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When Probation Refuses Records To SDNY Judge Castel He Calls Them Out Under Supremacy Clause

By Matthew Russell Lee, #SDNYLIVE, Scope

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 18 – Wade Hayward was ready to be sentenced on July 18 for gun sales when the lack of information about his two youthful offender convictions caused a hitch.

   U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel said he need to see documentation, which Probation refused to provide, about the two convictions. Hayward's Federal Defender said she had tried to get the information but had been unable; she asked that Castel not put back the sentencing all the way to September since her client was anxious to know what sentence he will get.

  Finally she and Assistant US Attorney Lindsay Keenan asked, if they were able to belated get the youthful offender documentation that afternoon if the sentencing could be put back on. No, Judge Castel said.

  He said he wanted to know how the law applied, specifically the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. How could state court records be withheld from a Federal judge? He picked up his phone and called Ms Tyler of Probation.

But unlike the time Inner City Press exclusively reported on SDNY Judge Jed Rakoff making such a call and getting through, Ms Tyler was not there, or was not answering. Judge Castel left a voice mail. And the next day, if he gets the documents, is August 1. The case is US v. Harward, 19-cr-61 (Castel).

Four siblings who together evaded taxes and then cut cooperation deals with the U.S. Attorney to provide some information about each other and more about the lawyer who helped them, Michael Little, received three and two months of jail time on June 26.

   Judge Castel looked behind the government's 5K1.1 cooperation letters and asked why, for example, Suzanne Seggerman's husband with his $50,000 account and daughter who moved undeclared cash from Europe, were not prosecuted.

  The Assistant U.S. Attorneys present did not answer that question. Judge Castel mentioned the academic pedigrees of each sibling, noting that Edmond John Seggerman worked for two U.S. representatives from Rhode Island and Suzanne used her annual trips to Davos to smurf cash back into the U.S..

   At the end of the more than an hour proceeding, Judge Castel sentenced Henry Seggerman to 180 days in prison and a $10,000 fine, for having known longer of his father's offshore accounts, and the other three siblings each to 120 days in jail, no fine. All got three years Supervised Release, to end when the yet to be specified restitution is paid.

  Judge Castel made a point of saying that poor people, if they lie to get Section 8 housing or immigration benefits probably go to jail - so why not the Seggerman's? Where's the beef?

 In the trial of Michael Little for cooperation in which the siblings expected to get mere time served sentences, Suzanne Seggerman was asked by Little, representing himself, "Direct your attention to page 3. So the first line of that highlighted section is, 'I met with two lawyers yesterday to talk about the beef.' Now 'beef' is a term of art, isn't it, in your code?"

Suzanne Seggerman: A term of art?

Little: Yes. It's a code word, isn't it?

Suzanne Seggerman: It is.

Little: It means illegal money, doesn't it?

Suzanne Seggerman: It does."

   So now we know where the beef is, at least for two month following the August 20 self-surrender date...


When Elizabeth Ann Pierce appeared to be sentenced for a multi million dollar fraud in Alaska on June 19, she launched into a lengthy speech about how she had wanted to help the Alaska Native Corporations but was pushed around by the restructuring experts who invested in the venture.

Judge Edgardo Ramos of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was not amused. He sentenced Pierce to 60 months in prison.

  After Pierce's statement, Judge Ramos said dryly that he'd had any doubt about not giving an extra point's reduction for acceptance of responsibility, it was gone.

  In fact, as Pierce's Georgia-based lawyer Joshua Sabert Lowther's sentencing submission put it, "Ms. Pierce and the probation officer, pursuant to U.S.S.G. Section 3E1.1(a), agree that the adjusted offense level should be adjusted downward 2 levels for Ms. Pierce's acceptance of responsibility for the offense." Did the Probation Department not hear what Pierce was saying?

  Perhaps her lawyer didn't tell her how these sentencing speeches are a guilty plea usually go: I'm sorry to my family, I'm sorry to the victims, I'm sorry to the court. Here, Pierce blamed Cooper Investment Partners, saying they "managed" her and provided bad legal advice. Well, somebody did. Pierce has requested to spend the next five years at FCF Bryant near Georgetown, or Austin, Texas...

  As Inner City Press reported about her guilty plea back on February 11: A fraud involving forged contracts and a fiber optic cable network in Alaska resulted in guilty pleas on February to 8 counts of identity theft and one count of wire fraud before Judge Edgard Ramos of the . Judge Ramos asked Elizabeth Ann Pierce, who pled guilty eight days before her trial was to have begun, if she understood and if she had, for example, consumed any drugs or alcohol in the last 24 hours. "One Tylenol, Your Honor," she replied. What the prosecution called forgery she called using signatures without authorization - but she admitted it. Or did she?

   By comparison, Pierce's speech was a (much) longer version of the elevator statement NCAA bribery case defendant Merl Code after conviction in a jury trial before Judge Ramos: I didn't do anything wrong. But he went to trial and is free to maintain that. After you plead guilty?

Back on June 7, former University of South Carolina and Oklahoma State assistant basketball coach Lamont Events was sentenced to three months in prison on June 7 by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Edgardo Ramos. Evans will also have to pay back $22,000 he received.

 But there's more: Evans' lawyer former Assistant US Attorney Martin told Judge Ramos that despite Evans being in the US since he was two years old he is not a citizen and he may face removal proceedings.

  Martin prefaced the argument by saying that in the Second Circuit he is not permitted to argue, nor Judge Ramos to consider, this. Judge Ramos did not refer to it in imposing sentence, on his third coach in as many days. He permitted Evans to wait until July 26 to self-surrender, so he can finish basketball work with his son.

  On June 6 before Judge Ramos passed sentence, like Evans on June 7, Emanuel "Book" Richardson spoke for himself. He said he's from New York City and has lived in all boroughs except Staten Island. He said his mother gave birth to him when she was fifteen years old. He said he has emptied out his 401(k). He is apparently teaching basketball to teenagers, for $40 to $50 an hour.

  Judge Ramos imposed a sentence lower than Merl Code, for example, got in the first case, but higher than the previous day's sentence on USC's Tony Bland, who received only the two years probation for taking a $4,100 bribe from Christian Dawkins.  Lamont Evans is still out there, and Inner City Press will continue to cover this case.

  Judge Ramos said the University of Arizona has been injured, by prospects de-committing and by what he seemed to accept is an impending or begun NCAA investigation specifically of University of Arizona.

  The day before on June 5, Bland's defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman  who with a colleague was again in Judge Ramos' courtroom on June 6, speaking afterwards with Richardson and then his lawyer - described Bland's tough childhood in Watts, comparing it to his own and to that of Assistant U.S. Attorney Eli Mark (who was present but did not do the speaking for the government on June 6).

  Lichtman and Mark has faced off at a sentencing on June 4, of Municipal Credit Union former CEO Kam Wong who, for stealing $9.8 million to spend on lottery tickets was sentenced to 66 months in prison by SDNY Judge John Koeltl. Inner City Press coverage here.

 Lichtman said that while there had been a lot of angry victim letters against his client Kam Wong, there were none against Tony Bland. He said that Bland has become a friend. Kam Wong, apparently, not so much.

  Judge Ramos, in his courtroom where he recently heard the Trump v. Deutsche Bank case now on appeal to the Second Circuit [Inner City Press coverage here], asked AUSA Mark if the allegedly victimized student athletes had spoken to the grand jury. This question was understandably not answered, at least not as to the grand jury.

  He said that the legitimacy or not of not paying college athletes had not played a role in his view of the case or sentencing. He praised Bland for, despite his childhood, having had no criminal history before this, and even now only a non-violent offense. He disagreed with Lichtman's statement, or argument, that Bland is "finished." He may not work in basketball but it is a big world. The case is US v. Evans, et al., 17-cr-684 (Ramos).

Back in May 9 in the NCAA college basketball bribery trial before Judge Ramos, the jury found Christian Dawkins guilty on two of the six counts against him, Merl Code of only one. Code by the elevator outside the courtroom told the press that there had been no evidence showing him bribing any one but that the verdict is the verdict and that he and his legal team with work on it.

 Afterward just outside the courthouse where it is allowed to film, Inner City Press asked Dawkins' lawyer Steve Haney if he thinks U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman should be going after bigger fish ("yes") and about the Pre Sentencing Reports and possible concurrent running of this new sentence with the six months imposed on Dawkings in the previous James Gatto case. Video here. We'll have more on this.

  There is a continuum of focus on the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, ranging down from investigations of Donald Trump through this coming week's narrowing NCAA basketball corruption trial down to the extremely narrow prosecution of only Patrick Ho for United Nations bribery. 

While rarely viewed together, there is a pattern here,  examined below. On the morning of May 6 Christian Dawkins' attorney Steve Haney played audio clips and said they showed Dawkins may have paid players and their families but did not pay coaches. Rather, he just took Jeff D'Angelo's money. Haney urged the jury, to begin deliberating later in the day, NOT to get on Jeff D'Angelo's yacht but rather to say bon voyage to his, a government agent, and the government's case. There was Merl Code in a conversation on wire tap about taking D'Angelo's money by taking up to Madison Square Garden to meet Melo and Porginzis, and a reference (in the transcript) to "[U/I] Williamson." Can you say, Zion?

On the afternoon of May 3 On the morning of May 3 Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Solowiejczyk ran out the clock until 2 pm, pushing the defense summations back until May 6. Solowiejczyk showed exhibits about "taking care of the moms" of Jahvon Quinerly, admitted that Marty Blazer is a convicted fraudster and closed by accusing Merl Code of "conscious avoidance." The defense projected using two hours, then the final U.S. statement in 45 monhts or less. Earlier on May 3 Judge Edgardo Ramos read his charge to the jury, omitting the state law of Oklahoma and California (of Tony Bland). Then Assistant U.S. Attorney Solowiejczyk called Christian Dawkins a liar, playing audio that he and Preston Murphy DID spoke about a Marcus, Marcus Foster who played for Creighton, not the Marcus Phillips Dawkins (he said) made up making up. The back of the courtroom was full of other Assistant U.S. Attorneys, either cheering or learning; they are sure to go over this one. Was the strategy of defending or objecting to the exposure of the wider corruption of college basketball in order to increase the odds of convicting Dawkins and Merl Code the right one? Is so, for whom? They've done it on the UN, and the corruption continues.

  On the morning of May 2, Christian Dawkins was still on the stand, telling the jury how the value to him of Assistant Coach Book Richardson was sending him NBA veterans; he said "Book is going to send me kids anyway." The government objected to mentions of Sean Miller paying prospects, or "kids." Inner City Press was told there had been no mention of any unsealing of sidebar transcripts, a topic on which we may have more.

  On May 1 Inner City Press went to cover the charging conference in Courtroom 619 of 4 Foley Square. There, significantly, the state laws of Oklahoma and California (read, Tony Bland of USC) were dropped from the charge; South Carolina (Lamont Evans) and Arizona remain. While quite civil, a majority of defense proposals by Allen Cheney were overruled, in most cases in favor of previously used language or at the insistence of Assistant US Attorney Noah Solowiejczyk.  It remains unclear if Merl Code will take the stand, and therefore if a conscious avoidance charge might be needed, and how it might be worded. The parties agreed that the charge should be read before their closing statements, which will be pushed back at least until Friday, with other issues pending.

Earlier on May 1, defendant Christian Dawkins told the jury among other things that the approach of paying college coaches was not the most effective way, since NBA prospects essentially already have agents by the time they show up for their one year of college. It's not even a full year: Dawkins said that the moment the team is eliminated from March Madness, the "one and done" prospect leaves school. See @SDNYLIVE here, a response.

   On April 30 government cooperating witness Munish Sood was asked about his motives: to avoid a $750,000 fine and being charged with lying to FBI agents, which charged the defense argued would normally not be forgiven by "the Southern District of New York," meaning the prosecutors not the court.

  The government objected to a question for Sood's net worth, and Judge Edgardo Ramos sustained the objection. Sood's previous role in a bank in New Jersey came up, without the bank being named. Inner City Press reports that it was First Choice Bank, which was bought by Berkshire Bank whose checks Sood later used for bribes. Notably, Berkshire Bank has removed from its website the page about its purchase of First Choise Bank, and Sood's services, for $117 million. But still online is their press release of a deal with Sood's Princeton Advisory Group, here...

  On April 29 at 2:30 pm after Sood quoted defendant Christian Dawkins that directly paying players and deal with their parents was "cleaner" than working through coaches like Tony Bland, a discovery dispute erupted. The defense team does not want to turn over its members' and former member's notes with witnesses they seek to call. Judge Ramos noted that the former defense lawyer was still counsel of record and had not been relieved. Whereupon the defense asked for a sidebar conversation out of the hearing of those like Inner City Press still in the courtroom. But the sidebar discussion was still transcribed by the official court reporter.

  When the sidebar was over nothing was said about its contents except a request by the defense that the transcript be sealed. Judge Edgardo Ramos asked if any of the parties objected - no question was asked to the press, or for the public - and the motion to seal was granted, subject the judge said to any more "by the parties." We'll have more on this.

  Earlier on April 29 Sood interpreted for the jury a series of video clips in which Christian Dawkins said that Lamont Evans was not worth the $4,000 a month bribe, unlike Book Richardson, and that his company LOYD Inc should focus more on paying the coaches for particular transactions rather than retainers. Sood recounted how he took $25,000 in cash and deposited in LOYD's account in New Jersey with Bank of America.

The first week of the trial ended on April 26 with Munish Sood being asked about a $2,000 Berkshire Bank check he wrote to Lamont Evans, after he said Marty Blazer harassed him to give Evans money. He testified about a meeting in Miami, adding that he personally liked Christian Dawkins, whom he is testifying against. At 2:30 pm after he stepped down and the jury left the defense pointed out that Juror #3 has been nodding off. Judge Edgardo Ramo said, Let's see what happens on Monday and if necessary, a heart to heart. The government for its part argued that the juror with eyes closed might still be listening....

   Earlier on April 26 the lawyer for Christian Dawkins mocked government witness Marty Blazer for his lack of knowledge about basketball recruit rules and got Blazer to answer questions about a Creighton player named Marcus Phillips who never, he then revealed, played for Creighton. There was an immediate sidebar with Judge Edgardo Ramos, then soon thereafter a five minute break. Or breakdown, fast break. See @SDNYLIVE.

On April 25 a lawyer for Merl Code started to cross examine government witness Marty Blazer. Blazer insisted on called Merl "Merrill," leading to him being asked if he knew Merl Code at all. Blazer began paying Lamont Evans, for whom the overall case is named, in April or May 2016, and only met Merl or Merrill Code in June 2017. That's what things ended for the day, with Code's lawyer being told an objection to his questions had only been sustained as to form. It will continue on April 26; watch @SDNYLIVE's feed.

Earlier on April 25 the government played for the jury video tapes of Christian Dawkins with Marty Blazer and Tony Bland of University of Southern California, along with an undercover agent pixelated and obscured. From the witness stand Blazer said Dawkins told Jeff that Bland "needs $13,000," tying it to "grassroots player" Marvin Bagley. It got more specific: if they could get Bagley, a slew of low first round NBA draft picks would follow, they would have to hire underlings. Next the government turned to Preston Murphy of Creighton, who Blazer said needed $6,000. This after, on video, a white envelope said to contain cash changed hands. In the back of the courtroom other Assistant US Attorneys were watching -- while across the street in 40 Foley Square, one arrived late for a 12:30 sentencing before Judge Alison Nathan, now postponed to April 26. We'll have more on this.

 On April 24 Blazer still on direct examination interpreted audio recordings for the jury, for example that head coaches' wives soon after the promotion from assistant coach get better clothes "and surgury." On the role of assistant coaches he gave the example of Boston Celtics player P.J. Dozier while at University of South Carolina dealing much more with assistant Lamont Evans than with the head coach. Objections were dealt with crisply: "Objection - foundation. "Overrule." "Thank you, your Honor."

  On April 23 the defense lawyer for Christian Dawkins told the jury that Dawkins told Book Richardson "I'm Gucci" then translated that as "I'm good" and don't need money. The lawyer for Merl Code said Code told the FBI's undercover yachtsman NOT to pay money to his coaches, before traveling to the Las Vegas meeting. The government doggedly read stipulations into the record and called their first witness, Chance Miller of University of South Carolina (and New York Law School before that). We'll have more on the trial - watch this site and see the @SDNYLIVE feed, here.

On April 22 SDNY Judge Edgardo Ramos completed jury selection with Merl Code and Christian Dawkins in large courtroom 23B. Forteen jurors - including two alternates - were selected, and then led off to the jury room for orientation. Judge Ramos then asked the government who will be its witnesses on April 23, after opening statements. The answer: Chance Miller who works in compliance for South Carolina, with direct examination anticipated for an hour, then Marty Blazer for the beginning of eight to ten hours of direct. The defense said there something they aim to raise on the morning of April 23, while the jurors as Judge Ramos put it have bagel but no omelet station, but that they all need to confer to plan how to raise it. Jude Ramos said he looks forward to it. So do we. As he'd previewed at the April 19 final pre-trial conference, Judge Ramos asked prospective jurors if they had any preconceived notions of Adidas or Nike or Under Armour, as well as standard questions about tax disputes, search warrants and cooperating witnesses. Inner City Press was in the courtroom; other media, it seemed, will come later in the afternoon or tomorrow when the opening statements take place.

  The U.S. Attorney for the SDNY in connection with the April 19 final pre-trial conference before the April 22 jury selection for Merl Code and Christian Dawkins argued AGAINST the case looking into wider NCAA corruption, through compelled testimony by LSU coach Will Wade and Arizona coach Sean Miller. At best, the U.S. Attorney to ensure most effective prosecution of Dawkins and Code does not want to the case to "go big" into wider corruption.    

But this issue arose in the U.S. Attorney's Office's UN corruption cases too. Then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara when he indicted Chinese businessman Ng Lap Seng said the case would show whether bribery is business as usual at the UN. Then his Office cut deals with Dominican Ambassador Francis Lorenzo and businesswoman Sheri Yan, and never pursued the ongoing corruption at the UN. Ng, and only Ng, was convicted.  

The China Energy Fund Committee's Patrick Ho openly used the UN General Assembly to bribe the body's then-president Sam Kutesa; CEFC tried to buy the oil company of Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation which paid money to current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

  But the U.S. Attorney's Office only went after Ho, cutting a deal with also-briber Cheikh Gadio and merely getting the testimony of bribee former PGA Vuk Jeremic. And so the UN continues, under Guterres, to become ever more corrupt.   

Will it be the same with the NCAA and its March Madness? With the follow up on the Mueller report? Inner City Press, which while still banned from the UN by Guterres continues to pursue the corruption left and growing in the UN (see documentary here), will be covering the Code and Dawkins NCAA trial before SDNY Judge Edgardo Ramos from April 22, and the range of prosecutions in the SDNY where the U.S. Attorney's office goes hard against lower down street level dealers while the cancers spread. Watch this site.

Background: Patrick Ho was sentenced to 36 months in jail for UN bribery and having "sold weapons enthusiastically," along with a $400,000 fine imposed by U.S. District Court for the Soutern District of New York Judge Loretta Preska on March 25. While the UN has yet to even audit the activities of Ho's China Energy Fund Committee in the UN, prosecutor Daniel C. Richenthal in Monday's sentencing proceeding said Ho and CEFC "sold weapons enthusiastically." Afterward Inner City Press, which has asked the UN for its response, asked Ho's defense lawyer Edward Y. Kim if he will appeal. We are considering our options, Kim said. Post-sentencing Periscope video here.

  Inner City Press immediately emailed a question to the UN and Guterres and his spokesmen on March 25, and on March 26, and on March 27, this: "March 27-3: On UN bribery, on March 25 Patrick Ho of the China Energy Fund Committee was sentenced to 36 months in prison and a $400,000 fine for his UN bribery; in today's proceeding Ho was described as using a UN NGO to "sell weapons enthusiastically." What now is SG Antonio Guterres' comment and action? Will he now begin an audit of CEFC in the UN?  What is the SG's comment and response to this 22 minute documentary about Patrick Ho and CEFC's bribes through the UN including Mr. Guterres' refusal to answer Inner City Press' question on it on 5 December 2018 at Min 17.  Again, the  sentencing memorandum includes quotes from his e-mails regarding aiming to violate sanctions and deal in arms not only to Chad but also South Sudan, Libya & Qatar. What is the SG's comment and action? Again, why has no audit even been begun of CEFC, at least like the one Mr. Guterres' predecessor did of Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Foundation? Why did Mr Guterres omit payments from Gulbenkian Foundation, which sought to sell its oil company Partex to CEFC China Energy, from his public financial disclosure covering 2016? Where are the more recent public financial disclosures - has Mr. Guterres ended that program? Why?"

  On March 28 this came in from the UN and we publish it in full: "On your question March 27-3, we can say that the Organization takes note of the sentencing of Mr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho to 36 months’ imprisonment and a US$400,000 fine. The UN has cooperated extensively in this matter by making thousands of pages of documents available and providing access to its personnel." What about an audit? Why hasn't Guterres disclosed his own financial links? We'll have more on this, and on his and the UN's censorship.

  During the sentencing proceeding it was said that Ho had, in the MCC, mentored another inmate sentenced by Preska. (The odds of that need to be calculated.) The MCC bought Ho a violin; Richenthal said Ho had hidden and liquidated a Swiss bank account while incarcerated. While no Supervised Release was ordered, with the understanding that Ho will be removed from the U.S. once his sentence is up, it has emerged that Ho's passport has expired and has not been renewed. We'll have more on this.

  While UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was refusing throughout 2018 to begin any UN audit into China Energy Fund Committee, implicated in the UN bribery prosecution US v Patrick Ho, Guterres had a secret: his role on the board of Gulbenkian Foundation which was trying to sell its Partex Oil affiliate to CEFC. See Inner City Press' first exclusive report here.

   Now later of March 25 Ho is set to be sentenced by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Preska. In the run up, RTHK Television in Hong Kong has broadcast a 21 minute documentary, complete with Guterres refusing to answer Inner City Press' questions about the verdict, here at Minute 17. With 300,000 views in Chinese, it was re-released in English after the sentencing, here....


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