How Has Blogging Changed Your Life?

March 30, 2011 marks the 4 year Anniversary of my blogging life with the creation of deansguide as the vehicle for publishing my messages and wrestling control away from the mass media stranglehold on information. Blogging has changed my life in many ways from providing a forum to prove my expertise to acting as common ground for my relationship with my girlfriend. It has opened up a world of knowledge and research, helped me network and connect with people throughout the world, and been the foundation for launching my writing and public speaking career. Yet with all of these wonderful developments there is still room for the fun, unusual, and bizarre occurrence .

Highlights and Lowlights on deansguide

  • Ed Okun:deansguide was the leading blog on 1031 Tax Group con artist Ed Okun and recognized as a repository and meeting place for victims of Okun to tell their story
  • US Attorney: deansguide was recognized by the US Attorney’s office in Richmond, VA as one of a handful of blogs allowed to publish information about the Ed Okun Ponzi scheme that bilked over $160 million from investors nationwide
  • Helping Victims:Elizabeth Callanan and 350 Okun “Train Wreck Victims” speak out on deansguide
  • Forbes: Mike Maello associate editor for Forbes.com contacted and consulted with me on the Okun story
  • Informant: I was contacted by “Mr. Miami” who was close to Okun’s wife and fed me breaking news information throughout Okun’s trial
  • Mob Ties: I received numerous phone threats by associates of Okun or his representatives to “stay quiet” about the investigation
  • Hell’s Angels: my first blog article was about the 50th Anniversary of the Oakland Hell’s Angels and the party planned for the occasion. I was contacted by a former Angel who approved of my writing and one man who claimed to be a member of the “81” who promised to make things “hard” if I didn’t watch what I published
  • 330,635 Views: the number of page views deansguide has garnered
  • 1,062: top traffic day on deansguide. Not huge but satisfying considering the blog’s many reiterations
  • Reuters, Nielsen, Fox Business, Computer Shopper, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and other media sites have republished deansguide articles
  • 700 & 2,000: deansguide has published 698 posts and I have written over 2,000 blog articles since I began blogging

Conclusion

I have met Kings, Queens and paupers through my writing. I have been threatened, harassed, and bullied. I have been lauded as a savior and scoffed at as a quack. My subject matter has included the Hell’s Angels, Real Estate, Social Media tips, wine, Mob figures, networking, Silicon Valley, business self help, and hundreds of other subjects. Throughout my writing experience one thing comes to mind- advice from one of my dearest friends “Chili Eye” Charles Henderson: “just let the bullets fly, write like you stole it. Write with a run and gun style.” Without Charlie’s encouragement I would have never started this blog- thank you my friend rest in peace brother!

Ed Okun Victim Speaks Out: Victim’s Impact Statement

One of the original victims of Ed Okun’s 1031 TaxGroup embezzlement ponzi scheme speaks out about her Victim’s Impact Statement and her gratitude for.  .  . us. Thank you and may the best possible outcome be realized~

Comment From An Okun Victim

“You said it all in a nutshell, about a nut. Thank you, Dean’s Guide. You’ve been a great resource for we victims of Okun, in that were it not for your website many of us wouldn’t have connected with one another and had each other’s support over the last three years.

Thankfully the US Attorney’s office flew several of us to Virginia to give our Victim’s Impact Statements at Okun’s sentencing hearing, which afforded a few of us the opportunity to meet one another. It haunts many of us to this day wondering how many victims out there may STILL be unaware of what’s transpired. They moved, they’re in retirement facilities, they died, whatever may have happened they were unreachable by the court system and therefore have only known their financial loss without answers.

We’ve yet to realize national press coverage of this horrendous white collar crime committed upon us non-investors, which could so easily happen to anyone else. A heed of warning to anyone considering utilizing the IRS’ 1031 Exchange rule…..don’t.

Again, thank you Dean’s Guide for your coverage!”

Are You Going To Allow Ed Okun To Get Away With This?

Chicago Sun-Times published this deansguide article 2-10-10

Ed Okun the 1031 Tax Group convicted felon is at it again. He now has a website, freeokun.com, that is ranked #1 on page 1 of a Google search for the keywords “Ed Okun.” If you lost your life savings to this man and are not seeing any of your restitution monies, you may want to correct the record. Please tell us your story and refute the idea that Okun is innocent.

Here is the landing page for freeokun.com word for word- are you ready to tell the world it is garbage?

Ed’s Story

Ed Okun was living his dream.  A native born Canadian, he was a self-made, multi-multi millionaire, on a trajectory to reach the Forbes 400. Of course, as a successful businessman, Ed had a full set of executive trappings and “toys” : a couple of corporate jets, a helicopter, a summer home on 30 waterfront acres in New Hampshire, a waterfront home in Miami Beach, along  with a 106’ Broward motor yacht (complete with full-time professional crew).  When his business took him to Indianapolis in 1999, he even sponsored an Indy race car in 2005 which placed 14th in the Indy 500.

Ed’s special talent was recognizing potential opportunities in distressed Real Estate, acquiring title to the property then adding capital and vision.  He thus turned “losers” into “winners”, which he then syndicated to pools of investors to whom he offered and usually provided the necessary operating management services, and earned substantial profits for all (including himself).”

FreeOkun.com: Website Espousing Okun’s Innocense

Acting like a Rhinoceros in a rainstorm, the government proceeded to completely muddy Okun’s business operations by seizing all the records which caused massive transactional defaults in the QI business and destroyed Okun’s outside business as well as stopping the cash flow and refinancing efforts that would have kept all the businesses running smoothly, while the stolen funds were being identified and recovered.”   –Passage from FreeOkun.com

As if things could get any weirder and sadder, a new website espousing Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group scam artist’s innocence and has emerged.  The convicted felon, who was found guilty of bilking aka stealing $160 million in investor funds, was presumed long gone. That is not true if you read this site.

Warning

For those victims who have not read this diatribe, brace yourself for the garbage you are about to read: FreeOkun.com

Plan & Disclosure Statement Conference Call 9-10-09: Okun Victims Sorting Through The Rubble

Ed OkunCourtesy Backgroundnow.com

September 10, 2009 Gerald McHale, US Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Trustee, lead a conference call Q & A session for the purpose of providing  “a forum for creditors and victims alike to ask any questions they may have had related to the Bankruptcy and also to the Class Action litigation against Ed Okun and his 1031 Tax Group.” With the way the victims have been victimized they might as well have scheduled this call for September 11th as a 9-1-1 call seems to mirror the entire case.

Conference Call Speakers

The following people connect to this case were invited to answer questions from the victims:

Participating in the call as speakers were:

  • Gerard “Jerry” McHale, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Trustee
  • Jonathan Flaxer of Golenbock, Eiseman, who represents the Trustee
  • Jacqueline Veit of Golenbock, Eiseman, who, with Michael Devorkin, serve as chief litigators for the Trustee
  • John Sordillo of Deloitte, who served as Forensic Accountants and Real Estate Advisors for the Estate
  • Robert “Rusty” Brace, who is the lead counsel in the Class Action litigation (no information available)
  • Mark Felger of Cozen, O’Conner who acts as counsel for the Creditors’ Committee

Mission of the Call: McHale’s Statement

“We hope this call answered your questions you may have had regarding the Plan and future events related to the ongoing administration of the Liquidating Trust after the confirmation of the Plan.”

The Results

A call to action for the people involved with this call:

  • Did the call help your understanding of circumstances surrounding your efforts to collect your monies?
  • Were you satisfied with the format of the conference call?
  • Did you feel you were given the opportunity to express your concerns or opinions?
  • Are the results of this call confidential information or do you have the ability to express your opinions publicly?

Okun Sentenced to 100 Years: Guilty on 23 Counts of Fraud

The final chapter is over for the prosecution portion of the Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group rip off. The victims continue to watch their restitution go down the drain but in a show of force Ed Okun, the architect of a $126 million ponzi scheme, was sentenced to 100 years in prison today. Okun’s lawyers were seeking a sentence of 10-15 years. Thankfully Okun’s attorneys had no power in making that sentence a reality.

The Richmond Dispatch Times article.

The article that started it all 1031 Advance Private Exchange Company Missing In Action In Silicon Valley.

Top deansguide Ed Okun articles from the archives:

http://deansguide.wordpress.com/2007/06/20/one-of-the-350-victims-of-ed-okuns-bankrupt-1031-exchange-empire-speaks-outthe-most-compelling-case-yet-for-action-to-be-taken/

http://deansguide.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/okun-juror-speaks-out-okun-guilty-could-face-400-years-deansguide-odyssey-ends/

http://deansguide.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/usa-vs-ed-okun-amended-preliminary-restitution-report/

http://deansguide.wordpress.com/2009/02/14/ed-okun-victim-cautions-landamerica-victims-challenges-government-admonishes-1031-exchange-industry/

http://deansguide.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/mystery-caller-claims-okun-broke-without-representation-gordon-gecko-a-cautionary-tale/

http://deansguide.wordpress.com/2007/06/29/ed-okun-promises-to-make-good-is-this-a-checks-in-the-mail-statement/

Thanks to Leanne Follis for her timely tip to the Okun verdict. Here is Leanne’s comment:

Dean,
Have you seen this?
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/OKUNGAT04_20090804-142201/283992/

Ed Okun.. sentenced to 100 years!!! Finally, some justice. Now we wait to see Lara Coleman and the
others to rec. their new sentences, what they pled to.

Check it out!!!

from: a former employee

Class Action Court’s Final Approval of Pending Ed Okun Settlements October 7

Notice of disclosure: I am not an attorney nor am I part of the proceedings in this case. Please perform your own due diligence when looking for dates, times, and announcements on the Ed Okun case. If you reference Gearld McHale’s blog (link below) you will find all appropriate information.

The Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group proceedings continue as the restitution news continues to it’s conclusion. Trustee Gerald Mchale’s newsletter #16 contains  the following notice:

“In major procedural areas, the bankruptcy court has set hearings (i) on approval of the disclosure statement for August 13, and (ii) confirmation of the Plan for October 7.  The class action court will hold a hearing on final approval of the pending settlements, and certification of the class for purposes of approving those settlements, on October 7 as well. This will hopefully lead to the ability to make distributions during the calendar year 2009 if these proceedings are successfully concluded.”

Date #1 August 13: Approval of Disclosure Statement

The bankruptcy court has set hearings (i) on approval of the disclosure statement for August 13.

Date #2 October 7: Hearing Final Approval of Pending Settlements

The class action court will hold a hearing on final approval of the pending settlements, and certification of the class for purposes of approving those settlements, on October 7 as well.


USA vs. Ed Okun: Amended Preliminary Restitution Report

bank vault

The 1031 Taxgroup Ed Okun ponzi scheme rip off continues to baffle and frustrate those victims who have endured the worst experience of their financial lives. The continuing saga of restitution took a new turn with a newly amended government preliminary restitution report. If you are a victim of Ed Okun’s 1031 Tax Group fraud, this is a document you should read and familiarize.

Gearld McHale’s Trustee Tax Group Notice

The following is a link to a pdf file for the government’s amended preliminary report as to restitution made available on www.trustee1031taxgroup.com. Please read this document, released on June 9, 2009:

Click on Government’s Amended Preliminary Report as to Restitution follow this link to bottom link click on (orange) “linked hereto is the Order of the criminal court dated June 9,2009″ for the report. Best of luck and our thoughts are with you all.

Former Vesta Strategies Employee Speaks Out: Victim Investors and Employees?

Ponzi

Foxbusiness.com published this deansguide article 5-23-09

Vesta Strategies, a short lived 1031 scam in the vein of Ed Okun, had many investors fooled into believing their monies were safe. We first wrote about Vesta “Has a New Ed Okun Arrived On The Scene: Vesta Strategies LLC Staggers from Wall St Journal Story” and “Vesta Strategies “Sales Pitch” Marketing Information They Forgot to Pull?”

As in the Okun case, Vesta Strategies investors were bilked out of their money and a number of these victims and former employees have voiced their pain or opinions. And just like the Okun case, some Vesta employees maintain they were unaware of what was going on. The following comment was made by former Vesta Strategies employee Joe Barrett.

Joe wrote copy for his Vesta office but we are unclear which quote he penned. Was it the now very comical analogy of Vesta as “McDonalds” in their approach to business, I bet McDonalds loves that company, or the innocuous “Final Pitch” referring to their “expert information” ?

Joe Barrett:

“It’s funny to read the above as I am the former Vesta employee who wrote it. Obviously, at the time I wrote it, it was true. Prior to the abrupt closure of the company, we employees were unaware of the coming firestorm. It’s so unfortunate because some investors lost money, we employees lost jobs and our individual reputations in the industry are tarnished. Thanks Mr. Estupinian!”

Okun Juror Speaks Out! Okun Guilty Could Face 400 Years: deansguide Odyssey Ends

FoxBusiness.com published my 500th article on 3-19-09

The following is an amazing comment sent to deansguide from a person claiming to be one of the  Ed Okun jurors in the Ed Okun criminal trial. The often sad and terrible case of Edward Okun has just ended in a courtroom in Richmond, Virginia. The verdict: GUILTY!

Editor’s Note: I became aware of Ed Okun through a title insurance source who tipped me to the fact that a very nasty scandal was about to hit a number of investors in Silicon Valley in April of 2007. That tip led to my participation as one of the leading information sources for the Ed Okun ponzi case. In that time the following ocurred:

  • I met 16 of the original 350 Trainwreck members with Elizabeth Callanan leading the charge of information and a true force behind much of my writing
  • I  consulted with  Mike Maiello Forbes Magazine editor on the case
  • My mystery caller, from Miami, claimed to have inside Okun information (which he did) kept in contact with me throughout the proceedings
  • I was threatened by a powerful New York law firm where one of the principles had a very shady past
  • I was threatened over the phone by an unknown caller who claimed to be “connected”
  • I was approved as one of the only blogs, by the US Attorney’s office in Virginia, to move information forward regarding dates and times. This was the work of my good friend Elizabeth
  • I highlighted 3 Okun victims who lost their life savings and attempted to provide new information
  • I wrote upwards of 70 articles on the Okun case and surrounding path of wreckage in the number of lives effected, savings stolen, and retirements ruined

Okun Guilty

Although the laundry list of charges include, according to the Associated Press story, 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, bulk cash laundering, and making false statements, the following comment really says it best:

Christy Steensma
csteensma@aol.com
67.133.245.6

I served as a juror on the Edward Okun case in the U.S. Eastern District Court of VA. While we (the jury)found him guilty of all charges today 3/19/09, it was hard watching Okun as the verdicts were read. I am now able to see all of the stories that are out there about him and all the damage he has done to so many people. It helps verify that the jury made the right decision based on the evidence we were presented in court. I know that many lives were ruined, but am glad to know that I played a role in stopping him from harming anymore people.