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Man Seeks to Change Legal Age

  • Posted On November 26, 2018
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In the past few years, we have seen people seek to legally change their gender identity, nationality, and race.  Now, a man from the Netherlands is seeking to change his legal age.  He wants to legally become 20 years younger.  This may sound crazy, but some of his arguments may have you second guessing.

The Plaintiff

Emile Ratelband is a 69-year-old motivational speaker and positive-thinking guru from the Netherlands.  His customers include Toshiba, Philips, Whirlpool, and Apple.  He has written 12 books and achieved international fame.  Now, he wants to change his birth certificate to indicate that he is 49-years old.  You may be asking yourself why anyone would want to do that or what purpose it could possibly serve?

The Argument

Mr. Ratelband claims he is not getting the same opportunities that someone who is 49 would get even though he is, in his own estimation, as healthy as one.  He was quoted as saying, “I feel much younger than my age, I am a young god, I can have all the girls I want but not after I tell them that I am 69,” Ratelband also said, “I feel young, I am in great shape and I want this to be legally recognized because I feel abused, aggrieved and discriminated against because of my age.”

He went on to make a more coherent argument, “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?”  Additionally, he said, “When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car.”

The Court Case

As arguments wrapped up in November, the judge did acknowledge Ratelband’s points.  However, the judge countered stating that, while people are legally able to change their name and their gender, changing someone’s legal age may have the effect of deleting one’s past.

You may be having a more conventional problem such as credit card debt, foreclosure, or estate planning, but these are problems nonetheless.  If you need legal guidance, contact Elias Dsouza for a free consultation.

Image Credit : Top News

Identity Theft on the Rise During Black Friday

  • Posted On November 20, 2018
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Stealing a credit card number or even an entire identity is easy enough for criminals, but we make it exponentially easier around the holidays.  The shopping madness of Black Friday causes people to be reckless when shopping at stores.  Many people are not aware of the risks involved during holiday shopping and the people that are aware may not know what to do about it.

How Big of a Problem Is This?

A study in 2011 showed that stores reported 200 million shoppers on Black Friday that year.  They were able to determine that 154 million of them were at risk of personal data theft.  The report also showed:

  • Only 21% of the brick and mortar stores were prepared to tell the customers about a data breach.
  • 79% of customers affected by a data breach will not be notified.

Hackers and other identity thieves do not always target individuals.  They target retailers.  This is a much more efficient means of theft as retailers harbor millions of customer’s personal information including email address, phone number, credit card number, birth date, etc.

How to Know If Your Identity Was Stolen

The three main ways people discover their identity was stolen are:

  • Personal proactive action – checking bank statements, credit reports, and charges consistently is a great way to keep an eye on the safety of your identity. Your credit report is a useful way to make sure no one has opened any accounts in your name.
  • Retailer communication – responsible retailers will have a plan in place in the case of a data breach. You may receive a letter in the mail, a phone call, or an email containing details of the breach and the next steps to take.
  • Debt collection correspondence – if an account is opened under your name and you are unaware, a debt may be sold to a collector as it is unlikely the thief is going to pay the bills they have created. You could start receiving phone calls, letters, or even a court summons.

Paying attention to your finances and credit report is the best way to make sure your efforts to protect yourself were effective.

If your finances are in ruin because a thief stole your personal data, you need the help of an experienced attorney.  Elias Dsouza has been helping people with debt defense, credit restoration, and counseling for over 15 years.  Contact Elias today for a free consultation.

3 Truly Weird Legal Cases

  • Posted On November 16, 2018
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It is safe to say that human beings get themselves into all sorts of trouble.  From faking their own death to committing crimes with their twins to throw off police, nothing should surprise us anymore. Let’s take a look at three of the strangest recent legal cases.

Pseudocide in Alaska

A man from Alaska was recently convicted for sexually assaulting a woman who was incapacitated.  He went on to receive a 15-year sentence to be served in state prison.  He posted bail and subsequently went home with his girlfriend.  This man did not intend to go to prison.  He and his girlfriend came up with a plan to fake his death (pseudocide).  Currently, in Alaska, it is not illegal to fake your own death.  One day this man, a commercial fisherman by trade, got on a boat and did not return to harbor on that boat.  His girlfriend reported him missing.  The plan was for him to take a different boat to harbor and hide in a house close to his girlfriend’s.  His girlfriend could not stomach the tears of the man’s grieving parents so she told them he was still alive.  The police were notified and the man is now in prison.

The Sex Offenders of Grovetown, Georgia

Every year, before Halloween, you see article after article about how to keep your kids safe.  Well, the Mayor of Grovetown, Georgia took the issue to heart.  In Georgia, sex offenders are required to meet their parole officers whenever and wherever they are told to do so.  The Mayor teamed up with the local parole officer to hatch a plan.  The plan was to require all 25-30 of the town’s sex offenders to meet at City Hall from 6pm to 9pm on Halloween to “shield” kids from them.  It should be noted that, in 2009, a study concluded that there is no increase in the rate of sexual assaults on Halloween.

 The Identical Twin Jewelry Heist

The DNA of identical twins is…identical.  In 2009, a German jewelry store was robbed by three men.  Two of the men were identical twins.  They descended from the ceiling as if they were in Mission Impossible and made off with $6.8 million worth of jewelry.  It was very well-done, but one of the brothers left behind a drop of sweat on a latex glove.  Using DNA testing, the German police were able to identify the two brothers, but they were unable to say which one it was and they were unable to prove both brothers were at the crime scene.  In the end, the brothers went free.

If you find yourself in a bind, you need help.  Elias Dsouza has the knowledge and experience to help you through financial, immigration, business, and many other legal issues.  Contact Elias today for a free consultation.

The “El Chapo” Trial is Under Way

  • Posted On November 14, 2018
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One of the most notorious drug-lords in history is finally facing trial in New York today.  He is facing 17 charges that could lead to a life sentence.  His defense attorney claims the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is the fall guy for the real king pin who is still operating in Mexico.  He continues to claim that people in the Mexican government, all the way up to the current president, have accepted bribes to pin the blame on Guzman. Let’s take a look at what (allegedly) landed “El Chapo” in court today.

Background

Joaquin Guzman lived in Sinaloa, Mexico from birth.  His father said he was a cattle rancher, but many people believe he was actually a poppy farmer.  Joaquin dropped out of school in 3rd grade to work with his father.  His father was abusive and, as a teen, Joaquin stood up to him.  Eventually, Guzman was kicked out of his family home so he went to live with his grandfather.  After a time, he went to live with his uncle, Pedro Perez who was a pioneer in the Mexican drug trade.

It did not take long for “El Chapo” to make a name for himself.  In the 70’s and 80’s, Guzman spent time working his way through the ranks until, in the 90’s, he was able to seize power when the leader of the cartel was arrested.  From the 90’s to around 2013, Guzman (allegedly) ran the Sinaloa Cartel with an iron fist.

The Charges

“El Chapo” is facing 17 criminal charges including:

  • Distribution of massive amounts of narcotics. It is estimated that over 230,000 pounds of cocaine have crossed the border into the U.S.
  • Unlawful distribution and use of firearms. In 2014, he claimed he was responsible for the murder of 2,000 – 3,000 people.
  • International money smuggling. The amount totaling in the area of $14 billion.

Interestingly, as part of the extradition agreement, the Mexican government made the United States agree to take the death penalty off the table.  Mexico does not agree with capital punishment.  Recently, Mexico denied Guzman’s request for extradition as the drug lord has escaped prison several times in the past (most recently in 2013).

Today in Court

Opening statements were made today in a New York court.  Guzman pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.  His lawyer claimed that he was being used as a scapegoat by the Mexican government.  He went on to say that the Mexican government was bribed by the current cartel leader to blame Guzman for the crimes.  The identities of all jurors are being concealed during the duration of the case due to safety concerns.  The trial was delayed because of juror anxiety.  Additionally, an enormous security operation was in place to mitigate any chance of an incident.  This trial is expected to take at least four months.

You do not have to be a drug lord to require the services of an experienced attorney.  If you are having trouble making ends meet, your business needs tax advice, or your family needs legal advice, contact Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group today.

Megyn Kelly vs. NBC

  • Posted On November 12, 2018
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Megyn Kelly has faced controversy in the past.  She left Fox News because she did not like the “snake pit” of prime-time cable and Donald Trump often criticized her publicly.  She never considered herself a political person and still managed to find herself amidst battles with political players.  She moved to NBC to talk about issues with a more holistic approach.  Her viewership numbers were not great especially when her contract is considered.  The final blow for Megyn was her comment on air regarding the correctness of people including a “blackface” in their Halloween costume.

Megyn Kelly’s Comments Regarding “Blackface”

In late October, on her show, Megyn Kelly made this comment:

“But what is racist?” Kelly asked on her show. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

She faced immediate backlash on social media and people called for her termination.  NBC immediately took her off the air to let the dust settle.  They were not quick to terminate her and many people believe it is because her contract is worth about $20 million per year.

Andrew Lack

The Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, Andrew Lack had this to say, “There is no other way to put this: I condemn those remarks; there is no place on our air or in this workplace for them.”  Many believe Lack had to act more decisively with Kelly than he did with Matt Lauer.  Lack was accused of being soft on Lauer before firing him.  Andrew Lack was also criticized because he turned away Ronan Farrow, the reporter who was working on the Harvey Weinstein story.  Farrow eventually went to the New Yorker with the story.

Kelly’s Contract

Megyn Kelly still has over a year on her contract and she is not going away without the money.  According to the Daily Mail, Kelly’s contract is a “non-break deal” so she may be able to walk away with the full $69 million.  Other sources report that she is in talks with Fox News negotiating a potential comeback.

Sometimes jobs do not pan out like they were supposed to.  When this happens, you may have trouble making ends meet.  If you are in this position with bills piling up and you are having trouble getting back on your feet, you may have options.  Elias Dsouza is an experienced credit counselor and debt negotiator.  Contact Elias today to get a free consultation.

Foreclosures on New York’s Billionaire’s Row

Of the over 2,000 billionaires in the world, 82 have a residence in New York City.  One57 (aka “The Billionaire’s Building”) is a tower near Central Park.  The identities of the residence of One57 are held secret, but two individuals were revealed because they stopped paying their mortgage.  Billionaires have bills too!

Foreclosure #1 – Mr. LLC

Mr. LLC is named as such because he shielded his identity behind an LLC when he bought a 3,466 square foot condo in One57.  Mr. LLC paid $21.4 million in 2015 for the property.  Apparently, things did not go according to plan.  Mr. LLC had rough couple of years and ended up with a lien on the property for $20.9 million plus fees and taxes.  The owner put the property on the market for $22.5 million, but it remains on the market over 500 days later.

Foreclosure #2 – Nigerian Oil Tycoon

Kolawole Aluko bought a 6,240 square feet apartment on the 56th floor of One57 in 2015.  He paid $50.9 million and $35.3 million of that was borrowed.  He also put up his 213-foot yacht, Galactic Star, as collateral.  The terms of the agreement stated that Mr. Aluko had to pay off the balance by the end of 2017.  The problem?  No one knows where the oil tycoon is.  Many believe he is living on his yacht.  Why?  In 2016, Mr. Aluko was suspected of stealing money from the Nigerian government.  In addition, he is thought to have made much of his money in international money laundering schemes.

Just for Fun

The most expensive residential apartment purchase in New York City history took place in One57.  In 2014, for $100.5 million, Michel Dell, Founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, bought a penthouse.  That penthouse is just under 11,000 square feet and has 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.  Unlike the two afore mentioned billionaires, Mr. Dell is paying his mortgage.

Sometimes paying your mortgage is impossible.  Circumstances beyond your control can put you in a terrible position.  You might be fielding calls and letters from creditors and those communications can feel intrusive and threatening.  If you want the communication to stop, you need help.  Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group has the skills and experience to get you out of creditor’s crosshairs and back on track.  Contact Elias for a free consultation.

China’s Most Popular Actress Facing Tax Fines in the Millions

  • Posted On October 25, 2018
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You may not have heard of Fan Bingbing, but she is China’s most famous actress.  She has also appeared in American films such as “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Air Strike”.  This worldwide celebrity is the latest to get caught “cooking the books”. 

Income Tax in China

China’s current tax bracket breakdown can be seen below:

 

Monthly taxable income (CNY*) (1) Net income (2) Tax rate (%) Quick deduction (CNY)
Grossed income
0 to 1,500 0 to 1,455 3 0
Over 1,500 to 4,500 Over 1,455 to 4,155 10 105
Over 4,500 to 9,000 Over 4,155 to 7,755 20 555
Over 9,000 to 35,000 Over 7,755 to 27,255 25 1,005
Over 35,000 to 55,000 Over 27,255 to 41,255 30 2,755
Over 55,000 to 80,000 Over 41,255 to 57,505 35 5,505
Over 80,000 Over 57,505 45 13,505

 

Fan Binging has a net worth of over $100 million (USD) so we are assuming she is in the 45% tax bracket.  80,000 (CYN) is equivalent to about $11,500 (USD) per month. She would be in the 28% bracket in the United States.

Accusation of Tax Fraud

The Chinese government is accusing Fan Bingbing of purposefully dodging taxes.  Specifically,

  • She only paid taxes on $1.1 million (USD) of the $7.5 million (USD) contract for her role in Air Strike.
  • Fan’s companies evaded $36 million (USD) in taxes.

The Chinese government has not released more details just yet.

Penalties

The Chinese government does not mess around when it comes to tax evasion.  While they are not demanding jail time since this is Fan’s first criminal conviction, she will have to:

  • Personally, pay $70 million (USD) in taxes and fees.
  • Her companies must pay about $60 million (USD) in taxes and fees.

The total owed in taxes and fees: $130 million (USD).  Compare that to some of the famous tax evasion fines for American celebrities:

  • Wesley Snipes – $7 million
  • Nicolas Cage – About $12 million
  • Willy Nelson – About $16 million

In response to the judgement, Fan released an apology, I’m ashamed of my behavior and I apologize here to everyone.”  Also, “Every bit of my achievement is inseparable from the support of the state and the people. Without the good policies of the Communist Party and the state, without the love of the people, there is no Fan Bingbing.”

Tax lax is complicated.  You do not have to be a celebrity to have tax problems.  If you find yourself under the scrutiny of the IRS, you need help.  Elias Dsouza has been defending people with tax problems for over 15 years.  Contact Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group for a free consultation.

Bill Cosby’s Lawyers Seeking Reversal of Sentence

  • Posted On October 12, 2018
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A once beloved comedian, Bill Cosby is apparently not loving prison.  As victims come out of the woodwork with claims ranging as far back as 2005, Cosby’s defense team is trying frantically to get the former star out of the joint.  His recent conviction is the result of one indiscretion out of what could be dozens.  Let’s review the claims against Cosby.

The Events That Landed Cosby in Prison

The case that landed Bill Cosby in prison goes back to January of 2004 and led to sentencing in 2018.  Here are the highlights from 2004 – 2005:

  • In January of 2005, Andrea Constand tells her mother that Bill Cosby assaulted her one year earlier. They contacted the police and Cosby stated that he and Andrea had consensual sex.
  • One month later, the Montgomery County district attorney declines to charge Cosby for lack of evidence.
  • In March of 2005, Andrea Constand sues Bill Cosby and 12 other women agree to testify to against him.
  • 6 months later, Cosby admits to giving young women quaaludes (a known date rape drug) and settles with Andrea for an undisclosed amount.

2014 – 2018

  • Comedian Hannibal Burress calls Cosby a rapist during a show in October of 2014 and the video becomes a catalyst for women to voice their accusations.
  • July 2015, the civil case is reopened at the behest of dozens of women.
  • December 30, 2015, police arrest Bill Cosby just in time to file charges within the 12-year statute of limitations.
  • June 17, 2017, Cosby’s case ends in a mistrial because of jury deadlock.

The Retrial

On April 9, 2018, Bill Cosby’s retrial commences.  During the trial, it is revealed that Andrea Constand received $3.38 million from Cosby and signed a non-disclosure agreement.  An additional 5 women were allowed to testify against Cosby.  Also, a new witness from Temple University (where Andrea Constand met Cosby) says Andrea told her she could “make money by falsely accusing a prominent person”.

Even Cosby’s new witness was not enough to prevent the jury from a guilty verdict.  On September 25, 2018, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 – 10 years in federal prison.  He was also denied bail while he pursues an appeal.

The Appeal for Reversal of Sentence

Cosby’s lawyers are arguing that there were flaws in the case that landed him in prison.  They claim:

  • The judge should not have labeled Cosby a “sexually violent predator” because it could lead to prejudice in the appeal case.
  • The judge improperly incorporated the testimony of other accusers.
  • A recording between Cosby and the mother of Andrea Constand from 2005 was not authentic.
  • Cosby’s blindness and age (81) should be enough to keep him out of prison.

Sometimes life throws you a curveball.  Things can get out of control quickly and change your life.  If you find yourself in a position where you are under crushing debt, facing foreclosure, or bankruptcy is imminent, you need help.  Contact Elias Dsouza at Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group.  Elias has the skills and experience to get you back on track.

Buzz Aldrin Sues His Children and Business Manager

  • Posted On October 11, 2018
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Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin is in a heated legal battle with two of his children and his former business manager.  His children are claiming that he has dementia and is burning through his assets at an alarming rate.  He is also suing his business manager for “unlawful enrichment” and fraud.  Recently, his lawyer quit stating irreconcilable differences.

Buzz’s Claims

The former astronaut has laid out some pretty damning claims.  Regarding his children, Buzz claims:

  • Two of his children prevented him from marrying recently.
  • They transferred money from his accounts without his permission and against his wishes.
  • His children slandered him by stating that he has dementia.
  • He wants to remove his son, Andrew, as trustee of his estate.
  • One of his children or his former business manager used his social media accounts to make false statements.
  • Despite revoking the power of attorney from his oldest son, the son kept making decisions for him.

The Defendant’s Claims

Buzz Aldrin’s children have claims of their own.  They have made it a point to let people know that they are only trying to protect their potentially ailing father.  They are stating that:

  • Their father is confused and unable to make impactful decisions for himself and his estate.
  • He is being taken advantage of by new associates and friends who are trying to distance him from his family.
  • He suffering from delusions, paranoia, and memory loss.

So, Is Buzz Suffering from Dementia?

A geriatric psychologist at UCLA conducted an evaluation and concluded that Aldrin had “superior to normal” cognitive ability for his age.  He went on to state, “I also believe that he is perfectly capable of providing for his physical health needs, food, clothing and shelter, and is substantially able to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence.”  It should be noted that Buzz sought out this psychologist and no evaluation has been completed by a court appointed independent party.

The best way to avoid a nasty estate battle is to have a concrete will and testament.  Make sure your loved ones know what you want in your later years.  If you need a will created by a skilled professional, contact Elias Dsouza at Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group.  Elias has been helping individuals protect their assets for over 15 years.

Is Florida Governor Rick Scott Using His Wife to Manage His Investments While in Office?

Florida law mandates that the Governor place his personal investments in a blind trust while in office.  The Governor is not allowed to discuss his investments with the trustee.  However, under Florida law, the Governor’s wife can continue to manage her own investments.  What happens when the Governor and his wife are invested in the same things? 

The Ethical Consideration

Florida Governor Rick Scott has held his post for about 8 years.  Per Florida law, the Governor must disclose his assets (investments) and place them in a “blind trust” for the entirety of his service.  This is designed to avoid conflicts of interest.  In theory, the Governor could let his personal interest influence his legislative agenda if he knew it could help or hurt him financially.

Florida law does not require the Governor’s wife to disclose and relinquish control of her assets.  As you may be aware, Governor Rick Scott is running for Senate this year.  Federal law requires that the candidate and the candidate’s spouse reveal their personal finances and interests.  When Governor Scott’s wife revealed her investments, it was discovered that they were almost exactly the same as her husband’s.

Is This Illegal?

Well, the act of just having the same investments as one another is not illegal.  One could argue that it would be very easy for the couple to coordinate each other’s investments since the first lady controls her own.  The blind trust is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the Governor while he is in office.  If the first lady’s investments are managed by the same group, it is conceivable that the first lady could relay information to her husband regarding the investments.

A spokesperson for the family released a statement that says “Governor Scott has never made a single decision as governor with any thought or consideration of his personal finances”.  If an investigation uncovers that Governor Scott’s blind trust made changes to his portfolio and those changes were linked to legislative changes, Governor Scott could face insider trading charges.

If you or your family are getting phone calls day and night from creditors, you need help.  One phone call from a lawyer can stop the harassment.  Contact Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group.  He has the skills and experience to get you back on your feet.