In the next installment of my series on the St. Louis courts, I will examine a topic which I have been interested in for nearly a decade: RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
In my first book, Prosecutors Gone Wild, the main character, Chuck Panici, was prosecuted- falsely- using RICO as an especially tough weapon against him: five of the thirteen charges against Panici were under RICO.
Panici is the former long time mayor of Chicago Heights; in that case, the government argued that the mayor's office was used to develop a series of bribery schemes, making the mayor's office the RICO enterprise.
RICO was passed in 1970 and it was designed to take on organized crime: La Cosa Nostra specifically, but any criminal enterprise from criminal gangs, car theft rings, extortion schemes, bookmaking operations, etc.
If someone is prosecuted under RICO, there are sentencing enhancements, which turn minor crimes into long sentences.
George Anastasia, the noted crime writer, said on the program Kingpin, "it made the concept of racketeering a way to prosecute all these guys. He's a loan shark, he's a bookmaker, he's an extortionist, but they're all part of this racketeering enterprise."
He further noted that a simple bookmaking sentence, which would normally carry a one to three year sentence, can carry a sentence up to 20 years under RICO.
In this case, I will make the argument that the approved St. Louis County Guardian ad litem, acting in concert with St. Louis County judges, are running a criminal enterprise to traffic children: a scheme designed to transfer custody from the protective parent to the abuse one and in exchange, the GALs and others collect on exorbitant fees for services ordered by the court.
This is an issue to be handled with care; Bad Legal Takes is a popular twitter account and misinterpreted RICO is one of his favorite "Bad Legal Takes."
In order to prove RICO, a prosecutor must establish that there is an ongoing organized criminal enterprise, the defendants are a part of it, and they have committed at least two crimes in the last ten years in support of that enterprise.
This is what is called a "pattern of racketeering," under RICO, and the crimes are referred to as "predicate acts." The crimes range from murder, extortion, bribery, obstruction of justice, child trafficking, slavery, and murder.
In this case, the best evidence that there is an ongoing criminal enterprise is the notorious Zoom Conference call from January 27, 2021.
Daily Docket News’ investigative team just discovered another sickening story that has a terrible ending like so many others. Vandenbroucke v. Pilipenko, Case No. 16SL-DR05904, filed in the Saint Louis County Circuit Court on 10/27/2016. Sarah Pleban, Esq., with the law firm of Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC, was the court appointed guardian ad litem. James D. Reid, Ph.D., was the court appointed forensic psychology evaluator. Respondent’s child, who was sexually abused at the hands of Petitioner according to Respondent and her child, was handed over to the alleged abuser, by Judge John N. Borbonus, on the recommendation of Pleban and Reid, with full custody rights. Why did the County Prosecutor refuse to file charges? The Respondent was left with only the shirt on her back, after spending her last dime in family court to save her daughter failed. Currently, Respondent is court ordered to visit with her daughter for only forty-five minutes, once a month under strict supervision, at a cost to the Respondent of nearly two hundred dollars per visit. The court appointed supervisor sits on a bench between Respondent and her child, as they are forbidden to touch. Respondent is court ordered to not speak to her child in Respondent’s native language of Russian. Respondent’s child, who is currently nine years old, tells Respondent that Petitioner continues to sleep in the same bed with her every nigh How can Judge John N. Borbonus, Pleban and Reid sleep at night?
While DDN considers this a child trafficking scheme, the question remains, "would it be considered one under RICO."
It's much easier to prove RICO in these schemes if there's bribery involved, which RICO considers a predicate act, and while I believe in many of these cases people are being bribed, there is no proof of that here.
There is instead a "pattern" as RICO calls for of violating laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)- which is not a predicate act- perjury, which is a predicate act: along with violations of rules of professional conduct.
This could on its own constitute enough predicate acts if enough examples of perjury were proven as one example, but an even better argument would be that the perjury, violations of HIPAA, and violations of rules of professional conduct amount to a child trafficking racket.
The pattern was indeed described by a litigant who continues to remain anonymous. As she noted to me, after her daughter disclosed sexual abuse by her ex, the GAL in her case, Brian Dunlop, along with the court appointed psychologist, Dr. James Reid, stepped in.
Dr. Reid quickly diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder along with parental alienation; Dunlop used that to quickly change custody and she has not seen her daughter in over three years.
She said she is one of four women whose children disclosed abuse to them, who were diagnosed with BPD and parental alienation- a "pattern of racketeering"- and then they lost custody. Her interview in two parts is below.
In the lawsuit filed by Evita Tolu, that's exactly what happened, and the lawsuit further argued that Dr. Reid violated numerous professional rules including ignoring test results which contradicted his finding of BPD.
"By failing to use MMPI assessments specifically designed to account for Plaintiff's cultural background of being born and raised in the former Soviet Union. By failing to assessments specifically designed for family custody litigants with children." Tolu's lawsuit stated.
That was echoed by the anonymous woman who said every other time she had been tested she had been found to be mentally balanced.
Dunlop also falsely claimed in court- presumably perjury- that this woman's daughter only disclosed to her mom, when she'd disclosed to multiple other persons in authority. More on that story here.
The lawsuit also alleges that Pudlowski violated HIPAA by releasing her evaluation- a private medical document- to people who were not specifically authorized by a court order.
Dunlop has also been accused of improperly sharing confidential information.
"Fact: Brian stated to both of my children upon meeting them that whatever they chose to share with him would be privileged/confidential. After one of our trial dates, Brian shared with me some thoughts/opinions the children had shared with him regarding me. I would not categorize them as negative, but more of a personal nature. Until Brian told me these thoughts/opinions that my children personally and confidentially shared with him, I had not known them.
Reid was also accused of doing a custody evaluation by Tolu in her lawsuit even though the court order only called for him to do a psychological evaluation.
While violations of HIPAA, performing an improper evaluation, and improperly sharing private information, would not in itself constitute a RICO violation, the argument is that these violations, along with the perjury, and other violations of rules and laws, constitute a child trafficking scheme in which abusers are cultivated by the court. Their abuse is covered up while the protective mother is falsely labeled with BPD and other false diagnoses, custody is changed to the abusive parent and in exchange, all the court actors charge exorbitant fees. Child trafficking is of course a predicate act.
As Megan Fox recently revealed in PJ Media, Elaine Pudlowski, a prominent St. Louis County GAL, routinely makes well in excess of $10,000 in fees for each case.
Reid was evaluator on twelve of Pudlowski's cases, according to the lawsuit, and he charged Tolu well over $50,000 for a variety of services, all to find her falsely with BPD and parental alienation.
Furthermore, what are we to make of the explosive audio which everyone seems to be talking about? In it, Judge Nicole Zellweger of St. Louis County berates a fourteen year old girl who tells her that her father is molesting her and Judge Zellweger insists on sending her to live with him anyway, even jailing her mother as a form of coercion. Even if no RICO violations were committed here, the audio seems like strong evidence that the scheme to hide sexual abuse and send kids to their abuser in order to profit exists.
There are six factors that a court should consider in deciding whether a RICO pattern has been established. Edmondson & Gallagher v. Alban Towers Tenants Ass’n, 48 F.3d 1260 (D.C. Cir. 1995. These factors are: “the number of unlawful acts, the length of time over which the acts were committed, the similarity of the acts, the number of victims, the number of perpetrators, and the character of the unlawful activity.” The court in Edmondson acknowledged that in some cases “some factors will weigh so strongly in one direction as to be dispositive.”