FBI Actively Investigating Prenda Law Team For Fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Minneapolis office is conducting an active investigation of the principals of Prenda Law, the notorious team of crooked copyright trolls that I've spilled so much e-ink over here.

Today I spoke with two sources who confirmed receiving a letter from the FBI inquiring about their experiencing with Prenda and seeking information about Prenda's activities. The letter — which I have reviewed — has been sent out on a large scale to attorneys who have represented targets of Prenda's litigation. Here's what the letter reveals:

  • The FBI is looking at the various entities Prenda Law used, including Steele Hansmeier PLLC, LW Systems, Livewire Holdings, AF Holdings, Ingenuity13, and Guava LLC.
  •  Though the letter does not name individual targets, the context makes clear that the FBI is investigating the principals of Prenda Law (with the exception of Paul Duffy, I suppose).
  • The FBI has devoted substantial resources to soliciting victim impact in a systematic way, and based on its questions about availability to testify is contemplating prosecution.
  • The FBI is focusing on "a fraudulent scheme known as 'trolling'" — which may indicate that the FBI has concluded that Prenda Law principals themselves uploaded their pornography to BitTorrent sites in order to sue people who downloaded it.

Based on my 21 years in the federal criminal justice system, I believe the letter reflects an active, determined investigation in its later stages.  The letter represents an abandonment of operational security and confidentiality; it suggests the FBI no longer sees a need for stealth.  That, in turn, suggests that the FBI believes it's already developed the evidence it needs to prove the substance of its case (that Team Prenda committed wire and/or mail fraud) and is just identifying as many victims as possible for potential witnesses and to establish the amount of damages.   Bear in mind that under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the more money wrongdoers made, the more time they're facing.

I'll report more as I learn more.  But as I often say — the wheels turn slowly, my friends. But they turn. Team Prenda needs federal criminal defense attorneys, and needs them right now.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. says

    Well, I knew about it for a while, but thought it would be unproductive to go public and alert the crooks. Given the vast number of attorneys involved, I guess my sentiment was rather silly. Glad it's out anyway. Long overdue comeuppance.

    As for "trolling," I hope that Ken's definition is too narrow, and the feds will go after other parasites as well.

  2. Analee Harriman says

    Wow. Didn’t realize Duffy had shuffled off this mortal coil.

    Glad the other jagoffs can get punished.

  3. James says

    Time wounds all heels. Between the Hansmeier bankruptcy litigation, Minnesota disciplinary hearing, 9th Circuit CoA opinion still pending, and now this the Prenda story is far from over. I think Duffy got off easy, if you can call shuffling off this mortal coil getting off. I think it is John Steele's turn for some pain.

  4. Shetland E Ferus says

    There's an old med school mnemonic used to help remember which maternal antibodies are dangerous for a fetus: "Duffy dies; Kell kills; Lewis lives." I use it to keep track of which Prenda guy will not be indicted. "Steele rots behind steel bars" is not part of the mnemonic.

  5. NickM says

    Actually, what they need is passports, cash, and a list of countries that won't extradite to the U.S. Oh, and antimalarial drugs.

  6. Daran says

    Team Prenda needs federal criminal defense attorneys, and needs them right now.

    Time for the Popehat Signal?

  7. That Anonymous Coward says

    ByeFelecia.gif

    The longer list of victims will take a bit of wrangling to get ahold of.
    I mean it was standard operating procedure to bind settlements to NDAs that could be quite catastrophic for the victims.
    I can hear you saying they wouldn't be stupid enough to go after people using the NDAs…
    – They sued the internet
    – The regularly lied to Federal Judges
    – They forged documents
    – They moved into ADA trolling
    – They thought taunting the "scoobys" was a wise play

    There is one almost victim I'd love for them to find. He called himself Another Anonymous Coward. They hounded him despite his medical conditions and lied repeatedly to terrorize him into paying up. If not for the intervention of us meddling kids and a Doe Defender, it would have had a tragic outcome.

    This has been far to long in coming, and we aren't to the finish line yet… I just hope they don't forget the others from the past as well. Filing lawsuits without holding copyrights, lying on copyright applications, bad proof of service records, harassment… there is a long list of unpunished behavior. Allowing it to run unchecked lead to the current generation of trolls who feel untouchable, because courts & bars don't seem to want to believe a lawyer would mislead the courts.

    But hey at least 2 of the locals for the current troll are probably shopping around for deals on the federal charges they are currently facing for breaking other laws… criminal charges for everyone.

    Oh and 1000 internet points to anyone around when they are taken into custody who tells them I send all my love.

  8. Trent says

    Good to see the FBI is finally moving in for the kill. If there is any person in this world that deserves to spend time in federal PMITA prison it's Steele and Hansmeirer. I hope the Feds can prove enough damages to get them sent to Maximum security. Hopefully they find guns or drugs or something when they finally arrest them. I hate the federal drug laws but if they could use them in this case to get a maximum security prison that would be just punishment IMO.

    Hadn't heard the other news, that Hansmeirer was trying to discharge his sanctions through bankruptcy (being a compulsive liar probably didn't help him there as it appears he lied in that case as well) and that Duffy died due to alcohol abuse induced heart attack. If anyone goes on the lam it will be Steele but he waited far too long for that, now that the FBI is involved and an indictment is pending he could end up on the most wanted list. If he'd taken off early on, say right after the referral by the federal judge, he might have been able to sneak out of the country and establish himself in a safe haven. But now that the indictment is pending there is no where he can flee because he's probably already on a watch list and if tries to depart the country he'll get arrested.

    May they all spend ample time in prison for all the harm they caused. These guys deserve everything that's coming their way.

  9. lokiwi says

    Your friend Paul Hansmeier has been making the news locally in Minnesota for a while now. He started an ADA racket after the porn-extortion fell through. Now the bankruptcy trustee is suing him for fraud and his attorney is jumping ship because he's lying to her too. It is a glorious shitshow.

  10. Michael says

    I often deal with this with my clients: denial keeps them digging the hole deeper way past the point an objective person would be scrambling out.

    I thought from the beginning of the Prenda saga, that the attorneys ought to be focused less on trying to keep the scam alive and more on trying to stay out of jail. They shouldn't have appealed, they shouldn't have argued, they shouldn't have poked the bear. It was time to shut up, and hope you get out of this without going to jail. But well past the point that would have been obvious the Prenda clowns kept on trucking.

    I would also imagine that a judge would absolutely destroy them at sentencing because of they way they abused the privilege to practice law. From the outside at least this looks like a horrible sentencing case. You have their continued defiance in the face of angry judges, combined with the abuse of their law licenses, and possibly a pretty significant loss valuation on ye old sentencing table.

  11. Rustybob says

    I love seeing that his bankruptcy attorney prides herself on representing people nobody else wants…. and he's only the 4th client she's asked to withdrawal herself from.

    Ars Technica link from last year that I think suspect must've come from early copies of the Panama Papers

    With the recent release of the Panama Papers, and recent knowledge that Germany paid for early copies of this release, and shared it with countries like the US…. I wonder if that's exactly how these judges found all the shell companies and hidden money. I wouldn't think they would dedicate that much of their own time to unwinding such complex matters, unless it was already laid out right for them already…

  12. says

    Hansmeier is already on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I don't see any other explanation of how an attorney in his clear mind could file that apoplectic, bizarre "Mercedes" motion.

  13. Rustybob says

    Any chance Ken might have some insight whether early leaks of the Panama Papers helped take down Prenda Law last year?

    Or, whether information from the full leak this year is what is giving the FBI all the ammo they need to go in for the kill on Prenda right now?

  14. Erbo says

    I'm thinking what they'll actually be looking for is plane tickets to South America under an assumed name, and ways to shift the boodle to the Cayman Islands or someplace like that.

    Johnny S, woah-oh-oh, he slipped away,
    Paulie H caught up with him the very next day,
    They got the money, hey, you know they got away,
    They're headed down South and they're still runnin' today,
    Singin', go on, take the money and run…

    (with apologies to Steve Miller)

  15. Frankz says

    .
    This is just step 1.
    I'm hoping for a hat trick; DOJ conviction, IRS conviction, and disbarment.

  16. Ken in Nj says

    Oh and 1000 internet points to anyone around when they are taken into custody who tells them I send all my love.

    Forget points, If someone can produce a video of themselves telling Steele "WELCOME TO THE BIG LEAGUES" as he's being taken into custody, I'll buy them a bottle of their favorite booze(*)

    *some restrictions apply

  17. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ken in NJ – I get confused I thought it was Hans who did welcome to the big leagues. "Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo" would be a good phrase for Steele.

    The tell them I send all my love is a running joke dating back to when they thought I was just about every male lawyer representing clients against them, then decided I was in the gallery watching them… when I was only in their nightmares haunting them.

    @Michael – They are convinced they are smarter than everyone. They also have been extremely lucky hitting Judge after Judge who just shooed them away rather than punish them or in some cases she totally rewrote the law & her powers in her head, pressured other Judges to follow her lead and even a rebuke from the appeals court hasn't changed her. I guess when you hire a former **AA lobbyist as a Judge the **AA gets what they paid for. (Why YES my opinion of Judge Howell is pretty low)

    I have grave concerns about the missing piece of the puzzle.
    Where is Lutz?
    The I'm not only the client but also the Boy Friday in the office, "mastermind" they alleged to have worked for (yet never paid).
    As someone who was the 'corporate representative', trust owner, copyright holder, etc… one might think he could answer lots of questions to avoid his fate.
    Pretenda was playing 14 moves ahead in their minds, and they could still think their plan to blame it all on Lutz and walk away will work.

  18. Ken in NJ says

    I would also imagine that a judge would absolutely destroy them at sentencing because of they way they abused the privilege to practice law. From the outside at least this looks like a horrible sentencing case. You have their continued defiance in the face of angry judges, combined with the abuse of their law licenses, and possibly a pretty significant loss valuation on ye old sentencing table.

    Google Law School tells me that if they can find just 5 victims who suffered "substantial financial hardship" as a result, a mere $250,001 in damages can result in 16 additional sentencing points. If they can show a few million in damages, a large enough number of victims, and can support both wire and mail fraud charges, and maybe a perjury charge?

    And the almost inevitable 18 USC 1001 charge when they talk to the FBI because they're pathological liars and literally can't tell the truth for more than 3 or 4 sentences in a row

    I dunno, add it all up and (**shakes magic 8 ball**) what? 10-12 years? More? Someone with some law talking experience help me out here

  19. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ken in NJ
    I am guessing you haven't seen the financials they ignored the courts instructions to file to seal after a case ended. (It was a constant theme of ignoring what courts told them to do, often to their own detriment.) In a few months time they pulled in several million and quickly started playing shell games moving the cash around. Funny none of that cash ever was paid to the trust who 'employed' them.

    They managed to pull in much more than a few million, and their accounting records for several periods are available on the dockets. One can only imagine how much cash was actually flowing in during the entire period they were active. One does hope there are additional charges available for their ill implemented robo-dialer that was issuing threats (well once they read the manual and changed the message saying they would sue the people they were calling instead of themselves.).

    I wonder if the FBI has looked at the straw defendants that were used to try and sneak in hugely over-broad subpoenas targeting thousands of people across the country. Cutting an agreement with someone to allow themselves to be sued in a sham case so they can go after more people seems like it should be illegal and stuff…

    But I'm still not a lawyer… despite the hype. I'm just a historian of copyright trolling with a moral compass.

  20. Trent says

    I'm thinking what they'll actually be looking for is plane tickets to South America under an assumed name, and ways to shift the boodle to the Cayman Islands or someplace like that.

    Flying under assumed names isn't as easy as it used to be. You've got to give valid federal identification to someone classified as federal law enforcement to get on a plane these days and with all the cameras running facial recognition and such I'm doubtful you could pull it off even if you had a fake ID that would get you past TSA.

    I have no doubt in mind that if the FBI is shopping around for victim testimony they've put both Steele and Hans on a watch list that will notify local agents to pick them up if they even purchase a plane ticket. With the patriot act these days they can flag your banks and credit cards for airline tickets (even foreign based cards as they get the processors to flag the charges).

    Their best shot at getting out of the US would be to drive out or get on a boat with cash. Airlines are way to monitored anymore. But even then the FBI could have GPS devices on their cars and such. It's pretty rare for people to get away this late in the game. Everyone I hear about that tries to flee the FBI gets arrested trying to board a plane or at a border crossing indicating that the FBI monitors people they are going to charge with the will and means to flee.

    Besides, Steele is way to big of an ego maniac to flee. He probably believes he could win.

  21. TheGiddyHangman says

    "Team Prenda needs federal criminal defense attorneys, and needs them right now."

    Some of the sweetest words you have written in a while!

  22. Richard Smart says

    Dear Trent,

    You've got to give valid federal identification to someone classified as federal law enforcement to get on a plane these days"

    The trolls in question haven't been convicted of a federal crime yet, is that not so? Were I in that position, I would not board a plane from US territory – rather, I'd cross the border into Canada (say) and take flight from there.

  23. Bascombe says

    I was sufficiently intrigued by the above discussion that I looked at the federal sentencing guidelines and what we know has been alleged as naughty behavior by the lead characters, and I come up with 40 levels.

    Larceny, embezzlement, other forms of theft; fraud and deceit, the basic offense level of 6

    Aggregate economic loss to victim(s) between $3.5 and 9.5 million, add 18 levels

    Substantial economic hardship to 25 or more victims, add 6 levels

    Offense involved sophisticated means and the defendant intentionally engaged in or caused the conduct constituting sophisticated means, add 2 levels

    If the defendant was an organizer or leader of a criminal activity that involved five or more participants or was otherwise extensive, increase by 4 levels

    If the defendant . . . used a special skill, in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or concealment of the offense, increase by 2 levels

    If the defendant willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of justice with respect to the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the instant offense, increase 2 levels

    Additional levels apply if the defendants also engaged in fraud on the court, RICO-related activity, money laundering, and/or tax evasion but we don't know enough details to calculate those potential increases. Likewise there are downward adjustments possible for acceptance of responsibility and other factors but I can't imagine the personalities involved admitting guilt at this stage.

    Assuming a calculation of 40 levels is correct and a criminal history category of 0 (no prior felony offenses), a 40 level conviction would have a guideline term of imprisonment of 292-365 months, roughly 24-30 years. Even if the sentencing memorandum was overly generous and didn't include all of the factors above, it is hard to come up with a total offense level that doesn't add up to an imprisonment term of > 10 years. Your math may be different.

  24. albert says

    @Bascombe,

    "…an imprisonment term of > 10 years…."

    Did you intend to say 'less than' 10 years?

    . .. . .. — ….

  25. Trent says

    It says greater than, you are reading it wrong or don't understand how it works. PrisonTerm > 10 is how it's phrased and that reads as greater than.

  26. Ken in NJ says

    @That Anonymous Coward: I am guessing you haven't seen the financials they ignored the courts instructions to file to seal after a case ended.

    I'd seen them, but I've forgotten a lot of the details about the Prenda fiasco. Heck, it's been a year since their disastrous 9th Circuit appearance, and I gave up checking Google News for the decision a couple of months ago

    Me: I dunno, add it all up and (**shakes magic 8 ball**) what? 10-12 years? More? Someone with some law talking experience help me out here

    @Bascombe says "I was sufficiently intrigued by the above discussion that I looked at the federal sentencing guidelines"

    Now that's exactly the kind of response I was hoping for. Awesome, thanks.

    @albert: Did you intend to say 'less than' 10 years?

    I think you missed the word "doesn't" in that sentence

  27. Erbo says

    Their best shot at getting out of the US would be to drive out or get on a boat with cash. Airlines are way to monitored anymore. But even then the FBI could have GPS devices on their cars and such. It's pretty rare for people to get away this late in the game. Everyone I hear about that tries to flee the FBI gets arrested trying to board a plane or at a border crossing indicating that the FBI monitors people they are going to charge with the will and means to flee.

    Pick up a cheap piece-of-crap car off Craigslist. Go to a pick-a-part place and grab the license plates off an old wreck. Pry the VIN off the dashboard. Drive across the Canadian border at a crossing that's small and inconspicuous. Abandon the car in a city big enough to have an airport. (Leave it parked along a street with the doors unlocked, windows down, and keys dangling from the ignition; it should be nicked and gone within minutes.) Fly from there to a country that has no extradition.

    I'm sure there's a hole in this somewhere, as I'm not a criminal mastermind. :-)

  28. Ken in NJ says

    @Erbo I'm sure there's a hole in this somewhere, as I'm not a criminal mastermind.

    Well, the size and conspicuousness of the crossing doesn't matter – if it's an official crossing, it's guarded, and they all have access to the same lists/alerts/etc.

    For unofficial (unguarded) crossings, I'm pretty sure the last unguarded road that crossed the border was closed years ago. I've heard that there are plenty of dirt roads/trails which that will get you there, with the caveats that 1) they get rougher and wilder as you get closer to the border, eventually pretty much disappearing altogether; and 2) local ranchers will report unrecognized vehicles near the border to the Border patrol

    The final option is a backpack and a kayak. I haven't got the slightest idea how likely this is to work, but Google tells me it's harder now than it was a few years ago: US Quietly Ramps Up Security Along the Canadian Border

  29. Ken in NJ says

    Actually, it occurred to me that a fisherman on one of the Great Lakes might just come back to shore in the wrong place. Though you'd best have your fisherman cover be pretty convincing, since the coast guard has active patrols

  30. Frankz says

    I don't expect > 10 years. I do expect the DOJ to throw enough charges at them that it could add up to 30 years, but then I expect team Prenda to plead to something minor and they might end up doing 3-5 years in club Fed.

  31. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ken in NJ
    Tsk tsk tsk I expect everyone to know all of the details of all of the trolls. :D

    IIRC (and I'm old so its fuzzy sometimes) For a period of like 3 (or was it 6) months they pulled in $4 Million from the credit card processor alone. Now these were documents they were willing to turn over to a court, so given their track record of honesty with courts the actual number might be higher.

  32. Lapsed Pacifist says

    Re: flight,

    I believe that the passengers on chartered and private aircraft are subject to much less individual scrutiny than anyone boarding a normal passenger flight, and that it would be much easier to forge a name in those manifests than to try a convoluted border crossing first.

  33. albert says

    @Ken in NJ, Bascombe, etc,

    Yes, I missed the 'doesn't'

    Still, 10 years seems too lenient.
    ………

    If you have enough cash, you can get out of the US, but you'll need some rather seedy connections most folks would find very difficult to make.

    Why would the Feds accept a plea, unless they had a weak case?

    Is there a possibility of a class action lawsuit against these guys?

    . .. . .. — ….

  34. Bascombe says

    However unartfully worded it may be, my comment should be taken that the guidelines range will exceed ten years. That is their best case.

    I also note that the guidelines ranges for judicial misconduct are very vague, and I think deliberately so. When Prenda appealed the Otis Wright verdict to the 9th Circuit, Judge Tallman (a descriptive name if ever there was one) shot out a question to Voelker asking if he realized that the penalty for criminal contempt is up to life and that is how I read the guidelines. I never argue with federal judges. Then there are the other areas I pointed out where the three alphabet agencies like the IRS and FBI have all sorts of data we don't have. At some point the prosecutor may get tired of adding levels, especially for difficult to prove charges such as RICO.

    Regrettably, the Booker decision made clear that the guidelines are just that, guidelines, and the judge is free to impose any sentence between zero and the maximum term specified in the US Code. While most judges hit for the middle of the fairway when sentencing, it is possible for the Prendateers to get off with much less than they deserve. However, if they draw a sufficiently pissed off prosecutor who decides to make an example of them, together with a similarly inclined judge, the numbers could be staggering.

    Frankly I would settle for a photo of John Steele and Paul Hansmeier in orange jumpsuits and a guilty plea for fraud that prevented them from ever practicing law again. Padraigan Browne had better watch her backside as well.

  35. skruub@ll says

    @SJD I don't see the Mercedes Motion as too far off base for the way they've behaved. It seems like status quo for Steele/Hansmeier to me.

  36. NotPiffany says

    I don't expect > 10 years. I do expect the DOJ to throw enough charges at them that it could add up to 30 years, but then I expect team Prenda to plead to something minor and they might end up doing 3-5 years in club Fed.

    That would be the smart thing to do, yes. When have the Prenda crew given any indication that they know when to stop digging and do the smart thing?

  37. Dan says

    Depending on how airtight the feds case is one of them might be able to get a short sentence in turn for helping to throw the others under the bus. I'd lean towards Lutz (or possibly some office flunky below the level we've seen in court) making a deal; because it seems pretty clear he's a patsy who got in over his head and any even borderline competent defense lawyer will be urging him to cooperate.

  38. Fasolt says

    A question for the attorneys out there. Are the NDAs the Prenda Gang undoubtedly had their victims sign enforceable if the information it is intended to shield from public view is of a criminal enterprise? Can the victims be charged with violating the NDAs if it is Law Enforcement asking the questions and the victims provide answers?

  39. Bascombe says

    Fasolot,

    An enforceable contract requires a lawful subject matter (i.e. I can't make a contract with a hit man to murder someone). If the court decides the actions of Prenda are criminal in nature that alone would blow a gaping hole in the NDA.

    Even without that finding a court can compel a witness to testify absent a well-established basis such as attorney-client confidentiality or spousal privilege. Most NDA agreements have language that specifically permits responding to judicial or government orders even though the language is not strictly necessary. Prenda can raise an objection to such a disclosure before it happens, but given the history of this case I wish them the best of luck in suppressing the testimony.

  40. Jhanley says

    @erbo, as someone who's had their vehicle thoroughly searched at a remote and inconspicuous border crossing, my recommendation would be to cross over in a massive crowd of vehicles during a holiday at Niagara Falls. Security gets more lax when they're overwhelmed.

  41. Marcus says

    Instead of the perps wearing orange, can the judge make a call and get some of the pink outfits Arizona's Sheriff so loves to have his inmates wear?

  42. OrderoftheQuaff says

    What interests me the most about discussions like this is the hypothetical question…

    I have just committed a federal crime by stealing 100 million dollars from somewhere, and the feds are looking for me. I have managed to secure my ill-gotten gains outside their reach (thank you Satoshi Nakamoto), but I can't fly out or drive out because I'm on the watchlist and I don't even have a valid passport (the one from my youth has long since expired, I look at it, photo from 1970 with the long hair, what was I thinking), so, what are my options?

    1. Shelter in place. The lower 48 are vast and wide, particularly the western parts of my greatest familiarity, and I can grow a beard and pull my hat way down.

    2. Walk out. North is out, a polite, well-regulated society but colder weather, I don't want to wear a down jacket all the time for the rest of my life, so I'll take my chances here. South is a different, more open-ended proposition. I have just climbed up the southern bank of the Rio Grande with my brushed-up conversational Spanish and my daypack with the bitcoin wallet in the waterproof bag, what do I do now? Where do I go? Will I survive on the lam long enough to write a bestselling memoir "An American Wetback in Mexico"?

    3. The option that has most intrigued me, go to one of the Gulfshore states, Texas east to Florida, throw in Georgia and South Carolina too, charter a boat with an unscrupulous skipper. From there, islands await, all the way from the Caribbean down to South America. I went into the local library and used Google Maps to find just the one I want! When I get there, I'm gonna bribe all the residents (free iPhones for everybody, robots for the kids, gold coins and all the pirated media content they can consume) and of course I will build a seaside villa with Florentine marble, solid gold bathroom fixtures and well-compensated servants in house livery. There will be the occasional little grass skirt in a little grass shack, and all the strong rum/fruit cocktails I can swizzle, minus the little umbrellas, which is a lot, the wet sand against my bare feet as the sun goes up and down, but I have a recurring, disturbing nightmare vision. A Coast Guard cutter suddenly appears 100 yards offshore from my villa.

    Maybe I should just get a lawyer.

  43. Michael says

    I tried sending you an email about this question but your about page just says send an email to [Author]@popehat.com I tried ken.white, kenwhite, ken-white and all came back undeliverable. So I'm leaving this question here in hopes that you might read it.

    Donald trump and the TrumpU case

    Recently Donald Trump made headlines by insulting the presiding judge and claiming bias. I'm afraid i do not know much about the specifics of law however I've always assumed insulting your judge is a bad idea. Hours later the judge unsealed a few of the documents relating to the case.

    Is this a normal response to such accusations? Would the documents been released anyways? Also if you don't mind having a more specific overview about the case rather than the short blurbs available on most political websites would be most enlightening if you take requests at all.

    Sincerely
    -Mike C

  44. Trent says

    Depending on how airtight the feds case is one of them might be able to get a short sentence in turn for helping to throw the others under the bus.

    The first person to turn and work for the feds always gets the sentence reduction and barring something like organized crime networks like the mafia someone always turns because their lawyer urges them to. It's practically guaranteed that they will flip someone, I always figured it'd be Lutz or one of the help or more than one. They'd never take Steele or Hansmeirer turning, they're the big fish so no offer would ever be on the table for them other than a plea.

  45. Matt says

    @Trent – even the Mafia's been turning the last few decades, thanks to the RICO act, monster sentences for drug offenses, and apparently a lot less loyalty down than the old days. (Heck, Joe Massino, *boss* of the Bonanno family, turned on like, everybody to avoid life w/o parole and a possible death sentence.)

  46. joat says

    Is it too much to hope that (at least) one will attempt to defend himself? I've laid in a store of popcorn, just in case.

  47. Analee Harriman says

    Joat, I'll make s'mores for everyone too. We'll need something once the popcorn runs out.

  48. Robin Bobcat says

    Years hence: "Okay class, today in Legal Ethics, we're going to discuss Prenda Law… *chuckles from audience* Oh good, I'm guessing some of you have already heard of them."

  49. Dan says

    @Trent how good of a deal they offer is dependent on how much help the defector can offer. If the fed's case is strong enough (*oh please* *oh please* *oh please* *oh please*) the best deal on offer might only be a marginal step down from what they'd be realistically looking at if convicted on all plausible counts. OTOH if the DA isn't feeling that confident in his/her case the first defector might be offered a very generous deal to make sure that Steele and Hansmeier get locked up for the maximum possible term.

  50. I Was Anonymous says

    @Frankz, IANAL, but doesn't a felony conviction lead to immediate disbarment?

  51. James says

    I have always thought the person most likely to be a turncoat is Gibbs Esq. as he seems reasonably repentant for his role in all this, and has more to lose that anybody else since his bar license could be revoked. The only financial records that have ever shown up in this case came from the DropBox account Prenda used to communicate with Gibbs (where somebody got sloppy and deposited a big chunk of the Prenda general ledger); the contrite Mr. Gibbs offered that information up to the glee of all. He doesn't seem to appreciate the tire marks on his face that resulted from being thrown under the bus.

    Lutz is, at best, John Steele's personal errand boy and patsy while Gibbs is a licensed attorney. He can testify as to what instructions he received, who he received them from, and hopefully produce an incriminating e-mail trail. He would be far more credible than Jacques "because gay marriage!" Nazaire or any of the other Prenda local counsel. While Prenda could dismiss the testimony of Lutz as the ramblings of someone that doesn't really understand the law, Gibbs would prove a harder nut to crack . . . and if it ever came down to a disciplinary hearing for past sins Gibbs can point to his proffered testimony as validation of his road to Damascus enlightenment.

  52. says

    @James: Next on the list: Michael Dugas, maybe Adam Urbanzcyk (a fake defense counsel). I also hope that the feds stirred the swamp of IL St. Clair County judiciary.

    My list of all the Prenda-connected people, to the best of my knowledge.

  53. James says

    @sjd I never seriously considered Dugas because I don't know that he is sorry for what he did, and I do think that Gibbs is at least somewhat contrite.

    As for St. Clair county, that particular swamp has been festering for years and years. It is loaded with alligators, snake, and all forms of vermin. It will take a very big clean-up to set it straight and I am not sure how much the federal government can do to clean up what is essentially a state judicial mess, and Illinois is simply not up to the job.

  54. Frankz says

    doesn't a felony conviction lead to immediate disbarment?

    If so, then we get 2 for the price of only 1 conviction. Nice.
    Now where's the IRS?

  55. Dan says

    @James I'd discounted Gibbs from my previous opinions firstly because I've assumed he's been cooperating with the feds for the last few years. And secondly because he was never part of the inner circle; so other than the bits of data that was negligently shared to him doesn't really have a lot to offer. (I'm not saying the financials he leaked aren't valuable; but it's not the same as being able to testify what was going on inside the scorpion pit itself.)

  56. That Anonymous Coward says

    @James – You forget the financials from, I want to say, DC Appeals court. (IIRC)
    And I doubt Nazzy will stick his head up from the fox hole he is hiding in. Remember he tried to exit once by the JAG office suddenly needed another lawyer to handle foriegn nationals filing claims against the USG. Pity the Judge decided to wait for him to return.
    Remember a clip art man image in a beret is racist, despite the fact all of the players used the same base image. But then I'm just a terrorist hacker out to destroy the world with gay marriage.

    @Frankz – One of my favorite findings was the bar that didn't move to disbar an attorney until he was 8 years into a prison sentence for murder. So one would expect that a felony isn't enough to suggest that these fine upstanding pillars of the legal system should be blocked from the practice of law.

    @Dan – Don't think Gibby wasn't part of the inner circle, he'd been with them since S|H was a thing being run out of a court after they told, Judge Shadur (IIRC), what we said in the complaint wasn't true that we could identify the downloader from the information we demanded and now we need to be able to access every computing device & everything able to store files in the home.

  57. James says

    For those that have not seen it, the 9th Circuit CoA finally released their opinion on the appeal from the Wright decision. The short answer is "AFFIRMED", the longer answer and the full memorandum opinion (courtesy of the always wonderful FightCopyrighttrolls.com) is linked below:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/315362448

  58. Another Anonymous Coward says

    That Anonymous Coward says
    MAY 25, 2016 AT 6:55 PM

    There is one almost victim I'd love for them to find. He called himself Another Anonymous Coward. They hounded him despite his medical conditions and lied repeatedly to terrorize him into paying up. If not for the intervention of us meddling kids and a Doe Defender, it would have had a tragic outcome.

    Hi Original AC!

    I remember us 'talking' on here many moons ago.

    Don't worry, the FBI were VERY thorough.

    :D

    AAC.

  59. That Anonymous Coward says

    AAC, Very good to see you!! Inquiring cowards always wondered how you were after out initial meeting. Glad that the men in suits were very thorough…

    Hope your mood has been brightened by all of this entertainment.
    The 9th Circuit upheld the beat down, now just waiting for them to file cert with SCOTUS 4 days after the deadline to do so.

    I love it when a plan comes together…

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