CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

January 2010 Archives

Disbarred Fort Lauderdale, Fla. lawyer Scott Rothstein pleaded guilty to felony Ponzi scheme charges today, admitting that for approximately five years, he engaged in approximately $1.2 billion dollars of fraudulent and bogus investment schemes.

According to the plea agreement (you can read it below), Rothstein admitted that he engaged in a criminal racketeering scheme to use his position as a lawyer and law firm Rothstein Roenfeldt and Adler, P.A.'s ('RRA') purported success "and his standing in the community to lure potential investors in order to convince them to" invest in non-existent sexual harassment and whistleblower cases.  He falsely told investors that "confidential settlement agreements" could be bought pre-litigation, i.e, before any lawsuit was ever filed.

In reality, no such clients or pre-litigation cases ever existed. 

Former child actor Gary Coleman was arrested in Utah on warrant for a failure to appear, but not on domestic violence charges after Santaquin police responded to a dispute at the home of Coleman and his wife.

He may be all grown up now, but this is not the first time that Coleman or his much younger wife have faced legal trouble.

In a domestic dispute last July, Coleman's wife Shannon Price was charged with disordely conduct and suspicion of domestic violence after the couple became embroiled in a heated dispute.

Ex-Guatemalan President Portillo Indicted for Money Laundering

Alfonso Portillo, the former President of Guatemala, was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on charges that he embezzled $1.5 million that was donated to buy books for Guatemalan school libraries, approximately $3.9 earmarked for the country's Ministry of Defense, and took other money from the public financed reserves of a Guatemalan national bank.

According to Portillo's indictment, none of the $1.5 in money given by Taiwan's government to purchase books for the countries  'Libraries for Peace' program wound up in Guatemalaan school libraries.  Instead, the money allegedly ended up in the French bank accounts of Portillo's former wife and daughter, and was laundered even further through Luxembourg and Swiss bank accounts.

Where is where is the former Guatemalan leader right now?

Judge Rules Toledo's Pit Bull Law is Unconstitutional

A Toledo Municipal Court judge ruled that the Ohio city's law concerning pit bulls is unconstitutional because it conflicts with the state's law and is vague.

Judge Michael Goulding was faced with many legal challenges  by dog owner Hugh Smith after the city charged him with 13 alleged violations of Toledo's breed-specific pit bull ordinance.

For example, Smith said -- and the court agreed -- that his pooches are Cane Corsos, not pit bulls.

In three hours of testimony today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence lamented the fact that authorities gave Miranda warnings to accused Northwest Flight 253 terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (inset, right), without first consulting with his office and Homeland Security officials.

According to Blair, an elite high-value interrogation group (known as the 'HIG') comprised of CIA, FBI, and other federal agency employees, should have been been used to try and obtain actionable intelligence before MIrandizing Abdulmutallab. "We did not invoke the HIG in this case," Blair testified. "We should have. Frankly, we were thinking more of overseas people. And, duh...the decision was made on the scene."

Gilbert Arenas Enters Guilty Plea to Felony Gun Charges

Suspended Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas pled guilty to one felony criminal charge in Washington, D.C. today (read the plea agreement below) for carrying a pistol without a license. The plea followed his gun charges yesterday elated to a December 21, 2009 dispute that he and teammate Javaris Crittenton in the Wizards' locker room over a gambling debt.

According to prosecutors, the argument stemmed from mutual threats that Arenas and Crittenton had to shoot one another. The threats occured after a card game aboard a charted flight that the Wizards took from Phoenix Arizona back home to the Washington, D.C. area.

John A. 'Junior' Gotti: 2 Cases, 6 Years, 4 Trials, 0 Verdicts

After nearly six years of criminal trials in two federal cases, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced that the Justice Department was requesting the court to sign a nolle prosequi order (see below) formalizing a decision not to prosecute John A. Gotti a/k/a 'Junior Gotti' any more on federal racketeering and murder conspiracy charges involving alleged drug trafficking and loansharking activities. 

The latest case was originally filed in Florida, but subsequently transferred to New York.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York prosecuted Junior Gotti in four successive trials in these two cases over the last six years.  The first case in 2004 charged charged him with criminal conspiracy involving a plot to kidnap Guardian Angels founder and radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa. That case also involved allegations of securities fraud, and loansharking.

Supreme Court, in 5-4 Decision, Rules Halting Prop 8 Video OK

In a 5-4 per curiam opinion (see below), a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices held that a San Francisco federal court's failure to give the public notice and a chance to comment about broadcasting live, streaming video of California's Proposition 8 ('Prop 8') trial violated a local legal rule, justifying the decision to halt the trial's broadcast.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a blistering dissent, concluding that the case did not satisfy any of the majority's 6-point legal standards for halting the broadcast. He was joined by Justice Stevens, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

Supreme Court Halts Prop 8 Trial Broadcasts

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court halted both realtime and delayed broadcasts of oral arguments in the California Prop 8 Same same-sex marriage litigation.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting from the court's short one-paragraph order, contending that the legal arguments filed in support of halting the broadcast did not meet the requisite legal standard of showing that 'irreparable harm' was likely if broadcast wasn't stopped. Breyer argued that any decision should have been made without granting a temporary restraining order to stop transmission of the legal proceedings in court.

Marvel Files Copyright Lawsuit Against Superhero Artist's Heirs

Marvel Entertainment sued the heirs of Jack Kirby, a former Marvel artist who drew superheros like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk, challenging their claims that copyrights assigned by Kirby to Marvel will revert back to them starting in 5 years.

Playboy, Hef Sued for Firing 47-Year-Old Party Planner

Jenny Lewis, a 47-yearold Playboy Mansion party planner filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Los Angeles, charging that Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner, and others fired her while she was recovering from surgery on an approved medical leave.

Flight 253 Terror Indictment of Suspect Abdulmutallab

A federal grand jury returned a criminal indictment against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian citizen arrested for attempting to detonate and explosive device on Christmas Day while on a Northwest Airlines Flight 253 flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Abudlmutallab unsuccessfully attempted to detonated a bomb containing pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) that was attached to his body before the plane landed at Detroit Metropolitan airport, but was apprehended and subdued by passengers and crew.

Octomom's Doctor Michael Kamrava Sued by CA Medical Board

Dr. Michael Kamrava, the Beverly Hills fertility doctor who helped his patient Nadya Suleman (a/k/a 'the Octomom') birth octuplets after delivering her six other children via in vitro fertilization, was sued by California's Medical Board for multiple counts of gross negligence.

According the lawsuit (see below), Kamrava:

  • Negligently used fresh embryo transfers when he should have used already available frozen embryos;
  • Systematically transferred an excessive number of blastocyt embryos that exceeded the medically recommended number for Suleman's age and medical history;
  • Failed to refer Suleman for a mental health evalution, given her multiple IVF births to six children prior to getting pregnant and delivering octuplets;
  • Failed to maintain adequate medical records;and
  • Engaged in repeated acts of negligence which, in addition to the above allegations, included giving Suleman high doses of Gonadotropin protein hormones

Chicken McNuggets Drive-Thru Rage Leads to Arrest

A 24-year-old McDonald's patron had a not-so-happy meal of legal trouble after she punched out the fast food joint's drive-thru window at a Toledo, Ohio location, attacking the glass at the The Glass City restaurant.

Maybe Melodi Dushane was still recovering from a late night of New Years Eve frolicking.  Perhaps she just got off to a bad New Year's morning. 

But one thing is for sure: punching out a drive-thru window because the McD's she visited did not have Chicken McNuggets® on the breakfast menu pretty much guaranteed that she would get her drive-thru privileges revoked.

Moussaoui's 9/11 Terror Conviction Affirmed by Appeals Court

Rejecting a bid by convicted al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to overturn his guilty plea, a federal appeals court affirmed the French citizen's terror conspiracy charges stemming from his role as an admitted terror camp trainee, member of the terrorist organization, and acknowledged flight-school his 'intent to obtain pilot training to further "al Qaeda's  plan to use plans to kill Americans."

The appellate court's decision should not come as any big surprise to followers of Moussaoui's nearly 5-year period of litigation after the time he was arrested in Minnesota just weeks before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.