I’ve written so many articles about the neglect/abuse of our mentally ill. That neglect/abuse costs YOU – your tax money – about $444 BILLION every year!
Without follow up reports of tests’ effectiveness, this will remain a huge problem.
Excerpts from the Article:
Courts are not properly screening out unreliable psychological and IQ tests, allowing junk science to be used as evidence, researchers have concluded. Such tests can sway judges or juries and influence whether someone gets custody of a child or is eligible for bail or capital punishment.
The scientists looked at hundreds of different psychological tests used in recent court cases and found that a third of those exams weren’t reviewed in the field’s most prominent manuals. Of those that were reviewed, just 40% were graded favorably. Nearly a quarter were deemed unreliable. “There’s huge variability in the psychological tools now being admitted in U.S. courts,” said Tess Neal, an Arizona State University psychology professor and co-author of the study published Saturday in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
“There’s a lot of stuff that looks like it’s junk and should be filtered out by the courts, but it’s not being filtered out,” said Neal.
Legal challenges to the validity of psychological tests occurred in less than 3% of cases, the researchers found. “This paper is highly significant, in part because many people’s fates are determined by these tests,” said Dan Simon, an expert on law and psychology at the University of Southern California Law School, who was not involved in the research.
In 2009, the National Research Council released an extensive report on courtroom science that found that “testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people.” The critique prompted calls for reform, and only partial progress has been made, said Simon. Courts are supposed to sift out the junk science from the good science, as laid out in the federal rules of evidence” — a set of national guidelines that require that “testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods.” “But that’s not happening,” said Simon.
The new study examined 876 court cases in the U.S. between 2016 and 2018, and found the most commonly used psychological test was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which has generally positive reviews in the professional literature. The second most common was the Rorschach test — sometimes colloquially called the inkblot test. While the test, first developed in 1921, has its defenders, some scientists regard it as dangerously ambiguous and subjective.
Robert MacCoun, a professor of law and psychology at Stanford University who was not involved in the study, said that he’s received unsolicited catalogs advertising new psychological tests from vendors for many years. Those brochures used to include data about test effectiveness, but “by the end of the 1990s those numbers had disappeared.”
Lawyers and judges, who are not experts in testing methods, must rely on the expertise of psychologists to perform due diligence on tests they present as evidence, said Harvey Fishbein, a criminal defense attorney in Manhattan who was not involved in the study. “If psychologists are not willing to regulate their own field, it’s a real problem.”
The Whole Story:
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission – A Huge Problem Largely Ignored – 2/17/20
Our courts are not properly screening out unreliable psychological and IQ tests, allowing junk science to be used as evidence in all sorts of situations. Such tests are used every day in America to determine whether someone gets custody of a child or is eligible for bail or capital punishment. In short, many people’s fates are determined by these tests, and these tests can sway judges and juries in criminal courts and in Family Court.
The major problem is that a lot of these tests are “junk science”, and testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses has contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people. Here is an excellent NYT report of the problem: Courtroom Psychology Tests May Be Unreliable, Study Finds = https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/02/16/science/ap-us-sci-psychology-tests.html
I’ve written so many articles about the neglect/abuse of our mentally ill. That neglect/abuse costs YOU – your tax money – about $444 BILLION every year! Follow-up reports of psychological tests’ effectiveness could greatly reduce such waste. Without them, this will remain a huge problem.
I call upon the Chief Justice in every state, and the U S Chief Justice – the head court administrator in every state – to contact organizations like the American Psychological Association and similar groups, urging them to perform due diligence on tests they present as evidence, and determine which truly are reliable!
Ken Abraham, Former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
Every now and then someone online says I was disbarred, and that simply is not true. Although I did lose everything to cocaine in 2006, and might have been disbarred (although my criminal conduct – stealing money to buy more poison – had nothing to do with practicing law), the fact is that I RESIGNED from the Delaware Bar before that.
Having no desire to practice law, and having already seen oodles of ignorant, arrogant lawyers [I have seen hundreds since then!], I resigned from the Bar in 2005. Another main reason was so that I could be free to exercise my free speech to call lawyers and/or judges total idiots when warranted. You can’t do that as a member of the Bar; they’ll haul you in for “disrespect”. I dare say that if some lawyers were not so constrained, they would say the same things I do! … they say them to me privately now.
Not long ago I got a letter from the Delaware ODC (“Office of Disciplinary Counsel”) dismissing a complaint against me “with a warning”. They had gotten a bogus complaint, full of false information. They wrote to me and I responded. They had no valid complaint, so it was dismissed. However, one Patricia Schwartz of the ODC sent to several judges a copy of the letter she sent to me. Her letter states that I resigned from the bar and insinuated that I would have been disbarred, and that was why I resigned. Nonsense on two counts: 1) you cannot resign from the Bar to avoid sanction or discipline, and 2) I resigned due to my utter disgust with lawyers and Bar Associations!
I have NO respect for plenty of lawyers, judges, and for the ODC. The fact is, as I tell people regularly, you can send the ODC a written, detailed complaint about what some lawyer did or did not to, clearly wrong, and you will get a form letter saying “We find no merit to your complaint.” I saw it scores of times!
I know what I am allowed and not allowed to do as a lay person, as I was, for three years (Governor Castle asked me to serve) a member of the very committee charged with disciplining bad lawyers. I do not give legal advice or practice law, and I shall keep doing what I do.
Plenty of judges and other “high muckety mucks” do not like what I say, because I criticize them, the system, and other public officials who need to be criticized – their “buddies”.
The letter which Ms. Schwartz sent would be good grounds for investigation by The Truth Police! READ http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/great-idea-8230-the-united-states-truth-police-updated-christmas-day-2019-letter-to-editor-kra/
Indeed, if I had the money, I would hire David Finger, or some other illustrious First Amendment lawyer and sue Ms. Schwartz and the ODC “quick, fast, and in a hurry” for malicious libel!
Any questions, call me at 302-423-4067.
Carpe Diem! I remain free to say things like “That fucking judge doesn’t deserve to be called “Honorable”! And the ODC sure won’t shut me up!
To U S Attorney Erin Nealy Cox we all should say:
Excerpts from the Article:
Sixty-four white supremacists have been sentenced to a combined total of 820 years’ imprisonment in what is believed to be the largest collective prosecution of white supremacists in the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.
On Thursday, Garry Cody Jones, 51, was sentenced to over 11 years in prison for his role in a drug dealing scheme, marking the 64th and final hearing in the second round of sentencing for a series of kidnapping and drug-related conspiracies involving hate groups.
“Not only do white supremacist gangs endorse repugnant ideologies, they also facilitate a violent drug and gun trade, putting our citizens in grave danger,” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a press release. “We were alarmed – but not necessarily surprised – at the quantities of drugs and firearms recovered during this investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to dismantle these organizations, disrupt their criminal activities, and put their members behind bars.“
Other defendants were charged with offenses ranging from threats to violent assaults. In one instance, a suspected neo-Nazi had “attempted to run over officers during his arrest.” The prosecutions were announced by Cox’s office in May 2018 in a singular effort to pursue cases against dozens of suspected white supremacist gang members and their affiliates. The defendants were accused of belong to organizations such as the Aryan Brotherhood and Dirty White Boys, among others.
According to federal prosecutors, the defendants routinely distributed methamphetamine and other narcotics, occasionally using firearms to safeguard their dealings, which is also a crime. Overall, the defendants trafficked more than 1,600 kilograms of methamphetamine, 59 firearms and other drugs including cocaine and heroin over a three-year period beginning in 2015, the Justice Department said.
The defendants also had a combined 587 convictions for prior crimes before their prosecutions in this case.
White supremacy and related forms of hate have become a pronounced public policy concern over the last several years. According to Uniform Crime Reporting statistics published annually by the FBI, 2018 saw the number of hate crimes rise to its highest level in 16 years. The majority of hate crimes in America are perpetrated based on racial animus. Of those incidents, almost half are directed towards African Americans.
In recognition of the growing tide of white supremacy, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress in early February that his agency believes racially motivated extremist groups pose a risk to the public that is “on the same footing” as the risk posed by foreign actors such as ISIS.
MORE of your hard-earned money wasted by entirely preventable, unspeakably horrible, prison abuse!
“Medical personnel never examined her fully and several hours later, she delivered her twin daughter into the prison toilet, the lawsuit said. Guards still didn’t come to help, and fellow inmates took Johnson in a wheelchair to the medical station, where she delivered her second child, a healthy son. An autopsy determined Johnson’s daughter could have survived with immediate help. The Corrections Department did not admit any fault. The agency also did not comment on the settlement.“
Excerpts from the Article:
A former inmate whose newborn died in a prison toilet in South Carolina will receive more than $1 million from the state and two medical companies.
Sinetra Johnson will get $750,000 from the state Department of Corrections and $200,000 each from Medustrial and MedFirst which provide health care in prisons, according to a court order obtained by The State newspaper.
Johnson found out she was pregnant two days before she was sentenced to more than two years in prison for violating her parole in 2012, the newspaper reported in a previous story. Johnson went into labor 26 weeks into her pregnancy at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution where inmates with specialized medical needs are kept, according to her lawsuit.
Medical personnel never examined her fully and several hours later, she delivered her twin daughter into the prison toilet, the lawsuit said.
Guards still didn’t come to help, and fellow inmates took Johnson in a wheelchair to the medical station, where she delivered her second child, a healthy son.
An autopsy determined Johnson’s daughter could have survived with immediate help. The Corrections Department did not admit any fault. The agency also did not comment on the settlement.
GEO GROUP ‘LED REPORTERS’ ON WILD-GOOSE CHASE THAT RESULTED IN MISLEADING REPORT – No Surprise to Me! – kra
GEO Group is America’s second largest private prison company … and, save for the “war on drugs”, private prisons are the worst thing to happen to criminal justice! The prison officials lie like hell, to conceal all of their abuses and wrongdoing.
Excerpts from the Article:
Joshua Thamarus, 42, was at the center of a report many mistook as a solid link to a neo-Nazi organization, Stormfront. As we previously reported, the guard was made between the two Facebook accounts, where the sergeant was the lone friend of the alias known as ‘Chris McCallaster’ from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
“On Jan. 5, 2020, a story was posted on yc.news regarding an alleged link between Sgt. Joshua Thamarus of George W. Hill Correctional Facility and a neo-Nazi organization, Stormfront. Upon further review, we discovered The GEO Group led our team of investigative reporters on a wild-goose chase, perhaps to turn blame on the hardworking men and women who also suffer under the for-profit private prison corporation: but we intend to right any wrong,” Anthony Loro, Senior Executive Editor of yc.news’ parent company, Original Media Group Corporation said in a statement Wednesday. “The presence of Stormfront in Delaware County is very real and will remain a topic our reporters will rigorously continue covering.”
Reporters initially reached out to The GEO Group on Dec. 31, 2019, regarding the investigative report into the prison and an alarming discovery that allegedly linked a sergeant to a Facebook page in which he remained the first and lone friend of until the report surfaced on yc.news.
The GEO Group was given the opportunity to verify critical information that would’ve debunked the story, but provided little to no information “except misleading material that led us [yc.news] to pursue a story that was catered to GEO’s liking.”
“Though we pursued every possible avenue to confirm or deny the reporting, it is evident Sgt. Thamarus is not involved in the organization Stormfront, though he was linked to an account showcasing the material,” the statement continued. “The minimal information provided to us from GEO was a failed effort to save face in the midst of a stock plummet. It misled our reporters on a path that was wrong and we will take necessary steps to ensure GEO is held accountable for their actions.”
Thamarus, 42, is described as an outgoing man who helps raise money for various charity organizations. “What that article depicted him to be is the complete opposite of who he is,” a friend of Thamarus told yc.news. “He is the type of Sergeant who would put his life on the line for another human being without any regard for his own life – inmate or staff, a life in general.” “We extended a rare opportunity by allowing The GEO Group to have over seven days to look into the material and they turned a blind eye,” Senior Executive Editor Anthony Loro released in a statement. “In turn, a horrendous picture was painted of a man who is described as ‘one of the good guys’ we are honored to have serving the County of Delaware.”
“The GEO Group must end it’s decade-long secrecy-pact and start providing media outlets with the information it requires to ensure reports are accurate.“
A source close to the situation previously told yc.news: “GEO knows they have a problem. There’s a lot of secrecy around George W. Hill Correctional Facility and they play by their own rules,” a source close to the situation said. “Who knows what they’re hiding.”
The last two weeks have witnessed a series of troubling allegations from George W. Hill Correctional Facility inmates and former staff who long held their tongues for fear of retribution of their career, or retaliation. Among those revelations:
>> Guards were caught on a video obtained exlusively by yc.news, showcasing them in good spirits: dancing, snapchatting and texting as The GEO Group spirals out of control.
>> Prison officials allegedly mixed male & female inmates due to overcrowding. Now, a female inmate claims she was sexually assaulted.
>> Authorities close to the investigation claim the drugs on the catastrophic Christmas were brought in by an inmate’s 16-year-old son, who’s mother allegedly confessed.
>> Inmates, loved-ones, former and current guards reached out to yc.news to detail the horrific incidents which transpired over the holiday.
>> 27-year-old Fatima Musa died following the mass-overdose on Christmas at the scandal-scarred prison. She was there for a summary offense-turned probation violation.
>> The ‘Jailhouse of Horrors’ was brought to light after a mass-overdose on Christmas where at least two people died and eight others hospitalized following a fentanyl overdose at George W. Hill Correctional Facility.
Delaware GOP says Democratic Sen. Bryan Townsend should resign over Rush Limbaugh meme – And my Letter to Editor – kra
As head of the Delaware Republicans, M. Jane Brady, is entitled to her opinions, however wrong the may consistently be.
Excerpts from the Article:
The head of the Delaware Republican Party says a Democratic state senator should resign after the lawmaker posted a meme on social media likening conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh to a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
“As a member of the Senate, he’s demeaned the entire body of the state Senate,” said Delaware GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady. “What he did is offensive. … I’ve already heard some people calling for his resignation.” She’s referring to a meme that Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, posted on Twitter on Saturday.
It was a cartoon of several hooded figures in white cloaks, presumably made to look like members of the KKK. One of the figures appears to be wearing a medal, similar to the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh during the State of the Union speech last week. Shortly before receiving the medial, Limbaugh had revealed he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
The meme reads: “Find Rush Limbaugh.” “Whoever finds him gets a medal,” Townsend wrote in the post.
Townsend was one of numerous people who shared the meme last week.
Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, was one of several to like and retweet Townsend’s tweet. In response to Brady’s call for resignation, Townsend wrote in a statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal: “Hate speech and criticism of hate speech are not the same thing. I retweeted a cartoon depicting someone with a long public history of hateful, divisive remarks standing as part of a group known for hateful, divisive conduct. I’ll own that decision; I wish Mr. Limbaugh and his family the best as he begins his fight against cancer.”
Brady called Townsend’s actions “disgusting” and “offensive.”
“The Senate should take action,” she said. “He needs to be held accountable for it by the leadership of the Democrat Party as we have acted to hold the people in our party accountable when they fail to remain appropriate in their comments. What he has done is as bad or worse than anything that the two members of the Republican Party did when those situations were addressed by us.”
She’s referring to two former Delaware Republican Party leaders — Nelly Jordan, the former Sussex GOP vice chairwoman, and Chris Rowe, the former New Castle County GOP chairman — who were ousted last month after posting separate comments on Facebook that Brady, at the time, deemed “homophobic” and “anti-Semitic.”
Townsend is the Senate majority whip, making him one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the 21-person chamber.
The Democratic Party is standing behind Townsend, according to a Facebook post by Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm.
“Mr. Limbaugh has a long and sordid history of racism, and that President Trump saw fit to honor him with the nation’s highest civilian honor is the offensive part of this story,” said Raser-Schramm in an emailed statement to Delaware OnlineThe News Journal on Tuesday. “That Mr. Limbaugh is facing a grave cancer diagnosis is the sad part. We offer our thoughts and prayers.”
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission/Commentary – Give him a Medal! – 2/14/20
As head of the Delaware Republicans, M. Jane Brady is entitled to her opinions, however wrong they may consistently be. She has called for the state Senate to take action concerning the posting by Senator Brian Townsend after the lawmaker posted a meme on social media likening conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh to a member of the Ku Klux Klan. They should indeed take action; they should give him an award!
It is a well-known fact that Mr. Limbaugh is a racist, and Senator Townsend and others should be commended for calling him out on it. We must fight racism wherever it raises its ugly head, especially when disguised as patriotism.
The presentation to Mr. Limbaugh of the Congressional Medal of Freedom , our nation’s highest honor bestowed on a civilian, by Mr. Trump, may have tarnished that award forever. It certainly was an embarrassment for America. M. Jane Brady would be well advised to adhere to the beliefs of most Americans, and not blindly follow and defend despicable speech and actions of her party’s national leaders!
Our State Legislature should create an “Honorable Outspoken Citizen Award”, to be presented to one person annually, and Senator Townsend should be its first recipient!
Ken Abraham, former prosecutor, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover. DE 302-423-4067
Study: Medical Cannabis Access Associated with Fewer Workers’ Comp Claims – Another good reason to legalize! – kra
Read this and then open the Study to learn of lower absenteeism and other workplace benefits where Pot is legal!
Excerpts from the Article:
The enactment of state-specific medical cannabis access laws is associated with a decline in workers’ compensation claims, according to data published in the journal Health Economics.
A team of researchers affiliated with Temple University in Pennsylvania and the University of Cincinnati in Ohio assessed the relationship between medical marijuana legalization laws and workers’ compensation claims over a 23-year period.
Authors reported that legal cannabis access was associated with a nearly seven percent decline in workers’ compensation claims. “Post MML, workers’ compensation claiming declines, both the propensity to claim and the level of income from workers’ comp,” authors determined. “These findings suggest that medical marijuana can allow workers to better manage symptoms associated with workplace injuries and illnesses and, in turn, reduce need for workers’ compensation.”
They concluded: “Our findings add to the small, but growing, literature on the effects of MMLs on labor market outcomes. On net, the available findings suggest that MML passage may increase work capacity among older adults, reduce work absences, improve workplace safety, and reduce WC (workers’ compensation) claiming and the pain and suffering associated with workplace injuries.”
Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana and workers’ compensation claiming,” appears in Health Economics. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace,”.
Texas Harasses, Denies Compensation to Wrongly Convicted – The case of the Dipshit A G and the Dipshit Comptroller Susan Combs – kra
Fortunately, other Texas officials remedied the efforts by the A G and the Comptroller to thwart the intent of the law. Those laws were enacted to inject some fairness into the system, which should be everyone’s goal. You KNOW I am emailing a copy of this article to both Dipshits involved. 🙂
Excerpts from the Article:
Texas has a generous compensation package for prisoners who are exonerated, which includes $80,000 per year of wrongful incarceration, an annuity with annual payments in the same amount, free college tuition and free medical care. [See: PLN, July 2009, p.12].
However, some state officials are stingy with granting compensation and others have harassed wrongly convicted former prisoners for back child support.
Anthony Graves served 18 years for capital murder, including 12 on death row. He was released in October 2010 after prosecutors determined that he was innocent and had been unfairly targeted and convicted. However, because the court order that granted his freedom did not contain the words “released due to actual innocence,” Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs said Graves didn’t qualify for compensation, forcing him to sue the Attorney General’s office (AG) for a declaration of innocence.
The AG, while acknowledging that Graves’ case was “truly troubling and deeply compelling,” said the law didn’t allow for such a declaration. But the law did allow the AG to seek more than $4,000 in back child support from Graves – child support that accrued while he was wrongly incarcerated. The AG’s office began sending Graves monthly bills demanding payment.
Graves is not the only exoneree suffering from Comb’s strict interpretation of Texas’ compensation law. Ronald Taylor spent over 14 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. When he applied for compensation, Combs discounted all but three months of his prison time because he had been on parole when he was arrested for the rape, and the sentence for which he was on parole expired just three months before he was released. Of course, his parole would not have been violated but for his wrongful conviction. Instead of the $1.14 million cash compensation and annuity that Taylor expected to receive, Combs offered him $20,000. He declined.
“I really felt insulted when I went to prison for rape. That’s probably the worst crime you could get convicted of,” said Taylor. “But to offer me $20,000 to rebuild my life, man? Yeah, that’s an insult, too. It really is.”
For similar reasons, Combs cut $66,000 from the compensation payment for Billy James Smith, who spent 20 years in prison after being wrongly convicted, and reduced by almost $145,000 the compensation for Gregory Wallis, who served 18 years for burglary with the intent to commit sexual assault before being exonerated by DNA evidence. Both had been on parole at the time they were arrested and wrongly convicted.
Another exoneree, Clarence Brandley, 59, spent 10 years on death row in Texas for a murder he didn’t commit. The judge who presided over his habeas corpus hearing said that in 30 years on the bench, “no case has presented a more shocking scenario of the effect of racial prejudice, perjured testimony, witness intimidation and an investigation the out-come of which has been predetermined.” Brandley’s release from prison predated the state’s compensation law, so he sued for compensation and to halt child support payments – and lost.
Twenty-one years after his exoneration and release from prison, Brandley still receives monthly bills from the AG for back child support. His children are now 35 and 39 years old. A recent bill sought payment of $260 on a balance of over $12,600. Brandley can’t pay because he lost his job during the economic downturn. Since then he has also lost his car and housing, forcing him to stay with relatives.
Brandley said he would not have fallen behind on his child support payments had the state not wrongly imprisoned him. What does he do with the monthly bills? “I just tear them up,” he said.
Taylor, Smith and Wallis appealed directly to the Texas Supreme Court through petitions for a writ of mandamus. Complicating the state’s position was the fact that compensation had already been granted to a man whose probation was revoked when he was prosecuted in the infamous 1999 Tulia drug sweep that resulted in hundreds of false arrests and convictions. [See: PLN, March 2003, p.24; Nov. 2005, p.21].
The state argued that probation and parole were different, but the Texas Supreme Court entered a ruling in favor of Smith on March 4, 2011, stating that freedom on parole was still freedom, and the Comptroller should compensate Smith at the full rate because he would have remained out on parole were it not for the wrongful conviction. “[The] restriction [on compensation] does not apply when the wrongful conviction is the cause of the person serving a concurrent sentence in prison,” the Court wrote.
Smith was granted compensation in the amount of $1,593,000. As a result of the ruling, Taylor and Wallis will receive their full compensation payments, too. See: In re Smith, 333 S.W.3d 582 (Tex. 2011).
Separately, Graves obtained relief after the Texas legislature passed a bill (HB 417) to compensate him for his wrongful imprisonment regardless of the wording in the court order granting his release. Governor Rick Perry signed the legislation into law in June 2011, which will provide Graves with a $1.4 million payment.
Brandley’s request for compensation was denied by the Comptroller’s office in May 2011 on the grounds that it did “not meet the requirements set in state law.” Despite being exonerated, the court order granting Brandley’s release did not say he was being freed “on the basis of actual innocence”; also, he had filed for compensation beyond the three-year statutory time period in which to do so.
As for the Texas AG’s office dunning exonerees for back child support payments, a law enacted in 2007 makes the state responsible for child support for persons who are wrongly convicted and incarcerated. Apparently, however, that statute is not being applied retroactively.
She should get five years. The corruption of public officials is the worst!
Excerpts from the Article:
Federal prosecutors laid out an array of new details from their investigation into former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh in documents filed Thursday, as they argued she should receive nearly five years in prison for conspiracy and tax evasion.
The blistering, 37-page sentencing memorandum, accompanied by financial records and copies of checks, for the first time pinpointed the number of “Healthy Holly” children’s books Pugh sold — and resold. It outlined her efforts to conceal her dealings, including lying to FBI agents who came to her house to seize her cellphone.
It also raised further questions regarding the roles of city Comptroller Joan Pratt, who co-owned a business with Pugh that prosecutors say was used to launder an illegal campaign contribution and which filed a false tax return, and of a major city contractor who wrote out a check to that business in addition to buying Pugh’s books.
“The chronology of events since 2011, comprising Pugh’s seven-year scheme to defraud, multiple years of tax evasion, election fraud, and attempted cover-ups, including brazen lies to the public, clearly establishes the deliberateness with which she pursued financial and political gain without a second thought about how it was harming the public’s trust,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martin J. Clarke and Leo J. Wise.
“It was not rash behavior. Rather, it was a recurring pattern of well-executed steps that built on each other, becoming more audacious and complex leading up to the mayoral election.”
Pugh, 69, was elected mayor in 2016. The Democrat resigned in May after federal agents raided her City Hall office and her houses. She reached a plea agreement in November with prosecutors and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow in Baltimore.
With the assistance of longtime legislative aide Gary Brown, prosecutors wrote, Pugh “methodically expanded her illegal scheme and managed to conceal it from state and federal authorities and, most important, the citizens she served.”
When Brown was charged in an earlier case with campaign finance violations, prosecutors said in the new memo, she hired an attorney for him and lied in public statements about what she knew about his charges. Brown pleaded guilty in 2017 in state court to funneling campaign donations to Pugh through relatives. Brown pleaded guilty in the latest case to fraud, conspiracy and tax charges. His attorney, Barry J. Pollack, said Thursday: “We are confident that the court will treat everyone involved fairly and will take great care in determining an appropriate sentence.”
The statement of facts accompanying Pugh’s plea in November described how Pugh defrauded businesses and nonprofit organizations out of nearly $800,000.
Prosecutors said Thursday that Pugh’s “personal inventory” of “Healthy Holly” books never exceeded 8,216 copies. But through a “three-dimensional” scheme, they say, she was able to resell 132,116 copies for a total of $859,960. She gave another 34,846 copies away. “Corporate book purchasers with an interest in obtaining or maintaining a government contract represented 93.6% of all ‘Healthy Holly’ books or $805,000,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also noted Pugh did not disclose her financial interests while in the state Senate before becoming mayor, as required by Maryland law. After The Baltimore Sun reported in March that Pugh did not disclose her $500,000 business relationship with the University of Maryland Medical System while on its volunteer board, she amended seven years of reports to the state ethics commission.
The document outlines how Pugh illegally solicited a campaign contribution from city contractor J.P. Grant, which prosecutors said was “laundered” through the consignment shop Pugh owned with Pratt, a fellow Democrat. Prosecutors said Grant wrote out a $20,000 check to Pugh, which he had his wife sign in the hope that doing so would draw less attention than signing it himself, and Pugh deposited it into the shop’s bank account.
Pugh used the money to make illegal “straw donations” to her campaign, and used the balance to cover the 2 Chic Boutique’s expenses, prosecutors say. In turn, authorities say, 2 Chic filed a false 2016 tax return that made no mention of receiving such funds. “The deposit was by far the largest in the small company’s history, and the company would have only survived a few more months without the benefit of that deposit,” prosecutors said. “In short, Pugh and her partners reported the expenses paid with the $20,000 deposit because it lowered their tax liability, but chose not to report the receipt of the $20,000 because it would have increased their tax liability.”
Included in the sentencing memorandum is a scene from an April raid on Pugh’s home. FBI agents came to seize, among other items, her personal cellphone. Prosecutors say Pugh handed over a red, city-issued iPhone, but investigators said they wanted her personal phone, a Samsung. She told them she had left it with her sister in Philadelphia. An agent then called the Samsung phone.
“Almost immediately, the agents heard a vibrating noise emanating from her bed. Pugh became emotional, went to the bed and began frantically searching through the blankets at the head of the bed. As she did so, agents (started) yelling for her to stop and show her hands,” prosecutors wrote. Pugh had grabbed the phone from underneath her pillow, and the agents took it from her. “Pugh’s lie and futile attempt to silence the phone to prevent its seizure is indicative of her lack of respect for the law and, more broadly, her past efforts to hide longstanding criminal misconduct,” prosecutors wrote.
20 Years Sees No Improvement in California Prison’s Mental Health Care; Suicide Results in $1.5 Million Settlement – Wake Up, Folks! – kra
And unless folks like YOU complain about this absurd waste of YOU tax dollars, it will be the same in another 20 years! Here is HOW TO DO IT: Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
Folks, you think about how you spend your money, except when it comes to taxes. Whatever state you live in, you are wasting hundreds of tax dollars every year due to preventable prison abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
In a wrongful death lawsuit filed by attorney Lori Rifkin on behalf of the family of Erika Rocha, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to pay $1.5 million to Rocha’s sisters, Geraldine and Freida, and her stepmother, Linda Reza.
The complaint claimed that Rocha’s death was “foreseeable and preventable” had the California Institute for Women (CIW) corrected deficiencies in mental health services already found in violation of the Constitution in a class-action case filed decades earlier.
Rocha was seven when her mother passed away, with her father still in prison. The wrongful death suit claimed that a long pattern of sexual and physical abuse began as Rocha was moved among extended family until the Department of Child Protective Services removed her from her grandfather’s home for acts of neglect and cruelty. At 14, she was placed in the International Home for Girls.
Her caseworker was trying to move her to her father’s friend and stepsisters’ mother, Reza, where she was adapting well. Yet before that could be accomplished, Rocha was arrested on February 12, 1996 for shooting the operator of the group home. She pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 19 years. The CDCR was fully aware of Rocha’s mental illness when she first entered custody; she had experienced auditory hallucinations and suicidal ideation since she was a child, and attempted suicide at least eight times. She had been diagnosed with drug dependency, psychosis, anxiety, depression and other disorders, which ultimately placed her under psychiatric care at CIW.
CDCR and CIW were already under a court order in Coleman v. Wilson, a 1990 class-action suit to remediate inadequate mental health treatment in California prisons. Special attention was given to CIW, where suicides were more than eight times the national rate for women prisoners and five times the rate at all other state prisons.
Several audits over the next 20 years indicated that CIW was not adequately addressing the deficiencies found by the federal district court. Three years before Rocha’s suicide, the Coleman court issued another order finding CDCR and CIW guilty of ongoing constitutional violations.
During her stay at CIW, Rocha had attempted suicide twice and was admitted to the mental health crisis unit an additional seven times. Prior to her parole hearing scheduled on April 15, 2016, she reported feelings of anxiety and an inability to cope with her upcoming release.
Matthew Pulling, her clinician, recommended a calming Tibetan chant as treatment. She was once again placed in the crisis unit for observation, but was released the next day without any required “step down” protocol. On April 14, 2016, Rocha was found dead in her cell, hanging from a sheet. [See: PLN, July 2017, p.56].
In regard to the $1,501,500 settlement, which was reached in August 2019, Rifkin stated: “This is an acknowledgement that the system completely broke down when it came to providing the care she needed…. [They] had decades of notice that mental health treatment, especially at CIW, was below standard and they chose not to address it.” See: Rocha v. Calif. Dept. of Corr. and Rehab., U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.) Case No. 5:17-cv-00869-GW-FFM.