Article VIII: The Lawyers: Lying, False Claims, Threats and Insanity – RICO Predicate Acts

Article VIII: The Lawyers: Lying, False Claims, Threats and Insanity: Social Ventures in Africa? by Brian Ray Dinning, JD, LLM and social venture lawyer

Article VIII:  The Lawyers:  Lying, False Claims, Threats and Insanity

 

By:  Brian Ray Dinning, JD, LLM and Social Venture Lawyer[1]

 

July 20, 2012

 

What does a lawyer who was suspended from practicing law for three years for making false claims against me and others and not being truthful with a court and other unprofessional and tortious behavior with a history of insanity have to do with this story? A LOT!  He is one of the lawyers for the bad press collaborators (see Articles III through VII at www.socialentrepreneurshipinafrica.com).   Jason Christopher Roper and his close friend and former law partner, George Bowles are the lawyers for the aggressive bad press campaign collaborators.  These two lawyers not only participated in most, if not all, of the aggressive bad press campaign, they are the two people who have profited substantially by representing this group – earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

 

George Bowles was the lawyer for Batte and Stiner.  Bowles contacted business associates of Pure Africa, Earth Conservancy and me in an effort to damage and discredit the social venture projects in South Africa and me and to support his claims.  On at least two occasions, Bowles contacted our business partners (general contractors and builders from Virginia who were overseeing the development work on the Wild Coast of South Africa) to discredit me and to engage in a fishing expedition to solicit them as clients in a possible legal action against me.  Interfering with and damaging existing business relationships, providing false and inflammatory information and then seeking to represent these people is wrong – it is illegal and actionable (tortious interference) but it is also against a lawyer’s code of ethics.

 

These actions by Bowles are not only unprofessional and unethical but they cost the projects hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost investment and the loss of two or more business relationships.  Our business relationships with general contractors a year or more to develop since the projects are in Africa and generally included one or more due diligence trips to South Africa.  Each time one of these relationships was destroyed by Bowles, it cost the social venture projects in time, money and valuable resources.  Bowles and his clients also sent confidential and privileged information to Bossie Bosman, which was used to discredit us in South Africa with the government, our professional team, our local community partners and our business partners.[2]  He also admittedly shared confidential and privileged information with his good friend and former partner Roper.  It is unclear whether Bowles’ law firm, Williams Mullen is aware of the tortious, interfering and damaging conduct.[3]

 

Jason Christopher Roper was actively involved in the aggressive negative press campaign in an illegal and actionable way as well.  He openly advertised for new clients on the blog of Jeff Brown and he admitted to contacting the South African government and others in an effort to damage and discredit the projects and me.  He also admitted to working in concert with and sharing confidential and protected information with his good friend, Bowles.  Together, these two worked hard to damage and discredit the projects and me and they profited handsomely from their efforts through the payment of legal fees by Batte, Stiner and the other bad press campaign collaborators.[4]

 

The contact by Roper and Bowles to the government of South Africa, to Sotheby’s International Realty, to Pam Golding Properties and others stopped our projects on at least three specific instances directly:  at Mdumbi Bay with Fresh Properties,[5] at Hole in the Wall with Sotheby’s International Realty,[6]and with Pam Golding Properties.[7]  Each time this occurred, it stopped the marketing campaign and cost the social venture projects millions of dollars in revenue.  This revenue would have been used to repay our financial partners and to provide for a financial return to the local community and the social venture partners.  It is unclear how many indirect opportunities were lost to the bad press campaign but I know of several instances where business relationships ended due to the blog of Jeff Brown and others.

 

Many times, we tried to stop them from interfering by sending letters of support and seeking endorsements from all of our professional team members.[8]  We also sought and received endorsement letters and support from the Government of South Africa including South African President Jacob Zuma, National Cabinet Members and National and local government.[9]

 

Roper and Bowles coordinated the legal attack on me and the social venture projects to line their pockets with legal fees.  Instead of simply asking the social venture projects for a return of their money, they sued first using a generic fraud complaint.  Since the only way to get to an individual personally instead of the business is by alleging fraud, they started off by using a general allegation of fraud to file a lawsuit against me personally as well as against the social venture companies.  In the first three cases, the social venture partners and myself settled three lawsuits by paying back the investors in full with interest and attorneys’ fees.  The next legal battle was with the Stiners.  The social venture companies would have eventually paid them back as well when funding was available to settle the lawsuit but the damage that they did to the social venture projects through the aggressive bad press campaign plus the death threats against me led us to agree that settling the lawsuit was not appropriate and a countersuit was filed.  It was then that the Stiners dismissed their lawsuit forever.  The final lawsuit (other than the $30 million lawsuit pending against the bad press campaign club filed by me) was a lawsuit filed by Roper.  This suit cost Jason Christopher Roper his job because my legal counsel and I were present when the senior partners of his firm at McKenry Dancigars said to him that “there is no case.”  Roper continued with the lawsuit contrary to his firm’s advice and was fired.  Strangely, he then reportedly attempted to commit suicide, was hospitalized and then continued to practice law until his recent suspension.[10]

 

I was finally able to achieve a small victory with Roper through the Virginia State Bar.  Judge Karen Burrell documented Roper’s negative, unprofessional and attacking behavior against me in both correspondence and court order.[11]  On February 17, 2012, Jason Christopher Roper was suspended from practicing law for three years by the Virginia State Bar.  The announcement from the Virginia State Bar reads:

 

     “Jason Christopher Roper, 702 Lakeview Court, Mars, PA 16046

VSB Docket Nos. 09-021-080040, 10-021-080199, 10-021-080602

On February 17, 2012, the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board suspended Jason Christopher Roper’s license to practice law for three years for violating rules governing candor toward the tribunal; fairness to opposing party or counsel; respect for rights of third persons; confidentiality of information; conflict of interest: general rule; conflict of interest: former client; declining or terminating representation; meritorious claims and contentions; ; communication with persons represented by counsel; bar admission and disciplinary matters; and misconduct.”

 

This, in turn, gave me the necessary evidence to prepare and file the current $30 million lawsuit including claims for federal civil RICO against Jason Christopher Roper, George Bowles and the bad press campaign collaborators.  My goal with the lawsuit is to fight for the rights of the social venture partners, the investors and donors, the local poor communities in Africa and me against this negative and actionable conduct by a small group of people. These people cost us millions of dollars in potential profit, millions of dollars of costs and expenses and years of hard work and effort for the people of Africa.

 

Just to highlight the attacking, unprofessional and unbalanced thinking of this group, Roper sent this scary and threatening email to me:

 

“Mr. Dinning:

Good morning and congratulations on your indictment!  May you enjoy the next twenty to thirty years in a nice federal peneteniary without the comforts of your bimbo wife, your kids, or the finer things in life . . . Don’t worry about your wife.  If she appears at your trial, I will make sure to inform her that if she needs a good serving, she can always give me a call. 

 

Laughing still.

Jason C. Roper”

 

My legal counsel responded with:

“Mr. Roper –

I was just forwarded your communication with Mr. Dinning.  Note that your communication itself, as well as the content, are not only violative of PA ethical rules, but are unlawful in and of themselves.  Besides being disgusting and offensive. 

Given your history of unstable and violent behavior, I must take your statements, especially as to threatened sexual assault on Mrs. Dinning, as real threats to her well being and report the same as well as insist that you never, in any manner, communicate with my client again.  If you do so, appropriate legal action will be taken in Pennsylvania. 

I’m not saying this to argue with you, and I will not respond to any response or argument that you make in return.  You either comply or don’t.  If you don’t, I will take appropriate action.”

After sending this to my lawyer, misconduct bar complaints were filed by my legal counsel and me in both Virginia and Pennsylvania for this shocking and threatening behavior.

This is not the conduct of rational people.  What I have shared with you is the actual, documented conduct of some of our financial partners and their legal counsel in social ventures in Africa.  It is also the conduct of the principle instigators behind the current charges pending against me in the United States as a final blow in their aggressive bad press campaign.

 

While I am happy to face them in court, I wanted to tell my side of the story and to share with you my heart for the people of Africa.  While no one is perfect, all of my consulting fees, expenses, personal expenses and draw compensation was documented in consulting agreements and authorized by the social venture companies.  You do not have to take my word for it though, as I have attached a letter from one of our social venture partners, Dr. William Brown, Ph.D Professor and Fulbright Scholar to Assistant US Attorney Steve Haynie in February, 2012.  In this letter, Dr. Brown (which can be supported and corroborated by “dozens of people” according to Dr. Brown) openly discusses the aggressive bad press campaign and the fact that my consulting fees and expenses were all authorized and approved by the Board of Directors and by my consulting agreements.[12]

 

While I am happy to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in court, I can tell you that my reputation, family and over 16 years of work on social ventures has been irreparably damaged by this unjust process.  The truly sad thing is that the real impact of this will be against the local people in Africa, who were and are counting on us for help not to mention the wildlife that is counting on us for safety and protection.[13]  I can only hope that others will take up the cause of social ventures in Africa (despite the risks I have described) and help the local people of Africa to help preserve and conserve their land and natural resources for future generations to enjoy.

 

 

 


[1] My background is at http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/23321-va-brian-dinning-629141.html

[2] George Bowles, for his part in the aggressive bad press campaign, is listed as one of the defendants in the pending $30 million lawsuit by me and Pure Africa to reclaim some of the damage caused by their reckless and intentional actions in damaging me and the social venture projects.  Our goal is to ensure that the projects move forward for the benefit of the local communities in Africa.

 [4] Jason Christopher Roper has already been suspended for three years from practicing law for his unprofessional and attacking conduct against me by the Virginia State Bar as documented by Judge Karen Burrell in both correspondence and court order.  Jason Roper, for his part in the aggressive bad press campaign, is listed as one of the defendants in the pending $30 million lawsuit by me and Pure Africa to reclaim some of the damage caused by their reckless and intentional actions in damaging me and the social venture projects.  For his background, see http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/15219-pa-jason-roper-537025/reviews.html

 [5] Fresh emails.  Fresh Cash Buyers for 39 lots

[6] Sotheby’s emails.

[10] It should also be noted that Jason Christopher Roper was fired from his last two law firms (Blumling & Gusky and McKenry Dancigars) and it is reported to me by other attorneys that he was fired from two previous law firms for similarly bizarre and unprofessional behavior.

[11] See Letter from Judge Karen Burrell.  Article 8 FN Judge Burrell Letter re Roper

[12] See Letter of Dr. William Brown to Steve Haynie, Asst. US Attorney  Article 1 FN 1 Letter from William Brown to Mr. Haynie

[13] Letter from Xolile at Mdumbi Bay Community Trust.  Article 8 FN Xolile 2012 Letter

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Article IV: Cocaine, Ecstasy and Swingers: Social Ventures in Africa?

This Article is in a series published by Brian Dinning at http://www.socialentrepreneurshipinafrica.com and relates to the RICO lawsuit Mr. Dinning filed against a cadre of people.  This provides some information on the predicate acts to support the RICO claim.

Article 4:  Cocaine, Ecstasy and Swingers:  Social Ventures in Africa?

 

By:  Brian Ray Dinning, JD, LLM and Social Venture Lawyer

 

July 7, 2012

 

As you have read in the prior Articles in this Series, for years my goal, vision and passion was, and still is very much so, to help dozens of needy communities in Africa by helping them to create jobs, hope and a better future.  But, as you have also read, unpredictable and unfortunate situations, such as the fraud of Wextrust Capital, created obstacles and roadblocks, which necessitated a change in partners or strategy or the direction of the project to ultimately accomplish what I have hoped for and worked toward for many years.  Each new change of direction however added a year or more onto each project as it took time to locate new partners, rebuild relationships and hold community and governmental meetings in Africa to communicate the new strategy with our social venture partners.

 

What do you do when people who you thought you could rely on for professionalism, honesty and integrity demonstrate the complete opposite and instead get in the way of the goal of helping others or your dreams?  Think about it – do you just give up on that dream?  Does it just become a thing of the past?  Or, do you pick yourself up and know that you can overcome any challenge (big or small) by making some changes so you can ultimately fulfill that dream and vision?  What you are about to read is one of the many challenging obstacles that created a course for change in the goal of helping the people of Africa.

 

Since I no longer had a job after quitting Wextrust Captial, having witnessed Joe Shereshevsky reveal himself as a man only too eager to sexually harass women, commit all manner of fraud and indulge himself with prostitutes, I needed to find a new job.  Furthermore, I wasn’t the only person hurt by Wextrust Capital – many of us had lost time, effort, money and ownership in the three social venture projects.  While I had to find a job, we all wanted to continue to move forward with our vision, not willing to give up on the people and projects we’d invested so much in.  We all wanted to continue to move forward with our vision of helping the local people of Africa with social venture projects and we all immediately started over – not willing to give up on people in need and on social venture projects that we had all worked so diligently on.

 

I was hired by a company in Fairfax, Virginia in March 2005 at an annual salary of $250,000 plus bonuses.  All of my spare time went toward working on social ventures in Africa.  Earth Conservancy, a non-profit that I consulted with over the years, opened an office in Alexandria, Virginia and employed four full-time consultants and several web designers and grant writers.  I was asked to coordinate the office in my spare time and to oversee the launch of a fundraising and social venture campaign for Earth Conservancy and Sunpoints Southern Africa to help rebuild the social venture projects.  Based upon the hard work of these consultants, I was asked to draft a treatise and power point presentation for the United States Department of State on the subject of for-profit/non-profit ventures entitled “Beyond Micro Enterprise,” and was invited by the State Department to speak at the World Africa Growth Opportunity Act Conference in Dakar, Senegal and Washington, DC in 2005 and 2006.

 

After losing projects to Wextrust Capital, the social venture partners still had the opportunity to resurrect portions of the first three projects as Wextrust Capital’s main pursuit was diamond mining.  So, once again, we were in need of other financial partners.  Having two venture capital firms fail to provide the agreed upon help to the local communities and fail to live up to the promises and agreements made to Sunpoints and the social venture partners, the group discussed raising the needed funds through friends and family to avoid the problems and shortcomings of the Wall Street Investment Banking world.  Unfortunately, as you will see, the friends and family option can also be full of challenges and perils.

 

In 2005, I was discussing my social venture work with Dr. John O, a doctor and former client (“John”).  He was fascinated with the social venture work and wanted me to meet two of his friends, Richard L. and Louis D (“Rick” and “Lou”).  Both MBAs, Rick was a Business MBA and Lou was a Finance MBA – both very valuable skill sets for any business or social venture project and they operated a successful business.  They seemed like the perfect fit and they truly embraced the idea of helping the local communities in Africa. At that time, the social venture partners were seeking to resurrect several community projects including:  Honingklip II, a mining project adjacent to the one taken from us by Wextrust Capital, Sunpoints Farm, a farm project, and Lion’s Walk Lodge a planned tourism lodge.  These projects were controlled by Michael van der Merwe and his brother, Pieter van der Merwe, as the social venture partners. Other social venture projects including amazingly beautiful properties on the Wild Coast of South Africa, which were started by Bossie Bosman as the social venture partner.

 

After discussing the non-profit and for-profit model of social ventures, Rick, Lou and John said that we should form a company to develop these projects and raise the necessary funding, which they calculated was approximately $10 million. In helping to conduct due diligence, enter into contracts and scope out these potential the projects in 2005, the three men donated money to Earth Conservancy as charitable donations.  The donations were used to pay due diligence costs, development expenses, operating expenses for Earth Conservancy, consulting fees, business expenses, travel and entertainment expenses and personal expenses pursuant to written Consulting Agreements and Business Plans.[1]  All funds that were wired to South Africa in 2005 for the scoping of these potential projects were sent to two South African social venture partners: Michael van der Merwe and Bossie Bosman.

 

On the for-profit side, Rick, Lou, John and I agreed to form a company called Pure Africa Management so that the four of us could all keep track of our consulting time and expenses and be reimbursed for that time and expenses as money became available from investors or from the potential project cash flow.  This was all documented in the voluminous Private Placement Memorandum and other documentation of the newly-forming Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund, managed by Pure Africa Management.  I was asked to work full-time on the documentation, business plans and power point presentations.  John said that he would set up meetings at his home or at the office of Rick and Lou and they would invite their friends and colleagues to explain the projects to them so that they could raise the $10 million of necessary funding.  Rick would handle business administration and community relations in the Hampton Roads area and Lou would be the Chief Financial Officer and manage the funds and books of the business including the preparation of financial statements.

 

Before taking any outside investment, all four of us agreed that a due diligence trip to verify the existence of the projects, review the documentation, meet the South African social venture partners, meet the professional team including Sotheby’s International Realty and Smith Tabata Law Firm was necessary and prudent.  In January, 2006, we traveled to South Africa to view all projects and determine which projects to focus on.  In taking this trip, I was again asked to work full-time as a consultant for Pure Africa Management and the Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund, LLC starting in February, 2006 by Rick, Lou and John.  In accepting this position, a Consulting Agreement documenting my consulting compensation was agreed to and signed.  Like everyone, I had bills to pay and personal obligations like child support, housing, food, car payments and more plus I would be leaving a lucrative job to focus on more risky social ventures start-up projects as a consultant.

 

The three men assured me that they would raise the necessary funds to pay my consulting fees of $250,000 plus all expenses for me to work full-time.  My employer did not want me working on African projects and instead wanted all my time and effort devoted to their company.  When I went on the due diligence trip in January, 2006 and committed to full-time work with these three men at Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund, LLC, I would be leaving a good job.  However, I was excited by the new consulting work and the help from Rick, Lou and John on the social ventures and with this newly forming endeavor, we headed out for South Africa.

 

The trip was truly amazing at first and we visited the tourism site at Lion’s Walk Lodge, where  Sunpoints Southern Africa had secured a contract to purchase this farm in 2004 and a financial partner was needed to help build a tourism lodge there.  We also visited a possible diamond mine claim at the Farm Rugalatte named Honingklip II[2] and the Sunpoints Farms, large operating farms in the Free State of South Africa.[3]  We then flew to the Wild Coast of South Africa to view the project at Hole in the Wall and other sites.[4]  Hole in the Wall is a National Heritage Site for South Africa and it is truly beautiful.[5]  The trip was going very well and Rick, Lou and John seemed to be excellent business and financial partners to grow these social ventures for the people of Africa and provide the necessary funding.

 

But, as always, circumstances change and the entire project would have to be radically altered by what I and two other trip participants refer to as “The Trip from Hell.”  Once we were at the Wild Coast, we set up camp in Jeffreys Bay, a world-renowned surfing town located a few hours from the Wild Coast.  The first night, we ate at a local Mexican restaurant, as it was the only restaurant that was open.  When we were getting ready to leave after dinner, I noticed that John was gone.  I asked Rick and Lou “What happened to John?”  They replied, “he went with a guy he met at the bar to get some party supplies.”  “What party supplies? – Africa is a dangerous place at night and he left with a total stranger,” I said.  I was genuinely worried and concerned for John’s safety.

 

Later that night, I went to the room of Rick, Lou and John to check if John had returned.  On the glass dining room table, I witnessed several bags of white powder and lots of pills.  I asked “what is this?”  John said he “bought eight grams of cocaine and 100 ecstasy pills to make the trip more fun.”  Shocked by this, I said to John and the other guys: “this is so wrong – first, because you bought drugs, second, because this is Africa and you could go to prison and third, we are on a business trip to help represent our social venture partners and this is not the way to help others in need.”  Laughing off my comments, John asked after he snorted a long line of white powder, “do you guys want to do some coke with us?”  Disgusted and dismayed by John, three of us declined and went back to our own rooms leaving John, Rick, Lou and one of our companions in their room with their newly-acquired drug cache.

 

Back at my room, we all discussed what we had just seen.  I worried most of the night and the rest of the trip.  I did not even want to be in he same vehicle or lodging with these guys.  Thoughts of Rick, Lou and John going to jail in South Africa for illegal drug possession, harming the other members on our business trip, going to the hospital for a drug overdose and other concerns about their conduct plagued me for the rest of the trip.  I was awoken later that same night by sounds outside my third floor balcony so I jumped out of bed and ran to the balcony door.  There was Rick and Lou trying to break into my room by climbing from balcony to balcony some twenty feet or more above the ground. I said, “what in the world are you guys doing?”  In an excited and intoxicated state, they said, “we want the car keys to go get some food and drinks.”  “At two o’clock in the morning?”  I asked.  I told them to “go back to bed because we have a schedule to keep tomorrow morning” and with that the men laughed, took the car keys and left.

 

The next morning we were late for our scheduled activities so three of us went to check on John and the others.  John and a travel companion came out to open the door and we went into the kitchen and sat down – trying to get everyone up and moving.  Scantily clad and with white powder and crusty snot outlining their noses, the travel companion told us that “we stayed up most of the night partying” as this person drank directly out of a two liter bottle of coca cola and burped loudly.  John just seemed groggy and out-of-it.  Needless to say, the three of them and a companion proceeded to party for a week straight, while being late to most of the scheduled meetings.  They stayed up all night and slept most of the day.  Their partying and behavior was so obvious and embarrassing that Bossie Bosman and our local partners asked me to never bring them to the local community projects again. The embarrassment was only heightened when one of the men, apparently too intoxicated to get up, simply went to the bathroom in his bed, which cost us $500 in damages from the lodge owner.  I also received bar bills for thousands of dollars of drinks from the places we stayed from their late night drinking and partying binges that they simply did not pay.

 

Do these seem like the type of people you would want working with you to you help you accomplish your goals and vision?

 

Because the local people are working with us on a trust relationship, I was told that we cannot have Rick, Lou and John representing the social venture partners in front of the local chiefs, the tribal council, the community and the government.  I was shocked and embarrassed and I did not know what to do at that point.  What would you do if you were working with a poor community in Africa who is counting on you and the social venture partners to help them with their most valuable assets and you find out that some of the people on your team were using drugs and acting inappropriately?

 

Furthermore, unbeknownst to me, John and his wife were swingers and near the end of the trip, he said, “I think my wife would like you and your wife, so would you be interested in swapping wives when we get home?”  Stunned by this question, I said to him that my wife and I loved each other and we were not interested in that lifestyle.  However, I was stunned and amazed at this turn of events:  I just left my job to start a new company with these three men and now I am in the middle of a complete mess.  This is one aspect of social ventures that I did not expect to encounter:  cocaine, ecstasy and swingers.

 

Upon our return to the United States, I had to begin making plans to slowly distance myself from my new partners and yet at the same time, we were already setting up a new fund, The Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund that would be operated by Pure Africa Management with project ownership to be held by Pure Africa Holdings.  John had already invited friends and colleagues to meet for presentations on the Fund on several occasions in late 2005 and early 2006.  One of the first investors into the Fund was a long time friend of John and also a friend of Rick and Lou.  His name was Dr. Allan Stiner of Norfolk, Virginia.  After one of these informal gatherings organized by John, Dr. Stiner told the Fund that he wanted to invest in the social ventures because he had just inherited millions of dollars from his father and had money to invest.  At Dr. Stiner’s request, a Private Placement Memorandum documenting the potential projects and the risks inherent in investing in projects in Africa, a Subscription Agreement and other legal documents were provided to Dr. Stiner for he and his legal counsel to review.

 

Pure Africa Management agreed to allow Dr. Stiner to invest his $250,000 into the Fund in February, 2006.  In February, 2006, in a meeting with Dr. Stiner at his home, he reviewed the legal documents one final time and signed the Subscription Agreement.  However, in making his investment, he had one other request:  he would only invest his money if Rick, Lou and John had no access to it as he was aware of the bad behavior of the group in South Africa the month before.  Dr. Stiner read the substantial Private Placement Memorandum of the Fund and he signed his Subscription Agreement (both legal documents which detail the risks of the project along with background information).  Dr. Stiner then gave me a check written out to me personally as the Fund had not yet set up its bank accounts.  The $250,000 was deposited into the Sunpoints Southern Africa bank account as the Fund had acquired all of the Sunpoints Southern Africa projects in South Africa including its bank account. With these funds, my outstanding invoices were paid for the time and effort I had put into the social venture projects and necessary project and business expenses were paid.

 

Based upon the strange events of The Trip from Hell in January, 2006 and my recent departure from my paying job, I was paid as a consultant pursuant to a written Consulting Agreement with the Fund through its bank account in Sunpoints Southern Africa for a large portion of my 2006 pay because I was feeling very uncertain about my future with Rick, Lou and John.  Furthermore, since I was the only person working full-time, the Fund managers knew that I was relying on my consulting pay to relocate from Washington, DC to the Virginia Beach area.  With my consulting pay and funds loaned to me by my family, I was able to purchase a home in Suffolk, Virginia.  With my two children and the hopes of having additional children and/or adopting children, my wife and I bought a five-bedroom home in a nice neighborhood where my children had many friends and an area that was very safe and close to my children’s school. [6]

 

By mid-2006, the Fund had five investors who invested a total of $545,000, one of whom was John and the others were his friends and colleagues, whom he invited and recruited into the Fund.  Lou prepared financial statements and balance sheets and Rick prepared status reports for the Fund investors.  I provided needed help from the business plan writing and coordinating with South Africa and US legal counsel.  However, the Fund was dysfunctional because of the prior serious actions by John and others and the inherent mistrust caused by their potentially criminal actions.  Furthermore, the drug use, partying and lack of professionalism had ruined their reputation with the social venture partners.  I was forced to adapt and change the projects already underway and restructure midway or have all of us lose everything to financial partners once again.  At my request, we all agreed that the Fund would stop raising money for the foreseeable future, in my mind, to protect other financial partners against any further potential loss or negative actions.

 

Once again, I had just left a high-paying job to work full-time on social venture projects as a consultant for Pure Africa Management and the Fund and now, I was faced with an uncertain future:  a new home and social venture projects that did not have a reliable funding source or a reliable management team.

 

While the events of this story seem outlandish or unbelievable, there were seven witnesses to the cocaine, ecstasy and swinger Trip from Hell (including John, Rick and Lou).  One witness stated, “it was the worst trip I have ever taken in my life.”  Another witness said that, “I was initially excited to see three professional men like Rick, Lou and John getting involved to help the needy in Africa but I was deeply saddened and disturbed when I saw this unethical behavior by three professional men who were husbands and who had families acting in such a reckless manner by taking drugs and partying in an out-of-control way.  While on the trip, I was scared to be anywhere near them because they were carrying such a large amount of drugs and acting so childishly and unprofessional.  Later, I was hurt that these men not only let down the poor people in Africa and potentially ruined the vision of the company because they misrepresented the company, the projects and they gave the people of Africa a negative impression of Americans.  In meeting with government officials, Sotheby’s, the local chiefs and the community, it was embarrassing to have them in meetings because they looked hung over and unprofessional.”

 

If you do not believe me, then perhaps legal counsel will ask them on the witness stand under penalty of perjury to tell the truth.  If they do not do so, then there are four witnesses who can testify to their actions.  Once again, the social venture projects needed a funding partner and a management team and, unfortunately, the next partners were equally as challenging in their behavior and more devastating to the projects than anyone else.

 

Again I will ask, what would you do in a situation like this? Give up your dream? Give up the opportunity to help thousands of people have a better life?  Or, do you pick yourself up and know that you can overcome any challenge (big or small) by restructuring and making some changes so you can ultimately fulfill that dream and vision and protect others from the negative actions of a few.

 

The next article in the series is:  Murder-for-Hire, Aggressive Bad Press Campaign and Other Distasteful Actions:  Social Ventures in Africa?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] See Letter from William Brown, Ph.D to Asst. United States Attorney, Stephen Haynie acknowledging my consulting agreement at Earth Conservancy and payment of consulting fees, and personal and business expenses.

[2] See Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDRhTrs7PyM&feature=channel&list=UL  Social venture partners, Michael van der Merwe and his brother Pieter van der Merwe, take us on a tour of the Honingklip I Diamond Mine and show us the adjacent site of The Farm Rugalatte named Honingklip II.  Funds were sent to Michael van der Merwe in 2005 to secure the mining claim and necessary bonding so that due diligence could be done on the potential mining project.

 

[3] See Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxE7zjXsgTo&feature=channel&list=UL  Social venture partners Pieter van der Merwe along with the farm manager take us on a tour of the Sunpoints Farms in the Free State Province of South Africa.  As working farms, the goal of these social venture projects were to educate the local people in modern farming methods and to operate profitable farms.  Funds were sent to Michael van der Merwe in 2005 and 2006 to sign contracts to become a social venture partner in this existing farming operation.

 

[4] See Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OysOjCVKXB0&feature=channel&list=UL After the local leaders and our Xhosa community social venture partners greeted us with traditional dancing, Rick, Lou, John and I were escorted around The Cliffs at Coffee Bay golf course by social venture partner, Bossie Bosman.  The golf course is owned by the local community and they leased it to Earth Conservancy and Pure Africa so that the golf course could be renovated.  World renowned golf architects and other golf experts were flown in to prepare a plan to renovate the golf course in 2006 and 2007.  Ault Clark and other golf experts commented that The Cliffs at Coffee Bay was similar to Pebble Beach with cliffs and sweeping ocean views.

 

[5] See Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-9E-8qtpW0&feature=channel&list=UL  Social venture partner, Bossie Bosman takes us on a tour of the Hole in the Wall project.  Hole in the Wall is a National Heritage Site for South Africa and it holds significant cultural value for the Xhosa community.  As one of the premier natural tourist sites in South Africa, Hole in the Wall is regarded by Sotheby’s and other professionals as a major tourism lodging site.  Funds were sent to Bossie Bosman in 2005 and continuing to allow for Earth Conservancy and Pure Africa to become social venture partners at the Hole in the Wall project.  With 50 oceanfront lodge sites and a hotel site, the plans at Hole in the Wall would allow for up to $6M of lodge lease income and continuing revenues from the hotel site.  The project is structured with 45% ownership by the local Xhosa community.

[6] When Rick, Lou and John first set up investor presentations in 2005 and early 2006, I was working full-time for Trident Systems, Inc. for $250,000 plus bonuses and I was also working as a consultant for several social venture companies.  In February, 2006, I was hired as a consultant by the Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund and I was also a consultant for Earth Conservancy and other projects.  My combined consulting contracts were designed to provide me with $350,000 or more of income as and when funding was available.

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Microsoft using Civil RICO to tackle hackers and botnet operators

According to http://www.readwriteweb.com/hack/2012/03/microsoft-uses-rico-laws-to-ta.php, Microsoft is using Civil RICO to talking hackers and botnet operators.  “The next time representatives from Microsoft come knocking on your door, it may be to actually seize your servers. And it is all legit, thanks to the RICO laws. The interesting thing is it is part of its digital crime efforts to disrupt botnet operators. On Friday, Microsoft staffers entered two hosting providers, one in Illinois and one in Scranton, Penn., to seize the command and control computers of two Zeus botnets. Microsoft had sued the operators on the grounds that the botnets violated their copyrights and trademarks by taking control over a series of Windows PCs.”

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Chevron Files RICO Case against Lawyers for Extortion and Fraudulent Litigation and PR Campaign

SAN RAMON, Calif., Feb. 1, 2011 – Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) today filed a civil lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as well as other federal and state laws against the trial lawyers and consultants leading a fraudulent litigation and PR campaign against the company.  Through the lawsuit, Chevron seeks a court declaration that any judgment against Chevron in the Ecuador lawsuit is the result of fraud and therefore unenforceable.  Chevron is also seeking damages associated with the cost of defending the Ecuador litigation.

Chevron’s RICO claim addresses pervasive misconduct relating to the named defendants’ efforts to extort money from Chevron using the pendency of a lawsuit in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, directed and funded by American trial lawyers and their allies.  Chevron’s suit alleges that the named defendants, and certain non-party co-conspirators, have used the Ecuador lawsuit to threaten Chevron, mislead U.S. government officials, and harass and intimidate Chevron employees, all in order to extort a financial settlement from the company.  Among those named in Chevron’s complaint are New York City-based plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger; his Ecuadorian colleagues Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza; their front organizations, the Amazon Defense Front and Selva Viva; and Stratus Consulting, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm retained by the plaintiffs’ lawyers to secretly prepare a damages report that was then presented as having been written by an allegedly independent, court-appointed expert.

“The Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers’ aim has been to extort a multi-billion dollar payment from Chevron through fabricated evidence and a campaign to incite public outrage.  Chevron has no intention of giving these plaintiffs’ lawyers the payday they seek.  Rather, we intend to see the RICO defendants held accountable for their misconduct,” stated R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel.

Recent U.S. court proceedings initiated by Chevron have produced overwhelming evidence of fraud, collusion, corruption, and other misconduct on the part of those pressing the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ case.  In the Western District of North Carolina, for instance, the federal court found that “what has blatantly occurred in this matter would in fact be considered fraud by any court.”  The District Court in the District of New Jersey held that the conduct of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the furtherance of the Lago Agrio lawsuit could not constitute “anything but a fraud on the judicial proceeding.”

Today’s filing before the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York lays out overwhelming evidence demonstrating that the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants have engaged in a sustained pattern of racketeering, including attempted extortion, mail and wire fraud, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and money laundering.  Proof of misconduct on the part of the named defendants and their associates includes:

  • Documents, sworn deposition testimony, and outtakes from the movie Crude showing Donziger and his environmental consultants, including Stratus Consulting, plotting to secretly write the report of the supposedly “neutral” Ecuadorian court expert—Richard Stalin Cabrera Vega—who was appointed at the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ insistence to serve as the Lago Agrio court’s sole, “global damages expert.”  The ghostwritten “Cabrera” report would serve as the basis for the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ demands for more than $27 billion in damages—a figure that later was inflated to more than $113 billion after evidence of the Cabrera fraud emerged.
  • Documents and e-mails demonstrating that, after ghostwriting Cabrera’s initial report recommending more than $16 billion in damages, Donziger, Stratus and their co-conspirators pretended to criticize “Cabrera’s” report and demand that the damages be increased.  The conspirators then prepared “Cabrera’s” responses to their own criticisms, increasing the initial damages estimate by more than $10 billion.  The scheme culminated in a fraudulent “peer review” conducted by Stratus staff in which they pretended to perform an “independent” review and validation of the reports that they had ghostwritten for Cabrera’s signature.
  • Plaintiffs’ documents, including Donziger’s own detailed notes, as well as outtakes fromCrude revealing a campaign of judicial intimidation by Donziger and his colleagues.  On film, Donziger declared, “the only language that I believe, this judge is gonna understand is one of pressure, intimidation and humiliation.  And that’s what we’re doin’ today.  We’re gonna let him know what time it is . . . .  We’re going to scare the judge, I think today.”  These tactics were employed because, according to Donziger, judges in Ecuador “make decisions based on who they fear the most, not based on what laws should dictate.”  When it was suggested to Donziger that no judge would rule against them because “[h]e’ll be killed,” Donziger replied that, though the judge might not actually be killed, “he thinks he will be…  Which is just as good.”
  • Evidence of a concerted effort by the named defendants and others conspiring with them to deceive members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. and state government regulatory agencies, and others into believing that the company faces a multibillion-dollar liability and has sought to mislead investors-all with the aim of forcing Chevron to settle. The campaign has included demands for Securities and Exchange Commission investigations, lobbying of government officials, including the U.S. Department of Justice and New York Attorney General, direct targeting of others with misinformation, and overt threats directed at Chevron’s Board of Directors.
  • Correspondence, memos, emails and agreements documenting the financing of the fraudulent scheme and the planned division of the windfall.  The evidence reveals that the real parties standing to gain from the Lago Agrio lawsuit are U.S. law firms and investors, not indigenous rainforest residents.  These U.S lawyers have also schemed to divvy up the proceeds of any recovery they extract from Chevron outside of Ecuador and beyond the reach of Ecuadorian law.

Chevron’s Pate also stated: “It is sad to see American citizens organizing a shakedown of a U.S. company while pretending to be helping Ecuadorians and the environment.  Equally sad is the pattern of fraud and obstruction in multiple U.S. federal courts in a vain attempt to try to keep the truth from coming out. But now, the truth has been revealed.”

Read RICO Filing (1.7 MB)

Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company’s success is driven by the ingenuity and commitment of its employees and their application of the most innovative technologies in the world. Chevron is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. The company explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and other energy products; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron is available at http://www.chevron.com.

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Dinning and Pure Africa versus Granville Batte et al. as published in “Inside Business” Magazine

Lawyer sues investors and their attorneys

Posted: March 9, 2012

By Mary Flachsenhaar

mary.flachsenhaar@insidebiz.com

“Attorney Brian Ray Dinning, a former Suffolk resident who has been sued numerous times by investors in his nonprofits, has responded by filing a complex civil case in Suffolk Circuit Court that names 10 defendants.

Among the charges listed by Dinning, who represents himself in the case, are defamation, libel, slander, as well as interference with business relationships and statutory business conspiracy that have injured Dinning’s business, professional reputation and future employment opportunities, according to the suit filed on Feb. 22.

The defendants include six individuals, from Hampton Roads and elsewhere, who have previously sued Dinning in an attempt to recoup money they invested in his nonprofit organizations; two attorneys who’ve represented some of those investors; and two residents of South Africa, the country where Dinning has been involved in work with the indigenous population and attempted development projects during the last 10 years.

In addition to Dinning, Pure Africa LLC, one of the many companies he created, is named as a plaintiff.

Dinning, whose most recent residence was in Somerset County, Pa., although it’s unclear where he lives now, declined by email to be interviewed for this story because of pending litigation.

In February, he appealed a May 2010 jury verdict in Norfolk Circuit Court that ordered him to pay more than $722,000 to a Pennsylvania couple who invested in his South African projects. Danny and Debra Murrill of Mechanicsburg, Pa., had sued Dinning on charges of fraud and breach of contract. The Murrills are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in Suffolk by Dinning.

Dinning charges in the suit that, beginning in 2007, the 10 defendants and others began to conspire and enact an aggressive negative press campaign against Dinning and Pure Africa. The campaign extended to stories that appeared in Inside Business.

“Negative, false and libelous articles were published about Dinning through the concerted, planned and combined efforts of the defendants,” Dinning wrote in the suit.

Inside Business has published numerous stores about Dinning since November 2006.

Additionally, the lawsuit states that seven of the defendants “recklessly and maliciously filed frivolous complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal and state agencies including South African government agencies alleging that Dinning’s projects in South Africa do not exist and accusing Dinning of perpetrating numerous frauds against the Murrills and others.”

According to the lawsuit, Dinning has suffered physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially as a result of the negative actions of the defendants. The suit goes on to say his personal and professional reputation have been harmed; he has lost investors and donors; and his personal, family and church relationships have been damaged.

On all counts combined, Dinning seeks a total award of more than $30 million, punitive damages of nearly $2.5 million, plus interest, attorney fees and costs.

Several defendants contacted by phone or email either did not respond or declined to comment because they’d not yet seen the lawsuit.

In addition to the Murrills, the defendants include Jason Roper, the attorney who represented the Murrills in their case against Dinning; Allan and Maureen Stiner of Norfolk, whose lawsuit against Dinning was settled out of court; George Bowles of Williams Mullen, the Stiners’ attorney in the case; Steve P. Geller of Suffolk, who advised Dinning about building a golf course in South Africa; W. Granville Batte, formerly of Virginia Beach, who was involved in a suit against Dinning that was settled out of court; and Bossie Bosman and Jeff Brown, both of South Africa. Bosman at one time worked with Dinning on some of his projects. Brown writes a blog about South Africa’s Wild Coast, the site of some of Dinning’s proposed developments.

Jason Roper, who had a law practice in Virginia Beach until last year, now practices law in Pittsburgh with the firm of Blumling & Gusky. As a result of complaints brought against him by Dinning and Norfolk attorney Duncan Byers, who has represented Dinning in the past, Roper was suspended from practicing law in Virginia for three years. The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board cited misconduct and fairness to opposing party or counsel, among other violations. Roper said in an email he plans to appeal the suspension.”

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Countrywide Homeloans, Inc. Civil RICO

DOCKET NO. 09-17678
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALSFOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
_________________________________________________________________

SALMA MERRITT and DAVID MERRITT,Plaintiffs-Appellants,vs.COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL CORPORATION; COUNTRYWIDE HOMELOANS, INC.; ANGELO MOZILO; DAVID SAMBOL; MICHAEL COLYER,BANK OF AMERICA; KEN LEWIS; WELLS FARGO; JOHN STUMPF;JOHNNY CHEN; JOHN BENSON; DOE 1; DOES 2-100,Defendants-Appellees.
Appeal From District Court Case No. C09-01179 JW (Consolidated)The Honorable James Ware Presiding
OPENING BRIEF OFCOUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC.,COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL CORPORATION,BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION,MICHAEL COLYER, DAVID SAMBOL,and KENNETH LEWIS

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Senior Pastor Joseph Umidi on Stiner “intimidation” and negative press campaign

Another Exhibit to the Dinning and Pure Africa v. Allan Stiner et al. civil lawsuit and Civil RICO action in Suffolk, Virginia.

Pastor Joseph Umidi on intimidation by Stiner

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