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Posted: Monday, Feb. 04, 2013, 11:51 PM EST - Updated: Wed. Feb. 6, 2013, 02:02 PM PST
Georgetown University is a private research university in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Jesuit and Catholic university in the United States.
Washington. D.C. -- A high-flying law student with aspirations to serve in public office was secretly a drug dealer and addict who raked in more than $100,000 in profits. Georgetown Law student Marc Gersen, 31 (pictured above, center) will now spend the next four years behind bars after his secret double life was exposed. Gersen was arrested in a sting operation at a boutique hotel in December 2011, when police discovered 500 grams of methamphetamine that he was dealing alongside his colleagues.
A federal court in Washington. D.C. heard last week how Gersen managed to operate at law school while also as a functioning drug dealer and addict. He pled guilty to selling vast quantities of methamphetamine and being part of a three man drug ring that operated coast-to-coast, the Washington Post reports. The court heard how, on one side, Gersen, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, was a "socially conscious and brilliant student who was Phi Beta Kappa at Georgetown." But at the same time he was "deeply involved in drug dealing." He has since handed over his profits to the federal government as part of his punishment.
Posted: December 19, 2011 at 8:01 a.m. PST - Updated: Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:15 p.m. PST
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressional investigators said today that four House members received VIP discounted loans from the former Countrywide Financial Corp., the lender whose subprime mortgages was largely responsible for the nation's foreclosure crisis. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, declined to name the four but wrote the House Ethics Committee that it should investigate the lawmakers. Issa, in a letter dated Friday and released today, said there could be additional lawmakers who received discounted loans.
The most favored customers of Countrywide were known as "Friends of Angelo," who were given discounts in a VIP section under control of the company's CEO Angelo Mozilo. However, Issa said his investigators discovered that other sections of Countrywide also processed VIP loans to public officials and others in position to help the company. Countrywide was taken over by Bank of America, which has given Issa's committee 100,000 documents in response to subpoenas.
Issa's letter to ethics Chairman Jo Bonner of Alabama and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California said: "Testimony and documents show that Countrywide used the VIP program to build relationships with government officials and others positioned to advance Countrywide's business interests. "Between January 1996 and June 2008, Countrywide's VIP unit gave discounted loans to employees of the federal government, including the U.S. Congress." He added, "My staff is also aware of the possibility that loans with VIP benefits were conferred to other members and serviced by a separate loan processing branch."
The ethics committee determines whether House members violated standards of conduct, including a virtual ban on gifts. The committee also can refer cases to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation.
It was previously revealed that Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., while still a senator, had received VIP loans from Countrywide. Both said they did not know they were getting unique deals and Dodd maintained he received no preferential treatment.
Others named as recipients of the VIP program were James Johnson, former head of Fannie Mae who later stepped down as an adviser to Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, and Franklin Raines, who also headed Fannie Mae. Still other "friends" included retired athletes, a judge, a congressional aide and a newspaper executive.
The Senate's ethics committee looked at the Dodd and Conrad cases and cleared them of wrongdoing, but warned that they should have exercised better judgment.
The committee said the senators should have questioned why they were in the VIP program, because it should have raised red flags.
The Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2010 said that Mozilo would pay a $22.5 million penalty to settle charges that he and two other former Countrywide executives misled investors as the subprime mortgage crisis began. Mozilo also was banned from ever again serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company.
He also agreed to pay another $45 million to settle other violations for a total settlement of $67.5 million that was to be returned to investors who were harmed.
Public Money, Private Pleasures!
December 9, 2010
Longtime Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer (pictured left) has come under fire for spending $13,400 in public money for travel that included trips to France, California and Utah with his wife while she was on official business marketing Jefferson Parish to the international film industry. Gegenheimer defended the spending, saying that while economic development is not the clerk of court's job, boosting the parish economy could increase his office's revenue, which relies almost exclusively on fees associated with civil lawsuits and land transactions. He described it as a self-appointed undertaking he started amid the economic uncertainty that followed Hurricane Katrina five years ago.
"Given that our office either sinks or swims with the economy, one of the things that I decided, especially post-Katrina, is that I have to do whatever I can as a parishwide elected official, even though that is not technically a part of my job description, to do whatever I can to help grow the economy in the parish," Gegenheimer said. "Because whenever that happens, everybody benefits, and indirectly down the line, we're going to benefit."
He traveled with his wife, Cherreen Gegenheimer, while she was an administrative assistant to former Parish President Aaron Broussard, to the Cannes Film Festival in France in 2008 and 2009. The parish approved the three-week-long trips to market Jefferson at trade shows that run concurrent to the festival, far removed from the glamour of the red carpet, she said. He said he also accompanied her twice to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, and twice to Santa Monica, Calif.
Gegenheimer said he spent about $3,900 in clerk of court funds on the six film trips with his wife over the past three years. He spent another $9,500 on six trips to Seattle, Virginia and Washington, D.C, since Katrina, seeking economic development opportunities, he said. His travels to Washington were done in connection with the "legislative fly-in" to meet with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he said.
Landing $300,000 grant
The trips to the University of Washington at Seattle led to a $300,000 grant used to underwrite three land-use studies, which he said have not been used. He reasons that more land development means more fee revenue for his office through land transaction fees. Cherreen Gegenheimer's travel expenses also include a trip to the University of Washington in 2008 for an "economic development event."
Jon Gegenheimer came under fire recently following WWL television reports critical of his use of public money and of Cherreen Gegenheimer's travel expenditures under Broussard, who hired the former Jefferson Parish public school teacher and administrator in March 2004 to handle economic development and lobby the film industry. She said Broussard had "great vision" on the film industry.
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, has told reporters he didn't think the court clerk committed a crime but questioned whether it was fiscally appropriate and whether Gegenheimer should have taken a vacation to travel. The Gegenheimers have since complained to the commission's board about the criticism. Goyeneche declined to comment for this article.
Gegenheimer defended his use of public money for economic development as "a policy decision," which he said involved a "tiny fraction" of his office's $14 million budget, about 90 percent of which pays his clerks' salaries and benefits.
"If I'm guilty of anything, it's thinking outside the box, going beyond statutory job descriptions, which the parish president would be going beyond, because that's not in his job description," Gegenheimer said.
Gegenheimer points to a 2008 state attorney general's opinion issued to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, which wanted to give a portion of its tax revenue to the parish's nonprofit economic development corporation. The aim, according to the opinion, was to reduce crime through development that would grow the tax base and thereby increase the sheriff's revenue. The state's attorney said the transfer of money was acceptable as long as a three-prong test was met.
Gegenheimer has not sought an opinion on his spending, although he said he believes his spending passes the test described in the Ascension opinion. He said his office's accountant and lawyer both believe the opinion covers his spending.
Dane Ciolino, a law professor specializing in legal ethics at Loyola University, disagreed. "The argument that the attorney general has authorized this conduct borders on the absurd," Ciolino said.
Cherreen Gegenheimer also defends her husband's spending, saying his presence on the film-related trips "certainly added value to the parish's efforts." The parish's marketing efforts help bring in more film industry activity that resulted in more than $30 million of spending in Jefferson in recent years, she said. Parts of 61 movies were filmed in Jefferson in recent years, she said.
The parish spent about $55,900 associated with her 15 trips since 2008, most of which were tied to the film industry. Of that, the parish paid more than $28,500 to send her to France in 2008 and 2009. She said she and her husband set up a booth with marketing material touting Jefferson Parish's economic incentives for film-related spending.
'It's hard physical labor'
Gegenheimer, who has no empirical evidence showing his spending has helped the parish economy, said he spent about $700 in public money on meals during the two Cannes trips. He said he shared hotel rooms with his wife, whose expenses were paid for by the parish, but paid his $5,000 airfare to France out of pocket, because he could not justify spending public money. He said he and his wife were not "sitting on the Mediterranean sipping wine."
"There's just piles and piles of boxes," he said of the work in Cannes. "You have to set up your own booth. It's hard physical labor. A woman couldn't do that by herself. They (the parish) wouldn't send anybody with her."
Cherreen Gegenheimer lost her parish job two months ago, after John Young was elected parish president to replace Broussard, who resigned in January amid a federal investigation of his administration. She declined to discuss her job loss. She said, however, that in addition to several news media outlets, the FBI has looked at her travel expenses.
Gegenheimer confirmed he has testified before a federal grand jury and provided records under subpoena, suggesting the actions were related to the parish investigation and not his travels. He mentioned the investigation in acknowledging he hired Broussard's mother in 1991 as a part-time clerk to supplement her retirement income. He described her as a hard worker who currently is assigned to 1st Parish Court in Metairie.
A former Gretna city attorney, Gegenheimer took office in 1988 after voters ousted incumbent Raoul "Skip" Galan, who ran the office's finances into the ground during his four years in the job. Gegenheimer charged publicly that the office was deep in debt, and owed the IRS in employee withholdings. Galan was indicted the following year on state and federal charges of extortion, mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud and malfeasance connected to his clerk of court tenure. He pleaded guilty two years later and was sentenced to 33 months in prison.
Within a year after Gegenheimer took office, the clerk of court office had a budget surplus again. Today, Gegenheimer said, his office has an $11 million fund balance.
October 30, 2010
FREMONT, CA -- One of two traffic clerks charged with embezzlement on charges of dismissing traffic citations in exchange for cash was sentenced Friday to six months in prison and five years felony probation. Felix Efrain Chavez, 34, who will begin serving his sentence Monday, also was ordered to pay $8,827 in restitution during a sentencing hearing at the Hayward Hall of Justice.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy rejected his defense attorney's request for a shorter jail term, saying the crime was more severe than a typical theft. "People walking into this building "... to pay their fines or traffic tickets, when that money is embezzled by someone," Murphy said. "That is a violation of the public trust."
Chavez pleaded no contest last month to one charge of embezzlement. He was arrested in early September on charges stemming from incidents earlier this year when he offered to dismiss tickets for two people at the rate of $400 each. An audit for June and July revealed that 38 citations were illegally dismissed at the Fremont Hall of Justice. Prosecutors said the clerks would enter a code into the county's computer system indicating that the tickets were "dismissed in the interest of justice" and then pocket the money.
A second traffic clerk, Juan Hernandez, 31, has pleaded not guilty to an embezzlement charge stemming from similar activity. Hernandez is scheduled to appear at a pretrial hearing on Nov. 4, 2010.
October 22, 2010
October 19, 2010
Fernando Catlin(pictured right) an employee of the Sacramento County Superior Court was arrested on charges of falsifying DUI records, said the District Attorney. Fernando Catlin, who worked in the court clerk's office, was arrested [on November 19, 2007] along with Hector Whitley, (pictured below) who is not a court employee. The two men are suspected of taking money to "take care of" court records in seven DUI cases. Catlin is being charged with conspiracy, secreting and destroying court records, and making fraudulent computer entries. Whitley is charged with being the intermediary in three of the cases. November 6, 2008 DUI fixer Hector Whitley was sentenced to six years in state prison today for his role in a courthouse scam to dismiss cases on drunken drivers. Fernando A. Catlin, was sentenced in August  to five years in prison. JOKE: Prosecutors portrayed Whitley [who had no access to court records, or the court] as the idea man in the scam and presented evidence that he worked with a court clerk [who had full access to court records and the court] to get the cases dismissed. Whitley testified in court that he collected $11,300 from a half dozen or so people arrested for drunken driving.
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