Friday, September 16, 2011

NY Times - Missing Persons: A Balancing Act for Police

A 'New York Times' interview I did way back in 2001 reflects not much has changed in respect to 'equal reporting' for all missing persons.

Missing Persons: A Balancing Act for Police

Friday, September 9, 2011

When to Use a Private Investigator in Custody Matters

When considering the welfare of the children, courts must be informed in order to rule on decisions to determine custody and parenting time. The court’s decision must be based upon credible information submitted to the court; to include interviews and potential testimony of litigants and witnesses.

Typically when thinking of custody we may immediately think “divorce” but there are many circumstances that may warrant representation when taking children's lives into consideration.

  • Legal separation or divorce
  • Parental Death
  • Parental Incompetence
  • Domestic or sexual abuse allegations
  • Paternity
  • Third party care
  • Child protection services involvement
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  •  
Basic Definitions of Custody and Parenting Time
  • Legal Custody is defined as the individual who has the right to make decisions on behalf of the child, including the child’s education, medical care, and even religious preference.
  • Physical Custody is defined as the individual who makes decisions in regard to where the child lives and the child’s daily activities.
  • Sole Custody is when an individual is the primary custodian and decision- maker in every aspect of the child’s life.
  • Joint Legal Custody is defined as a situation where both parents/custodians share in the decision-making for how a child is raised, educated, receives health care and religious preference.
  • Joint Physical Custody refers to the responsibility of the daily care and living arrangement being shared and handled in agreement with both parents/custodians.
  • Parenting Time is commonly referred to as ‘visitation’ granted to noncustodial parent/custodian and usually by court order.

    Grandparent’s Rights

    Increasing numbers of grandparents are denied visitation to their grandchildren following a divorce. In response, laws have been passed in every state giving grandparents the right to petition the court for visitation in the event of divorce, parental incompetence or parental death. Grandparents may be granted visitation and at times even custody dependent upon the circumstances, if they can prove they share a substantial relationship with the child.

    The Visitation Rights Enforcement Act of 1998, improved uniform visitation laws state by state, provisioning grandparent visitation. The law assured grandparents can visit grandchildren anywhere in the United States as long as they have been awarded visitation rights in one state.

    In a 2000 landmark case Troxel v. Granville the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of Washington permitting grandparents visitation rights over the objection of the mother. The Supreme Court ruled ‘fit parents have the fundamental right to make decisions concerning care, custody and control’ of their children.

    Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, representing the majority stated, "So long as a parent adequately cares for his or her children, there will normally be no reason for the state to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent's children." Basically this decision supports in most cases the custodial parents can alone determine visitation for their children.

    In any case though, states can grant visitation rights to grandparents. It has encouraged grandparents attempt to get along and build a supportive relationship with the custodial parent for the benefit of the child.


    Child Support and Deadbeat Parent Investigations

    Private investigation firms can also assist parents when attempting to enforce a child support order by locating the subject and verify employment, asset searches, and even document if the subject is working off the books by following the individual and document any work activities. This information can be presented to the court to expedite enforcement.

    "Whether an individual is concerned for the safety of their children in another custodian’s care or attempting to enforce an order of the court, private investigators can be an invaluable tool in the successful conclusion of a dispute,”says Thomas Lauth, owner of Lauth Investigations International, headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. “Hiring a private investigator is even cost-effective when evaluating hiring an attorney to represent the case. After all, utilizing any legal means to ensure the proper care of children is recommended and its value cannot be underestimated."


    Custody Evaluations

    Commonly during custody disputes, the court will order a ‘custody evaluation’ that can include an assessment of the child’s emotional, physical, psychological well-being, even who the child prefers to live with. If siblings are involved they heavily consider the benefits of keeping them together and examine the bond the child has with the prospective custodial parent. These evaluations are vital to the decision-making process to make an informed decision consistent with the well-being of the child.

    In addition, prospective custodians are also evaluated to include evaluating moral character and psychological stability, financial condition, potential substance abuse, willingness to provide personal care rather than relying on third-parties (relatives, grandparents or friends), if a step-parent may be involved in the care of a child, any suspected abuse or previous allegations of domestics or sexual abuse and many other factors that may be deemed important and could affect a child’s well-being.


    When a Private Investigator Can Help Courts Make Informed Decisions

    A licensed private investigator can be a vital tool before, during or even after a custody evaluation is conducted. In a case where one parent is concerned for the child’s safety while in the care of the other parent, a private investigator has the ability to document information and behavior of the other party; while in another circumstance a the court may decide custody against one party and information that can be obtained can show just cause for reevaluation. A private investigator can provide organized information on behalf of the client that can be used and admissible in court decisions.


    Methods and Information That Can Be Obtained

    A private investigator can obtain evidence regarding financial stability, emotional stability, criminal history and any aliases, residential history (moving many times disrupting child’s stability), activity with associates, leaving children unattended, taking the child to a third party while staying at boyfriend/girlfriend’s or excessive partying; any contradictions in information provided to a court evaluator. When contradictions surface it has the potential to discredit the other party.

    Private investigators can follow a subject during scheduled visitation times to determine any improper activity or neglect while the child is in their care. They can also follow the subject during their off-time without the child and document daily activities, living conditions, lifestyles, and persons they are associating with.

    Private investigators can also conduct interviews with acquaintances and other family members familiar with the behavior of the subject, conduct video and photographic surveillance of the subjects activities, places they frequent, dropping off the children with third parties, conduct background investigations on acquaintances and visitors by obtaining license plate numbers of vehicles that frequent the subject’s residence. Associations can be quite revealing when attempting to validate concerns for a child’s safety.

    Trash pulls – When trash container is placed curbside on a trash pickup day it then becomes public property and private investigators are able to obtain and inventory items such as prescription bottles, empty alcohol containers, contraband refuse and paraphernalia related to substance abuse, pornography, financial purchases and transactions are just a few examples of evidence that can be used to present to the court and discredit another party.

    Comprehensive Background Investigations Can Include the Following:
    • True Name
    • Aliases
    • True Social Security Number
    • Of Birth
    • Previous 7 Year Residence Verification
    • Previous 7 Year Employer Verification
    • Previous 7 Year Criminal History
    • Previous 7 Year Civil History
    • Driving Record
    • Professional License Verification
    • Tax Liens
    • Education
    • Siblings
    • Bankruptcies
    • Media Confirmation
    • Intensive Internet/Multi Search Engine Investigation
    • Police Incident and Case History Report
    • Verification of Subject's Personal Conversational Declarations/Comments/Claims
    • Background investigations
    • Criminal history check
    • Civil background check
    • Judgment or property liens
    • Bankruptcy
    • Background checks of associates
    Licensed private investigators are able to present findings that can be admissible in court and are also qualified to testify in court on behalf of their client.

    For more information regarding how private investigation services can assist you specifically in Indiana Colorado and Arizona.  All consultations are free. Please contact: Lauth Investigations International

    Author – Kym L. Pasqualini
    Founder of National Center for Missing Adults
    & Social Network Advocate
    Missing Persons Network
    Phone: 800.889.3463

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Private Investigators Contributed to Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Dismissal


    Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Photograph courtesy of Sipa.
    The man many had predicted to be the next president of France, and former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is free to leave the United States and return to France. 

    In May 2011, Strauss-Kahn, was accused of sexual assault by Nafissatou Dialo, a housekeeper at a luxury New York City hotel. 

    As a result of the charges, Strauss-Kahn had been placed under house arrest for approximately three months until a New York judge dropped all criminal sexual assault charges on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011.  Strauss-Kahn’s release is a surprising turnaround of a case initially presented by the prosecution - as solid.

    By request of the prosecution, the case was dismissed after prosecutors presented a 25-page report concluding the evidence they had initially presented was inconclusive and indicated they now questioned the Dialo's credibility due to numerous inconsistencies.

    While facing serious allegations of sexual assault, the well-liked French politician wasted no time hiring a team of experts to investigate and counteract the negative publicity. It is said, a team consisting of ex-CIA agents, private criminal investigators, a security firm and even public relations experts were hired; an influential group brought together to quickly conduct damage control warranted by the seriousness of the allegations.

    Facing world criticism and even conspiracy, theorizing the event may have been staged to derail his political aspirations to become the next French president. Some have even speculated the scandal was devised to damage Strauss-Kahn’s credibility prior to releasing information about top U.S. government officials.

    In response to the world headlines, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin posted on an official Kremlin website, "It is hard for me for me to evaluate the hidden political motives," and further stated, "I cannot believe that it looks the way it was initially introduced and doesn't sit right in my head."

    Though the firms reportedly hired by Strauss-Kahn have not made any public statements regarding the case, it is clear that powerful evidence was uncovered that forced prosecutors to acknowledge they now have 'reasonable doubt' the sexual assault allegations were credible.


    The Role of a Powerful Defense Team

    With the public and media's tendency to rush to judgment, there is no ignoring potential and permanent damage to an individual’s life and career. It becomes important to remember that one is 'innocent until proven guilty' and guaranteed due process in a court of law but some damage is irreversible.

    Part of the necessary preparation process is to have a powerful defense team consisting of attorneys, experts and criminal private investigators to delve into the deepest depths of the lives of those involved in a case.

    As with Strauss-Kahn, it became essential that the defense investigate the chambermaid’s history and character in order to disprove her allegations, identify inconsistencies in her statements and reveal any previous questionable behavior that may cause doubt as to her integrity.

    Strauss-Kahn's legal lineup did indicate in documents that they have 'substantial information' that could 'gravely undermine her credibility.'

    Through a post-indictment investigation of Dialo, prosecutors say they were presented with information about her past that contain many falsehoods, to include lying about being “gang raped” by soldiers in her homeland of Guinea; then admitting it never happened. There also appear to be contradictions in her statements about her whereabouts after the incident involving Strauss-Kahn, even inconsistency in tax-related matters.

    It goes without saying, especially here in the United States, when you are accused of a crime; you are guilty until you prove your innocence. With private investigators and an aggressive defense team on your side, the likelihood of proving your innocence is increased and when you have a long prison term hanging over your head, you need the best team you can get.

    Author -Kym L. Pasqualini
    Missing Media Solutions
    www.missingmediasolutions.com



    Please contact Indianapolis Private Investigator, Thomas Lauth, for any investigations needed at 800.889.3463 or visit www.lauthinvestigations.com

    Missing Person Case Update – Michael Grenley


    Michael Grenley
    Michael Grenley
    Michael Sean Grenley, 41 years old, left his home near 75th Ave and Deer Valley in north Glendale, at 1pm on July 19th. His wife had thought he had simply gone to get lunch, but concerned, reported him missing later that day after he did not return.
    Michael enjoyed driving his Jeep Rubicon to remote areas north of Phoenix, and quickly there was speculation he may have simply gone for a ride in the desert. On August 6, 2011, a motorcyclist discovered Michael’s remains near his Jeep approximately 10 miles north of Lake Pleasant and notified Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesperson for sheriff’s office indicated the Jeep was found with the front end stuck on a large boulder.
    Arizona is known for its rough terrain in the area north of Lake Pleasant. Many venture north on 4x4s, dirt bikes and quads thru unmaintained trails between Lake Pleasant and Crown King, a popular place for avid off-road enthusiasts due to its spectacular scenery and challenging landscape. Though lovely, the Arizona wilderness is also quite unforgiving.
    Arizona terrain north of Lake Pleasant, AZ
    Arizona terrain north of Lake Pleasant, AZ
    Michael’s cause of death has not been publicly released, however the Medical Examiner indicates there was no sign of foul play or a struggle. On the day of Michael’s disappearance Arizona experienced a Haboob, a storm that created a nearly 3,000-4,000 foot high wall of dust at approximately 4:30pm as it rolled through the counties of Pinal and Maricopa, causing hazardous driving conditions throughout the valley. In addition to driving hazards, temperatures in Arizona, July through August can range from 90-128 degrees, along with potential dangers of flash-flooding where in a matter of minutes 10-30 foot walls of water can fill dry creek beds.
    It is not known if weather conditions contributed to Michael’s death but in Arizona, for those suffering from a medical condition, exposure to high temperatures and possible lack of water can quickly cause health complications and death due to exposure.
    Posted on an off-road website, a member wrote, “This is a sad reminder to all of us to always bring another person and be well-equipped when traveling off-road.”
    Michael Grenley is survived by his wife, Melissa, of 17 years and 6 year-old son. His wife described Michael as a wonderful father and regrets he won’t be there to see their 6-year-old son grow up.
    Author – Kym L. Pasqualini
    Founder of National Center for Missing Adults
    & Social Network Advocate
    Missing Persons Advocacy Network
    Phone: 800.889.3463

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Statement from Iva Bradley, mother of Amy Bradley

    “Kym has a focus and passion about missing loved ones of which one is my daughter Amy Lynn Bradley. She has the strong skill and ability to be able to translate this passion into words that touch the hearts and souls of those of us who appreciate her dedication and love for what she does. Her writing about this issue is part of her heart and there is a demand for her expertise in how she does what she does. She is absolutely amazing.” August 18, 2011

    Iva Bradley, Pres., INB Insurance Agency Inc.
     


    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Family Remains Focused – The Disappearance of Robyn Gardner

    Stunning beauty vanishes in Aruba. Family of Robyn Gardner, missing since August 2, 2011 refuse to lose focus and remind public she is a friend, sister, and daughter and they need the public’s help to bring her home safe.

    Robyn Lynn Gardner
    Robyn Lynn Gardner

    Oranjestad, Aruba - Robyn Lynn Gardner, a 35 year-old resident of Fredericksburg, Maryland, vanished August 2, 2011. It is known she had traveled with Gary V. Giordano, to Aruba on July 31, 2011. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, now assisting Aruban authorities, Robyn was last seen in the vicinity of Baby Beach, Sint Nicolass area of Aruba, located on the southeastern tip of the Caribbean Islands. The pair had been staying at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in Oranjestad.

    According to friends, Robyn had met Giordano online approximately a year and a half ago and described him as a platonic friend. Though it is not yet clear why she agreed to travel to Aruba with Giordano, Aruban authorities have confirmed they are making every effort to continue to detain 50 year-old, Giordano, for questioning in Gardner’s disappearance. It is reported Giordano contacted Aruban authorities at approximately 6:20pm on August 2nd, reporting he and Robyn had been snorkeling earlier in the afternoon. He claims last time he saw her, he tapped Robyn’s leg, motioning her to return to shore. He then states he proceeded to shore, noticed Robyn was not behind him, and assumed she had been swept out to sea by the current. To date, there is no confirmation that snorkeling equipment was ever rented by Giordano or Robyn. Giordano’s story just isn’t adding up.


    Robyn Gardner and  Gary V. Giordano
    Robyn Gardner and Boyfriend, Richard Forester


    Richard Forester, Robyn’s boyfriend and her brother, Andrew Colson, are both adamant that Robyn would not have had even the slightest interest in snorkeling. “Robyn is the type of woman who is very conscientious of her appearance, her makeup always perfect, she went to get her nails done regularly and took great care not to damage her hair extensions,” says Forester. “She is the type of woman who walks down the street and everyone turns and looks at her, amazingly beautiful!” Her family and friends place no credibility in Giordano’s account of the afternoon of snorkeling at an isolated beach. It doesn’t appear Aruban prosecutors place any credence in his story either.

    Questions Remain
    According to Richard Forester, Robyn had initially told him she was traveling to Florida to visit her family. On Monday, August 1st, Robyn informed Forester her parents had surprised her with a trip to Aruba. A phone call cut short, and a Facebook post from Robyn simply stating “This Sucks,” began to draw Forester’s concern. On August 2nd, Robyn’s last Facebook message to him said, “Don’t worry. I care about you. I love you and we will talk and sort things out when I get back.” That was the last contact he received from her. Whether Robyn agreed to travel to Aruba for a week of relaxation or if she was lured there by Giordano under false pretenses; questions remain.


    Robyn Lynn Gardner
    Robyn Gardner in 2011


    Google Mail Activity
    According to Forester, he noticed Robyn’s Google Mail account was active in the days following her disappearance. With Google Mail a green indicator light reflects if a person is online and available to chat. Forester sent numerous messages with no response but noticed continuous activity on her account in the two days following Robyn’s reported disappearance. Confused, he was not yet aware Giordano had reported Robyn missing and it was not until the following Friday he received notification from Robyn’s brother authorities. Forester is now concerned the Google Mail activity, he was seeing may have been Giordano accessing Robyn’s email account possibly deleting incriminating correspondence.

    Background of Giordano
    Giordano’s financial history is in question, but he is described as a self-employed businessman, living in a $1 million residence located in an upper-scale, Gaithersburg, MD, neighborhood. Giordano’s history with women is obviously under a microscope and so far documents two restraining orders and allegations of domestic violence. According to a former female acquaintance of Giordano, who had also met him on the Internet, she obtained a restraining order after being stalked by Giordano. She claims he also covertly videotaped them having sex, then placed sexually graphic photographs of her on the Internet. Montgomery County court records indicate when Giordano was confronted by the woman he then proceeded to place inappropriate personal photographs of her inside her neighbor’s mailboxes. Yet an additional restraining order filed by another female acquaintance states Giordano tried to choke the woman and put his fingers down her throat.

    Carrie Emerson, a Richmond, VA, resident has come forward to help in the investigation of Robyn’s disappearance. Emerson has told authorities, around the same time Giordano asked Robyn to go to Aruba, Giordano had viewed online photographs of Emerson’s daughter, a beautiful blonde teen model. Giordano called Emerson claiming to be a producer and offered to take both of them to Aruba for a photo shoot. During one conversation, Emerson recalls Giordano strangely said, “This won’t be another Natalie Holloway case.” Though Emerson declined, Giordano continued to pursue her, even offering lifetime financial security if Emerson and her daughter would both sleep with him. After her own experience with Giordano, Emerson is passionate that other women need to be educated. “Giordano is only one of millions of men who try to lure unsuspecting women into potentially dangerous situations,” Emerson says. “I came forward to help find Robyn first and foremost. People need to remember that Robyn is a person, not an object, who deserves to be further exploited in the media.” Emerson is haunted by a gut feeling that Giordano had been specifically targeting blondes and wonders if he may have been working with someone else, possibly even trying to pre-arrange some kind of deal in the sex-trade industry. When a person vanishes under suspicious circumstances, Emerson’s concerns are not unreasonable and should be investigated.

    Giordano’s interactions with these women validates a history of predatory behavior; then add Giordano’s ex-wife who alleges domestic violence occurred in their very short marriage. It is evident, given Giordano’s documented violent behavior that Robyn’s family has every reason to be concerned for her safety.

    The Insurance Policy
    Aruban authorities state it is not uncommon for travelers to purchase travel insurance. However, reports that Giordano purchased a $1.5 million ‘accidental life insurance policy’ in Robyn’s name listing him as main beneficiary could be perceived as a motive for homicide. While purchasing a travel life insurance policy may not seem unusual, Giordano’s activities following Robyn’s disappearance send some huge red flags for those investigating her disappearance. It has been reported only two-days after Robyn’s mysterious disappearance, Giordano called American Express inquiring if all insurance documents he had submitted had been received, wanting confirmation he was listed sole beneficiary and reported he tried to initiate collection on the policy. While authorities and family were desperately concerned for Robyn’s safety, it appears Giordano had only one thing on his mind, collecting money.

    The Investigation
    Aruban solicitor general, Taco Stein, has stated Aruban authorities remain very concerned about inconsistencies in Giordano’s account of what happened the afternoon of August 2nd and making every attempt to continue to detain Giordano in Aruba while continuing to investigate Robyn’s disappearance. Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting and searched Giordano’s home. Disappearances of United States citizens overseas tend to be complicated by jurisdictional issues and FBI investigative activity in Aruba limited. Extensive searches of the water, coastline and even phosphate mines in south and north end of the island have produced no leads.

    Stein has publicly confirmed a digital camera was recovered that contains images of Robyn but stated during a news interview that Gardener did not appear to be in duress in the photographs. Though reported by some mainstream media that a source described the photographs as ‘beyond pornographic’ friends and family of Robyn are convinced that Robyn would not ever willingly participate in pornographic photographs.

    On the day of Robyn’s disappearance, a surveillance camera confirmed the pair went to eat at the Rum Reef Bar & Grill located in the Baby Beach area Robyn reportedly disappeared. Staff at the Reef Bar & Grill reportedly told authorities Robyn appeared woozy during the meal. Additional reports state Giordano has claimed Robyn took a sleeping pill and drank alcohol prior to snorkeling. Giordano’s own assertion may lend credence to speculation Robyn may have been unwittingly drugged the day of her disappearance as those who know Robyn well unanimously agree that is not consistent with her behavior. One must really question what ‘good friend’ would take someone who is inebriated snorkeling, placing them in danger.

    The owner of a dive shop located next to the Rum Reef Bar & Grill claims Giordano and Robyn did enter his shop several hours before she was reported missing but did not rent any equipment. The dive shop owner also claims he saw Giordano and Robyn driving on a dirt road in a remote part of the island later in the day.

    The Impact on Robyn’s Family and Friends
    Ambiguous loss experienced by families searching for missing loved ones is said to be one of the most traumatizing experiences to the human psyche. While imagining what may have happened to their missing loved one; if their loved one is somewhere suffering or a victim of a horrific crime, words can’t adequately describe the worry, desperation, and the terror families of missing persons feel. While in this situation, sometimes lasting months and even years, simply moving on is not an option. When someone you love simply vanishes it affects every aspect of a person’s life. Short of being informed their loved one has been located safe or even deceased, loved ones of missing persons enter a perpetual limbo; unable to move forward. The word ‘closure’ becomes a wicked word for it doesn’t exist for families of missing persons. “I was asked if I think Robyn is still alive and without hesitation I answered, yes. I have to believe that and maintain hope because we won’t give up until she is found,” says Forester.

    Public Speculation – Help or Hinder?
    As with most high profile missing person cases, public opinion and speculation abounds. While exhausting every ounce of energy, family members and loved ones try to remain focused on finding their loved one and utilizing every resource possible remains paramount.

    In today’s society and the age of social networking, keeping people aware is vital and discussion is healthy. However, blather can ignite like unattended embers fueling a fire that quickly consumes acres of forest. Unfortunately, gossip tends to receive more focus than the missing person and sadly some can’t even restrain themselves from blaming the victim for the circumstances of their own disappearance.

    Headline news reports have read “Beyond Pornographic Images found on Camera,” and presented in a manner to draw attention but can quickly stigmatize the victim, rapidly desensitizing the public and diverting focus that a young woman is terribly missed by her family. On the ‘Missing Robyn Gardner’ Facebook page, a post from a stranger reads. “Boyfriend paid 50 year-old to hack his girlfriend,” and yet another posted by a man named Chuck Webster, says, “If she had a boyfriend in MD. She was cheating on him. Bad girl!” These statements clearly reflect lack of empathy and become personal attacks on the family and friends of the missing woman. “These statements are disturbing and only add insult to injury,” says Forester.

    Quickly disseminating information about a missing person is crucial and increases the potential to generate credible leads, enabling the investigating law enforcement agency to progress with the investigation. For missing person cases, the Internet enables expeditious ‘information sharing’ and is vital to successfully solving cases.

    Detective Stewart Martz of Phoenix Police Department says, “Whether people realize it or not, these statements can be perceived as malicious attacks on the family and the victim when it should be a time when communities, even social networking communities, need to come together. These families need help.” Det. Martz adds, “It is a stressful enough time for the victim’s family and when insensitive statements are publicized it only further traumatizes these families. The public needs to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement and we encourage them to help the investigation and make a difference by sharing factual information and photographs of a missing person.”

    Despite gossip headlines and personal questions asked during interviews, Robyn’s loved ones remain hopeful and motivated. “There is nothing that will remove my focus on finding Robyn. People need to be sensitive and remember first and foremost, Robyn is not only a girlfriend, she is a daughter, sister and a friend,” says Forester. “Everything else, all of this gossip and questions, becomes irrelevant. We just want to bring her home because she has a family who loves and misses her. I refuse to lose focus on that!”

    FBI – Robyn Gardner
    Missing Person Advocacy Network
    Author – Kym L. Pasqualini
    Founder of National Center for Missing Adults

    & Social Network Advocate
    Missing Persons Network
    Phone: 800.889.3463

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Corporate Due Diligence and Asset Searches in Litigation

    Corporate Structure
    Unlike typical businesses or limited liability companies (LLC’s), corporations are structured differently and created under the laws of a state to establish it as a separate entity of its Board of Directors. Various forms of corporations exist and the actions of the corporate officers are governed by the bylaws of the entity.

    Though not universal throughout the United States, one aspect of a corporation is in the event that a corporation fails, shareholders, may lose their investments, members may lose their positions and employees may lose their jobs but will not be held liable for remaining debts owed to the corporation’s creditors.

    Corporations are generally accepted by law to have responsibilities similar to that of an individual and can exercise rights against other individuals and entities, and even be held responsible for violations and criminal offenses, such as fraud. Many corporations are created as entities of perpetual duration and can exist indefinitely until legally dissolved voluntarily by members or shareholders, statutorily, or by court order.

    Corporate Litigation
    Corporate litigation is a complex area of law that can include a variety of tort and contractual claims, such as breach of contract, fraud, infringement of intellectual property, and breach of fiduciary duties. Commercial insurance disputes can also be a source of litigation when an insurance claim is undervalued and denied as a fair claim requiring the claimant to sue to recover the amount they are entitled to. During any corporate or business dispute, it is advisable to attempt to resolve the dispute through negotiation or arbitration. However, if the dispute(s) cannot be resolved, litigation can be utilized to resolve the dispute(s).

    Corporate Disputes and Legal Considerations
    • Employment Law Disputes
    • Corporate Contract Negotiation
    • Breach of Contract and General Contract Disputes
    • Payment Disputes
    • Non-Compete Agreements
    • Property sell and purchasing
    • Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Commercial Leasing Disputes
    • Insurance Disputes
    • Employee Fraud/Embezzlement
    • Corporate Partnership Disputes
    • Business Torts
    Why Companies in Litigation Over 500K Should Conduct Asset Searches
    When facing corporate litigation in excess of $500K, the decision makers of the corporation must take into consideration the cost of legal representation, if the defendant has assets and evaluate if the costs of litigation are worthwhile. A comprehensive asset search can quickly identify property that could be attached to satisfy a judgment if located or be used as a powerful negotiation tool between the parties prior to ever initiating a lawsuit. It is recommended any corporation weighing the pros and cons of pursuing litigation that may result in a judgment in excess of $500K first have an all-inclusive asset search conducted to determine if a judgment can be collected.

    Private investigators and investigative firms have the capability of assisting a corporation even prior to initiating litigation by reviewing financial records, trace and discover fiscal misrepresentations, confirm accurate financial information and locate hidden assets enabling corporate representatives to make an informed decision whether to pursue litigation. If litigation is pursued, it becomes paramount to ensure the information collected is comprehensive and presented in an understandable and simplified form that will be admissible in court.

    The Role of In-House Corporate Attorneys
    An in-house corporate attorney advises corporations on the entity’s legal rights, duties and responsibilities of the corporate officers, along with ensuring all commercial transactions and contracts are handled legally. Corporate lawyers typically have experience and knowledge in licensing, contract and tax law, corporate structure, zoning, security law, accounting, intellectual rights, bankruptcy and any other laws specific to the companies they represent.

    In-house corporate attorneys act more as facilitators and negotiators in the role of corporate transactions, reviewing and drafting documents, structuring deals and attending meetings. A corporate attorney’s duties can vary from acting in an advisory capacity to negotiating corporate mergers and acquisitions.

    An in-house corporate attorney who primarily acts in an advisory and negotiation capacity,
    may determine that civil litigation is the only way to remedy a dispute.











    The Role of an Outside Civil Litigation Attorney

    An in-house corporate attorney who primarily acts in an advisory and negotiation capacity, may determine that civil litigation is the only way to remedy a dispute. A civil attorney deals specifically with disputes between corporations and /or individuals and is a branch of law focused on representing those who compensation may be awarded. Civil litigation typically focuses on contracts, torts, and other disputes as mentioned above.

    Civil law is different from other types of law as it is designed to ensure agreements are honored and settle disputes; in essence to ‘right a wrong’ and ensure the victim is compensated. In any type of case it is important for a corporation or attorney to conduct due diligence on the potential defendant before expending money and time in pursuing a claim that may never be repaid because the defendant has no assets, has minimized or successfully hidden assets.

    The Role of Creditor Rights Attorney
    Creditor Rights Attorneys represent creditors who are attempting to collect money borrowed and loans not repaid. While debtors are protected by the Fair Collections Practices Act, it is still necessary for the creditor to make every attempt to obtain a judgment requiring the debtor to repay the loan. Debt falls into two categories; secured and unsecured.

    Secured debt is when a loan is secured with collateral with some type of property to ensure repayment should the debtor fail to make payments. An unsecured loan is debt that has no property or collateral to secure the loan, therefore if the debtor defaults the creditor must make attempts to collect the amounts owed. Repossession of secured personal property must follow State Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Creditor Rights Attorneys assist creditors with creditor litigation, liens, domestic and foreign judgments, garnishments and collection services.

    Types of Services That Can Assist Corporations and Attorneys in Due Diligence Asset Searches
    Asset search companies and licensed private investigative firms that specialize in providing comprehensive asset searches can provide invaluable assistance to attorneys and corporations such as financial institutions, debt recovery units, government agencies, and private individuals in recovering assets.
    • Corporate Summaries identify corporate EIN, DUNS, estimated sales, and income; to include the number of employees, operating locations, employee profiles and structure of the potential target corporation.
    • Identify names of Officers and Directors and management teams of potential target corporation.
    • Identified potential target corporation’s clientele, nature of business and volume of business with each clientele.
    • Identifies potential target corporation’s vendors, suppliers, logistics and financial institutions.
    • Credit and payment analysis for 12-36 months to include creditors and debt amounts.
    • Search of court records.
    • Identifies all physical locations of potential target corporation and tangible assets and on-site physical confirmation of assets such as machinery and equipment.
    • Analyze annual production capacity.
    • Identify financial institutions, brokerage firms and off-shore assets.
    • Domain names, website traffic and domain’s estimated value.

    Author - Kym L. Pasqualini

    Please contact Indianapolis Private Investigator, Thomas Lauth, for any investigations needed at 800.889.3463 or visit www.lauthinvestigations.com

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Self-Proclaimed Soldier of Fortune Deceives Family of Missing Woman, Amy Lynn Bradley – Part Two



    Amy Bradley
    Bradley Family Vacation

    Several months after Amy Lynn Bradley’s disappearance while vacationing with her family on Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Rhapsody of the Seas, Iva and Ron Bradley receive an email from Frank Jones. Jones proclaimed himself to be a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer working with a team of ex-Army Rangers and ex-Navy Seals under his command in special ops missions. Jones assured the Bradleys his team had the experience and credentials to rescue Amy. With information Amy had been kidnapped and held on the Dutch island of Curacao and little progress made in the federal investigation, Jones offered a glimmer of hope to Amy’s parents.

    Jones convinced the Bradleys to hire him in what could be defined as a private investigator role to provide surveillance of a location where there had been a potential sighting of Amy and report back to the distressed parents. Once hired, Jones claimed he sent four of his men to Curacao, assigned to develop information and confirm Amy was alive. Once confirmed he would be begin planning a rescue mission. One source of information was Judith Margaritha, a resident of Curacao, introduced to the Bradleys by acquaintances who were also residents of the island. Margaritha claimed she had knowledge Amy was being held in a barbed wire complex protected by heavily armed guards. She accurately described Amy’s tattoos and even referenced a lullaby Iva Bradley sang to Amy when she was a baby. Margaritha also claimed Amy was often seen with a man with long blonde hair and one arm sleeved with tattoos. With knowledge the Netherland Antilles is a major hub for illegal activity and sex-trafficking, the Bradleys felt they had finally received information that would help rescue their daughter. A special ops mission conducted by experienced former military seemed like the only way to infiltrate an organized crime entity in Curacao. Just like in a Hollywood movie, the operation moved forward to rescue Amy.



    Tattoo
    Amy's Tattoo



    Jones provided a report indicating two of his Ex-Navy Seals set up surveillance locations on the island and observed Amy in a SUV driven by a man with long blond hair. Jones claimed Amy was under armed guard and in imminent danger. This information only seemed to validate the leads Margaritha had provided. Jones’ report further claimed his men were forced to leave the island after being fired upon by approximately ten armed men. Over the next few months, Jones kept payments coming by reporting to the family he had sent more operatives to the island, followed by reporting the latest sightings of their daughter.

    Motivated by the hope Amy had been identified and would soon to be rescued, the cost of bringing Amy home was not to be an obstacle. While exhausting their personal savings, the family also sought help from donors and nonprofit organizations to continue to raise the necessary funds that would be needed bring Amy home alive. When the Bradleys’ received communication from Jones stating he was ready to launch the rescue mission and needed more money, the Bradley’s requested some kind of proof. Jones sent them a picture of a young woman on a beach accompanied by the ‘mysterious’ man with long blond hair and tattoos. The woman was wearing a long-brimmed hat, making it difficult to see her face but the tattoos, one of a baby Tasmanian devil and a symbol on her ankle, jumped out of the picture at Amy’s family. Desperate to know their daughter was alive and not wanting to waste any time, they immediately had the pictures forensically examined. “When I got the pictures, I knew Amy was OK, and it was just a matter of time,” recalls Iva Bradley, who recognized the tattoo on her daughter’s ankle. Upon confirmation the photographs were real and likely their daughter, the Bradleys proceeded to pay Jones.




    Amy


    After receiving payment, Jones directed the Bradleys to travel to Florida to wait his call indicating the mission was a success and immediately depart to Curacao to be reunited with their daughter. Overwhelmed with anxiety, knowing the phone could ring at any moment, during the week that followed, Iva recalls only leaving the room two times to go to the front desk and the parking lot. A Lear jet, provided by Ron Bradley’s employer was on hold awaiting immediate departure upon receiving notification Amy was ready to transport home. Every minute was never-ending while awaiting news of their daughter’s rescue but a week passed without any word from Jones.

    Meanwhile, in Curacao, one of Jones team, Timothy Buckholz, a former Army Special Forces sniper, began to wonder if Jones was telling Amy’s parents the truth. Buckholz had been assigned to head up surveillance at the location where Jones had said Amy was under armed guard however, Buckholz had only observed what appeared to be an ordinary family living at the location. While at a bar, Buckholz overheard Jones on the phone telling the Bradleys that the location was under constant surveillance and ‘his men’ were watching the house at that very moment. Buckholz then suspected Jones was conning Amy’s family and immediately contacted the Bradleys to expose Jones.

    The Bradleys had expended approximately $24,000 of their personal savings and over $180,000 from the Amy Bradley fund at the Nation’s Missing Children Organization, a nonprofit that provided assistance to the family and held a restricted fund specifically for costs related to search and recovery. Utter devastation followed when the Bradleys were informed by Buckholz, that Jones had never served in the Special Forces and had fabricated the entire story, even the photograph of the woman they thought was their daughter was deceptive. The entire story began to unravel. How could someone con a family into thinking their daughter was alive? How could someone plot and go to the extent of fabricating such an elaborate story? The pain the Bradleys were experiencing was unimaginable.

    Later, Jono Senk, who had been working with Jones, told authorities he wore a blond wig, posing as the kidnapper. According to Senk they staged the photograph on a Pensacola beach with a young woman who resembled Amy and was an acquaintance of Jones. They even went to the extent of having two temporary tattoos matching Amy’s painted on the woman’s back and ankle to fool the Bradley’s into thinking it was their missing daughter.

    As it turned out, Judith Margaritha’s story that she had seen Amy in a guarded compound in Curacao was also false. Giovanni Margaritha, the son of Judith Margaritha, stated what his mother had done was a lie. He later said in a media interview, “It’s just using Amy’s mother as a way of stealing.” Margaritha maintained she had never lied to Amy’s parents but had been paid approximately $8,000.00 for her information.

    In February 2002, federal prosecutors in Richmond charged Jones with defrauding the Bradleys of $24,444 and the Nation’s Missing Children Organization of $186,416.00. In April 2002, Jones pleaded guilty to mail fraud, was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to repay the money. Judge Richard L. Williams imposed an enhanced sentence on Joes, twice the maximum called for by federal guidelines. Jones conviction was an end to an unbelievable journey but not the end of the family’s hope.

    The Bradleys are not the first or the last family of a missing person to be preyed upon by those claiming they can help find a victim. When a loved one goes missing and the case is publicized, especially high profile media cases, frantic families become an immediate target of unscrupulous individuals claiming they have information as to the missing person’s whereabouts. Psychics, tipsters, and those claiming to be credentialed and reputable private investigators have invaded family’s lives in order to fraudulently benefit from monetary gain.
    When your child is missing, families have no choice but to extend trust to those they feel have credible information. During an interview, Ron Bradley later told Primetime, “If there’s a chance, what else do you do?” Ron Bradley says. “If it was your child, what would you do? I guess we took a chance. And I guess we lost.”

    Despite, the few who prey upon other’s misfortune, there are many more good people who are willing to do the right thing and help families in distress. Unless one has experienced the psychological trauma associated with ambiguous loss cause by the ‘not knowing’ if someone you love is safe, one may never understand the sheer determination possessed by families of the missing. Giving up the search for your missing loved one is never an option. The Bradleys epitomize the meaning of courage when faced with unimaginable adversity in their search for their daughter. One thing is certain; the heart never gives up hope!


    Links:
    FBI.GOV – Amy Bradley
    Amy Bradley – Official Site
    Missing Person Advocacy Network

    Author – Kym L. Pasqualini
    Founder of National Center for Missing Adults

    & Social Network Advocate
    Missing Persons Network
    Phone: 800.889.3463

    After Thirteen Years Mystery Still Surrounds Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley

    July 27, 2011 – Part One
    VA – On March 24, 1998, Amy Lynn Bradley, mysteriously vanished while vacationing with her family aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Rhapsody of the Seas. The ship had left Oranjestad, Aruba, to sail to Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles.

    AmyThe, 23-year-old trained lifeguard, had been awarded a full basketball scholarship and graduated from Longwood University in VA with a degree in Physical Education. Amy also had a teaching certificate from K -12. Amy was looking forward to a future bright with possibilities prior to her disappearance. She had lots of plans upon her return. She adopted an English bulldog named Daisey to keep her bulldog Bailey; took a dozen rolls of film to take pictures to decoupage her coffee table; had concert tickets; a part time job to start on Monday; bought gifts in Aruba for her friends back home; sent post cards to friends from Puerto Rico. The ill-fated Caribbean family vacation with parents, Ron and Iva Bradley, and Amy’s younger brother, Brad, should have been a trip of a lifetime but quickly became overcast amidst darkness and mystery.

    Rhapsody of the Seas had left Aruba and was in docking procedure in the Port of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, at the time of Amy’s disappearance. In the early morning hours of March 24th, Amy left her cabin barefoot only taking her lighter and cigarettes, an obvious sign she was not expecting to be gone for an extended amount of time.

    Reflecting on the days before Amy’s disappearance, Amy’s mother, Iva Bradley, recalls several members of the crew paying special attention to Amy from the moment they boarded the ship. The day preceding Amy’s disappearance, Amy’s parents were approached by a waiter who asked for Amy by name. The waiter said ‘they’ wanted to take Amy to Carlos and Charlie’s Restaurant while docked in Aruba. Her father recalls thinking the waiter’s request was uncomfortably forward. A short time later, Ron and Iva told their daughter what happened. Both parents are now haunted by Amy’s response, “I wouldn’t go and do anything with any of those crew members. They give me the creeps.”

    Creepy didn’t stop there. Later that night, the family attended a party on the upper deck where the band was playing. During the party, Amy, accompanied by her mother, went to the 4th deck photo gallery to view pictures of vacationers that had been taken earlier in the evening. All of the photographs taken of Amy were missing. When they asked the gallery manager where the photos were, he stated he remembered developing them and placing them with the others but was unable to locate them. Iva then asked the photo gallery manager to re-make the photos.

    Later that evening Amy and Brad went to the ship’s nightclub and where Amy had some interaction with ship band members of Blue Orchid. Witnesses claim the bass player was trying to pick her up. According to band member Alister Douglas, who goes by the name Yellow, claims Amy had departed to her room at approximately 1:00AM and used the crew elevator. A ship surveillance video showed Amy and Yellow on the dance floor at approximately 3AM. Amy’s father was the last to see her on March 24th at approximately 5:30AM sleeping on the balcony of the cabin the family shared. When Ron awoke again between 5:50- 6:00AM, Amy was nowhere to be found. While relentlessly searching for their beloved daughter, Amy’s parents have endured an unimaginable journey into the abyss of international kidnapping and sex trafficking. Who Amy may have left to meet that morning remains a mystery.

    According to the Bradley’s, they quickly found cruise ship management less than cooperative in the search for their daughter refusing to issue a formal public alert or post pictures of the missing American woman for fear of causing concern to other passengers. Though the FBI has conducted an extensive investigation, into Amy’s background, her friends, teachers, relatives, co-workers, employees, basketball coaches, her parents and brother were even polygraphed. Unfortunately, because Amy vanished outside of the US and lack of FBI jurisdiction in the Netherland Antilles, valuable leads have fallen through the cracks and never investigated. Not one search has ever been conducted.

    In the 13 years following Amy’s disappearance, the Bradley’s desperate search for their daughter has included multiple trips to Curacao, appeals on national television, even hiring private investigators. Since Amy’s mysteriously disappeared, many tips reported that appear credible. One of the tipsters, David Carmichael, called the hotline after watching an Unsolved Mysteries segment. He confidently identified Amy as a young woman he saw walking along the beach snug between two men. Describing the encounter, Carmichael, along with his dive buddy, also from Canada, identified two tattoos that matched Amy’s, one of a Gecko, the other a Tasmanian devil. He said the woman approached within 16” of him and his friend and made eye contact for several seconds but didn’t utter a word. He said she was then quickly ushered away by the two unidentified men. Another tip came from a US Navy officer that had visited a brothel in 1999. After seeing Amy in People Magazine, he claims he approached Amy and another woman sitting at a table and the woman told him her name was Amy Bradley and began begging him to help her. When he responded there was a Navy ship just down the road, she said, “You don’t understand, I can’t leave. Help me. Please help me” The Naval officer says he dismissed her plea because he wasn’t aware Amy was a missing person and he did not want his superiors to know he was there.

    Thousands of leads later, it’s hard to ignore the circumstances of Amy’s disappearance do not strongly point to sex trafficking. According to a 2010 report conducted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and published by the United States Department of State, the Netherland Antilles is a transit and destination point for women and children who are victims of forced prostitution in a multi-billion dollar industry. It is estimated approximately 80% of all prostitutes are foreigners. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) lists the Netherlands as a top destination for victims of human and sex trafficking. Women who are coerced or kidnapped face inhumane conditions, extreme violence and multiple rapes to break their spirit. Victims are often threatened with death along with their family members should they try to escape; forced drug dependence is also common.

    When we think of the word unimaginable, Amy’s parents truly know its meaning. “Our lives have been so drastically changed. Every waking moment is, ‘Where is Amy?’ I just want people to know that when girls disappear outside of the country, they’re disappearing for a reason. And white slavery and sex trafficking is so alive and well, it would absolutely blow you away. We believe with every fiber in our being that someone took her and we want her back. And I have tried to make deals with God. If we find her today, you can take me tomorrow. When they say the worst nightmare, it is. It’s the worst nightmare.”

    Thirteen years later, Amy remains missing in an ocean of international red tape and a series of events that have failed to be investigated. Sadly, as the Bradleys found out, when you are traveling overseas and someone you love goes missing – you are on your own.


    Kym L. Pasqualini
    Missing Person Advocacy Network