Jeffrey Epstein’s Little-Known Lawyer Lands in Spotlight – The Wall Street Journal

A house on Little St. James Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a private island owned by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.


Photo:

marco bello/Reuters

NEW YORK—Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime lawyer has operated behind the scenes for decades. Now he finds himself in the spotlight over the scandal surrounding the disgraced financier.

Darren Indyke

was named co-executor of Mr. Epstein’s will filed earlier this month in a U.S. Virgin Islands court, a document Mr. Epstein signed two days before his apparent suicide. Mr. Indyke and Mr. Epstein had worked together for more than 25 years as Mr. Epstein expanded his business and social ties.

As federal prosecutors investigate Mr. Epstein’s operations and some of his alleged sexual-assault victims seek to recover assets from his estate, Mr. Indyke has hired a criminal defense lawyer, though no charges have been filed against him.

Among his wide-ranging work as an attorney, Mr. Indyke set up companies for Mr. Epstein and his colleagues, represented Mr. Epstein in real estate deals and handled matters involving his charitable giving, public records show. He also invested alongside Mr. Epstein in at least one instance, contributed to politicians favored by Mr. Epstein and represented him in a Federal Election Commission matter involving an excessive political donation, public records indicate.

Mr. Indyke also once had an address at the Manhattan condominium building where several Epstein employees lived, according to real-estate records. That building was purchased in the early 1990s by a former affiliate of J. Epstein & Co., Mr. Epstein’s investment firm, real-estate records and New York state filings show.

All that means the 54-year-old lawyer could attract the attention of anyone hoping to track Mr. Epstein’s financial holdings—worth at least $577 million, according to court papers filed with his will.

Another wrinkle in Mr. Epstein’s case involves how much of Mr. Indyke’s work is protected by attorney-client privilege. When a lawyer conducts business dealings for a client that don’t involve legal advice or representation, that work isn’t covered by the privilege, said

Peter Joy,

a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mr. Indyke declined to comment for this article through

Marc Agnifilo,

his criminal-defense lawyer.

Mr. Epstein died Aug. 10 in a New York federal jail cell of what a coroner said was a suicide. He had pleaded not guilty to sex-trafficking counts arising from a scheme federal prosecutors said involved sexual abuse of dozens of girls.

Jeffrey Epstein in a 2017 photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry.


Photo:

New York State Sex Offender Registry/Associated Press

In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to two counts related to prostitution; he went to jail but was allowed to participate in a work-release program later that year.

While Mr. Epstein hired criminal defense attorneys to represent him in the prostitution case, Mr. Indyke frequently visited Mr. Epstein in jail, court records show. In July 2009, Mr. Epstein was released early, having served 13 months of an 18-month sentence.

Mr. Indyke graduated from Cornell University’s law school in 1991, according to the university’s website, and joined the New York state bar in 1992. He owns a house in Livingston, N.J., purchased in 2003 for $1.7 million, and one he bought in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2015 for $3.1 million cash, public records show.

Mr. Indyke also owns a condominium in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Mr. Epstein owned two private islands, public records show.

Over the past two decades, Mr. Indyke has made open-records requests to three federal agencies on behalf of Mr. Epstein. It couldn’t be determined what kind of information Mr. Epstein was seeking or whether any was produced.

In 2013, Mr. Indyke requested records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection on behalf of Mr. Epstein. The types of records obtainable under such requests, according to the CBP website, are information pertaining to an individual’s U.S. entries and exits, apprehensions, detentions and results of background checks.

In March 2014, Mr. Indyke asked the National Security Agency for “documents, communications, memorandums, orders, agreements and/or instructions” relating to Mr. Epstein dating back to 2000. The record for the request is marked “Denial of Information” and below that “Not Closed.”

Mr. Indyke also has ties to Mr. Epstein’s main investment client,

Leslie Wexner,

the billionaire founder of retailers

L Brands

and Victoria’s Secret. Mr. Wexner said in a statement several weeks ago that Mr. Epstein stole more than $46 million from him. The statement made no mention of Mr. Indyke.

In 1999, Mr. Indyke was secretary of the nonprofit Wexner Foundation, securities filings show. A year earlier, Mr. Indyke supplied an affidavit in a legal dispute in New York federal court against a German shipbuilder that had constructed Mr. Wexner’s 316-foot yacht, “Limitless.”

Representatives for Mr. Wexner and L Brands didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Indyke also invested alongside Mr. Epstein at least once, regulatory filings show. In 2004, Mr. Indyke held an unspecified stake in Second City Capital Partners, a private-equity firm specializing in real-estate investments. One of Mr. Epstein’s foundations for which Mr. Indyke was an officer also held a Second City Capital Partners stake at the time.

Mr. Indyke moreover was a registered agent for multiple companies located at the New York address of J. Epstein & Co. And he assisted Mr. Epstein in his 1993 purchase of the Zorro Ranch, a vast property near Albuquerque, N.M.; land leases show that the ranch is owned by Cypress Inc. of the U.S. Virgin Islands and that Mr. Indyke is a vice president of Cypress.

A number of donations Mr. Indyke made to politicians over the years mirrored those made by Mr. Epstein, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. On Aug. 4, 2016, for example, Mr. Indyke donated $2,700 to U.S. Rep. Stacey Plaskett, a Virgin Islands Democrat; Mr. Epstein also donated to her that day, records show. And on July 23, 2018, Mr. Indyke and Mr. Epstein both made donations to Ms. Plaskett.

Write to Gretchen Morgenson at gretchen.morgenson@wsj.com

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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It took Twitter longer to secure Jack Dorsey's account from hackers than it would for a nuclear missile to travel around the world — and that should terrify you

Dorsey trump 4:3

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account was hacked on Friday. 
  • The hackers unleashed a tweetstorm of offensive, racist tweets.
  • Everyone who watched the events seemed to have the same thought: If Twitter can’t protect its CEO’s account from hackers, how can it protect President Donald Trump’s account?
  • It’s a terrifying question, made all the more worrisome because this is not the first time Twitter has raised doubts about its safeguards for Trump’s account. 
  • Maybe the San Francisco-based company isn’t up to the task of managing something so powerful?
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Friday afternoon, at 12:44 p.m. PT, the internet stood still and watched as something terrifying unfolded over the next 20 minutes.

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, had his account hacked, and it proceeded to tweet a barrage of offensive and racist tweets.

The tweets themselves were sophomoric and of no real consequence. And the fact that Dorsey’s genuine musings were interrupted on the Friday afternoon before the long Labor Day weekend was also, in the grand scheme of things, not that big of a deal. 

The alarming thing was that hijackers managed to take control of the Twitter CEO’s account. Not because anyone cares about Jack Dorsey, per se. But because of what that means. 

Just about every journalist and social-media junkie on Twitter Friday afternoon had the same unnerving thought at the same moment: If Twitter can’t keep its own CEO’s account safe from hackers, how the heck can it make sure President Donald Trump’s account doesn’t get hacked?

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think of the kind of chaos that could be unleashed if Trump’s account, which has 63.7 million followers, suddenly tweeted declarations of security threats, disease outbreaks, emergency laws, or even war. 

Trump’s Twitter is already ‘like a rocket’

Because Trump already uses Twitter in unprecedented ways to carry out diplomacy and politics, and tweets shocking things almost every day, tweets from a hacker masquerading as Trump might not immediately be dismissed as bogus (as Dorsey’s quickly were). And because Trump is the leader of the free world, his tweets carry a massive amount of weight and immediacy.

“Like a rocket,” Trump said himself in July, when describing the impact of one of his previous tweets accusing President Barack Obama of wiretapping his office. 

Twitter, the corporation, has kept silent about the safeguards it has in place for Trump’s account. So we largely have to take it as a matter of faith that the company, presumably with government security assistance, is on top of it. 

But there’s already been cause for concern, such as in 2017, when a rogue Twitter support staffer, on his last day on the job, decided to temporarily deactivate Trump’s account. That lasted for 11 minutes. 

Twitter’s response

Twitter said on Friday that it was investigating the hacking of Dorsey’s account, adding that there was “no indication that Twitter’s systems have been compromised.”

If that is supposed to reassure anyone, it failed. In fact, it’s damning evidence of how out of touch Twitter is. Whether or not Twitter’s systems were compromised is beside the point. The fact is that someone was able to exploit its platform. That’s a big problem for Twitter, regardless of how the perpetrators managed to do it.

In total, 21 minutes elapsed before the company was even able to confirm that its CEO’s account had been hacked. At 2:22 p.m. PT — one hour and 36 minutes after the first hacked tweet hit the ether — Twitter pronounced Dorsey’s account “secure.”

How long would it take a nuclear-tipped missile to travel from North Korea to the US? In 37 minutes, a North Korean missile could reach Honolulu; it would take only 41 minutes to reach Washington, DC.

Trump is right. Twitter is like a rocket. And we’ve now had two very clear warnings that the company is not up to the task of handling such a serious responsibility.

SEE ALSO: What we know about how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account was hacked, and the group called ‘Chuckling Squad’ who is claiming responsibility

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Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case dismissed due to jailhouse death, lawyers still want judicial probe – CNBC

Jeffrey Epstein attends Launch of RADAR MAGAZINE at Hotel QT on May 18, 2005.

Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed the pending criminal child sex trafficking case against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who authorities have said killed himself in a Manhattan jail earlier this month.

The dismissal by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman of both counts against Epstein in response to a request by prosecutors was a formality, given the death of the former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

But it came two days after Epstein’s defense lawyers urged the judge to conduct an inquiry into Epstein’s death after casting doubt on the finding by the New York City medical examiner’s office that he died from suicide by hanging himself in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

One of Epstein’s lawyers, Martin Weinberg, in a statement to CNBC said: “We do not interpret today’s ruling as a determination that Judge Berman has rejected our requests that he exercise his inherent judicial authority to investigate both the cause of Mr. Epstein’s death or the horrific conditions in which the MCC held our client while he was pending trial.”

Prosecutors had opposed the idea of Berman doing an inquiry of his own into Epstein’s death. They noted that the incident is already the focus of a federal grand jury probe, as well as being under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Justice Department.

Another Epstein lawyer, Reid Weingarten, on Tuesday told Berman that the injuries suffered by Epstein are “far more consistent with assault than suicide.” Weingarten cited the defense’s own medical experts.

Broken bones were found in Epstein’s neck during an autopsy after he died Aug. 10. Such fractures are somewhat more common in cases of strangulation than in hanging.

“We want the court to help us find out what happened,” Weingarten said at Tuesday’s hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where nearly two dozen women spoke or had statements read about being abused by Epstein and their dismay that he died before he could be brought to trial.

“We’re skeptical of the certitude” of the finding of suicide by hanging by the medical examiner, he said. There are “significant doubts” regarding “the conclusion of suicide,” Weingarten said.

Epstein, 66, had been held without bail in the MCC since his arrest in early July.

He had pleaded not guilty in the case, where he faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

An indictment accused Epstein of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005 at his luxurious properties on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and in Palm Beach, Florida. Some of the alleged victims were as young as 14 years old.

Prosecutors said Epstein was aided by co-conspirators who provided him with access to the girls, who were paid several hundred dollars after visiting Epstein for purported “massages.”

Less than a month before he died, Epstein had been placed on suicide watch at the MCC for nearly a week after he was found semiconscious, with marks on his neck, in his cell.

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, met with some of Epstein’s accusers and their lawyers on Tuesday after the hearing.

During that meeting, Berman and William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, thanked the victims for their bravery and noted that their offices are continuing to investigate Epstein’s possible co-conspirators, NBC News reported Wednesday.

Berman previously had said, on the heels of Epstein’s death, “To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment — which included a conspiracy count — remains ongoing.”

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We still don't know if Jeffrey Epstein's money is floating around Silicon Valley, but several top venture capital firms say they've never accepted funds from the disgraced financier

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019.  New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS

Jeffrey Epstein may have been involved in the epicenter of yet another financial powerhouse: Silicon Valley venture capital.

After revelations that Epstein helped fund an investment firm led by MIT Media Lab director Joichi Ito, speculation has grown about whether Epstein — the now-deceased financier charged with sex trafficking — may have had more extensive ties to the VC industry at the heart of Silicon Valley’s booming tech economy.

The possibility that Epstein invested his money as a so-called Limited Partner in the gilded venture capital firms that fund and advise tech startups would represent an embarrassing, and potentially problematic development, for any firms involved.

Business Insider contacted 34 of the top venture capital firms in the tech industry to ask whether or not Epstein had ever been a limited partner, or investor, in any of the firms or whether he had worked with the firms in a personal or professional capacity at any point.

Of the 34 VC firms, 27 confirmed that Epstein had no direct involvement.

These are the firms, representing some of the most prominent names in venture capital, that said they have no direct involvement with Epstein: Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Baseline Ventures, Battery Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, CRV, DFJ Growth, Day One Ventures, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, Forerunner Ventures, GGV Capital, Greylock, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, L Catterton, Lightspeed Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Menlo Ventures, NEA, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia Capital, TCV, True Ventures, Tusk Venture Partners, and Union Square Ventures.

Read More:  ‘I’ve suffered and he has won’: More than 20 of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers gave emotional testimonies in court as prosecutors moved to shut down his case

Several firms, however, did not respond to Business Insider’s multiple requests for comment or confirmation. The VC firms that would not respond to requests for information about Epstein are: Felicis Ventures, Floodgate, Founders Fund, General Catalyst, IVP, Softbank, and Venrock.

Not a single VC firms that Business Insider reached out to has said that Epstein was a limited partner.

But there’s a big asterisk

However, even for those VC firms that disavowed any direct involvement with Epstein, it’s not yet possible to rule out the possibility that he was invested in the firms. That’s because many of the limited partners in VC firms are not specific named individuals, but rather a family office, a “fund of funds,” and other types of wealth funds not legally required to disclose whose money they manage. 

So, unless someone working at a VC firm had reason to be cautious of one of those investors and had asked for more details, it is unlikely they would know if any of the money in their funds came from Epstein.

Epstein was charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. He was found dead by apparent suicide on August 10 in his prison cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan after being refused bail. 

Do you have a story to share about Epstein? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (331) 625-2555 using a non-work phone, email at mhernbroth@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @megan_Hernbroth.

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Tips for Picking A Criminal Lawyer to Represent You – South Florida Reporter

lawyer


When you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge of any sort, whether it’s a DUI, theft or something else, you want an experienced criminal lawyer to represent the case. But there are many criminal lawyers to choose from, so how do you know you’re making the right choice?

A criminal lawyer also referred to as a criminal defense lawyer, is there to help fight your case in terms of helping to defend you when you’re accused of a crime. They’re the person who will be trusted to research and analyze what happened, then present their findings on your behalf.

Ultimately, their goal is to help ensure freedom for the accused individual. In some cases, a criminal lawyer may end up negotiating a settlement or plea bargain in the event the accused is found guilty. Naturally, you want a great criminal lawyer because you’ll be trusting them with a huge chapter in your life.

Should You Choose a Local Criminal Lawyer? 

Keep in mind, it’s important to find a local criminal lawyer who has experience in the courthouse where your case is pending. This will be helpful as they’ll be more familiar with procedures within the courthouse. Although most laws will be the same throughout the state, procedures will vary in terms of policies in each particular courthouse. Plus, if your criminal lawyer is local, they’ll have a better idea of the prosecutors and police officers who may be involved. This helps better prepare for the case, and at the end of the day, ensures a better outcome for you.

Last but not least, always remember the best attorney-client relationships are those in which the criminal lawyer sees the client as a partner, not a case file. You don’t want to be yet another case they’re working on. You want them to be passionate about helping you ensure your freedom. You should be involved throughout the decision-making process at all times.

Here are tips for picking someone to represent your case when there are countless criminal lawyers to choose from.

  1. Ask about their experience 

A criminal lawyer may have a decade or two of experience, but if they’ve been working on tax law, that’s not going to be beneficial to you in a criminal case. You want a criminal lawyer that has courtroom experience with cases similar to yours. Don’t hesitate to ask about their experience working with clients who have been charged with the same thing you have. If you’re looking at a DUI charge, don’t pick a criminal lawyer whose only experience is in violent crimes.

  1. Look at their team

If the criminal lawyer you’re considering seems to be the right person for the job, don’t forget to look at their team. Even the best criminal lawyers depend on a team to help them build their case. You should ask about anyone who will be involved in your case – from paralegals to administrative assistants and everything in between. You want to make sure his team members are experienced and prepared to help assist as needed. You never know when your chosen criminal lawyer will be too sick to work.

  1. Check references from previous clients

Similar to any service, you should always check references from previous clients when looking for a criminal lawyer. Feel free to ask around and see if you have any friends or colleagues who have used the criminal lawyer you’re considering. You can also ask the criminal lawyer themselves if they have any references from previous clients. Typically, good criminal lawyers will be happy to provide a few names you can speak with or quotes you can read.

  1. Pay attention to their confidence level

Confidence is a trait that’s necessary for a criminal lawyer. If they’re not confident, they may be skeptical about whether or not they can actually defend you enough to help you ensure your freedom. Make sure the criminal lawyer you’re considering has an air of confidence, not arrogance, that makes you feel comfortable about the outcome. Although there is no guarantee you’ll win and you shouldn’t be fooled into believing there is, it’s always nice to know your criminal lawyer feels positive about the situation.‘

  1. Make sure you feel comfortable with them

Lastly, you want a criminal lawyer that you feel comfortable working alongside. After all, this is likely an emotional, difficult time for you. You want to make sure they’re going to meet your needs, but above all, you want to make sure you’re able to talk to them in a truthful manner. You will likely feel quite vulnerable throughout the case so make sure you’re comfortable with them. The best criminal lawyer for someone else might not be the best criminal lawyer for you.

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When Cigna fired an employee, her lawsuit was forced into arbitration. She thought she’d found a fair referee — until she saw pictures of him partying with Cigna’s attorney.

cigna latina forced arbitration lawsuit 2x1

  • Glenda Perez and her husband Peter were both happily employed at Cigna until Glenda was blamed for making costly errors. Her new manager also complained about Glenda’s work ethic and eventually fired her.
  • Glenda, who is Latinx, felt she was being discriminated against and sued.
  • Because her employment agreement required disputes be settled through arbitration, as many work agreements do, the case went to arbitration instead of to court. 
  • The arbitrator turned out to be an attorney who had worked closely with the lawyer Cigna hired to defend itself. He ruled in Cigna’s favor without a hearing.
  • Then Cigna fired Glenda’s husband. The two are now living on food stamps and fighting a battle against forced employee arbitration. 
  • Their case offers an inside look at what is normally a private, black-box process.

In the spring of 2017, Glenda Perez and her husband Peter were both employed by the insurance giant Cigna. They were living in a newly built home in Ruskin, Florida, happily raising their three kids.

Today, they are out of work, living on food stamps, and suing their former employer in a very public battle over a tactic thousands of corporations use to tilt the scales against workers: forced employee arbitration.

Their troubles began when Glenda was fired in 2017 after, she says, her manager falsely accused her of making costly errors. When Glenda, who is Latinx, decided to bring a wrongful termination and discrimination suit against Cigna, she learned that — like 60 million other Americans — she had signed an obscure provision in her onboarding documents that forced her out of court and into a private arbitration proceeding.

But instead of the simple and fair process that arbitration promises to be, Perez saw her claim dismissed without so much as a hearing, only to later learn that her purportedly independent arbitrator was so friendly with the attorney representing Cigna that the arbitrator invited him to his 50th birthday party. Shortly after that, Cigna fired Peter as well. (He’s suing the insurance giant now, too.)

It’s a shocking story of how arbitration clauses can leave people without access to a court of law should things at their job go wrong.

There’s even a GoFundMe for the couple, complete with a video describing their plight, created by some Google employees involved in the activist group “Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration.”

“It’s really ridiculous to say, ‘You have the right not to sign the contract.’ Usually that would mean you don’t get hired,” said Orna Artal, the co-founder Ramos & Artal LLC, an arbitration firm. “There’s something coercive in that.”

While advocates of arbitration cite advantages over litigation like faster resolutions and lower costs, Artal says that when it comes to employment disputes, the process can make justice elusive. “It’s a mixed bag,” she says. “It’s essential that anyone signing onto one of these contracts knows what they are getting themselves into.”

Employers are favored to win

Arbitration is a system in which employers are overwhelmingly favored to win the disputes they don’t choose to settle in advance.

Peter and Glenda PerezOut of 27,000 employment arbitration cases administered in the last decade by the American Arbitration Association — one of the biggest arbitration agencies in the US — employees initiated the legal action 96 percent of the time, according to an analysis conducted for Business Insider by Level Playing Field, a non-profit organization that seeks to shed light on a the arbitration process.

Two thirds of the cases were settled from the outset, which often involves a company making a payment, even if it doesn’t admit to wrongdoing. 

But of the claims that weren’t settled, and went all the way to a hearing and an award, employers won a whopping 73 percent of the time (1,064 cases out of 1,455), Level Playing Field found.

These statistics suggest why employers, who nearly always foot the bill for arbitration, prefer it to hashing out disputes in courtrooms.

What many employees don’t learn until it’s too late is that arbitrators wield immense power, and the people hired to arbitrate sometimes have deep connections to the industries that hire them. While many arbitrators are retired judges or specially trained lawyers, others are former executives in the sectors they cover or corporate attorneys who have specialized in defending employers, as the Perezes discovered. Whatever the merits of their case are, they never got a fair hearing to begin with, they say.

“When it’s behind the scenes and no one knows what the case is about, with arbitration, employers can kind of get away with murder,” Peter Perez told Business Insider.

“You get what you pay for,” Artal says. “The idea is to get a quick resolution to your dispute.”

That means that, for the most part, both parties are stuck with whatever an arbitrator decides.

There’s one big exception: If one party can show that the arbitrator may have been biased, such as by having an undisclosed relationship with the other party, the rulings can be overturned.

Which brings us back to Glenda and Peter Perez and their fight with Cigna.

cigna arbitration facts graphic

From ‘solid performer’ to fired

Glenda Perez was fired from Cigna in the summer of 2017, according to court documents.

She had worked for Cigna for three years as an Implementation Setup Representative, someone who helps implement insurance plans. For most of that time, Perez had been praised as a solid performer, “if not above average,” on her employee reviews, Cigna acknowledged in its arbitration documents. She had been promoted to a senior position working with big clients. 

But in the spring of 2017, Glenda was blamed for making an expensive mistake. Her team was assigned a new manager who put Glenda on a “Performance Corrective Action Plan.”

Glenda’s husband Peter also worked for Cigna as a business analyst, on a team that investigated when things went wrong. He had access to reports that analyzed mistakes — and he said they showed that Glenda wasn’t to blame.

“It was a gut wrenching feeling,” Peter said. “The reports just showed something completely different.”

Beyond the mistakes, Glenda’s boss found fault with Glenda’s work ethic, complaining that Glenda was being “careless” and had an “inability to take responsibility or accountability in her job duties,” according to Cigna’s filings.

Glenda felt that her manager, who was white, was discriminating against her because she is Latinx, and filed a formal complaint with Cigna’s human resources department. The company investigated and concluded that no discrimination took place, according to arbitration records.

On July 19, 2017, Glenda left work an hour early on a Friday afternoon to attend to a family emergency and her supervisor fired her. Cigna said in the arbitration filings that the Friday time-off occurred without notice, and described it as the last straw after working with Glenda on her performance for months, including providing her with a coach.

Glenda responded with a wrongful termination lawsuit, alleging racial discrimination.

And then things got worse.

Who is this arbitrator?

The Perezes had trouble finding a lawyer to take their case because of the binding arbitration agreement, Peter said. Because arbitrators tend to hand down lower awards than juries or judges, lawyers have less incentive to take cases on contingency. 

“The moment we said, ‘We have this arbitration agreement,’ they went stone cold, saying ‘We can probably get you three to six months of pay and negotiate some settlement but I don’t see much there to pursue.’ And they wanted a $3,000 retainer,” Peter said.

For a family of five that was just cut down to one income, $3,000 was a lot of money.

So they decided that Peter would represent his wife. He had studied to be a paralegal for two years, and “learned enough to know how the language of law should apply,” he said.

Going it alone turned out to be a big, rookie mistake.

There are two major institutions that provide accredited arbitrators: JAMS (formerly known as Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, which tends to accredit former judges and well-known attorneys) and the American Arbitration Association (which includes judges, attorneys and also accredits others, like business owners). Each of them have different fees and slightly different operational rules. There are also private practice arbitrators who don’t belong to any institution.

Cigna used the AAA and about three months after Glenda filed the claim, the organization sent Glenda a list of about 30 arbitrators to choose from, Peter said. The arbitration clause she signed gave her the option of choosing a panel of up to three arbitrators — but Cigna would only pay for one.

The arbitrators on the list charged $350-$450 an hour and other fees, including $200 an hour for travel, according to documents seen by Business Insider. The Perezes couldn’t afford to pay for two more arbitrators.

Because most arbitration cases are private, it’s not easy to research an arbitrator’s history. That’s why AAA makes potential arbitrators fill out an “oath” form where they must disclose if they’ve had prior relationships to any of the parties involved in the case.

One of the arbitrators on the list, for instance, disclosed that she was serving as an arbitrator on several cases involving Cigna’s law firm Littler Mendelson, according to documents seen by Business Insider.

“Usually at the beginning of the arbitration, the institution or the arbitrator is obligated to disclose if there’s any potential conflicts of interest,” Artal explained. “And theoretically, a party would have the right to demand to know, How many times did corporation X appear before you and how many times did you rule in favor of X? But a lot of times if an employee is coming into one of these arbitrators without legal counsel and representing themselves, you wouldn’t know that you have the right to ask those things.”

As the Perezes researched the list of 30, there was only one candidate that seemed like a viable choice: an employment attorney named Carlos Burruezo.

Carlos Burruezo

The Perezes didn’t fully trust some of the others because, Peter said, “They would work for employers, like they would be an HR consultant for employers.”

But Burruezo’s original disclosure form came back clean. He said he had no relationship with any of the parties involved in the case. They researched his public cases and found he had won a number of discrimination cases for employees.

“He appears to be someone who is there for community, for minorities, women’s rights,” Peter said. “As an attorney, he’s done a lot of great work.” 

An amended disclosure

The Perezes chose Burruezo. And a few days later Burruezo amended his disclosure form to tell them that he did have a relationship with one of the parties. He had actually been employed by Littler Mendelson, Cigna’s law firm, for six years. Not only did he work there, he actually managed the firm’s Orlando office, the one handling Cigna’s case. Littler Mendelson is an international firm well-known for representing employers. (Business Insider is a client of Littler’s New York office for employment matters, and its standard employment contract includes an arbitration clause, though harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claims are exempted.)

Burruezo didn’t disclose this relationship on the original oath form because he wasn’t aware that Littler was involved in the case, he told Business Insider. As soon as he became aware, he disclosed it on an amended form and in follow-up emails. He also promised that his work history would not hinder his ability to be objective. 

“I do not feel that my previous experience with Littler Mendelson, P.C. in any way causes me to feel any bias toward any particular party,” he wrote in his amended disclosure firm.

If Burruezo were a judge, his relationship with Littler could have been grounds for voluntary recusal from the Perezes’ case, says Stephen Gillers, a professor at NYU School of Law.

“A judge who once worked at a firm need not recuse unless the case was at the firm when the judge was there (even if the judge was unaware of it),” Gillers told Business Insider. “Many judges, however, choose not to hear cases from their former firms, even if they can, for a period of years after they take the bench.”

In gray areas, the standard is to disclose the relationship and give “the parties the opportunity to object.”

But the Perezes didn’t object. They believed Burruezo’s promises to be impartial, and they didn’t want to delay their case by going back to the drawing board and searching for a new arbitrator.

google walkout

Summary judgment

Burruezo had scheduled a hearing for the both Cigna and the Perezes to present their cases in mid-July 2018.

But just a few weeks before, on June 22, 2018, Cigna filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the arbitrator to rule in the company’s favor immediately, according to documents seen by Business Insider. 

Just days before the hearing was to take place, Burruezo sided with Cigna. He didn’t believe there was enough evidence to support a claim of racial discrimination, the crux of their allegation, he wrote in the order.

The Perezes never got a hearing. They were stunned.

“We didn’t get the chance to meet him. It was all done through email and a few phone calls,” Peter said. “We read it in the kitchen. We were devastated. My wife was crying.” 

Peter stayed up late that night, angry and confused. “I kept looking through the paperwork wondering, Where did we go wrong? I read thousands of cases out there. And I had this bizarre feeling — something’s not fitting well.”

He began to Google everything he could on Burruezo, clicking through page after page.

And then he found pictures of Burruezo’s 50th birthday party, taken a couple of years ago. Among them were photos of Burruezo and Jeffrey B. Jones, Cigna’s lead attorney in the Perez’s case. The men were standing arm in arm, laughing.

To Peter, the photos meant the arbitrator wasn’t just a long-ago employee of the law firm Cigna hired, but a personal friend of Cigna’s lead attorney — a social relationship he didn’t feel the arbitrator adequately disclosed. 

Burruezo told Business Insider that the photo means nothing professionally.

“I have been a lawyer for more than 30 years. I have many great relationships with scores of professional colleagues and other individuals. Indeed, more than 150 individuals attended my birthday party. Mr. Jones was one of them. Our historical connection did not (nor would it) translate into bias,” Burruezo said. Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Even so, an arbitrator with a conflict-of-interest is one of the few reasons why an arbitration case might wind up in court vacated by a judge.

So the Perezes filed the legal paperwork on those grounds, with Peter still acting as their attorney, and he hired a processor to serve those papers to Cigna.

Peter’s name was on those legal papers. About a week later, Cigna fired him “for insubordination and misconduct,” Peter said.

Arbitrator and attorney 2

Going public

Now Peter has filed his own wrongful termination lawsuit against Cigna, claiming retaliation.

“I thought I was protected from retaliation. But their attitude is, we don’t care. They know they have arbitration,” he said.

A judge has agreed to a hearing on Glenda’s case. Meanwhile, Cigna is standing firm.

“While it is our policy not to comment on an individual personnel matter publicly, we can assure you that we intend to continue to defend Cigna’s interests and have full confidence in the legal process. Ms. Perez has a copy of the arbitrator’s decision, as well as the papers Cigna filed in support of our motion for summary judgment,” a spokesperson said. “Cigna’s success is based on the talents and contributions of its 74,000 employees worldwide; when occasional differences arise, we strive to address them through fair and equitable treatment.”

Since being fired, with this lawsuit in process, Peter says he has applied for hundreds of jobs, but hasn’t been hired. But that hasn’t stopped him and Glenda from going public with their fight against forced employee arbitration.

Peter and Glenda PerezThey aren’t alone.

In February, after multiple employee uprisings over Google’s use of arbitration to keep allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination secret, the company announced it would end all forced employee arbitration. 

In May, employees at LA game maker Riot Games staged a walk out to pressure its management to end forced arbitration. They partially won that battle, with Riot agreeing to allow new employees to opt out of arbitration clauses, but not current employees.

Also in May, the US House Judiciary Committee held hearings on ending forced arbitration in support of the FairAct bill.

“By burying a forced arbitration clause deep in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it consumer and employment contracts, companies can evade the court system, where plaintiffs have far greater legal protections, and hide behind a one-sided process that is tilted in their favor,” Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said in his opening remarks. 

In July, the Perezes were invited to Washington to speak with congress people about their arbitration experiences, along with other advocates, trying to end forced arbitration.

Although the couple is still broke and fighting their case, there is a silver lining. The experience has given Peter a new career dream. He’s now determined to go to law school and become a lawyer.

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ICE Exiles Convicted Criminal to Africa Claims Lawyer – Spectrum News NY1

NEW YORK – The Trump administration has said it focuses on deporting criminals, but in its rush to deport one Harlem resident, it seems authorities left him without a country.

His attorney says it more closely resembles exile then deportation.

Fatumata Barrie says she has, “a big hole have a big hole in my heart.”

She’s trying to cope with the deportation of her son Ibrahim Barrie to Sierra Leone. It’s not just that he was sent out of the U.S., but how it happened. His lawyer says Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported Ibrahim under a different identity.
 
“He was rushed out of the country with a document that there’s no dispute that it’s been highly problematic.  That’s one way to look at it. We look at it and would have said it’s been falsified,” said Gregory Copeland with the non-profit legal organization, Rapid Defense Network.
 
Sierre Leone initially refused to admit Ibrahim, but the U.S. would not take him back. So now Ibrahim Barrie is a man without a country, in limbo, he says, because Sierra Leone refuses to issue him the papers he needs to work and travel.

“No ID and none of the documents I have will have me get an ID,” explained Ibrahim via Skype, “(I) can’t get a job, can’t move around.  Everywhere you go, you’re asked for identification.”

Ibrahim was 10 when he and his family left Sierra Leone to seek asylum in the U.S. He got his green card, but it was revoked after he was convicted of armed robbery.

After his release from prison, Ibrahim was ordered to check in with ICE every four to five months. Then President Donald Trump took office, and such cases took on a higher priority.

Ibrahim was ordered to begin checking monthly, and in the spring, ICE swooped into his Harlem apartment and deported him on July 11.
 
“You shouldn’t be able to exile someone to a country where that country is not accepting them as a national or a citizen,” said Copeland.
 
The problem is, ICE deported Ibrahim Barrie under the name Ibrahim *Moi Barry and Ibrahim Barry Moi (depending on which document you view).  The spelling of his first and last name is different and he has the added name of Moi. Ibrahim’s birth date is also wrong.

 
“I was told because that person is not considered as a Sierra Leone citizen, that everything must be straightened out before they can provide me with an identification card,” he told NY1.
 
Ibrahim is married to high school sweetheart, Harlem native Jennique Nelson and together they have a two-year-old girl.

NY1 caught up with her as she prepared move last week with their daughter to Sierra Leone. She just quit her job as a postal worker.
 
“There’s nothing we can do it’s out of our hands, we’re gonna stay together as a family,” she told NY1. 
 
Ibrahim’s attorney calls the case an example of the government running roughshod over procedures and protections to increase deportations.
 
“And if it’s happening to Mr. Barrie in this situation it’s probably happening to hundreds of other people that we’ll never hear about,” said Copeland.
 
The Department of Homeland Security says in a court filing that Ibrahim or someone representing him is responsible for the inaccurate information in his deportation documents.

The agency also blames immigration officials in Sierra Leone for miscommunication.

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India's blackout and extreme crackdown in Kashmir could ignite a violent uprising

Kashmir protests

  • An extreme crackdown in the Indian territory of Kashmir has kept Kashmiri citizens under virtual house arrest and without a lifeline to the outside world for nearly a month.
  • Extreme military and police brutality could lead to major uprisings, including violence and bloodshed, experts warn.
  • While the Indian government and military forces have engaged in mass arrests, forced “disappearances,” and other human rights violations before in Kashmir, the scale of militarization and civilian suppression is unprecedented, making it ripe for a full-scale insurgency.
  • “Never before have Kashmiri Muslims felt so threatened by Hindu Nationalists’ attempts to forcibly assimilate them with the Indian Union,” a Kashmir expert told Insider.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Indian government staged a takeover of the territories of Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month. A total information blockade followed, as well as reports of house arrests, and the Indian government’s decision to completely negate Kashmir’s special autonomous status. 

The Indian government and military forces have for decades engaged in mass arrests, forced “disappearances,” and other human rights violations in Kashmir, but the scale of militarization and civilian suppression is unprecedented, making it ripe for a full-scale insurgency.

“Kashmir has turned into an internment camp,” Angana Chatterji, the co-chair of the Political Conflict, Gender, & People’s Rights Initiative at the University of California at Berkeley and an expert on human rights in Kashmir, told Insider.

“It’s virtually impossible [for people] to step outside their homes,” she said, as 55,000 Indian military personnel patrol the streets of Kashmir. Kashmir and Jammu have a population of 10 million that’s majority Muslim, and these citizens have been without internet since August 4, making it impossible to communicate with the outside world, much less each other.

“They want to make sure that people stay indoors, that people don’t mobilize and protest,” Hafsa Kanjwal, a professor at Lafayette University and an expert on Kashmir, told Insider. 

Read more: Trump’s casual offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute reveals a disastrous misunderstanding of the powder-keg region

India’s government formally abrogated Article 370 of its constitution, which gave Kashmir its special status as an autonomous state, earlier this month. The unprecedented move by the Hindu nationalist BJP government revokes Muslim-majority Kashmir’s ability to make its own laws and determinations under the guise of integrating the state into India and increasing development there. 

No voice for Kashmiris

But India’s actions — arresting thousands of Kashmiris, putting political leaders under lockdown, and disarming the Kashmir police force — reaveal different motivations. 

Decisions about Kashmir’s future — and any negotiation thereof — have always been between Pakistan, which controls some parts of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India, according to the 1972 Simla agreement. Now, with the Indian government seizing power, Kashmiris are out of options.

“Kashmiris are being forced to take a stand in a bilateral political situation,” Chatterji said. “They, as the primary stakeholders, must argue for themselves.”

“Potential for a full-blown insurgency remains strong,” Wajahat Peer, a political scientist from Kashmir, told Insider. “With no room for dissent,” he said, the people of Kashmir have “no choice but to engage in armed struggle.”

There is precedent for armed insurrection — in the late 1980s, for example, militant Kashmiri groups headed to Pakistan for arms training and led an insurrection against the Indian administration in Kashmir in 1990. According to Human Rights Watch, the Indian National Congress party had rigged elections in Kashmir to benefit Indian rule and arrested opposition leaders. That conflict led to around 100,000 Hindus leaving Kashmir, and countless human rights abuses by Indian forces there. Uprisings in 2009, 2011, and 2016 resulted in injuries, restrictions, and human rights abuses against Kashmiris, as well.

An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard near a temporary checkpoint during lockdown in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. The latest crackdown began just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and its statehood, creating two federal territories. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

‘Only one solution’

The current situation seems to be different. For one, there wasn’t really a precipitating event that brought on India’s state-wide blackout and blatant political power grab. 

“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense,” according to a United Nations Human Rights Council statement on Kashmir.

“The information blackout is clearly unprecedented,” Peer said. “So is the increase in military deployment at a time when insurgency in Kashmir is residual.”

2019 is a watershed moment in Kashmir, Chatterji told Insider. “There’s no going back, they’ve destroyed a tenet of the constitution.”

“Never before have Kashmiri Muslims felt so threatened by Hindu Nationalists’ attempts to forcibly assimilate them with the Indian Union,” Peer said.

“So there is an overarching consensus in the Kashmiri society that they need to right for the protection of their identity. And surely it will generate massive resistance.”

Even with limited communication and highly militarized streets, Kashmiris are still protesting, The New York Times reports. While some are peaceful, others proceed with chants advocating for armed struggle. 

“Only one solution,” protesters shout. “Gun solution!”

SEE ALSO: Here’s what life is like on the border between India and Pakistan, one of the world’s most disputed regions

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Anthony Levandowski pleads not guilty to charges of Google trade theft and is released, with an ankle monitor, after posting $2 million bond (GOOG, GOOGL, UBER)

Anthony Levandowski

SAN JOSE — Anthony Levandowski, the self-driving car technologist at the center of a now-settled dispute between Google and Uber, pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to charges that he stole trade secrets and attempted to steal others.

Appearing in federal court here for his arraignment following his indictment by federal prosecutors earlier in the day, Levandowski, 39, was mostly expressionless and said little, letting his attorneys speak for him. Dressed in a dark blue suit with sneakers and no tie, the tall Levandowski towered over his own attorneys and government prosecutors.

Most of the proceeding was taken up with a discussion over terms under which he would be released until his trial. After hearing arguments from both sides, Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins set his secured bond a $2 million.

Government prosecutors argued that Levandowski is a flight risk because of his wealth and his dual US-French citizenship. His attorney, Ismael Ramsey, argued he wasn’t, stressing the fact that Levandowski voluntarily attempted to surrender himself to US Marshalls at the San Francisco federal building last week after suspecting a warrant had already been filed for his arrest.

Levandowski agreed to put up $300,000 of his own money toward the bail. His father and stepmother agreed to guarantee another $1.4 million by posting the equity on their house. Levandowski’s longtime friend and business partner, Randy Miller, agreed to guarantee the remaining $400,000 through posting the equity on his own house.

Federal prosecutors earlier on Tuesday indicted Levandowski on 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violation, prosecutors said.

The US Attorney for the Northern District of California said Levandowski was accused of stealing roughly 14,000 “engineering, manufacturing, and business files” from Google’s self-driving-car unit, later rebranded as Waymo, when he resigned without notice in January 2016 to found a company called Otto, which would later be acquired by Uber.

Levandowski declined to answer reporters’ questions as he left the courtroom and made his way to an awaiting car.

The next hearing in the case will be held at the federal courthouse here on September 4. Levandowski will have to wear a location monitor on his ankle until then as part of the terms of his release and will be barred from going near any airports.

Miller along with Levandowski’s father, stepmother and brother attended the hearing. Miller and his parents got up in front of the court to affirm that they would post the equity on their houses to assure that he would attend his court dates.

SEE ALSO: A former Uber and Google executive has been indicted on accusations of stealing self-driving-car tech

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