Thursday, January 28, 2016

NBC NEWS: Long Island Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for $35M Fraud

A Long Island man was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for a $35 million fraud that a judge said wrecked investors' lives.
Mikhail Zemlyansky, 39, was led out of a Manhattan courtroom in shackles after U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken sentenced the Hewlett resident a year after a jury convicted him of racketeering conspiracy and other charges at a monthlong trial.
U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken called him "sophisticated, deliberate and premeditated" as he carried out frauds that prosecutors said stretched from 2007 through 2012 .
The judge said Zemlyansky spent millions of dollars from investors' on vacations and fancy cars and watches.
Oetken called him "sophisticated, deliberate and premeditated" as he carried out frauds that prosecutors said stretched from 2007 through 2012.

Assistant US Attorney Daniel Goldman addresses Judge Oetken. Mikhail Zemlyansky,seated right. 
Assistant US Attorney Daniel Goldman said Zemlyansky and co-conspirators transferred millions of dollars from investors overseas to shell companies in Eastern Europe, where money was converted into cash and returned to the United States
They said Zemlyansky defrauded car insurance companies of hundreds of millions of dollars by creating and operating medical clinics that provided unnecessary or excessive medical treatments to take advantage of a no-fault insurance law that requires prompt payment for medical treatment.
In court papers, prosecutors said Zemlyansky lived a lavish life, spoiling himself with $100,000 luxury cars and $50,000 watches.
Oetken ordered Zemlyansky to pay a $50,000 fine and $29.5 million restitution.
Becker had asked that his client be sentenced to five years in prison, saying a day more would be excessive. Prosecutors had requested that he be sentenced to prison for well over 25 years, the length of time the Probation Department had recommended.

WSJ: Duped Art Collector Testifies in Knoedler Forgery Trial

The Wall Street Journal

Duped Art Collector Testifies in Knoedler Forgery Trial

Domenico De Sole says he trusted that $8.3 million painting he bought was a genuine Rothko

Domenico De Sole, on the witness stand Wednesday, pointed to the fake Rothko painting he purchased from Knoedler & Co. gallery.ENLARGE
Domenico De Sole, on the witness stand Wednesday, pointed to the fake Rothko painting he purchased from Knoedler & Co. gallery. PHOTO: ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
From the witness stand in Manhattan federal court Wednesday,Sotheby’s board chairman Domenico De Sole said he didn’t ask any experts to authenticate the $8.3 million painting he purchased, believing it was the work of abstract-expressionist artist Mark Rothko.
He didn’t need to, he said. He trusted the word of Ann Freedman: “She was the top of the art world.”
The painting turned out to be a fake and is at the center of a civil trial unfolding in federal court. Mr. De Sole and his wife are seeking to recoup their money and win damages for what they allege was fraud and racketeering perpetrated by Ms. Freedman and the Knoedler & Co. gallery, where she served as president.
In a scandal that rocked the art world, Knoedler was found to have sold dozens of fake paintings that it said were the work of midcentury modernist masters, such as Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock.
Ms. Freedman and Knoedler say they believed the paintings to be real, that they were conned by a Long Island art dealer who said she was working with an anonymous Swiss collector, known only as “Mr. X.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bill Robles and courtroom drawings open ArTree 2016 speaker series

Bill Robles and courtroom drawings open ArTree 2016 speaker series
Bill Robles drawing of Charles Manson featured in The Illustrated Courtroom book
Bill Robles and courtroom drawings open ArTree 2016 speaker series

Bill Robles, renowned courtroom artist for television news, opens the 2016 ARTree Speaker Series at the Old Town Newhall Library on Thursday, January 28 at 6:30pm. Robles draws the famous and the infamous in a career spanning more than 45 years.

Starting with the Charles Manson trial in 1970, Robles has illustrated defendants and lawyers at some of the countrys highest-profile trials including Patty Hearst, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, Donald Sterling, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. He most recently reported on the hearings for Tonya Couch, mother of affluenza teen Ethan Couch, and Enrique Marquez, accused of supplying assault weapons to the San Bernardino massacre.
The ARTree Speaker Series is open to the public at no charge, and is sponsored by Egg Plantation and Newhall Refinery, and is part of Thursdays@Newhall. For more information contact ARTree at (661) 673-7500, at
Michael Jackson by Bill Robles

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WSJ: Forgery-Trial Witness: Paintings ‘Had No Soul’

Forgery-Trial Witness: Paintings ‘Had No Soul’

Two art-world experts said the pictures they saw at Knoedler gallery were phony

The Wall Street Journal

Opening statements by Luke Nikas who represents Ann Freedman.
He stated “Ann believed this was one of the most important discoveries in art history"
 Art dealer Ann Freedman was no scheming fraudster, knowingly selling forged abstract masterpieces; she fell victim to a clever con that fooled her and the rest of the art world, her lawyer told a federal jury Tuesday.
Defense attorney Luke Nikas made those statements in Manhattan federal court, where Ms. Freedman faces a civil suit brought by two wealthy art collectors who purchased a fake Rothko painting from her former gallery, the now-defunct Knoedler & Co., in 2004.
In opening defense statements Tuesday, attorneys for Ms. Freedman and Knoedler argued that their clients believed the artworks wre genuine, and were victims of Glafira Rosales,the Long Island art dealer who has pleaded guilty to selling forgeries to Knoedler.
Between 1994 and 2008, Ms. Rosales brought dozens of paintings to Ms. Freedman, said Mr. Nikas. “Ann believed this was one of the most important discoveries in art history,” he said.
Mr. Nikas recounted a list of experts who vouched for the paintings, and projected excerpts from their correspondence with Ms. Freedman on a large screen in the courtroom. “She believed what the experts told her,” he said.
Charles Schmermer who represents 831 holdings give opening statements

John Elderfield testifying about seeing the a Diebenkorn at the Knoedler gallery in 1994 and telling Ann Freedman it was dubious. John Elderfield was Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 2003 to 2008 and is an expert in the work of Richard Diebenkorn. Ann Freedman is seated far left. 

 Two art-world experts—John Elderfield, a former top curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and Gretchen Diebenkorn Grant, daughter of the late painter Richard Diebenkorn—testified Tuesday that they weren’t fooled by the phony Diebenkorn paintings they saw at Knoedler in 1994.“They had no soul. They didn’t breathe,” said Ms. Diebenkorn Grant.
Both witnesses said they brought their concerns to Ms. Freedman.
Gretchen Diebenkorn Grant testifying about the Diebenkorn that John Elderfield questioned.
She stated the painting "had no soul"

Monday, January 25, 2016

Knoedler Gallery Trial Begins. Opening Statements by Emily Reisbaum

Knoedler Gallery Trial Begins: Today marks the first day of the long-awaited Knoedler & Company fakes case, wherein the venerable gallery knowingly or not sold more than 30 forgeries as genuine Pollocksde Koonings, and various other masters. In fact, the works were painted by a Chinese immigrant living in Queens. “It’s a unique opportunity for a public hearing of the machinations of the art world, which are usually very discreet,” said Nicholas M. O’Donnell, an art lawyer in Boston. 

Emily Reisbaum gives her opening in the Knoedler art fraud trial. Her client Dominico De Sole seated right, Ann Freedman sits left. During the opening a slide was shown of the fake Rothko.
New York Times story link

Friday, January 22, 2016

Roe v. Wade Was Passed 43 Years Ago. Artwork by Aggie Kenny

Forty three years ago on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court secured the right for American women to have a legal abortion. In a 7-2 vote, the Court ruled that all women could have an abortion at any stage in their pregnancy, but allowed states to regulate the procedure in women's second and third trimesters. In doing so, the crucial work of tireless activists saved countless women in the U.S. fromunsafe procedures and emboldened them to lead the lives of their choice. 
Solicitor General Fried making argument to the US Supreme Court in Roe v Wade Reaffirmation by Aggie Kenny

The legacy of their work is evident today. The majority of Americans currently support abortion — a procedure that is not only one of the safest medical procedures for women in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but also a relatively common one. The vast majority of womendon't regret having had one.
Despite these facts, there are many women in the United States for whom abortion is ultimately inaccessible. Here are the many ways in which this legally protected right has not only been chipped away, but demonized. 
For more on this story see link

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2nd Defendant, US citizen, pleads guilty in UN bribery case. AP

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. citizen on Wednesday became the second person to plead guilty in connection with a bribery scandal at the United Nations, tearfully admitting that she bribed a former president of the U.N. General Assembly to gain his support for business ventures.
Sheri Yan, 60, entered the plea to a bribery charge in Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that recommended she be sentenced to between roughly six and seven years in prison. The charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. Her lawyers said she was not cooperating. Judge Vernon Broderick set sentencing for April 29.

Judge Vernon Broderick
AUSA Mukhi speaking to Judge Broderick 

Read more: 

Yan, speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, wiped away tears several times during the plea hearing as she admitted that she agreed with others to pay bribes to John Ashe so he could use his position as president of the U.N. General Assembly and as an ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda to promote business ventures from which Yan and others could profit.

Read more:
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Friday, January 15, 2016


Mailman vs. GM: New York jury hears 1st federal trial over automaker's ignition switches: ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — In the first trial of its kind, a Manhattan jury listened Tuesday as a lawyer for an Oklahoma man blamed his client's injuries in a 2014 crash on a General Motors' faulty ignition switch before a GM attorney countered that the switch was not to blame.

"Where else can a mailman from Oklahoma go toe-to-toe with a car company called General Motors and have his day in court?" Robert Hilliard asked.( pictured)
He recounted numerous people killed in accidents blamed on defective switches and blamed GM for its slow response.
"There was plenty of notice and opportunity for General Motors to make what was a 25-cent fix," he said.
In the opening statement, Mr. Brock argued that Mr. Scheuer, a postal worker, had a long history of back pain that preceded the accident, stemming from an industrial accident in 1988. He also showed a hospital discharge report from the day after the accident that said: “No obvious injuries from his motor vehicle collision” and “history of chronic pain management.”
Mr. Brock also argued that testing by G.M. showed that Mr. Scheuer’s key could not have accidentally turned if he had, as he said, taken it off the key chain. He said that Mr. Scheuer had claimed that he did not lose his power steering or power brakes while going off the road. He added that under the circumstances of the accident, Mr. Scheuer’s airbag should not have deployed.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


In Iranian Funds Case, Justices Ponder Extent Of Congressional Influence: NPR
The litigants in the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday were a remarkable bunch: On one side, the Central Bank of Iran. On the other, the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks going back three decades.
The constitutional question: Whether Congress — in dealing with both — had infringed on the independence of the judiciary.

Inside the Supreme Court chamber, the debate was not about whether Iran should pay, but whether Congress had unconstitutionally infringed on the judiciary's job by directing the outcome of particular cases, even listing the docket numbers of those cases in the legislation.
Lawyer Jeffrey Lamken — representing Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran — said it didn't matter whether there was one case or 19: Congress had violated the Constitution by enacting a statute for one set of plaintiffs.
Justice Antonin Scalia asked: "Where do you get the notion that Congress can only act by generality? It acts all the time on individual matters."
Lamken insisted that this law is unique, contending that never before in the nation's history has Congress passed such a statute.
Congress crossed the line here, Lamken asserted, because there is a single defendant, the Central Bank of Iran.
Chief Justice Roberts replied caustically: "You're saying Congress has to be cute about it." They can't say that Smith wins his case in Smith v. Jones, but they can change the law to make sure Smith wins.
Justice Breyer, borrowing some of the Chief Justice's language, observed with a small smile that "Congress has 4,000 ways of being cute, and I can't quite see this court trying to police those ways."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

NY TIMES> Enrique Marquez Pleads Not Guilty in San Bernardino Massacre Case

The New York Times:
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Enrique Marquez pleaded not guilty Wednesday on charges of supplying two assault weapons that Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik used to massacre 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino last month. 
Link to story
Illustrations by Bill Robles

Mr. Marquez, dressed in a white jumpsuit, his legs and hand shackled, spoke in a clear voice as he entered his plea on that charge, as well as on counts that he and Mr. Farook had conspired on an earlier terrorist plot that was not carried out.

CNN> 'Affluenza' teen's mother set to be extradited to Texas

Los Angeles (CNN)Tonya Couch, the mother of "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch, is set to be extradited to Texas from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio Tapia approved an extradition waiver for Couch on Tuesday.
    She will be returned to Texas, where prosecutors have charged her with hindering the apprehension of a felon.
    Her bail, which was set in Texas, is set at $1 million and must be paid in that state.
    The mother and son were found in Mexico on December 28 after going missing a few weeks earlier.
    Before he went to Mexico, Ethan Couch was on probation for killing four people in a drunken driving accident in 2013, when he was 16. At the time, many were outraged that a judge sentenced him to probation instead of jail time, slamming his now-notorious "affluenza" defense -- that he was too rich and spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions.
    Bill Robles covered the mother of influenza teen in Los Angeles court yesterday.