Lance Armstrong Settles Bonus Claims With Promoter

September 28, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Lance Armstrong settled his decade-long Tour de France bonus dispute with a Dallas insurer and apologized for his “past misconduct.”
Litigation between Armstrong and SCA Promotions began in 2004 when Armstrong and his management company, Tailwind Sports, sued SCA in Dallas County Court for refusing to pay him a $5 million bonus for winning the Tour in 2003. SCA suspected he had doped.
The dispute went to arbitration in 2005 and Armstrong won. SCA paid Armstrong $7.5 million in 2006.
Six years later, SCA sued Armstrong, his agent William Stapleton and Tailwind, after the Union Cycliste International stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories and banned him from the sport for life, citing the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s “reasoned decision” accusing him of running the most sophisticated doping program in sports history.
Armstrong confirmed the accusations in January 2013 in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. The interview featured excerpts from sworn testimony Armstrong gave during his lawsuit against SCA, implying he had lied under oath.
A second arbitration panel in February slapped Armstrong with $10 million in sanctions in SCA’s lawsuit because “perjury must never be profitable,” and condemned him for “almost certainly” carrying out “the most devious sustained deception ever perpetrated in world sporting history.”
A hearing before Texas state Judge Tonya Parker was set and canceled several times this summer for SCA’s attempt to confirm the arbitration panel’s award.
SCA’s attorney Jeff Tillotson, with Lynn Tillotson in Dallas, said Sunday that the company had agreed to settle with Armstrong.
“While the terms of the settlement are confidential, SCA can say that the agreement was mutually acceptable to both parties,” Tillotson said in a statement. “SCA is pleased to have this matter finally resolved and beyond this statement, SCA has no further comment.”
Armstrong said the settlement is “mutually acceptable” to both parties.
“I am pleased to have this matter behind me, and I look forward to moving on,” Armstrong said in a statement. “I do wish to personally apologize to SCA and its CEO, Bob Hamman, for any past misconduct on my part in connection with our dispute and the resulting arbitration.”
The settlement comes two years after Armstrong settled a similar claim by Acceptance Insurance in Travis County Court. Acceptance had paid Armstrong $3 million in race bonuses.
Armstrong still faces a $100 million False Claims Act lawsuit filed by his former teammate Floyd Landis.
The United States joined the lawsuit in April 2013, months after Armstrong’s lifetime ban was handed down. The U.S. Postal Service sponsored Tailwind’s team from 1996 to 2004, during which Armstrong won six consecutive Tours. The Postal Service paid $31 million in sponsorship fees from 2001 to 2004.
Landis claims defendant and former U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team manager Johan Bruyneel knew team members were using banned drugs and that Armstrong and defendant Tailwind Sports, among others, knowingly flouted USPS sponsorship agreements signed in 1995 and 2000. Landis could receive up to 30 percent of any recovery as a whistleblower.

From Courthouse News.

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Family of Unarmed Mexican Sues Grapevine For Shooting Death

September 25, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – The widow and children of an unarmed Mexican immigrant who was shot to death during a traffic stop sued the Dallas suburb of Grapevine and the police officer who killed their husband and father.
The family of Ruben Garcia-Villalpando sued Grapevine, Police Chief Eddie Salame and Officer Robert W. Clark on Wednesday in Federal Court.
Garcia’s widow, Martha Anjelica Romero, says her husband “was unarmed at the time of the shooting and had his hands in the air” when Clark killed him on the shoulder of a state highway in nearby Euless.
“Plaintiffs will further show that Officer Clark and the other officers present at the scene failed to provide Mr. Villalpando with adequate medical care for his gunshot wounds,” the 9-page complaint states.
“Additionally, plaintiffs will show that defendants Eddie Salame and the City of Grapevine hired Officer Clark with full knowledge of Officer Clark’s employment history and record of infractions which put them on actual notice of Officer Clark’s incompetence as a law enforcement officer.”
Romero and her two young children and her late husbands parents say Garcia “posed no threat of serious physical harm” to Clark, whose use of deadly force was “totally unjustified.”
Police said Clark followed Garcia’s vehicle while investigating a burglar alarm.
Tarrant County’s refusal to prosecute Clark in May sparked protests in Texas and Mexico, coming in the midst of a national debate over police brutality, racial profiling and failure to prosecute police.
The Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas expressed anger that Grapevine officials had not notified it of the death of a Mexican citizen. The consulate issued a statement at the time criticizing Clark for “disproportionate use of lethal force” that “erodes the trust that should exist between the authorities and the communities in which they operate.”
After a Tarrant County grand jury declined to charge Clark in May, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson released a dashcam video of the shooting .
It shows Garcia with his hands on his head after he leaves his vehicle. He ignores Clark’s repeated shouts to stay near the back of his vehicle and slowly walks toward the police officer.
Garcia purportedly asks Clark if he is going to kill him and Clark responds that he will not. Clark can be heard asking his dispatcher to “step it up,” because Garcia is saying, “Kill me.”
Soon after Garcia walks out of frame on the driver’s side of Clark’s vehicle, two gunshots are heard. Garcia died from two gunshot wounds to the chest.
An autopsy showed Garcia had a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit, Police Chief Salame said at the time.
Grapevine officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Garcia’s family seeks actual and punitive damages for violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, conspiracy and wrongful death. They are represented by Domingo Garcia in Dallas and William S. Hommel in Tyler.

From Courthouse News.

September 23, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Two dozen investors in R. Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme must return approximately $2 million in profits they received, a Dallas federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey granted in part court-appointed receiver Ralph S. Janvey’s motions for partial summary judgment in six lawsuits filed in 2009 and 2010 against investors who received more money than what they invested.
“The court previously granted the receiver’s motion for summary judgment against similarly situated net-winner defendants,” the 11-page order said. “The court found that the receiver had established Stanford operated a Ponzi scheme, and that the net-winner defendants had not provided ‘value’ to the Stanford entities for the interest payments they had received. Based on those conclusions, the court granted the receiver’s motion as to net winner defendants whose interest payments had been factually established. The Fifth Circuit subsequently affirmed the court’s orders.”
The appeals court ruled in Sept. 2014 that allowing net-winner investors to keep their profits would “further the debtors’ fraudulent scheme at the expense of other” investors. It concluded that any recovery would be paid out of money “rightfully belonging” to the other victims of the Ponzi scheme, not from the Stanford entities’ own assets “because they had no assets they could legitimately call their own.”
Relying on that ruling, Godbey wrote the defendants “have not suggested that the court’s analysis should be any different here” regarding their alleged failure to provide “value” for the payments.
The defendants include Anibal Morgado, David Morgado, and Vasco M. Diniz Morgado, who were ordered to return over $672,000. Chloee K. Poag and G. Dan Poag Jr. were ordered to repay over $247,000. The remaining individual defendants were ordered to repay $23,000 to $178,000.
Godbey also ruled that Janvey cannot recover $181,000 from Joyce S. Erfurdt and T. Mark Kelly, having addressed their objections to the receiver’s claims in a separate order.
He also declined to order payment from George and Dolores Rollar, concluding there is still an unresolved issue of fact over whether Janvey acted diligently in serving them.
Janvey has filed approximately 50 lawsuits against Stanford money recipients since his appointment, according to the Courthouse News database.

From Courthouse News.

Dallas Admits Overpass Protest Ban is Unconstitutional

September 23, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Dallas admits its ban on highway overpass protests was unconstitutional and will pay protesters $2 to settle their lawsuit.
Anti-Obama group Overpasses for America and a member filed a federal complaint against the city just over a year ago, alleging violations of the First Amendment.
The city passed the ban to prevent signs from distracting drivers. Violators could face criminal charges and up to $500 in fines. The ordinance was a response to a 2013 protest near the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University.
Overpasses said it has held 75 to 100 “free speech assemblies” in the city and has never caused any public or traffic safety issue.
It held an assembly on a Northaven overpass on the Dallas North Tollway on March 1 and says there were no incidents, as it was organized in cooperation with Dallas police and the Dallas director of Homeland Security.
Overpasses said its signs were not tied to the overpass and complied with city ordinances.
“Plaintiffs were looking forward to holding the free speech assembly on March 15, 2014 and garnered a positive anticipation for their event,” the complaint stated. “Plaintiffs, however, were informed that they would not be allowed to hold their free speech assembly because the Dallas Police Department was now obligated to enforce the City of Dallas’ free speech ban.”
U.S. District Judge David Godbey approved the settlement Monday, finding the $1 in damages for each plaintiff is in “recognition of defendant’s violation” of the First Amendment.
“The nominal damages award represents a legal determination that plaintiffs suffered a deprivation of constitutional rights,” the 2-page final consent judgment states.
The city will pay the plaintiffs’ $25,000 in attorney’s fees.
The city repealed the ordinance three months after the lawsuit was filed, at the request of City Attorney Warren Ernst and the Dallas Police Department.
Jerad Najvar, an attorney for Overpasses in Houston, said at the time he was glad the City Council majority that approved the ordinance “now realizes its error.”
“The problem is that these concerns were raised before the ordinance was passed, and my clients’ rights have been violated,” he said. “The same council that passed this ordinance, ignoring free speech objections, would not have repealed it but for our lawsuit.”
Navjar said the city should “certainly” be on the hook for his clients’ attorneys fees.
“People in government have an obligation to consider whether laws are constitutional before they are enacted, because not everyone is able to find a constitutional attorney,” he said.

From Courthouse News.

Feds: Embezzler & Wife Bought a New Car Every Time They Needed an Oil Change

September 17, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – A fruitcake executive was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison for embezzling $16.7 million, some of which he and his wife spent at Neiman Marcus until the store ran out of things to sell them.
Sandy Jenkins, 64, of Corsicana, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade.
Jenkins’ wife, Kay, 64, was sentenced to 5 years probation and 100 hours of community service and ordered to write an apology to the bakery.
They were ordered to pay $12.7 million in restitution.
Prosecutors said Jenkins ran “a massive scheme to defraud” the bakery from December 2004 until he was fired in June 2013.
“During that time, he embezzled more than $16 million from the bakery, and he and his wife, Kay Jenkins, used that money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle,” prosecutors said Wednesday. “The government introduced evidence at sentencing identifying the 223 trips on private jets as well as the locations (primarily Santa Fe, New Mexico; Aspen, Colorado; and Napa, California, among other places), with a total cost that exceeded $3.3 million. The government also showed at sentencing that the Jenkins purchased 38 vehicles over the course of the scheme, including many Lexus automobiles, a Mercedes Benz, a Bentley, and a Porsche.”
The couple bought a new car every time they needed an oil change, prosecutors said.
Jenkins pleaded guilty in May to mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and making a false statement to a financial institution.
 He worked as corporate controller for the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana from 1998 until he was fired in June 2013 when the fraud was discovered. As part of his plea, Jenkins agreed to pay full restitution. His wife pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In addition to their 38 cars and 223 jet flights, prosecutors said: “The government further established at sentencing that the Jenkins spent over $11 million on a Black American Express card alone – roughly $98,000 per month over the course of the scheme – for a couple that had a legitimate income, through the bakery, of approximately $50,000 per year. The evidence at sentencing also established that a significant portion of stolen funds (approximately $1.2 million) were spent at Neiman Marcus at Northpark in Dallas where Sandy Jenkins and Kay Jenkins had nicknames, ‘Fruitcake’ and ‘Cupcake,’ respectively.”
Prosecutors said at sentencing that the couple stopped shopping at Neiman Marcus after the store “ran out of things to sell” them.
Law enforcement was able to recover $4 million in property and cash for restitution, including four luxury cars, 41 bracelets, 15 pairs of cufflinks, 21 pairs of earrings, 16 furs, 61 handbags, 45 necklaces, 9 sets of pearls, 55 rings, 98 watches, a wine collection and a Steinway electronic piano.
Collin Street Bakery could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
Founded in 1896 by German immigrants, the bakery began its mail order business when members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus asked for its cakes to be sent to family and friends in Europe. The bakery ships its fruitcakes and pecan cakes to 196 foreign countries, according to its website.

From Courthouse News.

Irving Police, School Officials Defend Actions That Led to Ahmed’s Arrest

September 16, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Police and school officials in a Dallas suburb defended the heavily criticized arrest of a 14-year-old Muslim student whose homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb.
Freshman Ahmed Mohamed said he was arrested Monday after he took the gadget to show an unidentified engineering teacher at MacArthur High School in Irving. An unidentified English teacher later complained about the clock’s alarm beeping in the middle of a lesson and she kept the clock after Mohamed showed it to her.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said. “I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.'”
Mohamed said he was later interrogated by school officials and police. He claimed school principal Daniel Cummings threatened to expel him if he did not make a written statement.
They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?'” he said. “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock. He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.'”
The backlash on social media was immediate – led by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who tweeted her support for Mohamed.
“Assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe – they hold us back,” Clinton tweeted. “Ahmed, stay curious and keep building.”
The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed has trended on Twitter since Tuesday, featuring images of supporters holding clocks. A photograph of a bewildered Mohamed – wearing a NASA T-shirt while being led away by police in handcuffs – has been widely retweeted.
Police and school officials quickly called a news conference Wednesday morning in response to the worldwide media attention.
Chief Larry Boyd said that upon further investigation, the device was determined be only a “homemade experiment” and that no criminal charges will be pursued. He sought to dissuade fears that racism and Islamophobia prompted the arrest, saying that “we can work through” this incident.
“We have had an outstanding relationship with our Muslim community,” Boyd told reporters. “Situations like this make it challenging for us to be effective with what we do, there must be a relationship of trust.”
Boyd said the responding officers did not call for the bomb squad because they quickly determined the device was not an actual bomb. He pointed out that under Texas law, a person can still be charged for creating a hoax bomb if the device both alarms people and causes a response by police officers.
“The device was certainly suspicious in nature,” he said. “The student would only say that it was a clock and was not forthcoming at the time. Having no other information to go on, the student was taken into custody for possessing a hoax bomb.”
Boyd said further investigation showed the device was not a hoax bomb and that there was no evidence that Mohamed “intended to cause alarm.” He cited a possible “naivety” by Mohamed not knowing it was a bad idea to bring a suspicious device to campus.
Boyd also defended Mohamed being placed in handcuffs, citing the need to ensure his safety and that of the arresting officers.
“It’s standard procedure,” Boyd said. “We’ve had people jump out of cars while in custody, so we are responsible … they are completely under our control.”
Boyd said he had no knowledge of accusations that Mohamed tried to call his parents during the interrogation and was stopped by the arresting officers. He denied allegations that Mohamed was mistreated because he is Muslim and ethnically Sudanese, saying the police response would have been the same if he were white.
“We live in an age where we can’t take these things to school,” Boyd said. “We’ve seen horrific things happen around the country, so we acted out of an abundance of caution.”
Boyd said he will meet with the boy’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, later Wednesday to answer any questions he had about how the incident evolved.
Irving Independent School District spokeswoman Lesley Weaver told reporters to “let the nation know safety of our students is of our utmost importance.”
She criticized information reported about the incident as being “very unbalanced,” adding that none of the images of the device reported by the media and posted on social media are Mohamed’s clock.
     Images of the device were provided to reporters. They show a briefcase-shaped case with steel trim with a circuit board and various wires attached to the black matte interior.
“We will continue to protect student privacy under FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act],” Weaver said. “We will be happy to provide additional information about the incident with the family’s permission.”
In a letter sent home with MacArthur students Tuesday, principal Cummings confirmed police determined the device did not pose a threat to students.
Mohamed thanked his supporters Wednesday, tweeting images of himself with his two sisters giving the victory sign as the family prepared to meet with attorneys.
“Thank you fellow supporters,” Mohamed tweeted. “We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again.”
The North Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, plans to hold a press conference outside the Mohameds’ home Wednesday afternoon. The group said it is working with the family and officials, calling the incident “symptomatic of growing Islamophobia in American society.”

From Courthouse News.

Muslim Texas High Schooler Ahmed Arrested for a Clock

September 16, 2016
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – A Texas high school freshman was handcuffed, arrested and suspended Monday for bringing a homemade clock to school in what critics call Islamophobia and racism run amok.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, of Irving, told The Dallas Morning News he loved robotics club in middle school and was looking for a “similar niche” in his first few weeks at MacArthur High School.
Mohamed said he threw together a clock inside of a pencil case in 20 minutes Sunday evening to take to school the next day. The clock consisted of a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display inside a pencil case, with a tiger hologram on the front.
When he showed the gadget to his unidentified engineering teacher first thing Monday, he was told not to show any other teachers – hardly the reaction he was hoping for.
Later in English class, an unidentified teacher complained about the clock’s alarm beeping in the middle of a lesson and she kept the clock after Mohamed showed it to her.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he told the newspaper. “I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.'”
Mohamed, a thin, studious looking fellow with glasses, says he was taken to a room with four police officers later in the day. He claims an unidentified officer leaned back in his chair and said: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
The principal threatened to expel him if he did not make a written statement, Mohamed says.
“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?'” he said. “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock. He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.'”
Police spokesman James McLellan said the device “could reasonably be mistaken as a device” if it were left in a bathroom or under a car. He said Mohamed gave “no broader explanation” for the device but kept saying it’s a clock.
“The concern was, what was this thing built for,” McClelland asked. “Do we take him into custody?”
Mohamed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, believes his son was mistreated.
“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” the father said. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”
The family immigrated to the United States from Sudan. The elder Mohamed made national headlines for debating Florida pastor Terry Jones in 2011 after Jones burned a Quran.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it is investigating. The council’s North Texas chapter director, Alia Salem, told the Morning News she has spoken with lawyers about the “pretty egregious” arrest.
“This all raises a red flag for us: how Irving’s government entities are operating in the current climate,” she said.
Worldwide condemnation of the arrest was swift, with the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed trending Tuesday on Twitter.
A photograph of a bewildered Mohamed wearing a NASA T-shirt while being led away by police in handcuffs has been widely retweeted.
President Barack Obama took to Twitter this morning as well, inviting Mohamed to Washington.
“Cool clock, Ahmed,” Obama tweeted. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
Irving, a suburb of Dallas, is no stranger to accusations of Islamophobia. Its City Council faced heavy criticism in March for voting 5-4 in support of a bill before the Legislature that said Sharia law could not be applied in family matters.
House Bill 562, filed by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, sought to invalidate rulings by any “court, arbitrator, or administrative adjudicator” in marriage, divorce or parent-child matters that are based on foreign law “if the application of that law would violate a fundamental right” under the U.S. Constitution or Texas Constitution.
Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne defended the resolution at the time, saying the bill “does not mention at all Muslims, Sharia law, Islam, even religion.” The resolution passed one month after Van Duyne told conservative commentator Glenn Beck of her opposition to a new Sharia law tribunal in the city. She disputed rumors that the city “somehow condoned, approved or enacted the implementation” of the tribunal in Irving, according to a letter posted on Beck’s Facebook profile.
Van Duyne said the United States “cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own.”
She added: “Texas Supreme Court precedent does not allow the application of foreign law that violates public policy, statutory, or federal laws. However, now that this issue has emerged in our community, I am working with our state representatives on legislation to clarify and strengthen existing prohibitions on the application of foreign law in violation of constitutional or statutory rights.”
The Texas Education Agency in 2009 rated Mohamed’s school, MacArthur High, “academically acceptable.”

From Courthouse News.