For over a year, The Colorado Securities Commissioner Gerald Rome has been hiding the truth.
Enough is Enough.
Dolcefino Consulting has filed a lawsuit in Denver accusing Commissioner Rome of breaking Colorado open records laws and providing false information about his true success in protecting victims of fraud. We have been investigating the Rome record for over a year. In 2014, Rome bragged to taxpayers about how successful he was in collecting monies owed to taxpayers and victims by some of Colorado’s biggest fraudsters.
Talk is cheap. The truth is a lot uglier.
Since 2011, official records of the Colorado Securities Division show a truly dismal collection rate from fraud cases. 122 million dollars owed to the people of Colorado. A little more than 3 million dollars collected. What’s worse, our investigation has uncovered a bureaucratic nightmare, a systematic failure to properly collect from the crooks.
Rome now claims his office has never even communicated with the Colorado Collections Services – the state’s private collections agency – on any of the cases he prosecuted. Not one.
Rome doesn’t even count what the separate county collections agencies are doing. In fact, based on the few records we have seen, he doesn’t even keep up with their efforts. During review of courthouse records in early May, we asked Jefferson, Boulder, and Denver counties for the balances on several high-dollar fraud cases. We have learned the few documents Rome’s office provided are wrong, but there is one constant. Court collection officers say they aren’t receiving information from the Securities Division that could help find where the money is buried.
In Denver District Court alone, we examined the high-dollar fraud cases of Michael Marshall, Gregory Russell, Sean Michael Mueller, and Michael Mendenhall. Together those four defendants alone owe Colorado taxpayers $90 Million Dollars.
You know how much money has been collected of that ninety million dollars? Ten thousand dollars. Two cases in Boulder revealed the same pattern. Millions owed, pennies collected, in part because no one seems to be sharing information with anyone else.
“The taxpayers of Colorado deserve to know about this systematic failure to get the people the money they were promised,” says Dolcefino. “What makes this worse is that Rome refuses to provide evidence he even bothered to look for the records he now claims he doesn’t have.”
Dolcefino Consulting filed a request in February 2018 asking for documents showing any attempts the division made to communicate with the Colorado Collections Agency. It took the division five hours to respond and say they had nothing to show us, not a single e-mail. What kind of government agency-wide research can YOU get done in five hours? Exactly.
In response to a similar request last August, the division denied us public records unless Dolcefino Consulting identified who we were asking for. We believe that is a violation of the public right to know. It just doesn’t cut the legal mustard to tell a citizen “who wants to know?” You’d think Commissioner Gerald Rome, who used to be First Assistant Attorney General, would know that.
“We look forward to our day in court,” says Dolcefino. “The Colorado legislature should be asking some tough questions too. What’s the point of spending millions of dollars chasing fraudsters, bragging that you won all this money, and then never caring if a dime is collected?Colorado Complaint
Several employees of Cypress Creek EMS have now testified before a federal grand jury probing the ambulance “charity” that provides 911 service for 600,000 people in northwest Harris County.
You would think the investigation into possible fraud would have the elected members of ESD#11 demanding answers. They were elected to protect your 911 tax money.
Instead your watchdogs are fighting the release of federal grand jury subpoenas that will tell taxpayers what the feds have been investigating for two years.
Cypress Creek EMS started as a volunteer service but is now one of the swollen bureaucracies of fire and ems services spread across Harris County. CCEMS alone has a budget of over 20 million dollars.
News of this major development in the two year-long federal investigation follows another sex harassment scandal involving, CCEMS executive director, Brad England and comes just weeks before two incumbents on the ESD board, Fred Grundemeyer and Josh Fetner, seek re-election.
In the last two years the ESD board has sat silent while CCEMS has refused to tell taxpayers who is on their payroll or justify questionable overtime.
CCEMS has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills, mostly fighting our attempts to get financial records, records the ESD commissioners apparently don’t care to see. CCEMS is facing trial on criminal charges of withholding charity records from the public.
Our investigation began with discoveries regarding the CCEMS boss was running up huge tabs with ambulance billing money at an expensive steakhouse. ESD#11 taxpayers currently pay more than nine million dollars in taxes to help subsidize the 911 service. CCEMS is actually allowed to collect all the insurance payments for the government 911 service and keep it all. Then they hit taxpayers up for the rest of what they want.
“Instead of protecting taxpayers, the majority of the ESD#11 board took a pledge of allegiance never to replace CCEMS with another company. Really? The feds have the tape,” says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting.
“They have attacked us for daring to ask to see the records, instead of worrying what they will show. Any public official who takes a pledge to a contractor should be thrown out of office.“
ESD#11 has asked the Texas attorney general to now hide the contents of their grand jury subpoenas, even though the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI don’t object to their release. We do know, ESD commissioner campaign records are among the documents handed over after evidence surfaced that CCEMS’ employees helped run the campaigns of three ESD board members who are elected to police CCEMS.
“If that isn’t the fox guarding the henhouse, I am not sure what you call it. Some of the ESD members used to be on the CCEMS board and now police their buddies. Insane,” says Dolcefino.
“If Harris County commissioners want to find money to pay for needed flood control, they should start by dismantling these little empires that sprang up from good intentions,” says Dolcefino. “we have one sheriff’s department, but I bet no one has a clue just how many, so called “volunteer” fire departments and ambulance services we have. Makes for one hell of a lot of chiefs doesn’t it?”
The election for two new ESD commissioners who police Cypress Creek ems is just a few weeks away. For information on polling locations go to the ESD#11 website. In the last election, less than 1 percent of voters showed up.
You get what you vote for folks.
While you are on the website, look at the public agenda and minutes. See if they even ask about the investigations in their public meetings, or if they demand answers and if they tell you what the government is investigating, regardless of the outcome.
At the last ESD#11 meeting the commissioners did talk about the PR firm they have now hired to help them combat bad publicity, to tell the truth they say.
To save you money, dolcefino consulting offered to conduct an unedited interview with ESD#11 president, Tommy Ripley. We would put a copy on dolcefino.com and we would give them a copy. Wouldn’t charge them a dime of your money.
So far crickets. And I’ll do one better. I will open the offer to Josh Fetner and Fred Grundemeyer too. All of you. Let’s have a roundtable broadcast live on Facebook for all the folks to watch.
They will make it hard for a lot of you to protect your money. The election day is different than the runoffs, and a few hundred thousand folks will have to go to a fire station to vote on that, and then another place to vote on 911 officials.
“They like it when you stay home,” says Dolcefino. “I say don’t vote if you like paying all those taxes.”
There is no crime at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. None. Nada.
Do you really believe that?
They say numbers don’t lie. But these numbers may be the latest mystery uncovered in a Dolcefino Consulting investigation into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Rodeo is now fighting a civil lawsuit stemming from a rape at a Los Vaqueros Trail Ride event. Houston lawyer Chad Pinkerton wants to know what the rodeo knew and when they knew it.
We were asked to investigate, and using the Texas Public Information Act, we wanted to see if any sex crimes unfolded at this year’s Rodeo…
We didn’t just ask for that. We asked the Houston Police, Harris County Sheriff and the Precinct One Constable to give us any reports, or any incident crime or arrests during the 23-day rodeo at NRG Stadium.
We expected hundreds of reports, after all people drink, sometimes they fight, and lots of cars make appetizing theft targets. Even a purse snatching. Anything.
Now for the mystery. You know how many law enforcement incident reports we got?
Zero. Not a single report of crime in the NRG complex.
“Guess it could be testimony to Texans holding their liquor, but 2.5 million people go to the Rodeo, and there’s nothing,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting, “We’ve got a real mystery on our hands.”
We even looked for tickets written for misdemeanor crimes, and we got the records.
It is zero again. Not a single ticket shows up.
It’s why we asked the Rodeo under state charity laws for financial records to see if any top Houston law enforcement officials are on their payroll. After all, maybe they can talk about the web of security that allows 2.5 million people to go an event without a single incident of crime.
That’s a crime fighting strategy the rodeo should sell all over the nation.
But do you believe it’s true? The latest mystery of the rodeo…
Jerry Rome has been Colorado Securities Commissioner for nearly four years. The self-proclaimed consumer watchdog boasts of huge court victories exposing fraud, telling Colorado taxpayers they have been rewarded with tens of millions of dollars.
Now there’s a startling confession.
Mr. Rome doesn’t lift a finger to ever collect the money.
The admission came after Dolcefino Consulting requested documents detailing any efforts by Colorado regulators to collect nearly $40 million in civil judgements and restitution awards.
Within five work hours, Colorado admitted there aren’t any.
Last week, Dolcefino Consulting put Rome on notice. Cough up any public records you are hiding in the next 14 days or face a legal challenge.
“Either Mr. Rome is intentionally hiding public records, or he should apologize to taxpayers for grossly misrepresenting the success of his agency,” says Wayne Dolcefino, president of the Houston based investigative communications firm.
The securities division won a recent court judgement against Heartland Energy, even though the alleged fraud occurred 16 years ago. One of the principals in the legal fight is Joel Kinlaw.
Dead men don’t pay judgements. Kinlaw has been dead for seven years.
In October of 2015, there was a $10 million dollar judgement against John Koral, of a company called U.S. Capitol. Records show not a penny has been collected. The company had filed bankruptcy five years before the judgement.
A 2011 case resulted in an $11 million restitution award for the securities division against Dharma Investment Group co-owner, Bela Geczy. Geczy, was sentenced to eight years in prison. Colorado admits no effort has been made to collect a penny.
A 2011 case resulted in a $74 million restitution award for the securities division against Denver hedge fund manager, Sean Mueller. Records released by the securities division show no money has been collected on that award either. Mueller, will be in prison for more than two decades.
Dolcefino Consulting has already proven less than 3 percent of those promised taxpayer gold mines have ever materialized.
There are growing calls tonight for Harris County Family Court Judge James Lombardino to step aside from some of the biggest divorce cases pending in his court.
An investigation by Dolcefino Consulting, that is being released on social media, reveals that the veteran Judge of the 308 th District Court has failed to disclose a serious conflict of interest
with powerful Houston divorce lawyer, Bobby King Newman.
Newman has more than a dozen active divorce cases pending in front of Lombardino, some involving the custody of children. Court documents obtained by the Houston based investigative communications firm also that show the high-price divorce attorney is representing Judge Lombardino’s son David, in his contentious divorce and custody battle.
On the eve of our our broadcasts, at least two Houston attorneys have formally asked Lombardino to recuse himself from divorce cases pending in his court.
In his request for Lombardino’s recusal, Houston attorney Don Robinowitz wrote “Is it worth the risk to the judiciary to have its legitimacy questioned and suffer a loss of public confidence?”
Robinowitz also cited a Texas law which requires that a judge rescue himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality may be reasonably questioned.
“Judge Lombardino had a duty to tell the mothers and fathers battling in his courtroom that Newman represents his son. Period,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
“People are fighting for their lives, fighting over their children. This is not a close call. Dozens of family cases in the Judge’s court are now tainted by bad judgement.”
Karen Avery’s attorney has also asked Lombardino to rescue himself from her case.
Avery believes rulings in her divorce case have been different since Bobby Newman began representing her soon-to- be-ex- husband in Lombardino’s court. She now wants an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Commission.
“It was just like we were stonewalled. My attorney and I were stonewalled, and we couldn’t get anything in Judge Lombardino’s court after Bobby Newman was hired,” says Avery.
Dolcefino Consulting has been hired by other victims of Family Injustice in recent months to investigate and expose conflicts of interest and possible abuses of power in the Harris County
Family Court system – a system long plagued by questions of proper ethics. The Houston based investigative communications firm has also been examining possible misconduct in the billing practices of some of Houston’s biggest divorce lawyers.
As part of our investigation, Dolcefino Consulting has also been reviewing campaign records. It is no secret that family lawyers provide most of the money for family court judges. Attorney
Newman, his family and his firm, have donated more than $100,00 to various judges.
However, Judge Lombardino is the biggest recipient of the Newman campaign cash. Newman has also hosted campaign events for the Judge.
Neither Bobby Newman, Judge Lombardino nor his son David Lombardino have responded to our requests for comment. Dolcefino Consulting has asked for invoices and evidence of payment to see if Newman has discounted his fees or provided free legal service to the Lombardino family.
“Judge Lombardino now has an ethical obligation to release these records,” says Dolcefino. “Bobby Newman charges $600.00 per hour. The public deserves to know if the Judge’s son is getting a special deal, and what that means for justice in Lombardino’s court.”
Dolcefino Consulting has been hired by a growing number of victims of family injustice who are filing complaints with the State Bar of Texas and the Judicial Conduct Commission.
Dolcefino Consulting is expanding our social media footprint, hiring an Associate Producer of Media Content to manage the production of significant video content on the web.
Ideal candidate must have:
– Experience in a television newsroom environment as a Producer or Associate Producer.
– The ability to assist in the editing of videos and creatively produce video and news release content for
– Aggressive and Creative writing skills
– Ability to work independently in a fast-paced environment
– Guts and Discretion
Dolcefino Consulting investigates, communicates and advocates for our clients, exposing public and private corruption. The firm works to assist other news organizations, but also creates our own media content.
Dolcefino Consulting provides crisis management, litigation support, opposition research and political consulting services. This is a war-time firm. The President of Dolcefino Consulting is Wayne Dolcefino, a 30-time Emmy Award Winning Investigative Journalists, honored by the Investigative Reporters and Editors Organization.
Dolcefino Consulting offers a 401K plan and contributes to health insurance coverage for employees.
If you are interested in joining our growing team, please send a resume, writing and social media samples to Lori@dolcefino.com.
Expensive secrets. Why?
Why are Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten, and Patricia Murphy, the Presiding Judge of all the Ventura County Superior Courts fighting the search for the whole truth about the cost of a decades old court case?
“It’s time California taxpayers start asking some real tough questions,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of the Houston based investigative communications firm Dolcefino Consulting. Dolcefino is a long time investigative journalist who has exposed public corruption in dozens of cases. “Both the Judge and the District Attorney have some explaining to do.”
Dolcefino Consulting has been investigating how much California taxpayer money has been spent in the last few years fighting to keep secrets about a 28-year old misdemeanor court case. You have probably never even heard of it.
Now you will.
Sean Mireskandari was one of England’s most powerful lawyers and was investigating public corruption in London when his trouble started. The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA), the English version of our state bar, took away his license, in part because they claimed Mireskandari was a convicted criminal based on a 28-year old fraud case suddenly unearthed in Ventura County, California.
But what really happened?
Mireskandari called the investigation by the SRA in England a hit job, even accusing English investigators of perjured testimony. A criminal complaint was filed here in Houston. There’s even harsher criticism for the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, allegations they falsified the true results of the case. Mireskandari says he simply admitted not properly registering a company, hardly a reason to take away his law license.
Mireskandari has accused members of the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office of accepting payoffs from England to help frame him. There is a big fight over whether the Ventura County court records are even real. Mireskandari has spent over a million dollars in the legal fight to prove he was framed.
“If there’s nothing to see here, why is the District Attorney’s Office playing so many games to keep records on this case a secret. We have been fighting with Ventura County for months. Why? Makes you real curious,” says Dolcefino.
Ventura County has spent an awful lot of California taxpayer money fighting to keep the whole Mireskandari story a secret, fighting our requests for public records, withholding important e-mails. Why fight, if there are no secrets?
One of the mysteries in the Mireskandari case is the old court record itself. Mireskandari hired top investigators to try to find it. They couldn’t. It was gone. Suddenly, more than a year later, those key court documents reappeared, supposedly found by a veteran Ventura County prosecutor by the name of Linda Groberg.
When did the old court records turn up? Right as Groberg was being forced to give sworn testimony in the lawsuit. There are accusations the new court record was a fake.
Those are serious charges.
Ventura County District Attorney Gregg Totten says he’s tough on corruption in his own office, but when we asked to see the records of the internal investigation in this case, we got nothing. Why wouldn’t the DA order a probe to get to the bottom of the charges?
To prove the court record was a fake, Mireskandari filed suit against the Ventura County Superior Court Clerk. That federal case has lasted for years and Ventura County brought in two big California law firms, Jones & Day and Cummings, McClorey, Davis and Acho, P.LC., to defend them.
So where are those bills? Just how much California tax money has been spent in this fight? We asked the law firms. We asked the courts. We asked the District Attorney. We asked the Presiding Judge.
All we got is a rather nasty letter from the Court Executive Officer, Michael Planet, telling us that the court “does not have any judicial administrative records responsive to your requests.”
“You’d think we were asking for state secrets,” says Dolcefino. Where are the bills? Did the law firms do it free? They really are simple questions. Taxpayers have a right to know. Period.”
The legal bills from the federal case may be a secret, but we do know Ventura County taxpayers already spent $74,000 dollars paying outside law firms to represent District Attorney Greg Totten’s office in this curious case. County attorneys also spent years on the case.
We asked to speak to Totten about the corruption charges leveled against his office and the growing cost of this decades old court case. His deputy told us no. The District Attorney has so far refused to even talk with us.
“Wouldn’t you think the District Attorney would want to clear the air on this case if there is nothing to see here,” asks Dolcefino? “They aren’t. They are fighting us big time. In my world that’s a big red flag.”
A funny thing happens when you look deeper into the high-stakes Menger Divorce Case playing out in Houston. There are new questions about possible pay to play politics in the Harris County family
In these big divorce cases it is usually about the children and the money. One of the largest assets in the Menger case before Judge Lisa Millard is the company Petro-Valve, Inc., a multi-million- dollar valve supply company in the oil and gas industry. In early 2016, Marek Menger was ousted as the company’s president and replaced by his soon-to- be ex-wife, Sherry Menger.
The ouster came after charges of reckless spending by Marek Menger while he was boss, driving the company into financial trouble as he continued to spend his self-proclaimed fun money while living in Cabo San Lucas and took lavish trips. Since Sherry has run the company, it has returned to profit and the ability to expand.
That wasn’t enough good news to keep Judge Millard from appointing a receiver to oversee all of the couple’s companies. If Petro-Valve, Inc. was profitable and poised to remain so, why did Judge Lisa Millard appoint a receiver to oversee, not only Petro-Valve, but the couple’s other three companies? That sends a message that could threaten the business operations and scare customers away.
It gets more curious.
Millard appointed Houston based forensic accountant, William Stewart Jr. to act as the receiver in the Menger divorce. Just six weeks later, Stewart was already out of the case. For just those six weeks, Stewart’s billed more than $50,000. Millard told the Mengers they could challenge the cost, if they want to spend more money on legal fees.
Why would a judge appoint a receiver to manage a profitable company? Why so little oversight of the bills?
Stewart is a frequent donor to Judge Millard’s campaign. More than $6,000 since 2005.
We already told you another court payment went to Jeffrey Uzick, appointed by Millard as a master in the case to oversee evidence. Uzick and his law firm are an even bigger contributor to Millard, $21,000 over the same period.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but next time you go family court, you might want to look at the judge’s campaign records first.
A funny thing happens when you start investigating the folks who get appointed in Harris County Family court cases. They seem to give a lot of campaign money to the Judges who appoint them.
Let’s look at the controversial Menger divorce case in Judge Lisa Millard’s court. Menger was ousted as CEO of the Houston Based Petro Valve company. Millard appointed attorney Jeffrey Uzick to serve as a discovery master and special master in the Menger divorce. In Texas, masters can resolve disputes instead of the Judge.
Before Millard was elected , Uzick had represented clients in the court only eight times in eleven years during In the twenty-two years Millard has been sitting on the bench in the 310 th District Court, Uzick has appeared in a case before the 310 th approximately 194 times.
Maybe it is just a coincidence, or the search for good justice, but Uzick and his law firm have been one of Judge Millard’s biggest political contributors. Since 2005 Uzick and his law firm
have donated $21,000 to Judge Millard’s campaigns.
Uzick saw no connection and reason to even comment. No surprise there. Judge Millard didn’t return phone calls for comment either.
Here is a piece of great non-lawyer advice. Next time you go court, take a look at the campaign records of the Judge. See how much the lawyers on the other side of the case have given.’’
There is a growing number of complaints to the State Bar of Texas these days in high stakes, big money Houston divorce cases. Lots of folks complaining about lawyer and Judge misconduct.
The latest may be in the contentious divorce between Sherry and Marek Menger. Marek Menger was forced out as President of the company Petro-Valve Inc., on allegations he was treating the company as his “personal piggy” bank.
Sherry Menger has now filed grievances with the State Bar of Texas against two of her husband’s divorce lawyers, Michael Bynane and Carlos Ryerson. The lawyers have colorful pasts. Bynane has been named in a bulletin called Fraud Alerts International. Ryerson got in trouble for allegedly misusing charity funds.
Dolcefino Consulting has an ongoing investigation into the Harris County Family Court System, lawyers, judges, and the money being made on ugly divorce cases and child custody cases.
We continue to ask for folks who think they have an outrageous legal bill in family court to send them to Dolcefino Consulting.