Saturday, October 12, 2019

WASHINGTON POST: Judge grants Purdue Pharma, Sackler family pause in civil lawsuits.

Judge grants Purdue Pharma, Sackler family pause in civil lawsuits

The reprieve will last only three weeks to give the parties time to seek more financial information from the family.

“Litigation against the Sacklers is litigation against Purdue,” Ben Kaminetzky, an attorney for Purdue Pharma, told the court. “Continued litigation harms everyone.”
Artwork by Elizabeth Williams ( click on image to see larger)


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Friday temporarily halted scores of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family.
Extending that relief to the Sacklers, who haven’t filed for bankruptcy protection, is “extraordinary” but appropriate in this case, Judge Robert Drain said from the bench. Drain’s ruling stays action for three weeks in state and federal lawsuits against the Sackler family members, who own the company, as well as Purdue Pharma and related companies.


During the three-week reprieve, Purdue Pharma agreed to address one of the key concerns — access to more information about the Sacklers’ finances — raised by state attorneys general who objected to including the family in the temporary injunction.
“We are disappointed by the court’s ruling, but pleased that it is limited in time to less than 30 days. We will use this time to ensure that we get access to the Sacklers’ financial information,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement.
“The states are extremely concerned about the injunction,” said Andrew Troop, a lawyer for states that oppose legal immunity for Purdue’s owners.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who also objected to including the Sacklers in the injunction, said: “We’re pleased with the court’s desire for transparency and its recognition of the public’s need to know the facts that led to this national epidemic. We look forward to further proceedings and holding the Sacklers responsible for the role they played in the opioid crisis.”
Purdue had asked for an 180-day injunction. After more than seven hours of arguments — during which Judge Drain became visible frustrated — some state attorneys voluntarily agreed to a much shorter pause in their cases. They have until Nov. 6 to work out some of their differences.
In a statement after the hearing, Purdue said the decision "is an essential next step in preserving Purdue’s assets for the ultimate benefit of the American public. The company will work tirelessly and collaboratively during this pause in the litigation to continue to build support for the settlement structure.“
Just prior to Friday’s six-hour hearing, Purdue attorney Marshall Huebner said the company, the official committee of unsecured creditors and the Sacklers worked out an information sharing agreement.
The company argued that halting litigation was necessary to allow progress on a tentative settlement with more than 2,600 plaintiffs who have accused Purdue of deceptively marketing its blockbuster opioid pain pill, OxyContin. Without that protection, the Sacklers had said they may back out of the settlement, valued at $10 billion to $12 billion. As part of that deal, the Sacklers agreed to relinquish control of their firm and contribute at least $3 billion to the settlement.

Monday, June 24, 2019

New York Times Nxivm: How a Sex Cult Leader Seduced and Programmed His Followers


Keith Raniere writes notes on little blue post its during trial  Panel of sex slave masters behind him

Nxivm: How a Sex Cult Leader Seduced 
and Programmed His Followers

Former Nxivm members testified they were brainwashed into being branded and assigned to have sex with him.

By Colin Moynihan
June 14, 2019


Courtroom Artwork by Elizabeth Williams


When she first attended classes run by the self-help group Nxivm, Sylvie noticed multiple pictures on display of the group’s leader, Keith Raniere, known as Vanguard.
Sylvie being shown a large photograph of Kieth Raniere that was displayed at the classes
 People in the classes, held in Albany, appeared to venerate Mr. Raniere, Sylvie testified during his racketeering and sex trafficking trial. She said class participants clapped, bowed, huddled, recited a “mission statement” and then said in unison “Thank you, Vanguard!”

                                                                                                               
Sylvie on the stand giving her testimony about being manipulated into becoming a sex slave for Raniere

The experience left her thinking she would never take another class, Sylvie said. Yet she did, eventually joining a clandestine subgroup within Nxivm in which she was called a “slave” and required to blindly obey a “master.” She even allowed Mr. Raniere to perform oral sex on her, believing she could not refuse.

For six weeks, the question of how Mr. Raniere persuaded so many seemingly perceptive people to let him control their lives has hung over his federal racketeering trial in Brooklyn.
Six former Nxivm members have taken the stand, providing a window into how the group indoctrinated people, undermined their moral beliefs and convinced them to blindly follow Mr. Raniere’s edicts, even when that meant breaking the law or tolerating unwelcome sexual contact.


Over the years, Nxivm’s curriculums provided the philosophical framework for a group in which members were taught to substitute Mr. Raniere’s principles for their own and see deviation from his teachings as heresy. The community was an echo chamber, witnesses said, and dissenters were subject to recrimination.


The anonymous jury that convicted Raniere of all counts.


Richard Ross, who runs the Cult Education Institute in Trenton, testified that he was hired by the parents of Nxivm members to extricate them from the group. “It became clear to me that this was a personality-driven group defined by a leader, eerily reminiscent of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard,” he said.
Besides Sylvie, the jury has heard from three other witnesses: Daniela, “J” and Nicole, whose full names were withheld because they were considered victims.
Two former high-ranking Nxivm leaders, Lauren Salzman and Mark Vicente, also testified. Ms. Salzman, whose mother founded Nxivm with Mr. Raniere, was indicted along with him but pleaded guilty in March.
Raniere seated with attorneys who was found guilty of conspiracy, racketeering, identity theft, extortion, forced labor, money laundering, wire fraud and sex trafficking charges.
Lauren Salzman, a former high-ranking member of Nxivm, testified that some programs were “creating a community of people and kind of even an army of people to insulate and protect Keith and his views.”
Dr. Janja Lalich, a sociologist at California State University, Chico, and an author of books on cults, said Nxivm shares characteristics with many of these types of groups.
Cults often display a zealous commitment to a special and unaccountable leader, discourage dissent and control members through shame, guilt and peer pressure, she said.
“The more that they have absorbed and internalized the belief system the harder it is to question it,” she said of cult members. “Your personal sense of self has been replaced by your cult self and when you’ve become enveloped in a sphere of influence all the aberrant behavior becomes normalized.”
Mr. Raniere, 58, co-founded Nxivm (pronounced NEX-ee-um) in the 1990s as a self-help organization based near Albany. Members regarded him as the most ethical man in the world and someone who could help them lead more fulfilling lives.
Prosecutors have said that he exploited his followers, who paid thousands of dollars for courses. Among other things, Mr. Raniere is accused of founding the secret subgroup, called D.O.S., which included women who were branded with his initials and assigned to have sex with him.
He is now facing conspiracy, racketeering, identity theft, extortion, forced labor, money laundering, wire fraud and sex trafficking charges.

 
His lawyers have said that Mr. Raniere’s teachings benefited untold people and his sexual relationships were consensual. While some may question his methods, they said, Mr. Raniere acted in good faith.
During the trial, several witnesses described Mr. Raniere’s exalted standing among his followers.
“People would talk about how he could affect weather, how he would affect technology,” said Mr. Vicente, a filmmaker from Los Angeles. “By the time you saw him, it was a little bit like you were seeing, you know, some kind of god.”
AUSA Mark Lesko gives rebuttal /closing statement 

Ms. Salzman, who was among as many as 20 women said to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Raniere, testified that some Nxivm programs were “creating a community of people and kind of even an army of people to insulate and protect Keith and his views and legitimize and advocate for the lifestyle that he wanted.”
According to the testimony, Nxivm leaders sought to learn what people most wanted or feared, then presented courses as a solution.
Mr. Vicente said that some upper-level courses were aimed at changing students’ “programming,” likening the process to hacking a computer. The courses eroded people’s “instinctual” sense of ethics, he said.  “It in essence played with our moral compass,” he said.

Allison Mack bail hearing 

Some ex-Nxivm members said that they remained in the group despite reservations partly because they did not want to doubt people and programs they had trusted.

An actress from California named Nicole said she joined D.O.S. at the invitation of Allison Mack, known for her role on the television series “Smallville,” whom she looked upon as a mentor. Ms. Mack assuaged any fears she had.

“I was already stuck,” Nicole testified. “I wanted to believe her.”

Saturday, April 6, 2019

CNBC What to expect after Elon Musk’s day in court

What to expect after Elon Musk’s day in court
Lora Kolodny CNBC 

 Artwork by Elizabeth Williams

Muzzle? Fine? Removal? What to do about Elon Musk?

The Tesla CEO had his day in court Thursday for a hearing in his ongoing battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This time, the financial regulators alleged Musk broke the terms of a prior settlement agreement by posting material company information on Twitter earlier this year. Musk claims he did nothing wrong.
Elon Musk seated in Manhattan Federal Court as his attorney John Hueston argues his case in front of Judge Alison Nathan 

Former SEC prosecutor Elliot Lutzker believes the agency will back down without removing Musk from the CEO position, but only after Musk pays a fine significantly larger than the $20 million he paid last year to settle his original dispute with the SEC, which stemmed from the CEO’s infamous “funding secured” tweet where he suggested he was going to take Tesla private.
But Lutzker says he doesn’t think Musk will be able to stay out of trouble “unless he gives up Twitter
Where the fight stands
The latest round the legal battle started on Feb. 19, when Musk tweeted to his more than 24 million Twitter followers: “Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019.”
He later tweeted a clarification stating: “Meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k.”
On Wednesday night, Tesla reaffirmed its full-year forecast of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicle deliveries in 2019 while at the same time reporting disappointing first-quarter deliveries — about 63,000 of its electric vehicles versus analysts’ expectations of 76,000.
So, to hit the low end of its guidance, Tesla would need to deliver 297,000 additional vehicles to customers in 2019, or an average of 99,000 per quarter. That’s more than Tesla has ever delivered in any quarter — its record is 90,700 during the last quarter of 2018.
Judge Alison Nathan speaking to Musk attorney John Hueston during hearing  Artwork by Elizabeth Williams 

Judge Alison Nathan heard oral arguments in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday but rather than rule immediately, she asked Tesla and the financial regulators to try to work out their differences within two weeks.
In response, Musk said in a statement, “I have great respect for Judge Nathan, and I’m pleased with her decision today. The tweet in question was true, immaterial to shareholders, and in no way a violation of my agreement with the SEC. We have always felt that we should be able to work through any disagreements directly with the SEC, rather than prematurely rushing to court. Today, that is exactly what Judge Nathan instructed.”
Possible outcomes
CNBC asked former Lutzker, now a corporate and securities partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, for his take on the case.
“When they entered into the settlement, the SEC thought they’d solve the problem. And Musk thought he didn’t have to get preapproval of his tweets. He’s wrong.”
He suggests that the SEC will probably have to walk back the contempt matter.
“It is clear what both sides want right now,” Lutzker said. “The SEC wants compliance with the settlement. Musk’s attorneys want the SEC to drop the contempt proceedings, which they will need to do as he is not a recidivist securities law violator, just a recidivist tweeter.”
But he also thinks Musk’s attorneys went a bit far with their argument. “They keep saying the SEC is trying to violate his First Amendment rights. That’s going too far. It’s not a vendetta.”
What happens next?
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/05/elon-musk-vs-sec-what-happens-next-according-to-ex-sec-prosecutor.html

Thursday, April 4, 2019

CNBC US judge gives Tesla CEO Elon Musk, SEC two weeks to work out their issues

US judge gives Tesla CEO Elon Musk, 

SEC two weeks to work out their issues


  • U.S Judge Alison Nathan said she had “serious concerns that no matter what I decide here, this issue won’t be resolved.”
  • Everyone must follow the law, she said, whether you are a “small potato” or a “big fish.”
  • Musk told reporters he was “happy” and “impressed with the judge’s analysis.”
  • A federal judge gave Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission two weeks to work out their differences, punting a request from the agency to hold him in contempt of court for allegedly violating an October securities fraud settlement.
  • Elon Musk seated in court watching SEC attorney Cheryl Crumpton make argument to Judge Alison Nathan
    Courtroom drawing by Elizabeth Williams 
Musk told reporters he was “happy” and “impressed with the judge’s analysis” as he left the hearing room in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday.
U.S Judge Alison Nathan said she had “serious concerns that no matter what I decide here, this issue won’t be resolved.” Nathan ordered both parties to “take a deep breath, put on your reasonableness pants” and work out a solution.

Musk was at the hearing on contempt charges requested by the SEC after he tweeted about the company’s production forecasts on Feb 19. His settlement agreement prohibits him from using Twitter to make statements about Tesla’s operations or financial position without company review and approval.



Nathan told Musk and the SEC that contempt charges are serious business. Everyone must follow the law, she said, whether you are a “small potato” or a “big fish.”

More on this story

Sunday, February 10, 2019

EMMA CORONEL AISPURO WIFE OF " EL CHAPO" GUZMAN

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, has been a constant presence in the courtroom throughout his Brooklyn federal trial.

Emma Coronel Aispuro during pre trial hearing 9/20/18
 Like star-crossed lovers in a lurid narconovela, they would steal doting glances at one another from across the courtroom, with Guzman at the defense table, and Coronel in the gallery.


"El Chapo" Guzman waving to his wife in the audience during a pre trial hearing 


Emma Coronel Aispuro during opening statements, seated behind the "in house" press 11/13/18

Emma Coronel Aispuro seated in court during trial testimony in the row reserved for her

Emma Coronel Aispuro seated in court the day of summations 1/2019


As the jury now weighs Guzman's fate, the former beauty queen still pops into court in support of her husband, who faces 10 counts in a massive cocaine conspiracy.
Emma Coronel speaking to spectators during day one of deliberations 



While Coronel carries herself with the same effortless air she embodied during some three months of opening arguments, witness testimony, and closing arguments, an air of tiredness appears to be creeping in.

Emma Coronel Aispuro during day two of deliberations 


Coronel nevertheless continues to channel the same glamour that has made her as much a star of the trial as her purported kingpin spouse, sporting form-fitting clothing, sky-high heels, and a perfectly coiffed cascade of black hair when she appears.
Emma Coronel Aispuro during day four of deliberations

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

NY DAILY NEWS: Witness at El Chapo's trial testifies about bribe payment to DEA agent

Witness at El Chapo trial testifies about bribe payment to DEA agent made on behalf of Colombian cartel group

Artwork by Elizabeth Williams 
Alex Cifuentes tesifies via interpreter
( click on an image to see larger)
El Chapo’s former secretary testified Wednesday about bribe payments made to a DEA agent on behalf of members of a Colombian cartel group.
During his fourth morning on the stand, Alex Cifuentes, 50, told the court under cross-examination that his brother Francisco Ivan (Pacho) Cifuentes Villa authorized a payment to an agent with the DEA. The payout was given to the U.S. law enforcement officer inside a “cell phone box” at a restaurant located near an airport in Colombia, Cifuentes testified.

El Chapo defense table


“There were some dollars in there,” Cifuentes said of the package, adding that he was unsure of whether the money was intended as a gift or a bribe.
The agent was not named during the testimony, nor the date or exact location of where the alleged bribe took place.Pacho Cifuentes led the notorious Cifuentes-Villa drug trafficking cartel until his assassination in 2007. Jurors heard earlier in the trial about his early beginnings in the trade working as a pilot for Pablo Escobar. The revelation came out during questioning about statements the witness gave during debriefings following his extradition to the U.S. in 2016.
Emma Coronel Aispuro seated in court

Cifuentes also spoke of bribe payments paid to a Colombian general identified as Naranjo — made by members of his drug-trafficking family and not El Chapo — and members of the Colombian air force.

On Tuesday, the turncoat prompted international headlines after testifying about a $100-million bribe payment El Chapo, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, allegedly made to the former president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, in October 2012.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan questioned the validity of the witness’s bombshell claims and suggested prosecutors may not have brought them up under direct examination as they simply don’t believe them.

“Or maybe they’re desperately trying to protect the Mexican government,” defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman responded.



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Artwork by Bill Robles of 'Miracle on the Hudson'. Pilot, crew, passengers mark 10th anniversary of extraordinary landing

Bill Robles illustration of a non court scene,
the rescue of US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River 10 years ago.
This illustration was shown at the  The New York City Police Museum in a show titled
Police in our Community.
The show highlighted the different divisions of the NYPD and how they interact with the community.
Several  NYPD divisions were involved in the rescue from Aviation to Harbor  to ESU/Scuba and more.
In the icy January waters the NYPD safely rescued all the passengers
with assistance from various ferry services including NY Waterways.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

AP: El Chapo jury hears testimony from cartel cohort

El Chapo jury hears testimony from cartel cohort: A former Mexican drug trafficker who once claimed he was an informant for the DEA is testifying at the U.S. trial of the notorious kingpin known as El Chapo
Vincente Zambada testifies in court via  translator (seated left). US Marshal is seated behind him. 
Artist: Elizabeth Williams 

Vicente Zambada became the latest in a parade of cooperators to testify as government witnesses in the conspiracy case against Guzman in federal court in Brooklyn. Like the others, he described the rampant violence and greed that accompanied Guzman’s rise to power atop the Sinaloa cartel.

El Chapo  flanked by his defense team,  listens to Vincente Zambada during his testimony. 
( Click on image to see larger )
El 
                                                                                   

Lawyers for Guzman – who was sent to the United States in 2017 after gaining notoriety for twice escaping Mexican jails – have sought to portray the cooperators as shady opportunists willing to exaggerate their client’s involvement in the drug trade to earn breaks in their own cases.

Zambada, 43, is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, another cartel boss who’s still at large. His uncle, former cartel member Jesus Zambada, has also testified at Guzman’s trial.
Vicente Zambada told the jury Thursday about a meeting in the early 1990s where a rival drug gang leader told him he wanted to kill his father and Guzman to avenge a botched hit. At another meeting in the mid-2000s, representatives from corrupt Mexican politicians asked if the cartel could help them ship 100 tons of cocaine in an oil tanker ship, he said.
“They wanted to know if my dad and Chapo could provide that amount of coke,” he said.
“They wanted to know if my dad and Chapo could provide that amount of coke,” he said. said he was arrested before he learned whether the shipment ever occurred.
After Zambada was extradicted to the U.S., his lawyers claimed he had been working for the DEA as a confidential informant even as he was smuggling cocaine. In exchange for inside information on the cartel, he had been promised immunity from prosecution, they said.
Prosecutors denied Zambada’s allegation that there was an immunity deal that was “approved at the highest levels of government.” He later pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.
Zambada was to retake the witness stand Friday. The trail, which began in mid-November, is expected to continue into next month.