Monthly Archives: July 2012

How insiders snatch millions from estates in the scandal scarred Surrogate Courts

The theft of estates in the Surrogate courts is not news, but it appears as if our government has been well aware of this fact for many years. Yet other than a few laws put into place, these people still do it. The corruption, the theft, the cronyism, everything that is against the law and yet…..what is being done? why aren’t they all in jail? This story is filled with criminal acts that were made “legal” by a judge? An estate worth $50 million dollars and this man’s children get $1 million each….the lawyers got more than they did. Is anyone outraged at this fact?

Scandal in the surrogate Courts


If you’re a lawyer in New York, there’s no sweeter deal than getting assigned to an estate case in Surrogate’s Court.

The work is often routine — selling assets, paying bills, contacting heirs — but the pay can reach into the millions.

Landing such a gig requires currying favor with one of the city’s seven surrogate judges, who handle wills and estates. They have the power to appoint lawyers and approve their sometimes jaw-dropping invoices.

The jobs often go to the judges’ friends, associates or campaign contributors, court authorities admit. Looting of the estates can sometimes result.

The most recent example involves Bronx Judge Lee Holzman, who last week faced removal from the surrogate bench after he signed off on legal work that was never done.

The bills, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, totaled $300,000 and went to the judge’s associate, lawyer Michael Lippman, a Democratic Party crony who ran Holzman’s campaign financing, raising $125,000, a court watchdog claims.

Lippman then got into money trouble himself, racking up $1 million in gambling debts and allegedly faking bills to cover his losses.

Prosecutors say they uncovered the cooked books and charged him with fraud.

Another alleged thief preyed on a lucrative and largely unsupervised part of the system — cases in which there is no will.

Such cases go to public administrators, who work with Surrogate’s Court judges in handling their finances.

In May, Richard Paul, the bookkeeper for the Brooklyn public administrator, was indicted for stealing $2.6 million from these estates, allegedly manipulating the check-writing process to get at the cash.

Judges who allow fraudulent pay-outs are “a disgrace to the legal profession and to the state of New York,” said Monroe Freedman, a Hofstra University professor and leading expert on legal ethics. “They should be removed from the bench and disbarred.”

Freedman said an entrenched system of favor-trading, with hints of bribery, has persisted for decades.

“They’re stealing from the client, which is one of the worst things you can do,” he said. “I can’t think of much worse. The judges are not only condoning it, but they’re helping lawyers do it.”

Even when there is no illegality, huge sums vanish.

A decade after Wall Street investment banker Ted Ammon was beaten to death in his East Hampton home, a group of politically connected lawyers pummeled his estate with $10 million in fees, records show.

That amounts to 20 percent of his $50 million fortune, well above the 6 percent rate that court administrators deem acceptable.
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Judge Withheld Evidence: Innocent Man Sent to Prison for Murder he did not Commit

This is a very chilling story about a judge, Judge Ken Anderson from Texas, who, as a district attorney in 1986, prosecuted an innocent man for the murder of his wife. He purposely withheld critical evidence  that would have proved Michael Morton‘s innocence. Instead, Michael Morton was sent to prison for a murder he did not commit. There is now going to be an “inquiry” into Judge Ken Anderson’s role for “prosecutorial misconduct.” 

Will he be convicted of wrongdoing?  

In a nine-hour deposition, Anderson said he could not remember details of the prosecution. If he had known of information that pointed to Morton’s innocence, he insisted, he would have told defense lawyers.

“He has apologized not only to Mr. Morton but to all persons who have been affected by this, which clearly includes Mr. Morton’s son, Eric,” Nichols said.

In my opinion, Judge Ken Anderson should be sent to prison for what he did to an innocent man and his family. What do you think? Click on the link below to read the full story… 

Errors in Judgment

It had been 14 years since their last meeting. Father and son sat uncomfortably last fall in the well-appointed home of the Houston lawyer who helped free Eric Olson’s father from prison.

The only clothes Eric remembered seeing his dad wear before were prison whites. Now, he noticed, his dad was dressed just like him: blue jeans, a button-down shirt, even similar shoes.

How should he feel about meeting the man who he had believed savagely killed his mother and felt no remorse? At age 28, with his pregnant wife at his side, Eric saw his father Michael Morton  as an innocent man for the first time. Was this really happening, he wondered. It felt like a movie.

“I don’t know if I should feel tears of joy or laughter. I remember mostly being kind of numb the whole night, mostly sitting there, listening, just waiting for … I don’t know. Waiting for everything to make sense again,” Eric recalled. “Only months before that, we were still supposed to hate him.”

Eric was 3 years old and had recently recovered from open heart surgery on Aug. 13, 1986, when his mother, Christine Morton, was beaten to death in her bed in their North Austin home. Six weeks after her death, police arrested Morton, pulling his sobbing toddler from his arms as they led him to a police cruiser. Six months after losing his mother, Eric lost his father, too, when a Williamson County jury convicted Morton of murder and sent him to prison for life.

Dollars for Doctors : How Industry Money Reaches Physicians

This is an excellent website. If you want to see if your doctor is receiving money from drug companies to push their products, you can search this website. Until three years ago, the payments drug companies made to our health care workers and physicians were trade secrets. As pressure from lawmakers, or as a condition of settling whistle-blower lawsuits, several companies started reporting what they were paying out. 

This site makes it easy to see why we pay such a ridiculous amount for prescription drugs and why certain doctors push certain drugs, even when they know the side effects. It appears that some doctors are “giving up” this lucrative side business for fear that their patients might think that their “opinions” might be  biased. In addition to being paid for speaking, their expenses for travel, meals, “research” and consulting were paid for as well!!   

Company 2010 Speaker Payments 2010 U.S. Sales
Lilly $61,477,547 $14.3 billion
GlaxoSmithKline $52,755,793 $13.6 billion
Pfizer $34,382,574 $26.2 billion
AstraZeneca $31,647,101 $18.3 billion
Merck $20,365,446 $18.8 billion
Johnson & Johnson $11,712,900 $12.9 billion
Cephalon $4,241,080 $2.1 billion
ViiV Healthcare $3,975,102 Unavailable

Dollars for Docs

Drug companies have long kept secret details of the payments they make to doctors and other health professionals for promoting their drugs. But 12 companies have begun publicizing the information, some because of legal settlements. ProPublica pulled their disclosures into a database so patients can search for their doctor. Accepting payments isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can raise ethical issues.

Click the above link to find your doctor….

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