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Iran faces US in international court over asset seizure
Law Firm Business | 2022/09/19 21:37
Iran told the United Nations’ highest court on Monday that Washington’s confiscation of some $2 billion in assets from Iranian state bank accounts to compensate bombing victims was an attempt to destabilize the Iranian government and a violation of international law.

In 2016, Tehran filed a suit at the International Court of Justice after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled money held in Iran’s central bank could be used to compensate the 241 victims of a 1983 bombing of a U.S. military base in Lebanon believed linked to Iran.

Hearings in the case opened Monday in the Hague-based court, starting with Iran’s arguments. The proceedings will continue with opening statements by Washington on Wednesday.

At stake are $1.75 billion in bonds, plus accumulated interest, belonging to the Iranian state but held in a Citibank account in New York.

In 1983, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with military-grade explosives attacked U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American troops and 58 French soldiers.

While Iran long has denied being involved, a U.S. District Court judge found Tehran responsible in 2003. That ruling said Iran’s ambassador to Syria at the time called “a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and instructed him to instigate the Marine barracks bombing.”

The international court ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the case in 2019, rejecting an argument from the U.S. that its national security interests superseded the 1955 Treaty of Amity, which promised friendship and cooperation between the two countries.


Utah-based company wins auction to buy Jay Peak in Vermont
Law Firm Business | 2022/09/08 20:13
Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts, Inc., which owns five ski resorts, has won the auction to buy Jay Peak Resort, the Vermont ski area that was shaken by a massive fraud case involving its former owner and president.

The court-appointed receiver who has been overseeing Jay Peak for more than six years announced Thursday the results of Wednesday’s auction, with Pacific Group Resorts making the highest and best bid among the multiple bidders. The offer was not disclosed.

“We are pleased an experienced operating company like Pacific Group Resorts ended up with this great asset,” receiver Michael Goldberg said in a statement.

A federal court must approve the bid and a hearing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 16, according to Goldberg. The sale is expected to close before the upcoming ski season, Goldberg said.

Pacific Groups Resorts, which owns Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire and Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Colorado, as well as properties in British Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, had originally offered to buy Jay Peak for $58 million. Goldberg wanted to be able to continue to market the resort, and if there were qualified bids to hold an auction “in order to assure the highest and best offer,” according a court filing last month.

Vern Greco, PGRI’s president and CEO, said the company started pursuing the acquisition over three years ago.

“Jay has a high quality team of dedicated employees who have weathered the uncertainty of the receivership for a long time,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing renewed stability to the property and its staff, we’re enthusiastic about the prospects for the resort, and we are delighted to be in Vermont which is an important market for any mountain resort operator.”

Former Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros, former president William Stenger and Quiros’ adviser William Kelly were sentenced this spring to federal prison for their roles in a failed plan to build a biotechnology plant using tens of millions of dollars in foreign investors’ money raised through a special visa program.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the state of Vermont also alleged in 2016 that Quiros and Stenger took part in a “massive eight-year fraudulent scheme” that involved misusing more than $200 million of about $400 million raised from foreign investors for various ski area developments through the same visa program.

They settled civil charges with the SEC, with Quiros surrendering more than $80 million in assets, including Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts.


Federal horserace authority rules again blocked in 2 states
Law Firm Business | 2022/08/11 18:06
A national horse racing authority has again been blocked by a federal court from enforcing some of its rules in the states of Louisiana and West Virginia.

A north Louisiana federal judge last month had blocked the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority from enforcing its rules in the two states.

That ruling was put on hold last week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But a revised ruling this week from the New Orleans-based appeals court keeps some of the limits on enforcement in place.

Rules blocked under the latest court order deal with the authority’s access to racetrack records and facilities, the calculation of state fees paid to the authority, and definitions of which horses are covered by the regulations.

The appeals court on Wednesday set arguments in the case for Aug. 30.

State and racing officials in Louisiana and West Virginia had sued to prevent the rules from going into effect.


Probation for woman who wiped up blood after killing spouse
Law Firm Business | 2022/08/08 02:42
A Florida woman who was acquitted of murdering her husband, a prominent official at the University of Central Florida, was sentenced Friday to a year of probation for tampering with evidence.

A judge sentenced Danielle Redlick in state court in Orlando.

Last month, a jury acquitted Danielle Redlick of second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Michael Redlick. Danielle Redlick said she had killed her husband out out of self-defense during a fight inside their home in which he had tried to “smother her to death.”

Jurors found Danielle Redlick guilty of evidence tampering for cleaning up her husband’s blood after stabbing him. Detectives found a pile of bloody towels, a bloody mop, bloody footprints and the strong smell of bleach in the house. She spent three years in jail prior to the trial.

Michael Redlick was the director of external affairs and partnership relations for the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. He had previously worked for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cleveland Browns and Memphis Grizzlies.

Court records showed that the Redlicks had been going through a divorce before the case was dismissed from a lack of action by Danielle Redlick, who initiated the court proceeding.

In a divorce petition, Danielle Redlick said the marriage was “irretrievably broken” and she was asking for alimony because she said she was unable to support herself without assistance. She listed herself as an unemployed photographer and multimedia professional.


Man denies kidnapping charge in alleged murder-for-hire plot
Law Firm Business | 2022/06/03 17:07
A Colorado man pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court in Vermont to kidnapping a man who was later found shot to death in a snowbank in 2018 in what prosecutors allege is a murder-for-hire case stemming from a financial dispute.

Federal prosecutors say they believe Jerry Banks, 34, of Fort Garland, Colorado, killed Gregory Davis, 49, of Danville, Vermont, but he has not been charged in the killing. U.S. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford ordered Banks to remain detained until trial, noting the prosecutors’ concerns about his risk of flight and safety risk to potential witnesses.

“Someone who would kill for money would likely kill or improperly influence a witness or otherwise seek to influence the course of a trial that would result in his life in prison,” Paul Van de Graaf and Jonathan Ophardt, assistant U.S. attorneys for Vermont, wrote in their detention request. They said Banks has a history of living “off the grid” and no strong connection to Vermont or anywhere else in the country.

Banks’ federal public defender, Mary Nerino, did not contest detention and would not comment on the charges after the arraignment.

Davis was abducted from his Danville, Vermont, home on Jan. 6, 2018, and found shot to death the next day in a snowbank on a back road in Barnet.

Prosecutors detailed the alleged conspiracy in a filing Monday in federal court in Las Vegas. They wrote that Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI with information that Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, an inventor and the co-founder of a Los Angeles-based biotechnology company, was defrauding Davis in a multimillion-dollar oil deal Gumrukcu and Gumrukcu’s brother had entered into with Davis in 2015.

Gurumkcu was facing felony fraud charges in California in 2017 and was working on a deal that came together soon after Davis’ death that gave him significant ownership stake in Enochian Bioscience.


Kansas Supreme Court upholds Republican congressional map
Law Firm Business | 2022/05/18 19:48
Kansas’ highest court on Wednesday upheld a Republican redistricting law that makes it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection in a big victory for the GOP.

The state Supreme Court declined for now to declare that overly partisan gerrymandering violates the Kansas Constitution. The ruling sets district boundaries less than a month before the state’s June 10 filing deadline for congressional candidates.

The court’s opinion was two paragraphs long, saying only that the voters and voting rights group challenging the map “have not prevailed on their claims” that the map violated the state constitution and that a full opinion would come later.

The brief decision was written by Justice Caleb Stegall, who is seen as the most conservative of the court’s seven justices, five of whom were appointed by Democratic governors. During arguments from attorneys on Monday, he questioned whether anyone could clearly define improper partisan gerrymandering.

Lawsuits over new congressional district lines have proliferated across the U.S., with Republicans looking to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s midterm elections. Congressional maps in at least 17 states have inspired lawsuits, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

In the past, congressional district lines have been reviewed by federal judges and not the state Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

The state’s Republican-appointed solicitor general argued in defending the GOP-drawn map that because the state constitution doesn’t specifically mention gerrymandering or congressional redistricting, the Kansas Supreme Court should reject the legal challenges. He and other state officials said that the justices had no guidance on how to define improper political gerrymandering


Tennessee, South Carolina extend health care for new moms
Law Firm Business | 2022/05/06 19:18
Tennessee and South Carolina are joining five other states in extending health care coverage to women with low-to-modest incomes for a full year after childbirth, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Friday.

The expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program comes as the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion. That could make the coverage more urgently needed than ever if more women, especially older women or those in poorer health, end up carrying pregnancies to term. In Tennessee, a trigger law would outlaw abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were overturned. South Carolina has a law banning abortions after six weeks.

States are currently required to provide 60 days of coverage after childbirth, but medical experts say women can die from pregnancy-related conditions up to a year after giving birth and that most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Maternal mortality is particularly serious for Black women, whose pregnancy-related death rate is three times that of white women.

Asked about the effect of an abortion ban on Tennessee women at a Thursday news conference, Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who opposes abortion, pointed to the extension.

“It’s important that we recognize that women in crisis need support and assistance through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage for women in TennCare,” Lee said.

TennCare is Tennessee’s version of Medicaid, the federal-state program covering about one in five Americans, from many newborns, to low-income adults and frail nursing home residents. The program pays for about four out of every 10 births in the United States.

About 700 U.S. women die annually because of pregnancy-related problems, a little over half after the woman has given birth, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 12% of maternal deaths occur 43 to 365 days after delivery.

The expanded coverage is made possible by a provision in the COVID-19 relief bill that will expire after five years unless Congress reapproves it or makes it permanent.


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