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In SDNY Slip and Fall Fraud Robert Locust Gets 48 Months Amid Money Disputes

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon, Periscope

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 10 – The U.S. government began a trial against three men on May 7, 2019 for staged slip and fall accidents and fraudulent lawsuits. But from its first day the trial raised issues about Bloods gang culture, the prosecutors' propensity to use conflicted criminals as witness to go after low hanging fruit, and the potential of having witnessed the 9/11/01 attacks to sway a jury.  

  The jury late on Thursday, May 23 came out and said they didn't have enough evidence on Counts 2 and 3, but that they had reached an undisclosed decision on Counts 1, 4, 5 and 6.

 As Inner City Press published on May 23, this makes the prosecution nervous. If those findings are "guilty," what if just one of the jurors changes their mind between May 23 and Tuesday, May 28 when they will continue to deliberate, under the new or reiterated instruction that Judge Stein gave them? 

  On May 28, amid Michael Avenatti hype elsewhere in the SDNY, this: "Verdict reached as follows: as to Count One, all defendants found guilty; as to Counts Four, Five, and Six, defendant Duncan found guilty. The Court finds a mistrial as to Counts 2 and 3 for all defendants. Sentencing is set for September 10, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. for Duncan, 3:00 p.m. for Locust, and 3:30 p.m. for Rainford."

   These all got pushed back to January 7, and Inner City Press which alone covered the trial will report on Rainford here. On December 8, his lawyer Calvin Scholar wrote that "while Kalkanis and the leaders of the scheme made millions of dollars, Mr. Rainford was paid a few thousand dolalrs for his roel as driver during a five-year period."

  On January 7 Judge Stein scoffed at the idea of a time served sentence, and admonished Rainford for recruiting desperate people and getting them to have unneeded surgeries. Rainford spoke for himself, citing his three children. Stein said, in essence, you should have thought of them at the time of the crime. He sentenced Rainford to 68 months in prison.

And now in December, this: "ORDER denying [329] Motion as to Ryan Rainford (5). Defendant Ryan Rainford moves for release on bail pending appeals of his conviction and this Court's subsequent denial of his renewed motion for compassionate release. (ECF No. 329.) Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b), the statute governing release pending appeal, "a person who has been found guilty of an offense and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and who has filed an appeal [shall] be detained" unless two criteria are met. Id. § 3143(b)(1). First, a court must find "by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released...." Id. § 3143(b)(1)(A). Next, a court must find that "the appeal is not for the purpose of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in (i) reversal, (ii) an order for a new trial, (iii) a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment, or (iv) a reduced sentence to a term of imprisonment less than the total of the time already served plus the expected duration of the appeal process." Id. § 3143(b)(1)(B). Defendant fails to meet either of these criteria. As this Court cannot find that Rainford does not pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community, and because defendant fails to show that his appeal "raises a substantial question of law or fact" and is not "for the purpose of delay," IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Rainford's motion for release on bail pending appeal is denied. The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Order to Mr. Rainford, FCI Fort Dix, Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 2000, Joint Base MDL, NJ 08640, and note the mailing on ECF. SO ORDERED."

Now in July, 2021, this: "as to Robert Locust (4). The defendant was found guilty on Count(s) 1s after a plea of not guilty. All open counts are dismissed; IMPRISONMENT: 48 months. SUPERVISED RELEASE: 3 years. The court makes the following recommendations to the Bureau of Prisons: That defendant be incarcerated in the tri state area in order to facilitate visits with his family. The defendant shall surrender for service of sentence at the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons: before 2pm on 8/20/21. Assessment: $100.00 due immediately. Restitution: $3,928,133.60. The defendant shall forfeit the defendant's interest in the following property to the United States: $66,400."

Back on the afternoon of May 22, 2019 the jury had sent out two notes. The first said that Juror Number Eight had been elected the foreperson. The second made requests: for Bryan Duncan's WhatsApp and text messages, for definitions including aiding and abetting, and for the witness list.

  The prosecutors said they would prepare the list. Duncan's lawyer Ikiesha T. Al-Shabazz said, There is no list - which is true, as a follower of the docket on PACER - and that the government should not be permitted to send back a list with all the witnesses they might have called, only those that were in fact called. But wouldn't the jury have remembered who testified? We'll have more on this.

 Back on May 21, Assistant US Attorney Alexandra Rothman in her summation to the jury relied on the testimony of (Bloods member) Reginald Dewitt, and to jotting by the slip and fall fraud doctor Kalkanis. She emphasized that Clarence Tucker knew that Robert Locust fixed computers. Doesn't this undermine the argument that Locust is a big enough fish to justify this Federal prosecution, using the witnesses it has? We'll have more on this.

  On May 20 the U.S. Attorney's office put on the witness stand one of its paralegals and message extracters, Ariella Fetman, to read Bryan Duncan's parts from his text exchanges with Patient Walker, who said he was homeless and needed money for a room after his surgery. The Assistant U.S. Attorney was reading Walker's text messages, with lines like "Are you serious, my N-word?" There were objections before the reading, and during. Judge Stein asked the government, are you closing today? Things are coming to a close. Watch this site.

  Back on May 16 after a three day break, Doctor Peter Kalkanis, more responsible for the scheme than the drivers, was being walked though his testimony by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Rothman. He explained how the unneeded surgeries cost $18,000.

This money was lent by finance companies at terms he called predatory - but he too took his fee. Those getting the unneeded surgeries were paid $1000. Kalkanis estimated he made some $2 million from the scheme.

 On May 17 under cross examination by Duncan's lawyer Ikiesha T. Al-Shabazz, Kankanis starting naming finance companies: Fast Track, Golden Pair, Sunset Management Funding." Ms. Al-Shabazz asked him to distinguish patients, which Duncan was in 2012, from drivers which he became, from what Kalkanis called "runners." Kalkanis said that Raymond Christmas was a patient who was later paid $50 to $100 for referrals, on a matrix. Christmas referred his cases to Rasul a/k/a Reginald Dewitt, the government's witness. Kalkanis remembered the name Victor Faison and even how to spell it - but not if his case was fake or not. He offered to start naming "troublemakers."

  May 17 ended with the cross examination of government witness Martin, who pre-programmed his iPhone to drop the "c" from faxt and fuxk and refused to way the N-word although he wrote it in his WhatsApp text messages with Bryan Duncan. The latter came up because Martin got into dramatic readings of the texts, first with prosecutor Alexandra Rothman (they had rehearsed, he said, on Monday or Tuesday when the jury did not sit) then with Duncan's attorney Ms. Al-Shabazz.

 Things got testy, with Martin saying "Next question" and coughing loudly to show he was sick. How the jury will take this is not clear. Summations are set for Tuesday, May 21. We'll have more on this, and on this: why is it the drivers being prosecuted? Inner City Press will continue to follow this trial.

 In open arguments before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Sidney H. Stein the lawyer for defendant Robert Locust, Mitchell Dinnerstein, told the jury to expect to see on the stand a well dressed doctor who had led the scheme, Peter Kalkanis. (Judge Stein retorted that Dinnerstein himself was well dressed.)

  On May 9 there was a dapper gentleman out in the hall outside Courtroom 23A. Inner City Press was told he was none other than Kalkanis, but that he will only go on the stand late on Friday, with the jury then not sitting early next week by the judge's decision. Some joked, it is a try-out of Kalkanis as a witness? Will he appear dressed down in a sweat suit?

  At day's end Inner City Press spoke with defendant Locust, who shaking his head said the government had just made sh*t up about him, and tried to entrap him into committing some violence. A lawyer in the case told Inner City Press it was unclear if "Bloods witness" Reginald Dewitt is in fact in custody; two government agents appears to be assigned to him. More and more questions were arising.

Another witness with mental issues relates those back to what he saw on September 11, 2001. The defense says this will sway the jury to the witness' side. On these and other questions, Judge Stein said the scope of cross examination will be decided as the trial goes forward.

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                        SDNY courthouse, Worth St entrance, (c) Inner
                        City Press

Judge Stein told the jury not to read press coverage about the case, while predicting there would be no press coverage of it. But why then are there three separate Assistant U.S. Attorneys on the case, two marshals shepherding Duncan in and out of the courtroom even during breaks, and rulings to keep out information about the lawyers and funding companies behind this slip and fall fraud scheme? Inner City Press will continue to cover this trial. More on Patreon, here. The case is U.S. v. Bryan Duncan, et al., 18-cr-00289 (Stein).


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