Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did Terry Curry Just Find A Tim Durham Issue To Sink Mark Massa's Candidacy?

Both Republican Mark Massa and Democrat Terry Curry have promised to clean up the Marion County Prosecutor's Office that has been mired in the ethical lapses of its current occupant, Republican Carl Brizzi, particularly as it relates to his relationship with alleged Ponzi scheme operator Tim Durham, who funnelled more than $200,000 to Brizzi's campaign coffers and co-chaired his election campaign at one time. The Indianapolis Times blog has identified a $15,000 campaign contribution Mark Massa's campaign accepted from a mysterious and controversial Las Vegas businessman, Jerry W. Slusser. "It turns out that in 1998 a Commodity Futures Trading Commission Administrative Law Judge ruled that Slusser and others were involved in the misappropriation of "$6 million of customer funds" and some other financial hijinks," the blog reports. A press release from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission at the time read:

In an Initial Decision issued on August 24, 1998, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) George H. Painter found that, during 1989, Jerry W. Slusser, formerly of Indianapolis, Indiana, and currently of Las Vegas, Nevada, and First Republic Financial Corporation (FRFC) (formerly known as Vancorp Financial Services) of Indianapolis, Indiana, misappropriated nearly $6 million of customer funds, made material misrepresentations and omissions of facts to customers, and failed to register with the Commission and make required disclosures in their operation of two commodity pools.

The ALJ found Slusser, the owner and chairman of the board of FRFC and a registered associated person, liable for FRFC's violations as a controlling person of the firm and that another of Slusser's corporations, First Republic Trading Corporation (FRTC), a registered introducing broker also of Indianapolis, aided and abetted FRFC's and Slusser's fraud.

The ALJ also found that FRFC illegally acted as a commodity pool operator (CPO) without being registered with the CFTC, that Slusser illegally acted as an associated person of a CPO without registration, and that FRFC violated CFTC regulations governing the operation of commodity pools and required disclosures to pool participants.

ALJ Orders $10 Million Fine Against Slusser, FRFR, and FRTC

The ALJ ordered Slusser, FRFC, and FRTC to cease and desist from further violations, permanently banned them from trading commodity futures, revoked the registrations of First Republic Trading and Slusser, and ordered Slusser, FRFC, and FRTC --jointly and severally -- to pay a $10 million civil monetary penalty, the largest ever assessed in a litigated Commission administrative proceeding.
Slusser has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to other Indiana Republicans in recent years, including Massa's former boss, Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita and the Indiana Republican Party. It looks like Slusser has even flown Gov. Daniels around in one of his private jets he leases on a number of occasions as well when it wasn't being used for, ahem, other "business matters."

In 2003, Time magazine featured a story entitled "The Great Energy Scam" in which it shed some more light on who this mysterious businessman Jerry W. Slusser is:

With some exceptions, the 21st century version of synthetic-fuel plants uses competing coal-altering processes developed by a handful of companies, which make money by licensing their technology. One is Earthco, a mysterious Las Vegas enterprise whose technology is used in 10 plants in six states. An Earthco founding principal was Jerry W. Slusser, 57, who has been involved in a string of curious businesses. In 1998 a Commodity Futures Trading Commission judge found that Slusser and two of his companies "pilfered millions of dollars from customers using the commodities market to carry out their scheme." Some of the money was funneled through accounts of Slusser's Sterling International Bank Ltd., which existed as a post office drop on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. The commission barred Slusser and his firms from trading commodity futures and assessed a $10 million penalty, the largest ever in an administrative hearing. A U.S. appeals court, while acknowledging there had been "multiple frauds," reduced the fines to $600,000, which Slusser has again appealed.

The investor's home in a gated country-club community just off the Las Vegas strip is also the official address of more than 80 Slusser-related business ventures with names like 481TL LLC, CCHDDNV Inc., N15SB LLC and QEAT4 LLC. With their principals scattered across the country, the companies have the appearance of being tax-avoidance devices, just like the synfuels scheme. What, if anything, does Earthco's synfuel process do? Calls for information to Earthco and its employees were fruitless. When TIME reached Slusser, he promptly hung up the telephone after hearing the writer identify himself. A call to Earthco's office in Las Vegas proved equally unproductive. A woman who identified herself as Susan Trimboli said any questions would have to be answered by a Jim Scott in Sacramento, Calif. He turned out to be James Scott, who works out of Earthco's Las Vegas office. He is the president of Mid-Power Service Corp., another Las Vegas energy business. Until two weeks ago it was in bankruptcy court. Scott did not return calls, but Mark Davis, a Sacramento attorney and Scott associate, did. Asked about Slusser's current connection with Earthco, Davis replied, "The answer is zero. Neither as a shareholder, officer—no capacity whatsoever." But Davis declined to discuss Slusser's earlier involvement, the nature or origin of Earthco's technology or how it has reduced American dependence on foreign oil. "That's really all I have to say," he said.
Massa has stated the biggest challenge the next prosecutor in Marion County will have is "restoring public confidence not only in the prosecutor’s office but in law enforcement writ large.” My question to Massa is how he can accept money from someone like Slusser and assure us he will not be influenced by the acceptance of such questionable contributions. Slusser has the right to donate money to whom ever he pleases, but candidates for public office have the right to turn down campaign contributions they receive. Hasn't Mitch Daniels, Mark Massa, our state's chief securities enforcer, Todd Rokita, or anyone else in my party asked the question whether it is appropriate to be accepting contributions from Slusser? According to  FEC records, Slusser has maxed out contributions to Rokita this year and GOP Senate candidate Dan Coats. Has nobody learned the lessons from Tim Durham?


Cato said...

Remember, Rokita came to bat in a big way for the energy sector when he held his unprecedented conference on the statehouse steps specifically exonerating Mitch, Mickey, and others from any wrongdoing in IPALCO.

Mitch likes to keep his fingers in the energy sector, like when he got the state behind ethanol, only to see the ethanol craze of '06-'07 drive up crop prices and starve people, all while subsidizing the farmers who were getting rich.

The Bushies are also big in the energy sector, and I recall that Mitch worked for Bush prior to becoming Governor.

M Theory said...

Knowing this, I wonder how many of you will vote for Coats anyway, even though you have a very good option for U.S. Senate....Rebecca Sink Burris.

Regarding this guy Slusser and all his mysterious companies, maybe you all should watch the documentary "Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room" again and steer as far away as possible from these guys.

Scott Coxey said...

A quick look at Mitch's Aiming Higher donor list... shows Slusser giving over $17K in September 2010!!!

Question- What is this guy buying from Mitch?


M Theory said...

"Even Rush Limbaugh, who made a career denying the influence of the CFR and the Bilderbergers, understands that Republicans will continue the work of the Democrats. Both sides work for the banksters and the job is to continually fool the American people into supporting the establishment."

Sheeple republicans vote for Coats.

Cato said...

Scott, did you see this?

Interesting article.


The Environmental Protection Agency last week increased its allowable ethanol blend rate in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent for 2007 model and newer cars.

While the announcement on increasing the blend rate of ethanol may not immediately push up the price of corn, livestock producers will feel the pain of ever higher corn prices resulting from increased levels of ethanol production.

Mind you, corn prices have already risen 75 cents per bushel since USDA released its less-than-expected production forecast Oct. 8. “With that jump, (corn) futures have completed a 62 percent retracement of the decline from the 2008 high at $7.65 to the low later that year at $2.90,” says Rich Pottorff, chief economist and Washington editor, Doane’s Agricultural Report.

Downtown Indy said...

Instead of labelling people who vote R or D as 'sheeple' perhaps the sensible approach is to figure out and change the reasons why the L's can never muster more than a single-digit showing in the polls.

But then, RC Cola never really figured out how to break the Pepsi/Coke chokehold, either.

Personally, I like a lot of the L candidates, and most of the party principles, but I know the reality is a vote for an L is indeed a vote against an R.

interestedparty said...

Then vote for Brad Ellsworth. Honestly, I know him from my days living in Vanderburgh County, and he is a very decent, authentic, honest person who works for others, never seeing politics a "career".

Marycatherine Barton said...

Please let your readers know if Mark answers the questions you asked him in this post, Gary. By God, he should.

M Theory said...

I think I'll stick to calling them sheeple, for that best describes them.

Voting for the lesser evil is what landed America here. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Any self-respecting and honest person in today's political climate is an independent voter.

I quit the Libertarian party some time ago after Coleman failed to communicate with the public on the water transfer vote, so even they are not guaranteed my vote.

I think Terry Curry is getting my vote for Prosecutor after reading this!

I'm so independent I'm voting for a Democrat, Republican, AND Libertarian in this election!

And as far as the Senate race, Rebecca has my vote because she earned it with her wholesomeness and strong Libertarian philosophical grounding. I look at it like this, what does it matter if Coats or Ellsworth wins? In reality neither of them wants the office to be there for us.

interestedparty said...

In reality, Ellsworth wants a lifetime ban on lobbying, while Coats (apparently) wants a lifetime of lobbying.

M Theory said...

Ellsworth voted for bailouts and healthcare, neither of which seem to be the cure promised to fix America.

I don't see Ellsworth standing up to the banksters. It's more like he follows their orders.

interestedparty said...

I doubt so if he is against the influence of lobbyists. And if you had known him "back when" you would find him incorruptible.

M Theory said...

I knew Ballard "back when". Does that count? I doubt I'll be voting for him again either.

I'm looking for a backbone. I'm looking for courage. I look for candidates that will own their own power. I look for people who stand on their integrity. I look for honor. I look for guys that will own their words.

Ellsworth might have had it once, but that went bye-bye when he voted for that 2000+ page health care bill that we'd have to pass in order to know what is in it.

Marycatherine Barton said...

I side with you, HFFT.