Two Other Suspects in Kidnapping of 10 People Arrested in Colombia


first_imgBy Dialogo May 06, 2011 On 3 May, Colombian authorities announced the arrest of two alleged members of a criminal group suspected of kidnapping ten people the previous week in a vacation home in the Colombian department of Antioquia (in the northwestern part of the country), the Army reported. On 2 May, the Public Prosecutor’s Office had announced the arrest of another suspect in southern Medellín, the capital of Antioquia, bringing to three the number of individuals linked to the case who are in custody. The most recent arrests “took place in the Belén neighborhood of Medellín, as a result of intelligence work begun by soldiers from the Military Unified Action Group for Personal Liberty (Gaula) as soon as the kidnapping of the ten citizens took place and thanks to the timely report by relatives,” the Army indicated. On 24 April, an armed group arrived at a rural property in the municipality of Sopetrán, in northwestern Colombia, apparently looking for members of a criminal gang. When they did not find them, they carried off ten individuals who were there, no indication of whose whereabouts has yet been found. According to the Army, “a rifle, a submachine gun, four pistols, a fragmentation grenade, a silencer, nine ammunition clips, and ninety-six live rounds,” among other items, were seized during the arrest operation. Among those arrested was a female juvenile.last_img read more

Paraguay’s Joint Task Force on Alert Against the EPP


first_imgThe EPP has continued to commit kidnappings for ransom. Paraguay’s Joint Task Force (FTC), a team consisting of Military and police personnel, is in a state of high alert in its fight against the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a terrorist group responsible for kidnappings for ransom and killings. “The knowledge we have gained about their behavior, their management methods, their food supply, the type of equipment, and other data provides a lot of material for analysts to design more effective strategies to locate them,” Urdapilleta said. The Military and police are continuing to work hard to secure the release of Police Master Sergeant Edelio Morínigo, who was kidnapped by the EPP on July 5, 2014. The EPP has not demanded a ransom, but instead proposed a trade, offering to free Morínigo in exchange for the release of 46 EPP members who had been sentenced to prison. In addition to battling the EPP, the FTC is also confronting an offshoot of the terrorist group, an organization which calls itself the Armed Peasant Association (ACA). This group, which arose in 2014, operates in the northern region of the country. The FTC is confronting a terrorist group that is comprised of family-based gangs, such as the Bernal Maíz, Larrea and Villalba organized crime groups, according to Urdapilleta. The FTC has compiled intelligence about the ACA that will help it fight the terrorist group. “The knowledge we have gained about their behavior, their management methods, their food supply, the type of equipment, and other data provides a lot of material for analysts to design more effective strategies to locate them,” Urdapilleta said. On January 6, FTC Troops and police were on patrol in the district of Horqueta, in the Department of Concepción, when they tried to capture ACA leader Albino Ramón Jara Larrea. He resisted arrest, and the FTC killed him, as well as another ACA leader, Rosalba Moraez. The two ACA members were carrying cash in local currency worth the equivalent of about $12,000. Kidnappings for ransom Paraguay’s Joint Task Force (FTC), a team consisting of Military and police personnel, is in a state of high alert in its fight against the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a terrorist group responsible for kidnappings for ransom and killings. “The fight is constant and the work does not cease. There are things we do not make public due to the security of the operations,” said Lieutenant Colonel Víctor Urdapilleta, an FTC spokesman. “This does not mean we are not working on it.” The FTC is confronting a terrorist group that is comprised of family-based gangs, such as the Bernal Maíz, Larrea and Villalba organized crime groups, according to Urdapilleta. In addition to battling the EPP, the FTC is also confronting an offshoot of the terrorist group, an organization which calls itself the Armed Peasant Association (ACA). This group, which arose in 2014, operates in the northern region of the country. By 2008, the outlaw group had changed its name to the Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo, or Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP). The EPP has continued to commit kidnappings for ransom. “We cannot take credit for the release of Arlan Fick, but we can say that, thanks to actions that we undertook and other extreme actions we refrained from taking, he was released,” according to Urdapilleta. Security forces have also made great advances in fighting the EPP, according to Colonel Jorge Mieres, director of the Army’s Social Communications Division (DICOSO). In recent years, the Prosecutor’s Office has obtained convictions against 46 individuals who confessed to being members of the EPP. By Dialogo January 29, 2015 The terrorist group continued to use kidnapping for ransom. In September 2004, the outlaw group kidnapped Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former Paraguayan President Raúl Cubas Grau and current Senator Mirta Gusinky. Law enforcement authorities eventually found Cubas’ body in a grave outside Asunción, despite the payment of a $350,000 ransom. The kidnappers justified the killing by claiming that the payment was not a ransom, but a “fine against Cubas’ parents.” By 2008, the outlaw group had changed its name to the Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo, or Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP). Paraguayan security forces have been battling the EPP since 2001, when the organization was the armed wing of the Marxist and anti-imperialist political party Patria Libre (Free Homeland). The first of six kidnappings committed by the illegal group took place against María Edith Bordón de Debenardi, the wife of a prominent businessman in November 2001 for whom they demanded a ransom of $1 million for her release. The ransom was paid, and the terrorist group released her after two months in captivity. “The fight is constant and the work does not cease. There are things we do not make public due to the security of the operations,” said Lieutenant Colonel Víctor Urdapilleta, an FTC spokesman. “This does not mean we are not working on it.” On January 6, FTC Troops and police were on patrol in the district of Horqueta, in the Department of Concepción, when they tried to capture ACA leader Albino Ramón Jara Larrea. He resisted arrest, and the FTC killed him, as well as another ACA leader, Rosalba Moraez. The two ACA members were carrying cash in local currency worth the equivalent of about $12,000. Paraguayan security forces have been battling the EPP since 2001, when the organization was the armed wing of the Marxist and anti-imperialist political party Patria Libre (Free Homeland). The first of six kidnappings committed by the illegal group took place against María Edith Bordón de Debenardi, the wife of a prominent businessman in November 2001 for whom they demanded a ransom of $1 million for her release. The ransom was paid, and the terrorist group released her after two months in captivity. “We cannot take credit for the release of Arlan Fick, but we can say that, thanks to actions that we undertook and other extreme actions we refrained from taking, he was released,” according to Urdapilleta. The FTC confronts the ACA The FTC has compiled intelligence about the ACA that will help it fight the terrorist group. That year, the EPP kidnapped rancher Luis Lindstron, who remained in captivity from June 21 until September 12, when his family paid a ransom. But in 2013, Lindstron was killed, allegedly by the EPP. Law enforcement authorities suspected the EPP killed Lindstron because he was not willing to pay a “toll” to the terrorist group. The government rejected the idea. “The government will not negotiate with terrorists,” Minister of Interior Francisco De Vargas said on December 25 in a telephone conversation with Telefuturo (Channel 4). The terrorist group continued to use kidnapping for ransom. In September 2004, the outlaw group kidnapped Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former Paraguayan President Raúl Cubas Grau and current Senator Mirta Gusinky. Law enforcement authorities eventually found Cubas’ body in a grave outside Asunción, despite the payment of a $350,000 ransom. The kidnappers justified the killing by claiming that the payment was not a ransom, but a “fine against Cubas’ parents.” That year, the EPP kidnapped rancher Luis Lindstron, who remained in captivity from June 21 until September 12, when his family paid a ransom. But in 2013, Lindstron was killed, allegedly by the EPP. Law enforcement authorities suspected the EPP killed Lindstron because he was not willing to pay a “toll” to the terrorist group. Kidnappings for ransom The Military and police are continuing to work hard to secure the release of Police Master Sergeant Edelio Morínigo, who was kidnapped by the EPP on July 5, 2014. The EPP has not demanded a ransom, but instead proposed a trade, offering to free Morínigo in exchange for the release of 46 EPP members who had been sentenced to prison. The FTC confronts the ACA On April 2, 2014, the EPP kidnapped Arlan Fick, 16. His father, Alcido Fick, paid $500,000 for his release. The terrorist group held Fick for 267 days before releasing him on Christmas Day. While the FTC did not rescue him, it helped make sure he was released safely. Security forces have also made great advances in fighting the EPP, according to Colonel Jorge Mieres, director of the Army’s Social Communications Division (DICOSO). In recent years, the Prosecutor’s Office has obtained convictions against 46 individuals who confessed to being members of the EPP. On April 2, 2014, the EPP kidnapped Arlan Fick, 16. His father, Alcido Fick, paid $500,000 for his release. The terrorist group held Fick for 267 days before releasing him on Christmas Day. While the FTC did not rescue him, it helped make sure he was released safely. The government rejected the idea. “The government will not negotiate with terrorists,” Minister of Interior Francisco De Vargas said on December 25 in a telephone conversation with Telefuturo (Channel 4).last_img read more

Chile under Fire


first_imgBy Augusto Scarella Arce/Diálogo February 02, 2017 Chile has been ravaged by a series of wildfires since January 11th, with 142 disasters declared in different regions of the country’s center and south to date. Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, responded by issuing decrees declaring several states of emergency, which under the country’s constitution set in motion a set of measures aimed at overcoming the public disaster besetting a large swath of the country. From the beginning of this emergency, General Arturo Merino Núñez, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (EMCO, per its Spanish acronym), has continuously deployed units from the Emergency Operations Center to maintain precise control and coordination of the defensive measures employed to combat the wildfires. “This effort by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the direct consultation of the Ministry of Defense, will remain available 24 hours a day for as long as needed,” Gen. Merino said. National response More than 8,000 members of the Armed Forces are providing emergency assistance, having fought 77 wildfires to date. Of the total wildfires, covering nearly 300,000 hectares, 51 have been brought under control and 14 have been extinguished. Almost 300 vehicles, including all types of tanker and transport equipment, have been flown to the affected areas by the Chilean Air Force. Additionally, 25 planes have been brought in by the Chilean Armed Forces, which together with 18 other government organizations are working to assist members of the National Forestry Service (CONAF, per its Spanish acronym) brigades and firefighters. The national defense is also fighting fires directly through the Army Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigades, with units that provide nationwide coverage and that enjoy autonomy in deployment and logistics. Minister of Defense José Antonio Gómez made another visit to the affected areas on January 25th, accompanied by Rear Admiral Jorge Rodriguez Urria, EMCO’s chief of Operations and Joint Administration, to coordinate the military’s actions on the ground. The minister was clear and quite specific about the aid from military institutions: “They will work night and day to restore conditions that will allow rebuilding from the destruction caused by a fire of an intensity never before seen in this country.” Partner nations step in with support On January 26th, authorities met at the airport with a group of 29 Colombian brigade members who voluntarily came to help. The United States also responded very rapidly to the difficult situation Chileans are experiencing. The U.S. Agency for International Development, through its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) donated $100 million to the non-governmental organization Caritas Chile for the local acquisition and delivery of firefighting equipment, such as power saws and weather monitoring tools requested by the Chilean National Forestry Service. “A team from the U.S. Forestry Service and USAID/OFDA is being deployed in Chile. It is made up of emergency personnel and staff with technical expertise in fighting forest fires,” said Nicole Gallagher, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Chile. On January 27th and 28th, fire brigade members from Mexico also arrived. There is a total of 609 firefighters from Argentina, Colombia, the United States, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, among other countries, fighting the flames with their Chilean counterparts. For its part, on January 29th, Brazil’s Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) deployed two C-130 aircraft to support Chile in combatting the forest fires. Operated by the First Troop Transport Group, the aircraft arrived in Chile with 28 service members on board. “The crew follows the guidelines provided by ONEMI [Chilean Ministry of Interior’s National Office for Emergency], and the CONAF [National Forestry Corporation], who are responsible for coordinating the international aid, and it will be distributed to the place they will operate from,” explained FAB Colonel Paulo Cesar Andari, military attaché for the Brazilian Air Force in Chile, according to information from FAB. Likewise, the Peruvian Air Force transported 55 firefighters from the Civil Defense Institute and a 212 Bell helicopter aboard an L-100-20 Hercules and a C-27J Spartan aircraft from the Eighth Air Group, to help Chile fight the forest fires, according to information from defense news website Defensa.com.last_img read more

Operation Ostium Reduces Illegal Air Traffic on Brazil’s Borders


first_imgBy Taciana Moury/Diálogo August 08, 2017 Operation Ostium, conducted by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) since March, has reduced suspect air traffic on Brazil’s borders with Bolivia and Paraguay by 80 percent. The operation has reinforced surveillance of the region’s air space with the temporary installation of mobile radar stations in towns near border areas such as Chapecó in Santa Catarina, and Corumbá in Mato Grosso do Sul. Aerial operations from FAB bases have also been enhanced, and military aircraft have been deployed to towns and cities such as Cascavel and Foz do Iguaçu in Paraná, and Dourados in Mato Grosso do Sul, the main base of operations, located 100 kilometers from Paraguay’s border. At the beginning of July, during a visit to the town of Vilhena in Rondônia (northern Brazil), Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann told the press that Ostium had mobilized 800 military personnel and more than 30 aircraft. A-29 Super Tucano fighter aircraft, E-99 airborne early warning and control aircraft, and R-35A and RA-1 reconnaissance aircraft, as well as AH-2 Sabre and H-60 Black Hawk combat helicopters, among other models, are being deployed in this operation. The operation is coordinated by the Airspace Operations Command (COMAE, per its Portuguese acronym), located in Brasília. Monitoring also involves the TPS-B34 radar system, capable of 360-degree scanning, and of tracking several targets simultaneously. FAB considers Ostium to be one of its most important operations against illegal aerial activity in the border regions. According to the Air Force Social Communications Center (CECOMSAER, per its Portuguese acronym), 150 suspect aircraft have been intercepted since the operation began on March 24th. General Gerson Nogueira Machado de Oliveira, the commander of the FAB Airspace Operations Command, explained that Ostium is intensifying control of the airspace in the border regions. “This operation is part of the federal government’s Integrated Border Protection Program under which the Air Force is responsible for controlling national airspace. This is an interagency initiative, mainly in conjunction with the Federal Police. We have an intelligence database which we use to monitor a number of aircraft in Brazilian airspace,” he said. Intercepting unlawful aircraft One such interception took place on June 25th. A FAB A-29 Super Tucano forced a twin-engine aircraft to land in the region of Aragarças, Goiás in the midwestern region of Brazil. The aircraft, carrying 500 kilograms of cocaine, defied all orders to land. On this occasion, the pilots of the fighter fired “warning shots,” as dictated by the protocol for airspace policing measures, pursuant to the Aerial Detention Law. According to information from the Air Force Press Agency, warning shots were required after two route-modification orders went unheeded. The intention is not to hit the suspect aircraft but to demonstrate the fighter’s firepower and enforce standards. FAB also used the E-99 airborne early warning and control aircraft to aid in detecting and intercepting the twin-engine aircraft, as well as intelligence work in conjunction with the Federal Police. Aerial Detention Law Since the decree was signed in 2004, FAB has intercepted more than 2,000 suspect aircraft in Brazilian airspace. According to Gen. Machado, interception is part of the air force’s daily activities. The law stipulates that before being classified as hostile and therefore subject to forced detention measures, aircraft will be considered suspect if they enter Brazilian airspace without an approved flight plan, coming from regions that are known to be sources of production or distribution of narcotics. Another situation is when aircraft omit information necessary for air traffic control authorities to identify them, or if they fail to comply with orders from the latter, especially when on a route presumably used for the distribution of narcotics. The four phases of interception The Aerial Detention Law stipulates four phases of interception: verification, intervention, persuasion, and detention. “FAB conducts coercive measures in a progressive manner, whenever a measure is not heeded and the target is considered hostile, stronger measures will be implemented, up to forced detention of the suspect aircraft,” CECOMSAER explained to Diálogo. Once called in by COMAE, FAB interceptors can undertake verification measures, which involve, among other things, long-distance identification, confirmation of the aircraft registration, and crew interrogation via the international emergency channel, as well as visual signs, according to internationally established rules for the mandatory identification of all aircraft. If the pilot of a suspect aircraft fails to respond properly, intervention measures will be employed. In this case, according to CECOMSAER, suspect aircraft are obliged to change their routes or to land. If these orders are not obeyed, the fighter pilot moves to the persuasion phase, where warning shots may be fired, as was the case involving the twin-engine aircraft in June. The last phase of the interception procedure occurs when the aircraft is considered hostile. In this case, shots are fired to damage the suspect aircraft, a process that must follow a strict protocol. According to FAB, all radar and aircraft involved in interception must be under Brazilian Air Defense authority control, and the entire operation must be recorded in audio or video. Furthermore, interceptions may only be conducted by qualified pilots and air defense controllers, according to standards set forth by COMAE. The procedure has to be conducted over sparsely populated areas that are related to routes presumably used for drug trafficking.last_img read more

U.S. Secretary of Defense Promotes U.S. Partnership in Brazil


first_imgBy Marcos Ommati/Diálogo August 16, 2018 U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited South America for the first time. His first stop August 13, 2018 was Brazil, where he held meetings with Brazilian Defense Minister Joaquim Silva e Luna and Foreign Affairs Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, in Brasília. The topics of discussion included alternatives to further science and technology, political-military, and defense-industry cooperation to increase commerce between both partner nations. Mattis’s trip to Latin America follows a visit by U.S. Navy Admiral John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations, to Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. About a month before Richardson’s visit, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also spent a week in South America. Speech at the Brazilian Army War College “I am here to make a down payment on our shared destiny as the hemisphere’s two largest democracies, and as defenders of our inter-American values: respect for fundamental human rights, the rule of law, and peace,” said Mattis during a visit to the Brazilian Army War College in Rio de Janeiro, August 14th. “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” Citing U.S.-Latin American relations as an example of long-term partnership, Mattis said the success and security of future generations depends on “how well we build trust at every level with our Western Hemisphere allies and partners today. America seeks to earn your trust daily; we want to be your partner of choice in this shared effort.” Mattis reminisced on World War II to emphasize the U.S.-Brazil partnership. American soldiers fought side-by-side with the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in Monte Castello, Italy, and the Brazilian Navy escorted more than 3,000 merchant ships –and lost only three. “Our native languages may differ, but four decades of military service have persuaded me that the profession of arms has a language of its own and a way of turning strangers into family,” said the retired U.S. Marine Corps general. Transformation in defense relationship In April 2018, Mattis directed his staff to enhance the U.S. defense relationship with Brazil, and build on the solid foundation already in place. “It happened after I picked up the phone and heard Minister Silva e Luna’s voice on the other end. He talked; I listened. When our call ended, I made that decision,” he explained. Mattis also talked about the broader military relationship Brazil and the United States share, as well as in research, “especially in space,” he highlighted. The two countries are negotiating an agreement to allow the United States to launch satellites from the Alcântara Launch Center, a facility operated by the Brazilian Air Force at the Brazilian Space Agency in Alcântara, state of Maranhão, in Brazil’s northern Atlantic coast. “We choose Brazil not because it lies along the equator, in a happy accident of geography, but because we want to work with Brazilians—people whose values we share. Outside actors cannot credibly say the same.” After all, he highlighted, Brazil is a worldwide leader as seen in their role in demining missions in Central and South America, and peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Lebanon, and Africa. Furthering military sales Mattis stated that the United States sees a future in military sales with Latin America. “America’s Foreign Military Sales program is second to none. Nations can freely choose to purchase where they wish and we respect that. After all, friends do not demand you choose among them. America is not looking to make quick cash; we are looking to earn and keep friends.” At the conclusion of his speech, Mattis answered questions from the audience. One asked if creating a sixth U.S. military branch, the Space Force, wouldn’t equate to militarizing space. Mattis argued that China already developed a weapon that can destroy satellites. He was also asked about U.S. operations in the South China Sea, and about territorial disputes between Beijing and its neighboring countries. Those are some of his and the U.S. Department of State’s priorities, he said, to keep the region peaceful and expect more transparency from the Chinese in international relations. Following his visit to the War College, Secretary Mattis visited the World War II Memorial, in Aterro do Flamengo. Mattis assumed office in January 2017.last_img read more

Curaçao / Aruba Forward Operating Location On The Front Line Of The Fight Against Narcotrafficking


first_imgBy Geraldine Cook November 04, 2019 The Curaçao/Aruba Forward Operating Location works with different agencies to counter transnational criminal organizations.Partner nations and the United States are on constant alert in their common battle against drug trafficking. The Curaçao/Aruba Forward Operating Location (FOL), also known as Security Cooperation Location, is a tactical location, which allows U.S. and partner nations use of the airfields at Curaçao Hato International Airport and Aruba’s Reina Beatrix International Airport to support regional efforts to disrupt security threat networks.The Curaçao/Aruba FOL is the result of a 10-year access security and defense cooperation agreement the United States and the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed in March 2000 and renewed in 2010. The Curaçao/Aruba FOL supports operations of Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South) to detect, monitor, and track aircraft or vessels engaged in illicit drug trafficking that originate in South America and cross the Caribbean Sea to reach Mexico and the United States. The U.S. Air Force manages the Curaçao/Aruba FOL day-to-day activities providing 24/7 operational and logistics support for interagency cooperation in drug missions.“Our mission is to provide forward airbase operations in support of JIATF South’s multinational aerial counter narcotics detection, monitoring, and tracking operations in the region,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Sinclair, Curaçao/Aruba FOL’s commander. “We do work in an environment where we trust and work together with our partners and U.S. agencies. We have a robust relationship with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Aruba’s government as well.”The Curaçao/Aruba FOL coordinates all logistics requirements to help interdiction operations upon receiving information from JIATF South Command Center, located at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida. Their airfield hosts P-8, P-3C, and C-130 Hercules aircraft, among others, to ensure readiness to conduct surveillance flights to detect drug cartel vessels and aircraft.“Transnational drug organizations have been pushing more of their drugs through the Pacific Ocean rather than the Caribbean, adjusting tactics, techniques, and procedures, looking for new routes,” said Lt. Col. Sinclair. “JIATF South constantly improves detection and exploitation methods to counter illicit traffU.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Sinclair, Curaçao/Aruba FOL’s commander (third from left) along with U.S. Air Force members and firefighters are ready 24/7 to support aerial counter drug missions. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)icking operations, working with partner nations and their capabilities in the fight against narcotrafficking organizations.”Solid partnership The Curaçao/Aruba FOL is comprised of units from Air Forces Southern’s 612th Theater Operations Group/Detachment 2 and 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron. It also has a fire department team to support their daily activities.Counter drug operations are carried out with the participation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service, among other agencies, as well as the cooperation of the government of the Netherlands. As of September 2019, The Curaçao/Aruba FOL has provided logistics support to 95 counter narcotics missions and 18 non-drug related missions. They also joined missions in support of weather reconnaissance and responded to natural disasters.“We build diplomacy with our neighbors to counter the threat of drugs in the region. Having an interagency relationship builds transparency and trust not only with other agencies within the U.S. government but also builds trust with our Latin American and Caribbean countries that are part of JIATF South,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Popp, Curaçao/Aruba FOL’s director of Operations. “It shows we are working together as one team, one fight.”last_img read more

Board supports Foundation plan to amend the IOTA rule


first_imgBoard supports Foundation plan to amend the IOTA rule April 15, 2001 Managing Editor Regular News Board supports Foundation plan to amend the IOTA ruleMark D. Killian Managing Editor The Board of Governors has given its unanimous support to a Florida Bar Foundation plan to open the IOTA program to financial institutions other than banks and require those holding the trust accounts to pay interest rates or dividends commensurate with those offered to their non-IOTA depositors. Foundation President Ham Cooke told the Board of Governors March 30 in Melbourne that the proposed amendments to the IOTA rule which must be approved by the Supreme Court have the potential to double the money generated by the IOTA program. Cooke said low interest rates and high service charges over the past 10 years have reduced IOTA income from about $19 million per year to $11 million, forcing the Foundation to cut its legal aid to the poor grants by 32 percent over the past two years. “Our board has taken that very, very seriously,” Cooke said. “We wanted to do something to be as proactive as we could in trying to increase the return that IOTA is receiving.” To do that, Cooke said, the Foundation will soon petition the court to amend the IOTA rule to allow financial services companies such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter or Merrill Lynch to hold IOTA accounts. The change also would require any institution that wants to handle IOTA accounts to place IOTA account funds in products paying the same market rate of interest or dividends available to non-IOTA depositors when IOTA accounts meet the same balance and other requirements. Authorized investments would include FDIC insured accounts, daily bank repurchase agreements (REPOs) or money market funds. Currently, IOTA funds can only be held in federally insured checking accounts or REPOs. The IOTA rule amendments being proposed by the Foundation make no change in the current requirement that all nominal or short-term client or third-person trust funds be invested for IOTA’s benefit. But, as always has been the case, attorneys and firms have a responsibility to make large or long-term trust deposits productive for clients whenever practical. Cooke said adopting the change could generate as much as $25 million annually for the Foundation and “allow us to then fund legal services at the level we did 10 years ago.” Bar President-elect Terry Russell urged the board to support the Foundation’s plan, which he said would “enable the Foundation to regain its footing” and provide more complete provision of resources to legal service organizations. Russell noted that since IOTA’s inception, the program has generated more than $156 million for legal aid, administration of justice, and law student assistance programs. In putting the plan together, Cooke said the Foundation worked to put the onus of meeting the new standards on the financial institutions and the Foundation, not the lawyers. Even by requiring that IOTA accounts earn the highest interest rate or dividend available to non-IOTA depositors with comparable balances at the same bank or financial services company, IOTA still is voluntary for institutions, Cooke said. But, by meeting the interest or dividend standard, banks would become eligible to hold IOTA accounts, and lawyers and firms would be required to deposit IOTA funds only in eligible institutions. As part of the plan, the Foundation also will independently work with banks and financial service companies to develop appropriate products which comply with the IOTA rule, Cooke said. That will include providing the banks with computer and technical support needed to remit IOTA earnings to the Foundation and conduct the required reporting. The Foundation, not the lawyer, will be responsible for monitoring usage of banks’ and financial services companies’ existing products available to non-IOTA depositors, with respect to rates being paid on individual attorney and law firm IOTA accounts as reported by the Foundation on IOTA remittance reports, in order to determine compliance with the IOTA rule. The proposal calls for no action to be required of law firms by the proposed amendments to monitor their institution’s compliance, and unless an attorney’s or law firm’s bank becomes ineligible to hold IOTA funds because of its unwillingness to place IOTA account funds in products in compliance with the rule. In that instance, the Foundation would advise the attorney or law firm that their financial institution had become ineligible to hold IOTA funds.last_img read more

Foundation applicants needed


first_img July 1, 2005 Regular News Foundation applicants needed Foundation applicants needed The Board of Governors is seeking applicants for the following vacancy to be filled during its August 26 meeting: Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors: Commencing immediately, one lawyer to serve remainder of a three-year term, ending June 30, 2006, on this 29-member board of directors which administers Florida’s IOTA program. Directors shall be members of the Foundation during their term(s) as directors.Persons interested in applying for this vacancy may download and complete the application online from the Bar’s Web site, floridabar.org, or may call Bar headquarters at (850) 561-5600, ext. 5757, to obtain an application form. Completed applications must be submitted to the Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 East Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300 no later than close of business, Friday, August 5. Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of an application.last_img read more

Dog Fighting Ring and ‘Bloody’ Pit Bulls Found in New Cassel Garage


first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Monica ChristopherA New Cassel woman was arrested Friday after police stumbled onto a dog fighting ring inside her garage and several injured pit bulls, including two that were in “bloody, wounded conditions,” Nassau County police said.Police were originally called to the house to investigate noise complaints, but when responding officers arrived they spotted 15 to 20 people running out of a garage toward the back of the home, police said.That’s when police entered the garage and found the two badly wounded pit bulls inside a homemade wooden dog fighting ring, police said.The woman who lives in the house, 38-year-old Monica Christopher, was arrested and charged with three counts of prohibition animal fighting.“Officers observed numerous dog pens/crates throughout the house, all containing pit bulls, many with wounds to the face, nose and body,” police said in a news release.The house also contained two treadmills used for training dogs for fighting, police said, and several bottles containing penicillin and steroids along with syringes.The Town of North Hempstead Department of Public Safety Animal Control responded and transported 18 pit bulls to the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter, police said.Five of dogs were immediately taken to the hospital and three had to be euthanized because of their injuries, according to Sue Hassett, the shelter’s director.She said the injuries consisted of broken bones and lacerations consistent with dog fighting.The remaining 13 dogs are malnourished but are in “pretty good shape,” Hassett said.“Five had obviously been fought that morning,” she continued, adding, “It’s hard for me to believe that…this goes on and people don’t call.”Hassett, who said this is the worst incident she’s seen in 25 years on the job, implored people to call the police if they know of dog fighting in their area.“Let’s stop it,” she said.Christopher was arraigned Sunday and a judge set bail at $75,000 cash and $150,000 bond.last_img read more

Rocky Point Head-on Bus Crash Kills Car Driver


first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York An unidentified man was killed in a head-on crash with a tour bus in Rocky Point on Saturday night.Suffolk County police said the victim was driving a Toyota Scion eastbound on the Route 25A Bypass when he crossed into the opposite lane of traffic and hit a westbound Prevost Coach tour bus that had no passengers aboard at 7:40 p.m.The car driver was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not immediately available to be released.The bus driver, 36-year-old Richard Kiernan of Sound Beach, was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was treated for minor injuries.Suffolk County Police Motor Carrier Unit officers performed a safety check on the tour bus. The Toyota Scion was impounded.Seventh Squad detectives ask anyone with information about the crash to contact them at 631-852-8752.last_img read more