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.

Ed Okun Victim Cautions LandAmerica Victims, Challenges Government, Admonishes 1031 Exchange Industry

Note of Disclaimer: The following comment, story, and opinion(s) are that of the commenter Elizabeth Callanan and not that of deansguide or the author of deansguide Dean Guadagni. Those of you who have read this blog in the past know where I stand. I am a victim’s advocate and simply creating a place for victims or industry pro’s to communicate.

The following are opinions, experiences and stories of the trials and tribulations of the 1031 exchange industry from long time contributor and commenter Elizabeth Callanan one of the 350 “Trainwreck Victims” of the Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group Ponzi scheme. This is a warning, it is a plea, and it is her argument for the complete overhaul of the 1031 exchange industry–or it’s outright Abolishment.

Note: Not all of the 1031 exchange companies are bad, fradulent, or subversive. There are well respected, honest, and worthwhile 1031 exchange companies doing business.

——————————————-

To Daniel Lowe and the other victims of the LandAmerica debacle,

You have my most heartfelt empathy.
Having been myself a victim of Ed Okun’s embezzlement of exchangers funds on deposit with the 1031 Tax Group, I truly feel your pain. I’m not an attorney, an accountant, and have no expertise apart from what comes of painful firsthand experience. It was in the hopes of warning other potential exchanger/victims that I started posting on Dean’s List and elsewhere.

At the end of the day, though, I agree totally with Yaco Tiamo, who has posted here. The entire 1031 industry is superfluous and that aspect of the IRS’ 1031 regulations should be expunged. It is a wildly unregulated industry that answers to no government oversight at any level (apart from some half-hearted oversight incorporated in a couple of recently enacted regs by a handful of states (Nevada, California?) and, as evidenced, by the recent spate of embezzlements or gross mismanagement puts all exchangers at great risk for no good reason. Doing a 1031 isn’t brain surgery. The forms are pretty standard and the process pretty simple, really.

Since the IRS has shown no interest in overseeing, licensing, demanding accountability from, providing meaningful insurance for (as the SEC does) or otherwise regulating the industry it created, it should kill it – NOW!

As to the LandAmerica victims, my (personal, not professional!!) advice in terms of investing in legal help is two-fold and in both cases I would act only collectively (except for those whose funds were held in traceable segregated accounts, who will no doubt make a serious (and perhaps successful) run at retrieving those funds, I see little point in acting individually — certainly not in bankruptcy, a self-funding and self-perpetuating legal and financial train wreck for everyone involved except the court appointed functionaries. (If you want to see the extent to which such a process can drag on ad nauseam with many billable hours just check out the history of the 1031 Tax Group case on either of these sites: http://www.committeeinfo.com/1031/index.htm (the official website for our Creditors Committee) or http://trustee1031taxgroup.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/ (the Trustee’s website).)

However, I WOULD hire a legal firm (on contingency if you can – since, by definition, you no longer have any money!) to:

1) GET YOUR CASE OUT OF BANKRUPTCY COURT!! That is a deep dark hole that will suck up every dime of funding available until there’s nothing but dust left. In the 19 months since Ed Okun put the 1031 Tax Group into “bankruptcy” (it was a criminal embezzlement plain and simple now being tried in a US Federal Court in Richmond which was known at the time the bankruptcy was filed in May 07 — the Feds having raided the offices in April 07 — and should never have been accepted as a legitimate bankruptcy to start with!) all of the various court-appointed functionaries have claimed MORE THAN $30 MILLION IN SO-CALLED “ADMINISTRATIVE FEES” and victims have received not one penny of their escrow funds. In fact, in an amazingly brazen and twisted miscarriage of justice, the Bankruptcy Court authorized attorneys for the so-Called “Debtors” (ironically the Dreier firm whose owner embezzled millions in escrow funds himself) to pursue a legal action to retrieve the only escrow funds that Okun himself had not been able to steal and the settlement cozily agreed to by the attorneys on both sides (and approved by the Court) provided for payment as well to the attorneys DEFENDING the bank where those funds were on deposit — the end result of which is that the costs of BOTH SIDES of that court case will be paid by Okun’s victims. (So, to our point of view we were mugged first by Okun and then by the Bankruptcy Court!) The only way to get that Bankruptcy action derailed is to get the Committee itself on board (not easy since the Committee’s attorneys will understandably vehemently argue against the prospect of losing their cash cow), but I’d consider that a first priority.

2) Get a class action going to pursue all the parties involved, including especially LandAmerica to force them to use the proceeds from the sale of its other two arms to repay the exchange funds it squandered on worthless investments.

I sincerely hope you are more successful than we’ve been to date in retrieving even a dime of our life savings. The key is acting collectively and getting a junkyard dog of an attorney who is willing to work on a contingency (which means you’ll get 25% less than you otherwise might, but most of Okun’s victims would happily settle for that today!). Unfortunately in bankruptcy there is absolutely NO incentive for settling anything quickly. It’s all about billable hours — for attorneys, for management companies, for accounting firms, and all the other hangers-on who can get their licks in. If I were you, I’d follow the lead of the creditors in the Southwest Exchange Case – which happened just a few months prior to our’s and in which there’s been a settlement of $92 million of the $97 million lost (minus the contingency and other costs incurred by the attorney) while WE HAVE NOTHING and dismal prospects ahead.

You’ve gotten off to a better start than we did, it appears. You have a website (noted above by one of your fellow victims), your Committee seems to communicate with you (our’s has maintained a nearly absolute silence and shares NO information whatsoever for reasons none of us can fathom), and I understand you’re collectively discussing a civil class action which I encourage you to pursue.

Good luck to you all — sincerely.

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.”

Miami “Dadeland Massacre” 1979: “The War On Drugs” Begins

Please read this article before viewing the historical starting point of the US “War on Drugs”

Wikipedia/GriseldaBlanco cited this article 4-9-10

In what was described as the worst violence in a US city, making Al Capone’s 1930′s Chicago look like a “Church Sunday Picnic”, July 11 marks the 29 year anniversary of the Miami “Dadeland Massacre.” The massacre was the flash point and resulted in the beginning of what was later labeled “The War on Drugs” by then president Ronald Regan.

Miami circa 1979

Miami became the most dangerous place to live in becoming the “Drug Capital of the world” with 100,000 persons involved in the drug trade. Drug lords killed each other fighting for their turf as they killed their opponents to control their territories.

July 11, 1979 2:28pm

Three Mac 10 machine pistol toting “hitters” opened fire on their targets, two rival cocaine dealers shopping at Crown Liquor store, killing the rivals and spraying over 100 .45 and 9. millimeters rounds. The shooters continued to spray the parking lot as they exited the store in a scene homicide detective Al Singleton described as “Dodge City” and “the first public shot in the cocaine wars.”

Griselda Blanco aka the “Godmother of cocaine” and more notoriously “the black widow” ordered the hits and was responsible for a chain of events which developed into the “Cocaine Wars” fought by the “Kings of Cocaine” ( see the book for reference) Miami’s version of hell on earth

Time Magazine

Time Magazine published the article “Paradise Lost” in November of 1981 and it was the major piece that blew the lid off the truth about the wide spread homicides and mass murder that was Miami in the late ’70′s continuing through the 1980′s.

TIME MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 23 1981 PARADISE LOST S. FLORIDA
Historians
If you want to explain to your children why the “War on Drugs” is being fought, where and when it started, and the history of this country’s continued fight against murder and mayhem you only need to look at the Dadeland Massacre of 1979. . . and follow the blood
The Players

Pablo Escobar

Photo by Oscar Cifuentes
Dadeland shooter Jorge Rivi Ayala
Jon Roberts associate to George Jung Miami Cocaine Kingpin and subject of the movie “Cocaine Cowboys”
Cold hard cash: Miami’s US Federal Reserve reported a “surplus of 5 Billion dollars” from drug trafficking
Mickey Munday Smuggler Pilot worked with Jung, Roberts and Barry Seal
What they were fighting over The Product-Cocaine aka blow, yeyo, toot, whiff and many other names

A Look Back In Time: Why Did The US Government Not Charge Ed Okun With RICO Violations?

IBS published this deansguide article June 17, 2008 for the Greensboro Winston-Salem, North Carolina NBC affiliate

Editor’s Correction: The RICO lawsuit filed by Anita Hunter against Ed Okun was actually filed in May of 2007 not May of 2008 as originally reported. Apologies to all parties involved. In May of 2007, I was just beginning to report on the Ed Okun 1031 Advance connection and the overall scheme of his 1031 Tax Group actions. I missed this very noteworthy item as my focus had not shifted to the 1031 scandals rocking our country until later on in the summer of 2007

The fact of the matter still remains that Ms. Hunter is the only victim to attempt this action to our knowledge.

Ed Okun was sued in May 2007 by victim Anita Hunter under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act aka RICO. RICO was the major weapon wielded by Rudy Guiliani in his fight with the Mob in New York.

Analysis: It looks like somebody was calling this crime exactly what it is and what it was during it’s commission–a conspiracy. With all of the government’s power, money, and time, it still took a Okun victim to drop the hammer with the one law he should have been charged with in the beginning-RICO.

RICO Act and the Department of Justice:

“It is unlawful for anyone employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt”

Justia.com Files

1. Plantiff Anita Hunter is suing Defendant Ed Okun, Okun Holdings, Inc., Investment Propertities of America, LLC and Richard B Simring
2. Cases Filed In: Northern California Federal District Court
3. Case: #5:2007cv02795
4. Filed: May 30, 2007 (correction)
5. Office: San Jose
6. County: Santa Clara County
7. Presiding Judge: Magistrate Richard Seeborg
8. Presiding Judge: Hon. James Ware
9. Referring Judge: Magistrate Richard Seeborg
10. Nature of Suit: RICO other statutes
11. Cause: 18:1962 Racketeering (RICO) Act
12. Jurisdiction: Federal Question
13. Jury Demanded By: Plaintiff

Former Ed Okun Interviewee Speaks Out: Most Outrageous Okun Story Yet?

The list of stories about Ed Okun just increased by one with the following candid and eye opening comment left on deansguide. The comment by, Alden Chevlan, a man who was being wooed by Okun’s organization for a position in their legal department is all too familiar. Tons of money thrown around, no business sense, a suspicious lack of business acumen and a sad case of spending other people’s money for fun.

“I am not surprized to read of the demise of IPofA. I interviewed with the company for the number two legal spot in 2006. After a brief visit (less than two hours)I returned to the airport and my home. Shortly thereafter I was offered a position by the HR director, without ever meeting my future CEO (a former paralegal who had worked with Okun’s outside law firm), or Okun. When I inquired about a second interview, my wife and I were flown to Richmond, put up in a lavish hotel, etc, with no expenses spared. The strange thing was that no interview time had been set and the CEO had not taken the time to review my travle schedule. I did meet with her, with barely enough time to return the rental car and catch my flight. She met me in a “poodle skirt” wearing “Queen Bee” fluffy slippers and spent the entire hour on the phone with Okun who was frantic over the disappearnace of his poodle. MY wife met the office staff, which consisted of two of the CEO’s sisters and a handful of seemingly nice people. I never heard from them again and my wife was quite relieved after learning of the CEO’s paralegal background and her staff of siblings. I did get a nice gift bag with a T-shirt, hat, coffee mug, calculator, sunscreen and other objetcs all advertising his Indy racing team.”

From Is This Where the 1031 Tax Group Victim’s Monies Disappeared?, 2008/06/05 at 11:22 PM

Newsflash-Deadline To Dispute Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group Recovery “Fee Applications” May 29: The Money Leaking Out Of Your Pocket

One of the most difficult realities in the Ed Okun rip off and scandal of the 1031 Tax Group, beyond how this guy could get away with it for so long, is the amount of money (debtor recovery funds) victims will pay for the privilege of attempting to recover their own monies.

If you are a debtor (owed monies in this case) and you wish to dispute the amount of legal fees, administrative fees, and every other Tom-Dick-n’ Harry with his collective hand in your pocket fees being sought, then NOW is the time for you to speak up.

Deadline To Dispute

According to US Trustee Gerald McHale’s website story “Order Setting New Fee App Hearing on 6/11/2008″ your cut off to dispute these costs:

ORDERED, that any party wishing to object to these fee applications must file an objection by Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 5:00 p.m.”

Newsflash: Ed Okun Denied Bond, Remains Incarcerated

This just in courtesy of the “mystery caller”: Ed Okun’s attempt to secure bail and his freedom was denied today at his bond hearing in Richmond, Virginia. The hearing, which ran from 2pm to 5pm EST, was previously postponed so that Okun could build a case for gaining bail. Okun charged with multiple counts in relationship to his “ponzi” like scheme which bilked investors out of $160 million, was denied bail as:

1. Flight risk

2. Danger to the Community at large

His court appointed attorney was present; and according to the “mystery caller” original Miami attorney Michael Rosen was also in attendance.

Analysis

There is a very sad and ironic problem with keeping Ed Okun incarcerated. There is no way to force Okun to pay restitution if he is incarcerated. Not that Okun would have the ability, means, or method to legitimately pay back Train Wreck Victims.

But with Okun incarcerated, there is no hope at all in recovering anything that he may have hidden, if he hid anything at all, or forcing him to “work” for his victims.

Now it seems the only hope that victims of Ed Okun’s collapsed 1031 scheme have in recovering their monies is to go after the insurance companies involved in the transactions.

Newsflash: Ed Okun’s Bond Hearing Postponed To May 9

This just in from the Department of Justice and one of our train wreck friends Elizabeth, Ed Okun’s bond hearing scheduled for today (April 29) was canceled. The new date for Okun’s bond hearing is Friday May 9 at 2pm. The reason for the postponement? Okun’s appointed public defender asked for the postponement so your guess is as good as mine: preparation issues?

How do you represent a criminal like Okun to a court of law in hopes of gaining his freedom-even if it is a short lived freedom?

Here are the challenges Okun’s attorney faces

1. Ed is reportedly flat broke
2. Ed may have hidden funds offshore
3. Ed is definitely a flight risk
4. Ed has embezzled, without recovery to victims, at least $132million
5. Ed’s credibility and word are worthless

Against All Odds: Cases That Attorneys Represented the “Unrepresentable”

1. The OJ Case–Simpson walked to the amazement of the world
2. The “Nightstalker”– Richard Ramirez sits on death row the best he could have ever gotten
3. Polly KlausRichard Allen Davis how could anyone represent this piece of _hit?
4. Scott Peterson–Did anyone and I mean anyone ever believe this punk?
5. Rodney King’s Cops–just change the venue and everything goes bye-bye

Mystery Caller Claims Okun Broke, Without Representation: “Gordon Gecko” A Cautionary Tale

Holmes and Watson would watch Dr. Moriarty waiting for signs or communications that hinted at his whereabouts and evil doings. I have the “Mystery Caller” who has become a voice in the wilderness that is the Ed Okun case. The following assertions were made by the Miami mystery caller. I have no way of verifying most of these assertions. Are they all true, partially true, or somewhat true? I will leave that up to each individual reader.

The Assertions

1. Ed Okun is flat broke and has been flat broke for sometime now. He is sitting in a jail cell in Richmond, VA. He is destitute and unable to make even the simplest financial ends meet.

2. Okun’s Miami attorney Michael Rosen, he of the infamous quote to the Miami Herald “Ed is confident he will be proven innocent in a court of law” is now said to be bailing out of the case. Realizing the financial cupboard is bare, Rosen is purportedly abandoning the idea of representing Okun.

If you do know one thing it is the fact that greed is not good, it does clarify but it corrupts. Gordon Gecko the fictional character in the 1980′s box office smash “Wall Street” was reportedly based on corporate raider turned scoundrel Ivan Boesky.

Like Boesky, Okun was a confidence man in his abilities to maintain an outer layer of normalcy and respectability. But make no mistake about it: greed has left Okun in prison, without assets, pondering his dim future.