Wednesday, July 20, 2016

HSBC officials snared in currency-rigging probe

HSBC Bankers Are First Individuals Charged in U.S. Currency Case

Federal agents surprised an HSBC Holdings Plc executive as he prepared to fly out of New York’s Kennedy airport around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, arresting him for an alleged front-running scheme involving a $3.5 billion currency transaction in 2011.

Mark Johnson, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange cash trading in London, was held in a Brooklyn jail overnight and appeared  in court Wednesday. Thomas Franck of CNBC seated far left. Click on image to see larger.

Mark Johnson, the bank's global head of foreign-exchange cash trading, was arrested Tuesday at JFK International Airport, according to multiple reports. He faces charges following a three-year investigation into currency trading practices at multiple global banks, according to the reports.
In addition, Stuart Scott, former head of cash trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, also faces wire fraud conspiracy charges, though he has not been arrested yet. Johnson and Scott committed the alleged violation on a $3.5 million trade, which allegedly occurred in October 2011 involved an unnamed oil and gas company that wanted to exchange U.S. dollars with British pounds. Authorities said HSBC made $8 million from the transaction.
The Department of Justice charged that "Johnson and Scott caused the $3.5 billion foreign exchange transaction to be executed in a manner that was designed to spike the price of the pound sterling, to the benefit of HSBC and at the expense of their client."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gawker's motion to stay Hogan's case against Nick Denton is denied.

CNBC BREAKING: Gawker founder Nick Denton says he will file for personal bankruptcy after judge denies lawsuit shield in Hulk Hogan case - DJ

Gawker Can't Shield Chief From Judgment

Law360, New York (July 19, 2016, 8:46 PM ET) -- Gawker Media chief Nick Denton will likely be forced to file for personal bankruptcy after a New York judge on Tuesday denied the company’s request to temporarily shield him from Hulk Hogan’s $140 million sex tape judgment.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein denied the company’s request for an injunction to protect Denton and former Gawker editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, from the judgment handed down by a Florida jury until Sept. 3. Gawker attorneys said the injunction would allow Denton to focus on selling the company’s assets.

Gawker CEO Nick Denton testifies at TRO Hearing July 19, 2016. Judge Stuart Bernstein presiding. Attorney David Hennes questioning Denton

Attorney David Hennes questions Nick Denton during Gawker TRO hearing.

Attorney Eric B. Fisher attorney for Mr Bollea cross examines Nick Denton CEO of Gawker during the TRO Bankruptcy hearing. July 19, 2016

Artwork by Elizabeth Williams
Click on image to see larger.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Aeropostale Hits Ch. 11, Plans To Shutter 154 Stores

Aeropostale Hits Ch. 11, Plans To Shutter 154 Stores

Law360, New York (May 4, 2016, 7:53 AM ET) -- Teen apparel retailer Aeropostale filed for bankruptcy Wednesday in New York carrying $223 million in funded debt, and it plans to immediately close 154 stores, becoming the latest apparel chain to seek court protection amid fierce competition and the changing buying habits of consumers.

Aeropostale listed approximately $216 million in assets in its Chapter 11 petition. The company, which is being represented by Weil Gosthal & Manges LLP, has lined up a proposed $160 million financing package with Crystal Financial LLC to keep the business operating.

Southern District of NY  Judge Sean Lane presiding over the Aeropostale bankruptcy. Aeropostale is represented by Weil Gotshal attorney Garrett Fail ( at podium). Courtroom reporter Jonathan Ramos seated in foreground.
Click on the image to see it larger.
Artwork by Elizabeth Williams


 More information:

 Will your Aeropostale close? Here's the list

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ex-Sidley Austin Atty Moves To Block Dem Superdelegates

Ex-Sidley Austin Atty Moves To Block Dem Superdelegates

By William Gorta
Law360, New York (July 14, 2016, 7:01 PM ET) -- A former Sidley Austin LLP attorney and avowed supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders asked a New York federal judge on Thursday to block the Democratic National Committee from using superdelegates at its upcoming convention in Philadelphia, saying the Democrats violated his rights by violating their charter.

Jeffrey Mead Kurzon, now of Kurzon Kohen & Stancati LLP, asked U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken to enjoin the use of superdelegates at the Philadelphia confab, which starts July 25.

LAW360 Link
Plaintiff Jeffrey Kurzon attorney Joshua Douglass speaking in Manhattan Federal Court.
 From Jeffrey Kurzon website:
As it turns out, as my lawyer, Josh Douglass( pictured), and I have discovered, the entire concept of super-delegates is in violation of the Party’s own charter. That the Democratic Party is even using super-delegates, is a clear breach of contract. It is also a violation of our constitutional rights, including the 14th Amendment of Equal Protection (our vote should hold just as much weight as a super-delegate’s!).

Last week, I instructed Mr. Douglass to sue both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the New York State Democratic Committee, on my behalf, over their use of super-delegates. We have requested a preliminary injunction which would cause the DNC to honor the average voter’s preference of POTUS nominee by having the super delegate votes be diminished to being proportional and in keeping with the preference of the primary voters. 
Mark Elias speaking on behalf of the Democratic National Committee

 click on the image to see it larger. Artwork by Aggie Kenny

LAW 360: AXA Beats Broker's $20M Contract Beef With Quick Verdict

AXA Beats Broker's $20M Contract Beef With Quick Verdict

Law360, New York (July 14, 2016, 6:20 PM ET) -- A seven-member civil jury needed just over an hour Thursday to reject broker Steven S. Novick's breach of contract suit against two AXA units, finding the financial giant breached no agreements with the Connecticut money man when it fired him for hawking unapproved investments then reached out to some of his clients.

Members of the four-man, three-woman federal panel had no comment after their lightning-fast rejection of claims by Novick, now affiliated with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments and with Charles Schwab Corp.

Law360 link
Plaintiff Steven Novick's counsel, Michael S. Finkelstein, giving closing statement,
Steven Novick seated to Finkelstein's right looking at jury. Judge Alvin Hellerstien presiding.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BLOOMBERG Oil Investor Zukerman Pleads Guilty in Tax Evasion Case
Patricia Hurtado contributed to this story.

Oil-industry investor Morris Zukerman faces more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of evading more than $40 million in taxes.
Zukerman’s plea comes just a month after prosecutors accused the 72-year-old of aggressively seeking to evade taxes beginning in 2007, falsely claiming millions of dollars in deductions and providing false information for IRS audits. He admitted to failing to report $28 million in profits from the sale of an oil company and repeatedly lying to his accountants -- in one instance creating backdated documents to support his claim.
AUSA Stanley Okula ( standing) during the plea of Morris Zuckerman ( seated right)  Zukerman told a judge in Manhattan federal court, pausing several times to compose himself “These statements to the court mark the start of the difficult and painful process of accepting responsibility for and redressing what I recognize as serious criminal wrongdoing,” . He said his guilty plea “gives me an opportunity to repair some of the damage my actions have caused my family, my government, and the many friends, colleagues, and business associates.”

Artwork Scheme

The indictment alleged that Zukerman shipped paintings to addresses in Delaware and New Jersey to evade New York state sales tax on artwork that immediately went to his Park Avenue duplex in Manhattan. He didn’t plead guilty to that charge but will pay restitution to New York state of $4.6 million.
Zukerman also took a charitable deduction for money he claimed was donated to a local conservation group in Maine to acquire land on Black Island, when in reality he had simply bought the land himself, according to his guilty plea.

Monday, June 20, 2016

BLOOMBERG: Hulk Hogan Lawsuit Against Gawker Media Halted Until July 13

Hulk Hogan Lawsuit Against Gawker Media Halted Until July 13

Gawker went to Manhattan federal court Wednesday to seek a bankruptcy judge’s approval of a loan to fund the company while it appeals the verdict and arranges an asset sale.
Gawker has also asked that the court shield its founder, Nick Denton, from litigants. In addition to the Hogan verdict, the company is facing lawsuits that seek about $169 million, according to court filings. The parties to the Hogan suit agreed to a standstill until next month.
The case is In re Gawker Media LLC, 16-11700, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Gawker is facing lawsuits from several former subjects of its articles, including Mr. Bollea, blogger Charles C. Johnson, journalist Ashley Terrill and tech entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai.
“We can no longer afford to litigate on all of these fronts,” Gregg Galardi, Gawker’s lawyer,(pictured) told the judge Wednesday. ( click on image to see larger)

WSJ: Bernard Madoff Investors to Receive Another Payout

WSJ Blog:

Bernard Madoff Investors to Receive Another Payout

Total recoveries reach nearly $9.5 billion

 By Jacqueline Palank

Bernard Madoff’s cheated investors will receive another multimillion-dollar payout, bringing their total recoveries since the collapse of his Ponzi scheme to nearly $9.5 billion.
Judge Stuart M. Bernstein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Wednesday authorized the seventh payout to investors in Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, court papers show.
The judge’s order means liquidation trustee Irving Picard can mail out checks worth $171 million to investors, expected for mid-July, according to a statement. Another $76 million will be held in reserve for future distribution.

Irving Picard, seated in court (far right) while Judge Bernstein's approves the 171 million dollar payout. The latest distribution will bring total investor recoveries to about $9.45 billion of more than $17 billion in stolen principal. Mr. Picard has been leading efforts to track down stolen funds since shortly after the collapse of Mr. Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme in December 2008. He has recovered more than $11 billion, but some of those funds haven’t yet been paid out to investors. And in court papers, Mr. Picard says he “anticipates recovering additional assets through litigation and settlements. ( click on image to see larger)

The most recent distribution, made last December, saw $1.2 billion paid out to investors. Prior distributions have fallen between $400 million and $5 billion, court papers show.
Paving the way for the latest round of distributions are a number of settlement payments that Mr. Picard has collected in recent months. For instance, Madoff investor Vizcaya Partners Ltd. paid nearly $25 million to settle litigation seeking the return of false profits it received during the course of the Ponzi scheme.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Citi Shareholders Can Push $800M Suit Directly: Del. Court

Law360, New York (May 24, 2016, 4:07 PM ET) -- Delaware's high court ruled Tuesday that investment trusts controlled by insurance executive Arthur L. Williams and his wife Angela properly sued Citigroup Inc. directly, and did not have to proceed derivatively, on claims they lost $800 million when the bank duped them into holding shares that plunged during the financial crisis.
The Delaware Supreme Court ruling clears away one lingering question in the high-dollar 2010 lawsuit, which is on appeal after U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein threw it out in October 2013. On appeal the Second Circuit asked the First State for guidance on whether the so-called holder claims were direct or derivative.

"The Williamses were the holders of Citigroup stock. Citigroup itself is not a holder, and at oral argument Citigroup's counsel was unable to identify any authority in New York or Florida law that would suggest that the issuer of stock should be the plaintiff in a holder claim lawsuit," Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. wrote for the court.

During oral arguments in April, Judge Strine had showed little inclination to adopt Citi's position that the case had to proceed as a derivative action, in which a plaintiff essentially stands in the shoes of the corporation to right an alleged wrong.
Jeffrey Lamken, of Molo Lamken  representing AHW investors, answering questions by Judge Strine

Wide shot of Delaware en banc hearing in the Citigroup v AHW Investors;  Jeffrey Lamken making argument to the court
The trusts sued Citigroup and several bank executives in 2010, arguing the bank falsely asserted its exposure to residential mortgage-backed securities losses was minimal. As a result, the trusts claim, Williams held on to 16.6 million shares he had received as part of a merger of his insurance business and lost $800 million as Citigroup’s stock price plummeted 95 percent.

With the Delaware ruling in hand the appeal now moves back to the Second Circuit, which could take up the question of whether the case can be revived and, if so, whether the Williamses can proceed under Florida law, which is seen as more friendly to holder plaintiffs seeking damages. Judge Stein had applied New York law in his dismissal analysis.

“We are hopeful that that Second Circuit will reverse Judge Stein and allow the case to proceed under settled Florida holder law,” said Jacob Zamansky of Zamansky LLC, attorney for the Williamses. “The record shows that Mr. Williams relied on misrepresentations by Citigroup in deciding to hold his stock.”

Monday, May 30, 2016



Artwork from DRAWING FIRE
available on Amazon


artwork from Drawger


Saturday, April 30, 2016

CNN: The company behind 'American Idol' has filed for bankruptcy

Core Media Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday, saying it has not yet found a way to replace revenue earned from "American Idol."The show was once a ratings juggernaut and huge profit driver for Fox. It averaged more than 20 million viewers every season from 2003, it's second year on the air, through 2011, according to ratings tracker Nielsen.
It reached a high point with an average of nearly 31 million viewers in 2006, and was the top rated show on television for eight consecutive seasons.
But its ratings fell hard afterward. By the end, it was no longer even Fox's top rated program, losing that distinction to the new drama Empire. 

WSJ: Core Entertainment Wins Approval to Tap Lenders’ Cash

Company behind ‘American Idol’ has yet to secure a bankruptcy loan, but is still negotiating with its lenders

“We do expect to sign a restructuring support agreement with those lenders within the next week,” said Core lawyer Matthew Allen Feldman. “We’re actively drafting a plan.”

Core Entertainment Inc., the company behind the “American Idol” TV series, won approval from a bankruptcy judge on Friday to tap its lenders’ cash and move forward with its chapter 11 proceedings.
Judge Stuart Bernstein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York approved Core’s so-called first-day requests, including paying its employees and its taxes. 
Judge Bernstein speaking to CORE Attorney Andrew Mordkoff
Core, as well as Los Angeles-based 19 Entertainment Ltd., and related companies that own and produce content for the global “American Idol” franchise, and “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Prison Wives,” sought chapter 11 protection Wednesday night and Thursday morning in New York.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ex-Manson family member seeks parole for 1969 murder

Ex-Manson family member seeks parole for 1969 murder


CHINO, Calif. — Leslie Van Houten, the youngest of Charles Manson's followers to take part in one of the nation's most notorious killings, is trying again for parole.
 Leslie Van Houten, the youngest of Charles Manson's followers to take part in one of the nation's most notorious killings, is trying again for parole. 
Van Houten took the stand in the 1970 murder trial. Artwork by Bill Robles
The homecoming princess who descended into a life of drugs before joining Manson's cult in the 1960s is scheduled for her 21st hearing before a parole board panel on Thursday at the California Institution for Women in Chino.
Van Houten, 66, has spent more than four decades in prison, completing college degrees and demonstrating exemplary behavior.
She was convicted for her role in the 1969 murders of wealthy grocer Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary in their Los Angeles home. The La Biancas were stabbed numerous times and the word "WAR" was carved on his stomach.
The couple was killed a day after other so-called "Manson family" members murdered actress Sharon Tate, pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, and four others. The killings were the start of what Manson believed was a coming race war. He dubbed it "Helter Skelter" after a Beatles song.
Van Houten's lawyer, Rich Pfeiffer, said she presents no danger to the public and should be freed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Regional & Ebook Results

2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Regional & Ebook Results: Here are the results of the 2016 Independent Publisher Regional and Ebook Awards, presented to the year's best titles published in these important and growing divisions of independent publishing.Listed below are the Regional fiction and non-fiction medalists and the Ebook fiction and non-fiction medalists.To view the National and Outstanding medalists, click the links below.Congratulations to all!


GOLD: The Road to Cuba: The Opportunities and Risks for US Business(Wharton Digital Press)
SILVER (tie): Young Performers at Work: Child Star Survival Guide, by Sally Gaglini (Zip Celebrity Media)
Marriages End. Families Don’t. Divorce Wisely, by Suzanne Grandchamp (Self-Published)
BRONZE: The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art, by Elizabeth Williams and Sue Russell (CUNY Journalism Press)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gary Lee- Assistant District Court Executive

Gary Lee with the banner for the 225th anniversary courtroom art show in 2014. Gary was integral to the court art show. 

   Gary Lee  passed away last week. He was 53.
   Gary and his wife Helen were married on October 10, 1999. They are the proud parents of 14 year old twins, Robert and Caitlin. 
Gary was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School and Pace University. In 1984, he was appointed as the procurement officer for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. He later served in progressively more important positions as director of space and facilities, District's budget officer and Assistant District Court Executive. Gary served as secretary to many Court committees, and was a member of many government interagency Committees. He served as coordinating editor of the Court Management and Administration Report from 1990-2009. Gary will be sorely missed by his SDNY family. 
True Light Lutheran Church
195 Worth Street
New York City (directly across from the Courthouse)
Monday, April 11 from 3pm - 7pm
Tuesday, April 12 from 9:30am - 11:30am.
Sermon will be delivered at 10:30am.
Condolences may be sent to Gary's wife and children:
Mrs. Helen, Robert and Caitlin Lee
53 Peoples Line Road
Somerset, NJ 08873

 The District Executive's Office, in conjunction with FEEA, has set up the Gary Lee Memorial Fund, which can be accessed All donations made via this webpage will be designated for Gary and Helen's children, Robert and Caitlin's education.  Donors will receive a customized thank you email that also serves as a receipt for tax purposes.

If donors prefer to write a check, it should be made out to FEEA, with "Gary Lee Fund" on the memo line.  Please send your check to me at:  Elly Harrold, U.S. Courthouse, Room 820, New York, NY 10007-1312.  If you prefer, you can mail your check directly to:  FEEA, 3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Suite 300, Lakewood, CO 80227. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

GM trial Wrap Up. BREAKING: GM Wins Defense Verdict In 2nd Ignition-Switch Trial

BREAKING: GM Wins Defense Verdict In 2nd Ignition-Switch Trial

Law360, New York (March 30, 2016, 11:23 AM ET) -- General Motors on Wednesday won the second bellwether trial in the continuing fight over its defective ignition switches, as a New York federal jury found that GM cars were unreasonably dangerous but did not find that plaintiffs' injuries were caused by their car, a Saturn roadster.
GM attorney Mike Brock cross examination of plaintiff Dionne Spain

The trial, selected by GM as a test of some of the weaker claims in a pool of hundreds of lawsuits, had been closely watched after a first bellwether disintegrated when the plaintiff was accused of lying.

Closing Statements
A jury in a New York City trial stemming from the General Motorsignition switch controversy that resulted in millions of recalls ended its first day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict.
The jury deliberated in Manhattan federal court for more than two hours after hearing a lawyer for a Louisiana man and woman blame a defective ignition switch for a 2014 accident on a New Orleans bridge. A GM lawyer said there was no evidence the ignition switch was to blame.
The trial will be used as a blueprint to define legal boundaries for similar unsettled claims against the automaker, which has issued recalls affecting more than 30 million vehicles since early 2014.
Hundreds of claims remain against the automaker after GM revealed two years ago that it had continued to sell flawed vehicles for more than a decade after discovering an ignition switch defect in Chevy Cobalts and other small cars.
Under certain conditions, the ignition switch can slip out of the on position, making it difficult to steer or stop as the car stalls. GM says it has fixed the problem.
Plaintiffs' attorney Randall Jackson told jurors there was overwhelming evidence the defect was to blame in the crash.He said a key chain pulled down by the weight of other keys might have pulled it out of position. And he added that testimony that the car turned off during the accident was "all you need to hear." Jackson dismissed GM's counterarguments, saying: "You will find they don't make sense."
General Motors attorney Mike Brock blamed the crash on ice, saying the car's occupants had no serious injuries and nothing deserving of compensation at trial."This accident was not caused by a defective switch," he said. Brock noted that the only damage to the car was scrapes on a bumper.

During the trial the jury heard from the two plaintiffs Lawrence Barthelemy and Dionne Spain.

Lawrence Barthelemy, who rode in co-plaintiff Dionne Spain's vehicle on the rainy evening of their January 2014 crash on the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans, took the witness stand for the first time since the trial began earlier this month to try to explain how the crash had affected his health and quality of life. Spain and Barthelemy claimed the sports car spun out on the bridge after losing its power brakes and power steering when its ignition switch allegedly slipped out of place.

Aryeh L. Kaplan questions plaintiff Lawrence Barthelemy

Barthelemy claimed his back problems since the crash had also added more strain to his already strenuous job supervising the cleaning of barges that he said were larger than the Manhattan courtroom he was testifying in. Kimberly Branscome of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, representing GM, produced a series of post-accident medical reports and fitness test results related to his employment that she argued showed an able, thriving man who not only kept a physically demanding job after the crash, but even managed to earn a lucrative promotion.

Branscome drew particular attention to a physical evaluation in July 2014 that Barthelemy seemed to have aced, allowing him to continue with the job he held at the time as a barge washer for Turn Services LLC, a New Orleans-based company servicing marine industry clients. 

"There is a section for floor-to-waist lifting. Do you see that? It says, safe maximum load for dynamic floor-to-waist lift is 65 pounds," Branscome said, referring to a test of a candidate's ability to lift up to a 65-pound weight off the ground.
"You were asked to perform that test at 50 pounds and 65, and you were capable of performing it at 65, correct?" she said.
"Correct," Barthelemy conceded.
"And then, down a little bit lower, you were asked to ambulate with a 65-pound load 600 feet. Do you see that? And you passed that test, correct?" she pressed on.
"Correct," Barthelemy yielded again.

Wednesday afternoon, on the third day of trial, Spain was cross-examined for almost two hours by GM lawyer Mike Brock of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman stepped in repeatedly to command yes-or-no answers from Spain as she tried to confront Brock’s shadings with added explanation.
“Have you conveyed to anyone that the lighting conditions on the evening of the accident were dark and that the road conditions were ice?” Brock asked. After an objection that was overruled, Spain replied, “Like I said, I didn't see any ice on the ground. I was only going by what ...”
She was then interrupted by Judge Furman.
“Just yes or no,” he said.
Brock tried again: “I am asking, have you said that the lighting conditions were dark and the road conditions were ice?”
Spain hesitated.
“Yes or no,” Judge Furman said again.
“Yes, I mentioned that,” Spain said.
Seconds later, the judge had to prompt her once more for a yes-or-no answer, this time on her previous statements about what was on her keychain at the time of the crash. Those three times were just some of many. 

Also the jury heard from several experts.
Brian Everest deposition on screen, attorney Jennifer Altman in foreground.

Jurors on Friday also heard the videotaped testimony of some of the engineers who had played a role in tardy and ineffectual investigations within GM that had failed for years to connect defective ignition switches to serious safety problems.

Brian Everest, a supervisor at GM's field performance assessment department whose engineers worked on product liability-related issues, testified in his deposition that he had only heard about the problem of low-torque ignition switches sometime in 2012.

The low torque of the ignition switches is central to their defect, as it makes it easier for the ignition key in defective switches to accidentally be rotated out of place from the "Run" to "Accessory" position. This key rotation can shut off the vehicles' power steering and power brakes, and more seriously, prevent air bags from deploying in major collisions.

Everest defended his failure to act on the ignition switch torque problem even after being informed of it and reviewing an old technical service bulletin sent to GM dealers that had warned about such inadvertent key rotations.
Expert witness Steve Loudon
 Brian Sieve questions Steve Loudon
“This practice of limiting how engineers can describe situations was one of the factors that allowed this situation to stay down and not get the attention that it needed for such a long time,” former Delphi engineer Steve Loudon told the court. Loudon spent his career in automotive electronics, writing software that controls airbags, among other things. He’s now a frequent expert witness in car-defect cases.

“You’re limiting [engineers] from being as precise and accurate as they could be,” Loudon said.
GM expert Donald Tandy, questioned by Brian Sieve

The jury continues to deliberate tomorrow.