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U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez yesterday (April 6) dismissed fraud charges against five former San Diego pension system members who had been charged in 2006 with violations of the honest services fraud law. It was not surprising: Benitez had expressed skepticism about the government's case. Also, Benitez has always been quite easy on fraud defendants; some of his rulings in the civil cases against John Moores were utterly laughable. The former pension employees were Ron Saathoff, once one of the most powerful backstage operators in San Diego politics; Terri Webster, Lori Chapin, Cathy Lexin and Lawrence Grissom. Said the judge, "Due process forbids turning citizens into criminals through the application of novel, untested applications of a criminal statute."

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 April 8, 2010 @ 1:10 a.m.

As much as I want to see these dirtbags put in the Big House for 30 years-the judge was right.

Vague, ambibuous and overly broard laws threaten all of us.

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Don Bauder April 8, 2010 @ 6:27 a.m.

Response to post #1: A lot of people agree with you on that. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource April 8, 2010 @ 10:07 a.m.

Apparently, the greatest threat to us all is that we are greatly mistaken that politicians are well regulated under federal law when it comes to subtle pension massaging, even more mistaken than observing obvious funny business going on as to the urge for massaging undressed dancers by certain former city council members who leave behind hours of wiretapped cell phone messages about "campaign contributions" in plain envelopes from strip clubs.

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Don Bauder April 8, 2010 @ 11:58 a.m.

Response to post #3: It appears that all those responsible for hiding the City's cancerous liabilities from potential bond buyers will get off scot-free. This sets a very bad precedent. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 April 8, 2010 @ 12:01 p.m.

When a judge says a law is "vague" that translates to corruptjudgespeak: "Show Me The Money" which means that Benitez is ready, willing and able to sell the Rule of Law to the highest bidder who pays him off.

"Benitez has always been quite easy on fraud defendants" certifies that Don.

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SurfPuppy619 April 8, 2010 @ 3:31 p.m.

When a judge says a law is "vague" that translates to corruptjudgespeak: "Show Me The Money" which means that Benitez is ready, willing and able to sell the Rule of Law to the highest bidder who pays him off.

No it doesn't. This pension scam has everyone pissed off, no two ways around it. I would love to see these clowns go to prison-as would most. But the judge ruled correctly on this one.

The judge in this case was right. I expect the SCOTUS to put some srious curbs on the "Honest Services" law when the three pending cases before it are decided.

In fact it is possible the entire law will be struck down.

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JustWondering April 8, 2010 @ 4:43 p.m.

Mark this on your calendars folks. BillyBobHenry/JohnnyVegas/Surfpuppy619 posted a comment indicating something positive happened with the pension litigation cases.

I'm just wondering if comments like these are like a 100 year flood? If so, were in for a long drought of factual comments from Mr. Puppy.

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SurfPuppy619 April 8, 2010 @ 8:47 p.m.

JW comes out of the wood work for yet another one of his stupid comment

I liked it better when you just keept quite

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Burwell April 8, 2010 @ 11:25 p.m.

I believe in the honest services fraud law and hope the Supreme Court upholds it. It is a good and moral law that should be used without mercy against public officials. In the hands of the right President, this law could save the country. This law could be used against Alan Greenspan, Timbo Geithner, and many others who deprived the country of honest services.

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johnsd April 8, 2010 @ 11:37 p.m.

something positive happened with the pension litigation cases

And OJ was "not guilty" in our "legal" system.

Nothing changes the fact that there is no money to pay the "legal" theft by greedy public masters.

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 7:24 a.m.

Response to post #5: Benitez's easiness on white collar crime may be a matter of ideology. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 7:28 a.m.

Response to post #6: You are right: the high court (which is also quite easy on white collar crime now) may strike down the "honest services" approach to prosecution. While you may think that is wise from a legal standpoint, it will mean that a lot more plutocratic pickpockets will be free to prey on us. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 7:31 a.m.

Response to post #7: Nice to see you back, JW. Why don't you post something on this week's column? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 7:33 a.m.

Response to post #8: SP, I prefer to see JW back. You need competition. Let's get the pot boiling again. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 7:36 a.m.

Response to post #9: I, too, like the "honest services" law; I think it is a good tool. But I do think the high court will strike it down. This is an incredibly pro-establishment (particularly pro-business) court. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 7:43 a.m.

Response to post #10: It looks almost certain that nobody will pay the price for the San Diego pension scam other than taxpayers. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 9, 2010 @ 7:50 a.m.

For the record, I never said "something positive happened with the pension litigation", all I said was the "Honest Services" law was not very well written and needed to be at the very least tweaked.

The pension scam is still what it is , a scam.

Stanford University came out with a good study a few days ago, which confirmed a joint Northwestern and University of Chicago study published earlier, which said Calpers is under funded by half a trillion dollars, $36K for every family in CA.

The study shoots down the ROI of 7.75% Calpers uses (already lowered from 8%, and something I have said repeatedly is way too high).

Currently the costs to fund a 3%@50 pension using 7.75% ROI is 45%-48% of salary. I would suspect using an ROI of 4-5%, which is what the study says is the most likely ROI, the is costs to fund a 3%@50 pension would double to 90-100% of salary-and that is just pension cost, not healthcare or anything else.

http://californiawatch.org/watchblog/states-pension-liability-tops-500-billion-stanford-study-finds

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Anon92107 April 9, 2010 @ 11:51 a.m.

Response to post #11: "Benitez's easiness on white collar crime may be a matter of ideology."

And that “ideology” is the San Diego political doctrine that protects San Diego's corrupt, elite establishment class at all costs no matter how many San Diegans are killed by cutbacks in safety and health services to pay the costs of corruption.

Nothing has changed in San Diego jurisprudence since the Greer Court, corruption continues to rule today and the Rule of Law is "vague" whenever they want to overthrow any law that doesn't make the judges richer, more tyrannical and all powerful.

Actually the San Diego courts, and SCOTUS for that matter, are returning our political system to the days before Solon created the Rule of Law in 594 BCE to protect the corrupt ruling elite class from being overthrown back then, but no one ever remembers the lessons of history much less care about morality any longer as San Diego, Sacramento and Washington politicians as judges prove daily.

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 4:13 p.m.

Response to post #17: Yes, I saw the Stanford study. Almost as scary as the Chicago and Northwestern study. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 9, 2010 @ 4:15 p.m.

Response to post #18: That ideology may be about the same as the U.S. Supreme Court "ideology": give big business everything it wants. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 9, 2010 @ 6:33 p.m.

Since we are on the pension scam again, this is great news for taxpayers, not so great news for gov employees;

"Motion to force Prichard to pay pensioners denied by judge"

"A bankruptcy court judge denied a motion Tuesday that would force Prichard to pay its pensioners, saying they do not qualify as administrative claims -- or day-to-day obligations -- of the city."

http://blog.al.com/live/2010/03/motion_to_force_prichard_to_pa.html

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Burwell April 9, 2010 @ 10:23 p.m.

The ABA gave Judge Benitez a negative rating when President Bush nominated him to the bench. The ABA said Benitez was unqualified to be a judge because of his judicial temperament.

http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040618/news_7m18judge.html

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Burwell April 9, 2010 @ 10:30 p.m.

The ABA investigation report raises many concerns about Benitez's qualifications to serve as Judge. The report is frankly shocking.

http://www.abanet.org/scfedjud/statements/benitez.pdf

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Burwell April 9, 2010 @ 10:38 p.m.

Compare the U-T article on Judge Benitez with the ABA report. The U-T article withheld from the public most of the negative information in the ABA report. The U-T article is a disgrace!

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SurfPuppy619 April 9, 2010 @ 11:25 p.m.

"U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff, chief of the Southern District of California, praised the Senate's action. She characterized Benitez, 53, as a competent judge despite the ABA vote."

http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040618/news_7m18judge.html

Marilyn Louise Huff is an idiot.

BTW, here is what practicing lawyers have to say about Benitez (not too popular);

http://www.therobingroom.com/Judge.aspx?ID=176

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SurfPuppy619 April 9, 2010 @ 11:36 p.m.

I love this passaage from the ABA report;

"Over and over I received negative comments regarding Judge Benitez' judicial temperament. Interviewees repeatedly told me that Judge Benitez displays inappropriate judicial temperament with lawyers, litigants, and judicial clleagues; that all too frequently, while on the bench, Judge Benitez is arrogant, ompous, condescending, impatient, short-tempered, rude, insulting, bullying, unnecessarily mean, and altogether lacking in people skills."

http://www.abanet.org/scfedjud/statements/benitez.pdf

To be honest, these attributes apply to many judges, more at the state level than the federal level though.

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 7:23 a.m.

Response to post #21: This may be a foretaste of what is to come. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 7:24 a.m.

Response to post #22: Yes, I remember that he got a negative rating. He had been a magistrate in El Centro. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 7:38 a.m.

Response to post #23: I agree. It is shocking. "Arrogant, pompous...." one charge after another about this guy. He is also slow and seemingly set in his ways. Everybody should read this report on Benitez. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 7:40 a.m.

Response to post #24: The U-T could not be expected to report negative information on a judge who is notoriously easy on white collar crime. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 7:45 a.m.

Response to post #25: Judge Marilyn Huff is notoriously easy on white collar crime, too. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 7:47 a.m.

Response to post #26: In San Diego, Superior Court is generally worse than U.S. District Court. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 April 10, 2010 @ 11:28 a.m.

Don, looks like this blog pretty well confirms that the American system of justice is almost entirely dominated by the venal and totally immoral who consider themselves an aristocracy unto themselves.

Not a good reality check for the survival of American Democracy that can fail just like most have before ours, especially with our politicians playing the game of politics of destruction more than ever before.

Like, shouldn't the Tea Party be considered doing the same as Shouting "Fire" in a Theater when they fire up their zombies to carry guns to political meetings, rallies, etc.?

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 4:26 p.m.

Response to post #33: Those Tea Party gatherings are proof that there is plenty of business out there for American psychiatrists. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource April 10, 2010 @ 4:49 p.m.

RE #34:

At last! We have the Convention Center replacements for Comic-Con!

Now if we can only get the Star of India under escort of HMS Surprise to go fetch us some tea from the Orient...

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Don Bauder April 10, 2010 @ 10:28 p.m.

Response to post #34: I don't know whether you mean a convention of psychiatrists or a convention of Tea Party participants. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 11, 2010 @ 8:34 a.m.

Response to post #37: We have many confederacies of dunces around the U.S. And they are not just at Tea Parties. Best, Don Bauder

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