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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Law Firm Ripoff Schemers Must Forfeit $9.3MM



Law360.com reports that federal judge Steven D. Merryday of the Middle District of Floria (Tampa) has held that former Kerrville lawyer Perry D. Cortese and his co-conspirators are responsible for more than $15 million in losses in their international fraud/money laundering scheme. The maximum sentence is 40 years and they may get it as the sentencing guidelines get worse the bigger the loss.

"At least by a preponderance of the evidence (or more exactly, essentially all the evidence) establishes that Ellis, Cortese and Johnson knowingly facilitated the movement of millions of dollars in intended fraud proceeds," the judge said.

A jury convicted the three in October last year. They each face up to 40 years in prison at sentencing, set for this October. Federal prison has no parole so they will do about 90% of the term they're sentenced to.

Priscilla Ann Ellis and Perry Cortese are old criminal associates from the Belton area. The judge wrote that "Priscilla Ellis was (and is) a brazen, aggressive and unapologetic fraudster and money launderer." She has also been convicted of trying to hire a hitman to kill one of the witnesses.

Of Cortese, the judge wrote, "A licensed attorney in Texas, Cortese laundered victims' money through his IOLTA and other bank accounts.... The evidence aptly describes Cortese as the 'company lawyer' - a pliable, obedient, and appreciative tool for the criminal network he stood ready to aid - and avidly aided ... by exploiting his office as a lawyer to coerce, cajole, reassure, or exploit - as needed."

One of their confederates was a money launderer named Muhammed Naji. Cortese even helped scam an elderly lady in Utah through a lonely hearts scam and got her unwittingly involved in money laundering.

The full article by Shayna Posses is available online at law360.com

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Good Ol' Boys Strike Back - Former Kerrville Councilmen and KPD Chief Defend Stork Investigation

Today's Kerrville Daily Times front page article is titled "Former council trio speak out about Gary Stork case." It quotes Stephen Fine, Gene Allen and Glenn Andrew basically claiming that Mayor Bonnie White has unfairly maligned the integrity of the police investigation of Gary Stork for fondling a 13 year old girl at the July 4th celebration in 2016. They all say they got along with Gary just grand, and never feared him. I guess not - they partied with him at the same Fourth on the River:



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Update on Perry Don Cortese Federal Fraud/Money-Laundering Case



Cortese appeared in the U.S.District Court in Tampa yesterday for the hearing to determine how much money he and his co-defendants stole in their various internet fraud scams. Cortese even testified, which should have been very interesting. The judge ordered the parties to submit proposed findings within two weeks.

The judge also expressed concern about Cortese's health, noting that he had lost about 50 pounds and was trembling. He granted a defense motion to have Cortese medically examined.

Cortese was another regular in the Hill Country courthouses. He was suspended several times by the State Bar but always managed to come back. We all knew he was a crook, but nothing on this scale. After a six week trial in the federal court, he was found guilty of mail and wire fraud and money laundering, and the Government claims he stole about $8 Million.

Stay tuned. 

Ex-Judge/Boerne Lawyer gets probation in sex solicitation/drug case

Kevin D. Fine got busted in January 2016 in a sting where he solicited sexual favors and drugs in exchange for his services as a criminal defense lawyer. He thought he was texting a client who was really police. He stayed out on bond for over a year, then, incredibly, he fell for the same ruse again, this time in Kerrville, on May 2.

Fine, 50, was briefly a criminal district judge in Harris County, Texas. When that gig didn't work out he moved to Boerne, and was a regular in the Kerr County courthouse.

He worked out a deal where he pled guilty in Boerne and got five years' probation by pleading guilty to attempted possession of a controlled substance, a 3rd degree felony. He surrendered his law license.

The Kerrville case is pending.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Kerrville - Book of the Grotesques

High school English departments used to require students to read Sherwood Anderson's classic, Winesburg, Ohio, which he subtitled "Book of the Grotesques." It consisted of a collection of short stories where he depicted "the strange, secret lives of the inhabitants of a small town." The very first story is about a man who may or may not have been a pervert, like Kerrville's own Gary Stork. A writer friend of mine, Charles Bowden, advised me that if I wanted to follow through on my plans for a book about Kerrville I could model it somewhat after Anderson's book, where, in Chuck's words, "the grotesques would emerge from the shadows."

Which brings me to the latest in some of the good ol' boys pretending to feel "threatened" or "bullied" by a letter the mayor's husband wrote to interim city manager Don Davis. Our local paper published a letter to the editor by Gene Allen, an undertaker and former councilman who quit before his term expired (I'm sure there's a story there), titled "Stop the untruths; vote to save the city." He is very disturbed at what he calls the bullying in Kerrville, and gets carried away, mixing metaphors and generally making an ass of himself: he claims there has been a "traveling medicine show" and "the Bible talks of the devil and his tactics," and warns "Folks, it's time to wake up and smell the bacon," "drain the swamp," and "don't be fooled by wolves dressed as sheep!" 

Let's take a look at the "victims" of the bullying: 
The Grotesques
Bottom picture left to right: Stork, Stephen Fine, Robert Earl Keen, Glenn Andrew, Gene Allen.
Keen is a good man, and I'm sorry to include his picture with this crew - I'm sure he poses for pictures with hundreds of fans a year. 

Where was Allen when Gary Stork, looking like Charles Manson, who he knew was being investigated for child molesting, was sitting next to Mayor Bonnie White, badgering her. I received an anonymous letter from someone who told me the police department had intel that Stork was coming unhinged and might go postal in a council meeting, yet he was left loose on the streets. His wife Peggy's may have been prevented if the authorities had acted. For reasons known only to KPD, Stephen Fine, Glenn Andrew and Gene Allen they not only did nothing to protect the public, they appear to have egged him on against the mayor. Allen actually cursed her in an executive session, and when called on it (that he was not a man and was a coward) he had no reply, and not so long afterward resigned from council. 

If someone besides Stork's wife had been murdered, the city would have been bankrupted by the liability. 

Update on Ex-Judge Kevin Fine (no relation to Stephen Fine) Arrest
KDT has Kevin Fine's mug shot on the front page today under the headline "Former Harris County district judge faces Kerrville drug charge." They helpfully point out in the second paragraph that he's not related to councilman Stephen Fine. Why is KDT going out of its way to shield Fine

Anyway, this is a pretty sordid case. The San Antonio Express reports that fine was caught in a sting trying to trade legal services for methamphetamine and sex. He was already on probation in Kendall County for almost exactly the same charge. You'd think he'd have learned the first time. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kerrville Council Members Stephen Fine and Mary Ellen Summerlin Continue to Look Like Fools


Updated Tues. 6:20 p.m.
The members of Kerrville city council continue to make fools of themselves pretending to be  frightened like a bunch of little girls over the email Robert White sent to interim city manager Don D:avis. Stephen Fine has now expressed how scared he is, saying :
“My first thought was this is a threat,” Fine said. “It was like he was saying ‘Look what happened to Gary when he tried this.’ If it wasn’t a threat, then what other reason is there to send the e-mail?”
Also:
Place 3 Councilperson Mary Ellen Summerlin also felt threatened by the e-mail.
“It struck me as an effort to intimidate,” Summerlin said. “I can’t think of any other reason to send it, other than to try to persuade us not bring up the subject (of ethics policy).

These people’s comments about ethics reminds me of something Lyndon Johnson once said: they know as much about ethics as old maids know about f------.

You can read the article yourself:
Council members say White e-mail a threat


http://www.hccommunityjournal.com/article_87cdd52c-2f4a-11e7-b6ff-6fe1e1940beb.html

Attorney Kevin Fine Busted in Kerrville
This one gives me no pleasure to report. Attorney Kevin Fine was arrested yesterday by KPD for attempted possession of a controlled substance and booked into the county jail. I know him from the courthouse and he always seemed to be a decent guy, but apparently let addiction get the best of him. He already has a pending charge for the same thing in Kendall County. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Is Glenn Andrew a Scaredy-Cat or Just Pretending to be Afraid of a Letter??

Today's Kerrville Daily Times lead article is captioned "Councilman takes letter as threat." He ran and tattled to the friendly newspaper about a letter Robert White emailed to interim city manager Don Davis under the subject line "Mayor's ethics challenged by Stork in open meeting." Mr. White wrote, "I thought you might want to review this article as I see you and the other council members want to try the same thing Stork did last year."

KDT explains that "Kerrville City Councilman Gary Stork and his wife, Peggy Stork, were found dead of gunshot wounds in their home on Sept. 24, 2016. Stork's death was ruled a suicide, whereas the nature of his wife's death was not officially determined." The article neglects to mention the little detail that Stork was about to be indicted for child molesting, and that Andrew and his fellow council members knew it. This includes Andrew, Stephen Fine, and Gene Allen. They had a good time at the July 4th picnic before Stork committed his crime. Here's a picture of them together, left to right: Stork, Fine, Keen, Andrew and Allen.

(I like Robert Earl Keen; I'm sure he posts for fan pics thousands of times a year). Anyway,
Andrew and Fine were also behind the decision to give all the city employees the morning off to attend the big "celebration of life" for Stork and his wife, whom he probably murdered. You'd have thought it was the JFK assassination all over again.

Anyway, the KDT article never does explain how referring to Stork, who the JP says shot himself, is a threat. Thankfully Andrew did not file for another term, so George Baroody is running unopposed.

So the question is - is Andrew really afraid that he has been threatened with the same thing that happened to Stork? Is there something we don't know about what really happened to Stork? The authorities have told us that it's an open and shut case of suicide. Is there a killer on the loose? 

Or did Andrew just want to get some ink with a silly hissy fit? 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

KERRVILLE COVERUP? WHO KILLED PEGGY STORK??

Pictured above: Kerrville City Council with Robert Earl Keen at July 4, 2016 Louise Hayes Park: Gary Stork, Stephen Fine, Keen, Glenn Andrew, Gene Allen

The headline of Zeke MacCormack's article in Sunday's San Antonio Express says it all:
Stork cases continue to roil Kerrville

"KERRVILLE — Local police are defending their handling of an indecency complaint against City Councilman Gary Stork last summer, which was days from going to a grand jury when Stork and his wife were found dead in their home.

Any other person accused of this would be arrested, booked and his mug shot put on front page of the local paper,” said attorney Richard Ellison, who represents the “Jane Doe” plaintiff, now 14, in a lawsuit filed in January against Stork’s estate.


"The investigation into the deaths continues, (KPD Chief) Knight said, as investigators await the results of lab tests on evidence. As to the original police theory of murder-suicide, he said, “We’re not locked into that.”

"Investigators, disclosing few details of the evidence in either case, say a handgun was found at the Storks’ home and that each victim was killed by a single gunshot to the head. A justice of the peace ruled Gary Stork’s death a suicide in February, but is awaiting further investigative findings before ruling on Peggy Stork’s death."

My take on all this: No one really knows what happened at the Stork house. The city attorney has blocked public information requests from, among others, the S.A. Express and me. Withholding the information creates a situation ripe for speculation and rumor. There are at least four possibilities:
1. Gary Stork and Peggy Stork each shot themselves
2. Gary shot Peggy, then himself
3. Peggy shot Gary, then herself
4. A third party shot them both

There was one pistol found at the scene. At least one witness has said that it was too far from either body to indicate suicide.

From MacCormack's article:

"The second-guessing of police intensified after Ellison said at a lawsuit hearing April 21 that Stork had confessed to police, and City Attorney Mike Hayes revealed that police believe Stork had additional 'victims.'”

"Asked about other 'victims,' Chief Knight said subsequent to the girl’s complaint around Aug. 1, “other incidents” came to light involving Stork in previous years. Those complaints involved adults, not minors, he said, declining to provide further details.

"As to Stork’s purported 'confession,' Knight said, 'We would not term it a confession. He provided some information in a non-custodial interview that supported the elements of the offense that he was being investigated for at that time.'"

That sounds like a confession to me.

I'm not blaming Mr. Hayes. He's just doing his job, as directed by his bosses, the majority of the city council: Stephen Fine, Ellen Summerlin, and Glenn Andrew. Andrew is not running for reelection. Fine is, challenged by Vincent Voekel.





Monday, April 24, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kerrville Councilmen Stork, Fine, Andrew and Fine Get Down at Kerrville 4th on the River

Gary Stork and his friends on city council had a grand old time at last year's July 4th celebration at Louise Hayes Park. Here's a screen grab from his Facebook page:

Stork is dead, Gene Allen resigned, and Glenn Andrew is not running for another term. That leaves Stephen Fine, standing next to Stork in the photo. 

Meanwhile, Zeke MacCormack has an article at mysanantonio.com (the San Antonio Express) titled 'Late Kerrville councilman faced more than one sex complaint.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Texas Lawyer in Trouble with the Feds - DWI Dude Jamie Balagia


FBI charges S.A. 'DWI Dude' lawyer in alleged plot that scammed $1.2 million from clients


The San Antonio lawyer known as the "DWI Dude" and "420 Dude" for his defense of clients charged with drunken-driving or marijuana possession has been charged by the FBI with conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice in an alleged plot that scammed about $1.2 million from Colombian clients.

Jamie Balagia, a former Austin cop who ran for Texas Attorney General in 2014, was arrested late last week in McKinney, near Dallas, and is being held without bond near there pending a bail hearing Thursday.

And here's a headline I wouldn't want to see my name in:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Perry Cortese Partner in Crime Convicted of Murder for Hire

Former Kerrville lawyer Perry Don Cortese is waiting to be sentenced by a federal judge on a multi-count conviction for wire fraud and money laundering. Meanwhile, his co-defendant just got convicted for trying to hire a hit man to kill a witness against her and Cortese.



Killeen woman convicted of murder-for-hire plot in Florida

A federal jury in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday found a Killeen woman guilty of murder-for-hire, retaliating against witnesses and conspiring to create counterfeit securities.

Priscilla Ann Ellis, 52, could be sentenced up to 30 years in federal prison. Her sentencing isn’t yet scheduled, a U.S. Department of Justice news release said.

This conviction added to her October conviction for international money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Perry Don Cortese, 53, a Bell County lawyer who worked in Little River-Academy, was convicted along with Ellis and Ellis’ daughter, Kenietta Rayshawn Johnson, 35, of Kansas....

While the plans were made, Ellis contacted a Nigerian-based counterfeiter to create counterfeit cashiers’ check images, steal bank customer information to open new accounts and email the images to other conspirators in the United States to print and cash or deposit into new accounts. Those funds were to be wired into yet other accounts the conspirators controlled or cashed, the release said.

Part of the reason for the elaborate scheme was to pay for the two contract murders. The intended loss of the scheme was several million dollars.

Investigating the case was the FBI and the Austin Police Department.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Update on Perry Don Cortese Criminal Conspiracy Case

In October, 2016, after a three week jury trial, Perry Don Cortese was convicted of money laundering, mail fraud and related offenses in Case 15-CR-00320 in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida. He asked to be free on bail pending sentencing. The Government vigorously objected that he was a "danger to the community" and a high flight risk. The Government stated:
"Cortese, a licensed attorney in Texas, was the 'company lawyer' for a sophisticated organized crime group that defrauded dozens of victims throughout the United States, via numerous fraud schemes, and then laundered the victims' money to avoid detection."
Cortese was the "consigliere in this international criminal enterprise."
Cortese conspired with other criminals in Canada, Africa and elsewhere, in particular with one Ikechuwu Derek Amai.
Cortese and his co-conspirators' frauds, counterfeiting, forgeries and other crimes robbed victims of millions of dollars.
The Government estimates his sentence guidelines range at 135-168 months in prison, and possibly the maximum of 20 years depending on the intended loss amount proven at sentencing.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Secret Importation of Somalis to USA ??

Here's an open letter I've sent to President Trump about what I observed flying from Germany to the US this week:


January 20, 2017

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC NW 20500

Re:       Illegal Immigration from N. Africa

Dear President Trump,

 On Wednesday Jan. 18, 2017 my wife and I flew back to the USA from Italy. We were routed through Frankfurt, Germany and flew from there on a Lufthansa flight that arrived in Houston about 3:00 p.m. CDT.  The waiting area was full of people who from their dress, complexion and facial features appeared to be Somalis. They had thrown food wrappers on the floor.

The plane was an Airbus and it was almost full. A flight attendant told me that 80% of the passengers in the lower level were refugees that Germany was sending to the US.  She also said that the lower level looked like a bomb had gone off, with trash and food strewn in the aisles. My wife went to the restroom on the lower level and saw shoe prints on the toilet lid, and where the Somalis had missed the toilet. They stand on the toilet seat then squat. It also appeared that some had just squatted on the floor.  There was also blood in a sink and on the wall.  The attendant told us that usually the German government tells Lufthansa when a bunch of refugees were coming, but that didn’t happen this time.

In Florence, which is one of the most cultured and civilized cities in the world, and birthplace of the Renaissance, I saw a sign in a bathroom showing a figure squatting on a toilet (feet on lid) with a red line crossing it diagonally.  When we landed in Houston, none of the ‘refugees’ went through immigration or customs, nor did they get their baggage like all the others had to do.


I suspect that the governments of Germany and the USA tried to hide the importation of at least 250 ‘refugees.’  Further, that they bypassed customs and immigration and were turned loose. Many German and French cities have been under assault from Islam, and there have been reports of harassment of women, even gang rapes. It seems that Europe is now trying to foist its problems on us.



                                                                        Sincerely yours,



                                                                        /s/ Richard L. Ellison

Cc:       Sen. John Cornyn

              Sen. Ted Cruz

              Rep. Lamar Smith

              Rep. John Culberson