Good News! Jeff Olson Found Not Guilty for Using Chalk on Sidewalk

In a bit of good news, San Diego man Jeff Olson has been acquitted by a jury of his peers for the heinous transgression of using water soluble chalk to write anti-bank messages on a public sidewalk in a case I highlighted last week. While this is a favorable outcome, the simple fact that Bank of America forced the city to go after this guy for 13 years in jail is a despicable travesty of the legal system.  From ABC News 10 in San Diego:

SAN DIEGO – A 40-year-old man was acquitted Monday of 13 misdemeanor vandalism charges that stemmed from protest messages written in chalk in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Olson could have faced up to 13 years behind bars if convicted of all counts. Jurors began deliberating Friday.

Olson did not deny that he scrawled anti-bank messages and artwork outside the banks last year. His messages included “No thanks, big banks” and “Shame on Bank of America.”

The prosecution of Olson brought condemnation of the City Attorney’s Office from Mayor Bob Filner, who called it a waste of time.

Tosdal said it was an “enormous waste of public resources.” He said bank officials demanded the prosecution because they didn’t like his client’s message.

It’s remarkable that the bailed out, sleaze-ball, too big too fail crony enterprise known as Bank of America is ordering municipalities to go after citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.  Fortunately, sanity has prevailed in this case.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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California Man Faces 13 Years in Jail for Writing Anti-Bank Messages in Chalk on the Sidewalk

This is so horrifying and despicable that I am, for once, literally at a loss for words.  From the Huffington Post:

Jeff Olson, a 40-year-old man from San Diego, Calif., will face jail time for charges stemming from anti-big bank messages he scrawled in water-soluble chalk outside Bank of America branches last year.

The San Diego Reader reported Tuesday that a judge had decided to prohibit Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.”

With that ruling, Olson must now stand trial on 13 counts of vandalism, charges that together carry a potential 13-year jail sentence and fines of up to $13,000.

During one protest outside of a Bank of America branch, they drew the ire of Darell Freeman, vice president of Bank of America’s Global Corporate Security, who accused them of running a business with their demonstration.

The Reader reports that Freeman aggressively pressured city attorneys to bring charges against Olson until they announced that they would do so in April.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Denver Public Schools Pay $216 Million to Wall Street Banks to Unwind Swaps

You can move from New York City to Colorado, but it seems you can never escape the all encompassing tentacles of Wall Street parasitism and theft.  I recently covered a similar situation back in March in my piece Wall Street: $474 Million, Detroit: 0.  In both cases it seems clear that public officials had no idea what they were getting into and there was a great deal of irresponsibility, but that is beside the point.  It’d be one thing to say these communities should suffer the consequences of their actions if Wall Street had to as well, but we all know that isn’t the case.  So it is highly immoral and culturally destructive to say it’s ok that Wall Street gets bailed out from all their mistakes and then is able to turn around and impose austerity on everyone else.  That’s the way America works today and we can thank Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama for that reality.  We must never forget the enablers in chief of all of this.  Oh, and did I mention that the $216 million paid by Denver represents two-thirds of annual teaching expenses?  USA! USA!

From Bloomberg:

Wall Street banks collected $215.6 million that Denver’s public schools paid to unwind swaps and sell bonds since the district began borrowing to cut pension costs in 2008. That sum is about two-thirds of annual teaching expenses.

The district paid $146.6 million last month to banks, including RBC Capital Markets LLC, Wells Fargo Securities LLC and Bank of America Corp., to end interest-rate swaps as part of a second attempt to restructure a 2008 borrowing, bond documents show. The April 17 deal sold as the district’s property-tax rate has risen 26 percent in two years to fund education.

Municipal borrowers from Detroit’s utilities to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have paid billions of dollars to banks to end privately negotiated interest-rate bets sold as hedges. The Federal Reserve’s policy of holding its benchmark borrowing rate near zero since 2008 has turned many of the swaps into wrong-way bets.

The Federal Reserve works for Wall Street.  Period, end of story.

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Big American Banks Particularly Enjoy Ripping off Active Duty U.S. Soldiers

The following article from the Houston Press titled “Country Club Sopranos” is the most comprehensive rundown I have seen of all the various frauds committed by large banks since we bailed them out.  What I find particularly infuriating is that the banks seem to really like ripping off members of the armed forces.  Veterans pay close attention.  The biggest threat to America does not reside outside our borders, but from within.  This is a very powerful article and I think could be quite effective in waking up some sheeple so please pass it along.  Here are some of my favorite passages:

But despite a colossal civil-rights fraud perpetrated against 30,000 customers, the settlement amounted to just .011 percent of the San Francisco bank’s annual income. It was like forcing a $30,000-a-year working stiff to pay a $240 fine.

These were just the opening salvos of the assault. Bank of America was caught illegally foreclosing on the homes of active-duty soldiers.

But not a single boss went to jail. Some firms settled for just a fraction of what they’d stolen. Most have never admitted wrongdoing. And in the ethics-optional land known as Wall Street, many saw their stock prices rise.

“Unquestionably, that’s true,” says Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, whose career prosecuting organized crime runs all the way back to the Kennedy administration. “I was looking at stuff on Mulberry Street, and the real theft was on Wall Street…All of the people who ran the scams have their big houses and their airplanes, and they’re laughing — they got away with it.”

“My biggest mistake in life was that I committed my crimes in the 1980s,” he says. “If I committed them today, I wouldn’t even get house arrest. I’d just hire a good lawyer and pay a fine and I’d be free.”

It began the year before, when Dimon’s bank paid a $27 million settlement for systematically screwing 6,000 active-duty soldiers. JP Morgan was caught overcharging on interest rates and illegally foreclosing on the soldiers’ homes. (The bank did not respond to interview requests.)

But when he appointed Eric Holder attorney general, it was like making John Dillinger’s lawyer head of the FBI bank-robbery unit.  Holder, a former Wall Street defense attorney, would ramp up big-dollar settlements. But criminal charges quietly sputtered to a trickle.

“Retired criminal” Sam Antar, who now trains the IRS and FBI how to bust corporate looters: “It’s almost like stealing a billion dollars with a pencil is not as bad. You have a lesser chance of going to jail than if you mug somebody on the streets of New York.”

So bad has the leniency become that the feds are allowing bankers to keep much of what they steal. Ask Morgan Stanley.

In August, it settled with the Justice Department over its role in fixing New York City’s electricity rates. The bank played middleman in a deal between two energy providers, KeySpan and Astoria Generating, which then colluded to withhold electricity from the market, artificially driving up prices and costing consumers an estimated $300 million.

Morgan Stanley was paid $21 million for arranging the scheme. But the ever-generous Holder let the bank settle for $4.8 million.

It marked a stunning new low in federal prosecutions, akin to forcing a bank robber to return just $2,500 after stealing $10,000. With no jail time, of course.

Morgan Stanley offers little defense for its actions. “We will decline comment,” says spokeswoman Mary Claire Delaney. But New York state senator Michael Gianaris will happily fill that silence.

“It’s a good business deal for Morgan Stanley,” he says. “They could break the law and get away with almost $17 million in profits for it, so why not do it again? If they get caught — and that’s a big if — they still get 70 percent of the profits.”

Peter Vallone Jr., a Queens councilman and former prosecutor, has never seen such tender handling of criminals.

I was a prosecutor for six years, and I’ve never seen someone being fined less than they made.”

In less than two years, Bank of America had chalked up six major fraud cases. But there was no talk of three strikes. No indictments for racketeering. Not one executive charged with a crime.

Now here is my favorite one:

A month later, ING paid a $619 million settlement for violating international sanctions and anti-terrorist laws. It spent a decade providing “state sponsors of terror and other sanctioned entities with access to the U.S. financial system,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at the time.

So the American people have sacrificed the Bill of Rights and all civil liberties to fight the phony “war on terror,” yet banks pay a settlement for aiding “terrorists.”  What do you think would happen to you if you were caught doing that?  A cell in Guantanamo? A drone missile to the head?

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

 

More Evidence Emerges on How Obama Protects Wall Street Criminals

A brief and important article here by Eileen Foster in Rolling Stone.  Eileen was a Home Loans executive at Countrywide in 2007.  When she started to blow the whistle on gigantic fraud at the company she became a target.  She states that:

Countrywide managers went after my job and reputation, intimidating witnesses and altering statements.

We opened many of these investigations on whistleblowers’ tips. Later I learned that many of those reporting or challenging fraudulent practices were transferred, demoted, harassed or fired in reprisal. To suppress whistleblowers and their concerns, Countrywide directed them to report their allegations to the suspect officials’ managers. It was a trap, and the system was rigged. Instead of taking action, the managers would then share the information with the suspects themselves, who would then hit back at the whistleblowers.

Since then, I’ve found there were scores of whistleblowers inside Countrywide and then BofA. Trumped-up investigations were widely used to discredit us. The inner circle at both corporations operated like the mob:  company staff, including attorneys, often worked to silence employees, using weapons like blacklisting, hush money and confidentiality agreements. The upper echelons at BofA attempted to buy my silence with more than $200,000; I refused. Instead I chose what could become a decade-long battle to see the guilty held accountable.

Over the last 10 years, the Department of Labor has found merit in less than 2% of over 1200 whistleblowers cases brought under the Sarbanes Oxley Act. The vast majority having been dismissed on legal technicalities without any investigation into the potential crimes being reported.

The Obama administration plans to add thousands of investigators to enforce the health care reform law, but has added just 25 positions to investigate whistleblower claims.

The Department of Injustice hard at work once again!  I suppose Eric Holder was simply too busy smuggling semi-automatic weapons into Mexico to be bothered with investigating the greatest theft in American history.

Full article here.