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Court Says Business News Outlets Can Scoop Wall Street Analyst Reports

By | Monday June 20, 2011 @ 12:10pm PDT

You may think that most Wall Street analyst reports are a waste of paper and pixels. But they’re newsworthy because they often move stock prices. That’s why business news organizations are breathing a sigh of relief today following a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruling that upholds their right to report on analysts’ recommendations — even before the analysts’ clients have a chance to read the updates. The court said that research analysts make news in much the same way the NBA does with a basketball game, or the American Theater Wing does with the Tony Awards. Just because Wall Street firms make the news, the court said, “does not give rise to a right for (them) to control who breaks that news and how.” The decision overturned a district court ruling that sided with Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley in their effort to stop a financial news website, Theflyonthewall.com, from selling daily updates listing changes in financial firms’ recommendations. The firms said that the website was enjoying a free ride off of their work. They also said that their reports were protected under a New York law that grants copyright protection to providers of “hot news.” Last year the district court said that the website would have to wait until 10:00 AM ET to report on analyst recommendations made before 9:30 when the markets open, or two hours after the firms issued new recommendations. That order was not enforced during the appeal. The appeals court shot it down, citing federal copyright laws that it says supersede the New York law. Read More »

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Don Johnson Awarded $23.2M In ‘Nash Bridges’ Lawsuit Against Rysher

By | Wednesday July 7, 2010 @ 2:09pm PDT

donjohnson1Another hey-you-didn’t-pay-me-my-profits lawsuit. This time a Los Angeles jury sided with Don Johnson who was both the star and a producer on the 1990s crime series Nash Bridges. Johnson sued 3 entertainment companies in 2009, claiming he was owed millions in profits from the 1990s crime series by Rysher Entertainment, which contended the show had lost money despite 6 seasons on the air. The jury awarded Johnson $23.2M and determined that Johnson owned half of the copyright of the series. Rysher was bought by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner from 2001-2006, and then sold to Qualia Capital. Rysher’s attorney, Bart Williams of Munger, Tolles & Olson, reacted: “Rysher is extremely disappointed in today’s verdict and will aggressively pursue all legal recourse. While we respect the jury’s right to their judgment, there are several matters of law that will form the basis of Rysher’s appeal. We are ready to undergo the appeals process and are confident that in the end, today’s outcome will be reversed.”

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Lindsay Lohan To Serve 90 Days In Jail

By | Tuesday July 6, 2010 @ 4:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

lindsay-lohanNormally, Deadline doesn’t cover the personal lives of Hollywood types, except under circumstances which affect their professional lives. But the Lindsay Lohan saga is worth mentioning because it gets sadder and sadder since she was a once-promising young actress. Lohan was sentenced today by a judge in Beverly Hills to 90 days in jail. (She violated a probation requirement after neglecting to attend alcohol education classes from a 2007 offense.) Lohan seemed headed for such big things after Mean Girls, and once had a quote of $7.5 million for Georgia Rule. Morgan Creek’s James Robinson, after paying her that big salary, had a right to publicly berate her for being unreliable and more interested in partying than showing up for work on  the film, which bombed. Now it’s gotten to the point where Lohan’s ankle alcohol monitor is a fashion accessory. Lohan is only 24, so there’s still time for her to take sobriety and acting seriously.

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Oprah Winfrey Eyed For U.S. Senate Seat

By | Monday June 28, 2010 @ 10:27am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Rod Blagojevich was considering appointing Oprah Winfrey to the Illinois Senate seat to replace Barack Obama, according to a wiretap played today at the former Illinois governor’s corruption trial. Per news reports, on the tape recorded on Dec. 2 Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris go over replacement possibilities. The most intriguing ones raised by Blagojevich include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who doesn’t even live in Illinois and Winfrey.

“Oprah, by the way, is not far-fetched,” Blagojevich told Harris, noting her major role in the election of Obama to the presidency. “She’s up there so high, no one can assail this pick.”

Harris’ response? He thought making Winfrey a senator “was crazy.” “That’s where you’re wrong,” Blagojevich retorted.

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YouTube Wins Viacom Copyright Lawsuit

By | Wednesday June 23, 2010 @ 2:05pm PDT

UPDATE: In connection with the summary judgment ruling today in its litigation against Google and YouTube, Viacom Inc made the following statement:

viacom-youtube-logos“We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court as expressed in its most recent decisions. We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible. After years of delay, this decision gives us the opportunity to have the Appellate Court address these critical issues on an accelerated basis. We look forward to the next stage of the process.” In connection with the judgment, Viacom’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Michael Fricklas, issued a statement about the decision that can be found at: http://news.viacom.com/news/Pages/summaryjudgment.aspx

Statement posted just now by Kent Walker, Vice President and General Counsel of Google:

Today, the court granted our motion for summary judgment in Viacom’s lawsuit with YouTube. This means that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online.

This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the

Read More »

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Mark Cuban Threatening To Back Icahn As Hostile Lionsgate Takeover Intensifies

By | Thursday June 10, 2010 @ 12:11pm PDT

cuban_mark050517BREAKING NEWS! UPDATE: Lionsgate insiders tell me: “This isn’t a big surprise and doesn’t change the dynamics of the Icahn takeover fight.  Cuban was one of Icahn’s nominees for the Yahoo Board of Directors in 2008, and we always thought it was likely he would tender to Icahn.  We think if he does tender to Icahn at seven dollars a share, he’s leaving money on the table.”

Noon: Carl Icahn scored another huge victory in his hostile takeover battle for Lionsgate. Then again, Mark Cuban is one of the kookiest entrepreneurs out there and may just be seeking publicity at Lionsgate bosses’ expense or a negotiating advantage with the studio for board seats, movie and TV deals, icahn lgaccess to the sizeable library, etc. Until today, Icahn had not been able to get traction with Lionsgate stockholders for his $7-a-share tender offer. But what Cuban said this morning on CNBC is “I really think I’m going to tender and I will have a conversation with them today… I have my reasons I don’t want to get into. But I think it’s the right move for right now and the right move for the long term, for the company and me.”

With Cuban’s shares, Icahn would become Lionsgate’s largest shareholder. Cuban owns 5.3% of Lionsgate shares, and Icahn already owns nearly 19%. To date, only about 4% of the studio stockholders had agreed to tender to him despite Icahn extending … Read More »

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Charlie Sheen’s Jail Time Won’t Impact ‘Men’

By | Tuesday June 1, 2010 @ 11:56am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen will plead guilty and serve jail time over misdemeanor charges stemming from his Christmas Day arrest for alleged domestic violence, according to several sites, including People and TMZ. But the 30-day sentence, which is expected to be reduced to 15-17 days for good behavior, would not interrupt production of the upcoming season of CBS’ Men. Sheen is expected to begin serving time next week, while Men normally starts production in August and I hear that will be the case again this year. That will give Sheen, who closed a deal to return to Men only hours before CBS’ upfront presentation last month, plenty of time to resolve his legal troubles before returning to work. In a similar fashion, 24 star Kiefer Sutherland timed his jail time for DUI while his series was on hiatus in December 2007.

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2ND UPDATE: Behind Ken Starr Indictment

By | Thursday May 27, 2010 @ 5:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE WRITE-THRU 1:30 PM: The indictment of financial advisor and accountant Kenneth Starr has the potential to be every bit as serious as the one that gripped Hollywood when Cassanda Group’s Dana Giacchetto fell from grace after defrauding some of Hollywood’s biggest names in the 1990s.

Starr was arrested along with an associate, Andrew Stein, the former New York City Council president who’s accused of making false statements to the IRS. A 37-page complaint unsealed today in Southern District Court bares the detail of how Starr allegedly helped himself to client money, and then moved money from other client accounts to cover shortfalls when questions were asked.

The complaint describes by profession, but doesn’t name, several of the cheated clients who helped sniff out trouble when they questioned irregularities in their statements. I’ve heard that “the actress” is Uma Thurman, and the “former talent agency exec” is Jim Wiatt, and the “elderly heiress” is Bunny Mellon. There is a jeweler who, the complaint alleges, is missing millions, and word is that’s Yakov Arabov, aka “Jacob the Jeweler” to customers who include many hip hop celebs.  Also, sources said that authorities have been investigating Starr for months. I’m told that, while press reports list scores of well known clients, many including Martin Scorsese left with their business managers well before today’s indictment was leveled — and likely emerged unscathed.

One of those is celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, who issued this statement: “News of Ken Starr’s arrest does not come as a complete surprise to … Read More »

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UPDATE: Did Uma Thurman, Jim Wiatt And Bunny Mellon Help Flush Accused Investment Advisor Ken Starr?

By | Thursday May 27, 2010 @ 2:02pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATED WRITE-THRU: The indictment of financial advisor and accountant Kenneth Starr has the potential to be every bit as serious as the one that gripped Hollywood when Cassanda Group’s Dana Giacchetto fell from grace after defrauding some of Hollywood’s biggest names in the 1990s.

Starr was arrested along with an associate, Andrew Stein, the former New York City Council president who’s accused of making false statements to the IRS. A 37-page complaint unsealed today in Southern District Court bares the detail of how Starr allegedly helped himself to client money, and then moved money from other client accounts to cover shortfalls when questions were asked.

The complaint describes by profession but doesn’t name several of the cheated clients who helped sniff out trouble when they questioned irregularities in their statements. I’m not sure who all of them are, but I’ve heard that the “elderly heiress” is Bunny Mellon, “the actress” is Uma Thurman, and the “former talent agency exec” is Jim Wiatt.  Also, sources said that authorities have been investigating Starr for months, and that while press reports list scores of well known clients, many including Martin Scorsese left with their business managers well before the indictment was leveled today and likely emerged unscathed.

One of those is celebrity photographer Annie Liebovitz, who issued this statement: “News of Ken Starr’s arrest done not come as a complete surprise to me, and I will follow … Read More »

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SEC Bares Text of Inept Suspects As They Sold Disney Earnings Info To FBI Agents

By | Wednesday May 26, 2010 @ 6:15pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE AT 6:15 PM: More details have surfaced in the shocking indictment of Bonnie Hoxie– the administrative assistant to Disney corporate communications head Zenia Mucha—and Hoxie’s boyfriend Yonni Sebbeg for allegedly trying to peddle an early quarterly report to hedge funds for cash payment. In the annals of insider trading, this one has to fall under the category of Dumb and Dumber.

The SEC complaint is a riveting read, driven by the dialogue supplied by the duo as they tried to orchestrate the delivery of earnings information to FBI agents posing as hedge fund managers.The SEC listed both verbal conversations with the undercover agents, and email correspondence between the suspects.

After sending inside earnings info to Sebbag, Hoxie sent him an email about what she wanted in return. “Here is the bag that you are going to get for me…” she wrote, attaching a link to a picture of a $700 Stella McCartney designer handbag from Neiman Marcus. After Sebbag responded he might walk away with enough cash to buy two bags, she added: “In that case, I also love love these shoes,” attaching a link to a picture of pricey Stella McCartney shoes.

Sebbag’s phone correspondence with the undercover agents is also telling. After claiming he worked at Disney and that he could deliver  earnings reports 3 to 4 days before release, he asked the hedge fund managers to “make an offer based on the capital gains from the trade and the risk I am taking delivering this information to you.”  He … Read More »

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UPDATE: Disney Denies Claims It Is Close to Selling ABC

By | Wednesday May 26, 2010 @ 10:59am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE 11 AM: The Walt Disney Co. just issued the following statement relating to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney on May 26 in New York:

The Walt Disney Company has been fully cooperating with this investigation. The reference in the complaint to conversations regarding the ABC Network were and are false.

PREVIOUS 10:15 AM: In what is turning out to be a pretty bizarre story, an insider trading arrest may hold clues to Disney’s plans for selling ABC. A potential sale had been rumored for awhile and as recently as March Disney CEO Bob Iger said that “there are no guarantees in terms of what will remain part of our company and what will not” when asked whether Disney will sell the broadcast network. But now a criminal complaint and a SEC civil suit stemming from the Wednesday arrest of a Disney employee by the FBI in Los Angeles alleges such plans may be more advanced than previously thought.

According to a CNBC report, the legal complaints state that Bonnie Hoxie, secretary to the head of Disney’s corporate communications, and her boyfriend Yonni Sebbag, allegedly offered hedge funds information about Disney’s quarterly earnings report, due out in May. The most intriguing part of the couple’s claims: that Iger was in “serious and advanced negotiations” with two private equity firms to sell ABC. According to CNBC, the two were arrested after attempting to sell the information to undercover FBI agents, for which they allegedly accepted a $15,000 payment. As for ABC itself, … Read More »

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The Morning After: PTC Slams CBS’ ‘$#!’

By | Thursday May 20, 2010 @ 11:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Well, that didn’t take long. The Parents Television Council this morning issued the following statement regarding new CBS comedy series $#! My Dad Says, which was announced yesterday.

LOS ANGELES (May 20, 2010) – The Parents Television Council denounced CBS for choosing to insert an expletive into the name of its new show, “$#*! My Dad Says,” scheduled to air at 8:30 pm ET/PT  on Thursdays in the fall. “CBS intentionally chose to insert an expletive into the actual name of a show, and, despite its claim that the word will be bleeped, it is just CBS’ latest demonstration of its contempt for families and the public.  There are an infinite number of alternatives that CBS could have chosen but its desire to shock and offend is crystal clear in this decision,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “The title of this show is the opposite of fleeting (profanity) – it is bold, shameless, and in-your-face.   There is incredible irony that CBS made this announcement the same day that it submitted its legal brief before the Third Circuit Court declaring that there was no mens rea to air an indecent Super Bowl broadcast.”

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WGAE Supports ‘Crude’ Docu Filmmaker

By | Tuesday May 18, 2010 @ 2:12pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Writer’s Guild East has come out on behalf of documentary director Joe Berlinger, who last week was ordered by a Federal Judge to give Chevron more than 600 hours of footage he compiled for the documentary Crude: The Real Price of Oil. Berlinger and his attorneys have prevailed upon Judge Kaplan to stay the order until they can appeal the ruling. The issue has become a First Amendment flashpoint. Here is the WGAE statement:

“In defense of free speech and the First Amendment, the Writers Guild of America, East joins with the Independent Documentary Association (IDA) in support of documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger and in objection to Federal Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s recent ruling that Berlinger must turn over to the Chevron Corporation 600 hours of footage shot during the production of his documentary ‘Crude: The Real Price of Oil.’

To accede to such a demand is tantamount to a reporter being told to turn over all of his or her notes and to violate confidentiality agreements with sources. As with the members of the IDA, our WGAE members working in the documentary field ‘hold ourselves to the highest of journalistic standards in the writing, producing, and editing of our films.’ Those standards include the protection of our outtakes, script drafts, research and sources.”

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Joel Silver Sues Goldman Sachs (And Can We Sue To Close His Crappy Dark Castle?)

By | Monday May 17, 2010 @ 11:33pm PDT

Goldman_Sachs_logoMost of the time, Hollywood is complaining about Joel Silver. Now the producer is complaining about Wall Street. Matthew Belloni scooped about the breach of contract and fraud lawsuit filed today in LA Superior Court by Silver against Goldman Sachs. It claims the investment bank stiffed him on more than $30 million from a share of revenue from his Dark Castle films. To put the lawsuit in context, the relationship began in those financially flush days of 2007 when Wall Street was eager to invest in the movie biz. Now it’s 2010, and Silver’s crappy Dark Castle is a bad joke. joel silver caption contest(Hey, there’s a sucker born every minute — and the rich ones usually find their way to Hollywood.) [UPDATE: According to Silver, his 11 Dark Castle have made $1+ billion all in.]  ”Despite their vast wealth and resources,” the Goldman defendants “have repudiated and breached their contractual obligations to pay the Silver Parties at least $30 million, made fraudulent misrepresentations to benefit themselves by over $100 million, and refused to pay substantial amounts due for the valuable services of Silver,” the complaint says. None other than pitbull Bert Fields is litigating the case for Silver. The defendants are Goldman Sachs, the Toronto-based TV/film producer and distributor Alliance, and Momentum Pictures USA.

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Lionsgate Announces Talks With Icahn

By | Monday May 17, 2010 @ 12:22pm PDT

BREAKING NEWS! The studio just filed a 14D-9 a few minutes ago announcing that “settlement discussions” with Carl Icahn have begun. A sources tells me that the corporate raider/shareholder activist came to Lionsgate “and wanted to talk. LG has a fiduciary responsibility to listen.  He is their second largest shareholder and they will listen. No guarantees that this will lead to an actual settlement.”

Icahn’s $7 a share offer is still out there until May 21st. Should it fail, and it probably will, Icahn has said he’ll “probably” wage a proxy fight for Lionsgate. That will be expensive for him, and destabilizing for the studio. On the other hand, Lionsgate toppers Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns find their hands tied against Icahn’s hostile takeover attempt. Both a British Columbia regulatory commission as well as a British Columbia Appeals Court have ruled that the studio can’t use a poison pill defense. Nevertheless, Lionsgate called a special meeting of stockholders and went forward with ratification of its so-called “Shareholder Rights Plan” — no matter how meaningless.

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Warner Bros/DC Comics Sues ‘Superman’ Copyright Lawyer; Marc Toberoff Response

By | Friday May 14, 2010 @ 12:45pm PDT

BREAKING NEWS! 2ND UPDATE 12:40 PM: The subject of today’s Warner Bros/DC Comics lawsuit, Los Angeles copyright attorney Marc Toberoff, just gave me his response. (See below)

Original Post Filed 10:26 AM. Updated Writethru 11:30 AM:
superman comic 30Today there’s been a shocking development in the Superman copyright litigation. Warner Bros has gone up against and in some situations lost too many such rights cases against its arch-nemesis, lawyer Marc Toberoff. So recently the studio hired Daniel Petrocelli to come up with a new strategy to prevent the studio from possibly losing a portion of the copyright to Superman in 2013 as a court has previously ruled, and Petrocelli has obliged. His newest tactic? To get rid of Toberoff entirely. This morning, Warner Bros’ new outside counsel is filing has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles against Toberoff raising questions about his alleged role as a financial participant in the Superman copyright and not as the attorney for the Shuster and Siegel families litigating their Superman cases. But the purpose of the lawsuit is obviously to put Toberoff in a position where he might have to resign as the Siegel and Shuster attorney.

It’s a hardball and some might say also despicable tactic by Petrocelli and the studio’s new general counsel John Rogovin (hiding behind DC Comics), especially because it hinges on documents stolen from Toberoff’s office by a Toberoff employee. (I’ve learned that Warner Bros claims the documents mysteriously “arrived” on its doorstep and that … Read More »

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UPDATE: Lionsgate Loses Poison Pill Appeal; What Defense Against Icahn Is Left?

By | Friday May 7, 2010 @ 11:54am PDT

UPDATE: Drama, drama, drama! (And fast drama.) First, the British Columbia Court of Appeals today granted lionsgate_logoLionsgate’s request to reexamine the British Columbia Securities Commission’s decision to stop the studio from using a poison pill defense against Carl Icahn’s attempted hostile takeover. And then, with lightning speed, the appeals court immediately decided on the appeal — and said no. So now Lionsgate can’t use a poison pill defense against Icahn. Meanwhile, the corporate raider/shareholder activist has extended his $7-a-share tender offer after stockholders turned up their nose at it. But, as the stock market collapsed by the end of the week, erasing almost a year’s worth of gains, Icahn’s offer might look better.

Here’s the Lionsgate statement:

Lionsgate disagrees with the BCCA’s decision to decline to interfere with the BCSC’s cease trade order of Lionsgate’s Shareholder Rights Plan.  Lionsgate believes that its shareholders’ right to vote and to determine for themselves whether the Shareholder Rights Plan is in their interests is paramount.  Any decision on the Shareholder Rights Plan should have been withheld until the BCSC had an opportunity to review the results of Lionsgate shareholders’ vote on the Shareholder Rights Plan that will take place at the May 12, 2010 Special Meeting of Shareholders.

The Board continues to recommend that shareholders vote FOR the approval of the Shareholder Rights Plan at the Special Meeting of Shareholders that remains scheduled for May 12, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. ET, in order to protect their investment

Read More »

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Judge Calls Off Dogs On David Bergstein

By | Tuesday May 4, 2010 @ 5:15pm PDT
Mike Fleming

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge recalled the bench warrant he issued on David Bergstein after the embattled film financier showed up in a courtroom to address his unpaid casino markers worth nearly $1 million. Judge Matthew St. George issued the bench warrant after Bergstein sent his lawyer to handle the mess but didn’t show up himself. He was also absent from court when a bankruptcy judge appointed a trustee to seize control of the film library of Capitol Films, ThinkFilm and other Bergstein-owned labels.

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Polanski: “I Can Remain Silent No Longer!”

By | Sunday May 2, 2010 @ 4:41pm PDT

Film director Roman Polanski today broke his silence first the time about his Swiss arrest and pending extradition back to Los Angeles. He released this statement to the news media through his Paris friend and author Bernard-Henri Lévy, director of the French magazine La Règle du Jeu:

polanski2Throughout my seven months since September 26, 2009, the date of my arrest at Zurich Airport, where I had landed with a view to receiving a lifetime award for my work from the representative of the Swiss Minister of Culture, I have refrained from making any public statements and have requested my lawyers to confine their comments to a bare minimum.

I wanted the legal authorities of Switzerland and the United States, as well as my lawyers, to do their work without any polemics on my part. I have decided to break my silence in order to address myself directly to you without any intermediaries and in my own words.

I have had my share of dramas and joys, as we all have, and I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life. I ask only to be treated fairly like anyone else.

It is true: 33 years ago I pleaded guilty, and I served time at the prison for common law crimes at Chino, not in a VIP prison. That period was to have covered the totality of my sentence. By the time I left prison, the judge had changed his mind and

Read More »

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