Per YR : "Upon further familiarizing myself with the members of the State Bar Board of Governors, I also filed a complaint with the Board of Governors against Public Member Jeannine English -- the wife of Howard Dickstein, an Indian gambling attorney. Weeks later, US Senator John McCain (Arizona) filed a complaint against Howard Dickstein for various acts of misconduct and asked that he be investigated.
(By TLR -- see story published on June 14, 2011 HERE)
Dear President Hebert, Senator Dunn, Members of the Board of Governors, and to whom it may concern:
While examining circumstances concerning the California Consumer Protection Foundation ("CCPF"), which was secretly controlled by State Bar Executive Director Emeritus Judy Johnson (and which will be the subject of an upcoming request for investigation), I fortuitously stumbled upon troubling facts and events relating to Board of Governors ("BOG") member Jeannine English.
As such, and despite its anticipated futility, this correspondence is intended to advise the BOG of these events and officially request an investigation into irregularities, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, breach of fiduciary duties, and lack of disclosures by BOG member Jeannine English. Those irregularities relate to circumstances surrounding the following:
1. Keker & Van Nest's representation of Jeannine English's spouse, Mr. Howard Dickstein, in an action for, among others, fraud, advanced by the Rumsey Tribe and related lack of disclosure on the part of Ms. English and Jon Streeter concerning the existence of a past business relationship.
2. Misconduct by Howard Dickstein against the tribes, and related involvement by Jeannine English, who was also concurrently representing the tribe in her role as "Lobbyist." Subsequently, when the tribe advanced a suit against Dickstein claiming he had taken advantage of them by defrauding the tribe of millions of dollars over more than a decade, Dickstein referred to the suit as a "pack of lies," whereupon Keker & Van Nest was summoned to defend the action.
3. An unusually large cy pres award of $900,000 to the AARP in a class action suit in which Girardi & Keese (specifically, Thomas Girardi and Graham Lippsmith) represented the plaintiff. Jeannine English has strong ties to the AARP and, in fact serves as the president of its California branch.
4. Lack of disclosures on the part of Girardi & Keese's Howard Miller and Jeannine English of the existence of the transaction. Aggravating the lack of disclosures are circumstances surrounding misconduct by Girardi & Keese and Howard Miller in the Dole Litigation, the subsequent handing of the matter by the State Bar which assigned the matter to the firm of State Bar of California Foundation president Doug Winthrop, my own involvement, and the involvement Alec Chang.
THE RUMSEY MATTER
The Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians ("Rumsey") consists of 40 adult members who reside in Brooks, California, which is situated in Capay Valley -- 50 miles northwest of Sacramento and 90 miles northeast of the Bay Area. From a fledgling bingo business to what is now a thriving establishment known as "Cache Creek Casino," attorney Howard Dickstein, a pioneer in tribal gambling law and the spouse of Jeannine English, helped dig the tribe out of poverty.
In and about 2007, and in addition to the services offered by Mr. Dickstein, Ms. Jeannine English and her company -- Jeannine English & Associates -- were also conducting business with Rumsey, by which lobbying and consulting services were purveyed by Ms. English.
Toward the end of 2007, Rumsey -- represented by Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy -- filed a suit in Yolo County Superior Court against Howard Dickstein and Jane Zerbi of Dickstein & Zerbi and Arlen Opper, a financial consultant, accusing them of unjustly enriching themselves with tribal money by defrauding the tribe of millions of dollars over more than a decade.
In statements to the media, Howard Dickstein referred to the allegations in the suit as a "pack of lies," while disparaging his client. Dickstein also stated that he plans to fight the suit and "fight hard." Appearing on behalf of defendant Dickstein was Elliot Peters of Keker & Van Nest.
The undersigned submits that because of the attorney-client relationship between Rumsey and Dickstein, it was questionable for Ms. English to enter into a business relationship with Rumsey and reckless for Jon Streeter and Jeannine English to conceal the past relationship from the public. If in fact a disclosure was made by any of them in a conspicuous place available for public viewing, please forward it to the undersigned in order for this portion of the complaint to be withdrawn.
These events lead one to wonder whether, hypothetically speaking, in the upcoming election for State Bar president Jeannine English would vote for Jon Streeter and not Michael Tenanbaum or Linda Davis as consideration for the representation Keker & Van Nest provided to her spouse. At least in part, it also explains to the undersigned the zeal and desire of Ms. English to be a member of the BOG. Clearly it was not to protect and serve the public; rather, it was to protect the interests of her husband (and, by extension, herself) who was accused of defrauding the Rumsey tribe of millions of dollars. In addition, it leads one to question whether the State Bar of California was not as vigorous as it should have been in protecting Rumsey from Dickstein.
THE AARP MATTER
In addition to serving on the State Bar's BOG, Jeannine English also serves as the President of the AARP's California branch, and is also involved with the AARP on a national level. Assuming no shenanigans, financial improprieties, or self-dealing with the AARP (which by the way, also operates a for-profit insurance brokerage), Ms. English deserves great credit for her outstanding contribution to the community. However, due to the overall set of circumstances surrounding English as described above, and as it is obvious that she serves on the BOG to serve the interests of her husband (and, by extension, herself), the undersigned is far from impressed.
Specifically, within the past few years, a plan has been devised by which a cy pres amount of $900,000 will be funneled to the AARP from a class action in which the law offices of Girardi & Keese serves as counsel. (Attridge v. Visa Case No. CGC-04-436920)
While the sums will not go directly to Ms. English, they will indirectly benefit her vis-a-vis the associated prestige resulting from successful fund raising efforts. The lack of disclosure regarding the proposed cy pres is alarming, especially considering events relating to the State Bar's handling of attorney misconduct in the Dole matter, my ethics complaint and request for an inquiry of 5 months ago as to James Towery, Jerome Falk, Douglas Winthrop, and Howard Miller as well as the overall circumstances surrounding the State Bar/BOG disinclination to deal with the matter. To date, only myself and, later, David Cameron Carr (a former State Bar prosecutor) have spoken about this grave injustice. Of those who had a moral, legal, and ethical obligation to disclose conflicts, and to otherwise speak, now you know why at least one more such person -- namely, Jeannine English -- has failed to do so.
Thank you for time.
On June 17, 2011, shortly after I filed the complaint against Jeannine English, a special meeting of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California took place to introduce amendments to proposed legislation. The proposed amendments , among others, called for a change to the conflict of interest policies. Specifically, public members should not be permitted to serve if they are involved in the legal profession or are the spouses of lawyers.
(By TLR -- hear explosive audio message HERE )
After I asked the BOG to investigate Ms. English, a confidential source from Southern California informed me that Howard Dickstein and Thomas Girardi are business partners. Out of an abundance of caution, this information was forwarded on June 22, 2011 by me to the Deputy Executive Director of the State Bar of California, Robert Hawley, as follows:
This is to inform the State Bar about information I recently received
concerning Jeannine English, Howard Dickstein, and Thomas Girardi.
Based on what was communicated to me, Howard Dickstein and Thomas
Girardi are involved in some sort of a joint venture; or otherwise are
business partners in areas relating to Indian gambling.
Please note that I do not personally vouch for the credibility of the
source nor the accuracy of the information.
However, based on the totality of the circumstances, it is a lead
Per YR,"on June 24, 2011, after learning more about the situation, I sent Jeannine English the following email, copying all of the individuals listed below :
Dear Ms. English:
A few days ago, I received a tip advising me to look into past and present business relationships between your husband (Howard Dickstein) and Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese, and potentially Walter Lack of Engstrom Lispcomb and Lack -- part owner of the Bicycle Casino. The tip referenced areas relating to the gambling industry which include, but are not limited to, real estate, slot machines and other equipment/hardware, consultation, supplies, and the like.
Yesterday, out of an abundance of caution, I forwarded the tip to Robert Hawley only, as I believed it to be lacking credibility as well as probable cause.
Today, after I had an opportunity to conduct further research, I found prima facie evidence pointing to the possibility of such a relationship vis-a-vis Boyd Gaming Corporation's Thomas Girardi on one hand, and various Indian gambling outfits and your husband on the other.
Note that, in and of itself, it is not improper for Mr. Girardi and your husband to be involved in various business relationships of any nature.
Rather, my concern relates to the lack of disclosures, conflict of interests, and breach of trust by you and Howard Miller in general, and in particular due to events surrounding grave misconduct by Howard Miller, Thomas Girardi, and Walter Lack in the litigation against Dole. Also causing concern are subsequent events involving Howard Miller, the State Bar of California, the BOG, James Towery, Howard Rice, Jerome Falk, Douglas Winthrop, Skadden Arps, Skadden Arps's Alec Chang, and myself, as well as an undisclosed $900,000 cy pres award to the AARP courtesy of a class action in which Thomas Girardi represents the plaintiff.
Consequently, you are faced with the following options:
1. Ignore this communication and assume the risk that you may be subjected to legal proceedings in a Superior Court. In addition, you will be the subject of an upcoming writ of mandamus to the California Supreme Court involving multiple matters.
2. Provide me and the BOG a detailed list, however cumbersome, relating to the above matters, including ventures in all jurisdictions i,e. the various Indian nations located in the U.S., and explain your and your husband's positions relating to same.
3. Acknowledge that such a relationship existed and is still in existence, admit wrongdoing to the BOG, the People of the State of California and myself, apologize, and quietly exit the BOG by September 2011. In addition, you will agree:
A. To not participate in the upcoming election for State Bar President.
B. To never participate in any State Bar affair in which you hold a position of trust, and to never participate in lobbying for matters relating to the State Bar.
C. That you, your husband, and the law offices of Dickstein & Zerbi are to prepare and otherwise enter into a settlement agreement. Said settlement agreement will be executed upon the delivery of five cashiers checks, each in the amount of $50,000, made payable to YR (full name redacted). In addition, an additional two cashiers checks, each in the amount of $25,000, will be delivered to two Section 501(C)(3) entities of my choice.
Thank you for your time."
June 7, 2011 TELEPHONE CALL FROM FBI / ANGELA DAVIS -- Approximately one week after sending the above email to Ms. English, I received a telephone call from an FBI agent from Los Angeles. This agent stated that one of the individuals who had been ccd on the email had forwarded it to him for examination (although I have not confirmed this, I believe it may have been sent by Los Angeles Assistant US Attorney Angela Davis who was at the time a member of the BOG and a friend of Jeannine English as well as the attorney for Ms. English and her husband, Jon Streeter of Keker & Van Nest).
I explained to the FBI agent that in my mind the email to Ms. English constituted a demand letter. However, the agent stated that this was incorrect because, according to his understanding, a suit has to be filed first and only later can settlement negotiations begin. As such, I immediately and spontaneously informed the agent that I would withdraw the communication. He stated that this will be very much appreciated, and that he was certain the attorney who asked him to call me would also be appreciative , and that it will "go a long way" to resolving the matter. Accordingly, the following day I sent the agent and the members of the BOG an email withdrawing a large part of the communication.
On June 08, 2011, I wrote:
Dear Special Agent Bell:
Thank you for calling me yesterday afternoon. As you recall, at around 5:00 p.m. you called to discuss a communication I had sent Ms. Jeannine English and others on June 24, 2011.
You stated that one of the recipients of the email has a concern; and that an attorney from within the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Attorney had asked you to investigate this matter.
As I stated to you, my intent was to send a simple "Demand Letter" based on my good faith belief (and based on multiple factors) that others and I are entitled to board members who are free from any conflicts of interests, lack of disclosures, self dealing, breaches of fiduciary duties, and the like.
Nevertheless, I do appreciate how standing alone, and without being familiar with prior communications and surrounding circumstances, such a communication may cause one to raise an eyebrow.
As such, and based on the totality of the circumstances, the part which is underlined below is hereby being withdrawn.
Related story: YR's involvement in the accompanying matter of In Re Girardi, please see HERE