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the violence of white collar crime

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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:21 pm

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April 14, 2012

Increasingly in Europe, Suicides ‘by Economic Crisis’


Eoin O’Conaill for The International Herald Tribune
George Mordaunt of Clonmel, Ireland, considered suicide when his car business hit hard times.

By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO and DOREEN CARVAJAL

TREVISO, Italy — On New Year’s Eve, Antonio Tamiozzo, 53, hanged himself in the warehouse of his construction business near Vicenza, after several debtors did not pay what they owed him.

Three weeks earlier, Giovanni Schiavon, 59, a contractor, shot himself in the head at the headquarters of his debt-ridden construction company on the outskirts of Padua. As he faced the bleak prospect of ordering Christmas layoffs at his family firm of two generations, he wrote a last message: “Sorry, I cannot take it anymore.”

The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”

Many, like Mr. Tamiozzo and Mr. Schiavon, have died in obscurity. Others, like the desperate 77-year-old retiree who shot himself outside the Greek Parliament on April 4, have turned their personal despair into dramatic public expressions of anger at the leaders who have failed to soften the blows of the crisis.

A complete picture of the phenomenon across Europe is elusive, as some countries lag in reporting statistics and coroners are loath to classify deaths as suicides, to protect surviving family members. But it is clear that countries on the front line of the economic crisis are suffering the worst, and that suicides among men have increased the most.

In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24 percent from 2007 to 2009, government statistics show. In Ireland during the same period, suicides among men rose more than 16 percent. In Italy, suicides motivated by economic difficulties have increased 52 percent, to 187 in 2010 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — from 123 in 2005.

Researchers say the trend has intensified this year as government austerity measures took hold and compounded the hardships for many. While suicides often have many complex causes, researchers have found that severe economic stress corresponds to higher suicide rates.

“Financial crisis puts the lives of ordinary people at risk, but much more dangerous is when there are radical cuts to social protection,” said David Stuckler, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge, who led a study published in The Lancet that found a sharp rise in suicides across Europe, particularly in seriously affected countries like Greece and Ireland from 2007 to 2009, years that coincided with the downturn.

“Austerity can turn a crisis into an epidemic,” Mr. Stuckler added.

Veneto, a region that was the engine of Italy’s economic growth in the 1990s, has been especially hard hit. In this part of the country, which includes the cities of Treviso, Vicenza and Padua, more than 30 small-business people have committed suicide in the last three years for reasons tied to their work as the area has been whipsawed by global trends including a drop in industrial orders, competition from China and tight bank credit.

Though the phenomenon has been particularly acute in the region, it has recently spread to Bologna, Catania and Rome.

In Rome this month, Mario Frasacco, 59, whose company made aluminum fixtures, killed himself, much to the shock of Rome’s small-business association, where he had been a board member. Other members were surprised when he suddenly canceled a business trip with them to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, scheduled for May.

“Now, unfortunately, we sadly understand the probable reason why,” Erino Colombi, the association’s president, said in a statement. The association has organized a candlelight vigil on Wednesday to honor the victims of the economic crisis in Rome.

In Ireland, the phenomenon has been linked to what some therapists call Celtic Tiger depression, the period after 2008 characterized by an influx of middle-aged male patients who complained about sleeplessness and a lack of appetite in the aftermath of that nation’s destructive boom-and-bust real estate market.

To search for answers, researchers for the National Suicide Research Foundation in Cork interviewed surviving relatives of 190 people who committed suicide in County Cork during the turbulent period from 2008 to March 2011.

The victims were predominantly men, with an average age of 36. Almost 40 percent were unemployed, and 32 percent worked in construction as plumbers, electricians and plasterers, said Ella Arensman, the foundation’s director of research. Generally, she added, they suffered from a constellation of problems: financial struggles, unemployment, broken relationships and loneliness.

Across Europe, men are the most vulnerable, particularly unmarried men who have weak family and government support, according to Mr. Stuckler, the sociologist. Alcohol abuse is a frequent contributing factor, he said, adding, “It’s really important to have friends and family you can trust in hard times.”

Indeed, during one dark night in his life, George Mordaunt, 44, said he nearly became a statistic. For three years, until 2007, he helped to build up his family’s 30-year-old automobile business in Clonmel, in southern Ireland, adding three new dealerships. Then, in 2008, the crisis struck. Now all that remains is the original family dealership.

Mr. Mordaunt said he considered suicide after a tough-talking banker threatened to seize his home if he did not repay his loans: “Save the sob story. We want our money. If that means taking your family home, we’ll do it,” he recalled being told.

That night, he said, he wandered into his sleeping son’s room, dwelling on the fate of another man he knew who had committed suicide and imagining his own funeral with his children marching behind a hearse.

“How many other people lie awake at night with the same fears?” he asked. “How many people are on the verge of losing everything? Everyone in Ireland must become active in our rescue.

“We don’t communicate and don’t share because we are laced with unreal pride. My view is you become active and stand up to the banks.”

Mr. Mordaunt ultimately founded a counseling service, Insight, offering advice to people seeking to renegotiate bank debt.

Such circumstances are sometimes reversed in Italy, where in some cases it is the government that has not paid its debts to struggling businessmen. National legislation aimed at curbing public spending has caused state and local administrations to rack up billions of dollars in outstanding bills with creditors, putting a squeeze on many small businesses.

“That is the madness of this crisis, that people kill themselves because they haven’t been paid by public institutions,” said Massimo Nardin, a spokesman for the Padua Chamber of Commerce.

On average, government agencies pay their bills within 180 days, but in the public health sector that can stretch to two or three years, one of the worst records in Europe, says Marco Beltrandi, a lawmaker from the Radical Party. He estimated the outstanding credit as between $118.3 billion and $131.5 billion.

“Late payments were always the norm,” Mr. Beltrandi said, “but now it’s gotten out of hand. That’s why the problem has exploded.”

Private creditors are holding back, too. “The problem is the system, no one is paying any more — private, public, it’s all blocked,” said Salvatore Federico, general secretary of the Veneto branch of the Filca Cisl construction workers’ union. “The situation in general is stalled, and my sense is that no one knows how to get out of it.”

In the Veneto, the spate of suicides is a mark of social unease in a territory where the Roman Catholic Church used to hold considerable sway.

“Work became the religion here, and over time it has weakened the family — because if all you do is work, work, work, you have little else to fall on when that fails,” said the Rev. Davide Schiavon, who heads the Treviso branch of the Catholic charity Caritas, which recently inaugurated a program to assist businesspeople facing financial difficulties. (Father Schiavon is not related to Giovanni Schiavon.)

Social scientists say that some nations, like Sweden or Finland, avoided a rise in suicide rates in times of crisis because they invested in labor-market projects — initiatives to help get people back on their feet — instead of cash handouts.

In some places, community groups and charities have tried to provide a patchwork of aid along with suicide prevention campaigns to raise awareness. In Ireland, at Saint Peter and Paul’s parish in Clonmel, the church offered a three-day seminar on themes like “Suicide in Recessionary Times.”

Suicide prevention hot line numbers are posted in gas stations on the road to Dublin, and a number of prominent figures are speaking out on the issue, among them the president of Ireland, rugby stars and U2’s bass player, Adam Clayton, who is raising money for free mental health services for young adults with a national Walk in My Shoes day on April 26.

In Italy, business associations and trade unions, in a rare show of unity, say they are frustrated that the issue has not gotten more attention.

“This is a social malaise, we’re inside a tunnel and there’s no light at any end,” said Mr. Federico, whose union is starting a new foundation to assist victims of the economic crisis. The daughters of Giovanni Schiavon and Antonio Tamiozzo are among the founding members.

“People don’t kill themselves just because they have debts,” Mr. Federico said, “it’s a combination of factors that lead to desperation.

“But what links all these situations ultimately is indifference, and lack of respect for the years of work that they’d done,” he said. “On some level, they must have felt that.”

Elisabetta Povoledo reported from Treviso, and Doreen Carvajal from Lahardane, Ireland.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/world ... f=business
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Thu May 26, 2011 11:35 am

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First of all, it's important to realize that acknowledging betrayal is extremely painful. Not only is it cruel, neuroscientists are beginning to realize that betrayal provokes a chemical reaction in the brain. In an intriguing experiment, participants were put into an investment game where they were cheated by a fellow player. Their brains showed neural activity in the "emotion and fear learning" center, the amygdala. After being ripped off, participants were less likely to take social risks, and showed signs of social phobia. We already know that when people are afraid, "exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off." Betrayal causes us to stop trusting, but it also causes us to stop exploring and to stop thinking. Repeated betrayals can eventually cause damage to our mental well-being.
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:34 pm

The Dangers Of Living In A Land Of Strung Out Debt Junkies

Ashvin Pandurangi, Simple Planet | Oct. 21, 2010

Image: Los Angeles
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A Fingerprint of Instability in Biology and Finance
Fear & Loathing in the Divided States of America
Frantic Americans
Complexity Cartoon
The late, great Hunter S. Thompson captured the current sentiment of American society best when he wrote the following words 40 years ago, in his book Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas [1]:
"You can turn your back on a person, but you can never turn your back on a drug, especially when it's waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye."

America has defined itself as a society of collective "drug people," pushers, addicts, and associates, with our drug of choice being debt. We happily injected drugs worth 300 percent of our GDP straight into our veins, and made our international dealers filthy rich in the process.

The constant influx of drugs into our bodies made us feel super-human, as if we were instantaneously able to afford TVs, computers, cars, and homes with the swipe of a card and the flick of a pen. Of course, as any regular drug user can attest, the human biological system becomes increasingly tolerant to the jolts of external chemicals and requires ever-larger doses to achieve the same effects.

The economy rapidly became saturated with debt, since economic actors needed to take on more and more debt to simply pay off previous debts and maintain their current level of activity. In 2007-08, the private debt servicing costs overwhelmed the "high" produced from this mostly unproductive debt, in the form of artificially elevated asset prices and revenue streams, and the national body had no more financial capacity to absorb additional drugs. With no more access to their drug of choice after a decades-long binge, the addicts began going through severe withdrawal. The drug-induced mentality of happiness, trust and tolerance was quickly replaced with collective feelings of sickness, fear and resentment.

Individuals who abuse drugs face a deck deeply stacked against their survival and/or a stable existence, but there is always a distinct possibility that they can be "rehabilitated". With some strong support from family and friends, the addict can go into a "program", take the necessary medications, attend the required counseling, learn some discipline and then come out on the other side a healed creature.

Recovery is likely when the drug consumed is relatively weak, the duration of addiction is relatively short and the addict's community is a strong source of support. The dynamics become significantly less favorable in a society of millions of addicts, all feeding off of each others' addictions and desperation, without many voices of support or reason. In this environment it becomes much easier for addicts to deny that they even have a problem, let alone it needs to be fixed, and the disconnect between fantasy and reality persists despite the symptoms of societal sickness steadily worsening over time.

These symptoms grow gradually more influential as the withdrawal continues, and they can also lead to sudden, acute episodes of collective discomfort.

Many addicts in this situation will simply refuse to face the harsh new reality and continue doing anything they can to find their next fix, especially when there is a friend or family member financially enabling them to get a few more hits (enablers). In the wake of peak financial activity in the private sector, the American government popped in and told its citizens "not to worry", because it would provide the temporary subsidies, tax credits or backstops that they needed to get another debt fix.

It also whispered to the dealers "not to worry", because it would keep their profitable drug trade going, seeing as how it supported such a significant percentage of the economy and the past promises made to a now restive population. American addicts continued a sporadic debt binge for some time, but on the whole they continued to be priced out of the saturated market.

The struggling addicts eventually have to start fending for themselves, as government income is increasingly consumed by direct or indirect handouts, and it transforms into the "friend" who is giving up on the incorrigible addict. What's left is a society of fiendish, debt-starved addicts who, with increasingly little to lose, project their misfortunes onto others.

There is very little room for trust in the minds of addicts, since they feel betrayed in some way by all of the people who surround them. The addicts will simultaneously fear and resent dealers, friends, family, authority figures or even strangers, because these are the people who have exploited them, enabled them, ostracized them or are competing with them for survival.

A drug dealer can be the addict's knight in shining armor when times are good and highs are cheap, but rotten crooks when the supply runs out and the sickness sets in. Americans and small businesses now find themselves in the schizophrenic split-state of both depending on debt pushers to continue financing routine activities, and hating them for privatizing the gains of their drug trade, socializing the losses and continuing to operate in what appears to be good health.

It is unsurprising that more than twice as many debt addicts blame their creditors (51percent) for the latest financial crisis than themselves (24 percent). [2]. However, drug users typically hesitate to confront their dealers in any significant way because they respect the money, power and influence wielded by these dealers. They can cut off users' supply to more drugs or even harm/kill them or their families if they really start acting up.

Major American banks can certainly cut off access to additional debt or refuse to negotiate with struggling debtors and repossess much of their secured property. When the powerful dealers are largely untouchable, much of an addict's residual loathing is focused on the system at large and those who manage it.

Drug users typically acquire their destructive habits at an early age, aided in no small part by the central institutions they have relied on, such as their household, community, school or government. Once the joyous journey of drug-filled exploits has run its course, addicts are left with an empty life within a pitiless system. The American journey has been characterized by a federal government and central bank which has stopped at nothing to encourage the debt addictions of their citizens, all the while insinuating that the drugs were necessary for a normal and successful existence.

Americans took this propaganda to heart, and now that the debt drugs have run out, they are actually left with the opposite of what they were promised. Movement epitomizes a strung-out population of addicts who have grown extremely tired of all the lies and unfulfilled promises, and are enraged at those who have so casually fueled their destructive habits for years on end. They correctly identified the central government as a corrupt institution which puts on a public face of sympathy and compassion for the American addicts, while secretly dividing up the profits of the drug trade with dealers instead. Of course, the hellish fury of an addict scorned can express itself in many ways.

Some of the debt addicts get together in meetings and communicate their hatred of the "big, betraying brother" who constantly looms over them. They carry signs filled with anger, make rapacious rants or generally protest the fact that their share of the drugs is being diverted to others, but their unrest is mitigated by lingering flashbacks to a previous state of debt intoxication.

Other addicts have realized that they can talk all day and never secure any more drugs or become healthy, so they attempt to join the dealer complex, where they will bring down the destructive debt trade from the inside and liberate their fellow addicts from the sickness. Sadly, when these addicts successfully make the transition from the world of users to the world of dealers, they usually forget all about the plight of the addicted and sell out for a share of the profits. A few hit rock bottom, and give up all hope on a return to normalcy or a bearable existence. One such American addict decided that instead of protesting or running for political office, he would get behind the controls of an airplane and fly it straight into a Texan IRS building.

It's hard to blame the bottomed-out debt addicts for expressing anger or even seeking revenge against the dealers or authority figures who worked to destroy their lives. The latter are especially contemptible when they constantly tell people to "stay away from drugs", but make it so damn easy for them to get some and even profit off of their addiction. Unfortunately, these institutions are the most inaccessible to the average addict, and so their fear and pain is more readily projected onto those that may actually care about them...the direct financial effect on the families of those who have been wiped out by a destructive debt addiction.

The debt servicing costs of Americans consumed an all time high of ~14 percent of income in 2007, and these costs have had devastating effects on families whose incomes have continued to stagnate, decrease or have altogether disappeared. [3]. Families of the addicts may eventually lose their homes, cars, and all the fancy things they have accumulated over years, returning to a state of frugal existence unexpected and long forgotten.



It is also the case that there is a high correlation between drug abuse and domestic violence (61 percent of domestic violence offenders also report substance abuse problems) [4].

Could unserviceable debt be one of the destructive substances contributing to domestic violence in America? The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a 21 percent increase in calls from September 2007 to September 2008, and 54 percent of these callers reported a change in their financial situation over the last year.

Women in the lowest income category experienced six times the rate of nonfatal domestic violence than those in the highest category between 2001-2005, and women are three times as likely to experience domestic violence if their male partners have experienced two or more periods of unemployment over five years. Although there are obviously many factors that affect rates of domestic violence, financial instability certainly seems to undermine the psychological stability of male addicts and may lead them to express their sickness through violent behavior.

The Director of the Gender & Health Research Unit at South African Medical Research Council, Rachel Jewkes, has produced research suggesting that deteriorating finances leads men to feel that they have failed to live up to society's expectations of masculine success, and these men turn to misogyny, substance abuse and crime to fill the gap between expectations and reality. [5].

Many drug addicts also vent their sickness by directing anger towards abstract groups of strangers around the world, since these groups are perceived as leading relatively "better" lives or posing an ephemeral threat to the addicts' chances of survival. After 9/11, American addicts became enraged at a decentralized group of Muslim "terrorists", who had disrupted their comfortable existence at a time when they were just managing to "recover" from a debt-induced recession.

The population expressed strong support for an invasion of Afghanistan and were also convinced by the Bush complex that Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed a major threat. As these wars progressed and the American economy took off in another debt bubble, however, the comfortably numb addicts began questioning the wisdom of these wars, which were costing unconscionable amounts of lives and money.

Between 2003 and 2005, public support for the Iraq war fell from 69 percent to 45 percent, and by 2006, 44 percent of addicts believed acts of terrorism were "not too likely" or "not at all likely" to occur in their communities over the "next several weeks". [6]. In stark contrast, during the ongoing debt deflation over the last year, the number of people who believed another terrorist attack is "very likely" to occur in the United States within the "next several months" increased by 14 percent, and "somewhat likely" over the "next several weeks" by 16percent. [7]. Recently, some American addicts increasingly feel threatened by the general Muslim population.

Another large group of people targeted by American fiends has been the illegal Mexican population residing within the country. For many years, the flow of illegals from Mexico into American border states established a mutually beneficial geopolitical relationship, as the Mexican government kept social unrest in check and the economies of border states were supported by cheap labor and increased revenues. [8]. Now, many American addicts feel that the illegals are acting as a drag on the economy and sucking up unskilled jobs at a time when broad U-6 unemployment measures 17 percent.

This piece has focused on the American people's debt addictions, but there are other inter-related addictions at play now. We have all been addicted to high standards of living, large returns on investments, appreciating assets, government entitlements, cheap oil and imperial hegemony. All of these things forged a level of systemic trust and confidence that is now quickly evaporating along with the drugs that fueled it. American addicts had surely made beasts of themselves, getting rid of "the pain of being a man", but are now forced to deal with the sober reality that has stewed and festered in the previously dark corners of their lives.

Politicians and pundits would like us to believe that we can restore our addictions and avoid the painful symptoms of withdrawal, but they are either ignorant of reality or lying and praying the addicts never figure out how sick they really are. Perhaps they are also blinded by their own addictions, as public debt burdens are becoming weighty and unmanageable. The individual debt addicts may be waving razor-sharp hunting knives in the societal eye, but then the strung-out government addicts are waving military hardware and atomic bombs. If Thompson were still alive, he may have remarked that, with the right kind of eyes, we could stand on a steep hill and almost see the high water mark, where the wave finally broke and rolled back. One thing I know for sure is that I'm not going to turn my back on anyone, anytime soon.

**This piece is dedicated to the brilliantly insightful ideas and writings of Hunter S. Thompson:

"No explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant ... "



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/strung-o ... z13Os3NjJH

~~~~~~~~~~
Jim Roache
Ottawa, ON
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:29 pm

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What if the criminal code could be used to prosecute those who inflict suffering on other humans?

What if placing a human in distress was a criminal offense?
That is what financial abusers, corporate abusers, and legal abusers do to other humans.
Criminal code of Canada
Causing unnecessary suffering
445.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who(a) wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an .....................................this section applies to abuse of animals, but putting a human in distress is every bit as hurtful as placing an animal in distress, and it happens every day by Canada's financial industry.
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Sun Dec 06, 2009 4:58 pm

Dear Ms. Burke,

I have been following the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Right's review of Bill C-52 with interest. Without either our knowledge or consent, my wife and I had much of our retirement savings transferred from T-bills into 'non-bank asset backed commercial paper' (ABCP) in July 2007. Two weeks later this toxic product was worthless. We spent much of the next two years working with many of the other 1800 'retail' ABCP owners to get our money back. This traumatic experience has provided direct evidence of how the present system of dealing with white collar fraud simply does not work.
In our case we were able to use the CCAA process to force a settlement where most of the retail owners were repaid in exchange for agreeing to support a corporate restructuring. However, approximately 3 dozen retail owners who had savings of over $1M have not been repaid, a father of a disabled child who had no money to pay his bills committed suicide, other ABCP owners had their lives severely disrupted and 22 billion dollars worth of corporate assets have disappeared from the Canadian economy. Despite widespread allegations of fraud, the self regulatory bodies such as the OSC and IIROC have not prosecuted any of the individuals or institutions that were responsible for this fiasco. Our appeals for assistance from the RCMP's IMET where referred to the self regulatory bodies. "Small" folks like ourselves where simply left to "duke it out" with some of the largest financial organizations in the country. Most of the retail owners were very fortunate to regain their savings. However there was no opportunity to obtain compensation for two years of work or the personal turmoil and hardship that this fraudulent savings product caused. More importantly, none of the responsible parties have been held accountable.

I would welcome the opportunity to appear before the Committee to discuss how the lessons learned during this experience might assist them in improving Bill C-52 and the procedures by which white collar crime is prosecuted in Canada.
Thank you kindly for your consideration.

Respectfully,
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:48 am

Dear Mr. Elford,

I am wondering if you could possibly remove my parents story from your Breach of Trust web site.

I can't do this anymore., I feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown and I just want my life back.

We have filed a civil suit, but all the defendants plan to defend and we can't even find a lawyer to help.

The second broker involved wants us to dismiss with costs at substantial indemnity because he says we are ruining his reputation....and although we completely believe we have been royally screwed over and that we had every right to pursue justice and to seek answers I just need this to be over. I guess it is impossible to beat the system so instead I just want to try to get my life back before I end up breaking down completely.

I am sure you understand where we are coming from...I don't know how you keep fighting Larry, because I am so beat down and wore out right now I am scared of what will happen to my health if I don't get some relief from the stress I am under....

Please keep up the good work you are doing Larry because I don't have it in my anymore...they won, they broke me and turned me into a shaking, anxiety ridden mess....I can't even type with out crying anymore...that is why I have to just put this aside and move on...

Thank you for your cooperation is this matter and your previous advice and support.
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Sat Sep 19, 2009 10:51 pm

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Structurists are the independent contractors who recruited members, through entities such as the Institute for Financial Learning and Capital Alternatives Inc., to invest in plans run by Milowe Brost and Gary Allen Sorenson.

Gloria Lozinski said her sister Edna Coulic invested more than $300,000 in the scheme, which promised 30 per cent to 40 per cent returns. Eighteen months ago, Coulic learned her money was likely lost forever.

"She was outgoing, vibrant, sociable, kind, giving, sharing. She was genuinely a really great person who wouldn't do harm to anybody," Lozinski said.

Coulic, who had worked hard to build a career in real estate and had once planned to spend some of her promised fortune on her aging mother, sunk into depression and committed suicide in October 2008.

Her family places blame for her death squarely on the people perpetrating the alleged scam.

"Her demeanour changed to the point where she lost her zest for life." Lozinski said. "She was a very intelligent, articulate woman. There's no way she would have been conned except if these guys were very, very good at what they did."

Lozinski said she hopes structurists are charged if they participated in any fraud.

"These people were the key players and I would like to see all their assets liquidated and dispersed among the victims."

(investor advocate is so very sorry for this loss due to our system in Canada. Please accept our condolences and our explanation for publishing this photo in support of change. I am personally aware of more suicides due to financial crime and abuse in Canada, than I am aware of prosecutions for same)
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:25 pm

Victims burned while RCMP fiddled for years with
Alberta Ponzi scheme

BY DAVID BAINES, VANCOUVER SUN SEPTEMBER 18, 2009


It would have been Edna Coulic's 44th birthday today. The Kelowna woman won't be around to
celebrate because she committed suicide last October.
Her sister, Gloria Lozinksi of Calgary, said Coulic became depressed after she realized she had been
duped out of $300,000 in a massive Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Alberta confidence men Milowe
Brost and Gary Sorenson.
Both were charged with fraud by the RCMP Integrated Market Enforcement Team in Calgary earlier
this week. Estimates of total losses range from $100 million to $400 million. Brost is out on bail, and
Sorenson is believed to be hiding in Honduras.
Lozinski figures they should both be charged with murder: "At the end of the day, they pretty much
pulled the trigger," she told the Calgary Sun.
This is the brutal reality of white-collar crime. It is not simply a crime against property, it is a very
personal and debilitating assault against innocent people.
Parliament is beginning to respond. In 2004, the Criminal Code was amended to increase the
maximum sentence for fraud from 10 years to 14 years. Earlier this week, the Conservative
government announced it will introduce further amendments that, among other things, would provide
minimum mandatory sentences for serious frauds.
It is not likely, however, that any of this would have saved Coulic. The damage had already been done.
The key is to detect these schemes at an early stage and prosecute the perpetrators in a timely
manner. The problem is not so much what we do with fraudsters when they get to court, it's getting
them to court. In this regard, Canada is a complete failure.
I first wrote about Brost in December 2002, when he was pitching his investment schemes at T. Harv
Eker's Millionaire School. (Eker is a North Vancouver motivational speaker who has introduced his
devotees to many fraudulent investment schemes. He is, in my view, a public menace.)
At the time, Brost and his company, Capital Alternatives Inc., was promoting a gold investment
scheme, which was based in the Bahamas and operated out of Central and South America. He told
investors the scheme was "backed 100 per cent in gold concentrate and gold bullion", and the
expected return was 20 to 60 per cent.
He was also promoting an investment in "stale credit card debt," which he grandly called the


http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print ... 7&sponsor=
"Consumer Debt Recovery Program". He claimed thissort of debt could be acquired at a deep discount
and turned into cash at a large premium -- 18 to 54 per cent per year.
In June 2004, I reported that Brost was stumping around B.C. promoting these schemes.
"A few weeks ago, he made a presentation at University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops," I wrote
at the time. "On May 30, there was another meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Burnaby. The pitch
appears to be working. I have been told that one man in his 60s has invested $250,000 of his
retirement money."
I asked Sasha Angus, then the B.C. Securities Commission's enforcement director, whether he knew
about Brost's activities.
"We are aware of the situation and looking at it," Angus told me.
In September 2004, the Alberta Securities Commission issued a cease-trade order against Brost and
his main operating company, the Institute for Financial Learning, forbidding them from selling
investments in the depository and three other schemes.
In October 2005, the Alberta commission issued another notice of hearing alleging that Brost and
Capital Alternatives had induced investors to invest millions of dollars into another scheme called
Strategic Metals Inc.
At that point, the commission referred the file to the RCMP Integrated Market Enforcement Team,
which began an investigation.
In February 2007, the hearing panel found Brost had illegally sold $36.5 million in investments. "Brost
not only does not recognize the seriousness of his misconduct, but he is also prepared to shamelessly
overlook it," the panel noted. It fined him $650,000 and permanently banned him from the Alberta
market.
The B.C. Securities Commission piggy-backed on this order and also issued a permanent ban, but not
until April of this year.
It didn't matter, of course, because Brost ignored every administrative order that was issued against
him. The only thing that would stop him was jail. But the RCMP IMET team in Calgary didn't file
charges and didn't put Brost behind bars until this week -- four years after the Alberta commission had
referred the file to the police.
Why did this take so long? Supt. Eric Mattson, who heads the IMET team, told the Calgary Herald they
"could not act until there was enough evidence. "
"During that time, we didn't want to be seen as market-breakers. We don't want to accuse a group of

http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print ... 7&sponsor=
committing crimes and say, 'Don't do this,' because at the end of the investigation perhaps we don't
have sufficient information to lay charges and we'd be open to [civil litigation] as well. We may end up
interfering with what could have been legitimate business."
In my view, these comments are outrageous. This was a patently fraudulent scheme when I ran across
it in 2002. It was a patently fraudulent scheme when the Alberta commission referred it to the RCMP in
2005. Depending which start date you use, it took seven years or four years for the Mounties to shut
this thing down. That is a disgrace. But the real tragedy for Canadians is that this is par for the course.
Two years ago, the Conservative government tried to clean up the mess that is the RCMP IMET
program, but the attempt has utterly failed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's proposed amendments to
the criminal code will do nothing to solve the problem of timely prosecution.
What we need is a royal commission of inquiry into white-collar crime in Canada. Nothing short of a
complete overhaul can save us from this systemic dysfunction. Let's not allow Edna Coulic to die in
vain.
dbaines@vancouversun.com
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:49 pm

Post-Madoff era of scrutiny won't last

New, improved Street order a fantasy world

William Hanley, Financial Post

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Burt Ross, one of the 8,000 aggrieved former clients of Bernie Madoff, made an eloquent statement after the US$65-billion Ponzi schemester was sentenced this week to 150 years behind bars. "What Bernard L. Madoff did far transcends the loss of money," he declared on the court house steps in Manhattan. "It involves the virtues people hold dearest: love, friendship, trust."

Ross and thousands of others have been terribly wounded financially and emotionally. But "love" should have no place in financial matters. And "friendship" probably should not be high on the list of priorities in commercial relationships. "Trust," meantime, should belong. But don't count on it. Virtue and $3 will not buy you a good cup of coffee on Wall Street.

The Madoff case put the spotlight on how the rich and famous could get taken in, with some people and organizations losing hundreds of millions and others merely hundreds of thousands, many of them trading the penthouse for the poor house. They felt the love all those years when the outsized returns were pouring in, basking in the friendship of someone who seemed a warmhearted market wizard. "In Bernie, we trust" might have been their motto.

At the other end of the investing scale, people I know have never felt the love of their financial planners. But some have counted their advisors as friends and socialized with them on occasion in good times. They, too, have been hurt financially by practices that may not be criminal, but certainly were unethical and unprofessional.

Criminal it may not be. Yet, as with crime, bad behaviour can bloom when self-interest, the bedrock of our system, is coupled with motive and opportunity -- the essential ingredients of crime. And it's not just the self-interest of the money manager, but the self-interest of the client who can enable the bad behaviour in good times.

Not that Wall Street and Bay Street have a monopoly on malfeasance. People in all walks of life, in all kinds of businesses and jobs, are just as likely to have the motive and opportunity to gain at the expense of others, who are equally as likely to be looking out to try something on. Greed -- self-interest on steroids --is everywhere.

But the rewards to be reaped from turning motive into opportunity on the Street can be far larger than elsewhere and easier to attain, as the Madoff scandal has made so clear. Marry unprincipled, unbridled self-interest with the self-interest of clients willing to believe in something that's too good to be true and the result is the very antithesis of love, friendship and trust.

But will hate and suspicion be the defining emotions on the Street, ushering in a new age in which financial advisors really do know their clients, and the clients know themselves and what they are really buying? In other words, a new, improved Street order?

For sure, there will be more regulation, or at least more lip-service paid to regulation. Meantime, multi-million-dollar bonuses for underperformance and non-performance will be under great scrutiny. And Bernie Madoff's 150-year prison sentence is a warning that crime will be met by maximum punishment.

But all the king's horses and all the king's men will not be able to put together a new culture on the Street. It seems to me that it's basically impossible -- against human nature, if you will -- to regulate human nature. And nowhere is human nature on bigger display than the arena of handling other people's money.

The new era of oversight, regulation and introspection on the Street will last about 15 minutes. As one top money manager noted,

n a lot will be learned in a short time, something will be learned in the medium term and nothing will be learned in the long run.

I, too, am most skeptical, cynical, even, that a deeply ingrained financial/investment culture can change radically. For one thing, most of the people running the industry don't really believe many things need to be changed, that self-regulation, professional discipline and the innate goodness of human beings will usually win out.

Meantime, they say, the system -- apart from the Bernie Madoffs and the recent excesses of housing and credit bubbles -- usually works OK. And if you want radical change, what will replace the Street's way of doing things, time-dishonoured as it is?

The investing public, seeing their retirement savings accounts hammered for the second time in a decade, are looking for revenge. Better they should be looking at themselves, at their own real self-interest and at their capacity for risk.

Oh, and they will have to trust someone or some institution while being their own best friend in their financial affairs.

whanley@nationalpost.com
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:51 pm

FREDDIE MAC’S ACTING CFO FOUND DEAD

Posted on Apr 22, 2009

bloomberg.com
Freddie Mac, after receiving billions in loans from the government, is still being flooded with loan defaults by homeowners.

The acting chief financial officer for housing lender Freddie Mac, David Kellermann, was found dead Wednesday morning in what appeared to be a suicide. If the death is ruled a suicide, Kellermann will be the seventh high-profile financial services executive to have taken his own life under stress from the current economic crisis.
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:30 am

April 23, 2009

Executive at Freddie Mac Is Found Dead

David B. Kellermann

By CHARLES DUHIGG
David B. Kellermann, the acting chief financial officer of the troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead Wednesday morning at his home in Northern Virginia, the police said.
The executive apparently committed suicide by hanging himself, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

A spokeswoman for the Fairfax County police said there were no signs of foul play. A police spokesman said that they would not comment on whether a note was found, but did say that no files or anything except the body have been removed from the house.

Police were called to the home at 4:48 a.m., reportedly by Mr. Kellermann’s family. His body was taken away by the Fairfax Coroner’s Office shortly before 9 a.m. By then, the large home about 20 minutes outside Washington was surrounded by eight television trucks and about two dozen reporters. When a neighbor in a car inquired what had happened, and was told of Mr. Kellermann’s death, she began screaming and drove away.


Doug Mills/The New York Times

Police on Wednesday outside the Vienna, Va., home where David B. Kellermann, the acting chief financial officer of Freddie Mac, was found dead.

Mr. Kellermann, 41, had been Freddie Mac’s chief financial officer since September. He was named to the position when the federal government seized the company and ousted its top executives last fall. In recent weeks, according to neighbors and company officials, Mr. Kellermann had received a bonus of about $800,000. Such bonuses — which totaled $210 million for executives at Freddie Mac and its sibling company Fannie Mae — caused some controversy earlier this month, and some lawmakers called for them to be rescinded.

According to neighbors, Mr. Kellermann hired a private security firm after reporters came to his house to ask about his bonus. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Kellermann and his wife had a daughter.

Mr. Kellermann was also involved in recent tense conversations with the company’s federal regulator over its public disclosures. Freddie Mac executives wanted to emphasize to investors that the company was being run for the benefit of the government, rather than shareholders.

The company’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Authority, had reportedly pushed to play down that language. Freddie Mac ultimately reported that it made changes to business practices to help the government that “have increased our expenses or caused us to forgo revenue opportunities."

Mr. Kellermann’s death is the latest blow to the company. The chief executive, David M. Moffett, resigned last month after apparently clashing with the company’s regulator over compensation issues and independence.

In a statement, the interim chief executive of Freddie Mac, John A. Koskinen, said the company was saddened by the news of Mr. Kellermann’s death.

“We extend our deepest condolences to David’s family and loved ones for this terrible personal tragedy,” Mr. Koskinen said, adding that Mr. Kellermann would be “be most remembered for his affability, his personal warmth, his sense of humor and his quick wit.”

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which together own or back more than half of the home mortgages in the country, have been hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults and have received about $60 billion in combined federal aid.

Mr. Kellermann had been with Freddie Mac for 16 years, and reported to the chief executive, according to a profile on the company’s Web site. He was responsible for Freddie Mac’s financial reporting, capital oversight, and compliance with federal oversight requirements, and also oversaw the annual budgeting and financial planning.

Before becoming chief financial officer, Mr. Kellermann had served as senior vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer. He was a graduate of the University of Michigan and a volunteer board member of the D.C. Coalition for the Homeless.

Regulators with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice have been interviewing Freddie Mac officials about possible accounting violations and other topics, the company disclosed in March. It is not known if Mr. Kellermann was one of those interviewed.

The company recently disclosed in a public filing that in September it received a federal grand jury subpoena seeking documents concerning the company’s accounting, disclosure and corporate-governance practices. The investigation is being overseen by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Freddie Mac has said it was "cooperating fully in these matters."
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:11 pm

Case study examples of financial euthanasia.

The loneliness of the long-term adviser

By Jim Pavia
March 29, 2009

As clients continue to freak out and look for "safe" investment solutions, financial advisers and financial planners are struggling with their own stresses.
Many carry a burden of guilt for not finding ways to protect clients from huge investment losses. Meanwhile, others worry about their personal portfolios and declining business revenue.

By any measure, the stress of the financial fiasco is taking its toll.

A few weeks before Christmas, I received a call from a financial adviser who is a loyal reader of InvestmentNews. He occasionally calls me to casually share his opinions and ideas for possible story development.

This particular call was anything but casual.

He told me that he knew of at least four financial advisers in the New York/New Jersey area who had committed suicide since October because of the financial meltdown and its effect on their clients.

His fear was that adviser suicides would increase if financial markets got worse.

Those fears are becoming real.

Recently, InvestmentNews reporter Jed Horowitz wrote about adviser stress as a result of the market meltdown.

Jed told the story of an adviser who became overcome with grief as he watched his clients' portfolios evaporate. In a poignant sign of the depths of advisers' concern for their clients, the guilt-ridden financial adviser committed suicide.

The adviser's suicide note, which was obtained by InvestmentNews, stated in part:

"Since you are reading this, I have just taken my life. It was necessary because the alternatives were totally unpalatable ... Some of the investment recommendations that I chose did not work out the way I had anticipated. I regret that very much ... I relied on my firm's due diligence and the assertions of the firm that I was putting clients in a conservative, income-producing strategy.

"I looked at all the data provided and decided that this was suitable for my clients. As it turns out, we have had unprecedented financial turmoil in our markets. We should have found ways to survive this turmoil. Unfortunately, I cannot survive this financially or otherwise."

Since that story was published, I have received letters and e-mails from readers telling me of other adviser suicides.

One adviser wrote:

"I personally know of four financial advisers who have taken their lives in the past four months — all wonderful people and experienced advisers who not only suffer from the loss of their client's assets, but in several cases, they have also lost much of their personal savings through the devastation of their company stock ... Statistically, if I know of four, there must be hundreds."

Needless to say, these developments are disturbing.

In these tumultuous financial times, advisers and planners are under so much pressure that many have concentrated on their clients to the exclusion of themselves.

Advisers shouldn't bear the burden alone.

Find someone in whom you can confide, and share your concerns and worries.

Even when there are no easy answers, not having to struggle on your own can be a relief.

Jim Pavia is the editor of InvestmentNews.
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:47 pm

Ex-soldier shot himself after losing fortune in Madoff fraud
By Cahal Milmo, Chief reporter
Saturday, 14 February 2009SHAREPRINT ARTICLE EMAIL ARTICLE TEXT SIZE NORMALLARGEEXTRA LARGE
AP
Willard Foxton said Madoff was guilty of ruining his father's life

ENLARGE
William Foxton was fond of drawing on his long military career and experience of danger to give his son tongue-in-cheek advice about what to do in the direst emergencies: if attacked by a polar bear, the best thing was to lie perfectly still and play dead; if a space station suddenly depressurised, his counsel was to avoid exploding the lungs by exhaling.

But when Willard Foxton, 28, phoned his father a fortnight ago, he found him devoid of his normal wit and wrestling with a catastrophe to which he could see no solution – the loss of his entire life savings, worth up to £1m,in the alleged bogus investment scheme run by Wall Street fund-manager Bernard Madoff.

William was a distinguished career soldier who served in the French Foreign Legion and the British Army before working in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. He told his son: "I'm sorry Willard, I can't really concentrate; you see I lost all of the family money to the Bernie Madoff scam, and I think I'm going to have to declare myself bankrupt."

Related articles
Investigators focus on possible Madoff accomplices
The son also recalled yesterday that "he confided in me that he was in 'an absolute shit-fight' with his banks," over his life savings invested in two Madoff hedge funds.

The depth of the despair felt by Mr Foxton, 65, a recipient of the MBE and OBE who retired last November after 40 years of military service and charity work, only became clear on Tuesday afternoon. He left his Southampton home and walked to a small walled park close to the city's magistrates' court. Sitting down on a bench he put a semi-automatic pistol to his head and fired a single shot.

Despite the efforts of paramedics to save him, the former army major became, in the grimmest possible sense, the latest victim of the giant Ponzi scheme that Madoff is accused of running with the loss of £35bn of investors' money. Up to three million people worldwide, many of them ordinary individuals saving for retirement, are thought to have lost money in the Madoff scheme and associated funds when they collapsed last December.

For Willard Foxton yesterday, there was no doubt where the responsibility for his father's death lay – on the shoulders of Madoff, who is under house arrest in New York, and others responsible for the sham hedge funds. In an internet tribute to his father, Mr Foxton said: "Essentially I want Madoff and others involved to know that they have my father's blood on their hands ... My first thought was to show up at Madoff's trial in New York and throw all of my father's medals in his face. I think it's disgusting that Bernie Madoff is sitting in his New York property, thinking that all he did was steal money, when, in fact, what he was really doing was ruining lives."

Mr Foxton was no stranger to risk, albeit of a very different order to that run by Wall Street's investment gurus. Among the deluge of tributes being paid to him yesterday was a tale from a former colleague on the European Commission Monitoring Mission to the former Yugoslavia, recalling how Mr Foxton, who lost an arm in a grenade blast in 1976, crawled into a minefield to rescue a child.

During his many postings abroad, including in the Sultan of Oman's armed forces, Mr Foxton built up a body of savings and in the late 1980s began investing in two hedge funds – Herald USA Fund and Herald Luxemburg Fund. Both collapsed late last year when it emerged that they had been invested in the Madoff scheme.
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:28 am

In September 2008, a 23-year-old woman from West Norriton, Pennsylvania, robbed a bank, police reported, to pay her rent. According to East Norriton Detective Sgt. Peter Mastrocola, "She said that the reason that she went to PNC Bank and committed the robbery was because she was two months behind in her rent and she was going to be evicted." In fact, after stealing $1,410, the young woman reportedly told police that she "took the cash from the robbery and went to another bank where she purchased a cashier's check for $1,410 made payable to Westover Village Apartments…"

The next month, in Northampton, Pennsylvania, a 49-year-old woman reportedly robbed a bank and, just 18 minutes later, "arrived at a check-cashing business and arranged for several money orders -- totaling $1,090 -- to pay a portion of the rent she owed her landlord." According to court papers, a "confidential informant" told police the woman had confided that "she was going to rob the bank to satisfy about $1,800 in back rent." The police reported that she was "in the process of being evicted."

This, however, is no Keystone State phenomenon. As the Los Angeles Times recently reported, "Another sign of the bad economic times… [b]ank robberies, which had been declining for years, rose in 2008 in Southern California… [by] 22% compared to 2007." In Orange County, the spike was especially acute, a jump of 41% to 145 robberies. Similarly, Inland Empire News Radio reported that authorities attributed a 13% rise in bank robberies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties to a "poor economy."

"We've certainly seen a rise in bank robberies across the country particularly in our metropolitan areas," FBI Special Agent Scott Wilson recently pointed out. "The bank robbery rate has risen dramatically."

Last year, according to the New York City Police Department, bank robberies in that city jumped to more than 430, a 54% rise over 2007. On December 29th alone, CNN noted, "robbers targeted five banks in the Big Apple, some striking in broad daylight and near famous landmarks." Interviewed by the New York Times, a customer in one of the robbed banks put the obvious into words: "It makes me think that the recession is making people go to extreme measures." Illinois Wesleyan University Economics Professor Mike Seeborg agrees. Commenting on a similar local spike in crime, he told a Central Illinois TV station, "There's a clear linkage nationwide that when the economy is in bad shape, when unemployment begins to increase, if people lose their jobs and output falls, that crimes against property especially increase."

Suicidal Tendencies

At least 33 people chose to commit suicide in national parks in 2008. And there seemed to be an economic component to at least some of the cases. For example, an Associated Press report noted that a "49-year-old builder blamed the economy in a note he left for his ex-wife and attorney before killing himself at the edge of the woods at Georgia's Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park." Similarly, in October, Bruce J. Colburn, a "[f]reshly unemployed, former business executive" from Reading, Pennsylvania, traveled to Montana's scenic Glacier National Park where "he shot himself in the chest with a handgun, according to park officials."

Others stayed closer to home.

On October 14, 2008, a woman in Bogart, Georgia, was "supposed to go to court for an eviction hearing." Instead, she called the police and informed them that she was thinking of killing herself. Not long afterward, she shot herself in the head. On October 29th, a 47-year-old man from Blount County, Tennessee, "killed himself when sheriff's deputies tried to evict him from his rented home." The next month, according to Mike Witzky, the executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board in Union County, Ohio, two local men committed suicide due to financial problems, while another failed in his attempt.

On December 5, 2008, Ricky Guseman of West Palm Beach, Florida, was to be evicted. Instead, local officials told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, he "barricaded himself in a mobile home… set the place on fire and then shot himself in the head with a shotgun."

In December, coroner's investigators in Kern County, California, revealed that they were "seeing a wave of people committing suicide because of financial stress," a 5-10% increase over 2007.

An analysis of 2008 "death reports" in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, by local ABC television affiliate WISN-TV found "[f]inancial pressure in a difficult economy has led to desperate measures." Of 108 suicides -- a 20% jump over any of the last three years -- at least 25% of the victims "were struggling financially." For example, Wauwatosa resident Tom Brisch, a married father of two, fell on hard times after his wife of 20 years, Sherry, lost her job. At the same time, his job as a commission-only Ford car salesman fell victim to the sluggish auto market. As Sherry summed the situation up after his suicide, "[T]he economic picture with a kid going to college, another one starting high school... was pretty grim and we were struggling." She returned home one day to find that her husband had hanged himself. In his shirt pocket was a suicide note in which "he asked for forgiveness and wrote that he could not get it together to provide for them."

WISN-TV uncovered a host of similar tragedies including:

* A 21-year-old Milwaukee man who shot himself in the face after "he ran out of unemployment [insurance]."

* A 43-year-old West Allis man who hanged himself in his basement with a belt. "[T]he mortgage payments are behind," his girlfriend told the police. "There are astronomical medical bills."

* A 40-year-old Milwaukee woman who overdosed after having "financial problems."

* A 24-year-old Milwaukee man, "fired from his job three weeks before," who suffocated himself with Saran Wrap.

* And a 38-year-old Milwaukee man who shot himself in the head. He'd lost his job six weeks earlier.

In January, less than an hour's drive south of Milwaukee, 37-year-old Staci Paul's car was pulled from Lake Michigan, but they couldn't find the body of the Kenosha, Wisconsin, woman. As an article in the Kenosha News noted, however, friends "said they knew things hadn't been easy for Paul. A single mother, she worked hard to find jobs and as the economy worsened, friends speculated, Paul might have run into some financial trouble. Court records also show Paul had been evicted from her home in October."

Distress Signals

Paul apparently felt she had to deal with her problems on her own. Others, however, have called for help. According to a January 9th report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, local police received a phone call concerning a 64-year-old resident of Westview, Pennsylvania, who was "apparently distraught over losing his house." When they arrived at the home, they found him "sitting in a lawn chair in his driveway with a rifle under his chin." He was later taken into custody and sent to a psychiatric clinic for "evaluation."

Increasing numbers of desperate souls have also called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which logged a record 568,437 calls in 2008. (There were only 412,768 such calls the previous year.) Similarly, a recent investigation by USA Today's Marilyn Elias found that suicide hotlines in Dallas, Pittsburgh, suburban San Francisco, Hyattsville (Maryland), Georgia, Delaware, and Detroit have all reported "increases in callers since the economy slid." The report added:

"In Boston, more hotline callers with mental health problems mention job losses, evictions or fear that they'll lose their homes, says Roberta Hurtig, executive director at Samaritans Inc. [a not-for-profit volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the incidence of suicide.] In Kalamazoo, Mich[igan], and other locales, callers with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder say loss of insurance and cutbacks in public health programs are preventing them from getting medications.
"At the Gary, Ind[iana], Crisis Center, suicidal callers with economic worries are increasing, and their depression is more severe, says Willie Perry, program coordinator for the hotline."

In Franklin County, Ohio, suicide hot line volunteers are "logging more calls from people in financial distress, says Mary Brennen-Hofmann, coordinator of suicide-prevention services at North Central Mental Health Services in Columbus." She continued, "We have seen a lot more calls dealing with financial problems, evictions, foreclosures and job loss."

Similarly, the Hopeline of North Carolina Inc. in Raleigh saw a 50% jump in calls in October and November. "We get calls from people who are suicidal because the stock market is down," said executive director Courtney Atwood. "They have lost money and are not able to provide for their family."

In Los Angeles, calls to the city's "busiest suicide hot line" increased by as much as 60% last year. "A year ago, many of the calls we would get were from people with mental illnesses," commented Sandri Kramer, the program director of the center that operates the hot line. "Now many of the calls are from people who have lost their home, or their job, or who still have a job but can't meet the cost of living."

Domestic Disturbances

Not surprisingly, the economic meltdown has also strained marriages and, according to experts, is contributing to a rise in domestic violence. Retha Fielding, a spokeswoman for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, notes that calls increased 18% between October 2007 and October 2008 and attributes the spike to the poor economy. "It is bringing increased stress and violence into the home. Domestic violence is about control. If you lose your job, that's control you don't have, so you may want to have more control at home."

Sometimes economically exacerbated violence can turn deadly.

On December 9th, for example, 59-year-old Thomas Garrett of Midwest City, Oklahoma, murdered his wife. According to Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes, "Garrett told officers he shot his wife because he didn't know how to explain that they were evicted from their home while she was in the hospital." He apparently planned to kill himself too, but was stopped by the police.

Thirty-one-year-old Eryn Allegra had lost her home as well as her job, and had, according to press accounts, been thinking about suicide for weeks. On Christmas day, the Port St. Lucie, Florida, resident reportedly checked into a hotel, gave her 8-year-old son over-the-counter medicine to put him to sleep, and then smothered him. She subsequently slit her own wrists in a failed suicide attempt.

Noting a man's pickup truck parked in his driveway at a time when he was normally at work, neighbors in an "upscale neighborhood" in Manteca, Georgia, entered his home which a bank had recently approved for a short sale. (A short sale often takes place when a buyer in default is trying to avoid foreclosure.) According to the Manteca Bulletin, they found him "lying in the foyer of the home… dead of a gunshot wound." Arriving at the scene soon after, police discovered the body of his wife nearby "and located a firearm near the two bodies."

On January 11th, Pinole, California police responding to a domestic disturbance call found 43-year-old Kimberly Petretti sitting on the curb in front of the home. She was being evicted that morning. Inside the house, which "showed no signs of a preparation for the move," they found the woman's mother, 62-year-old Claudia Petretti, dead -- shot in the head with an assault rifle. According to Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett, a two-page letter on the scene indicated a murder-suicide plan linked to the family's financial difficulties. "It was a significant event in their lives that may have precipitated this tragic and desperate act," he said.

Last October, a man in Los Angeles, beset by financial troubles, shot his wife, mother-in-law, and three sons before turning the gun on himself. An eerily similar scene replayed itself this week, when another Los Angeles resident apparently killed his wife and five children -- an 8-year-old girl, twin 5-year-old girls, and twin 2-year-old boys -- before faxing a letter to a local television station and then killing himself. "This was a financial and job-related issue that led to the slayings," Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2 ... h.htmlsaid. "In these tough economic times, there are other options. In my 32 years, I've never seen anything like this."

As the World Burns

On December 15th, a 41-year-old Dubuque, Iowa man "used liquid pre-shave to set his apartment on fire because he thought he was going to be evicted."

On December 21st, a 31-year-old woman who had been evicted from her Orange Park, Florida, apartment, "started a weekend fire that caused an estimated $500,000 in damage" to the complex that was her former home. That same day, a woman in St. Augustine, Florida, "was charged with arson… after vacating a house she was evicted from that was later found burning."

On January 5, 2009, Bobby Crigler, the property manager for Holly Street Apartments in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said, "I went over and had a confrontation with [tenants about an eviction notice], and they got belligerent." After that, he sent the property's maintenance man, his son, 49-year-old Kent Crigler, to change the locks at another tenant's apartment. When friends of the tenant facing eviction spotted Kent, they assumed, according to Bobby, that he was there to evict their buddy. They set upon Kent, punching and kicking the father of four to death, according to a report in the Northwest Arkansas Times.

Generally, however, if you weren't a multimillionaire intent on suicide, what you did to your house, your husband, your wife, your child, your bank, your neighbors, your landlord, or yourself remained a distinctly local story, a passing moment in the neighborhood gazette or a regional paper. And for the range of such acts, unlike sports statistics, there are no centralized databases toting up and keeping score. Every now and then, though, a spectacular act of extreme desperation makes it out of the neighborhood and into the national news.

One of these occurred this January, although the media generally played it as a sensational screwball story rather than another extreme act stemming from the economic crisis. In December, Marcus Schrenker, a money manager and sometime stunt pilot, penned a letter that read, in part: "It needs to be known that I am financially insolvent… I am intending on filing bankruptcy in 2009 should my financial conditions continue to deteriorate." They did.

As the Indiana investment adviser grew more desperate to escape mounting financial difficulties and legal issues stemming from accusations of investor fraud, he reportedly hatched a plan that was splashed all over national television as it unfolded. According to news reports, he staged a Hollywood-style getaway from his rapidly deteriorating life, complete with a fake mid-air mayday call, a parachute jump over Alabama, and a faked death from a plane he put on autopilot that crashed in a swamp near a residential area in the Florida Panhandle. Schrenker then raced away on a carefully pre-stashed motorcycle, before being discovered by federal marshals just after he had slashed his wrists at a Florida campsite. He recently pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges that he willfully destroyed an aircraft and made a fake distress call.

Going to Extremes

Across the United States, people have been reacting to dire circumstances with extreme acts, including murder, suicide and suicide attempts, self-inflicted injury, bank robberies, flights from the law, and arson, as well as resistance to eviction and armed self-defense. And yet, while various bailout schemes have been introduced and implemented for banks and giant corporations, no significant plans have been outlined or introduced into public debate, let alone implemented by Washington, to take strong measures to combat the dire circumstances affecting ordinary Americans.

There has been next to no talk of debt or mortgage forgiveness, or of an enhanced and massively bulked-up version of the Nixonian guaranteed income plan (which would pay stipends to the neediest), or of buying up and handing over the glut of homes on the market, with adequate fix-up funds, to the homeless, or of any significant gesture toward even the most modest redistributions of wealth. Until then, for many, hope will be nothing but a slogan, the body count will rise, and Americans will undoubtedly continue going to extremes.


Nick Turse is the associate editor and research director of Tomdispatch.com. His first book, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, an exploration of the new military-corporate complex in America, was recently published by Metropolitan Books. His website is Nick Turse.com.


View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/123563/
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Re: the violence of white collar crime

Postby admin » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:27 am

The Financial Crisis Is Driving Hordes of Americans to Suicide
By Nick Turse, Tomdispatch.com
Posted on January 29, 2009, Printed on February 5, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/123563/

The body count is still rising. For months on end, marked by bankruptcies, foreclosures, evictions, and layoffs, the economic meltdown has taken a heavy toll on Americans. In response, a range of extreme acts including suicide, self-inflicted injury, murder, and arson have hit the local news. By October 2008, an analysis of press reports nationwide indicated that an epidemic of tragedies spurred by the financial crisis had already spread from Pasadena, California, to Taunton, Massachusetts, from Roseville, Minnesota, to Ocala, Florida.

In the three months since, the pain has been migrating upwards. A growing number of the world's rich have garnered headlines for high profile, financially-motivated suicides. Take the New Zealand-born "millionaire financier" who leapt in front of an express train in Great Britain or the "German tycoon" who did much the same in his homeland. These have, with increasing regularity, hit front pages around the world. An example would be New York-based money manager René-Thierry Magnon de la Villehuchet, who slashed his wrists after he "lost more than $1 billion of client money, including much, if not all, of his own family's fortune." In the end, he was yet another victim of financial swindler Bernard Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

An unknown but rising number of less wealthy but distinctly well-off workers in the financial field have also killed themselves as a result of the economic crisis -- with less press coverage. Take, for instance, a 51-year-old former analyst at Bear Stearns. Learning that he would be laid off after JPMorgan Chase took over his failed employer, he "threw himself out of the window" of his 29th-floor apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Or consider the 52-year-old commercial real estate broker from suburban Chicago who "took his life in a wildlife preserve" just "a month after he publicly worried over a challenging market," or the 50-year-old "managing partner at Leeward Investments" from San Carlos, California, who got wiped out "in the markets" and "suffocated himself to death."

Beverly Hills clinical psychologist Leslie Seppinni caught something of our moment when she told Forbes magazine that this was "the first time in her 18-year career that businessmen are calling her with suicidal impulses over their financial state." In the last three months, alone, "she has intervened in at least 14 cases of men seriously considering taking their lives." Seppinni offered this observation: "They feel guilt and shame because they think they should have known what was coming with the market or they should have pulled out faster."

Still, it's mostly on Main Street, not Wall Street, that people are being driven to once unthinkable extremes. And while it's always impossible to know the myriad factors, including deeply personal ones, that contribute to drastic acts, violent or otherwise, many of those recently reported are undoubtedly tied, at least in part, to the way the bottom seems to be falling out of the economy.

As a result, reports of people driven to anything from armed robbery to financially-motivated suicide in response to new fiscal realities continue to bubble to the surface. And since only a certain percentage of such acts receive media coverage, the drumbeat of what is being reported definitely qualifies as startling.
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