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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

DOJ Press Release on Perry Don Cortese Federal Prison Sentence


Texas Attorney Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For International Money Laundering Conspiracy

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday today sentenced attorney Perry Don Cortese (54, Little River, Texas) to 25 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit international money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. As part of his sentence, the Court entered a money judgment in the amount of $9,288,241.36. Cortese was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $3,767,196.

A federal jury found Cortese guilty on October 21, 2016.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Cortese and his business partner, Priscilla Ann Ellis, as well as Ellis’s daughter, Kenietta Rayshawn Johnson, were members of an international criminal organization that defrauded dozens of victims across the United States and then laundered the funds. Much of the money was sent overseas. Many victims were law firms that had been solicited online to perform legal work, provided counterfeit cashier’s checks for deposit into the firms’ trust accounts, and then directed to wire money to third-party shell businesses controlled by the conspirators. Others victims included title companies defrauded in phony real estate transactions or individuals targeted by fake suitors on dating websites. The conspiracy also employed hackers who compromised both individual and corporate email accounts, ordering wire transfers from brokerage and business accounts to shell accounts controlled by conspirators.

As part of the scheme, victims were instructed to wire money into funnel accounts held by conspirators, known as “money mules.” The funds were then then quickly moved to other accounts in the United States and around the world before the victims could discover the fraud. Bank records indicated that, from 2012 to 2015, several million dollars’ worth of wire transfers were received into the accounts to be laundered. Conspirators in Canada, Nigeria, South Korea, Senegal, and elsewhere helped coordinate the fraud from abroad.  

Cortese, a licensed attorney in Texas, worked for the conspirators by laundering victims’ money through his interest on lawyers trust accounts (“IOLTAs”). He also met with individuals in person to retrieve cash withdrawn from receiver accounts and recruited his paralegal and others to open such accounts to launder funds. Ellis laundered several million dollars’ worth of fraud proceeds through several bank accounts under her control. She also arranged for the creation of high-quality forgeries of checks and other documents. Johnson, then a bank employee at Capital One, helped create the counterfeit checks and monitor money flows between the conspirators’ accounts.

For her role in the conspiracy, Ellis was sentenced to 40 years in prison. As part of her sentence, the Court entered a money judgment against her in the amount of $9,288,241.36 and the forfeiture of various assets. In addition, she was ordered to pay $3,767,196 in restitution to her victims. 

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from various federal and local law enforcement partners throughout the country, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Toronto Police Service in Ontario, Canada. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick Scruggs and Eric Gerard.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Perry Cortese's Co-Defendant Gets Maximum Federal Sentence

Catfishing, Conning Attys Gets Fraudster 40 Years, $13M Ding

Law360, Miami (October 13, 2017, 8:10 PM EDT) -- A Florida federal judge hit a Texas woman with a 40-year sentence and $13.1 million judgment Friday over alleged schemes in which she and a lawyer swindled money from dating-site users through "catfishing" and conned law firms into writing checks for bogus settlements.

U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday handed down the maximum statutory sentence to Priscilla Ann Ellis, 52, of Killeen, Texas, for her convictions of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. He also ordered her to pay a money...

Cortese's sentencing is pending. 

Kerrville City Attorney Employment Agreement - Conflict of Interest, Breach of Fiduciary Duty??


The good ol' boy club that ran Kerrville until Bonnie White was elected mayor and city council members Glenn Andrew, Stephen Fine, Jack Pratt and Gary Stork were removed (Stork with a gunshot to the head, maybe self inflicted) are in an uproar because the current council didn't renew City Attorney Mike Hayes' employment contract. The contract, which he wrote, guarantees him perpetual employment, even if he is terminated for cause. At leas that's what Andrew and his friends at Kerrville United are claiming - that it is an "evergreen" contract,  and unless Hayes voluntarily resigns he has employment for life. If the city doesn't renew his contract, he is guaranteed a full year's salary of $150,000.

What competent, honest employer would enter such a blatantly lopsided agreement? What did the city get in return? Nothing!

If this is true, the city and citizens got a royal screwing when the contract was signed. If Hayes decides to sue to enforce the contract, I think a good defense lawyer can shred his case. To start with, there is the blatant conflict of interest. State Bar Disciplinary Rule 108 states:

A lawyer shall not enter into a business transaction with a client unless the transaction and terms on which the lawyer acquires the interest are fair and reasonable to the client.

A lawyer also has a fiduciary duty to the client, which means he puts the client's interest ahead of his own. If Hayes sues the city, I foresee a counterclaim for breach of fiduciary duty.  And if they're not protected by sovereign immunity, Pratt, Andrew, Fine and any other member of council who approved this scheme should be sued. 

Depositions would be fun - get them all under oath and ask some hard questions.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More on Mike Hayes 'Termination' as Kerrville City Attorney

The crowd that got voted out of city government is in an uproar because the city council didn't renew his contract. At the Kerrville United Facebook page they are outraged. Former councilman Glenn Andrew had this to say about Hayes' employment contract he, former Mayor Jack 'Green Beret or was I a Seal" Pratt and Stephen Fine negotiated for the city.

'Without getting into the legal intricacies of the actions taken by the Council, suffice it to say, there is nothing in the contract which allows the Council to let it expire as it automatically renews ( evergreen) unless it is terminated which then activates Mike's severance.'

WOW! Is Andrew really saying that Hayes has a permanent job with the city as long as he wants it, and if the city every decides to let him go it has to give him severance pay, which I think is a full year salary? Who is Andrew to criticize Mayor White's ethics and integrity? 

The Unsolved Mystery of the Violent Deaths of Gary and Peggy Stork; Ellison for City Attorney?

The San Antonio Express News ran a great article earlier this week by Zeke MacCormack about the ongoing mystery of the deaths of Gary and Peggy Stork last year. There's a ten minute clip of outtakes from Stork's interview with a Kerrville PD investigator. You can read the whole piece here:
Kerrville still awaiting answers a year later on deaths of councilman, wife

Here's a summary:
Kerrville City Councilman Gary Stork was interviewed by Kerrville Police Investigator James Machetta on Sept. 1, 2016, about a complaint by the daughter of family friend that he had molested her at an Independence Day concert two months earlier in Louise Hays Park. Stork denied any knowledge of such acts, saying he was too intoxicated to recall what occurred as the girl was sitting on his lap beyond him tickling her. But he described the 13 year-old as truthful and said he's sure she believes what she said had occurred. Stork, expressing remorse if he'd committed the alleged acts, expressed his intent to Machetta to resign as a councilman and as a deacon at a local church to spare the entities embarrassment if the allegations were going to become public. He also told Machetta he'd undergone past counseling for sexual addiction, that he and wife Peggy had a liberal sexual relationship and that he previously was accused of inappropriate touching by at least two women. The Storks were found shot to death in their home Sept. 24, 2016, three days before the indecency case was slated for presentation to a Kerr County grand jury. Gary Stork's death was ruled suicide. The molestation case was closed due to his death. Police are still investigating the shootings, which were initially described as a suspected murder suicide.

Ellison for City Attorney ??
Meanwhile, there's a rumor making the rounds that I am going to replace Mike Hayes as Kerrville City Attorney. City Council voted not to renew his contract Tuesday night and his supporters have their bowels in a uproar. Apparently they think they can rally their base with the spectre of me being the city attorney. Is the rumor true? Not no, but hell no! I would be bored out of my mind and anyone who know me knows that I wouldn't have the patience. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

More Questions about Gary and Peggy Stork Homicides

The weekend Kerrville Daily Times front page had a picture of Rene Lafoso Brooks, the neighbor who found the bodies of Gary and Peggy Stork, dead from gunshots to the head. She describes how the bodies were positioned on the kitchen floor.

In the photo she is looking lovingly at Gary Stork's journal.

First question - why doe she have the journal and not the police? Did police read it? What other writings have been removed from the house?

Second question - where was the gun (or guns) in relation to the bodies?

Third questions - why is it taking KPD so long to get test results on gunpowder residue from the DPS lab? I have misdemeanor cases where they have gotten results back in less than six months.

On another topic - I am sickened by the carnage in Las Vegas. I believe in the 2nd Amendment right of private citizens to own firearms, and I own an AR-15 myself (semi-auto). But what is the justification for one man owning 15 or 20 of them? Where did the killer get the kits for converting to full auto? What does BATF do besides walk guns to the Mexican cartels? 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Updated - San Antonio Express posts Gary Stork Sex Assault Interview Online

A reader posted this link to the video:
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/media/Gary-Stork-investigation-video-1036931.php

You can cut and paste it into your browser and it should come up.

The San Antonio Express News has posted a clip from the Kerrville Police interview with the late pervert and child molester Gary Stork. I will update this post with a link if I can figure out how.


Here's Zeke MacCormack's summary of the interview:

"Kerrville City Councilman Gary Stork was interviewed by Kerrville Police Investigator James Machetta on Sept. 1, 2016, about a complaint by the daughter of family friend that he had molested her at an Independence Day concert two months earlier in Louise Hays Park. Stork denied any knowledge of such acts, saying he was too intoxicated to recall what occurred as the girl was sitting on his lap beyond him tickling her. But he described the 13 year-old as truthful and said he's sure she believes what she said had occurred. Stork, expressing remorse if he'd committed the alleged acts, expressed his intent to Machetta to resign as a councilman and as a deacon at a local church to spare the entities embarrassment if the allegations were going to become public. He also told Machetta he'd undergone past counseling for sexual addiction, that he and wife Peggy had a liberal sexual relationship and that he previously was accused of inappropriate touching by at least two women. The Storks were found shot to death in their home Sept. 24, 2016, three days before the indecency case was slated for presentation to a Kerr County grand jury. Gary Stork's death was ruled suicide. The molestation case was closed due to his death. Police are still investigating the shootings, which were initially described as a suspected murder suicide."

It is interesting that Stork was allowed to run loose for two months after he admitted he was a sexual predator, but last week a female high school teacher was arrested within days of admitting that she had an inappropriate relationship with an 18 year old male student. The local paper put her mug shot on the front page.