Monthly Archives: September 2014

Federal Judge Orders 10-Year Sentence for Library Bribes

Posted by Patrick Osadebe. 

On September 17, 2014, a federal judge sentenced Timothy Cromer, a former Detroit public library official, to 10 years in prison for bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery. He was charged for accepting more than $1.4 million in bribes from contractors of the library.

Timothy Cromer, 46, was the chief administrative and technology officer for the Detroit library from 2006 to 2103. Cromer helped James Henley set up a company called “Core Consulting and Professional Services.” Cromer then made it possible for the company to win the bid to provide information technology in the library.

Cromer also collected kickbacks from another individual who was charged in the indictment. All of these crimes took place between 2008 and 2011. Hearn and Henley both plead guilty to the charges and are currently awaiting sentencing on October 28, 2014.

Patrick is a finance major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

NY Fed Whistleblower Could Prompt Congressional Investigation

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has come under fire recently with the release of secret tapes supposedly of regulators planning to “go soft” on Goldman Sachs.  Carmen Segarra, a former employee who was assigned to Goldman, claims in a lawsuit that she was under pressure by her superiors to overlook certain findings she made concerning the company.  The Fed eventually fired her allegedly because she refused to comply and change the findings.

In the recordings, one supervisor tells Segarra that basically consumer laws do not apply to certain institutions.  Michael Lewis, best-selling author of “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” said after listening to the tapes that, “The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived.”

Segarra’s lawsuit was dismissed for failing to connect her firing with the alleged Goldman disclosures.  The suit is pending appeal.  Nevertheless, the tapes may prompt a Congressional investigation into the matter.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, stated, “When regulators care more about protecting big banks from accountability than they do about protecting the American people from risky and illegal behavior on Wall Street, it threatens our whole economy.”  She further stated, “Congress must hold oversight hearings on the disturbing issues raised by today’s whistleblower report when it returns in November.”

 

 

Only Congress Has the Power to Declare War

Under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the Congress has the power to “declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water[.]”  The Founders wisely thought that the Legislature is in a better position than the President to carry out the will of the people.  Congressional debate can test the arguments for and against intervention in global problems.  Every two years members of the House are kept in check by the voters, who ought to dictate what American foreign policy should be.

James Madison, commonly referred to as “Father of the Constitution,” once said:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.  In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people.  The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both.  No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Under the War Powers Resolution, the President can deploy U.S. forces anywhere outside the U.S. for 180 days, provided Congress is informed in writing within 48 hours.  The executive does not need Congress to declare war for the 180 days, however, that time period cannot be extended without congressional authorization.  The President has the authority to introduce American forces into hostilities only when there is:

(1) a declaration of war

(2) specific statutory authorization, or

(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

The Supreme Court has never reviewed the War Powers Resolution to see if it passes constitutional muster.  Although Congress will say that it has “the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer . . . [,]” the Court, however, has ruled in other cases that one branch of government cannot give power away to another.

Goldman Sachs Being Sacked

Posted by Giancarlo Barrera.

Goldman Sachs was infamously named “The Wolf of Wall Street.”   Goldman created, convinced, and sold mortgage investments that had been designed to fail in the first place.corruption at its finest.  It was corruption at its finest.  Goldman even went as far as betting against the same derivatives it was promoting and selling to their own clientele.  Goldman accepted that it misled investors the wrong way, but did not admit to any scheming or wrongdoing.

In July 2010, Goldman paid an enormous SEC fine of 550 milion dollars.  It was one fine after another.  Then in April 2012, Goldman paid a fine of 22 million dollars for allowing insider trading of non-public information to Goldman’s clients and traders since 2007.  On the link, the story goes into further detail of how much fraud and dishonesty was played under the table and behind the backs of its own clients, who the company was supposed to help invest their money in the first place.

Business is business.

Giancarlo is an economics and finance major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

 

First Federal Unit to Identify Wrongful Convictions

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. is the first federal office to set up a unit to identify anyone wrongfully convicted of a crime.  The Conviction Integrity Unit will review cases where defendants offer new evidence that was not available at the original trial, such as DNA evidence, to prove their innocence.  Ronald Machen, Jr., the U.S. Attorney of the Washington office said in a statement, “As prosecutors, our goal is not to win convictions, but to do justice.”  Machen further said, “This new unit will work to uncover historical injustices and to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to prevent such tragedies in the future.”

The Conviction Integrity Unit follows similar ones established in state offices.  The modus for the creation of a separate unit to review these cases arises from five convictions that were vacated by the court, including that of Donald Gates, who was convicted in 1982 of rape and murder based on hair evidence.  DNA testing made available in 2009 proved that he was innocent.

The office is working with defense lawyers and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, a non-profit organization which fights wrongful convictions.  Over the last four-years, more than 2,000 files involving hair or fiber evidence have been reviewed by the FBI.

 

Combat Sweatshops

Posted by Arben Bajrami.

Sweatshops, or a workplace with unacceptable working conditions, have remained a problem up until recent years in business and in our economy.  Companies such as Nike and Adidas have workers in foreign countries sewing and producing equipment, apparel, and footwear for very little pay.  It is said that these sweatshop workers receive something called “living wage,” which is only five hundred dollars a month, or just enough money to survive.

Laborers that work in sweatshops are considered highly unethical.  Also, these items cost very little money to make but sell at outrageously high prices in retail stores.  For example, if it costs Nike four dollars and eighty cents to make a shirt, retail stores often mark up the product for eighteen dollars.

At least certain companies, such as Knights Apparel, are making a conscious effort to raise awareness to the horrors of sweatshops. Knights Apparel works closely with a program called Worker Rights Consortium.  They work “‘to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who sew apparel and make other products sold in the United States.'”

Arben is a marketing major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

Remembering September 11, 2001 . . .

For all those who died in the terrorists attacks upon our soil:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.  And let the perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Latine:

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.  Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.  Amen.

“Trias Politica”

Posted by Arben Bajrami.

The United States’ government is divided into three branches – the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. The legislative branch is in charge of enacting the laws of the state and handling the money needed for our government to function. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing and implementing the laws and policies made by the legislative branch. Finally, the judicial branch is in charge of interpreting the constitution and handling the controversies that are brought before them.

Our democratic government cannot function with a complete separation of powers or an absolute lack of separation of powers. This is because the powers of the government are interrelated; they are too abstract to be completely separated from on another.

“The term ‘trias politica’ or ‘separation of powers’ was coined by Charles-Louis de Secondat . . . .” To properly promote liberty, these three powers must remain isolated and act independently. The purpose is to make sure there is no concentration of power and that checks and balances are executed properly.

Arben is a marketing major at Montclair State University, Class of 2016.

A Shareholder’s Lawsuit May Not Be Subject to the Attorney-Client Privilege

The Delaware Supreme Court has recently handed a major blow to corporate directors and officers who believe the attorneys employed in their legal department necessarily have to keep everything under wraps.  The Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund, a Walmart shareholder, filed suit against the directors and officers claiming they knew their employees may have been engaged in a sweeping bribery operation in Mexico.  But the company argued any communications made by its legal department is privileged and could not be disclosed for the purposes of the lawsuit.

The attorney-client privilege is a sacred one because it allows people to freely discuss their problems openly with their attorneys without fear that what they discuss can be used against them.  Courts, however, in extreme circumstances will allow a party to pierce the privilege and force an attorney to divulge these confidential communications.   Company officers have been abusing the privilege by using company attorneys to bounce-off ideas in order to concoct what may be tantamount to an illegal scheme and then shifting the responsibility to the legal department knowing that any communications have to be kept confidential.

Generally, the attorney-client privilege would have to apply in these situations, unless an employee is brave enough to be a whistle-blower.  But not everyone wants to step-up to the plate in these circumstances because, even though there are laws to protect them, whistleblowers fear the stigma that accompanies it.  Moreover, not all crimes are covered under the whistleblower laws, therefore, some nefarious conduct by corporations will go undetected.

Nevertheless, the Delaware Supreme Court articulated that the owners of the companies are really the shareholders; thus, the attorneys working in the legal department work for the shareholders. The court held the allegations made by plaintiffs Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust “‘implicate criminal conduct'” under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The court further held that since the pension fund was a stockholder, the information “‘should be produced by Walmart pursuant to [an] exception to the attorney-client privilege.'”  As a result of the decision, the pension fund can now use the information to decide whether there was any wrongdoing.