Tembeckjian and Friedberg Continue Cover-Up of Stolen $120,000.00; Surrogate Judge and Court Attorney Gloating.....
New York, NY - September 11, 2009 - Robert Tembeckjian and Alan Friedberg whitewashed the criminal acts of 3 Judges who covered-up a politically active attorney's 9/11 Donation Fraud where over $120,000.00 in 9/11 donation cash was stolen, an insurance company was defrauded and a death occurred.
(Click on the names Scarpino, Nicolai and Loehr for additional stories)
The allegations against the judges include the organized stifling of justice- and for one reason: to protect their political friend and supporter, attorney Frank W. Streng of McCarthy Fingar, LLP, who drafted and filed the alleged fraudulent instrument in November of 2003. The allegations include: judicial steering, corruption, denial of due process and obstruction of justice.
History Repeats Itself
Surrogate Scarpino, who handled the Harry Winston estate and is currently hearing the Brooke Astor estate, refused to remove himself from the Tom Carvel estate proceeding when it was found that he had loans from one of the parties. Also, it was reported that for over 4 years attorney Frank Streng advertised on the internet, and his law firm website, the fact that he was on Surrogate Scarpino’s election transition committee- a fact that angered many as Streng and McCarthy Fingar implied he had an "in" with the court.
Mr. Streng, in various capacities, has also been involved in the Astor and Carvel estates. And as reported in the New York Law Journal last year, allegations of judicial steering are nothing new to the Westchester County courts under Administrative Judge Nicolai. That brouhaha resulted in a large court organizational shake-up in Westchester. (CLICK HERE to see "The Sordid Nicolai Story"
The underlying matter, The Estate of Margaret A. McKeown, has lingered in the Westchester courts since 2003, and the related 9/11 Red Cross donation fraud was subject of an April 28, 2006 article in The New York Times article, though the judges' names nor the allegations against them were not mentioned.
Better Late Than Never
And though the alleged fraudulent assignment was filed in November of 2003, it would take until July of 2007 for the Westchester County Surrogate's Court Chief Clerk, Charles T. Scott, to “locate” the assignment papers and place them in the court’s estate case file. Oddly, and also in July of 2007, Chief Clerk Scott advised in writing that he had corrected the three and one-half year “administrative oversight” by "back-dating" the filing date in the court’s computer. Surrogate Court court attorney Joseph M. Accetta, and who has close ties to Streng and McCarthy Fingar, has been recently implicated in the cover-up.
Hon. Francis A. Nicolai
Hon. Gerald E. Loehr
1.0 NATURE OF COMPLAINT:
Public Injustice & Corruption
Denial of Due Process
Obstruction of Justice
Kevin McKeown, P.O. Box 616, New York, New York 10156, 212-591-1022 tel 212-591-6022 fax, email@example.com
3.0 COMPLAINT AGAINST:
3.1 Hon. Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr., Westchester County Surrogate
3.2 Hon. Francis A. Nicolai, Westchester County Civil Court Judge
3.3 Hon. Gerald E. Loehr, Westchester County Civil Court Judge
(hereinafter collectively as “The Justices”)
4.1 The Justices fully considered and furthered financial sanctions against me in favor of attorney Frank W. Streng, who at all times relevant was simultaneously advertising his (Streng’s) implied favoritism with the Surrogate Court on his McCarthy Fingar LLP law firm website, and on the internet. Specifically, attorney Frank W. Streng was advertising the fact that he (Mr. Streng) had served on Surrogate Scarpino’s Election Transition Committee. In addition, The Justices were aware at all times relevant through court filings and correspondence that allegations were made that Mr. Streng drafted, executed and filed a fraudulent assignment of an approximate $200,000.00 estate related asset concerning a pending claim over $100,000.00 in stolen Red Cross 9/11 donation monies. Also, The Justices were knowledgeable that the “assignment” was executed by an impaired person who had been ordered by a criminal court judge to in-patient and out-patient care and who, in fact, committed suicide shortly after the purported “assignment” was executed (See attached New York Times Article)
5.1 All Times Relevant- The Justices were aware that attorney Streng had served on the Surrogate’s Election Transition Committee when the Court considered and subsequently granted monetary sanctions to Mr. Streng on June 8, 2004 and on June 1, 2005. It is notable that from at least early 2004, Surrogate Scarpino continuously failed to present for remittal, or to disqualify or recuse himself while he was considering the thereto related filings and issues which resulted in the June 8, 2004 and June 1, 2005 decisions.
5.2 June 8, 2004- Surrogate Scarpino granted monetary sanctions to attorney Streng at the same time Mr. Streng was advertising on the internet and the McCarthy Fingar firm website that he served on the Judge’s Election Transition Committee.
5.3 June 1, 2005- Surrogate Scarpino again granted monetary sanctions to attorney Streng at the same time Mr. Streng was advertising on the internet that he served on the Judge’s Election Transition Committee.
5.4 All Times Relevant- The Justices denied all requests to address the “fraudulent assignment” prepared, executed and filed by the same person who was advertising his implied favoritism with the court on the internet, Mr. Streng. In fact, Judge Scarpino denied without prejudice to renew , indicating that the issue could be raised at a future time in the estate accounting phase. But in that very same ruling Judge Scarpino imposed a motion prohibition. And acting-surrogate Loehr immediately imposed a total ban of any motions at his first hearing. Notably, Judges Scarpino and Loehr knowingly and purposely avoided ruling on the fraudulent assignment prepared by their close political associate Frank Streng.
5.5 April 7, 2005- Judge Scarpino again chose to ignore his duty to remit, disqualify or recuse himself on his own initiative when he signed an April 7, 2005 Order to Show Cause, which sought to have Mr. Streng and his law firm disqualified for advertising its implied favoritism with the Court, wherein documents were presented showing that Mr. Streng was in fact actively advertising on his law firm website and on the internet the fact that he was a “[m]ember, Transition Committee of Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr., Surrogate of Westchester County (2001)” Notably, and as also presented in the April 7, 2005 OSC, one website posting listed, “serves on the Transition Committee of Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr., Surrogate of Westchester County (March, 2001 – present).” (emphasis added) Subsequently, and at all times relevant, Judges Nicolai and Loehr would also ignore their duty to remove themselves from any involvement in the proceedings
5.6 June 3, 2005- In his Decision and Order denying, without prejudice to renew, the disqualification of the McCarthy Fingar law firm and Mr. Streng, Surrogate Scarpino again ignored his own obligation to sua sponte disqualify or recuse himself, or to on his own initiative, present the matter for remittal. Notably, in the June 3, 2005 order, Judge Scarpino denies the requested relief without prejudice to renew (See attached June 3, 2005 Decision and Order, page 9)
Most Notably, and less than one page later on page ten, Surrogate Scarpino
pre-conditions his own without prejudice to renew, and orders,
…on its own motion the court hereby prohibits
any of the parties and/or counsel from filing any
additional motions/applications or commencing
any additional proceedings in connection with this
estate without the court’s prior approval (i.e., by
order to show cause) (see e.g. Matter of Brown,
NYLJ, June 28, 1999, at 32, col 4 [Westchester]).
5.7 August 3, 2005- Westchester Surrogate Anthony Scarpino finally recuses himself from The Estate of Margaret A. McKeown, not on his own initiative but only after being requested to do so by the herein movant. (Note #1: on the record in open court on August 3, 2005, Judge Scarpino specifically voiced that the case may not be transferred outside of Westchester County) (See Court Transcript of August 3, 2005 Surrogate Scarpino Recusal Hearing) (Note #2: Judge Scarpino recused himself from my Order to Show Cause which pointed to the Surrogate’s bias concerning attorney Frank W. Streng, who in these proceedings the Surrogate twice awarded financial sanctions to while attorney Streng was simultaneously advertising on the internet and his law firm website the fact that he was on Surrogate Scarpino’s election transition committee. Judge Scarpino had denied motions without prejudice to renew concerning Mr. Streng’s drafting, executing and filing of a fraudulent assignment in the estate proceedings concerning stolen Red Cross 9/11 donation monies, but before any motions could be renewed Surrogate Scarpino Sua Sponte ordered that no parties could file any additional motions. There is clear bias here by Judge Scarpino to protect a member of his Election Transition Team by denying my right to due process, and by obstructing justice concerning fraudulent assignment inquiries.
5.8 On August 8, 2005, I overnighted a letter, with material attachments, to the 9th Judicial District Administrative Judge Nicolai specifically advising him of the troubling facts concerning the handling of my mother’s estate, and I specifically requested that the case be transferred to another county. I had been mindful of Surrogate Scarpino’s now-confirmed prophetic statement during the August 3, 2005 hearing that the case may stay in Westchester County. (See Transcript of August 8, 2005 recusal hearing)
5.9 My August 8, 2005 letter, with material attachments, to Judge Nicolai specifically advises:
5.9.1 “During oral argument on August 3rd , Surrogate Scarpino mentioned that the case may stay in Westchester County. I respectfully wish to bring to your attention certain facts that highlight the very troubling and unique circumstances surrounding this matter that strongly, I believe, suggest that this matter should be transferred to a county outside of Westchester.” See available August 8, 2005 dated two-page letter to the Hon. Francis A. Nicolai, which contains the following attachments:
(i) August 3, 2005 Decision and Order of Recusal (3 pages);
(ii) November 4, 2004 letter from Gary L. Cassella (1 page);
(iii) June 13, 2005 letter from Westchester Public Administrator (4 pages); and
(iv) April 25, 2005 e-mail from Public Administrator’s attorney (1 pages)
5.10 Judge Nicolai, I have since been informed, has had a long-standing political relationship with attorney Streng. And at all times relevant, Judge Nicolai failed his duty to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Subsequently, Judge Nicolai refused to transfer the matter outside Westchester County, choosing instead to assign the proceeding to the most junior county court judge, and longtime political associate, Justice Loehr.
5.11 At all times relevant, Judge Loehr was fully knowledgeable of issues concerning the fraudulent assignment and, sua sponte, directed his own motion prohibition so that the issue against attorney Streng could be litigated.
6.1 I believe The Justices have not only failed at all times during the estate proceedings to Avoid the Appearance of Impropriety by not presenting for remittal the known issues as presented herein, or by disqualifying or recusing themselves. But they collectively participated in a scheme to cover the misdeeds of their political friend, Mr. Streng. At no time did any of The Justices act in a way to assist in the $100,000.00-plus repayment of the stolen 9/11 donations. The Justices grossly failed their duty to insure judicial integrity and impartiality of court proceedings in the Westchester County Surrogate Court.
6.2 I believe The Justices knowingly failed their judicial oath by denying due process and, remarkably, concerning an issue where their own close associate, attorney Frank Streng, filed papers meant only to prohibit the return of over $100,000.00 in 9/11 donations stolen from the American Red Cross.
6.3 I believe appropriate inquiry and action is necessary as The Justices knowingly and with purpose chose to ignore their judicial obligation to submit for remittal, recuse or disqualify, or to correct any of the troubling acts against due process and justice. In fact, while ignoring their duty to avoid even the appearance of bias and impropriety, The Justices took deliberate action to thwart the right of due process, obstruct justice and disgrace simple decency by their acts against 9/11 victims.
DATED: September 11, 2007
June 3, 2005 Decision and Order
April 7, 2005 Order to Show Cause
August 3, 2005 Transcript
Officials of the American Red Cross say they try to recover ''every last dollar'' lost to theft or fraud, but a Connecticut case involving the theft of $120,000 has raised questions about that commitment when it carries the risk of bad publicity. The Red Cross is under intense scrutiny over its response to Hurricane Katrina, including accusations of fraud and theft of relief supplies that volunteers say were ignored for months. In the Connecticut case, the Red Cross settled for less than half the money from its insurance company rather than pursue the full amount through litigation even though the agency was urged to do so by the suspect's brother. The brother, Kevin McKeown, said he was told by a local chapter official that pursuing the money would make the agency look bad. ''They were worried that any further publicity would create a scandal that would harm their fund-raising,'' Mr. McKeown said. National Red Cross officials now argue that a lawsuit would have been expensive and that success was far from certain. Volunteers and former Red Cross executives say the organization often places a higher priority on avoiding scandal than recovering stolen money, and a former president of the Red Cross, Dr. Bernadine Healy, offered support for that view. In an interview, Dr. Healy, who was pushed out after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, said the Red Cross board criticized her for firing the executive director of the Hudson County chapter in New Jersey, after she learned that he and the bookkeeper had embezzled almost $2 million from the organization. ''They told me I was too tough and too fast in firing the guy and moving in on this fraud,'' Dr. Healy said. ''I was told the way to handle these things was quietly and that nobody needed to know.'' Melissa Hurst, the Red Cross's assistant general counsel, disputed Dr. Healy's recollection. ''The Red Cross pursued that, and it was supported throughout the organization,'' Ms. Hurst said. The Connecticut case is full of legal twists and turns.
The suspect in the case, Ronald P. McKeown Jr., was the executive director of the southeastern Connecticut chapter of the Red Cross from July 2001 until he resigned on March 1, 2002. Eight months later, he was charged with larceny, money laundering and forgery in connection with the embezzlement of more than $120,000 collected by his chapter for the families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Almost a year after he was charged, however, Mr. McKeown committed suicide at age 52. His brother Kevin said his mother had been working on a plan to repay the Red Cross with her own money when she died in August 2003, leaving an estate of more than $1 million. ''We were hoping the repayment of the money would somehow lessen the criminal outcome of the charges,'' he said. The money to make good on that desire then became entangled in a fight over his mother's estate, and Ronald McKeown's death put it even further out of reach because he signed documents transferring his part of the inheritance to his recently remarried former wife.
But Kevin McKeown contacted the Charter Oak chapter of the Red Cross in Connecticut, which had merged with the chapter his brother had run, and urged officials to try to regain the money Ronald McKeown was thought to have taken. The chapter's senior director of program services, Carla Burgess, told him that the Red Cross did not want any more publicity about the matter, he said. According to a copy of an e-mail message provided by Kevin McKeown and dated Oct. 8, 2004, Ms. Burgess said: ''Thank you for thinking of us. I also appreciate the fact that you seem to understand our position in choosing not to file a claim against the estate. I do wish you the very best in your efforts to honor your mother's wishes.'' Mr. McKeown said Ms. Burgess had misunderstood him. ''While I do understand their position -- they don't like bad publicity -- I have never and will never understand why they don't want their money back,'' he said. He said he was under no obligation to pay the Red Cross out of his part of his mother's estate. ''It was his responsibility, and now his estate has that responsibility,'' Mr. McKeown said. ''The only obligation and duty I feel is toward my mother's wishes.'' Ms. Hurst noted that the Red Cross had pursued prosecution of Ronald McKeown until he died. She said the organization had to consider the cost-effectiveness of various avenues of recourse. Mr. McKeown had not been convicted of theft before his death, and he had other financial difficulties related to collapse of a business he owned with another brother -- a chain of restaurants called Steak 'N' Egg -- both of which might have complicated recovery of the money. ''This individual committed suicide prior to going to trial,'' Ms. Hurst said. ''There was no judgment of guilt, no adjudication. We went through an evaluation of recourse and chose to file a claim with our insurance company.''
On Tuesday, Mr. McKeown learned via an e-mail message from the insurance company that it had decided to try to recover from his brother's estate what it had paid out to the Red Cross. In recent months, critics of the Red Cross have questioned why it waited months to address accusations of theft and fraud in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina, charges that have led to investigations by the F.B.I. and the Louisiana attorney general's office. ''From what I've witnessed and what I've been told, they don't go after everything they find,'' said Michael A. Wolters, one of the volunteers who made the accusations in a report he filed with the organization. Mr. Wolters said he was involved in uncovering fraud involving a police officer in Texas who obtained Red Cross debit cards and handed them out to law enforcement officials. ''He had access to just go get these cards and not even sign for them,'' Mr. Wolters said. ''Who knows how much he took? We turned over reports documenting about $400,000 that was missing.'' Ms. Hurst said the matter involved $360,000 and had been turned over to law enforcement officials.
Kevin McKeown, an author and screenwriter, has refused to drop his argument with the Red Cross. In January, he told his story to members of the Senate Finance Committee and various high-ranking officials at Red Cross headquarters in Washington, but heard nothing until this month. On April 10, Mr. McKeown said, a lawyer from the national headquarters called him and said that the Red Cross had recovered from its insurance company 80 percent of the money his brother was accused of stealing. Mr. McKeown said the lawyer told him that the Red Cross considered the matter closed and that recovering the remainder of the money would be cost prohibitive. Mr. McKeown contacted the insurer, the Royal Insurance Company, which supplied records showing that, after a $50,000 deductible, it had paid the Red Cross $47,710.59 to cover his brother's theft, or roughly 40 percent of the original amount Devorah Goldburg, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said she could not confirm that Mr. McKeown had initially been given the 80 percent figure, but she said that on Thursday, April 20, in another conversation, the lawyer told Mr. McKeown about the deductible and the breakdown of what the organization recovered Mr. McKeown remains dissatisfied.''Thievery against the Red Cross is hardly discouraged when the crimes are underwritten by insurance companies and premiums are paid by unsuspecting donors,'' he said. ''I was shocked to learn this was how they handle things.''