“Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”


NY Gov. Cuomo’s top advisor sentenced to six yearsPickett/NYTimes

❝ Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and confidant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday in a case that cast a long and unflattering shadow over the Cuomo administration.

Mr. Percoco, 49, was convicted in March of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives of two companies with state business in return for taking official actions on the firms’ behalf.

❝ “I hope that this sentence will be heard in Albany,” Judge Valerie E. Caproni, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said before sentencing.

She said the case had reached to the highest level of the executive branch. “Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”

My question, of course, is…Anyone surprised?

Televangelist Says Christians Can Survive World’s End by Buying His Condos, $150 Water Bottles

❝ Controversial televangelist Jim Bakker has claimed that the Missouri town in which he is building a Christian community is equipped to survive the end of the world, and is selling survival gear, such as 6-packs of water bottles for $150.

❝ Bakker said on his program…that various prophets have predicted that if there is a major world disaster and humankind faces the end of the world, people in large cities are not going to be able to survive.

That is why for 15 years Bakker has been building his Morningside community in Blue Eye, Missouri, which will come with an amphitheater, houses for the residents, and a chapel that can be used for weddings.

❝ He also is advertising survival gear, such as a pack of six “extreme survival” water bottles being sold for $150. His website claims that the bottles are “designed using a combination of both Advanced and Radiological filters.”

Nothing much new in Bakker’s hustle. Whether you recall the history of his so-called ministry – or that of many peers. He ended up in the slammer for fraud, accused of rape. Mainly, he was guilty of being caught. Many of his breed simply keep stealing from true believers and never even get investigated. The Land of the Free includes the opportunity to be gobbled up by sharks cruising the Great American Ocean of Superstition.

“Most Hated Man in America” Convicted of Securities Fraud

❝ Martin Shkreli, once dubbed “the most hated man in America,” is now a convicted felon.

Shkreli, notorious for raising the price of a potentially life-saving drug by 5,000 percent, was found guilty Friday of defrauding investors in two hedge funds and in Retrophin Inc., a pharmaceutical company he co-founded.

❝ He is now almost certain to go to prison. Shkreli faces as long as 20 years behind bars, although he’s likely to serve much less. U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto allowed him to return home and wished Shkreli well after the verdict was read. She said she would see him soon, though she hasn’t set a date for sentencing…

Shkreli was convicted of three of eight charges, including securities fraud. He was acquitted of fraud charges related to allegations that he looted Retrophin to pay off his hedge-fund investors. Sentencing guidelines take into consideration the size of losses, so the Retrophin allegations carried the potential for the most severe penalty.

❝ In the end, it was Shkreli’s lies to his investors that cost him his freedom, not his 2015 decision to jack up the price of an anti-parasitic drug. Prosecutors said Shkreli, 34, misled clients about the performance of his failing hedge funds, secretly used their money to start Retrophin, and then took $11 million from the drug-development company to repay them.

Shkreli played financial manipulation games almost as well as, say, a Congressman keeping his re-election fund after retiring. The operative word being “almost”. Plus, like like one of our politicians most notorious for his daily accumulation of lies, he never learned when to keep his mouth shut.

Remember when Marco Rubio helped his drug-dealer brother-in-law get a real estate license?

Neither did I…


narcorubio?

Marco Rubio’s presidential aspirations have long been dogged by vague unsubstantiated allegations that he is a “risky bet” with skeletons in his closet that could prove damaging in a high-profile election. This week, Scott Higham and Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post became the first reporters to put some meat on these bones with a story alleging that as Majority Whip of the Florida House of Representatives Rubio “used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law, a convicted cocaine trafficker who had been released from prison 20 months earlier.”

…One question, after all, is whether Rubio should have used his official position to help get his brother-in-law the legal right to sell real estate in Florida. Another question is whether a person with a cocaine conviction who wants to sell real estate in Florida should need to call in a favor from his brother-in-the-law the powerful politician in order to be able to do so legally…

…Two years after Cicilia’s release from prison he and Rubio’s sister were added to the deed of Rubio’s childhood home, where the couple now lives with the senator’s mother, Oriales Rubio. Cicilia served as the real estate broker commissioned with finding office space for Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, and Rubio’s PACs and campaigns have paid more than $130,000 to Cicilia’s sons Daniel and Orlando in consulting fees…

When recommending Cicilia to the board, Rubio neglected to mention that the applicant in question is married to his sister, a decision Rubio spokesperson Todd Harris defended to the Post on the curious grounds that Rubio “believed Orlando should be judged on his own merits and felt it would be highly inappropriate, and could be perceived as exerting undue pressure, if his letter stated that Orlando was a relative.”

And on and on. The sort of family ties tales all too common in politics – not just in America. Anywhere corruption involving public office-holders is “traditional” — this happens. Some countries try to deal with it, more or less successfully. Still, I don’t know if I’d vote for someone who believes this to be appropriate.

Vatican still hasn’t fired Australian priest convicted of child sex abuse

The Vatican refused to remove a Victorian priest despite his child sex abuse conviction and the pedophile wanted money to agree to be defrocked…

The Vatican has still not agreed to remove Paul David Ryan, 67, from the priesthood, nine years after the Diocese of Ballarat asked he be dismissed, documents before the child abuse royal commission show.

Then Ballarat bishop Peter Connors wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2006 telling them Ryan was in jail and asking he be laicised as soon as possible.

The Vatican’s response in 2006 was: “The summary of the case that you have provided, while helpful, is insufficient to proceed with your request that Reverend Ryan be dismissed from the clerical state.”

The Vatican asked for further supporting documentation or that Ryan himself petition the Pope for dispensation from the priesthood, the documents show.

“Anecdotally it is said that he asked for a large amount of money from the diocese before he would sign the petition,” Bishop Connors wrote in 2006…

Ryan was jailed for 18 months in 2006 after admitting to indecently assaulting one victim although the church has four abuse claims against him covering 1979 to 1992.

I hope the Pope gets round to tidying up after his predecessors.

Teen guilty of child porn for naked images – of himself – on his own phone

romeo & juliet
Romeo [likely 18 or younger] and Juliet [13] — in 14th Century Italy

A teenage boy in North Carolina has been prosecuted for having nude pictures of himself on his own mobile phone. The young man, who is now 17 but was 16 at the time the photos were discovered, had to strike a plea deal to avoid potentially going to jail and being registered as a sex offender.

Experts condemned the case as ludicrous. The boy was, however, punished by the courts, and had to agree to be subject to warrantless searches by law enforcement for a year, in addition to other penalties.

The young man was also named in the media and suffered a suspension as quarterback of his high school football team while the case was being resolved.

Cormega Copening, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was prosecuted as an adult under federal child pornography felony laws, for sexually exploiting a minor. The minor was himself

Copening was charged with four counts of making and possessing images of himself and one count of possessing a naked image of his 16-year-old girlfriend.

His girlfriend, Brianna Denson, took a plea deal after being prosecuted on similar charges for having naked, suggestive pictures of herself on her cellphone.

While the pictures were technically illegal, actual sex would not be – the age of consent for sexual intercourse in North Carolina is 16.

The pictures were discovered on Copening’s phone when authorities were investigating a wider problem of sexual images allegedly being shared at school without the permission of the subjects involved. Copening turned out not to be involved in that case.

He was prosecuted for having his own and his girlfriend’s image, despite them not having been shared further.

We’ve heard numerous references about political parties being stupid. The same is true for a seemingly endless list of politicians. It becomes more and more clear that states and nations also properly qualify as stupid.

States for not qualifying poorly written laws churned out by the butter-brains in Congress – like the federal child abuse image felony laws. Nations like the United States for not stepping in and sorting out the stupidity of crap laws like this in the first place.

RTFA for the tale of this whole disaster. A couple of kids who could have sex legally – just not take any pictures of themselves with their clothes off. The bureaucrats who believe the letter of the law is justifiably abused — rolled on into the inevitable plea deal which wraps around these teenagers for years including the registering as sex offenders and on and on.

Cripes! Will the United States ever get beyond obsolete religious morality?

Former military dictator of Guatemala convicted of genocide


Rios Montt and the politician who bankrolled murders of “civilian support” for guerillas

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Hundreds of people who were packed into the courtroom burst into applause, chanting, “Justice!” as Rios Montt received a 50-year term for the genocide charge and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity.

It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Rios Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and was accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels. He proclaimed his innocence in court…

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

He was tried over the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, just a fraction of the number who died during his rule.

A throng outside the court chanted “Justice! Justice!” when the guilty verdicts were handed down on Friday…

“He had full knowledge of everything that was happening and did not stop it,” Judge Yasmin Barrios, who presided over the trial, told a packed courtroom where Mayan women wearing colourful traditional clothes and head-dresses closely followed proceedings…

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan provided support for Rios Montt’s government and said in late 1982 that the dictator was getting a “bum rap” from rights groups for his military campaign against left-wing guerrillas during the Cold War.

He also once called Rios Montt “a man of great personal integrity”.

Birds of a feather and other similar dichos all apply here. All the Cold War crap rationales – from changing the name of the War department to supporting apartheid governments across the landscape of the Third World – are still grist for the propaganda mills of the Republican Party and their allies standing to the Right of Attila the Hun.

Priest convicted of fraud wants his million$ back

The Rev. Samuel Ciccolini wants his $3.5 million back.

The federal Clerk of Courts Office in Cleveland has been holding the money since the well-known Catholic priest from Akron appealed his October 2010 sentence for banking and tax fraud.

An appeals court voided the sentence last week, concluding that U.S. District Judge James Gwin had no authority to order Ciccolini to pay $3.5 million in restitution to the Interval Brotherhood Home Foundation in Coventry Township…

The 70-year-old Ciccolini, who also had been fined $350,000 and received one day in custody, is to appear before Gwin, July 19, to be resentenced…

At the time of the sentencing, Gwin set aside a plea agreement worked out with federal prosecutors that called for the priest to spend 18 to 24 months in prison. Instead, the judge said, he thought it would be more painful for Ciccolini, who had amassed a personal fortune of $5.5 million, to pay millions than to spend time in prison.

Both Ciccolini and the U.S. Attorney’s Office appealed. Ciccolini was upset with the restitution order; prosecutors were irked he got only one day in custody.

So, a cranky judge who apparently wasn’t involved in the plea bargain screwed up the whole deal. Meanwhile, this creep priest stands a little better chance of keeping more of the money he stole.

The least they can do at the re-sentencing is throw away the key.

Stanford convicted of defrauding investors of $7 billion

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Not exactly his usual chauffeur

The jury of eight men and four women yesterday convicted R. Allen Stanford on 13 of 14 charges including four wire fraud counts and five mail fraud counts carrying maximum penalties of 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been set…

The founder of Houston-based Stanford Financial Group denied federal government allegations he’d lied to investors about the nature and oversight of the certificates of deposit issued by the bank and sold in U.S. by his securities firm, Stanford Group Co.

Once ranked 205 on Forbes magazine’s 2008 list of the richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, Stanford has been jailed as a flight risk since being indicted in June 2009.

The forfeiture trial, which continues today, began about 2 1/2 hours after the jury rendered its verdict. Prosecutors want the panel to decide how much money Stanford must give up now that they’ve said he is guilty.

The funds, now on deposit in the U.K., Switzerland, Canada and Antigua, belong to Stanford bank depositors, Justice Department lawyer Andrew Warren told the jury at the outset of the second proceeding yesterday. “It includes the SocGen slush fund about which you’ve heard a lot about already,” Warren said, referring to money at a Swiss unit of Paris-based Societe Generale SA. “Every single dollar the U.S. is seeking is CD depositors’ money that stems from Mr. Stanford’s crimes and belongs to the victims of his fraud…”

The forfeiture phase is as important as the conviction,” said former Stanford prosecutor Paul Pelletier, who is now in private practice…“Fifty percent of a prosecutor’s job is to obtain the conviction,” he said. “The other 50 percent is to recover for the victims, and forfeiture goes a long way towards that goal.”

Funds recovered through this process will be returned to Stanford fraud victims. “It’s an absolute given,” Pelletier said. “Not a dime of this money goes to the U.S. treasury…”

Stanford was declared indigent and given a taxpayer- financed defense because all of his assets were frozen by court order in February 2009 when he was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission…

The U.S. judge in Dallas overseeing that case appointed a receiver to marshal and liquidate Stanford’s holdings to repay investors. While Stanford waited in jail for his criminal trial to begin, the receiver sold his businesses, boats, six airplanes and stakes in a boutique hotel and golf course.

Stanford also lost the honorary knighthood given to him by the Antiguan government for his economic development efforts there. Antigua’s parliament stripped him of the title in November 2009.

Unlike his peers at Enron, Stanford assets may actually land in reduced quantities [of course] in the accounts of his victims.

The interconnected nature of politicians and pimps like Stanford never seems to end – and isn’t touched in the least by Congress or the Supreme Court. Lehman Brothers paper shuffle hustle, Enron’s scams and thefts, Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme were all aided by one or another politician. Whether it was the Parliament of the nation of Antiqua which awarded Stanford a knighthood for good works – or Phil Gramm of Texas removing oversight from Enron while his wife was on the Board of Directors, the country club collusion continues same as it ever was.

Though it is heartwarming to see one of these crooks sent away. It certainly wasn’t common in the days of Bush and Cheney – was it?

Evangelical minister/herbal doctor convicted of fraud

A San Fernando Valley doctor and evangelical minister who federal prosecutors said used bogus herbal medications to offer false hope to dozens of people suffering from diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s was found guilty of nearly a dozen federal charges.

Twenty-eight victims or family members of victims who died while taking the products testified against Christine Daniel, 57, who was found guilty Tuesday on four counts of mail and wire fraud, six counts of tax evasion related to income tax filings as well as one count of witness tampering…

Federal prosecutors successfully argued that Daniel leveraged her position of trust among evangelical Christians and through a program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network to push the phony treatments, which were marketed under the names C-Extract, “the natural treatment” and “the herbal treatment.”

Some of the medications, prosecutors said, contained nothing more exotic than sunscreen preservatives and beef extract…

These are some of the most vulnerable victims in society. Most of these victims were dying, most of them were terminal cancer patients. Most of them only had been given a few months to live. Some had small children,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Johns said.

Daniel “stepped into the breach and took everything they had, including their time. Instead of spending their final days with their families, they spent it some flea-ridden motel drinking her foul treatment,” Johns said.

Preying upon the terminally-ill, taking every last penny from someone desperate to live, desperate enough to reach out beyond the limits of proven treatment – is about as despicable as a criminal can be.

Throw away the key!