It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: This is just a brief note to let you know that it appears the long-awaited hearing on the Motion for Forfeiture of Assets in the Adam & Ashley Lacerda timeshare fraud case finally took place as scheduled on Nov. 21. Unfortunately the court record for the hearing has not yet been made public as of this writing, so the only thing I can report to you is that neither Adam nor Ashley chose to be present for it. They left it to the attorneys to duke it out.

I’ll keep an eye out for it after the weekend, though, and as soon as I get it I’ll report to you.

Watch this space.



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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

DALLAS: Silverleaf Resorts is going after Advocate for the Consumer (Mediation) dba Legal Advocate for the Consumer and its owners Charles H. Williams and Glenda Williams, suing them in Dallas County Court for tortious interference with contracts, intentional interference with prospective business relations, defamation and business disparagement.

Silverleaf is seeking actual and punitive damages.

The defendants in the lawsuit are timeshare transfer/relief/rescue/disposal entities that allegedly “made false allegations and published defamatory statements about Silverleaf in order to induce Silverleaf timeshare owners to pay significant up-front fees on the basis that defendants would ‘assist’ owners in terminating their contracts with Silverleaf”, according to the complaint filed on Nov. 6.

According to Silverleaf, “Once owners paid their fee and signed up for these services, defendants continued to defame and interfere (so as to lure their next victim), but performed no work on the owners’ individual cases aside from providing and/or mailing in form letters.”

The complaint says the defendants promote their business “as a mediation company, equipped with a team of lawyers, paralegals and former timeshare executives, that could assist consumers in ‘getting out’ of their timeshare contracts and obtaining refunds of their timeshare membership purchase. Defendants also promised that they would negotiate with Silverleaf for refunds of funds that owners had already paid under their timeshare contract.”

Legal Advocate For The Consumer- Facebook screenshotSilverleaf laid out the modus operandi of the defendants pretty extensively in its complaint, paying great attention to detail. Among other things, the complaint alleges the defendants posted “Silverleaf Resorts are liars” on Advocate for the Consumer’s Facebook profile — and that is true according to a screen shot I took of that page. Even more interesting, though, is what else is on that Facebook page. (clic on the pic to see it bigger) Besides the pious, self-righteous rhetoric on its timeline, look at the comments from clients on the left side of the screenshot. They’re not exactly paens of praise, are they?

The company has an “F” grade with the Better Business Bureau, and at least two of the main websites associated with them are no longer operative.

It’s a familiar profile and familiar complaints against timeshare disposal companies, from the convicted felons of the former VO Group to the notorious David and Cindy MacMillan of Timeshare Relief and at least 17 other companies.

In April 2013 the Texas Attorney General, in an action initiated by the Consumer Protection Agency, sued the same defendants (and their associated entities) in Dallas County Court, making similar accusations of no work being performed; an injunction and asset freeze were issued in May 2013.

The Order requires Legal Advocate for the Consumer to stop false, misleading and deceptive acts in their service to negotiate on behalf of timeshare owners to cancel timeshare contracts. Additionally, the Order requires the business to stop practicing law without a license and representing that the Office of the Attorney General has approved any goods or services sold by the business, or approved of any of the Defendants’ business practices.

(Note that Charles H. Williams has at least two known aliases that he used to do business, those being Chip Townsend and Charles Robertson.)

I’d guess that the AG’s action will be put to good use by Silverleaf in this case, ya think?

But I wonder what the odds are that any of the victims of that company will ever be made whole?



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the motion for forfeiture of assets for Adam and Ashley Lacerda was scheduled to be heard Oct. 24, 2014. Guess what? It’s been rescheduled AGAIN.

This time it’s because Adam’s attorney is representing someone in another trial and that trial’s date has been rescheduled to a time that overlaps the Lacerda hearing. Of course he can’t be in two places at the same time, so he asked for a postponement on the Lacerda case and it was granted.

The NEW date to hear the Motion for Forfeiture of Property is November 21, 2014 at 1:30 PM in Camden – Courtroom 3A before Judge Noel L. Hillman.

As for the motions for new trials for Ian Reznick and Genevieve Manzoni, there is nothing new on that front. The judge is still making up his mind about that, Reznick is still cooling his heels in the slammer while he waits, and Manzoni is still free on bail while she waits.

Watch this space.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: There’s actually a little bit of news available this week on the VO Group/VO Financial timeshare scam case. Not much but some, and for what it’s worth here it is.

First off, regarding the motions for a new trial for Ian Resnick and Genevieve Manzoni, the hearing was held on October 2, with both defendants present in court. The attorneys all presented their cases for and against, and Judge Noel L. Hillman has reserved his decision for a later date so he has time to take everything under advisement. While they wait, Resnick was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal; Manzoni remains free on bail.

On the matter of Joseph Saxon, who has been requesting to be released on bond while awaiting sentencing, I have this news. On Oct. 2, 2014 Saxon was released to the custody of his father Lewis Saxon under certain terms and conditions.

1) He is to be confined to his residence at the home of his parents, Lewis and Monica Saxon in Brigantine, New Jersey at all times except for employment; education; religious services; medicaC substance abuse or mental health treatment; attorney visits; court appearances; court-ordered obligations; or other activities approved in advance by the pretrial services officer or supervising officer; and shall be under home detention with electronic monitoring at all times. Defendant will pay a sum for the electronic monitoring, to be determined by the Court that will be consistent with his earnings, if employed.

2) He must abide by, adhere to, and follow the directions of all treating and consulting physicians including, but not limited to, the taking of all prescribed medications.

3) He shall not leave the District/State of New Jersey.

4) He shall attend any and all mental health treatment sessions and intensive outpatient program(s) as arranged/directed by Pretrial Services.

And there’s more, too. You can read the whole decision here.

The motions for forfeiture of assets for Adam and Ashley Lacerda are currently scheduled to be heard Oct. 24, 2014. I’ll report back to you once the information on that becomes available.

Watch this space.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

SAN DIEGO: An aficionado of the Lacerda/VO Group shenanigans in New Jersey asked me to check on the status of a lawsuit filed against them in California so I went ahead and looked it up even though I was pretty sure the lawsuit was going nowhere.

I was right, as usual. ;) But for those of you who didn’t previously know about this (or forgot about it), here are the basics.

In March 2013 Welk Resort Group filed a lawsuit against Adam and Ashley Lacerda, VO Financial et al and John Does 1-25 in the District Court of the Southern District of California, case #3:13-cv-00549-JM-NLS. This is a civil case, not a criminal case. The complaints against the defendants are as follows:

(1) INTENTIONAL INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS;
(2) INTENTIONAL INTERFERENCE WITH PROSPECTIVE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE;
(3) UNFAIR COMPETITION; AND
(4) VIOLATIONS OF THE IJANHAM ACT

The actual list of defendants are:

  • VO FINANCIAL CORP., a New Jersey corporation;
  • VO FINANCIAL IN, INC. a New Jersey corporation;
  • VO FINANCIAL MA, INC. a New Jersey Corporation;
  • VO FINANCIAL NJ, INC., a New Jersey Corporation;
  • VO FINANCIAL SC, INC. a New Jersey corporation;
  • ADAM LACERDA, a New Jersey resident;
  • ASHLEY LACERDA, a New Jersey resident; and
  • DOES 1 through 25, inclusive

In a nutshell, this is Welk’s accusation:

Defendant VO Financial Corp. (VO Financial) is and was, at all times mentioned herein, a New Jersey corporation doing business in the County of San Diego, State ofCalifornia. VO Financial purports to be a “timeshare research and resolution firm” that supposedly offers a mortgage reduction program and timeshare rental services. In reality, VO Financial uses a variety of false pretenses to convince timeshare owners into believing that ifthey pay money to VO Financial, they no longer need to make their loan or maintenance fee payments to Welk. In fact, VO Financial pockets the money they fleece from timeshare owners and then allows the timeshare owners to default on their contractual obligations to Welk.

This is the same type of scam that VO Financial’s predecessor, VO Group LLC, used against other timeshare owners. In fact, on May 3, 2012, the United States of America unsealed an indictment against VO Group LLC co-owner Adam Lacerda (now President of VO Financial) for falsely telling timeshare owners that paying VO Group LLC would relieve these owners oftheir obligations. In reality, it appears that VO Group LLC merely pocketed more than $2.6 million and left the customers with their debts.

VO Group LLC is now VO Financial. Notwithstanding the indictment, VO Financial has continued to carry-on VO Group LLC’s unlawful business practices in the hopes that it can continue to defraud timeshare owners.

You can read the whole complaint here.

This case was put on hold in April 2013 pending the outcome of the criminal trial of the Lacerdas et al in New Jersey. There has been no movement on it since, and I have no idea whether or not Welk will move forward with it in the future, especially considering that VO Financial doesn’t seem to exist anymore in anything but name and the Lacerdas are in prison and likely to remain there for some time.

And that’s all I’ve got on that subject.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: OK, let me catch you up on the little bit of news available on the VO Group/VO Financial timeshare scam case. Did you notice how I used the word “little” there? That’s about how much new news there is in the case, but for what it’s worth here it is.

Re Adam and Ashley Lacerda: Those two are still awaiting the hearings on motions for forfeiture of assets, currently scheduled for October 24, 2014. The only thing new as of this date is that Ashley doesn’t want to attend the hearing, leaving that in the hands of her attorney, and has therefore waived her right to be present. Her attorney has so notified the judge and requested that her appearance be waived.

Re Ian Resnick and Genevieve Manzoni: Their motion for a new trial is scheduled to be heard this coming Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, so hopefully I’ll have something to report to you by next Saturday (though that’s cutting things pretty close). Assuming it isn’t postponed again, of course.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in this information culled from a previous court document (Oct. 2013) in which the Government was explaining why Ian Resnick did not deserve a new trial:

During the course of the charged conspiracy, Resnick became Adam Lacerda’s right hand man. Resnick was at Adam Lacerda’s side when Lacerda reprimanded Vincent Giordano about the Genevieve Manzoni email (Government Exhibit 202) and told Giordano that the bank settlement pitch should not be put in writing to customers. 8/12/2013 Trial Tr. at 85. Resnick was promoted from sales rep to contract analyst to director of training to director of compliance to vice president of sales. 7/29/2013 Trial Tr. at 104. Resnick was one of the highest paid employees at VO, earning $64,149 through 9/1/2011 and $400,000 during his entire time at VO.

Even after he was arrested and ordered not to have contact with victims and witnesses, Resnick participated in witness tampering, which shows his consciousness of guilt. See8/16/2013 Opinion at 8-9 [Docket No. 299] (holding that evidence of Resnick’s witness tampering showed his commission of fraud and his consciousness of guilt, and citing numerous supporting authorities). The jury heard Karen Wolff testify about his post-arrest contacts with her and heard recordings of post-arrest calls. 8/8/2013 Trial Tr. at 243-51; 8/12/2013 Trial Tr. at 45-53; Government Exhibits 2004, 2008, 2008A, 2008B. During those calls, Resnick (a) told her numerous lies, including that he was exonerated of all charges; (b) misstated what had happened in 2010, in order to tamper with her recollection and testimony; and (c) pushed her very hard to accept a refund, in a transparent attempt to alter her attitude and defuse her as a witness against him. Id. Based on Resnick’s actions towards Karen Wolff, the jury was entitled to conclude that Resnick knew that he had committed fraud and was trying to tamper with the evidence against him.

If you want to get a bigger fix while you wait for newer news, here is a copy of the Government’s brief in opposition to post-trial motions of Manzoni and Resnick. If you have a bag of popcorn, now would be the time to pop it in the microwave.

RE Dennis Nadeau: Dennis, who was indicted in June 2014 for “misleading conduct towards another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent testimony” (aka witness tampering) associated with the case, has wasted no time diddling around. He just went straight to the plea agreement deal and apparently has already gotten something sewn up.

The Government and Nadeau’s attorney have jointly asked for an order granting a continuance of the proceedings in his case for a period of 60 days “to allow the parties to schedule a change-of-plea hearing, the parties having entered into a plea agreement in this matter and the United States having requested assignment of this matter to a United States District Judge…” So sometime prior to around Nov. 9 I should have something concrete to tell you about that. Note that Nadeau is mentioned in that document I linked to above.

As for various other defendants who pled guilty to various counts during the trial (Francis Santore, Ryan Bird, Joseph Saxon, et al), to the best of my knowledge they have not been sentenced yet. I’m not sure what the hold-up is.

Watch this space.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: As was noted in a recent comment, hearings on the issue of forfeiture of assets against VO Group/VO Financial founders/owners Adam and Ashley Lacerda have been adjourned (again!) to October 24, 2014 as attorneys for the defendants and the government maneuver for position and duke it out in legalese.

The pair has been languishing in prison since their bail was revoked during their trial last year. So far no sentencing date has been set for them, and it’s not likely to happen until the forfeiture of assets issue (and perhaps other issues?) has been settled since the dollar amount of that can affect the length of their sentences.

Meanwhile an attorney has been appointed to defend Dennis Nadeau, who was arrested in June 2014 on charges that he engaged in “misleading conduct towards another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent testimony” (aka witness tampering).

Nadeau is not wasting any time with sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors lawyering; having waived his right to a preliminary hearing and a speedy trial, he’s gone straight into the negotiating stage. Consequently, a continuance was granted on July 11 for a period of 60 days to allow the parties to conduct plea negotiations and attempt to finalize a plea agreement. And the period from July 11 through Sept 9 was deemed excludable in computing time under the Speedy Trial Act of 1974. So as Sept. 9 rolls around I’ll check back into the court records to see what, if anything, is up.

Watch this space…



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: Joseph Saxon, who has been languishing in government custody pending sentencing for his part in the VO Group timeshare fraud case, had a mental competency and bail hearing on August 13. Apparently Saxon was hoping to be found mentally incompetent so he could serve his sentence in the relative luxury of a mental health facility (and because he doesn’t want to be known as a rat?).

The court docket for November 19, 2013 put it like this:

…the defendant is committed to the custody of the Attorney General for placement by the United States Bureau of Prisons in a suitable facility for the administration of a psychiatric or psychological examination to assess whether defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him etc. The defendant’s application for bail is DENIED without prejudice. The defendant is detained pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3143(a).

But now that he’s been found mentally competent, the 41-year-old Saxon’s attorney moved the proceedings forward to the question of bail.

In the end, his application was granted pending a court structured bail package by pretrial services. A Bail Hearing is set for this coming Thursday, August 21, 2014.

So it looks like Saxon, who has a long arrest record going back at least to 1992 (mostly for things like theft, receiving stolen property, assault, reckless endangerment and stuff like that), will be tasting some freedom at least until he is sentenced. Scuttlebutt insists that he’ll be wearing an ankle bracelet under house arrest at his parents’ house while he waits.

I haven’t found any indication in the Court records that a sentencing date has been set for Saxon, who pled guilty May 31, 2014 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Eric Reilly, who pled guilty in January 2013 to the same offense, received a sentence last month of three years in prison plus three years of supervised release. Considering his criminal past and fairly strong allegations against him regarding his character (or lack thereof), is that an indication of what Saxon can expect or will he get a harsher sentence? Will the time he has already served be taken into account?

Meanwhile, the case against the four defendants who were found guilty nearly a year ago continues to grind slowly on. Genevieve Manzoni is getting a new attorney and is still awaiting a hearing for a new trial, as is Ian Resnick. VO Group/VO Financial founders/owners Adam and Ashley Lacerda are contesting the government’s motion for forfeiture of assets; hearings on that issue are still scheduled to be heard on September 30, so stay tuned for that. Manzoni is free on bail; the other three are currently being held without bail in prison. No sentencing date has been set yet for any of them.

Watch this space…



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: Sentencing has finally begun for those former VO Group employees who pled guilty to various charges in order to (hopefully) receive reduced sentences. Most, if not all, of them agreed to tell the Feds everything they knew and several of them were called to testify against company owners Adam and Ashley Lacerda and/or Ian Resnick and Genevieve Manzoni at their trial in September last year.

Eric Reilly, who pled guilty in January 2013 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, was sentenced last week to three years in prison plus three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $3,040,767.54 in restitution. (Sentencing was originally scheduled for May 17, 2013, so it’s been a long, stressful wait for the 34-year-old Mr. Reilly.)

The mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge to which Reilly pled guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, so the 3-year sentence may not seem too bad to him relatively speaking.

Perhaps more importantly, the length of this sentence could indicate that when the 4 who actually went to trial and were convicted on multiple counts are finally sentenced, the judge will not be lenient. Keep in mind that Adam Lacerda was convicted on Sept. 5, 2013 on 13 counts of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. His wife Ashley was convicted on 6 counts of conspiracy and mail and wire fraud. Even if they were sentenced to a mere 3 years for each count, that would amount to a significant stretch of years if served consecutively. Others have suggested a possible sentence of 20 years for each offense but served concurrently. IMO there are too many possible options to make predictions, and probably none of those options are looking very good to them or their families.

Right now the issue being litigated is the question of forfeiture of assets, which I understand plays to the length of the sentence among other things. The more the government can claim the bad guys stole, the more time they can potentially get in the slammer. The government is asking for the forfeiture of nearly $12 million (originally they claimed a mere $3 million). The hearing on those motions is now scheduled for August 30, 2014.

Convicted on the same day was Ian Resnick, a close associate and loyal friend of the Lacerdas, who was found guilty on 7 counts of conspiracy and mail and wire fraud. Resnick previously did time for bank robbery.

The fourth guilty verdict was for Genevieve Manzoni, who was convicted on 2 counts of conspiracy and mail fraud and found not guilty on one count of wire fraud.

Resnick and Manzoni have both requested a new trial. Their motions are currently scheduled to be heard on July 28, 2014.

Of the four, only Manzoni has remained out on bail; bond for the other three was revoked prior to their convictions due to the judge’s assessment that they were flight risks and amid allegations of witness tampering.

So it’s one sentence down in the VO Group timeshare fraud case and many more to go. Watch this space for updates.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: Well here’s a new twist in the VO Group trials. A new twist and a new arrest, which might indicate that some of the VO Group/VO Financial folks who think they’re home free might be mistaken about that.

Dennis Nadeau, who lives in Myrtle Beach,SC, has been arrested on charges that he engaged in misleading conduct towards another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent testimony. In plain English: He stands accused of witness tampering related to last year’s trial of company founders Adam and Ashley Lacerda et al.

Here’s the thing. During the Lacerdas’ trial the FBI provided them and their lawyers with “discovery” material for the preparation of their trial, as is required by law. That discovery included the full names, addresses and phone numbers of victims.

According to the criminal complaint against Nadeau, in April and May 2013 Ashley Lacerda instructed him to call victims who were listed in the discovery documents in an attempt to persuade them that they had not been defrauded and to offer them refunds. Nadeau subsequently called several of the potential witnesses (and secretly recorded the conversations) trying to convince them to say the VO Group was not at fault for various reasons, such as it was their own fault because they had failed to follow the company’s instructions. Nadeau also tried to get some customers to say the VO Group’s failure to cancel timeshare contracts was due to the FBI investigation, and in at least one case that Wyndham was the biggest culprit because they had complained to the FBI and that was what got everything all fouled up.

Some of the people Nadeau allegedly called testified later during the Lacerdas’ trial. Nadeau faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of witness tampering.

Making a long story short, Nadeau has asked to have his preliminary hearing in New Jersey, and his initial appearance is set for July 10 in Camden before Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams.

You can read the criminal complaint here if you want to, and if I do say so — you might want to.

Stay tuned.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: There isn’t anything new to report about Adam and Ashley Lacerda this week but they’re not the only ones involved in the VO Group trial.

Ian Resnick and Genevieve Manzoni were also found guilty of various felonies during that lengthy trial, Resnick’s sins considerably greater than Manzoni’s. And back in January their attorneys each filed a motion for a new trial based on their assertions that the evidence presented against the Lacerdas prejudiced the jury against them (they were all tried together in a group, but with separate attorneys). Oral arguments on their motions were originally set for February 19, 2014 but were continued for various reasons. In the meantime, Resnick has been twiddling his thumbs in jail; Manzoni has been free on bail.

The hearing for a new trial for the two has now been set for July 15, 2014.

To recap for those unfamiliar with the case: Adam Lacerda, 28, and Ashley Lacerda, 32, both of Egg Harbor Township, N.J.; Ian Resnick, 37, of Abescon, N.J.; and Genevieve Manzoni, 46, of Lake Worth, Fla. – were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Adam Lacerda was also convicted of nine counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud.

Ashley Lacerda was convicted of one count of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud.

Resnick, a previously convicted bank robber, was convicted of three counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud.

Manzoni was also convicted of one count of mail fraud.

BTW: The following comment was left on last week’s post about the issue of asset forfeiture and because it is both accurate and important I’m reposting it here:

The reason the Government wants a high loss amount is NOT for restitution purposes per se. Restitution is, as a practical matter, rarely enforced because the defendants usually exhaust most of their ill-gotten funds on legal fees. But, rather the higher the financial loss to the victims, the higher the range of the US Sentencing Guidelines. Therefore, all other things being equal; the more money you steal, the more time you get.

Stay tuned.


Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).

"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me." -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: Attorney Mark Cedrone, acting for Adam Lacerda in the VO Group timeshare fraud case, has filed a response to the government’s motion for foreiture, in which the government upped the ante by requesting a forfeiture amount of $12 million. Filing electronically, Cedrone wrote:

RE: United States v. Adam Lacerda – Criminal No. 12-303 (NHL)

Dear Judge Hillman:
Please accept this as Adam Lacerda’s response to the government’s letter brief dated May 2, 2014 through which the government attempts to further bastardize the notice requirements of Fe. R. Crim. P. 32.2 by, for the first time, seeking a nearly $12 million forfeiture judgment — an amount some four times that alleged through the procedurally defective notice contained in the Indictment and the $2.9 million sought through the government’s original forfeiture pleadings.

Cedrone then argued that the government failed to allege forfeiture under any statute that authorizes forfeiture for the crimes of conviction at issue in this case. He says the Superseding Indictment alleges forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. paragraph 981(a)(1)(D) and 18 U.S.C. paragraph 982(a)(8), neither of which authorizes forfeiture for any of the crimes for which Mr. Lacerda was convicted. He cited precedent, presented exhibits and argued law in quite a lucid and compelling manner. Whether or not the judge will agree with those arguments is another matter entirely, but Cedrone and his staff earned their pay with this one. You can view the document for yourself at this link.

Charles H. Nugent, Jr., attorney for Ashley Lacerda, apparently agrees. In a letter to the judge he requested permission to join in Cedrone’s arguments, and made some additional comments as well, including this one:

The government claims that because VO Group was “permeated with fraud” a judgment in excess of almost $12 million is justified. However, its own evidence, based upon an exhaustive investigation by the FBI, has claimed to identify possibly hundreds ofalleged victims, who, according to the government, have been scammed a total of less than $3 million. The government’s evidence in support of the original amount of 3 million dollars is scant and unreliable, and Ashley Lacerda rests on the arguments made at oral argument on April 16, 2014. Since that date, the government has produced no evidence in excess of that amount, but still seeks a money judgment in excess of almost $12 million, based upon gross revenues of VO Group from May 22, 2009 through April 18, 2012. Based on the government’s own calculations, there appears to have been legitimate revenues of almost $9 million, or least 9 million that the government cannot relate to criminal activity, which is reason alone to reject the application. The relationship of alleged criminal proceeds to gross revenues is so lopsided that forfeiture of gross proceeds is unwarranted

Stay tuned.


Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).

"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me." -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: Hmmm. Things got a bit more interesting in the VO Group timeshare fraud trial this month, at least from my point of view. I doubt that’s how Adam and Ashley Lacerda view it.

On April 16 the Court held a hearing regarding the forfeiture of assets in the case. The Government was ordered to submit a letter brief in support of their position by May 2, and they did so. Here’s how it starts out:

…The Court requested additional legal authority on the showing needed to forfeit the gross receipts received by a defendant’s business as proceeds of the crime, as well as an explanation of the factual basis for concluding that the VO Group was a fraud. As is explained below, it is well established that the forfeitable proceeds of a fraudulent enterprise include all funds that the enterprise would not have received but for the fraud. Based on this principle, several courts have held that the gross receipts of a business can and should be forfeited if the business was permeated by fraud or if the business would not have been in business without the benefit of the fraud. The evidence introduced at trial established that the VO Group was a fraudulent enterprise from its very beginnings and throughout the course of the charged conspiracy, as VO Group employees made false statements to customers, using VO Group scripts, in order to obtain money. Based on this legal authority and the facts established at trial, the Court should order the entry of a money judgment against Adam Lacerda and Ashley Lacerda in the amount of the $11,922,908.38, the total amount that their fraudulent business the VO Group received from individuals.

It then goes on to provide a series of legal precedent supporting their position that the VO Group was fraudulent from its inception, permeated with fraud and that therefore it is proper that the company’s entire gross receipts be forfeited, saying.

Under these authorities, this Court should order the forfeiture of the VO Group’s total gross receipts as proceeds of the fraud if the Court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the VO Group’s activities were permeated with fraud or that the VO Group would not have been in business but for the fraud. The evidence introduced at trial provides ample support for these conclusions.

And it ends like this:

CONCLUSION

The Government respectfully requests that the Court grant its application, as amended in this brief, for the entry of a forfeiture money judgment against defendants Adam Lacerda and Ashley Lacerda in the amount of the total proceeds of their fraudulent enterprise: $11,922,908.38.

Respectfully submitted,

PAUL J. FISHMAN
United States Attorney

Did you catch that number? The Government is asking for nearly $12 million, not the approximately $3 million originally cited in the case.

The Lacerdas’ attorneys have until May 16 to file a response.

Stay tuned.


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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: The news this week is slight, but at least there’s something recent to report.

Regarding the Motion for Forfeiture of Property against Adam and Ashley Lacerda, the hearing on those motions having previously been reset to April 16, 2014, the issue was heard by Judge Noel L. Hillman on that date.

As it turns out, both Adam and Ashlee waived their right to appear at the hearing, so their attorneys showed up without their clients, everyone made their arguments for and against, and after an hour and a half the Judge reserved his decision. Judge Hillman ordered the Government to submit a supplemental letter brief by May 2, 2014; Defendant’s reply is due May 16, 2014.

And then, the hour being 12:22 p.m., they probably all went to lunch.

A hearing on post trial motions date and time is still to be set by the court, as is a sentencing date.

That’s all there is to report this week. Stay tuned.


Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).

"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me." -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com