October 31, 2013
LAWT News Service
On October 26, 2013, Rickey Ivie, veteran attorney and Senior Partner of Ivie, McNeill, & Wyatt, was inducted into the John M. Langston Bar Association’s Hall of Fame. This honor further solidifies Mr. Ivie’s career as one of California’s most-accomplished attorneys and comes on the heels of the opening of Ivie, McNeill, & Wyatt’s Ontario office.
Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt is California’s largest African-American owned law firm. Founded in 1965 by retired Judges Charles R. Scarlett and Robert L. Roberson, the firm is located in downtown Los Angeles. The John M. Langston Bar Association is the largest historically African-American attorney bar association in Southern California. Other distinguished Hall of Fame honorees by the Langston Bar Association included Virgil Roberts, Esq., Beverly A. Williams, Esq., Wilma J. Williams-Pinder, Esq., and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sandra A. Thompson.
As a trial lawyer, Mr. Ivie has tried over 75 jury trials. Among the firm’s victories include a successfully litigated multi-million dollar class action lawsuit against a major California healthcare provider for sexual discrimination which resulted in the elimination of the nine-month pregnancy exclusion as a pre-existing condition for health insurance, saving millions of dollars for California consumers. Recently, the firm was retained by the family of Raymond Johnson in their civil rights wrongful death federal lawsuit against Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The firm recently announced the opening of its first regional office located at 3200 Guasti Road, Suite 100 Ontario, CA 91761. The firm chose to expand its office to the San Bernardino/Riverside area in order to serve the growing minority populations in those counties.
Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt
A Professional Law Corporation
IMW has successfully litigated high-profile, high-exposure cases for its clients for more than 35 years. The firm has an outstanding reputation for providing the highest quality legal services at competitive rates. Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt has a successful history in civil rights litigation and criminal defense representing both public entities and individuals in State or local institutions including jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, and health care facilities. IMW has defended and prosecuted civil rights cases for more than 35 years.
By Jeffrey L. Boney
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward-Times
Identity theft is a term used to describe all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
There is nothing like going to apply for a loan, attempting to buy a home or opening a checking account, and having a representative inform you that you were denied because you had a negative credit history.
That is exactly what happens to many Americans on a daily basis and is an increasingly disturbing trend that must not be ignored; it is called identity theft.
Houstonian Dexter Evans has been the victim of this criminal atrocity for the last 12 years and he wants the world to know why every American should be gravely concerned about the deep flaws in our various systems of government.
For over a decade, Evans became the unwilling victim of identity fraud and didn’t even know it until he started receiving correspondence from creditors.
Evans quickly learned that a 36-year old man by the name of Edgar Abiel Linares, had not only acquired several credit accounts, but had moved into a home in north Houston that was purchased under Linares’ name but using Evans social security number back in 2001.
“First, I started getting letters in my P.O. Box from Capital One saying that I owed them $4,000 to $6,000 and then I found out about the house,” said Evans. “Before I knew it, I called Conn’s and found out that this man had received 8 different accounts using my social security number and that’s when the floodgates opened.”
Evans said that he discovered that Linares had established account relationships with Wells Fargo Bank, Conn’s, Home Depot, Macy’s, Pep-Boys, Sam’s Club, Reliant Energy, Washington Mutual Bank, Life-Lock, Finger-Hut, Chase Bank, Capital One Bank and several others.
Evans said that all of these accounts appeared on his Equifax, Experian and Transunion credit reports and his credit has been completely ruined as a result.
Linares was able to secure over $100,000 in credit accounts and purchase at least one home that Evans is aware of. Evans was even denied a checking account at a local bank because Linares had already opened one at the same bank.
Evans wants to know how a banks and a detailed financial system that has been setup to supposedly protect Americans, can allow this to happen to Americans.
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s office, Linares got a hold of Evans’ social security number back in 2001 and immediately went to town on him.
Harris County Sherriff investigators stated that Linares admitted to using Evans’ social security number and admitted to knowing that the social security number didn’t belong to him. Harris County Sheriff investigators believe that Linares is an illegal immigrant and used Evans’ social security number because he had no social security number of his own, which is not unusual especially in a city that attracts undocumented workers who end up making Houston their home.
Even after he was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony of False Statement to Obtain Credit charge, Linares and his family continued to live in the home he purchased fraudulently. Linares eventually moved and now Evans lives in the home but is still looking for legal assistance to help him clean up his credit and his name.
Evans currently is unaware where Linares is, but is livid to recently learn that Linares received a no-bill judgment on his third-degree felony charge from the courts. That means Linares will not have to go to court to face the music for his crimes.
“I feel totally betrayed by the system and it is frustrating,” says Evans. “This man has been able to come to this country and live high on the hog using my personal information. Everything he did was fraudulent and this man didn’t even have to pay the price for it.”
Unlike your fingerprints, which can’t be used by anyone else, your Social Security number can be used by a criminal-minded individual if they choose to.
Here in the U.S., people regularly report that an unauthorized person has taken over their identities and have ran up countless amounts of debt in the name of the victim. In most cases, the loss that a victim encounters is more than just a financial one, but also consists of the losses of money and time associated with seeking to restore their reputation and correcting the fraudulent information attributed to them.
Evans states that the rules established by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), puts all of Americans at risk.
According to the Texas DPS website, “individuals who do not have a SSN, have never been issued a SSN, or are not eligible for a SSN can visit any driver license office and complete an affidavit attesting to such.”
That affidavit is called a Social Security Affidavit (form DL-13) and has a form date of August 2002. Linares has been using Evans’ social security number since 2001. Evans states that the dates don’t add up and believes that someone on the inside of the Texas DPS helped Linares obtain his state issued identification. In order to purchase a home or do any credit or financial transactions, a person would need to have proper state identification. Linares was issued that identification from the Texas DPS.
Evans believes if it was so easy for an illegal immigrant to cover over to America; steal his social security number; be issued a state issued driver’s license by simply filling out a Social Security Affidavit; and not go to jail and be charged with a crime; then all Americans should be worried and should contact their state legislators to express their concern.
“It’s disturbing,” says Evans. “If the government makes it this easy for someone to take your identity and commit crimes against innocent Americans, there is no telling what other crimes have and will be committed against us.”
A call was placed to the Texas DPS offices at the time this story was written, but we were unable to get a response.
Everyone should take major precautions to protect themselves from one of the fastest growing consumer crimes in the nation; known as identity theft.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Javelin Strategy & Research, nearly 12 million Americans have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling approximately $21 billion in 2013. On an average basis, that means approximately 7% of all Americans have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $4,930 in losses per individual.
These alarming statistics show that identity theft may very well be the most common and expensive crimes committed in the U.S.
The Department of Justice prosecutes cases of identity theft under a variety of federal statutes. Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998, which prohibits “knowingly transferring or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”
Identity thieves don’t just steal money; they steal who you are and their actions can seriously jeopardize your financial future. Victims of identity theft have the ongoing responsibility to correct erroneous information about their financial or personal status, as well as restore their reputations with the community, which often takes longer to make right than it took for the criminal to commit their crimes.
In order to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, people should: avoid giving out personal information to others unless they have a reason to trust them; check their financial information regularly and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t be there; ask for a copy of their credit report periodically; and maintain careful records of their banking and financial accounts.
If you think you have become a victim of identity theft, you need to act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as to your reputation.
Here are some actions that you should take right away:
1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation, whether Online,
2. By telephone at 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338) or TDD at 1-866-653-4261, or
3. By mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.
Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they may be victims of identity theft, providing informational materials to those people, and referring those complaints to appropriate entities, including the major credit reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.
Individuals should contact their local office of the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service to report crimes relating to identity theft and fraud.
Individuals should also contact their local Post Office; the Social Security Administration if they suspect that their Social Security number is being fraudulently used (call 800-269-0271 to report the fraud); the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if they suspect the improper use of identification information in connection with tax violations (call 1-800-829-0433 to report the violations) and the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
To report fraud with Equifax, call (800) 525-6285 or write to P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374-0250. To report fraud with Experian, call (888) EXPERIAN or (888) 397-3742, fax to (800) 301-7196, or write to P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013. To report fraud with Trans Union, call (800) 680-7289 or write to P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634.
Individuals should contact all creditors and financial institutions with whom their name or identifying data have been fraudulently used.
Many people do not realize how easily criminals can take over our identities without even having to rob them at gunpoint or break into their homes.
Identity theft is a federal crime. It is important for everyone to do their best to protect themselves from being one of the many victims of this horrible crime.
October 24, 2013
City News Service
SACRAMENTO - Today, Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino) announced her appointment to the Assembly’s new Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment.
This special Select Committee was established by Speaker John A. Pérez to lead and guide the Assembly’s efforts with Governor Brown in finding solutions to the state’s continuous criminal justice and prison challenges.
“It is no secret that our prison system needs improvement. It is also known that our county and city of San Bernardino will be heavily impacted by large number of parolees returning to our community. Given those facts, I requested and the Speaker granted my request to be a member of this innovative committee. We need to address California’s prison overcrowding, recidivism rate and reentry issues sooner rather than later. Upon release, the reentry population experiences a wide range of challenges. They need housing, healthcare, employment and emotional support. Sadly, many of their reentry needs are not being met and they end up back in system. We need to find a solution to this problem,” surmised Assemblymember Brown.
Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) will co-chair the committee.
Other members include Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima); Rocky J. Chávez (R-Oceanside); Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo); Melissa A. Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore); Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance); V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella); Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley); Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay); Marie Waldron (R-Escondido); and Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego).
The committee will hold its first hearing on Monday, October 21 at the California State Capitol in Sacramento at 10:00 a.m.
The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) recently honored Tasha Williamson, along with two other honorees Lali Moheno of Central Valley and George Galvis of Oakland, with the 2013 California Peace Prize for her efforts to promote peace and prevent violence. Williamson, co-founder of the San Diego Compassion Project, provides support and compassion for families in San Diego County who have lost loved ones to gang or gun violence.
Before a crowd of family, friends and past honorees, Williamson expressed gratitude for her recognition and made a call to action. “We have to advocate and have compassion because violence, especially gang violence, is preventable,” said Tasha Williamson.
Since its founding, TCWF has awarded 6,544 grants totaling more than $815 million. It is one of the state’s largest private foundations. Please visit TCWF’s website at CalWellness.org for more information, including a newsroom section devoted to the California Peace Prize and the three honorees. High-resolution photos are also available. Video interview clips for Cummings and Grant are posted at TCWF’s YouTube channel.
October 17, 2013
By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
Twenty miles north of Jackson, Miss., at a Nissan auto plant in Canton, Nissan North America has violated international labor laws in a decade-long campaign against unions that civil rights activists have called “systematic and unrelenting,” according to a new report.
Through first-hand accounts from former and current workers, the report by the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and Lance Compa, an international labor law scholar, details how plant managers and consultants manufactured a fiercely anti-union environment of fear and intimidation as plant workers assembled a number of Nissan models, including Altima sedans, Titan trucks, and Armada sports utility vehicles, and helped Nissan make more than $4 billion in annual net profits.
Even though workers at Nissan plants in Japan, Australia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, Russia and Mexico were allowed to unionize, Rosalind Essex, an engine quality technician at the Canton plant, said that she was told during training that, “Nissan is a nonunion company” and “Nissan has never had a union.”
Essex said, “It’s like they wanted to put the fear of God in you from day one.”
According to the report, Canton plant workers reported a number of transgressions committed by Nissan management including favoritism and unfair treatment, retaliatory job assignments, lack of consideration for seniority, denial of bathroom use and freezing of the pension plan.
In an effort to ensure transparency, researchers allowed Nissan to comment on the report as it was being prepared.
Nissan maintains that it has adhered “to the principles of respect for freedom of association and the effective right to collective bargaining outlined in the [United Nations Global Compact] and the 1998 [International Labor Organization] Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights to Work],” and that “employees have chosen to maintain a direct relationship with the company rather than inviting an outside party like the UAW to speak for them.”
Researchers and workers’ rights activist contend that Nissan has ignored those basic principles at its Canton plant.
“Under international law and pursuant to its own stated commitments, Nissan is supposed to respect human rights standards on workers’ freedom of association – the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining,” stated the report. “But in the Canton plant, contrary to its cooperative approach to dealing with unions elsewhere in the world, Nissan has launched a sustained, aggressive campaign of fear and intimidation to nullify these rights.”
According to the report, “Contrary to international standards, U.S. labor law gives wide latitude to employers to launch aggressive campaigns against workers’ organizing efforts.”
The report continued: “Employers cannot make outright threats such as ‘if you vote for a union, we will close the workplace.’ But they convey the same message using a variety of subtle communication ploys that have been perfected by anti-union lawyers and consultants.”
At a press conference last week, Lance Compa, an international labor law scholar, said that Nissan takes advantage of modern technology, broadcasting anti-union programs on TV monitors throughout the plant, showing shuttered Ford and GM plants and workers who have lost jobs.
“There’s a lot of good news about UAW and about General Motors and about Ford, but that news does not go up there,” said Compa. “It’s an entirely one-sided, propagandistic use of this big brother technique, having these films inside the plant.”
Compa said that Nissan’s roundtable discussions were even more dramatic and effective than the videos in intimidating workers about unionizing. Using the videos, “captive audience” meetings and the roundtables, Nissan hammers home the message that unions are job killers, unions are plant closers.
U.S. labor law allows companies to conflate union representation with plant closings and unemployment in messaging that is supposed to be neutral.
“The unfortunate thing under U.S. labor law is that they can do this to a large extent,” said Compa. “The company can’t say, ‘if you bring a union in we’re going to shut this place down,’ but they can say ‘if you bring a union in and the union puts us in an uncompetitive position, we’ll have to consider shutting this place down.’”
Compa explained, “By using that kind of conditional language the anti-union consultants and the anti-union lawyers have perfected the kind of messaging that can have this effect. This will frighten the bejeebs out of people and so they will never consider forming a union.”
Essex, who said she contacted United Auto Workers union representatives in 2004, later recounted that during one of those meetings managers told employees that “unions are just like the Mafia, they are just after your dues money.”
Essex recounted, “People that didn’t know better were scared, and they’re still scared.”
“Fear, intimidation and even racism is a part of that plant every day. We go through a lot of that,” said Chris Milton a 10-year veteran of the plant who works on the assembly line that stamps vehicles.
After receiving special training on new plant equipment for three months in Japan, Milton returned to Caton, only to be replaced by another employee that he trained, missing out on a valuable opportunity to climb another rung up the company ladder.
“What really got me was a lot of White guys came up to me and said, ‘Chris that is some really racial stuff,’” said Milton. “You know when White people come to you and tell you that something racial is happening to you, it’s a big problem.
“We need a voice at this plant. I’m proud to work at Nissan. It’s a great job, but the intimidation and the fear have to stop. We deserve to have an election free and clear with no problems or anything.”
A number of workers’ rights advocates, including the NAACP, congressional leaders and student activists have stepped up to support the workers at the Canton plant.
Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, said that the quality of work conditions at the plant are important because the workers there are members of local organizations, churches and community groups.
“Our role is to make sure that we can be a voice for workers who cannot be a voice for themselves,” said Johnson. “If there is an opportunity for them to proceed with an election, then we want to have a wrap-around community of support for those workers.”
Johnson continued: “If we invest in their success their success will mean success, not only for the communities that we come from, but also for the state of Mississippi.”
“Mississippi is always at the back of the bus,” said Milton. “It’s time for us to come ahead in something and this is our chance to do so.”
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