Tuesday, May 10, 2011

James Fayed Murder-For-Hire Day 2

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May 6th, 2011

8:45 am. I get to court pretty early. Marjorie Hernandez is here from the Ventura Star.com. There are several attorney looking people in the gallery. I’m guessing they are from other cases being heard.

Jackson greets some of the other attorney’s in the gallery. Although I asked Jackson, unfortunately he can’t give me a witness list.

After overhearing snatches of conversation, I think Jackson is talking to his next witness. This case is progressing like the majority of trials do in Los Angeles County...without much media coverage or fanfare. Most of these cases go on without a huge audience.

Werksman enters and shakes hands with the group of attorneys by the courtroom door and they have a friendly chat.

I saw one of the alternate jurors on the train platform after court. I made sure to steer clear and take a different train car.

Both of Kennedy’s court reporters are very pretty. Another case is being adjudicated Meister enters and uses the restroom in the jury room. On the outside of the small box where the deputy places his weapon when he enters the holding cell is a large big red button. I’m wondering if that’s an emergency alert button.

Meister stops to chat about sports scores with the court reporter. The court clerk introduces another woman to Jackson, the detective and Harmon. I’m guessing this is another witness.

Jackson has what looks like an overly large Kindle or maybe it’s a Thinkpad held in a nice leather case.

The clerk is now chatting with the attorneys in the seated in the gallery. Werksman, Jackson, Harmon and the detective chat. It’s friendly, jovial.

9:22 am We’re ready for the jurors.

#4 Mark Avis

Alan Jackson presents the witness.

Avis is a federal prosecutor for the Attorney General’s office. He’s been an attorney licensed to practice in California since 1983. Before working for the AG, he was a DDA for Los Angeles County and Ventura County.

He’s employed by the US Department of Justice. The division he’s currently working in is National Security.

In 2008 he was working in organized crime, CYBER Division, violations of the RICO statutes. This involves any fraud that might touch the Internet and use of computers used to perpetrate federal crimes. His office works in conjuction with other law enforcement agencies. His office works with the FBI, IRS, US Secret Service, and others: NCIS, Army CID, HUD, etc.

Avis states that virtually all of these agencies have a criminal arm (department) where there are sworn officers.

The witness describes 18USC1960 of the federal criminal code. This statute makes it a criminal offense to engage in unlicensed money transfers.

The witness is asked to explain “HAWALA.”

HAWALA is an Arabic word that describes an individual who transfers money or assets for a fee or favor. The term is used (by federal agencies, his agency) to describe companies that try to avoid government reporting.

AJ: Is that an extensive legal way to include money laundering?

MA: Money laundering is a different federal statute and description.

The witness gives a brief description of a “Ponzi scheme” and how the paper trail in these types of schemes is usually non existent.

VICTIM ----> MONEY TRANSFER <---->PONZI/Money-Perpetrator

They were investigating another company and Goldfinger came on their radar in early 2008. An investigation was opened between his agency in 2008. The FBI and the IRS had a joint investigation into two other organizations (KUM? & SOLID?). Each had advertised high yield investments over the Internet.

MW: Objection! Grounds...

JK: Sustained. Let’s go to sidebar please.

A male clerk from the DA’s office comes in and sits in the well in the row of seats behind the prosecution.

There was 30 million (taken?) from one million victims in those two Ponzi schemes.

MW: Objection!

JK: Overruled!

I believe the witness states or is asked if money from those Ponzi schemes had a money trail through Goldfinger.

In 2008, the witness was assigned to cover investigations in Ventura County. His agency sought a federal indictment against Mr. Fayed personally. Pamela Fayed was not named in the indictment, but noted she was an officer of the company.

Avis states the primary purpose at the time was to obtain leverage with Fayed to cooperate with the FBI, to monitor the flow of money flowing through his business.

People enter a several page document, People’s #33. It’s a listing of Goldfinger’s revenues. The hard copies represent a power point presentation that came from Goldfinger company and James Fayed.

Gross Revenues:
2002 9.3 mil
2003 14.3 mil
2004 14.8 mil
2005 27.7 mil
2006 73.2 mil
2007 160 mil

Another exhibit is entered, and it’s the federal indictment he wrote # 08-08-00224. The document implicates Goldfinger and James Fayed. He identifies his initials on the document and states that the indictment was sealed. This means it’s not made public; it’s secret.

AJ: You don’t have complete control of a sealed indictment. Do they leak out?

MA: Yes.

MW: Objection!

JK: Sustained.

AJ: Did you become aware that this indictment became known outside the US Attorney’s office?

MA: Yes. (snip) I was contacted by the criminal defense attorney representing Pamela Fayed. (snip) Possibly James Fayed criminal defense attorney.

AJ: Before the indictment was unsealed, did you become aware that money transfer licenses had not been obtained?

MA: It’s the basis of US1960...

AJ: Is it illegal to operate a business without one?

MA: Yes.

AJ: Did your investigation continue after the indictment?

MA: The investigation continued after the indictment was handed down by the grand jury.

In late June, Avis testifies that he was contacted by Pamela Fayed’s criminal defense attorney, David Willingham. Avis became aware that the Fayed’s were embroiled in a bitter divorce. He knew that around January, 2008.

Willingham called Avis in June of 2008. I had served a subpoena to (Hein Waltrich?) the accounting firm that was hired to do a forensic accounting of the business assets.

MA: I issued a subpoena to that accounting firm to find out..... (snip) I received a letter from the law firm representing the accounting firm.

People present the subpoena into evidence, People’s 38, an 8 page document.

Avis received a phone call from the attorney representing the accounting firm, John Crouchley (sp?).

MW: Objection!

JK: Sustained!

AJ: Did you have a conversation about.... (snip) Was it your belief you would have a hearing whether the subpoena would be honored?

(I don’t have the answer.)

Later he received (a communication? from) David Willingham involving Pamela Fayed.

MA: He said I represent Pamela Fayed.

AJ: Was anything said about the role Pamela Fayed may play in the investigation?

MW: Sidebar your honor.

MA: Yes. (We) exchanged (a short) chitchat from their time they worked together. (snip) He said, Pamela want to come in. She wanted to cooperate in the criminal investigation against James Fayed. I said, “Great. I’ll get back to you.” (snip) I then called M. Kelly (sp?) at the FBI, to get out the evidence, and get started on a (document?) for Pam (re) evidence for proffer statement.

The conversation was in late June, 2008, on the 25th, 26th, or 27th. This was different because they (witness) usually come in with their lawyers.

MA: I expected that we would get together. (snip) Normally that decision would already be made.

AJ: Pamela Fayed never made it into your office?

MA: Because as far as I can recall, she was killed.

MW: Objection! (Tech?)

JK: Objection sustained.

AJ: Did you become aware at some time about Pamela’s death?

MA: Yes. (snip) 6:30 am on July 29th.

AJ: Was James Fayed ever arrested on the indictment?

MA: Yes he was.

Fayed was arrested on the Friday following 7/28, the day of the murder. He was arrested late in the day, too late to process him at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. He was booked into Ventura County as an “in router.”

Judge Kennedy asks about this “in router” terminology. It means “in route” to another detention location.

While in custody, Fayed’s phone calls were tape recorded.

AJ: At your request did you have James Fayed’s phone conversations recorded?

MA: I did not cause them to be recorded. They are routinely recorded.

AJ: Did you receive a copy of a taped recording...

MA: I issued a subpoena for all recordings.

AJ: Did you pick up the recording?

MA: I can’t say for certain I picked it up. I don’t have a memory of that.

We get to listen to this tape recording. Its a recording of a phone call between James Fayed and his sister Mary Mercedes.

Judge Kennedy gives the jurors a limiting instruction about tape recordings in general and the attached transcripts.

JK: Words of caution about transcripts in general. They are there to assist you. You are not bound by the translation. (The actual evidence is the tape recording.)

Kennedy goes into more details that the jurors may consider their own translation of the audio recording and not just the typed translation.

I try to capture some of the text of the recording transcript. I don’t get it word for word, just some of it. The voice on the tape is anxious and speaking in an urgent and authoratative tone to
his sister.

“I’m a damned celebrity in here!! Call Jerry and Melanie (sp?) Do not sell that! (Motorcycle) That’s the only thing that’s keeping me alive. Make sure I have at least $2,000. You know, about the biker group I told you about? If it wasn’t for them, I’d be.....

That’s it for direct and Werksman gets up to cross.

I have this in my notes..

”I represented Fayed when he was taken into custody.”

But I’m not certain who said this or if it’s accurate.

Under seal indictment means no arrest warrant was issued.

MW: No one at your office made any effort to (disclose) that there was na indictment? (snip) You got it ot try to get Mr. Fayed to cooperate? (snip) (But) by that time, no one in this office approached Mr. Fayed to cooperate?

MA: True. I can’t speak for what he knew.

He issued the subpoena in May of 2008. Soon afterwards he got a call from the (criminal defense?) attorneys. So from February, 2008 to May 2008, supposedly no one knew about the investigation.

MA: Eventually everybody knew, but I don’t have any evidence that anyone knew.

Avis is asked about a conversation with Gary Linsenbert.

MA: I don’t recall if I spoke to Gary prior to the murder. I just don’t know.

Werksman goes over the sequence of events in his investigation. I note that Fayed doesn’t look at the jury.

MA: Best of my memory, he said Pamela wants to come in.

Avis’ response to that (news) was to go to review the files in Ventura Co. He saw in the file that David Willingham, while working at the US Attorney’s office, had signed (initialed/generated?) a document in this case. He called Willingham back and told him, “You’re off the case.” He had a conflict of interest.

Willingham asked if someone else in his firm could represent Pam, and the firm would seal off any access to that associates representation of Pam. Avis said no, because he had worked at the US Attorney’s office.

Willingham acknowledged that. He referred Pamela to Jean Nelson, who took over the case 10 days later. He knew Ms. Nelson. She was his training prosecutor at the AG’s office.

Nelson told him she would be stepping in to represent Pamela. This was in early, mid July. She needed time to review the case. 1 week, to ten days.

MA: From my memory, we had a pleasant, social chat and I didn’t ask if she was still going to bring Pam in.

MW: After that there was no reason, or need to seek... (I can't believe he asked this!)

MA: Metaphysically impossible, correct.

MW: You have no idea if there was a joining defense agreement?

MA: I have no idea (if there was any) agreement.

The defense hammers the point there was no understanding, arrangement or agreement for Ms. Fayed to cooperate. The indictment wasn’t unsealed until Mr. Fayed was arrested. August 1st, Fayed was arrested on the indictment. It was unsealed at that moment or at his first appearance (before a judge) on August 4th.

There was only one single charge, operating a money transfer business without a license. Gary Linsenberg was the counsel for the company, Goldfinger.

MW: You spoke with Gary Linsenberg many times?

MA: I wouldn’t characterize it as many times....

MW: The (Fayed’s) defense....they didn’t believe they needed the license that you stated they needed.

AJ: Objection! Irrelevant!

JK: Overruled!

Jackson makes several objections to the next four questions Werksman asks. Each one is sustained. The last, Jackson asks to be stricken and it’s so ordered.

Werksman was trying to get in some things about the defendant....but I don’t have the exact questions he asked the witness.

MW: As you sit here today, he was never charged, and he’s never been under (?) except for that single indictment?

He filed the indictment under seal to put pressure (on Fayed) but nobody ever approached him to cooperate.

Cross ends and redirect begins.

AJ: Why did you dismiss the indictment?

MA: I didn’t want to interfere with the prosecution of the murder investigation and have the defendant transferred back and forth between the custody of two different jurisdictions, and interfere with the smooth prosecution of the defendant.

#5 David Willingham

Eric Harmon presents the witness.

Willingham is a lawyer. His practice is primarily white collar criminal defense. He works paper cases, securities fraud, federal cases. He left government service in August, 2007. He joined his firm September 1st, 2007. He was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles County, and his client was the US of A. He knew Mark Avis. Avis was a colleage. He never tried a case with Mark but knew him. He met Pamela Fayed shortly after he joined the firm in late 2007.

Pamela was referred to him by someone I had worked for last. She came to his office seeking representation, approximately September, 2007.

EH: Did she talk to you about possibly being under investigation? (snip) Did she talke to you about Goldfinger and money transfer and possibly obtaining a money transfer license?

MW: Objection! Hearsay!

JK: Sustained.

Harmon requests a sidebar.

More attorneys enter 109 and sit in the gallery to listen/watch. I guess whenever an attorney takes the stand, they all come out to watch one of their own getting grilled. The gallery is full of whispers behind me.

I'm quite tired tonight. I'll keep trying to get my notes caught up. Sprocket

To be continued.....

James Fayed Trial Quick Links

May 5th, Ventura Co. Star Article

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