Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action

Current Legislative News

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  • 19 Nov 2015 7:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Investigative & Security Professionals:

    During November 10-13 in New Orleans I had the pleasure as the sole elected board member representing the private investigative profession's interests to attend the annual meeting and conference "Regulation in the Eye of the Storm" of  the International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators.

    Additionally, I was a moderator and presenter addressing the subjects of Unmanned Aerial Systems or UAS (commonly called Drones) and the current legal/licensing status of Trustify, formerly known as FlimFlam, a company claiming to be nothing more than an App based electronic referral platform connecting consumers with vetted and licensed private investigators. More on Trustify in a subsequent piece. This article will concentrate on the commercial use of drones by investigative and security professionals. The issues surrounding the use of drones and the emergence of a "Uber PI" type business plans could be viewed as disrupters in our profession.

    IASIR is an association representing state and provincial regulators from the U.S., Canada and the United Arab Emirates having governmental jurisdiction over private investigators and security, alarm and armored car companies. ISPLA board members Jim Olsen and Nicole Bocra Gray were also speakers on "When Disaster Strikes: The Investigator's Role" and "Using Social Media."

    The Federal Aviation Administration has deemed commercial use of UAS or drones without first obtaining a special waiver under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FAA Act) to be illegal and subject to a $10,000 fine per violation. However, for recreational use of drones, Section 336 of the FAA Act has established that as long as the drone is "operated in accordance with community based guidelines, weighs 55lbs or less, does not interfere with manned aircraft, and avoids flying within five miles of an airport unless certain notice is given, then such use is legal.

    Thus far, at least one licensed private investigator has been granted a waiver from the FAA to operate a drone for commercial purposes. However, most waivers have been granted to the motion picture and TV film industry, real estate businesses, aerial photographers, agriculture and forestry purposes and pipeline inspection firms. 

    Pilots have reported a thousand incidents of near-misses with drones. Drones have hindered firefighters and rescue operations; a drone operator was killed in a New York City park when his UAS landed on his head and the propellers removed the top of his skull; and a Moslem man in Connecticut pled guilty to an attempted act of terrorism in planning a drone attack with explosives against that state's capitol building in Hartford and undertaking a similar plan against Harvard University.  

    UAS sales, according to the Consumer Electronics Association are estimated to top 700,000 for recreational drones alone, a 63 percent increase over last year. On October 18, 2015, the FAA announced that it will require all drones, commercial and recreational, to be registered. Rulemaking  is presently in the works on this with recommendations scheduled to be completed by November 20, 2015. The FAA is also working to enact additional rules with regard to commercial drone use to be finalized in June 2016.

    One should keep in mind that there are also state laws relative to privacy issues and trespass on property. Intrusion upon secion and publication of private facts are tort causes of action with respect to protecting privacy. Thus far forty-five states have considered 165 bills regarding drones in 2015.

    On November 19, 2015  House Committee on Energy and Commerce  held a hearing entitled "The Disrupter Series: The Fast-Evolving Uses and Economic Impacts of Drones." In an opening statement one House member estimated that one million drones are expected to be sold in the Christmas season this year. Below are links to testimony taken at the hearing, if interested.

    Opening Statements: 

    Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess (M.D.)


    Joshua M. Walden

    • Senior Vice President
    • General Manager, New Technology Group
    • Intel Corporation
    • Witness Testimony (CV)

    John Villasenor

    Brian Wynne

    Margot Kaminski

    - See more at: The Disrupter Series: The Fast-Evolving Uses and Economic Impacts of Drones | Energy & Commerce Committee

    We will continue to keep our colleagues apprised of further developments on UAS regulations of the FAA and proposed federal and state legislation affecting such use by investigative and security professionals. Please consider donating to ISPLA to assist us in our continuing mission at:

    Thank you for supporting ISPLA.

    Bruce H. Hulme, CFE, BAI

    ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

    Resource to Investigative and Security Professionals  



  • 20 Oct 2015 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Madoff Trustee Requests Release of $1.5 Billion from Customer Fund

    Supreme Court Decision Permits Request for Court Approval of Sixth Interim Pro Rata Distribution to Bring Aggregate Customer Payout in Global Madoff Liquidation to Approximately $9.13 Billion

    Nearly 57 Percent of Losses Will Be Returned to Customers

    Oct 20, 2015 - NEW YORK & WASHINGTON--(Business Wire)--Press release from the offices of Irving H. Picard, SIPA Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS), and Stephen P. Harbeck, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)

    Irving H. Picard, Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS), filed a supplemental motion today in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York seeking approval for an allocation of recoveries to the BLMIS Customer Fund and an authorization for a sixth pro rata interim distribution from the Customer Fund to BLMIS customers with allowed claims. A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

    Plans for a sixth interim pro rata distribution may now proceed after the Supreme Court’s decision on October 5, 2015 not to review lower court decisions regarding the applicability of so-called “time-based damages” in the ongoing liquidation of the Madoff firm. The Court’s action affirmed the SIPA Trustee’s position on this issue. In the motion, the SIPA Trustee seeks the release of funds that include reserves held under a September 2012 Bankruptcy Court order and more than $345 million in settlements and new recoveries that have been secured since the fifth distribution, which commenced in February 2015.

    If the motion is approved, the SIPA Trustee will allocate $1.5 billion, with $1.18 billion available for immediate distribution to customers with allowed claims and approximately $320 million held in reserve for claims that are deemed determined pending the resolution of litigation, as well as other issues. This will bring the amount distributed to eligible BLMIS customers to approximately $9.13 billion, which includes more than $827 million in advances committed by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

    Stephen P. Harbeck, President and CEO of SIPC, said, “The courts have upheld the Trustee’s and SIPC’s application of SIPA. The Supreme Court’s decision not to review the Second Circuit’s decision allows Irving Picard to move forward with the distribution as soon as possible, while his global legal team continues to pursue additional, significant recoveries for BLMIS customers.

    “Recoveries for the BLMIS Customer Fund now total nearly $11 billion,” continued Mr. Harbeck. “That is much more than anyone could have expected at the start of the case in 2008. The legal strategy, and the execution of that strategy by the SIPA Trustee and his counsel, led by David J. Sheehan, will maximize the return to Madoff’s customers. The result here, fully funded by SIPC at no cost to customers, shows that the Securities Investor Protection Act functions as Congress intended. I congratulate the SIPA Trustee and his counsel as they continue to make distributions and increase the return to the victims of this enormous theft.”

    The sixth pro rata interim distribution will result in the return of 8.186 percent of the allowed claim amount for each individual account, unless the allowed claim has been fully satisfied. The average payment for an allowed claim issued in the sixth distribution is $1,110,423.34. The smallest payment totals $1,286.84 and the largest payment is $200,367,708.98.

    Currently, the SIPA Trustee has allowed 2,564 claims related to 2,227 BLMIS accounts. Of these accounts, 1,264 accounts with allowed claims totaling $1,161,193.87 or less – or more than 56 percent – will be fully satisfied following the sixth interim distribution. The sixth interim distribution, when combined with the prior interim distributions, will satisfy up to 56.988 percent of each customer’s allowed claim unless the account is fully satisfied. In addition, SIPC will be reimbursed for its advances to accounts that the sixth interim distribution fully satisfies.

    As of October 20, 2015, the SIPA Trustee has recovered or reached agreements to recover approximately $10.9 billion since his appointment in December 2008. These outcomes exceed similar efforts related to prior Ponzi scheme recoveries, in terms of dollars and percentage of stolen funds recovered.

    Ultimately, 100 percent of the SIPA Trustee’s recoveries will be allocated to the Customer Fund for distribution to BLMIS customers with allowed claims. Prior distributions as of October 20, 2015 are as follows:

    ·         The first pro rata interim distribution, which commenced on October 5, 2011, has distributed approximately $675.3 million, representing 4.602 percent of the allowed claim amount of each individual account, unless the claim is fully satisfied.

    ·         The second pro rata interim distribution, which commenced on September 19, 2012, has distributed approximately $4.906 billion, representing 33.556 percent of the allowed claim amount of each individual account, unless the claim is fully satisfied.

    ·         The third pro rata interim distribution, which commenced on March 29, 2013, has distributed approximately $686.1 million, representing 4.721 percent of the allowed claim amount of each individual account, unless the claim is fully satisfied.

    ·         The fourth pro rata interim distribution, which commenced on May 5, 2014, has distributed approximately $461.4 million, representing 3.180 percent of each individual account, unless the claim is fully satisfied.

    ·         The fifth pro rata interim distribution, which commenced on February 6, 2015, has distributed approximately $397.5 million, representing 2.743 percent of each individual account, unless the claim is fully satisfied.

    There are 109 deemed determined claims still subject to litigation. Once litigation is resolved or settlements reached, these claims may be allowed and would therefore become eligible for all pro rata distributions to date. For that potential scenario, as of October 20, 2015, the SIPA Trustee has reserved approximately $1.706 billion. The ultimate amount of additional allowed claims depends on the outcome of litigation or negotiation and could add billions of dollars to the total amount of allowed claims.

    All administrative costs of the SIPA liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and its global recovery efforts, which make the distributions possible, are funded by SIPC.

    Upon approval, record holders of allowed claims as of November 18, 2015 will be eligible to receive payments from the sixth interim distribution.

    The supplemental Sixth Customer Fund Allocation and Distribution Motion can be found on the United States Bankruptcy Court’s website at; Bankr. S.D.N.Y., No. 08-01789 (SMB). It can also be found on the SIPA Trustee’s website along with more information on the BLMIS liquidation at:

    Messrs. Harbeck, Picard and Sheehan would like to thank Seanna Brown and Heather Wlodek of BakerHostetler, who worked on the sixth pro rata interim distribution and its related filings, as well as the legal firms of BakerHostetler and Windels Marx, and all of the attorneys and professionals whose work has led to the distribution. They would also like to thank Vineet Sehgal and his colleagues at AlixPartners, as well as Josephine Wang, Kevin Bell and their colleagues at SIPC, for their ongoing work and participation in the Madoff Recovery Initiative distributions.

    Bruce H. Hulme, CFE, BAI - ISPLA Director of Government

  • 10 Sep 2015 11:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    BMW to Pay $1.6 Million and Offer Jobs to Settle Federal Race Discrimination Lawsuit

    Company's Criminal Background Policy Disproportionately Affected African-American Logistics Workers, EEOC Charged

    The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on September 8 entered a consent decree ordering BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC (BMW) to pay $1.6 million and provide job opportunities to alleged victims of race discrimination as part of the resolution of a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The lawsuit, details about which have been previously reported by ISPLA, had been filed by the EEOC on June 11, 2013. The suit alleged that BMW excluded African-American logistics workers from employment at a disproportionate rate when the company's new logistics contractor applied BMW's criminal conviction records guidelines to incumbent logistics employees. 

    More specifically, the complaint alleged that when BMW switched contractors handling the company's logistics in 2008 at its production facility in Spartanburg, S.C., it required the new contractor to perform a criminal background screen on all existing logistics employees who re-applied to continue working in their positions at BMW. At that time, BMW's criminal conviction records guidelines excluded from employment all persons with convictions in certain categories of crime, regardless of how long ago the employee had been convicted or whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor or felony. According to the complaint, after the criminal background checks were performed, BMW learned that approximately 100 incumbent logistics workers at the facility, including employees who had worked at there for several years, did not pass the screen. EEOC alleged that 80 percent of the incumbent workers disqualified from employment as a result of applying BMW's guidelines were black. 

    Following an investigation, EEOC filed suit alleging that blacks were disproportionately disqualified from employment as a result of the criminal conviction records guidelines. EEOC sought relief for 56 African-Americans who were discharged. BMW has since voluntarily changed its guidelines.  

    BMW will pay a total of $1.6 million to resolve the litigation and two pending charges related to the company's previous criminal conviction records guidelines that had been filed with EEOC. In addition to monetary relief, BMW will offer employment opportunities to the discharged workers in the suit and up to 90 African-American applicants who BMW's contractor refused to hire based on BMW's previous conviction records guidelines. BMW also will provide training on using criminal history screening in a manner consistent with Title VII.  Additionally, BMW will be subject to reporting and monitoring requirements for the term of the consent decree.

    According to the EEOC, after learning of convictions, BMW responded by denying access to its facilities by anyone who had been in trouble with the law in the past.  "Claimants were denied access to the BMW facility without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of their criminal offenses, the ages of the convictions, or the nature of their respective positions," the complaint said. "Moreover, they were denied plant access without any assessment or consideration of the fact that many had been workings at the BMW facility for several years without incident for UTi and prior logistics service providers."

    Of those denied access to the plant because they had a criminal record, 80 percent were black and 18 percent white.  The EEOC characterized those numbers as "statistically significant."

    "EEOC has been clear that while a company may choose to use criminal history as a screening device in employment, Title VII requires that when a criminal background screen results in the disproportionate exclusion of African-Americans from job opportunities, the employer must evaluate whether the policy is job related and consistent with a business necessity," said P. David Lopez, EEOC's General Counsel. 

    "We are pleased with BMW's agreement to resolve this disputed matter by providing both monetary relief and employment opportunities to the logistic workers who lost their jobs at the facility," said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the Charlotte District Office. "We commend BMW for re-evaluating its criminal conviction records guidelines that resulted in the discharge of these workers." 

    EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. The Commission issued its first written policy guidance regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in employment in the 1980s. The Commission has since considered this matter in 2008 and updated its guidance in 2012. This is one of the first cases involving the use of arrest and conviction records that EEOC has filed since the Commission issued the updated guidance.

    Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

    Resource to Investigative and Security Professionals


  • 07 Feb 2015 4:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Five Important Questions about DEA's Vehicle Surveillance Program

    ISPLA is grateful to the Brennan Center for Justice in furnishing us with a recent article by Rachel Levinson-Waldman. Her informative article and the privacy questions which will affect this and other issues no doubt be addressed at some point during the 114th Congress. - Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

    "Five Important Questions About DEA’s Vehicle Surveillance Program" by Rachel Levinson Waldman, originally published on on January 30, 2015.

    With each week, we seem to learn about a new government location tracking program. This time, it’s the expanded use of license plate readers. According to The Wall Street Journal, relying on interviews with officials and documents obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA request, the Drug Enforcement Administration has been collecting hundreds of millions of records about cars traveling on U.S. roads. The uses for the data sound compelling: combating drug and weapons trafficking and finding suspects in serious crimes. But as usual, the devil is in the details, and plenty of important questions remain about those details.

    First, who approved the program, and under what circumstances? We don’t know. The DEA is an arm of the Department of Justice, so presumably the Attorney General’s office has been involved, but details aren’t yet available. Also unknown is whether there has been any judicial oversight.

    Second, are there any limitations on how the data can be used? This is also unknown. The emails obtained by the ACLU indicate that the main purpose of the program was to assist in seizures of cars, money, and other assets, often from people not charged with any crime, a program that has come under withering criticism. But the history of data collection programs is that information collected for one purpose quickly becomes attractive for other purposes. And the more information available (even for proper purposes), the more is available for misuse as well. Indeed, license plate information has been abused in the past, with peaceful protestors’ data shared with the FBI.

    Third, how long can it be kept? The article reports that the DEA holds the data for three months, a significant drop from its previous two-year retention period. Much of this data is coming from readers set up by state and local law enforcement, though, and the retention periods for those jurisdictions are an inconsistent patchwork, with deletion times ranging from immediate (Ohio state patrol) to 90 days (Boston) to two years (Los Angeles County) to five years (New York City) to never (New York State Police). This is especially alarming given that a vanishingly small percentage of the millions of license plates scanned are actually connected to any crime or wrongdoing. At the same time, data collected by DEA reportedly goes back to state and local jurisdictions as well, setting up an endless loop of information with inadequate oversight. 

    Fourth, where else does the data go? Some of it is sent to fusion centers, which are state- or regional-based hubs that centralize information for sharing among the federal government, states, and private partners. Originally established in the wake of 9/11, fusion centers have largely abandoned their focus on terrorism for want of credible threats; they have instead transformed into an “all threats” model. In the process, they have been roundly criticized for wasting money, contributing little to counterterrorism efforts, and endangering both civil liberties and Privacy Act protections. Maryland and Vermont are known to feed their plate data to fusion centers, and the numbers are likely higher, given fusion centers’ voracity for data.

    Finally, which other federal agencies are using license plate readers? We know that the Department of Homeland Security is using them as part of their border enforcement. As of early 2009, nearly 100% of cars crossing the border were scanned with a license plate reader. And both DEA and DHS license plate readers can be coupled with cameras that provide pictures of the occupants of vehicles being scanned.

    Of course, the DEA database is only the latest in a string of disclosures that, taken together, reveal a web of powerful surveillance capabilities. Late last year, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the U.S. Marshals Service is using a secretive technology that sweeps up information about thousands of innocent Americans’ cell phones in the process of searching for suspects. As with the license plate reader scheme, little is known about the specifics of this program.

    And just last week, USA Today revealed that at least 50 law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, have obtained radar devices that allow them to detect any human movements inside a house, even motion as minimal as breathing, from more than 50 feet away. In at least one case, the device was used without a warrant to case a home for the presence of a suspected parolee.

    Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have already expressed concern about this technology, and it’s hard to see how its use without a warrant passes constitutional muster. As the Tenth Circuit observed in a recently published case weighing the use of the radar technology, the Supreme Court has already disapproved of the use of a thermal imaging device to capture details of life within a home. Perhaps even more salient, the Court earlier established that tracking technology (known as a beeper) cannot be used without a warrant to confirm a person’s presence inside a private home, if obtaining that information would otherwise require entry into the home. It’s a little mystifying that using a high-powered radar for the same purpose would be kosher.

    Taken together, these stories suggest a zone of privacy that is narrowing so much as to be almost imperceptible. Separate from the question of how these technologies are actually being used, the breadth of surveillance capabilities they provide are staggering. You can be tracked on the streets; in your home; on your phone; and almost anywhere else. We seem to forever be caught in a kind of vicious cycle: it’s too early to criticize or critique technologies when they’ve just been introduced and there’s no record of misuse, but once they’ve been in place for even a year or two, they take on an air of inevitability. Indeed, the USA Today article calls the radar technology “hardly new” by virtue of the fact that the Marshals Service had started buying the devices in 2012 – but two plus years is nothing, especially when (as the story’s author notes) the federal government has played hide-the-ball with other surveillance technologies.

    There are many layers between us and a police state. But just as Bruce Schneier has written that it is “poor civic hygiene to install [online] technologies that could someday facilitate a police state,” so too is it poor civic hygiene to deploy a suite of physical surveillance technologies that could do the same.

  • 23 Jan 2015 5:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Arrested On Corruption Charges

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Allegedly Used Official Position to Obtain $4 Million in Bribes and Kickbacks Concealed as Income From Outside Law Practice

    Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Richard Frankel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Criminal Division of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that New York State Assembly Speaker SHELDON SILVER was arrested this morning on charges that he used his official position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts, and that SILVER masked these payments from public view by disguising the payments as income from what he claimed was a law practice primarily focused on personal injury matters. SILVER was placed under arrest at the FBI in lower Manhattan, this morning, and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in Manhattan federal court later today. Judge Maas also issued seizure warrants to prevent SILVER from accessing approximately $3.8 million in proceeds alleged to be traceable to the charged corruption offenses until the case is resolved.

    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Over his decades in office, Speaker Silver has amassed titanic political power. But, as alleged, during that same time, Silver also amassed a tremendous personal fortune – through the abuse of that political power. All told, we allege that Silver corruptly collected some $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as ‘referral fees.’ Those disguised bribes and kickbacks account for approximately two-thirds of all of Silver’s outside income since 2002.

    “As today’s charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain. And as the charges also show, the greedy art of secret self-reward was practiced with particular cleverness and cynicism by the Speaker himself. Among other things, we allege that Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, was on retainer to a mammoth real estate developer at the very same time that the chamber he dominates was considering and passing legislation vitally affecting the bottom line of that developer; at the very same time that he was hearing out lobbyists paid by that developer and at the very same time that he was deliberately keeping secret from the public any information about this lucrative side-deal, in violation of the law.

    “Politicians are supposed to be on the people’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interests they do favors for. These charges go to the very core of what ails Albany – a lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of principle joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism, and self-dealing.”

    FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Richard Frankel said: “As alleged, Silver took advantage of the political pulpit to benefit from unlawful profits. When all was said and done, he amassed nearly $4 million in illegitimate proceeds and arranged for approximately $500,000 in state funds to be used for projects that benefited his personal plans. We hold our elected representatives to the highest standards and expect them to act in the best interest of their constituents. In good faith, we trust they will do so while defending the fundamental tenets of the legal system. But as we are reminded today, those who make the laws don’t have the right to break the laws.”

    According to the allegations contained in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

    For more than two decades, SHELDON SILVER has served as Speaker of the Assembly, a position that gives him significant power over the operation of New York State government. SILVER used this substantial power – including, in particular, his power over the real estate industry and his control over certain health care funding – to unlawfully enrich himself by soliciting and obtaining client referrals worth millions of dollars from people and entities in exchange for SILVER’s official acts, and attempting to disguise this money as legitimate outside income earned from his work as a private lawyer. In particular, SILVER claimed on financial disclosure forms required to be filed with New York State and in public statements that the millions of dollars he received in outside income while also serving as Speaker of the Assembly came from a Manhattan-based law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., where SILVER claimed to work “representing individual clients” in “personal injury actions.” These claims were materially false and misleading – and made to cover up unlawful payments SILVER received solely due to his power and influence as an elected legislator and the Speaker of the Assembly.

    The scheme provided SILVER with two different streams of unlawful income: (i) approximately $700,000 in kickbacks SILVER received by steering two real estate developers with business before the state legislature to a law firm run by a co-conspirator, and (ii) more than $3 million in asbestos client referral fees SILVER received by, among other official acts, awarding $500,000 in state grants to a university research center of a physician who referred patients made ill by asbestos to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg.

    Unlawful Income From the Real Estate Law Firm

    SILVER entered into a corrupt relationship with a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) who had been SILVER’s counsel in the Assembly and operated a real estate law firm (the “Real Estate Law Firm”) that specialized in making applications to the City of New York to reduce taxes assessed on properties.

    Beginning in at least 2000, SILVER approached two prominent developers of properties in Manhattan, one personally and one in part through a lobbyist, and asked the developers to hire the Real Estate Law Firm. The developers – both of whom lobbied SILVER on real estate issues because their profits depended significantly on state legislation favorable to their business– agreed to use the Real Estate Law Firm as SILVER had requested. Over the years, these developers paid millions of dollars in legal fees to the Real Estate Law Firm. SILVER received a cut from the legal fees amounting to nearly $700,000. SILVER had no public affiliation with the Real Estate Law Firm and performed no legal work at all to earn those fees, which were simply payments for SILVER having arranged the business through his official power and influence.

    While continuing to receive the fees and in furtherance of the scheme, SILVER took official action beneficial to the developers. For example, while SILVER was publicly associated with advocating for tenants, a proposal made by the one of the developers who sent work to the Real Estate Law Firm was in substantial part enacted in real estate legislation in 2011 with SILVER’s support.

    Unlawful Income From Asbestos Client Referrals

    SILVER also entered into a corrupt arrangement with a leading physician who specialized in the treatment of asbestos-related diseases (“Doctor-1”) through which SILVER issued state grants and otherwise used his official position to provide favors to Doctor-1 so that Doctor-1 would refer and continue to refer his patients to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg, a firm with which SILVER was affiliated as counsel. Specifically, SILVER arranged for the State of New York to fund two state grants – each for $250,000, and paid out of a secret and unitemized pool of funds controlled entirely by SILVER – for a research center Doctor-1 had established. SILVER used his official position to provide Doctor-1 with other benefits as well, including helping to direct $25,000 in state funds to a not-for-profit organization for which one of Doctor-1’s family members served on the board, and asking the CEO of a second not-for-profit to hire a second family member of Doctor-1.

    From 2002 to the present, SILVER received more than $3 million from legal fees Weitz & Luxenberg received from patients Doctor-1 had referred to SILVER at the firm while SILVER was taking official actions to benefit Doctor-1. SILVER did no legal work whatsoever on these asbestos cases, his sole role having been to use his official position and access to state funds to induce Doctor-1 to provide him with these lucrative referrals.

    Silver’s Efforts to Cover Up the Scheme

    SILVER took various efforts to disguise his unlawful outside income and prevent the detection of the scheme. SILVER listed on his official public disclosure forms that his outside income consisted of “limited practice of law in the principal subject area of personal injury claims on behalf of individual clients,” which was false and misleading. Beginning in 2010, SILVER’s disclosures changed to state that the source of his legal income was a “Law Practice” that “includ[ed]” being of counsel to Weitz & Luxenberg. SILVER never disclosed his relationship with the Real Estate Law Firm or any work beyond what he claimed was a “personal injury” practice.

    SILVER also repeatedly made false statements about his outside income in his public statements, including the following:

    • SILVER claimed he performed legal work consisting of spending several hours each week evaluating legal matters brought to him by potential clients and then referring cases that appeared to have merit to lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg. In fact, SILVER did no such work on the asbestos cases and obtained those referrals to Weitz & Luxenberg based on his corrupt arrangement with Doctor-1.
    • SILVER claimed his law practice involved the representation of “plain, ordinary simple people.” In fact, SILVER represented some of the largest real estate developers in the State of New York, whose interests are in many ways dependent on state legislation.
    • SILVER claimed through his spokesperson that SILVER found clients by virtue of his having been a “lawyer for more than 40 years,” in a manner that was “not unlike any other attorney in this state, anywhere.” In fact, SILVER found his lucrative asbestos and real estate developer clients solely by virtue of his official position.
    • SILVER recently stated through his spokesperson that “[n]one of his clients have any business before the state.” In fact, SILVER’s outside income included millions of dollars of fees obtained through real estate developers with significant business before the state and a prominent physician to whose benefit SILVER provided state funding and other benefits related to SILVER’s official position.

    Finally, SILVER thwarted the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption so that it would not learn of his illegal outside income, first by filing legal motions on behalf of the Assembly and taking other action to block the Moreland Commission’s investigation into legislative outside income and then by negotiating with the Governor of New York to prematurely terminate the Moreland Commission.

    *                      *                      *

    SILVER, 70, of New York, New York, is charged with two counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Each of these five counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

    U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the work of the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI, who jointly conducted this investigation. Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation is continuing.

    This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard S. Master, Carrie H. Cohen, Andrew D. Goldstein, and James McDonald are in charge of the prosecution.

    The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


    U.S. v. Sheldon Silver Complaint(PDF)

    U.S. v. Sheldon Silver Seizure Affidavit(PDF)


  • 15 Aug 2014 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NJ “Ban-the-Box Law” Update

    The Opportunity to Compete Act (“Act”), more often called the “Ban the Box” law will become effective March 1, 2015 in New Jersey. The Act will prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from having any questions inquiring about an applicant’s criminal convictions on job applications. Employers also may not ask applicants about criminal convictions until after the first interview is completed.

    The law defines an applicant as any person inquiring about employment or a job vacancy and includes a current employee. That means that if a current employee is seeking a promotion or posting for a vacant position, the employer cannot ask about criminal convictions until after a first interview for the position. If an applicant voluntarily discloses information about a criminal history prior to the completion of the first interview, the employer is permitted to ask for details about the applicant’s criminal history.

    Employers may still refuse to hire applicants who either refuse to consent to the criminal background check or who have certain criminal convictions. The law does not set forth specific time limits for how far back an employer can consider a conviction or which convictions may be considered, except that any records expunged or pardoned may never be considered by the employer. 

    This new law preempts the Newark Ban the Box Ordinance, which has much more onerous requirements for employers who use criminal convictions in deciding not to hire certain individuals. Newark employers will no longer have to provide applicants formal documentation of the consideration given to certain factors nor provide an appeal process. All employers should, however, continue to make sure that they are using the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance for the use of criminal background checks to determine if a conviction is job-disqualifying.

    The law explicitly states that there is no private cause of action, but enforcement is solely by the Division of Labor and Workforce Development. There are provisions for civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

    ISPLA thanks Fox Rothschild for this important New Jersey labor and employment law update.

    Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

    Your Proactive Voice from State Capitols to the Naion’s Capitol

  • 23 Jan 2014 8:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ISPLA is grateful to Stateline, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of Pew Charitable Trust that provides daily reporting and analysis in state policy, for allowing us to publish their article below by staff writer David C. Vock

    Nearly a decade after Congress passed the Real ID Act to thwart terrorists from getting driver’s licenses, the law will finally go into effect in April. But 13 states still are not ready.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security repeatedly put off enforcement of the law, as states complained about its costs and civil rights groups objected to it as an invasion of privacy. But in December, while DHS was temporarily headed by counterterrorism expert Rand Beers, the agency unveiled a gradual rollout for enforcing the law.

    Brian Zimmer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, which supports Real ID, praised the agency for its “deliberate approach.” The slow ramp-up will give the agency time to address practical problems and avoid technical or training snafus before the requirements affect the general public, he said.

    “Nobody has ever done this before… so enforcing this law is going to be a major challenge,” said Zimmer, who helped draft the law’s provisions on driver’s licenses as a congressional committee staffer.

    But Chris Calabrese, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new timetable will do little to convince holdout states to comply with the law.

    “Nothing has changed,” he said. “It is impossible to imagine DHS keeping the citizens of any of those states off of airplanes…I don’t see that most of these states are going to have a whole lot more incentive than they have ever had to do this, which is to say, none.”

    Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Washington state do not currently meet the law’s standards, according to DHS.

    Another 15 states do not yet meet the requirements but have asked the federal government for more time to do so. They all have extensions through October and can renew those extensions.

    Soon after Real ID became law, 17 states passed laws restricting or banning its implementation within their borders, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Liberals and conservatives alike recoiled at the law in its early years. They objected to the law's costs, federal pre-emption of state practices and the potential threat to personal privacy.

    But two of those statesundefinedGeorgia and Utahundefinednow issue Real ID-compliant licenses. Seven more are among those granted extensions to comply with the law.

    The controversy over Real ID faded in most state capitols as DHS repeatedly delayed enforcement. Technically, the law does not impose new rules on states. But by requiring Real ID-compliant licenses to board commercial aircraft, the law could put a lot of public pressure on states to issue licenses that meet its standards.

    Slow Rollout

    In the final report it issued in July 2004, the 9/11 Commission recommended that states improve driver’s license security, because four of the 19 hijackers in the terrorist attacks used state-issued driver's licenses to board the planes they later crashed.

    The Real ID Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law in May 2005, requires states to verify that an applicant is in the country legally, using federal databases and original documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. It also imposes security measures for workers who handle driver’s license information or who produce the physical documents.

    The federal government has delayed enforcement of Real ID four times since it was originally supposed to go into effect in May 2008.

    As those deadlines neared, the law’s proponents raised the specter of residents in noncompliant states not being able to board flights with their state-issued identification. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, often cited that as a reason to bar unauthorized immigrants from getting driver’s licenses there.

    The federal government’s new open-ended schedule would put off that type of widespread enforcement until the waning days of the Obama administrationundefinedat the earliest.

    The consequences for residents living in holdout states will be minimal, at least at first. They will have to present alternate forms of identification (such as a passport) to get into Washington, D.C. headquarters of DHS, nuclear power plants and restricted federal facilities.

    But sometime after 2016, they will no longer be able to board commercial aircraft with only their driver’s license.

    Gradual Compliance

    The federal government relies on information from states to determine whether they comply with 43 requirements under Real ID. In a statement, the agency said states’ progress so far shows that the law’s requirements are achievable.

    Vermont first started issuing Real ID-compliant licenses at the beginning of this year. Michael Charter from the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles said his agency gradually put in place more and more security measures over the years to comply.

    “It’s been easier to accomplish than we initially thought it might be. There really hasn’t been tremendous backlash from the public up to this point,” he said.

    The state had to add facial-recognition technology to the computers that store photos from driver’s licenses. The software alerts workers if a new photo matches one that is already in the database for a different person. DMV employees follow up on the potential matches to determine whether there is any fraud.

    The state also had to change how it screens and trains workers who handle driver’s license data, Charter said. The agency lets police and prosecutors use the data, but only if they submit requests to the agency with documentation of ongoing investigations. DMV workers run the actual queries.

    The biggest change to the physical ID cards is for unauthorized immigrants. Vermont has always required driver’s license holders to show they are in the country legally, but the legislature decided last year to grant driving privileges to undocumented immigrants.

    So Vermont lawmakers decided to issue two forms of cards: the typical driver’s license and a separate driving privilege card for the immigrants. The second card states that the ID is not valid for federal identification or official purposes, so that the state would meet the requirements of Real ID.

    In fact, all nine states that passed laws allowing unauthorized immigrants to drive last year specified that cards for those immigrants must have marks to distinguish them from licenses for people in the country legally, according to the National Immigration Law Forum.

    Before last year, only three states allowed unauthorized immigrants to drive, and only one of themundefinedUtahundefinedincluded physical distinctions for the immigrants’ licenses. New Mexico and Washington still do not.

    Remaining Obstacles

    Many technical, legal and philosophical obstacles remain for states that have not complied with Real ID.

    For many, meeting the law’s requirement that states secure the locations where driver’s licenses are produced can be challenging. Many states, such as Tennessee, now issue licenses from a single, secure location. That means applicants get their licenses in the mail, rather than at a state office.

    The law’s many security provisions have prompted states such as California and Texas to consolidate facilities where residents can get driver’s licenses, said Zimmer, from the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License.

    A legal challenge doomed New Jersey’s TRU-ID program in 2012. The ACLU sued to block the state’s rollout of Real ID-compliant licenses, because, the group said, the state did not follow state law for getting public feedback before putting its new license rules into effect. New Jersey officials said they would include the public if they try to roll out similar changes in the future.

    Ohio officials decided last year to stop work on Real ID compliance, because of privacy concerns. They were especially concerned about storing digital copies of sensitive documents and about the use of facial recognition technology, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

    The state’s facial recognition technology generated controversy last year, when it came to light that as many as 26,500 people could access the state’s database of driver’s license photos, far more than in other states. 



  • 20 Nov 2013 2:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ISPLA is grateful to Stateline, the Daily News Service of The Pew Charitable Trust and its staff writer Maggie Clark for this informative article below on license plate readers and emerging privacy issues....

    Police have used cameras that read the license plates on passing cars to locate missing people in California, murderers in Georgia and hit-and-run drivers in Missouri.

    The book-sized license plate readers (LPRs) are mounted on police cars, road signs or traffic lights. The images they capture are translated into computer-readable text and compiled into a list of plate numbers, which can run into the millions. Then police compare the numbers against the license plates of stolen cars, drivers wanted on bench warrants or people involved in missing person cases.

    Privacy advocates don’t object to police using LPRs to catch criminals. But they are concerned about how long police keep the numbers if the plates don’t register an initial hit. In many places there are no limits, so police departments keep the pictures with the date, time, and location of the car indefinitely.

    The backlash against LPRs began in earnest this year, as three more states limited law enforcement use of the systems and in some cases banned private companies from using the systems, for example, to track down cars for repossession. So far, five states limit how the cameras are used, and the American Civil Liberties Union anticipates that at least six other states will debate limits in the upcoming legislative session.

    In New Hampshire, police and private companies (with the exception of the tolling company EZ Pass) are forbidden from using license plate readers. Utah requires police to delete license plate data nine months after collection. In Vermont, the limit is 18 months and in Maine it is three weeks. Arkansas police have to throw out the plate numbers after 150 days and parking facilities are the only private companies allowed to use the technology. 

    “It’s been surprising to find out how license plate readers are being used and how long the data is being kept,” said Michigan state Rep. Sam Singh, a Democrat, who is sponsoring legislation to limit police in his state from keeping license plate numbers for longer than 48 hours. Police are using the cameras in a handful of Michigan cities, including Detroit and East Lansing.

    Singh’s legislation would also make the license plate data exempt from public records requests so that, for example, divorce attorneys couldn’t request license plate reader data to confirm where a spouse was at a particular time. The bill, which is still in committee, also would limit how private companies can use license plate readers to track down cars for repossession. 

    “We just fundamentally believe that Americans don’t need to be watched unless there’s probable cause of wrongdoing,” said Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the Michigan ACLU, which supports Singh’s bill.   “We don’t need a ‘just in case’ database. That just turns democracy and our sense of due process on its head.”

    NSA Fallout

    The debate over license plate readers and other law-enforcement technologies is a local expression of a national wariness about government spying in the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s far-reaching data collection on ordinary citizens across the world.

    “People are saying, ‘I can’t control the NSA, but I can rein in what local law enforcement agencies are collecting,’” said Allie Bohm, an advocacy and policy strategist at the ACLU. Last July, the ACLU released a report warning about the lack of policies for license plate reader programs. The group also has promoted model legislation to limit how long police can keep license plate data.

    For proponents of the technology, the timing of the NSA leaks couldn’t have been worse. “I would hate to see that because of bad timing, a great technology is banned or didn’t rise to the level it could have,” said Todd Hodnett, the founder and chairman of Digital Recognition Network, a license plate reader manufacturer which sells the cameras to private companies, including towing firms, banks and insurance companies. An LPR system, which typically includes four cameras, costs between $15,000 and $18,000.

    Lumping license plate readers in with the NSA surveillance system creates a false equivalency, according to Hodnett. “The NSA revelations have created an environment that has people on edge, but it’s unfortunate and quite scary that someone could compare listening to a phone call to photographing a publicly visible license plate,” he said.

    Hodnett also argued the focus on data limits is misplaced, because matching a license plate to a person’s DMV records or driver’s license record is a two-step process governed by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act passed by Congress in 1994. When law enforcement officers want to make a query of DMV records using a license plate number, they have to show a “permissible purpose,” which includes public safety, motor vehicle theft, court proceedings or notifying owners of towed or impounded vehicles.

    Until a license plate number is matched to DMV data, it’s as anonymous to officers as it is to a person standing on a street corner. That two-step process is what keeps the technology from infringing on privacy, said Robert Stevenson, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the retired police chief of Livonia, Mich.

    “There’s an additional step that has to be taken to find out who the drivers are,” said Stevenson. “People’s pictures and names don’t just pop up when they drive past license plate readers.”

    The U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal courts have affirmed there is no expectation of privacy for a publicly visible license plate. Hodnett is building a case to argue that prohibiting license plate readers from taking photographs of publicly visible license plates is a violation of the First Amendment.

    Tracking the Marathon Bombers

    In the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers, police used license plate reader data to establish where the Tsarnaev brothers had traveled and where they might be headed, based on places they’d already been. Police used license plate readers to track Dzokhar Tsarnaev to Watertown, Mass., where police found him hiding in a boat in a resident’s backyard.

    Even though LPR data was used in that investigation, Watertown’s state representative is pursuing legislation to limit license plate readers. Under Democratic Rep. Jonathan Hecht’s legislation, police would be required to delete license plates collected after 48 hours, but they could hang on to data longer if it was specifically part of a criminal investigation, like the search for Tsarnaev.

    “Public safety is very important and we want to use new this technology for safety,” said Hecht. “But as has been true throughout our history, public safety has to be balanced against other important privacy values. In wake of the revelations about the NSA, people are concerned that we’re letting technology get away from us.”


  • 23 Aug 2012 2:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    An August 22 item in SLATE by Ryan Gallager titled "Criminals May Be Using Covert Mobil Phone Surveillance Tech for Extortion" regarding IMSI Catchers may be of interest to investiigative and security professionals. The Slate piece contains links to a number of U.S. and foreign items. Some of the pertinent facts are noted below it.  
    “It sends out a signal that is basically like the one coming from a cellular phone base station, which is why a mobile phone would voluntarily connect to it. If someone uses the device wisely and carefully, and does not stay in one place for too long, it is practically impossible to catch them.”
    IMSI catchers are advanced pieces of hardware that can be used to send out a signal, tricking mobile phones into thinking they are part of a legitimate mobile phone network. The most sophisticated IMSI catchers, such as the one known to have been purchased by London’s Metropolitan Police, allow authorities to shut off targeted phones remotely and gather data about thousands of users in a specific area. They can force phones to release their unique IMSI and IMEI identity codes, which can then be used to track a person's movements in real time.
    The use of the technology by policeundefinedlet alone criminalsundefinedis controversial. Recently, some argued that the FBI’s use of an IMSI catcher known as a “Stingray” was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Until November last year, the Department of Justice had claimed the use of a Stingray did not constitute a search. However, the DoJ suddenly changed tack during an Arizona court case, a move the Wall Street Journal reported was “designed to protect the secrecy of the gadgets.”
    In the Czech Republic such devices are known as "Agitas. The former head of the Czech Military Intelligence Agency and a security analyst Andor Šándor underscored the danger of the widespread sale of Agátas:
    "It’s been a known fact for a few years now that some companies do sell these devices. But if their use will not be in any way regulated, and access to these devices will not be in any way controlled, then a regular citizen can do absolutely nothing. The only way people can safeguard themselves is if they reveal only the necessary information during their mobile communication. But, obviously that goes against normal behavior of free persons."
    Jan Valos, a radio frequency engineer and hacker explains how an IMSI Catcher works once it is connected to a computer:
    “It sends out a signal that is basically like the one coming from a cellular phone base station, which is why a mobile phone would voluntarily connect to it. If someone uses the device wisely and carefully, and does not stay in one place for too long, it is practically impossible to catch them.”
    Bruce Hulme
    ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
    Resource to Investigative and Security Professionals, to the Government, and to the Media
  • 17 Aug 2012 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    An FDCPA amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court may be of interest to those investigators involved in debt collection cases.

    Question Presented:








    A medical assistant student contended that funds she received were grants rather than student loans in the case of Olivea Marx, Petitioner v. General Recovery Corporation No. 11-1178. A 36-page brief by the government asserts that allowing Courts to fix costs against good-faith FDCPA plaintiffs would subvert the balance struck by Congress between encouraging private enforcement and deterring abusive suits. The Court had awarded costs to the collection agency. The Federal Trade Commission joined in the action as indicated in their release below.

    FTC Joins Amicus Brief Opposing Federal Court Finding On Consumers' Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

    The Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a joint amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting consumers' ability to protect their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by suing debt collectors.
    The amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to overturn a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  In this case, a consumer, Olivea Marx, sued a debt collector, General Revenue Corporation, that had contacted her employer to obtain information about her employment status.  Marx believed that the debt collector’s conduct had violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but she lost the case.  The Tenth Circuit ruled that Marx was responsible for paying more than $4,500 to cover the debt collector’s litigation costs, even though she had brought the case in good faith.
    The amicus brief argues that the Tenth Circuit’s decision was inconsistent with the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which specifies that consumers who win lawsuits against debt collectors may recover their litigation costs from the defendants, but that consumers who lose these cases must pay defendants’ litigation costs only if the consumers sued in bad faith or for purposes of harassment.  The amicus brief also argues that these provisions of the Act advance Congress’ intent to help consumers deter abusive debt collection practices by bringing private enforcement actions in good faith.  By contrast, the Tenth Circuit’s ruling would create a disincentive to the prosecution of private enforcement actions, the brief states.  
    Bruce Hulme
    ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
    Your Proactive Voice from State Capitols to the Nation's Capitol
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