Monday Schadenfreupdates (Now Updated!)

Why do bad things happen to good people? I can't tell you that. But I can tell you that bad things happen eventually to bad people.

For instance:

1. Perhaps you remember David Bell, chief fraudster of the U.S. Telecom fraud ring discussed in my "Anatomy of a Scam" series. He's had criminal charges pending in San Bernardino County since 2011. Recently he entered a no contest plea to two counts of grand theft auto, plus enhancements for priors, thus not admitting guilt but admitting that the government could prove those particular counts against him. He'll be sentenced in September. And what about the feds? Be patient . . . .

2. You probably also remember Dennis Toeppen, the oddly truculent head of bus company Suburban Express, who liked to threaten online critics with lawsuits and heap them with abuse. Ars Technical reports that Toeppen was arrested on two misdemeanor counts of electronic harassment. I'd reserve judgment until seeing the basis for the case; many cyberbullying and cyberstalking statutes are ridiculously overbroad and a violation of the sacred First Amendment right to be a turd. Ars Technica points out a recent Yelp thread in which Toeppen, true to form, lashes out at bad reviewers; it's bad business, but almost certainly protected speech.

3. The Prenda Law gang, about whom I've written a word or two, suffered another setback last week in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. On May 27th, the D.C. Circuit overturned a trial court order permitting AF Holdings — a Prenda shell — to take early discovery from Cox Communications of the accounts associated with various IP addresses. The decision did not go well for Team Prenda. The D.C. Circuit recognized the various tactics criticized by other courts across the country, savaged AF Holdings' theories of why they would have personal jurisdiction over nationwide downloaders in D.C., and undermined Prenda's arguments about why they could combine multiple defendants in the same case. The court sent the case back to the trial court to see whether sanctions were appropriate for AF Holdings' notorious use of an allegedly forged signature on a copyright assignment. Protip — if a United States Court of Appeals refers to you as "law firm," with scare quotes thus, you're gonna have a bad time.

The wheel turns slowly, but it turns.

Update: Now With More Schadenfreude!

4. In Oregon Troy Sexton — who responded to the Popehat Signal and won an anti-SLAPP motion on behalf of an anti-telemarketing blogger sued for defamationThatLeftAMark has been awarded around $41,000 in fees and costs against the plaintiff, attorney F. Atone Accuardi. Keep those fee awards against censors rolling in, people.

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh, man. I'm gonna need so much popcorn for all of this. Updates on three of my favorite series? It's like Christmas in July! Including the awkward family conversations (Prenda), angry arguments (Suburban Express), and bad advertising (UST).

    Y'know, maybe I should pour a gin and tonic along with that popcorn…

  2. MDT says

    When a federal judge calls you a 'law firm' you should govern yourself 'accordingly'. :)

  3. darthskeptic says

    How likely will Judge Howell jam the wheels of justice by citing to Judge Ericksen's opinion holding that the forged signature is not fraud on the court?

  4. mcinsand says

    The decision made for a nice Monday read. The Prenda crowd worked, begged, and pleaded to be punished for abusing the legal system and possibly raising the bar on legal evils. Watching them get their reward is precious!

  5. Luke says

    Thanks for the updates Ken! Can't wait for the next chapter in the Anatomy of a Scam series since a couple of states won default judgments against UST over the last year.

  6. Bob Relyea says

    Re Suburban: Now the moral question. Is the cyberbullying law over broad, and would pope hat readers answer popehat signal to defend Dennis Toeppen if necessary? It's easy to support a defending a blogger against SLAPP. It's even possible to defend a blogger whose politics are different than yours. It's harder when the defendant is a bully themselves. One thing I've come to appreciate from this blog is the importance of the 1st amendment to all of us, and while we may want to see the Dennis Toeppens of this world "put in their place", we also don't want to infringe their 1st amendment protections because the ultimate bully would be the one that has the full weight of the government behind them. Our only protection is the belief and vigorous enforcement of our bill of rights.

    bob

  7. Brian Jones says

    Typo in judge's order:
    based on the number of hours incurred and hourly rates requested, Accuardi is
    entitled to an attorney fee award, without the application of any multiplier, in the sum of
    S/B Sexton/Fredricks….

  8. jimmythefly says

    Re Suburban: Now the moral question. Is the cyberbullying law over broad,

    Pretty much yes. Well, I believe it is overbroad(in general terms, without having read all of the text of the specific laws in question above). Not sure how that to relates to morality specifically (will have to think more about that one). But in terms of 1st amendment protections, yes.

    and would pope hat readers answer popehat signal to defend Dennis Toeppen if necessary?

    I think there's a missing a step:

    Q:Would the popehat signal be raised for Toeppen?
    A:Unlikely at best.SPECULATION: It seems to me that whatever the selection criteria are for raising the signal, Toeppen does not meet them. Being an instigator bully trying to squash others' rights tops the list. Seems like he has the money to fund a defense himself. Also there are red flags about having him as a client, and I am guessing Ken would be reluctant to burn some friendships by recommending him as a case to take on. Those same red flags would cause people to hesitate, even if the signal were raised. There are probably MANY cases for which the Popehat Signal could be raised, this hypothetical one wouldn't make muster, IMO.

    It's easy to support a defending a blogger against SLAPP. It's even possible to defend a blogger whose politics are different than yours.

    Agree, and I think in many cases, including differeing politics, folks would answer the signal.

    It's harder when the defendant is a bully themselves. One thing I've come to appreciate from this blog is the importance of the 1st amendment to all of us, and while we may want to see the Dennis Toeppens of this world "put in their place", we also don't want to infringe their 1st amendment protections because the ultimate bully would be the one that has the full weight of the government behind them. Our only protection is the belief and vigorous enforcement of our bill of rights.

    bob

    Yep, agreed. Which is why though I wouldn't lend my meager time or treasure to someone like Toeppen, I certainly would still be hoping and cheering that the first amendment rights are vigorously protected. Just on his dime.

  9. Christophe says

    How much do I love that a US Appeals Court order quotes TorrentFreak? Answer: An enormous amount.

  10. David T says

    In the David Bell Nolo Minutes pdf which you link to, under the Terms of Cruz Waver section, Bell agrees to 5) SUBMIT TO BRAVO SEARCH TERMS. What does that mean?

  11. That Anonymous Coward says

    My only regret is yet another court has ruled, and I have yet to get a damn footnote of my own to show off like the cool kids have.

    But things are looking up, I've been diagnosed by another lawyer as a psychopath who is a member of an internet hate group. This is going to go well.

  12. Fasolt says

    @TAC

    "I've been diagnosed by another lawyer as a psychopath who is a member of an internet hate group. This is going to go well."

    Well then, I guess you're in good company.

  13. trebuchet says

    When I read about the Toeppen thing the other day (by following out a link from another Popehat thread) the story he indicated said something to the critic about the junk in her front yard — a classic "I know where you live" kind of threat. Sort of like the Burzynski thug and the British teen.

    Also on the Burzynski front, the FDA has caved and essentially given him the green light to continue his scam.

  14. Fasolt says

    @Rliyen:

    Nice Borg reference. I'd add, "Resistance is futile. Govern yourselves accordingly."

    Since they are Borg, John Steele must be One of Four.

  15. Allen says

    What happens when there is a mistake in the opinion and order? Does the court just say whoops and rewrite the order?

    Re: upstream comment noting Accuardi typo.

  16. Fasolt says

    I'll bet that Dennis Toeppen wishes he lived in France.

    A French judge just ordered a French blogger to amend a post about a restaurant she reviewed and to pay damages to the restaurant owner because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28331598

  17. Troy Sexton says

    @Allen and @Brian Jones:

    The judge's subsequent supplemental judgment entered in the case gives the correct judgment amount. The judgment, not the order, is what matters.

  18. Denise says

    Horray! David Bell of U.S. Telecom (aka UST) was sentenanced last Friday to 1 year in jail! Make my day! Come on FEDS!!!!