Marilyn Mosby to be sentenced for mortgage fraud and perjury convictions
Legal Business | 2024/05/24 12:08
A former top prosecutor for the city of Baltimore will soon learn her sentence for lying about her personal finances so she could improperly access retirement funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby appeared before a judge Thursday at a federal courthouse in Greenbelt, a Maryland suburb of the nation’s capital. Two juries separately convicted Mosby of perjury and mortgage fraud charges after trials involving her personal finances.

Mosby, 44, gained a national profile for charging six Baltimore police officers in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a Black man fatally injured in police custody. Gray’s death led to riots and protests in the city. After three officers were acquitted, Mosby’s office dropped charges against the other three officers.

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Mosby withdrew $90,000 from Baltimore city’s deferred compensation plan and used it to make down payments on vacation homes in Kissimmee and Long Boat Key, Florida.

Prosecutors argued that Mosby improperly accessed the funds under provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act by falsely claiming that the pandemic had harmed her travel-oriented side business.

Mosby’s sentencing argument said the retirement funds came from her own income and that no one was defrauded because she paid an early withdrawal penalty and all federal taxes on the money. The government said that money remained the property of the city until she was legally eligible, and her perjury harmed everyone who followed the rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mosby’s mortgage fraud conviction stems from a $5,000 “gift letter” she submitted when taking a loan to buy the Long Boat Key property. Prosecutors said the letter falsely stated that Mosby’s husband was giving her a $5,000 gift for the closing when it actually was her own money.

“Without the gift letter, the loan would never have been provided and Ms. Mosby would not have obtained the property. No gift letter, no loan,” prosecutors wrote.

Federal prosecutors also said she deserves prison because unlike others convicted of white-collar crimes, she’s expressed no remorse or contrition and has tried to delegitimize the case against her. They recommended a 20-month prison sentence for Mosby, who served two terms as state’s attorney for Baltimore. She lost a reelection bid after her 2022 indictment.



Hunter Biden arrives at court for a final hearing before his June 3 gun trial
Legal Business | 2024/05/19 12:08
The judge overseeing Hunter Biden ’s federal firearms charges trial agreed Friday to block prosecutors from telling jurors about some other unflattering episodes from his personal life, but left the door open to allowing them in if the president’s son testifies.

It’s unclear whether the president’s son would take the stand during the trial that could last up to two weeks during his father’s reelection campaign and likely include sharp disagreements over evidence.

President Joe Biden’s son is charged with lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. A trial is set to begin June 3 and could last up to two weeks as his father’s re-election campaign unfolds.

Hunter Biden has acknowledged an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law and the case is politically motivated. He didn’t speak to reporters as he accompanied his lawyers to and from the Wilmington courthouse for a hearing on Friday.

Prosecutors won a victory on a key point as U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika found that they wouldn’t have to prove that he specifically used drugs on the day of the purchase.  She agreed to a defense push to keep out other details about his past, including a child-support case in Arkansas and his dismissal from the Navy after a positive drug test. If he does take the stand, however, “there’s a number of issues that may become more contentious,” Noreika said. Prosecutors have acknowledged those episodes likely won’t be relevant unless he testifies.

She also agreed to consider defense questions about the contents of a laptop that he allegedly dropped off at a Delaware repair shop.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys want to raise questions about the authenticity of the laptop’s data at trial. Prosecutors say that there’s no evidence it has been compromised and that a drawn-out fight would be a waste of time. The laptop has been the source of controversy for years after Republicans accessed and disseminated personal data from it.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika said she will consider objections to specific pieces of data as the trial unfolds.

Prosecutors also plan to show jurors portions of his 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things,” in which he detailed his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse following the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, of brain cancer at age 46.

Defense attorneys argued prosecutors were cherry-picking evidence, and the judge agreed to allow Biden’s attorneys to introduce wider selections.

His attorney Abbe Lowell also says there are indications that the gun-purchase form was changed by employees after the sale. Prosecutors say there were only minor additions unrelated to the parts Hunter Biden filled out.

Noreika didn’t immediately rule on whether the defense could introduce an altered version of the form at trial, which is expected to begin with jury selection on June 3.

Hunter Biden is also facing federal tax charges in Los Angeles and is set for trial in that case in September. He’s accused of failing to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes over four years while living an “extravagant lifestyle” during a period in which he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. The back taxes have since been paid.



Supreme Court: CFPB funding doesn't violate Constitution
Court Watch | 2024/05/17 18:51
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative-led attack that could have undermined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The justices ruled 7-2 that the way the CFPB is funded does not violate the Constitution, reversing a lower court and drawing praises from consumers. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, splitting with his frequent allies, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who dissented.

The CFPB was created after the 2008 financial crisis to regulate mortgages, car loans and other consumer finance. The case was brought by payday lenders who object to a bureau rule that limits their ability to withdraw funds directly from borrowers’ bank accounts. It’s among several major challenges to federal regulatory agencies on the docket this term for a court that has for more than a decade been open to limits on their operations.

The CFPB, the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has long been opposed by Republicans and their financial backers. The bureau says it has returned $19 billion to consumers since its creation.

Outside the Supreme Court following the decision, Warren said, “The Supreme Court followed the law, and the CFPB is here to stay.”

President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat who has taken steps to strengthen the bureau, called the ruling “an unmistakable win for American consumers.”

Unlike most federal agencies, the consumer bureau does not rely on the annual budget process in Congress. Instead, it is funded directly by the Federal Reserve, with a current annual limit of around $600 million.

The federal appeals court in New Orleans, in a novel ruling, held that the funding violated the Constitution’s appropriations clause because it improperly shields the CFPB from congressional supervision.




TikTok content creators sue the US government over potential ban
Attorney News | 2024/05/15 01:51
Eight TikTok content creators sued the U.S. government on Tuesday, issuing another challenge to the new federal law that would ban the popular social media platform nationwide if its China-based parent company doesn’t sell its stakes within a year.

Attorneys for the creators argue in the lawsuit that the law violates users’ First Amendment rights to free speech, echoing arguments made by TikTok in a separate lawsuit filed by the company last week. The legal challenge could end up before the Supreme Court.

The complaint filed Tuesday comes from a diverse set of content creators, including a Texas-based rancher who has previously appeared in a TikTok commercial, a creator in Arizona who uses TikTok to show his daily life and spread awareness about LGBTQ issues, as well as a business owner who sells skincare products on TikTok Shop, the e-commerce arm of the platform.

The lawsuit says the creators “rely on TikTok to express themselves, learn, advocate for causes, share opinions, create communities, and even make a living.”

“They have found their voices, amassed significant audiences, made new friends, and encountered new and different ways of thinking — all because of TikTok’s novel way of hosting, curating, and disseminating speech,” it added, arguing the new law would deprive them and the rest of the country “of this distinctive means of expression and communication.”

A spokesperson for TikTok said the company was covering the legal costs for the lawsuit, which was filed in a Washington appeals court. It is being led by the same law firm that represented creators who challenged Montana’s statewide ban on the platform last year. In November, a judge blocked that law from going into effect.

The Department of Justice said that the legislation that could ban TikTok “addresses critical national security concerns in a manner that is consistent with the First Amendment and other constitutional limitations. We look forward to defending the legislation in court.”

The federal law comes at a time of intense strategic rivalry between the U.S. and China on a host of issues and as the two butt heads over sensitive geopolitical topics like China’s support for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. U.S. lawmakers and administration officials have aired concerns about how well TikTok can protect users’ data from Chinese authorities and have argued its algorithm could be used to spread pro-China propaganda, which TikTok disputes.

Under the law, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance would be required to sell the platform to an approved buyer within nine months. If a sale is in progress, the company will get a three-month extension to complete the deal.



Justice Clarence Thomas calls Washington a 'hideous place'
Legal Business | 2024/05/12 03:56
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told attendees at a judicial conference Friday that he and his wife have faced “nastiness” and “lies” over the last several years and decried Washington, D.C., as a “hideous place.”

Thomas spoke at a conference attended by judges, attorneys and other court personnel in the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, which hears federal cases from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He made the comments pushing back on his critics in response to a question about working in a world that seems meanspirited.

“I think there’s challenges to that. We’re in a world and we — certainly my wife and I the last two or three years it’s been — just the nastiness and the lies, it’s just incredible,” Thomas said.

“But you have some choices. You don’t get to prevent people from doing horrible things or saying horrible things. But one you have to understand and accept the fact that they can’t change you unless you permit that,” Thomas said.

Thomas has faced criticisms that he took accepted luxury trips from a GOP donor without reporting them. Thomas last year maintained that he didn’t have to report the trips paid for by one of “our dearest friends.” His wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas has faced criticism for using her Facebook page to amplify unsubstantiated claims of corruption by President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

He did not discuss the content of the criticisms directly, but said that “reckless” people in Washington will “bomb your reputation.”

“They don’t bomb you necessarily, but they bomb your reputation or your good name or your honor. And that’s not a crime. But they can do as much harm that way,” Thomas said.

During the appearance, Thomas was asked questions by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, one of Thomas’ former law clerks who was later appointed to the federal bench. During his hour-long appearance, the longest-serving justice on the court discussed a wide range of topics including the lessons of his grandfather, his friendship with former colleagues and his belief that court writings and discussions should be more accessible for “regular people.”

Thomas, who spent most of his working life in Washington D.C., also discussed his dislike of it.

“I think what you are going to find and especially in Washington, people pride themselves on being awful. It is a hideous place as far as I’m concerned,” Thomas said. Thomas said that it is one of the reasons he and his wife “like RVing.”

“You get to be around regular people who don’t pride themselves in doing harmful things, merely because they have the capacity to do it or because they disagree,” Thomas said.

A recreational vehicle used by Thomas also became a source of controversy. Senate Democrats in October issued a report saying that most of the $267,000 loan obtained by Thomas to buy a high-end motorcoach appears to have been forgiven.

Thomas did not discuss the court’s high-profile caseload.



Gardena Employment Law Defense Legal Services
Legal Business | 2024/05/09 10:55
Law Offices of Albert Chang is a full service law firm assisting and representing business owners in business, employment, and real estate matters with the ability to take a case from inception to conclusion. We are here to listen to you and help you resolve your legal needs with the most favorable outcome. At Law Offices of Albert Chang, our clients choose us because we understand complex employment laws, regulations, and legal precedents, and we use this knowledge to give clients accurate advice and effective representation.

Gardena Employment Law Defense Attorney

Defending solely for employers, we advocate for their rights and interests. We use our unique perspective to develop smart strategies tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, maximizing the chances of a favorable outcome, favorable contract terms, or other resolutions that meet our clients' best interests.

The relationship between employers and employees in California is governed by employment and labor laws at both the federal and state levels. These laws provide a framework of obligations and rights. Disputes often arise from a failure to uphold and undertake these obligations and rights, which can lead to serious disruptions in the workplace and problems for the employer.

At Law Offices of Albert Chang, we are committed to each of our clients. Our employment and labor law attorney in Southern California helps employers and understand their legal obligations and rights, and we take appropriate action given the unique circumstances of each case. If you believe you have an employment law issue or want to act proactively to avoid problems in the workplace, contact us today at (310) 769-6836 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation


Trump faces prospect of additional sanctions for violating gag order
Legal Business | 2024/05/05 22:17
Jurors in the hush money trial of Donald Trump heard a recording Thursday of him discussing with his then-lawyer and personal fixer a plan to purchase the silence of a Playboy model who has said she had an affair with the former president.

A visibly irritated Trump leaned forward at the defense table, and jurors appeared riveted as prosecutors played the September 2016 recording that attorney Michael Cohen secretly made of himself briefing his celebrity client on a plan to buy Karen McDougal’s story of an extramarital relationship.

Though the recording surfaced years ago, it is perhaps the most colorful piece of evidence presented to jurors so far to connect Trump to the hush money payments at the center of his criminal trial in Manhattan. It followed hours of testimony from a lawyer who negotiated the deal for McDougal’s silence and admitted to being stunned that his hidden-hand efforts might have contributed to Trump’s White House victory.

“What have we done?” attorney Keith Davidson texted the then-editor of the National Enquirer, which had buried stories of sexual encounters to prevent them surfacing in the final days of the bitterly contested presidential race. “Oh my god,” came the response from Dylan Howard.

“There was an understanding that our efforts may have in some way...our activities may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump,” Davidson told jurors, though he acknowledged under cross-examination that he dealt directly with Cohen and never Trump.

The testimony from Davidson was designed to directly connect the hush money payments to Trump’s presidential ambitions and to bolster prosecutors’ argument that the case is about interference in the 2016 election rather than simply sex and money. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has sought to establish that link not just to secure a conviction but also to persuade the public of the significance of the case, which may be the only one of four Trump prosecutions to reach trial this year.

“This is sort of gallows humor. It was on election night as the results were coming in,” Davidson explained. “There was sort of surprise amongst the broadcasters and others that Mr. Trump was leading in the polls, and there was a growing sense that folks were about ready to call the election.”

Davidson is seen as a vital building block for the prosecution’s case that Trump and his allies schemed to bury unflattering stories in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. He represented both McDougal and porn actor Stormy Daniels in negotiations that resulted in the purchase of rights to their claims of sexual encounters with Trump and those stories getting squelched, a tabloid industry practice known as “catch-and-kill.”

Davidson is one of multiple key players testifying in advance of Cohen, the star prosecution witness who paid Daniels $130,000 for her silence and also recorded himself, weeks before the election, telling Trump about a plan to purchase the rights to McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer so it would never come out. The tabloid had previously bought McDougal’s story to bury it on Trump’s behalf.

At one point in the recording, Cohen revealed that he had spoken to then-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg about “how to set the whole thing up with funding.” To which Trump can be heard responding: “What do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?”

Trump can be heard suggesting that the payment be made with cash, prompting Cohen to object by saying “no” multiple times. Trump can then be heard saying “check” before the recording cuts off.

Trump’s lawyers sought earlier in the day to blunt the potential harm of Davidson’s testimony by getting him to acknowledge that he never had any interactions with Trump — only Cohen. In fact, Davidson said, he had never been in the same room as Trump until his testimony.

He also said he was unfamiliar with the Trump Organization’s record-keeping practices and that any impressions he had of Trump himself came through others.


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