Outgoing Colorado Securities Commissioner Gerald Rome will be in a Denver courtroom Monday, December 17th, facing a lawsuit by the Houston-based investigative media firm Dolcefino Consulting.
Dolcefino Consulting filed the lawsuit after Rome and Colorado government lawyers refused to release records detailing the dismal effort to collect money for fraud victims, until we told them who we were asking on behalf of. We refused because the law protects requests under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Our investigation involved no active cases, just old ones, but it would eventually prove Rome’s office misled Colorado taxpayers on the success of the Securities Division’s efforts.
Rome had bragged about successful efforts to collect money for fraud victims, but the records we fought for more than a year to get confirmed less than three percent of defrauded money was ever returned.
“The conduct of Gerald Rome and his protectors at the Colorado Attorney General’s office has been arrogant and deceptive, and what happens in court is extremely important to Coloradans’ right to know,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
The show cause hearing will be held in the District courtroom of Judge Martin Egelhoff.
“We hope to prove in court that records are destroyed, and that in some cases Rome and his AG friends denied records existed when they didn’t even bother to look for them. Most importantly we will ask the judge to send a message that the public right to know cannot be tampered with,” says Dolcefino.
Following the court hearing, Wayne Dolcefino and his attorneys will be available to reporters. Dolcefino Consulting is represented by Dallas attorneys Michael Hurst and Julie Pettit.
His long-time legal partner Barry Barnes stands to make millions on the contract as a disadvantaged business.
When City Council voted for the contract on November 7th, Barnes’s law firm’s share had swollen to 6.7 million dollars. Just two months earlier it was only 2.7 million.
The big question from taxpayers should be why? After months of reviewing how much it would cost to help hurricane victims, why did the numbers change so much?
And to add to the confusion, the contract posted on the City of Houston Affirmative Action database currently shows Barry Barnes & Associates making only 3.5 million dollars.
The city needs to get their numbers straight. The Mayor needs to stop the secrecy games.
It’s just the latest in the Mayor’s wholesale efforts to hide controversial city hall deals.
The City of Houston has ignored a judge’s order to produce records on the smelly recycling contract. Records obtained by Dolcefino Consulting show Turner is using his personal cell phone to conduct city business, not the one provided by taxpayers. We have already busted Sly for using his old law firm email to conduct city business to hide the details from the public.
And now it’s the housing deal.
Dolcefino Consulting sent a formal request for all the city staff’s emails relating to the contract, including the sudden increase in Barry Barnes’s cut.
The City of Houston wants to keep the documents secret. Surprise, surprise.
Why is the city afraid to let everyone see how their money is being spent?
Should police be able to hide body camera footage from the public? Apparently, the Friendswood Police Department thinks they can.
Dolcefino Consulting has now taken legal action against the Friendswood Police Department as part of an investigation into possible civil rights violations against a 78-year-old grandfather.
On July 31, 2018, four Friendswood police officers raided a home, handcuffed the elderly grandfather and seized two children caught up in a nasty Galveston County divorce case.
The father who directed the police action is Houston police officer Allan Comstock who lives in Friendswood. Just minutes after his call to dispatch, police stormed the house. Comstock was driving his Houston police car at the scene.
Was this preferential treatment? Did Friendswood Police even have a court order to get the kids?
“You have a Houston Police Department officer who, it looks like, was using the Friendswood Police Department for his own personal gain and instructing them what he wanted to do,” says Jeff Diamant, the attorney for Dolcefino Consulting.
In August, Dolcefino Consulting filed a request under the Texas Public Information Act to see the body camera video and dispatch audio from the incident. Friendswood Police said no, even though the video is not confidential under state law. The reason: no one was arrested that night.
“The Police Department does not get to engage in possible unlawful conduct, then use the Texas Public Information Act as a shield from providing certain pieces of information by saying we didn’t arrest anybody,” says Diamant.
“In order to properly investigate this incident for possible civil rights violations and other civil or criminal acts and to highlight this secrecy, Dolcefino Consulting is now asking the 55th State District Court to let us examine the evidence,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
The Comstock divorce case has been playing out in Galveston Courts. The judge in the divorce case had ordered Mindy Comstock in contempt for not turning over the kids for their allotted time with dad, but there was no court order to send police to get them. Friendswood Police did it anyway.
During the raid at the Comstock home, the officers handcuffed a very confused Joseph Manley, a 78-year-old grandfather with a heart condition, vision and hearing problems and detained him while they went upstairs with flashlights at nearly 11:00 PM to get the sleeping teenagers out of bed.
Manley claims he was falsely detained and manhandled by the officers but was never charged with any crime.
The legal action by Dolcefino Consulting questions whether officers of the Friendswood Police Department aided and abetted Allan Comstock in unlawfully taking his kids away from his wife.
The real goal of the petition is to find all the evidence of what really happened that night.
“We have asked for the body camera footage from that night multiple times, and each time the Friendswood police have refused,” says Wayne Dolcefino. “If they wanted transparency, they would have simply turned it over. The body cameras are paid for by Friendswood taxpayers. Period.”
Dolcefino Consulting will update the legal action on dolcefino.com and Dolcefino Consulting’s page on Facebook.
A Houston federal Judge has handed down a staggering punishment to a Houston Real Estate Developer.
The lesson for Houston’s real estate community. Don’t rip off ideas.
Houston Real Estate Developer Vinod Ramani and his company Urban Living were found liable for ripping off a competitor’s copyrighted material thousands of times.
Ramani and his company, Urban Living, were given a stunning court judgment of $28,790,000 today by Judge David Hittner.
Ramani and his company have to pay all of that huge punishment to Preston Wood and Associates, the Houston residential design firm he stole from. And they have to pay 2.67 percent interest too.
The jury in the case found that Ramani had violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a complex law that keeps people from taking your ideas and making money with them.
Ramani and Urban Living broke this law more than 11,500 times, and the real estate community has been waiting to see how much money he would have to hand over.
The punishment for each violation ranged from $2,500 to $25,000.
Maybe Ramani got off easy.
Ramani could have been smacked with damages as high as $280 million. It will still be devastating for Ramani’s future.
Ramani tried to claim that he should only be fined in the thousands. The court didn’t agree to that slap on the wrist and held him fully accountable.
Urban Living had claimed they owned the rights to many architectural works used in projects around Houston. The court decided otherwise. The rights belonged to Preston Wood and Associates.
This court judgment is sure to rock the Houston real estate community. No word yet if Ramani plans to appeal.
We often ask our government to protect us from stuff. Take the Texas Radiation Control Board, they make sure we don’t get more radiation than we’re supposed to get when we go to the dentist.
But you now government, give them an inch and they take a mile.
Texas dentists have been sounding the alarm about the state x-ray inspectors. They used to make an appointment, but now they have started showing up unannounced. How would you like to be stuck in the dentist’s chair in the middle of a root canal when that happens?
When dentists complain they get fined. A Magnolia Doctor Eric Sanders told inspectors to come back when he wasn’t busy and got a $4,000 fine. Now the State is going after a supposed conspiracy to interfere with their work.
The Department of State Health Services claims a radiation equipment inspection company called RSI told dental clients not to admit inspectors into their clinics when the inspectors showed up unannounced. DSHS is trying to fine RSI with a $20,000 administrative fine!
On Wednesday, November 7 th , there will be a showdown in Austin, a formal hearing before a Texas Administrative law judge.
We expect a roomful of dentists will show up because they have had enough and are fighting back. They say they are fed up with inspectors showing up at their office anytime they feel like, regardless if the dentist has a waiting room full of patients or not. Why don’t these inspectors have rules and procedures they are supposed to be following when “scheduling” these inspections. Or do they and are just ignoring it?
And what’s all the fuss about dental x-ray machines?
Dolcefino Consulting can’t find a single case where any Texas dental patient has been exposed to more dental x-ray radiation than they are supposed to be.
“You get more radiation at the airport on a trip from Houston to New York,” says Dr. Eric Sanders.
“I thought this was Texas where we don’t like wasteful government regulation,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Is this about safety or is this about money.”
The Radiation Control Board budget was $9 million dollars this year. In the last year the State has collected over $600 thousand dollars in fines, virtually all of it for paperwork stuff.
We will be in Austin Wednesday to see what happens. If you must reschedule an appointment because your dentist got parlayed by unannounced inspections, can you send a bill to the State of Texas?
Didn’t think so.
A big hearing in Houston federal court Monday October 22nd for Houston real estate developer Vinod Ramani, the Chief Executive of Urban Living.
A jury found Ramani guilty of taking someone else’s ideas and making money off them. In the legal world, that’s called copyright infringement and violations of the digital millennium copyright act (DMCA).
It would be hard to call what happened an accident. The jury found Ramani had violated the “dmca” more than 11,500 times, and Monday’s hearing will determine how big of a check Ramani has to write.
The punishment for each violation ranges from $2,500 to $25,000. Do the math.
Ramani could be hit with damages that could be as high as $280 million.
Houston residential design firm Preston Woods and Associates sued Urban Living and Ramani.
Urban Living had claimed they owned the rights to many architectural works used in projects around Houston. Turns out they didn’t. The rights belonged to Preston Woods and Associates.
Stay tuned. The judgement could send shock waves through the Houston real estate world.
Taking other people’s stuff and claiming it’s your own is wrong.
Let’s see if the judge will stay true to what the jury wants and hold Ramani responsible for all the counts.
An angry mob shouted expletives, ripped up signs, and threatened a handful of students holding a rally in support of Judge Cavanaugh on the University of Texas campus. Videos of the event have gone viral on the internet.
It is time for the University of Texas administration to take action to protect the right of all students to peacefully assemble. If they don’t, the legislature should.
“This is not Berkeley. This is Texas. The University of Texas Regents are appointed by the Governor. Texas taxpayers pay for a lot of this. The University administration should follow one rule. Professors can think and say what they want, but they must teach these kids that we can debate our differences without acting like a bunch of idiots, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting, a Houston based Investigative Communications Firm. “They call it the First Amendment for a Reason.”
Dolcefino’s son, Anthony, is Vice Chairman of the Young Conservatives Campus Organization, one of the students threatened by Tuesday’s mob.
“Like millions of other Americans, I watched the UT Police stand there while my son and others were threatened, simply for calmly speaking their mind and trying to inspire debate. That is what college campuses are for. Mob Rule is not,” says Dolcefino. “These are Universities owned by the People of Texas. We need to start running them like that.”
Dolcefino called on Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick to speak out on the growing suppression on the Austin campus.
“Just last week I expressed concern that UT is allowing the dangerous Autonomous Student Network to meet on the campus of a State University. Organizations that threaten our kids, liberal or conservative, must be banned from public property,” says Dolcefino.
The cops are always telling us Houston is the human trafficking capitol of the country. So how do we explain this?
A Dolcefino Consulting Investigation shows the Houston Vice Division Human Trafficking Unit hasn’t made one single arrest for the crime of trafficking persons that stuck.
The shocking discovery raises all kinds of questions, including whether the Police Department is wisely using all those millions of extra dollars it is getting from the topless bars…
Five years ago, city and county officials formed a “treaty” with 16 sex clubs. The clubs pay $50K a year plus some of its liquor sales back to the city. In exchange, the cops assume the clubs are behaving and don’t show up as much. To make this deal sound less like a protection racket, the city said fees would go to fight sex trafficking in Houston.
We know the city has collected a whopping $5.4 million dollars! So, you figure the city has a plenty of cash to fight sex trafficking and to take those thugs off the street, right?
“In five years, the Human Trafficking cops arrested 192 people, nearly half were what we call “Johns”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
These are guys looking for sex, not human traffickers looking to enslave the local prostitutes.”
Here’s another question. Why do the topless bars have to pay in money to battle human trafficking? The Harris County District Attorney says none of the convictions for human trafficking had a thing to do with a topless bar.
Don’t you feel safer?
If you want to know if the lawyer trying to take away your kids in a custody case is a friend of the Judge you need to look at campaign contributions.
The newest reports are now available in our Family Injustice investigation.
We took a closer look at the campaign pay of Judge James Lombardino, under growing fire for family injustice cases.
Lombardino raised nearly $ 50,000 dollars in just six months, a lot of it coming from a fundraiser Dolcefino Consulting secretly filmed at the fancy steakhouse Mastros in Uptown.
The fundraiser was thrown by Jared Woodfill, the former Republican Party Chairman, who practices in Lombardino’s court. Woodfill’s clients have complained about Lombardino and may wonder why their lawyer is trying to get the controversial Judge re-elected anyway.
Lombardino stands apart from most of his peers in the amount of in-kind contributions he’s received, namely fundraisers by family lawyers practicing in his court.
Bobby King Newman has been one of Lombardino’s top donors over the years, giving him tens of thousands of dollars and appearing in many cases in the 308th family court. The relationship has prompted lots of complaints, even among lawyers.
Bobby Newman didn’t donate a single cent this period, but his partner did.
“The latest filings make it clear once again this system of electing Family Court Judges is inherently corrupt”, says Wayne Dolcefino President of Dolcefino Consulting.
“When you are fighting for your child, you shouldn’t have to worry if the Judge owes a favor to the lawyer on the other side, period.”
You should see who is paying the Judge in your divorce or child custody case. It shouldn’t matter, but our investigation shows it does. It might even explain why you are losing.
The new records can be viewed on our Harris County Judge page.