The SEC is monitoring the GameStop trading frenzy. Here's why lawyers and former regulators say clamping down on the market will be tough. (GME)

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Calls for federal regulators to take action on the ongoing GameStop saga are mounting.

Wall Street Bets, a Reddit forum of now more than 6 million day traders, collectively drove up the gaming retail company’s stocks. Shares were priced at below $5 in late 2020 skyrocketed over the last three weeks, hitting $450 per share on Thursday morning. The moves sent some prominent hedge funds that had shorted the stock scrambling and incurring huge losses.

Then stock prices plunged on Thursday as much as 60% after Robinhood and other brokerage platforms restricted trading of GameStop’s shares and other popular securities like AMC, sparking critique from figures like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Robinhood then announced that it would allow “limited buys” of these securities starting the next day.

Read more: Robinhood user launches class-action suit against the trading app hours after it blocked purchases of GameStop

Despite the uproar from hedge funds and scrutiny from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, three lawyers, two of which are former regulators, say that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is unlikely to make any sweeping changes.

Regulators are being called on to investigate market manipulation

On the back of investors and lawmakers demanding answers, the SEC published a statement on Friday saying that it’s looking into regulated brokerages’ actions of cutting off access to certain stocks in tandem with the stock exchanges and other government agencies, like FINRA.

Securities experts see this as nothing more than a move from the SEC to quell the fires in the markets and assure the public that it’s doing its job.

“It’s business as usual,” said Trace Schmeltz, a partner who heads Barnes & Thornburg’s financial and regulatory litigation group who’s worked on cases involving the SEC for around 20 years.

There are also many on Wall Street calling for the regulator to look into the day traders who drove the shares up. The SEC will likely step in to investigate the GameStop boom and determine if anyone did manipulate the market, using its market surveillance tools to figure out who’s trading, which traders had significant gains, who they talked to, and what they said, said Schmeltz of Barnes & Thornburg.

Gary Gensler, President Biden’s pick for SEC chairman and widely regarded as a hard-knuckle regulator who’s expected to bring about a more transparent market, probably won’t be confirmed for weeks or months.

And, given the size and scope of the situation, Schmeltz said it’s likely to see the Federal Bureau of Investigations being roped in as well, giving investigators search warrant and wiretap abilities.

Regulators would ultimately need to prove that the traders deceived or misled the market with the express aim of manipulating investors to buy or sell securities, which is illegal under US law. 

The SEC will probably investigate the matter but is unlikely to find proof of illegal activity

Legal experts, however, believe that it’s improbable that investigators will be able to prove manipulation of the market.

While the Wall Street Bets traders might be accused of manipulation in the colloquial sense, manipulation is a strictly defined term when it comes to the law. Rigged trades, such as “pump and dump” schemes where investors conspire to trade together to push the price up, are examples of this.

Aitan Goelman, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder who served in the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said that the four-part test used by the CFTC to prove manipulation is notoriously tough to prove — so much so that he doesn’t recall if the CFTC has ever succeeded in doing so.

Even if some Redditors have come out and said the GameStop rally is an act of revenge against Wall Street, regulators wouldn’t be able to hold them liable for wrongdoing.

“The law does not penalize pure intent, no matter how nefarious as it may seem, unless some type of fraud or manipulative device is used,” said Andrew Calamari, a partner at Finn Dixon & Herling and a former director of the SEC’s New York regional office.

The steps the SEC can take are limited and could lead to unintended consequences

The options available to the SEC absent proof of deception or manipulation are few, and unlikely to lead to viable, sweeping changes, said the securities experts.

State regulators have called on the New York Stock Exchange to suspend GameStop for a cooling-off period of 30 days, during which the “market euphoria” driven by social media might be quelled, said Schmeltz.

Experts are skeptical of just how effective a cooling-off period would be, however.

“All these breaks are doing is giving these traders more fuel and the chance to hype things up even more,” said Goelman.

Another course of action would be for the SEC to clamp down on options trading, which is a trading tool favored by the Reddit crowd. Call options give holders a right to buy a stock at an agreed price within a certain date, essentially allowing investor to bet that the stock will rise, while puts give the right to sell at a certain price.

Read more: How hedge funds are tracking Reddit posts to protect their portfolios after the Wall Street Bets crowd helped tank Melvin Capital’s short positions

Schmeltz explained that placing artificial limits around market liquidity tools like options could create different market distortions. By putting a limit on the number of call options that trade, for instance, you would drive up the price of the calls, which might be problematic for other stocks.

Calamari suggested that the only action the SEC can take in a situation like this is to educate investors better. (The commission’s office of investor education Tweeted a link to an article on the risks of day trading on Thursday.)

 

“You have a bubble here, and it just doesn’t seem to me that there’s a lot the SEC can do about that other than warn people that it’s a bubble,” Calamari said.

SEE ALSO: Robinhood user launches class-action suit against the trading app hours after it blocked purchases of GameStop

SEE ALSO: Some GameStop store employees say they’re getting investing questions from customers and they’re in the dark about how to handle it

SEE ALSO: How hedge funds are tracking Reddit posts to protect their portfolios after the Wall Street Bets crowd helped tank Melvin Capital’s short positions

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I Ranked The "Criminal Minds" Characters From Worst To Best And You'll Probably Agree With Me – BuzzFeed

How can one not love Spencer? He’s a genius, he’s handsome as hell, and just so dang adorable. The way he thinks is fascinating and I personally love when he gets into tangents of something he’s really interested in. Also, can we talk about that episode where he said “This is calm and it’s Doctor.” when he was being interrogated by the chairman? Honestly, the best line in the entire show, hands down.

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Trump Parts Ways With Five Lawyers Handling Impeachment Defense – The New York Times

The departures, which include his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, come more than a week before his Senate trial is set to begin.

Former President Donald J. Trump has abruptly parted ways with five lawyers handling his impeachment defense, just over a week before the Senate trial is set to begin, people familiar with the situation said on Saturday.

Those departures include his lead lawyer, Butch Bowers, whose hiring was announced last week, a person familiar with the situation said. Four other lawyers who were reported to be joining, including Deborah Barbier, a criminal defense lawyer in South Carolina, are also leaving, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Mr. Trump had pushed for his defense team to focus on his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him, one person familiar with the situation said. A person close to Mr. Trump disputed that that was the case but acknowledged that there were differences in opinion about the defense strategy. However, Mr. Trump has insisted that the case is “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers. (Aides contend he is not seriously contemplating doing so.)

The decision for Mr. Bowers to leave was “mutual,” another person familiar with the situation said, adding that Mr. Trump and Mr. Bowers had no chemistry, a quality the former president generally prizes in his relationships. Mr. Trump prefers lawyers who are eager to appear on television to say that he never did anything wrong; Mr. Bowers has been noticeably absent in the news media since his hiring was announced.

Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, said that the former president and his aides had “not made a final decision on our legal team.”

Mr. Bowers is the only lawyer whom Mr. Trump’s aides had confirmed would defend the former president. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Mr. Trump’s who represents South Carolina, was said to have helped line up Mr. Bowers, a well-known figure in the political world there who was working to establish a broader team.

The departures of Mr. Bowers and Ms. Barbier were previously reported by CNN. A third lawyer, Josh Howard, of North Carolina, is also no longer part of the team, another person familiar with the situation said. And two other lawyers from South Carolina, Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, will also no longer be involved, one of the people familiar with the situation said.

Mr. Trump is due to file a response to the House charges by Tuesday.

The question of who will represent Mr. Trump in his Senate trial has vexed him and his advisers since it became clear that he would become the first American president to be impeached twice.

This month, Democrats in the House, joined by 10 Republicans, charged Mr. Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in instigating a violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress convened to affirm President Biden’s victory in the November election.

During various investigations while he was in office, Mr. Trump has struggled to find — or retain — lawyers to defend him, and the announcement of Mr. Bowers’s hiring capped weeks of frantic searching.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers from his impeachment trial last year are not expected to be involved this time. They include Jay Sekulow, the former White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone and his deputy, Pat Philbin, and another lawyer who worked in the West Wing, Eric Herschmann.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who worked as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer during the special counsel’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign in 2016 had colluded with Russian officials, has made no secret of wanting to defend Mr. Trump in the second impeachment trial.

But Mr. Giuliani is a potential witness because he spoke at a rally of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, hours before hundreds marched to the Capitol and rioted. Almost all of Mr. Trump’s advisers blame Mr. Giuliani, who encouraged Mr. Trump’s desire to find ways to overturn the election results and to call their legitimacy into question, for the latest impeachment.

They also blame him in part for Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, which was driven by the former president’s interest in pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family. Mr. Giuliani repeatedly encouraged Mr. Trump to believe baseless allegations related to Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and his business activities in Ukraine.

The second impeachment trial is set to begin on Feb. 9. This week, 45 Republican senators voted in support of a measure brought forward by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky calling the trial unconstitutional because Mr. Trump is no longer in office. That all but five Republican senators voted to challenge the constitutionality of the trial suggested a likely acquittal for Mr. Trump.

Democrats have pushed back, noting that Mr. Trump was impeached by the House while still in office.

Still, the question of constitutionality is likely to be a key part of Mr. Trump’s defense. And his advisers were buoyed by the show of Republican support for the Paul measure, believing it was an indication that Mr. Trump would be spared a conviction.

The Senate needs a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to convict Mr. Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would need to cross party lines to side with Democrats in finding him guilty. An additional vote, this one requiring a simple majority, would be needed to disqualify him from holding office again. Still, most of his aides say they doubt he will run for office again.

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Former FAA employee 'maliciously' caused a communications blackout between 10 planes and Air Traffic Control over Hawaii

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A former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee has been sentenced to two years of probation and a $5,000 fine for interfering with communications between Air Traffic Control and several planes.

A federal judge sentenced Joelyn DeCosta, 48, for “willfully and maliciously interfering” with air traffic communications in Honolulu, Hawaii.

DeCosta’s actions caused a communications blackout while at least 10 planes were airborne, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a press release.

On one occasion, the main and standby communication lines between Air Traffic Control and approximately six planes were severed, the statement said.

A second incident resulted in four other planes being impacted by outages, the DoJ added.

Read more: Leaked FAA document reveals SpaceX wants to build its own rocket-fuel power plants in Texas.

Pilots were unable to hear directions from Air Traffic Control for a total of two minutes, according to the press release.

A pilot, who spoke at the sentencing, said 40 passengers on his plane were put in significant danger by the outages.

“The United States Attorney’s Office takes any threat to the safety of the air traveling public very seriously, and will vigorously enforce federal criminal laws against any federal employee who abuses their position and, in doing so, puts air travelers in harm’s way,” said US Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price.

DeCosta had been working for the FAA for 26 years before the incidents.

She agreed to resign from her position as an Airway Transportation Systems Specialist, before the sentencing, as part of a plea agreement.

As a result, DeCosta lost her retirement benefits — estimated by the DoJ to have been worth more than $500,000.

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Three new lawyers added to Trump's impeachment defense – CNN

Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris, two prominent South Carolina defense lawyers, have agreed to defend Trump along with Joshua Howard, a North Carolina defense lawyer.
“We’re on the team,” Harris confirmed to CNN Friday.
CNN previously reported that Gasser and Harris, law firm partners, had been approached. Harris confirmed the legal team is now five attorneys but declined to comment on whether they will add additional lawyers.
Harris referred questions to Butch Bowers, the South Carolina lawyer who is spearheading the defense.
“He’s putting it together. He’s making assignments,” Harris said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Howard disclosed in a court filing that he had joined Trump’s defense, asking a judge to postpone an arraignment citing his need to be in Washington for the foreseeable future.
“Counsel for the defendant has accepted a position on the defense team handling the pending impeachment trial of former President Trump before the United States Senate. As such, counsel is obliged to spend roughly the next month in Washington, DC, focused entirely and exclusively on the matter of historical and Constitutional significance,” he wrote.
Howard once served as the chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, leaving the post at the beginning of 2016.
Howard and Gasser could not immediately be reached for comment. Aides to Trump declined to comment.
By adding Howard, Trump gains a lawyer with Washington experience. Howard worked as an associate independent counsel on the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigations during the Clinton presidency and spent a decade in the Justice Department where he worked on the confirmations of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Deborah Barbier, a South Carolina litigator, joined the team earlier this week. She has worked closely on several high-profile cases with Harris and Gasser. All three are former federal prosecutors. Gasser served as the interim US attorney for South Carolina earlier in this career.

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The feds offer $100,000 reward for info about who left pipe bombs near the DNC and RNC the night before the riots

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The Federal Bureau of Investigations has raised the reward to $100,000 for information that leads them to person or people responsible for placing pipe bombs close to the Republican and Democratic party offices

On Friday, the agency said they believe an individual planted the bombs between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. local time on January 5, the night before the Capitol riots. 

The individual they said wore Nike Air Max Speed Turf shoes in yellow, black, and gray, as well as a grey hoodie and a face mask. 

The Washington Post reported that agents have interviewed over 1,000 residents and business owners in the areas surrounding where the bombs were found. 

Security videos obtained by The Post show the suspect in an alley, known as Rumsey Court near the RNC between 8:13 p.m. and 8:17 p.m. on January 5.

CNN reported that the devices which were both found at around 1 p.m. local time on January 6 were eight inches long and made of galvanized steel. They were rigged with an egg timer and filled with explosive powder. 

Around that same time, supporters of then-President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol and clashed with law enforcement, halting a joint session of Congress as lawmakers were set to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory. The attack left five people dead.

Read more: Inside Democrats’ plans to make sure there’s no Trump 2.0

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the devices, which were placed out in the open were meant to be a distraction to get law enforcement resources away from the Capitol, CNN reported. 

ABC News reported that FBI agents, Capitol police, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were called to the RNC office at around 12:45 p.m. on January 6. There was a call that a similar bomb was found at the DNC about 30 minutes later. 

The devices did not explode, and one official told CNN that it could be because the timers were set incorrectly or batteries were not connected properly. 

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The State Fans Think Criminal Minds Gives A Bad Rap – Looper

In the eighth episode of Criminal Minds‘ third season, JJ Jareau (AJ Cook) tells Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) they need to investigate a new case. “We got a bad one,” she says. He asks, “How bad?” Her answer is simple: “Florida.”

The exchange has become a bit of a joke for Criminal Minds fans over the years, and in a recent post on the Reddit forum r/CriminalMinds, they begged the question, why do the series’ writers “hate Florida” so much?

The answers as to why there may have been an anti-Sunshine State slant on the series were pretty telling. One user said that they, a Florida resident, found the joke hilarious, and think it speaks to the fact that a lot of “crazy crimes” do tend to happen there. That sentiment was shared by other users, one of which pointed out that the media in general tends to enjoy covering crime stories that focus on the seemingly unbelievable bad deeds of another “Florida man.”

While it’s clear the Criminal Minds writing staff was tuned into the wider perception of Florida as a hotbed for strange crimes, what’s a little more fuzzy is whether the series actually sent its characters there a disproportionate amount of times.

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Facebook just hired a top lawyer from ViacomCBS as the social-media giant's first chief compliance officer

Henry Moniz, Facebook's chief compliance officer.

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The top compliance official at ViacomCBS is moving to Facebook, Insider has learned.

Henry Moniz, who held senior compliance roles at Viacom starting in 2004 and, upon its merger with CBS Corp in 2019, became the chief compliance officer and chief audit executive of the combined company, will join Facebook on Feb. 8. He’ll report to Jennifer Newstead, the company’s general counsel, and to the audit and risk oversight committee of Facebook’s board of directors. The chief compliance officer role is a newly created one at the social-media giant. 

The social-media company said he has experience building and leading compliance and audit units from his time at ViacomCBS. He reported to ViacomCBS’s CEO Bob Bakish on compliance matters and to the audit committee of the board on the independence of its auditors, according to an SEC filing.

Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers and is facing legal threats over its role in online discourse and its position in the advertising market.

READ MORE: Facebook has hired a prosecutor who helped the US government go after Goldman in the 1MDB case to work on ‘special investigations’ for the social-media giant

CBS and Viacom have been in the legal hot seat before, though Moniz’s name hasn’t been publicly tied to any of it. The family of Sumner Redstone, the late media magnate who was a controlling shareholder in both companies, was embroiled in litigation over control of the company for several years, and Les Moonves, CBS’ longtime CEO, was removed from his post in 2018 after he was accused of sexual harassment.

Compliance can touch on a wide variety of laws, from insider-trading programs to COVID-19 safety protocols and tax matters. Another important area for media companies and for Facebook is online privacy, which is regulated by a patchwork of state, federal, and foreign laws that are evolving as consumers and lawmakers focus on companies’ use of personal data.

“We are going beyond just solving problems — we are using our knowledge of risk to find opportunities,” Moniz said in a 2016 interview where he described the evolution of compliance roles. 

In the US, Facebook has faced probes and litigation over user data and competition matters from the Federal Trade Commission — to which it paid a $5 billion settlement last year — and state attorneys general. In August, Irish data protection officials issued a draft decision that found Facebook’s use of European user data ran afoul of the GDPR, though the company has appealed and said it had “alternative legal bases for data transfers.”

Facebook has also expanded into payments and digital assets with the creation of Libra, a cryptocurrency now called Diem, areas that are also undergoing rapid regulatory change.

“Henry is a seasoned compliance leader with an impressive record of providing strategic compliance and legal risk guidance at the board of directors and executive management level,” said Facebook’s GC Jennifer Newstead in a statement. “Henry will play a key role in driving our ongoing commitment to continually strengthen our global compliance and risk management functions.”

Moniz also recently took a position on the board of Kimco Realty Corp., a real-estate investment trust that invests in shopping centers. Earlier in his career, he was a federal prosecutor in Boston and Miami, worked for Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and became a partner at the defunct law firm Bingham McCutcheon.

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SEE ALSO: Facebook has hired a prosecutor who helped the US government go after Goldman in the 1MDB case to work on ‘special investigations’ for the social-media giant

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Reasons to Hire a Defense Lawyer if You're Facing Criminal Charges – Legal Reader

Often the cost factor associated with hiring a good lawyer may discourage you, but that must not be a barrier.


Is this about you? If you are facing criminal charges, no matter if you are innocent or guilty, you must take the chance and defend your rights.

Are you looking for a good criminal lawyer in Rhode Island And Massachusetts? If yes. Read through the post, and if the mentioned criteria match your need or if your answer is affirmative to our questions below, Kilroy Law Firm would be the best fit for you.

Are you facing criminal charges?

Whether you or someone is known to you may be facing criminal charges, don’t make the mistake of keeping things to yourself without consulting a defense lawyer. Many people think to represent themselves, yet it is essentially a smart move to hire an attorney. There are many benefits of hiring a criminal attorney, one being able to get the right guidance through your case. Considering paying a huge penalty, it is an excellent decision to hire an attorney for your case.  

Have knowledge and experience to help you

A good lawyer will know every fact about the law. They can assess your case and determine your chances of winning. There are rarest of cases where individuals self represents and win.

Normal individuals do not deal with criminal law regularly and will not have adequate knowledge. Criminal lawyers are educated with every legal parameter and remain updated, so they are valuable.

Assess case variables

Often, cases get thrown away or dismissed as the correct legal process was not carried out during the person’s arrest. There are incidences in which there could be evidence detrimental to a defendant but were made unusable by an expert attorney who knows about the variables of legal aspects.

Often a layperson is not aware of these things. Criminal lawyers take advantage of this knowledge and master their business.

Lessen penalty or punishment

Hallway of jail cells
Hallway of jail cells; image courtesy of Tom Blackout via Unsplash, www.unsplash.com

There are cases without any possibility of being proved innocent, but a reasonable criminal attorney will know how to transform your case sentence into a lesser penalty or punishment. With some information, a criminal lawyer can get prosecutors to lower prison/jail time.

Often when a defendant represents his or her case, the prosecutors are not ready to strike the deal. In such a situation, a criminal attorney will help enforce agreements offered by the prosecution.

Refer to past cases to benefit yours

If you are thinking of fighting your case, then just pause and reflect. If you seek legal assistance, they may bring up relevant case references with their broad subject knowledge and experience. With such past concerns, they can do more research and create better scopes to win your case. People who represent themselves may not have adequate knowledge to do such investigations all on their own.

Conclusion

Reading throughout, you must have analyzed your scope of winning your case. If you are yet wondering whether to hire a criminal lawyer or not, think not much. Legal assistance will help you in every way.

Often the cost factor associated with hiring a good lawyer may discourage you, but that must not be a barrier. There may be a few innocent people who represented their case and won, but you never know how odd your situation may occur. Besides, fighting in your case requires emotional strength, which varies from person to person. 

This article is to help you make an informed decision in your case. If you are looking for legal assistance, please consult a good defense lawyer from a reputable law firm such as Kilroy Law Firm and discuss your case. They have years of experience with success and offer legal services in various practice areas like family law and personal injury law besides criminal law.

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