Ed Okun Denied Freedom: Judge Payne Hammers Defense Attorney’s Explanation

Courtesy Gordon Gecko Wiki

Sensing his fleeting chances at freedom, 1031 Tax Group investment criminal Ed Okun made what looks to be his last feable attempt for release yesterday–he was denied! Okun’s attempt centered around a defense motion for release based on a 3rd party custodian (required terms for his release) a Mr. Alex Carrera. The defense attorney in the case, one of a long line who have come and gone no doubt at either taxpayer’s expense or that of Okun’s victims, originally proposed that Mr. Carrera would be present at the November 5 hearing: Carrera was a no show.

The following is the tip from ever present and well informed Okun victim Elizabeth Callanan. Elizabeth has been a huge source of information and guidance in my 1 1/2 years of coverage on the Ed Okun rip off and eventual prosecution. The following comment will give all involved a much clearer picture of what has just transpired. This comment came in the last 24 hours. Certain passages were highlighted for reader convenience:

“Judge Payne DENIED Okun’s motion for release. The 3rd party custodian (required for Okun’s release) originally proposed in the defense’s motion, an Alex Carrera, was a no-show at the hearing, despite the Defense’s new attorney (a private attorney with an office in Washington, DC, named Barry Pollack — so Okun now has THREE attorneys, including the two from the public defender’s office, at US taxpayer expense!)telling the Judge he’d spoken to Carrera the previous afternoon and had every reason to believe he would be there and couldn’t explain why he wasn’t. Interestingly, his absence could not have been a surprise to Simone Bolani (Okun’s Brazilian bride), since she’d recruited a substitute, Edwin Escobar, the night before the hearing (odd she wouldn’t have shared that information with her husband’s attorney, isn’t it?) who did appear in the courtroom. However, under questioning by the US Attorney, Escobar had to admit that he was apparently guilty of one of the same offenses with which Okun was originally indicted, namely asking Okun to pay him $10,000 he was owed for some reason in increments of less than that to avoid IRS reporting limits! Judge Payne must have thought that wasn’t the most stellar qualification for a third party custodian and denied the motion. He also expressed chagrin that Carrera, described in the defense motion as a “family friend,” had in fact only met Okun once, at Simone’s Feb 2008 birthday party, and had not seen Okun since. He cautioned the defense not to bring any further such motions unless they’d personally interviewed the proposed custodian and assured themselves of the facts being claimed and that they were in fact suitably qualified to serve in that capacity. Thanks to Judge Payne and the US Attorney (Michael Dry), it looks like Okun’s appearance at his criminal trial which begins Jan 19 has been assured.”

Ed Okun or Michael Okun: What’s With The Okun Name And Scandal?

Chicago Sun-Times published this deansguide article September 11, 2008

A New York man, Michael Okun, was recently arrested for bilking a Hillsborough, California woman of $510,000 in a ponzi scheme disguised as an investment vehicle. Okun contacted the victim in 2001 and brought the scheme into full swing according to a San Francisco Chronicle story. Does Ed Okun have a evil twin, lost son, or family member here? Here is why I keep writing about rip offs

What Happened?

1. According to a San Francisco jury indictment, Okun wrote a letter to the victim claiming to have a patent for a search engine and was working on a deal with Microsoft related to developing the technology

2. Okun claimed he was amongst a group of investors “ trying to raise $25 million to secure Microsoft’s participation and persuaded her to wire $260,000 to a New York bank account in the name of Media World Communications,” the indictment said

3. Over the course of the next 2 years Okun recruited a second investor with the idea of paying off the original investor with the new investors initial cash investment: a typical ponzi scheme

Analysis

Although the amounts of money are far below the levels of Ed Okun, is it just coincidence that two men with the same name ran ponzi schemes on investors? The name Okun is not Smith. Is there a connection between the two men? Three things are clear in this case different and similar from the Ed Okun case:

1. Due Diligence: the Hillsborough victim: never performed any due diligence on Michael Okun, search engine technology, or where her money was being sent. The cash was going directly into Okun’s personal bank account just like the money that Ed Okun was stealing went into his personal accounts onshore and maybe offshore

2. “Player”: Google search of the name Michael Okun and nothing comes up on page one today about this con artist. Imagine if the Hillsborough investor had performed a Google search in 2001 and nothing showed up on a search query. That would not be out of the norm for that time period, except for the fact that Michael Okun claimed to be a player. He should have showed up somewhere with a trail of former clients, investment firms, employment history, or something to investigate

3. Denial: everyone wants to believe they are not being ripped off. It is this embarrassment factor, that allows the Michael Okun’s and Ed Okuns of the world to continue their schemes. It is also the reason a person loses more than the initial investment

Newsflash: Denver “Okun Victims” Sue Former IXG Founders

IBS affiliate WX1112.com Greensboro Winston-Salem, NC published this deansguide article June 21, 2008

The plot continues to thicken as swindled investors scramble to recover what few pennies exist from their embezzled 1031 exchange funds, many representing investor life savings, in the fallen Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group “Ponzi” scheme.

A concerned “citizen” sent the following link to a June 20, 2008 Denver Business Journal storyEx-clients sue IXG founders in 1031 Tax Group Bankruptcy.” According to writer Renee McGaw ex-Okun employees Daniel and Shirley McCabe are the subjects of the lawsuit and controversy.

The McCabes were the original owners of the Investment Exchange Group (IXG) in Denver until Okun purchased the business in August of 2006 through his 1031 Tax Group business.

In the Denver Business Journal article Jeffrey Cohen, attorney for Denver based victims of the McCabes and Okun, stated:

We believe that the McCabes misused and mishandled funds that were under their control”

Main Source

http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2008/06/23/story3.html

Does Corleone, Sicily, Research, and Ed Okun Have Anything In Common?

None of the three entities in my title have anything to do with each other. . . then again maybe they do? Is it possible that crooks research other crooks to learn new scams, methods, or pitfalls to avoid? Former convicts often say that prison is like college for crooks.

Has the internet become a free man’s encyclopedia to crime?

The following is an interesting visit to deansguide. Although it is impossible to label every citizen of a particular region, city, or country sinister. It is certainly entertaining to see the little visit that popped up today–and the subject of that visit:

corleone-italy-checking-up.jpg

What did my Corleone friend read? “Is This Where the 1031 Tax Group Victim’s Monies Disappeared?”

This article shows the “toys” in this case and what may have been the first hope that investors might recoup lost monies from the sale of Okun’s toys.

Like they say in real estate location, location, location. Whether Corleone or Palermo, the site of another reader on the Okun case today, as an Italian you always pay attention.

Ed Okun Denied Bond: Is the Man Behind the 1031 Tax Scandal Tapped Out?

Is Ed Okun flat broke? Has every last asset been seized by authorities in an attempt to pay back victims of the 1031 Tax Group rip off? My mystery caller made a surprise appearance today and raised some questions in my mind. Of course nothing can be completely verified but speculation can lead you to your own personal conclusions. The questions I am pondering:

1. If Mr. Okun was denied bond and is in jail in Miami is this a permanent fact due to the nature of Mr. Okun’s crimes or is there more behind this decision?

2. If Mr. Okun is not granted bond does this indicate that the government suspects that he has hidden monies or assets?

3. Could Mr. Okun’s citizenship be at stake?

4. Rumor has it that his attorney(s) in Virginia have bailed out. Is that an indication that Mr. Okun is indeed flat broke?

5. If Mr. Okun’s attorney(s) in Virginia do want out, does his Miami Attorney have plans to leave the case as well?

6. Why has mainstream media become disinterested in this case? Is $160,000,000 and hundreds of lives irrevocably altered not sexy enough for CNN and other major players?

7. Why is Obama and Hillary constantly campaigning for votes with the tired and controversial mortgage bailout WITHOUT addressing enforcement of unregulated investment vehicles like the 1031 exchange industry?

Where does all this leave the victims in this case? Waiting and hoping that more assets can be unearthed, liquidated, and made available to restitution funds.

“Hiding in Plain Sight” Spitzer and Okun: Did They Want To Get Caught?

Reuters.com published this article on March 25, 2008: “US News”

Reuters.com published this article on March 25, 2008: “Business and Finance” 

FoxBusiness.com published this article on March 25, 2008

Did Eliot Spitzer and Ed Okun want to get caught by the authorities? Spitzer held his career killing federal endictment insighting activities in Washington D.C.. The worst place to keep a political secret on the planet is Washington D.C..

In the same light, Ed Okun’s undoing may have come primarily due to a ill advised moment of weakness that foreshadowed the man’s apparent disregard for taking chances regardless of circumstances. Of the 3 charges Okun faces, the money laundering charge may be the most difficult to fathom–and the most embarrassing.

According to a federal indictment, Okun instructed employees to “smuggle” $15,000 in cash via courier, to his yacht in the Bahamas, in order to avoid federal currency reporting requirements. Costar.com’s Mark Heschmeyer provided a quote from the indictment that illustrates just how blatant and careless Okun had become:

“[C]ould you fed ex $15,000 cash (large bills and pad the package with paper on both sides so it looks like a thick document, you may want to put it in several envelopes so they can’t tell what it is) to me here in nassau people don’t like credit cards here. I would suggest cashing two checks one for 5,200 and one for 9,800 so you stay under the 10,000 cash reporting with the irs or better yet take someone else with you, you cash one and they cash the other. I need it sent priority next day to: Atlantis Marina, Paradise Island, Nassau Bahamas, C/O motor Yacht Simone slip #4041, Telephone number 954-328-1481. Thanks, Ed.”

Just for the record, the excerpt within the above comment, “. . . I would suggest cashing two checks one for 5,200 and one for 9,800 so you stay under the 10,000 cash reporting with the irs or better yet take someone else with you, you cash one and they cash the other. . . “ brings up some interesting points:

1. IRS: Why would anyone ever mention the IRS by name in any type of communication when they are under federal investigation?

2. $10,000 IRS Reporting Limit: To my knowledge, the reason why the IRS instituted a federal law requiring any transactions $10,000 and above dates back to the Cocaine Cowboy days of drug smuggling and dealing in Miami. This was one of the government’s weapons against money laundering.

3. Employees or Partners: If Okun had “his” people committing unlawful acts is it possible that someone else may have been equally responsible for the $160,000,000 embezzlement? Or are we looking at a situation where there were just a large number of “associates” very willing to help Okun spend or steal from Okun himself? Nobody knows but questions remain.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Aristotle, Perry Mason: What Lies Beneath The Surface of The 1031 Tax Group Case?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the brilliant Scottish born Physician and creator of Sherlock Holmes utilized “Deductive Reasoning” to solve the unsolvable. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, utilized logic to become one of the most important founding figures in Western Philosophy. Perry Mason, a fictional television attorney, was a brilliant tactician with foresight and instinct.

What can we learn from these three figures, fictional and real, when applied to the Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group case?

Holmes

Sherlock would utilize Deductive Reasoning by taking the information in the case and then work from the general to the specific aka “Top-Down” approach.

Sherlock would begin with a theory about Ed Okun and his role in the 1031 Tax Group case. He would then deduce the information down into a “hypothesis” which he could test. Sherlock would then task Watson with remembering “observations” about Mr. Okun that would further address the hypothesis.

At this point “we are able to test the data a confirmation (or not) of our original theory.”

Analysis: Holmes would deduce that it is quite possible that hidden accomplices or a unknown “mastermind” may be behind the 1031 Tax Group case. With Watson’s constant nodding approval, Holmes could easily posit that “there is more than meets the eye here ole boy.”

Aristotle

Known as one of the father’s of Western Philosophy and founder of deductive reasoning, Aristotle’s greatest asset is his grounded belief in logic.

Aristotle would collect the facts, like Sergeant Friday, and logically eliminate what could not be proven. Working methodically, Aristotle would comb the financial records for connections that might shed light on Holmes deductive findings–unknown forces behind Mr. Okun.

Mason

With his hammer, detective Paul Drake, and his feather, the beautiful Della, Perry Mason would use his instinct to decipher the Okun mess. Is there a patsy, beside the investors, amongst the violators? Is Okun the front man or fall guy?

If nobody else exists in the Okun mess and he is the sole violator then why are there not more monies left over? Did this one man actually spend every last dime, pinch every last nickel from over blown refinanced properties, and did it all land in his lap as a result?

Your guess is as good as mine. Suffice it to say that there are many unanswered questions that may never come out let alone be answered. Like the old radio show only “The Shadow” knows.