automatically disqualified from inheriting her daughter’s fortune because she isn’t charged with intending to kill the girl. Many states have so-called slayer statutes to prevent profiting from a crime, but New York courts have generally held that without intent, a homicide doesn’t disqualify someone from inheriting from a victim, said St. John’s Law School professor Margaret Turano, a trust and estate expert.
John Riordan, an attorney and former Surrogate’s Court Judge in Nassau County, said, “If it’s unintentional, then the person can still inherit. … But the facts of this case are very unsettling, and under the circumstances, it doesn’t seem correct that that would happen.”
Any challenges to Diggs’ inheritance would be heard in a separate court, Westchester County Surrogate’s Court, where a bank has been named administrator of the girl’s estate.
Alayah’s biological father, Anthony Savarese, who lived elsewhere in Yonkers when Alayah died and isn’t charged, is in line to get half the trust fund. His lawyer declined to say whether his client would challenge Diggs’ inheritance.
A report on Alayah’s death from the state Office of Children and Family Services chronicles a long list of complaints — some of which were determined to be unfounded — and several visits from caseworkers.
The complaints include that Alayah was so dirty the school staff took it on themselves to wash her, and after one shampoo, “the water was black from the dirt.”
Caseworkers reported that although Diggs received some Medicaid assistance, she passed up opportunities to get more help.
The local and state offices of OCFS declined to comment on how social services handled the case.
Court papers indicate some of the settlement money was used to buy a $35,000 van to transport Alayah and to make modifications for her at a home in Dutchess County that Diggs and Thomas were planning to buy.
The state report substantiated various allegations against Diggs and Thomas, including inadequate guardianship and lack of medical care. But it concluded there was “no causal connection” between those allegations and Alayah’s death.
The medical examiner attributed Alayah’s death to her cerebral palsy and seizure condition.
Diggs’ lawyer has filed motions seeking dismissal of the indictment. The prosecution’s reply to that motion and other issues is expected this week. Diggs faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
A lawyer for Thomas, 29, wouldn’t comment on the case.
During Alayah’s birth in 2004, the umbilical cord was severed, and she was deprived of oxygen, said Diggs’ lawyer, Arlene Popkin. The complication left her with cerebral palsy, seizures and a lack of limb control, and as she grew, Alayah could not walk, talk or feed herself, Popkin said in court papers.
According to defense papers, Diggs resisted suggestions to institutionalize the girl and raised her with the help of relatives while she graduated from Cornell University, got a master’s degree and was hired to teach special education students at a public school in the Bronx.
Thomas was the stay-at-home caretaker, Popkin said.
Diggs still works for New York City’s public schools, but she has been transferred to administrative duties and isn’t allowed contact with students.
She isn’t permitted to use Alayah’s trust fund for her defense, so her lawyer is being paid by taxpayers.
Mom charged in girl’s death could get trust fund
Associated Press
September 1, 2014
Monroe News

Dear Mr. Larkin and Ms. Gutierrez...

5940 W. Touhy Avenue      
Niles, IL 60714
September 13, 2014
Mr. Jerome Larkin
Ms. Leah Gutierrez
Attorney Registration
130 E. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
RE: continued violation of the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1220 3(a).
See Shotz v. City of Plantation, 334 F.3d 1161, 1166, 2003  U. S. App.
LEXIS 18527, 7-8, 14 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 1395, 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1067, Accom.Disabilities Dec. (CCH) 11-941 (11th Cir. Fla.2003
Dear Mr. Larkin and Ms. Gutierrez,
I realized a long time ago that you (collectively) do not believe that the protections of the United States Constitution do not apply to lawyers such as myself.  However, as has been pointed out by the SCOTUS in recent cases, regardless of what the persons who discriminate, abuse, or exploit the disabled and elderly decree intheir WAR on the Elderly and Disabled think, their elder cleansing is a felony and among other laws violated is the Americans with Disabilities Act, otherwise known as ADA.  As you are fully aware, I have and continue to report  pursuant to 18 USCA 4 the felonies committed.
This letter is not to admonish you for the past violation of 18 USCA 371 et al, i.e., the aiding and abetting of the serious felonies, or even the numerous violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act that I an numerous other citizens have complained concerning, but to alert you to the current violation of 42USCA 12203(a).  It appears that on the anniversary of the day that shall live in infamy, your application for retalization against me for reporting your aiding and abetting the ADA violations against Mary Sykes Alice Gore and others being reported to law enforcement was granted by the Supreme Court of Illinois.  As you are aware, Federal Law ‘trumps State Law’ and even if others chosose to ignore the mandates of the United States Constitution and Congress of the United States in its enactment of the Americans with Disabilities law (ADA),  it does not exculpate you. 
As is my policy, this is a safe harbor letter giving you the opportunity to remediate ths aforesaid violation of anti-retaliation sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act as they apply to me.[1]  If within forty-eight 948) hours of the receipt of this letter you cause the retaliatory action to be vitiated, I will waive the damages from that particular violation.  As retaliation for compliance with a Federal Statue is a sss matter I have already E-mailed a complaint to the Attorney General of the United States.  I realize that you wrongfully consider my communication with Lw Enforcement on the subject of elder cleansing to be ethically challenged but, even if the Supreme Court of Illinois appears to agree with you, I cannot as an Attorney or as a citizen of the United States of America accept your assault on the Bill of Rights and in particular the First Amendment.  The Petition for Certiorari that I filed on or about June 6, 2014, states, in detail, my reasoning.
Yours very truly,
Kenneth K. Ditkowsky
Cc: Supreme Court of the United States

[1] If you choose to abrogate your continuing violations of Federal law that you (Mr. Larkin) are continuing against Ms. Denison, I personally would appreciate compliance with ADA; however I do not speak for Ms. Denison and do not directly or indirectly waive any of her rights against you or any other member of your staff.  This letter merely seeks to give you a limited opportunity to vitiate the September 11, 2014 retaliation and violation of ADA

Columbus lawyer gives up all guardianship cases

Columbus lawyer gives up all guardianship cases

By The Columbus Dispatch  •  
Lawyer Paul Kormanik
A Columbus lawyer who a few months ago boasted that he probably acted as guardian for more people than anyone else in the nation has resigned from all his cases and briefly checked himself into a local hospital for mental-health treatment.
Paul S. Kormanik filed his resignation with Franklin County Probate Court on
Aug. 26. He once had about 400 wards; now the hundreds he had left have been temporarily put in the custody of Groveport attorney John Mashburn until the court can find permanent guardians.
Kormanik did not return emails or calls to his law practice seeking comment on Thursday or yesterday.
Mike Moran, the court’s chief of staff, said on Wednesday that Kormanik will no longer be associated with the court. Several people who know Kormanik said he checked into Dublin Springs, a mental-health treatment facility, for observation.
Moran said the court was in the process of removing Kormanik’s involvement in guardianship cases. Almost all of Kormanik’s law practice consisted of guardianship cases. To oversee many of them, he was paid thousands of dollars per case annually.
In an unprecedented move last month, the court began taking wards away from Kormanik after a five-part Dispatch series, “Unguarded,” showed how the guardianship system has been abused. Stories specifically questioned Kormanik’s billing practices and his extraordinary caseload.
The court removed about 50 of Kormanik’s wards last month and placed them in the care of Advocacy and Protective Services Inc., or APSI, which helps people with disabilities.
A probate judge or magistrate has the authority to appoint a guardian to take control of decision-making for a person who has been declared incompetent, also known as a ward. A guardian can request the relationship without ever meeting the ward or speaking to family members.
For the past two years, Franklin County Probate Judge Robert G. Montgomery has been trying to find a better way to handle guardianships and reduce the number of cases that are assigned to local lawyers.
The judge’s efforts got a boost this year when he got legislative approval to create a first-of-its-kind Franklin County Guardianship Service Board. Montgomery has said it will be a collaborative effort between the court and local charities and social-services organizations.
Under Montgomery’s plan, the three-member board would hire an executive director to serve as a guardian for the county’s hardest-to-serve residents, typically those wards with a mental illness who live outside a nursing home or other group setting.
The new agency would hire social workers to serve those wards. It would deploy volunteers and interns to work with other wards and visit them to check on their welfare.
Meanwhile, volunteers from the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging’s guardian program have assumed control of or are becoming guardians for about 35 of Kormanik’s former wards, many of them people who are receiving long-term care in nursing homes, said Julia Nack, director of the program.
In addition to questions raised in the Dispatch investigation, the court found several cases in which Kormanik misused a taxpayer-supported fund that pays attorney guardians up to $420 annually to handle legal matters for indigent people.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien also are investigating Kormanik’s billing practices and use of Medicaid funds.
Kormanik, 64, has said in repeated interviews and court hearings that he has done nothing wrong.
The Dispatch investigation found that several attorneys billed thousands of dollars in legal fees for nonlegal work. One billed a ward’s family to discuss the ward’s funeral arrangements with her relatives.
That lawyer, Kevin A. Craine, is under investigation by the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel, state and local authorities have said. The counsel is looking at possible ethics violations.
The probate court is not reviewing Craine’s cases.
Court officials said they are reviewing the cases of several lawyers but have declined to identify them.
Mashburn is not one of the lawyers being looked at by the court. He is one of the area’s longest-serving guardians; he has about 200 permanent cases and acknowledges that Kormanik is a friend.
Mashburn’s office now has temporary control of about 300 of Kormanik’s former cases. Those cases mainly involve caring for a person’s medical or personal needs.
“I had many conversations with the court, and we wanted to do the right thing because these people need help,” Mashburn said. “Whether it’s making sure people receive the proper medical care or other needs, we will make sure they get it.”
As for Kormanik’s troubles, Mashburn said: “I just feel bad about what has happened, and I hate to see things like this happen to anyone.”
Dispatch Reporter Mike Wagner contributed to this story.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Janet Phelan Report -- Now on youtube

Janet Phelan Report--now on youtube


11:52 PM (6 hours ago)
to me
On Sunday, September 14, 2014 6:36 PM, Janet Phelan <> wrote:

I will be back on Feet to the Fire at around 7 pm CT tonight, discussing a current guardianship issue as well as Obama's decision to bomb Syria. You may listen live here--