Saturday, November 30, 2013

Madoff top lieutenant expected to testify Monday

In August 2009, two  months after Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison, Frank DiPascali- his right hand man and CFO- plead guilty in Manhattan Federal Court. Judge Richard Sullivan accepted the plea, but ended up remanding Mr DiPascali even though he had agreed to help the prosecution.
DiPascali eventually got out of prison June 2010 and is now slated to testify on Monday at the trial of the 5 employees who are accused of assisting in the giant Ponzi scheme.
DiPascali stating his guilty plea to Judge Richard Sullivan in August 2009
by Elizabeth Williams

After DiPascali guilty plea, Judge Sullivan ordered him remanded

Excerpt from the New York Times  TALKING BUSINESS

Published: August 14, 2009
Then, on Tuesday, Judge Sullivan refused to accept the bail arrangement negotiated between the United States attorney’s office and lawyers for Frank DiPascali. Mr. DiPascali, who spent most of his career as Bernard Madoff’s right-hand man in carrying out hisPonzi scheme, is now a critical government witness. The prosecutors wanted him to stay out of jail until his sentencing next May.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Mr. DiPascali confessed his crimes, and that is what made the headlines. But instead of being able to stay out of jail, on a $2.5 million bond partly secured by his sister’s house, Mr. DiPascali was carted off in handcuffs to the Metropolitan Corrections Center, the same tough lockup where Mr. Madoff was housed before he was sentenced earlier this summer.
This was a shock not just to Mr. DiPascali and his family, but to the prosecutors, who pleaded with Judge Sullivan to let him remain free so he could continue cooperating unfettered by strict jailhouse rules. Judge Sullivan refused, saying that Mr. DiPascali was a flight risk........

Monday, November 25, 2013

JACK RUBY 50 years ago..............

50 Years ago, two days after John F Kennedy was assassinated , a one time bar and strip club owner Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, in the basement of a Dallas police station. Ruby was put on trial for the murder approximately 3 months after he shot Oswald, with opening statements on March 5th, 1964. The trial of Jack Ruby is highlighted in the upcoming book: The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art to be published in early 2014. Artist Howard Brodie covered the trial for CBS News, from start to finish.

Jack Ruby and guards in Dallas Texas courtroom by Howard Brodie

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

CHEVRON VS DONZINGER: Donzinger takes stand with Sting in attendance

From the WSJ:
Mr. Donziger took the stand in federal court in Manhattan to defend himself against racketeering charges brought by Chevron. Observers in the packed courtroom included rock star Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, an actress and producer whose visit to the affected region was documented in the 2009 film "Crude." Chevron has cited outtakes from that film as evidence of Mr. Donziger's alleged misdeeds.

 story link:

Steven Donzinger questioned by Gibson Dunn's Randy Mastro
as Sting and Amazonian tribal leader look on.
note click on the photo to see larger image 

In the morning the Amazonian Tribal Leader took the stand and was questioned by former AUSA Reed Brodsky who had recently prosecuted both Raj Rajaratnam and Rajat Gupta
Reed Brodsky questioning Javier Piaguaje Payaguage leader of the Siekopai Tribe

Chevron v. Donziger: The Goat on the Stick

By Michael D. Goldhaber
The Litigation Daily
November 18, 2013
During his brief stint representing attorney Steven Donziger, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest once predicted that Donziger would be "tethered to a stick like a goat" when he finally took the stand to face claims that he orchestrated a multibillion-dollar fraud against Chevron Corporation in Ecuador.

In a Manhattan federal courtroom on Monday afternoon, Chevron began its grilling.

Having virtually stripped Donziger of attorney-client privilege over four years of discovery, Chevron attorney Randy Mastro brought enough lighter fluid to set the courthouse ablaze. The pit master's assistants at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher can roast Donziger with his diary entries, film outtakes, financial records, legal correspondence—and 19 full days of deposition testimony. "We meet again Mr. Donziger," began Mastro ominously.

Chevron refused to engage with Donziger on the merits or conduct of the underlying Ecuadorian environmental litigation that sparked the New York fraud case. For while this material dominates Donziger's direct witness statement, Chevron has filed a motion to strike it.

Instead, Chevron spent most of Donziger's first hour on the stand establishing his outsize role in the Ecuadorian pollution case. As his starting point, Mastro took on Donziger's insistence that he "served on the case at the pleasure of the plaintiffs and their representative [Pablo Fajardo]. I work for them; they do not work for me."

Drawing from a dizzying range of sources, Mastro showed that Donziger or his colleagues have referred to him as the cabeza or commander-in-chief, while Donziger once called Fajardo his "young field lawyer in Lago Agrio." Donziger's contract gave him "overall responsibility for the strategic direction of the Litigation and [its] day-to-day management." As Donziger once put it, "I am at the epicenter of the media, political, and legal activity surrounding the case both in Ecuador and the U.S." Despite claiming to effectively work for Fajardo, Chevron established that Donziger made more than six times Fajardo's salary, and that that Donziger's allotted contingency fee is over three times larger.

"You must have a very generous boss Mr. Donziger," said Mastro sarcastically.

Specifically, Mastro established that Donziger is entitled to 31.5 percent of the 20 percent of the Ecuadorian judgment allocated to fees. That came to roughly $1.2 billion when the judgment stood at $19 billion. Now that Ecuador's highest court has lopped off the penal component and halved the verdict to $9.5 billion, Donziger stands to earn about $600 million.

Among those watching Donziger's grilling on Monday were the rock musician Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, who has sponsored a water project to improve the health of residents in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Sting said in an interview with The American Lawyer: "This is a noisy distraction from the real life and death issue, which is the contamination that compromises their and their children's health. That has nothing to do with the minutia we've heard in court today. The money spent on this very expensive exercise could be better spent on some remedy for the situation in Ecuador."

Chevron spokesperson Morgan Crinklaw responded: "It is unfortunate that Steven Donziger continues to mislead well-intentioned people. Overwhelming evidence presented in this trial proves that Donziger and his collaborators fabricated evidence, bribed judges and committed fraud."

The remainder of the day was devoted to Chevron's cross-examination of one of Donziger's co-defendants, Javier Piaguaje, who was a plaintiff in the Amazon environmental case. Most notably, Piaguaje was unaware that as a plaintiff he had ceded all of his rights in the judgment to the Amazon Defense Front, despite having been a member of the "Assembly of los Affectados," and despite having certified as much in an interrogatory response. Piaguaje was also unaware that Fajardo has been allotted 2 percent of any recovery. And, he admitted that he could attribute the pollution at the Tarapoa oil well near his childhood home to Chevron predecessor Texaco only on the basis of rumor. (According to the book Amazon Crude, that well was drilled by Clyde Petroleum).

Donziger's testimony will continue on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Calif. youth admits Miss Teen USA 'sextortion' plot

A computer science student hacked webcams and took nude photos of Cassidy Wolf and a dozen other women worldwide. Jared James Abrahams, a 19-year-old Southern California computer student, is facing federal prison for hacking the webcam of Miss Teen USA,  Cassidy Wolf. 

Bill Robles attended Abrahams' court appearance and was surprised to see how young the defendant looked. His family were  present in the courtroom to support him. 

story link:

Jared James Abrahams seated in handcuffs during hearing  in Santa Ana Federal Court  by Bill Robles

The FBI raided Abrahams' home in June and arrested him in September.
Wolf tweeted, "Happy to know that this nightmare is coming to an end."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chevron v. Donziger: Judge Nicolas Zambrano

Gibson Dunn's Randy Mastro questions Judge Nicolas Zambrano of Ecuador, who wrote the 19 billion dollar judgement against Chevron. Zambrano wore a red hat
(with snake eyes) a scarf, overcoat and thick gloves.
He also sipped hot tea while he testified via an interpreter.

Judge Nicolas Zambrano of Ecuador, being questioned by defense attorney Julio Gomez 
by Elizabeth Williams
Gibson Dunn's Randy Mastro vowed earlier to give "a big New York welcome" to Judge Nicolas Zambrano of Ecuador, who denies that Steven Donziger or his Ecuadorian team ghostwrote the $19 billion tort judgment issued in his name against Chevron. On Tuesday Mastro delivered on his promise

Mastro surprised Zambrano with a pop quiz about the Ecuadorian judgment, which Zambrano avers that he wrote unassisted. Zambrano was unable to answer a single question correctly. (Readers who wish to take the quiz themselves may check the correct answers at bottom.)

What did the judgment's author identify as "the most powerful carcinogenic agent" detected in oil pollution samples from the Ecuadorian Amazon?* Zambrano started fumbling with the papers in front of him. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan admonished: "Sir, do not look through the judgment!" Then Zambrano asked if he could take the test by multiple choice. Mastro reasked the first question, and Zambrano replied "I don't recall."

What did the judgment's author call the "statistical data of the highest importance to delivering this ruling"?** Zambrano again began fumbling with his papers. "He's leafing through the document!" cried Mastro. "Put the document down!" bellowed the judge. Mastro reasked the question, and Zambrano guessed the wrong report.

What theory of causation did the judgment's author adopt?*** "Do not look at the judgment, sir!" Mastro yelled. Zambrano replied, "I don't recall."

What does the abbreviation "TPH," which the judgment's author used 38 times, stand for?**** At deposition Zambrano replied, "It pertains to hydrocarbons but I don't recall exactly." At trial Zambrano claimed to know the answer. "Do you want to tell us?" asked Mastro. "No," replied Zambrano.

Later, Mastro explored how certain TPH percentages had been calculated in the judgment. "Do you even know what an Excel spreadsheet is?" asked Mastro. "No," replied Zambrano. How then had the TPH percentages been calculated? Zambrano initially said he didn't recall. When pressed by the judge for his best recollection, he said that he took them from expert reports.

Zambrano's problems as a witness did not stop with the quiz. He testified that he did not know whether his 18-year-old assistant knew any French or English, but that she found on the Internet the French, American, English and Australian decisions that he relied on in his judgment.

Zambrano offered no documentary evidence outside the judgment to prove his authorship, saying that he had destroyed his notes. He said that he did not know how the judgment included a string of more than 100 words from a plaintiffs' draft memo that did not appear in the court record.

Zambrano offered no explanation for how nine of his Chevron orders and more than 100 of his other orders in other cases appeared in draft form on the computer of Judge Alberto Guerra, who claims to have worked as Zambrano's paid ghostwriter. He offered no explanation for a bank deposit slip showing a payment from Zambrano, or for notations in Guerra's diaries of several payments consistent with Guerra's avowed salary as Zambrano's ghostwriter.

Over the course of the day, there were too many apparent inconsistencies between Zambrano's trial and deposition testimony to immediately count. Perhaps most damaging was his trial testimony that he did not read the full court record in the Ecuador case. At deposition four days earlier he had sworn: "In order to rule on it I had to read it, and that's what I did."

In a statement, Donziger spokesman Chris Gowen complained that Mastro relied "on poor translation and semantics and never once allow[ed] the witness the opportunity to explain his testimony—a basic component of proper impeachment." Zambrano will be far more credible Wednesday, Gowen added, when he is allowed to answer more than yes or no. Donziger had better hope so, as Gowen has repeatedly said that the trial hinges on which Ecuadorian ex-judge is more credible—Alberto Guerra or Nicolas Zambrano.

Near day's end Mastro posed one more pop quiz question: Do you know what the English word "workover" means?***** At the judge's suggestion, Mastro wrote the word in large letters on a blank sheet of paper, and waved it at the gallery like a magician showing a card to the audience before his next trick. Zambrano said he didn't know. Finally Mastro asked: "Do you know how an English word that you couldn't even identify in court today and appears in [a proprietary document from the plaintiffs] ended up appearing in English in the judgment?" Zambrano answered no.

Congratulations to readers who scored at least 1 out of 5 on the quiz! Chevron argues that you are likelier than Zambrano to have written the $19 billion judgment issued by the Provincial Court of Sucumbios on Feb. 14, 2011.

*The correct answer is benzene.
**The correct answer is the San Sebastian cancer study.
*** The correct answer is "the theory of sufficient causation."
**** The correct answer is Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, or the Spanish equivalent.
***** The correct answer is "maintenance work done on an existing oil well."