Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Anthony Wendel Fredericks, Sr., and Two Contractors Are Charged With Theft From the Local 657 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA)
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Former Business Manager and Two Contractors Charged with Theft from Labor Union, Unlawful Labor Payments, Fraud and Money Laundering
A former business manager of the Local 657 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) and two building contractors were charged today with stealing from Local 657 and related offenses.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Steven D. Anderson of the Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations’ Washington, D.C., Regional Office and District Director Mark Wheeler of the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards’ Washington, D.C., District Office made the announcement.
Anthony Wendel Frederick Sr., 49, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was charged with one count of theft from a labor organization, one count of receiving unlawful labor payments, wire fraud and one count of money laundering Gary Amoes Cooper, 56, of Upper Marlboro, and Christopher Andrew Kwegan, 58, of Randallstown, Maryland, each also were charged with one count of theft from a labor organization, one count of payment unlawful labor payments, wire fraud and several counts of money laundering. Cooper and Kwegan own STS General Contracting of Greenbelt, Maryland. All three defendants are in custody and are scheduled to have their initial appearance at 1:45 p.m. EDT today before U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey of the District of Columbia.
LIUNA is a labor organization that represents laborers in the construction industry. LIUNA’s Local 657 represents construction laborers in Washington, D.C., and five adjacent counties. For approximately 10 years, until June 2014, Frederick served as the business manager for Local 657.
The indictment alleges that, from May 2013 to June 2014, Frederick directed more than $1.7 million in Local 657 funds to STS Contracting without the knowledge or authorization of the Local 657 Executive Board or officials in the LIUNA International.
Specifically, according to the indictment, in June 2014, a routine audit of the local union by LIUNA revealed that Frederick had paid nearly $1.1 million to STS Contracting for minimal renovations at the Local 657 administrative building. In addition, the indictment alleges that, without authorization, Frederick directed over $580,000 in Local 657 funds to STS Contracting for expediting permits for the construction of a new training center for Local 657, which expediting had previously been handled by another construction firm. According to the indictment, the LIUNA auditor also discovered that Frederick grossly overpaid STS Contracting for expediting various permits, including $20,000 to expedite a $143 excavation permit, and more than $20,000 to renew existing permits, which could have been accomplished online for approximately $250 apiece.
The indictment further alleges that Cooper and Kwegan used the stolen Local 657 funds to make a down payment of $225,000 on a home purchased by Frederick and to pay for the construction of a three-car garage on the property, and directed more than $600,000 to a corporation owned in part by Frederick’s wife. In addition, Cooper and Kwegan allegedly depleted a company bank account, which primarily contained stolen Local 657 funds, by withdrawing more than $500,000 in cash, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to third parties in Qatar, and using the remainder for personal items, entertainment, shopping trips, hotel stays and overseas travel.
The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Department of Labor. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Vincent Falvo of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
Friday, October 2, 2015
ELLIOT M. GROSS, APPELLANT, v. THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.
82 N.Y.2d 146, 623 N.E.2d 1163, 603 N.Y.S.2d 813 (1993).
October 21, 1993
October 21, 1993
1 No. 178 [1993 NY Int. 205]
Decided October 21, 1993
Decided October 21, 1993
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the New York Reports.
Howard M. Squadron, for Appellant.
Floyd Abrams, for Respondents New York Times, et al.
Submitted by Philip Mandel, for Respondent Ehrenreich.
Floyd Abrams, for Respondents New York Times, et al.
Submitted by Philip Mandel, for Respondent Ehrenreich.
This dispute has its origin in a series of investigative reports published by defendant New York Times between January of 1985 and February of 1986. The articles in question charged plaintiff, the former Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, with having mishandled several high profile cases and having used his authority to protect police officers and other city officials from suspicion after individuals in their custody had died under questionable circumstances. Defendants' articles spawned four separate criminal investigations into plaintiff's conduct, each of which terminated with findings that there was no evidence of professional misconduct or criminal wrongdoing by plaintiff. Plaintiff thereafter commenced the present action for libel. The issue at this early, pre-answer stage of the litigation is whether plaintiff's pleadings sufficiently allege false, defamatory statements of fact rather than mere nonactionable statements of opinion. We hold that plaintiff's complaint, which encompasses actionable assertions of fact as well as nonactionable opinions and conclusions, is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under CPLR 3211(a)(7).
Plaintiff's fifty-nine page complaint cites essentially eight "false and defamatory" articles as the basis for his libel action. The first article in the series, which was published on January 27, 1985 under defendant Philip Shenon's byline, was entitled "Chief Medical Examiner's Report in Police Custody Cases Disputed" and had, as a sub-headline, "Cover-Ups Charged in Autopsies and Some Deaths - Gross Denies 'Misleading" in Any Instance." The opening two paragraphs asserted that, as the City's Chief Medical Examiner, plaintiff had "produced a series of misleading or inaccurate autopsy reports on people who died in custody of the police, according to colleagues in the Medical Examiner's office and pathologists elsewhere." Further, according to the article, plaintiff had "instituted a policy of special handling for police-custody cases," had "performed the autopsies himself" in many such cases and "[i]n others, documents show[,] he intervened to alter the findings of other pathologists." What follows is a series of assertions about plaintiff's actions in connection with several specific cases, including that of "a Brooklyn man who neighbors say was beaten by police officers" and that of Eleanor Bumpurs, "the 66-year old woman who was shot to death * * * by police officers trying to evict her."[n 1]
The article, which also discussed the purported disarray in the Medical Examiner's office, reported on interviews conducted with several pathologists, who both described and characterized plaintiff's specific actions in relation to cases handled by the Medical Examiner's office. One pathologist who had worked with plaintiff asserted for example, that, in the case of the man who had allegedly been beaten by the police, plaintiff had changed the autopsy findings to state that death had resulted from a procedure performed by doctors after the incident rather than from a fractured skull. The pathologist was then quoted as asserting: "What Gross has done is bend over backwards to help the police" and "[i]t's weaseling." Another pathologist, who had not worked with plaintiff but who had been asked to review some of the disputed autopsy findings, was quoted as saying: "If he has done these cases honestly, Dr. Gross is unbelievably incompetent"; "[i]f he has done them deliberately -- and I believe he has -- he may well be looking for a way out for the police." The tenor of the other articles cited in plaintiff's complaint was similar, with quotes from documents and individuals describing plaintiff's specific actions, disagreeing with his medical conclusions and drawing conclusions about his motives. The overall thrust of the series was that plaintiff had issued false or misleading reports about deaths occurring within his jurisdiction in order to protect the police and that his conduct ranged from "highly suspicious" (article published February 5, 1985) to "possibly illegal" (article published January 28, 1985).
Before discovery had begun, defendants moved to dismiss the libel claims in plaintiff's complaint, arguing that the articles on which it was based conveyed only the opinion of its staff and their interviewees and were therefore not actionable.[n 2]The trial court agreed with defendants' position and on June 10, 1991 granted the requested relief.
The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's determination, stressing that the "articles complained of report accusatory opinions together with a recitation of the facts upon which they are based" and that "[e]specially when attributed to a source, the average reader will recognize that criticisms, allegations and accusations are not statements of fact but rather expressions of opinion" (180 AD2d 308, 316). The court also rejected plaintiff's contention that the articles could not be characterized as protected opinion to the extent that they suggested he was guilty of criminal wrongdoing. In the court's view, the allegations that plaintiff had "lied" in his professional conclusions regarding the causes of death in controversial cases and had "covered up" for misconduct by City police officers were too "[v]ague" to "amount to accusations of criminal misconduct" (id., p 317). This Court subsequently granted plaintiff leave to appeal from the Appellate Division's order. We now reverse and hold that the complaint should have been sustained, since, in addition to the expressed opinions and conclusions, the articles contain defamatory assertions that a reasonable reader would understand to be advanced as statements of fact.
At the core of the dispute in this case is the much discussed distinction between expressions of opinion, which are not actionable, and assertions of fact, which may form the basis of a viable libel claim. The distinction has been the subject of considerable analysis and legal evolution in recent years (see, e.g., Milkovich v Lorain Journal Co., 497 US 1; Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, 77 NY2d 235, cert denied __ US __, 111 S Ct 2261; Steinhilber v Alphonse, 68 NY2d 283). Indeed, we revisited the question ourselves just one year ago (600 West 115th St. Corp. v Von Gutfeld, 80 NY2d 130). Nonetheless, as the opinions below and the parties' submissions illustrate, there remain many unanswered questions and areas of uncertainty in this developing field of libel law.
The underlying principles are not in dispute. The Supreme Court's decision in New York Times Co. v Sullivan (376 US 254) injected a constitutional dimension into what had previously been regarded as a matter of state common law. In that case and others (e.g., Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v Hepps, 475 US 767; Curtis Publishing Co. v Butts, 388 US 130; see also,Gertz v Robert Welch, Inc, 418 US 323), the Court delineated the increased burden of proof that libel plaintiffs in the public arena must bear in order to assure the "'unfettered interchange of ideas'" that is so necessary to the continued vitality of a government "'responsive to the will of the people'" (New York Times Co. v Sullivan, supra, p 269, quoting Roth v United States, 354 US 476, 484, and Stromberg v California, 283 US 359, 369). Additionally, in Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Assn. v Bresler (398 US 6, 12), the Court recognized that there are constitutional restrictions on the "permissible scope" of defamation actions and, specifically, that evident "rhetorical hyperbole" is simply not actionable (see,Milkovich v Lorain Journal Co,, supra, p 16; see also, Hustler Magazine, Inc. v Falwell, 485 US 46, 50; Letter Carriers v Austin, 418 US 264, 284-286).
The focus in this appeal, which involves a pre-answer dispute over the sufficiency of the complaint, is whether the articles published by defendants fall into a category that is actionable and, more specifically, whether the articles constitute the type of opinion statements that cannot, under the case law, form the basis of a defamation claim. While the Supreme Court has rejected the notion that there is a special categorical privilege for expressions of opinion as opposed to assertions of fact, it has recognized that "a statement of opinion relating to matters of public concern which does not contain a provably false factual connotation will receive full constitutional protection" (Milkovich v Lorain Journal Co., supra, pp 17-21). Further, this Court has adopted a similar view under our own State Constitution and has embraced a test for determining what constitutes a nonactionable statement of opinion that is more flexible and is decidedly more protective of "the cherished constitutional guarantee of free speech" (Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra, p 256; see, 600 West 115 St. Corp. v Gutfeld, supra, p 145).
The dispositive inquiry, under either federal or New York law, is "whether a reasonable [reader] could have concluded that [the articles] were conveying facts about the plaintiff" (600 West 115th St. Corp. v Gutfeld, supra, p 139). Since falsity is a necessary element of a defamation cause of action and only "facts" are capable of being proven false, "it follows that only statements alleging facts can properly be the subject of a defamation action" (id.; accord, Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra, p 254). In our State the inquiry, which must be made by the court (see, 600 West 115th St. v Von Gutfeld, supra, p 139; Steinhilber v Alphonse, supra, p 290), entails an examination of the challenged statements with a view toward (1) whether the specific language in issue has a precise meaning which is readily understood; (2) whether the statements are capable of being proven true or false; and (3) whether either the full context of the communication in which the statement appears or the broader social context and surrounding circumstances are such as to "'signal * * * readers or listeners that what is being read or heard is likely to be opinion, not fact'" (Steinhilber v Alphonse, supra, p 292; quoting Ollman v Evans, 750 F2d 970, 983, cert denied 471 US 1127; accord, Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra).
This is not to suggest that the wisdom to be derived from the formerly utilized common-law analysis has been completely discarded. To the contrary, although the terminology may have fallen out of favor, the seasoned common-law categories for actionable and nonactionable reportage have been invoked to inform our modern constitutional analysis (Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra, p 250; see, e.g., James v Gannett Co., 40 NY2d 415; Julian v American Business Consultants, 2 NY2d 1; see also, Steinhilber v Alphonse, supra, p 293).
Thus, in determining whether a particular communication is actionable, we continue to recognize and utilize the important distinction between a statement of opinion that implies a basis in facts which are not disclosed to the reader or listener (see, Hotchner v Castillo-Puche, 551 F2d 910, 913, cert denied sub nom. Hotchner v Doubleday & Co., 434 US 834; Restatement [Second] of Torts § 566), and a statement of opinion that is accompanied by a recitation of the facts on which it is based or one that does not imply the existence of undisclosed underlying facts (see, Ollman v Evans, supra, p 976;Buckley v Littell, 539 F2d 882, 893, cert denied 429 US 1062; Restatement [Second] of Torts § 556 comment c). The former are actionable not because they convey "false opinions" but rather because a reasonable listener or reader would infer that "the speaker [or writer] knows certain facts, unknown to [the] audience, which support [the] opinion and are detrimental to the person [toward] whom [the communication is directed]" (Steinhilber v Alphonse, supra, p 290). In contrast, the latter are not actionable because, as was noted by the dissenting opinion in Milkovich v Lorain Journal Co.(supra, pp 26-27, p 28 n3 [Brennan, J.]), a proffered hypothesis that is offered after a full recitation of the facts on which it is based is readily understood by the audience as conjecture (see, e.g., Potomac Valve & Fitting, Inc. v. Crawford Fitting Co., 829 F2d 1280, 1290). Indeed, this class of statements provides a clear illustration of situations in which the full context of the communication "'signal[s] * * * readers or listeners that what is being read or heard is likely to be opinion, not fact'" (Steinhilber v Alphonse, supra, p 292; quoting Ollman v Evans, supra, p 983).
Applying these principles to plaintiff's cause is not a simple task because plaintiff's pleadings cite the whole series of articles, each in its entirety, as the basis for plaintiff's defamation claim. Obviously, not every word and assertion in the disputed articles is false or defamatory. Some of the actions and words attributed to plaintiff undoubtedly did take place. Furthermore, many of the objective assertions made in this series of many thousand words are uncontroversial and are therefore not the proper subject for a defamation action.
We conclude, however, that the courts below erred in dismissing the complaint, since the articles it cited contain many assertions of objective fact that, if proven false, could form the predicate for a maintainable libel action. Additionally, although the articles contain many assertions that would be understood by the reasonable reader as mere hypotheses premised on stated facts, there are also actionable charges made in the articles -- such as the charges that plaintiff engaged in cover-ups, directed the creation of "misleading" autopsy reports and was guilty of "possibly illegal" conduct -- that, although couched in the language of hypothesis or conclusion, actually would be understood by the reasonable reader as assertions of fact (see, Rinaldi v Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., 42 NY2d 369, 382).
Contrary to the Appellate Division's conclusion, these assertions are not too vague to constitute concrete accusations of criminality. Nonetheless, we hold them to be actionable not, as plaintiff would have it, because they involve accusations of criminality per se, but rather because in this context they convey "facts" that are capable of being proven true or false. Although plaintiff repeatedly suggests otherwise, there is simply no special rule of law making criminal slurs actionable regardless of whether they are asserted as opinion or fact.
In Silsdorf v Levine (59 NY2d 8, 16, cert denied 464 US 831), we merely held that an accusation of criminality that, read in context, is set forth as a fact is not transformed into a nonactionable expression of opinion merely because it is couched "in the form of an opinion." To illustrate, if the statement "John is a thief" is actionable when considered in its applicable context, the statement "I believe John is a thief" would be equally actionable when placed in precisely the same context. By the same token, however, the assertion that "John is a thief" could well be treated as an expression of opinion or rhetorical hyperbole where it is accompanied by other statements, such as "John stole my heart," that, taken in context, convey to the reasonable reader that something other than an objective fact is being asserted. Indeed, it has already been held that assertions that a person is guilty of "blackmail," "fraud," "bribery" and "corruption" could, in certain contexts, be understood as mere, nonactionable "rhetorical hyperbole" or "vigorous epithets" (see, e.g., Greenbelt Pub. Assn. v Bresler, supra, p 14; 600 W. 115th Street Corp. v Gutfeld, supra, pp 143-145).
Similarly, even when uttered or published in a more serious tone, accusations of criminality could be regarded as mere hypothesis and therefore not actionable if the facts on which they are based are fully and accurately set forth and it is clear to the reasonable reader or listener that the accusation is merely a personal surmise built upon those facts. In all cases, whether the challenged remark concerns criminality or some other defamatory category, the courts are obliged to consider the communication as a whole, as well as its immediate and broader social contexts, to determine whether the reasonable listener or reader is likely to understand the remark as an assertion of provable fact (600 W. 115th Street Corp. v Von Gutfeld; see, Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, 77 NY2d 235, supra).
In this case, the assertion that plaintiff engaged in "corrupt" conduct in his capacity as Chief Medical Examiner cannot be treated as a mere rhetorical flourish or the speculative accusation of an angry but ill-informed citizen made during the course of a heated debate (see, 600 West 115th Street Corp. v Von Gutfeld, supra). Rather, the accusation was made in the course of a lengthy, copiously documented newspaper series that was written only after what purported to be a thorough investigation. Having been offered as a special feature series rather than as coverage of a current news story, the disputed articles were calculated to give the impression they were "the product of some deliberation, not of the heat of the moment" (id., p 142). Moreover, since the articles appeared in the news section rather than the editorial or "op ed" sections, the common expectations that apply to those more opinionated journalistic endeavors were inapplicable here (see,Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra). Thus, the circumstances under which these accusations were published "encourag[ed] the reasonable reader to be less skeptical and more willing to conclude that the[y] stat[ed] or impl[ied] facts" (600 W. 115th Street Corp. v Von Gutfeld, supra, p 142).
In closing, we stress once again our commitment to avoiding the "hypertechnical parsing" of written and spoken words for the purpose of identifying "possible 'facts'" that might form the basis of a sustainable libel action (Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra, p 256). The core goal of "exercises" such as this is to protect the individual's historic right to vindicate reputation without impairing our "cherished constitutional guarantee of free speech" (id.) or casting a pall over citizens' ability to engage in robust debate through the print and broadcast media. In this case, the reputation of a public official with significant professional credentials was allegedly impaired by a series of widely read newspaper articles that portrayed him as unethical and corrupt. Under the circumstances of his case, we conclude that this individual should be permitted to go forward in an effort to establish a right to a libel recovery. The defendants' expressional rights as well as the cherished values embodied in the First Amendment guarantees can be adequately protected in this context by the well-established rule requiring that plaintiff prove not only that the statements he cites are false and defamatory but also that they were made with actual malice. As this Court has previously observed, compliance with the latter requirements is a matter that is well suited to testing, at least in the first instance, on a motion for summary judgment brought pursuant to CPLR 3212 (see, Immuno AG. v Moor-Jankowski, supra, p 256; Karaduman v Newsday, Inc., supra, p 545).
Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division, insofar as appealed from, should be reversed, with costs, and the motion of the Times defendants to dismiss causes of action one through five and eight through thirteen of the complaint denied.
F O O T N O T E S
1. For a review of the factual background of the Bumpurs case, see People v Sullivan, 68 NY2d 495.[return to text]
2. The dismissal motion at issue in this appeal is the one made by The New York Times, Philip Shenon, Sam Roberts, A.M. Rosenthal and Peter Milones, all of whom are affiliated with defendant newspaper. An earlier dismissal motion by the other named defendants was granted by the trial court. The trial court also dismissed plaintiff's sixth, seventh, fourteenth and fifteenth causes of action against the New York Times defendants. Those dismissals are not being challenged on this appeal.[return to text]
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Order, insofar as appealed from, reversed, with costs, and motion of the "Times defendants" to dismiss causes of action 1 through 5 and 8 through 13 of the complaint denied. Opinion by Judge Titone. Chief Judge Kaye and Judges Simons, Hancock and Bellacosa concur. Judges Smith and Levine took no part.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Contact: Jill Farrell, Judicial Watch, 202-646-5188
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2015 /Standard Newswire/ -- Judicial Watch released new State Department records today that reveal former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally signed the authorization for Huma Abedin, her the then-deputy chief of staff, to become a special government employee.
The records also show that Abedin declined to provide complete information about her husband Anthony Weiner's financial dealings. The records were uncovered as a result of a court order in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Abedin (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)). The records show Abedin used a clintonemail.com account to communicate about her special status.
In February 2014, the State Department assured Judicial Watch that it had searched several individual offices of the department, including the office of the executive secretary, which would have included the offices of the secretary of State and top staff. Relying upon the State Department's misrepresentation that the agency conducted a reasonable search, Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss its lawsuit on March 14, 2014. Judge Emmet Sullivan reopened the lawsuit on June 19, 2015, in response to revelations about Clinton's separate email system.
The newly uncovered documents show that Clinton personally signed the form for Abedin's appointment as a Special Government Employee/ senior advisor to Clinton on March 23, 2012. The position description form details that Hillary Clinton certifies that Abedin's "position is necessary to carry out Government functions for which I am responsible." The Obama State Department blacked out Clinton's signature on the form, allegedly to protect Clinton's privacy.
The documents also include details about Abedin's "expert" position, which evidently also required a continued top secret clearance:
As a Senior Advisor (Expert) to the Secretary, the incumbent will provide expert advice and guidance on varying issues related to the planning of logistical arrangements for foreign and domestic missions, and for the coordination of the foreign policy requirements, press, and protocol and security components necessary for a successful and sensitive foreign policy mission.
The documents raise questions about whether Abedin's new position complied with federal law that prevents special government positions created for work already performed by current employees. On June 4, 2012, Abedin states "NO, MY NEW POSITION IS IDENTICAL TO MY OLD POSITION." Abedin also expressed concern in March 2012 about the State Department's finally paying for her travel from New York. In a March 27, 2012, email about her "conversion to expert appointment," Abedin writes:
Have a few questions. One is time sensitive, I need to come down to state tomorrow. Can state start paying for my travel since ny is now my base? I've been paying personally for the last 6 months. Thanks.
The records show that there was a rush to appoint Abedin to the position, which was initially set to begin on April 1, 2012. When Abedin was finally approved in June 2012, she had failed to provide her husband Anthony Weiner’s financial information, despite repeated requests from the State Department.
In a March 21, 2012, email, Cynthia Motley, administrative officer in the State Department, writes to Abedin requesting the financial disclosure information
Huma, I have been advised to begin the process to convert you from your Non-Career SES position as Senior Adviser (Expert-SGE) in the Office of the Secretary which is to be effective April 1, 2012. In order to initiate the conversion appointment, I will need to following from you as soon as possible:
The attached SF-278 Financial Disclosure Report must be completed for your termination from the Non-Career SES appointment.
On April 3, 2012, in a response to Motely, Abedin begins what turns out to be a lengthy period of non-compliance:
Anthony filed his separate disclosures last june. Nothing has changed. I don’t need to include his stuff on mine, right? Just want to confirm Thanks!
On April 4, Motley again advises Abedin that Weiner’s assets must be disclosed:
I have confirmed with the Legal Office that his assets are imputed to you so his assets are reportable on your OGE-278 which should include all of 2011 and 2012 up to the date.
In May 2012, after Abedin has still failed to file the required discloses, Sarah Taylor, the chief of the DOS Financial Disclosure Division, is forced to enter contact Abedin in an email marked “Importance: High:”
I have your termination OGE-278 report and the financial disclosure report for the Senior Advisor position. While reviewing your termination OGe-278, I noticed your spouse had several assets that weren’t reported on your report. Can you kindly provide an end of year summary statement so that I can update your report accurately?
After months of non-productive wrangling, Abedin was appointed to the SGE position on June 3, 2012, without having submitted the proper financial disclosure documents for Weiner, as indicated in a June 22 email from Taylor to Marcela Green of the DOS Financial Disclosures Division:
Yes, she (Abedin) was supposed to give me some information regarding her spouse’s assets and she has not done so.
Another email suggests that as of August, 29, 2013, Abedin still hadn’t provided the required financial information.
In a June 6, 2012 email, Abedin admits, “I don’t really know (Weiner’s) clients or his work.” This email chain discloses that Abedin had already been cleared for the “other position.”
The State Department produced these records after performing a second search of State Department offices. The first search, conducted in early 2014, produced only eight pages.
This same litigation saw the development of the FBI and Justice Department rejecting an order by Judge Sullivan to produce information about searching for records on the server and other material reportedly taken from Mrs. Clinton. As Judicial Watch responded in a court filing this week:
We still do not know whether the FBI… has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business… We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI – an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties – is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business… Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist.
“These documents show the Huma Abedin received special treatment contrary to law and that Hillary Clinton personally approved a corrupt patronage position,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These new documents are smoking gun evidence of what Hillary Clinton’s separate email server was all about – keeping secret the corruption of her and her top staff. What else is out there?”
Politico reported that, since June 2012, Abedin had been double-dipping, working as a consultant to outside clients while continuing as a top adviser at State. Abedin’s outside clients included Teneo, a strategic consulting firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band. According to Fox News, Abedin earned $355,000 as a consultant to Teneo, in addition to her $135,000 SGE compensation.
Teneo describes its activities as providing “the leaders of the world’s most respected companies, nonprofit institutions and governments with a full suite of advisory solutions.” (Emphasis added) Outside of the U.S., it maintains offices in Dubai, London, Dublin, Hong Kong, Brussels, Washington, and Beijing. Teneo was also the subject of various investigative reports, including by the New York Times, which raise questions about its relationship with the Clinton Foundation. Today, Politico reports that other State Department documents show Abedin was asked to help both the Foundation and Teneo in April 2012.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
|Sheldon Silver leaving Court January 2015|
Everyone knew about Assemblyman Sheldon Silver's backroom politics, and no one did anything until Preet Bharara stepped in.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
Sheldon Silver, Former Assembly Speaker, Helped Developer Block Methadone Clinic’s Relocation, U.S. Says
When a methadone clinic sought to relocate to Manhattan’s financial district in 2011, parents, local business owners and others rallied in opposition. Perhaps the most prominent opponent was Sheldon Silver, then the powerful speaker of the State Assembly who represented that neighborhood.
“I made it clear to everyone involved that this does not seem to be an appropriate location for this facility,” Mr. Silver said in a statement released at the time.
But what Mr. Silver did not reveal then, federal prosecutors said in court papers filed last week, was that a real estate developer who owned a building near the proposed location had asked him for his help in blocking the project — and that Mr. Silver had a secret interest in providing such assistance.
Mr. Silver, prosecutors said in the filing, was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal payments disguised as referral fees from a law firm to which he had steered some of the developer’s legal business.
The clinic episode is not cited in the indictment against Mr. Silver. But the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, asked in the filing that Judge Valerie E. Caproni allow the government to present it in support of its case.
Mr. Silver, who was forced to step down as speaker after his arrest in January, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include extortion under color of official right and honest services fraud.
Mr. Silver’s lawyers have not yet responded in court papers to the government’s claims about Mr. Silver’s role in the clinic real estate deal.
Steven F. Molo, one of Mr. Silver’s lawyers, said on Monday, “Mr. Silver served his constituents and the people of the state of New York well in connection with that matter and committed no crime.”
A lawyer for Glenwood Management did not respond on Monday to a message seeking comment.
Mr. Bharara’s office said in its filing that in November 2011, after the state’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services had tentatively approved the clinic’s move to 90 Maiden Lane, near one of Glenwood’s buildings, the developer requested Mr. Silver’s assistance “to prevent such clinic from opening.”
Prosecutors say that Mr. Silver responded by “intervening with the relevant state agency and further advocating against” the clinic’s opening.
When the clinic’s proposed relocation became public, it drew sharp criticism in the community, and Mr. Silver said at the time that he arranged for the clinic to make a presentation, which occurred before a committee of Community Board No. 1 in Lower Manhattan.
Catherine McVay Hughes, the community board’s current chairwoman who was then its vice chairwoman, recalled in an interview on Monday that the meeting, held on Dec. 7, 2011, was “packed with parents and local business people.”
Among people’s objections was that the clinic had not notified the board in advance of the proposal, and that the location was too close to a school for young children. One resident presented petitions with 600 signatures in opposition that were collected over just a few days, Ms. Hughes recalled.
“This was a hot-button issue,” she said.
Ron Vlasaty, then the chief operating officer of Gramercy Park Services, the clinic’s operator, said on Monday that the company had proceeded with the location because it believed it had the state’s “blessing.”
But one day after Mr. Vlasaty appeared before the community meeting and saw the extent of the opposition, he said, the company withdrew its application.
After the project was dropped, a Glenwood Management lobbyist drafted a letter to the residents of the firm’s nearby building, praising Mr. Silver’s “outstanding efforts,” the government said in its filing.
“Assemblyman Silver sprung into action as soon as it was revealed that this application was pending,” the letter said.
Two years later, a proposal was made for another substance abuse center on Maiden Lane near that same Glenwood Management building.
“I thought Shelly killed this damn thing?!” a Glenwood representative wrote in an email that prosecutors attached to their filing.
“We need to kill this again,” a lobbyist for the company responded, the government said.
The substance abuse center did not relocate to the Maiden Lane address, the government said in its filing, which does not state whether Mr. Silver played a role in blocking it.
Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting.
Former New York State Assemblyman William Scarborough, Who Resigned After Pleading Guilty To Federal Corruption, is Sentenced To 13 Months in Prison
Another NY State politician hits the dust. Albany was, and is, a free-for-all cesspool of corruption.
William Scarborough, Ex-New York Assemblyman, Is Sentenced to 13 Months
ALBANY — William Scarborough, a former state assemblyman from Queens, was sentenced on Monday to 13 months in prison after he admitted submitting at least $40,000 in false expense vouchers for days he did not actually travel to Albany.
Mr. Scarborough, who pleaded guilty and resigned in May, was ordered to pay $54,355 in federal penalties and forfeit the same amount to the state.
Hours after his federal sentencing, Mr. Scarborough, 69, was sentenced in state court for taking $38,000 in unauthorized cash withdrawals from his campaign fund for personal use. As part of a deal with prosecutors, the one-year prison sentence handed down there will be served at the same time as his federal sentence, meaning that Mr. Scarborough will not have to serve longer than 13 months.
At both court appearances, Mr. Scarborough apologized for what he said was his own “stupidity.”
Mr. Scarborough, a Democrat who was first elected in 1994, will begin serving his sentence in November and said he planned to work on behalf of the community when he is released.
“I intend to be a better person,” he said. “My goal is to be the person that I thought I was.”
The conviction is another black eye for a state government that has seen its two top lawmakers indicted on federal corruption charges within the past year. Since 1999, more than 30 state lawmakers have been forced from office because of convictions for or allegations of ethical misconduct.
“It is a sad day when an elected official is sentenced to prison,” said Richard S. Hartunian, the United States attorney for the Northern District of New York, whose office worked on the case with the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, and the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, both Democrats. “Sadly, some legislators confuse their public service with self-service.”
Of 198 expense vouchers totaling $147,400 filed by Mr. Scarborough from 2009 to 2012, 174 were found to contain false information, according to prosecutors. The vouchers included claims for some overnight stays in Albany when the lawmaker was actually in Georgia and at home in Queens.
In an earlier statement, Mr. Scarborough, whose district includes parts of Jamaica and nearby communities, said he was unable to keep up with bills despite taking a second job at a college and was angry that lawmakers had not had a raise in their $79,500 salary in 16 years.
Mr. Scarborough faced 10 to 16 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Several dozen people, including former constituents, filed letters with the court on Mr. Scarborough’s behalf describing his accomplishments as a legislator. Judge Stephen W. Herrick of Albany County Court said the letters showed that Mr. Scarborough had accomplished some good in public service.
“It’s obvious you represented your constituents well,” Judge Herrick said. “But you also betrayed those constituents.”