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US fears Iran seized UAE-based tanker in Strait of Hormuz

US fears Iran seized UAE-based tanker in Strait of HormuzA small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker three days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region. Iranian state media quoted its Foreign Ministry spokesman early Wednesday as saying the Islamic Republic had aided a foreign oil tanker with a malfunction, but the report didn't explain further. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Source: Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines | 17 Jul 2019 | 9:38 am

Former IRS Agent: Here’s How I’d Investigate Jeffrey Epstein’s Finances

Former IRS Agent: Here’s How I’d Investigate Jeffrey Epstein’s FinancesPhoto Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyFinancier Jeffrey Epstein is an accused sex trafficker. This much we know. The new SDNY investigation will hopefully cure the bogus plea deal Epstein received in Florida at the direction of then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who is now an ex-secretary of labor due to negative publicity finally catching up to the deal and rubbing off on President Trump’s administration.But where did Epstein’s money come from? Where does it go? There are plenty of media reports suggesting that Epstein ran his own hedge fund after leaving Bear Stearns but no one seems to know who his clients were beyond retail king Les Wexner, nor whom he traded with. One report even suggested that Epstein might have belonged to “intelligence.”Well, even spies are required to pay their taxes. The bare-bones financial statement provided to the Federal Court in Manhattan on Monday, which summarized Epstein’s wealth, left out a whole lot of detail—frustrating the prosecutors but tantalizing the rest of the world. According to his lawyers, Epstein is half a billionaire—worth in excess of $500 million. Lots of cash, equity investments and properties (including offshore in the U.S. Virgin Islands) were outlined, but no real detail was included that could explain the “piles of cash" and dozens of diamonds found in his safe by FBI agents during a raid on his $77 million Upper East Side mansion.Nor was much explanation provided for the passport found in the safe—issued by Austria with a Saudi address, and bearing Epstein’s photo but containing a different name. Police have not confirmed whether the passport is legitimate or fake; Epstein's lawyers say it was just for protection against hijacking.Jeffrey Epstein Had ‘Piles of Cash,’ Diamonds, Austrian Passport in SafeThe Daily Beast has previously reported on Epstein’s supposed multimillion-dollar investment in a modeling agency called MC2, run by his associate Jean-Luc Brunel, which allegedly sourced models from Europe. (Brunel has denied that Epstein helped fund his agency.) Epstein is also alleged to have secretly invested $1 million in an Israeli tech start-up originally called Reporty Homeland Security Ltd. but now called Carbyne Ltd. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is the chairman of Carbyne Ltd., which purports to develop call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services. Carbyne Ltd. has offices and employees throughout South America and just opened offices in Mexico. Israel's current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quick to attack his rival Barak’s association with Epstein, raising questions not only about Carbyne Ltd. but also queries about a 2004 transfer of $2.3 million from the Wexner Foundation, apparently made by Epstein to Barak for murky reasons. Barak claimed the Wexner transfer was for “research” purposes and that Carbyne Ltd. was a legitimate business that had paid all its taxes. Did they? Did Epstein? Given the immense unexplained wealth accumulated by Epstein, authorities will surely give serious consideration to exploring the money trails via a criminal tax fraud and/or money laundering investigation.Professor Thomas Volscho, who has been researching Epstein for a book he is writing, explained to me in an email that he believes Epstein advised wealthy clients on sophisticated tax shelters when Epstein worked at Bear Stearns. Volscho further noted that Epstein controlled “tons of entities (LLCs).” LLC’s stands for Limited Liability Companies, which are also known as “shell companies” used by sophisticated real-estate investors to purchase luxury real properties in an anonymous fashion. They are also used by money launderers as conduits to move monies around offshore without attracting undue attention from the authorities.Michael Cohen most famously made use of a shell company LLC called Essential Consultants as a secret conduit to conceal ‘hush money payments’ from Donald Trump to porn star Stormy Daniels. Paul Manafort also famously made use of offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus and other locations to make covert luxury purchases in the States.If a federal agent came to me and requested authorization to open up a criminal tax and/or money laundering investigation regarding Epstein’s unexplained cash and diamonds as well as his alleged concealed investments into MC2 and Carbyne Ltd. with concomitant concealed income streams, I would likely approve.The investigation into Trump-connected lobbyist Manafort might serve as a blueprint for such an investigation. Obviously, all bank and equity accounts would require subpoenas and spreadsheet analysis. But requests for personal tax returns with an emphasis on Schedule B for analysis would be a mandatory cross-reference. Schedule B on the 1040 form contains the famous three Yes/No questions that Manafort lied about with regard to foreign bank account ownership and activity. FinCEN databases would also need to be queried. First and foremost, all Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) would need to be scrutinized. FinCEN had over 20 SARs on Manafort in their database regarding his suspicious foreign bank account activities using shell companies. What might this database reveal concerning Epstein’s foreign financial transactions? Is there a SAR existent with regard to the 2004 wire transfer to Ehud Barak? Are there other SARs available regarding suspicious foreign bank account activity in recent years by Epstein?How did Epstein get his million-dollar investment in Carbyne to Barak? Wire transfer to Barak’s LLC in Israel? Did Epstein file the required foreign bank account record (FBAR) with FinCEN? Manafort ended up pleading to multiple counts of FBAR felonies after he was caught lying to his accountant(s) about not being required to file. Does FinCEN have any FBARs on record for Epstein with regard to his foreign financial transactions? And if not, why not?Does the IRS have Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) files available on Epstein that might inform with regard to Epstein’s foreign financial transactions?Have local New York and Florida banks filed Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) with FinCEN regarding cash deposits and/or withdrawals by Epstein that might explain the “tons of cash” found in his safe? A careful FinCEN database query on each of Epstein’s four potential co-conspirators from his Florida plea deal might also be fruitful. Certainly, queries should also be made for any names associated with Epstein such as the alleged alias on his Austrian passport.Hedge fund operators, spies, and sex traffickers are all supposed to pay their taxes. The above financial investigative steps would be recommended to the SDNY in the case of Jeffrey Epstein, whatever the mysterious or potentially nefarious source of his income might be.Martin Sheil is a retired supervisory special agent, IRS Criminal Investigation. You can contact him at sheil51@protonmail.com. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Source: Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines | 17 Jul 2019 | 9:20 am

‘I saw hate in his eyes’: White security guard pulls gun on black police officer

‘I saw hate in his eyes’: White security guard pulls gun on black police officerSheriff’s deputy Alan Gaston thought they were on the same side.One man, Mr Gaston, was a high-ranking officer in the Lucas County, Ohio, sheriff’s department with 34 years of experience.The other was a security guard contracted to protect an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office in Toledo.But then the guard pulled his gun. He raised his voice. He put a hand on Mr Gaston’s arm and rested his finger on the trigger.In a matter of seconds, what began with a routine errand at the IRS escalated into a frightening standoff between a white security guard and a black police officer, who said he heard hate in the guard’s shouts and believed he would be shot.“You don’t expect to be ambushed by someone who you think is on the same team,” Mr Gaston told The Washington Post.“I feel there was definitely some racial overtones involved. And I’m not the type of person to throw the race card, I’m just telling you the facts. I looked in his eyes and I saw hate in his eyes.”He had stopped by the IRS office during his shift on 31 May to ask a question about a letter the agency sent him.He was in full uniform, his badge and his firearm in clear view.The security guard, identified in court documents as Seth Eklund, asked Mr Gaston to leave his gun in his patrol car.When Mr Gaston replied he couldn’t do that, he said Mr Eklund became hostile. Mr Eklund accused Mr Gaston of reaching for his weapon, shouting “get your hands off your gun”, even though Mr Gaston said his hands were visible and nowhere near his holster.Mr Gaston, who has years of experience teaching defensive tactics, decided it was time for him to leave.He recalled a wide-eyed elderly couple in the office waiting room watching the exchange, and he said he feared for the bystanders’ safety. Mr Gaston turned to go.As he walked out of the cramped office, Mr Eklund drew his gun, trained it on Mr Gaston’s back and followed him. At one point, Mr Gaston said, Mr Eklund tried to arrest the uniformed officer.“He came around the corner with his weapon out, telling me, ‘you had your chance, you’re not going anywhere, I’m detaining you’,” Gaston said.“That’s when I was preparing myself to be shot. The hate and anger he had against me, I was getting ready to be shot by this security guard for no reason.”Mr Eklund, who could not be reached for comment, pleaded not guilty to one charge of aggravated menacing in a court appearance on Monday.Mr Gaston and his wife have also filed a lawsuit against Mr Eklund and the two security firms that apparently employed him.Representatives of those companies, Paragon Systems and Praetorian Shield, did not respond to requests for comment. The IRS declined to comment.The local news station WTVG published what it claims to be security camera footage of the interaction and The Washington Post obtained screenshots of the video.The images show Mr Gaston backing away and attempting to leave the building in an elevator. But Mr Eklund, gun still drawn, blocks the door with his foot.Mr Gaston says he felt cornered, scared. He took out his phone to take a picture of Mr Eklund, he said, and the security guard finally holstered his weapon.Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police in St Louis, said that Mr Eklund behaved recklessly and likely would not have treated a white officer the same way.“We know what it’s like being an African American police officer in a city,” Ms Taylor said. “A lot of us realise that, hey, even though you’re in uniform, that doesn’t mean you’re safe.”The tense scene recalled other, infamous incidents with grisly endings. Ms Taylor pointed to the case of Jemel Roberson, a black security guard who was killed by a Midlothian, Illinois, police officer while they both responded to a shooting at the bar where Roberson worked.She also mentioned Detective Jacai Colson in Maryland, who was killed by a fellow officer while working undercover. Mr Colson, according to a lawsuit, had his badge in his hand and was shouting “Police! Police!” before he was killed.“You’re not given the benefit of the doubt as a minority,” Ms Taylor said. “It’s something we’ve been highlighting forever and now here’s another example of it.”She applauded Mr Gaston’s cool demeanour in the face of what she said was potentially lethal bigotry.Mr Gaston said he didn’t feel that Mr Eklund respected him as a law enforcement officer, and in more than three decades of police work has never dealt with anything like that.He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression, he said. He’s been on medical leave and is seeing a counsellor twice a week. The civil suit Mr Gaston and his wife filed seeks compensation.The standoff between Mr Gaston and Mr Eklund ended, he said, when Toledo police officers responded to a 911 call from inside the building that mentioned a man who has “got a gun” and “won’t leave”. The caller didn’t mention that the man was a police officer.When Toledo police arrived, Mr Gaston recounted, they told Mr Eklund: “You know he’s a uniformed deputy sheriff, right? We can go anywhere in this building we want.”Washington Post

Source: Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines | 17 Jul 2019 | 8:52 am

'You must be stupid': Duterte says he won't be tried by international court

'You must be stupid': Duterte says he won't be tried by international courtPhilippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared he will never be tried by an international court for mass killings in his war on drugs, and vowed no let up in a crackdown that he said he was winning and would see through "to the very end". In a television interview with a celebrity pastor, the firebrand leader said the Philippine justice system was working fine, so it would be "stupid" to imagine he would let an international court put him on trial.

Source: Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines | 17 Jul 2019 | 8:34 am

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe being transferred to psychiatric hospital raises hopes for release, husband says

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe being transferred to psychiatric hospital raises hopes for release, husband saysThe husband of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran has said her transfer to a hospital psychiatric ward raises hopes of her being released.  Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, was arrested at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport while travelling with their young daughter in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said she was transferred from Evin prison on Monday to the psychiatric ward of Iman Khomeini hospital, in Tehran, where she is being held under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Mr Ratcliffe told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the move could be a "prelude to her release".  He said: "It's possible it's good news. It's possible it's a prelude to her release. It's also possible that it's a prelude to her getting treatment and all my fears are unfounded and she's getting treated and she's there for a while to get treatment and then will go back to prison.  "But it's also possible that there's something else going on. One of the things that happened the last time she met the Revolutionary Guard, which was when she was on hunger strike, they were pressurising her to sign denouncements of the British Government and confess to various things.  "So that's when I started getting worried - as yesterday carried on - is that are they isolating her again to squeeze her." Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in London Her father said he visited the hospital on Tuesday but was not allowed to see his daughter and that she has not been allowed to contact her family. When Mr Ratcliffe first found out his wife was being moved to the hospital, he told Today: "We were quite hopeful that it was good thing, so we started off quite euphoric. "Now it's transpired that she's under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, it's worrying." Before being transferred, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe told relatives: "I was healthy and happy when I came to Iran to see my parents. "Three and a bit years later and I am admitted to a mental health clinic. "Look at me now, I ended up in an asylum. It should be an embarrassment. "Prison is getting harder and harder for me. I hate being played in the middle of a political game. I just hate it." In a press release, the Free Nazanin Campaign said it is not known what treatment she is receiving or how long she is expected to remain in hospital. The transfer comes after Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe went on hunger strike for 15 days last month in protest at her "unfair imprisonment". Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella Mr Ratcliffe also did not eat for the period in solidarity with his wife as he camped on the pavement outside the Iranian Embassy in London. The couple's five-year-old daughter Gabriella has stayed in Iran with her grandparents since her mother's arrest. Mr Ratcliffe said: "Nazanin hoped that her hunger strike would move the Iranian authorities, and it clearly has. "Hopefully her transfer to hospital means that she is getting treatment and care, despite my distrust of just what pressures can happen behind closed doors. It is unnerving when we don't know what is going on. "I am glad her dad has been down there to keep vigil outside. "Mental hospital has its worries at the best of times - but particularly when kept isolated and under the control of the Revolutionary Guard. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe timeline "Even now it still seems like games of power and control are being played by the Iranian authorities - even at the point of hospitalisation. "We hope again this is the beginning of the end. And yet, we were also here last summer. "We will be following up with the new prime minister whenever that is decided to ensure he takes personal responsibility for Nazanin's case." Earlier this year, Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt granted Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in a bid to resolve her case.

Source: Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines | 17 Jul 2019 | 8:30 am

India-Pakistan spy case ruling due at world court

India-Pakistan spy case ruling due at world courtThe International Court of Justice will decide Wednesday on India's bid to remove an alleged spy from death row in Pakistan, in a case that has stoked tensions between the South Asian rivals. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, a former Indian navy officer, was arrested in Pakistan's restive southwestern province of Baluchistan in March 2016 on charges of espionage. The 48-year-old was then sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in 2017, sparking outrage in India.

Source: Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines | 17 Jul 2019 | 2:17 am

A Los Angeles Bankruptcy lawyer with 30 years foreclosure fighting experiece explains: Tips on Surviving the Storm if Your Lender Won’t Work With You
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