What It's Like For The Client Subjected To A Bogus And Retaliatory Investigation

By day, Bob Blaskiewicz is a college professor. By night, he's a skeptical blogger, using the critical thinking skills he teaches to interrogate public quackery. He's a long-term critic of Stanislaw Burzynski, a Houston researcher famous and infamous for experimental cancer "treatments." He helps run a blog critical of Burzynski's claims. (Long-time readers of Popehat might remember that a supporter of Burzynski named Marc Stephens attempted, to the best of his modest ability, to threaten me at length with criminal investigations and legal proceedings, which generated what for better or worse became the blog's catchphrase.)

Blaskiewicz is fighting the good fight for science and skepticism over woo and those who prey upon the desperate. That has consequences. In his case, it generated a bogus and malicious report to the FBI about him. Bob describes what it was like in a post (not to mention what it was like to have to put up with me). The result was obvious and (after the fact) appropriate — the FBI determined that the "threat" was obviously not one, but speech protected by the First Amendment. It's still regrettable that bad faith retaliatory reports to law enforcement can upend people's lives. It was a privilege to help out Bob, who has a lot of insight into the client experience:

[I was learning that a big part of a defense attorney’s job is keeping their clients from hurting themselves by acting out of panic.]

Read his post, it's worth it.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. KeithB says

    Also some people are lucky that sometimes the Police actually do their job and look behind spurious accusations:

    Summary: Two lawyer parents who felt their special snowflake was slighted planted drugs in a PTA volunteers car and called in a "I saw someone driving erratically at school check them out" complaint to 911 using a fake Indian accent. Things seemed a little too neat so rather than arresting the PTA volunteer (which would likely be the case in most jurisdictions) the police dug in and nailed the real culprits.

  2. TimL says

    I am a medium-term reader of your blog… I clicked that link about the rabbit and OMG.

    Thank you for making me laugh, albeit with a 5-year delay. I needed it today.

  3. KeithB says

    In regards to getting your FBI files:
    I heard Arlo Guthrie tell a story about all his friends getting their FBI files and they were proud that the files were thick and with handwritten notes by Edgar Hoover and stuff. Arlo requested his file and was disappointed that there was only one piece of paper. The lyrics to "Coming into Los Angeles"

  4. Daniel Weber says

    I had a stranger yell at me to call the cops because reasons, and just that was an annoying and disruptive enough to my family's day.

  5. En Passant says

    Ken wrote:

    It's still regrettable that bad faith retaliatory reports to law enforcement can upend people's lives.

    No doubt that they can and sometimes do. But I would guess, based on nothing more than life experience, that the great majority of bad faith retaliatory reports are of less consequence, more at the level of mere annoyance, perhaps because most bad faith reporters lack imagination or skill to set up a major bad faith retaliatory report.

  6. Raucous Indignation says

    FWIW, I still occasionally issue a "formal, legally binding, 100% certified style invitation to snort my taint."

    But I don't always get the phrasing exactly right. Please forgive me.

  7. Quiet Lurcker says

    I'm reminded of the Geico commercial with James Lipton.

    Law enforcement exercising common sense. Unheard of.

  8. says

    As a blogger you've helped in the past, thank you so much for helping all the people you've given your time to help. It's scary getting legal threats, and bloggers as a rule aren't rich folk. Without awesome people like you, I think many blogs would just shut down.

  9. KronWeld says

    After reading the blasts from the past about Marc Stephans, I Googled him, and found this about a Marc Stephens of Englewood, New Jersey (his car had California plates.) If this isn't the same Mark Stephens, then it sound like he has a twin who thinks the way he does:


    At the end of the article is the wonderful sentence : "Shockingly, Marc Stephens is not a lawyer, and is representing himself as pro se."

  10. IForgetMyName says


    Thanks for sharing that. It was a rare and inspiring example of decent cops trying to do the right thing, not pad their arrest record, and assholes trying to abuse the system getting their just deserts in the end.

    Except when I realized that they were only charged with false imprisonment (for the frame up) and not for drug possession or any of the other crimes included in the process, and in the end they got only a few months each. Countless people charged with the drug possession alone (for their own personal use) have gotten far stiffer sentences.

  11. Ed says

    Thanks, Ken. A good one.

    Speaking of retaliation, has there been any blowback on your pitiless pillorying of the FISA court and NSA activities?

    I would really like to see more on the FISA "court" which is certainly not a court any more than I am "President".

  12. Ed says

    What fits me the most for the office is that I want no part of it. In fact I propose "Ed's Law": The fitness of a candidate for the office of President is inversely related to how much they lust after it

  13. Chris says

    KeithB: "Also some people are lucky that sometimes the Police actually do their job and look behind spurious accusations:"

    Oh, my word. And I thought the PTA Queen Bees at my kids' school were bad.

    (I did have a laugh at the 200 billable hours… as dear hubby is finishing off another 70+ hour work week with the expectation it will continue into next February, with not anything near the compensation as her husband).

  14. Encinal says

    It seems to me that the title is a bit misleading. It was the accusation that was bogus and retaliatory. The investigation seems to have been done in good faith.

  15. wumpus says

    I'm curious if there is a legal difference between this and SWATting (SWATting, of course relies on the natural overreactions of police, while this relies on assuming a DA will make a possible charge stick). I suspect that at least SWATting has at least a few dangers, mostly because the cops enjoy their license to over-react and SWATting might someday call it in question.

    Other examples:
    Calling the police about DWB. In certain "white flight" areas, the police and DA are more than glad to follow up any trumped up claims (certainly true in Timonium, MD circa 2000ish. Even for "riding a bicycle while black").

  16. John B. Say says

    One area in which this is particularly common involves the care of elders.
    There are people – even family who take advantage of older people.
    But far more often we have stressed out family members trying to navigate caring for an older person in ill health and either not dotting their i's and crossing their t's or just simply annoying their siblings.

    Sometimes someone is in poor health and dying and other relatives are just unwilling to accept that reality.

    Our actual law usually imposes reasonable impediments to the state interfering in the family care of the elderly. But those protections tend not to be worth much.

    I was familiar with many such cases in my community when I became my fathers power of attorney. Two of my siblings were convinced that the other two of us who were not 2000 miles away were stealing from him, and otherwise mistreating him.
    They were unable to accept that Dad was dying. They did not visit when they had the chance, and when as his condition got worse they eventually made a false report to the local office of aging, which stepped in did nearly no investigation, got the court to suspend my fathers POA and MPOA, removed him from his home where he wanted to die – against his will kicking and screaming, there was no actual hearing on the allegations – because as expected he died first.
    This triggered a report to the local district attorney, further investigations, significant legal bills for the two of us, and a long delayed cornors report that my father died of pneumonia contracted in the home his was forced into – but would have died from the large collection of health problems that he had.

    This all proved expensive. Pissed off local law enforcement, made my life miserable for a long time, was inevitably followed by a long protracted estate battle – which after more than 3 years MIGHT be winding down.

    It is important for our government to protect the elderly. It is also important for them to tread carefully. False Allegations of theft or worse can follow you arround for the rest of your life.