Prenda

Prenda’s Hansmeier stipulates to suspension of his law license

In a previous post I suggested that the next event in the long running Prenda saga was likely to be a ruling by the referee in Hansmeier’s Minnesota lawyer discipline case. Well, I was close. There was in fact a major development in this case, but rather than wait for the referee to issue his decision, Hansmeier decided to go ahead and end the suspense by entering a stipulation (read “plea bargain”) where he admitted to every allegation save one ¹.

Paul HansmeierPaul Hansmeier

According to the Minnesota Appellate Court’s “Case Management System” data for case A15-1855, on Friday, 07/1/2016 at 14:28 CDT the MN Office of Lawyer Professional Responsibility (OLPR) asked the Clerk of that Court to file two documents: Hansmeier’s “Stipulation for discipline“, and a proposed order for the Court. In the stipulation, Hansmeier “unconditionally admits” (almost) all of the allegations in the original and supplemental petitions. In exchange, the MN OLPR agrees to recommend that Hansmeier be

[…] indefinitely suspended from the practice of law, effective 14 days from the order of the MN Supreme Court, with no right to petition for reinstatement for four years.

Like in the vast majority of “plea bargains” in criminal cases, the MN Supreme Court is not bound to accept the recommendations of the OLPR. In fact, there appears to be some conclusion as the “proposed order” mentioned in the previous paragraph is exactly that: a proposed order. As of 07/02/2016, the court has not made any ruling in this case, and Hansmeier’s “law license” has not yet been suspended. (One of the “dirty little secrets” of the US courts is that the lawyers for one or both of the parties write almost every order issued by a court. The “proposed order” is what the OLPR has agreed to recommend to the MN Supreme Court.)

At this point it is important to point out that the words “suspension” and “disbarment” as used in attorney discipline do not have their usual meanings. In professional sports, if an athlete is suspended, a time frame is given and when that time period is over, he is automatically reinstated. The public also generally believes that if a lawyer is “disbarred” (or more technically, his admission to the bar of a court is “annulled”), that such an action is permanent. In reality, in almost every jurisdiction, if an attorney is “disbarred” he has the right to petition for reinstatement at some point in the future. (While such petitions are sometimes granted, they are very rare.) In MN, if an attorney is suspended for 90 days or more, then he must still petition the MN Supreme Court for reinstatement, and such reinstatements are far from automatic.

Many readers of this site may think that Hansmeier has slithered his way through his lawyer discipline process since he was “only suspended” rather than “disbarred.” However, in terms of practical consequences, there is little difference between the two. If he was disbarred, he could still petition for reinstatement at some point in the future, and there are not dramatically better odds of being reinstated after being disbarred as opposed to a significant suspension.

That leaves us with a couple of additional questions: If Hansmeier did not get a whole lot out of the agreement, why did he go along with this? What about the timing of the announcement? Finally, what about his ADA cases?

When the MN OLPR decided to file a “Petition for Disciplinary Action”, Hansmeier went and hired the best attorney for fighting these types of cases: Eric Cooperstein. Cooperstein is apparently very good at what he does; practices in a very narrow, technical area without much competition; and has desperate clients. That means he is not cheap. It is also important to note that Hansmeier (and Browne) both recently settled several “adversary proceedings” in his bankruptcy case. Again, this has not been his previous litigation strategy. So why has Hansmeier done a “180” in his personal litigation strategy over the last month or so? I do not think it is a coincidence that this apparently new strategy began at roughly the same time that rumors of an active, substantial, criminal investigation began to surface.

My guess — and it is only a guess — is that he might be running out of available cash. If the rumors of the criminal case are correct, he is going to need a significant amount of ready cash to fund what would be an expensive defense. Again, assuming the rumors are correct, to defend against the charges he could be facing you would need more than a “country lawyer” and a couple of “eye-witnesses.” Even if he were to have a substantial amount of money stocked off-shore, with a slew of federal agencies and a hyper-aggressive bankruptcy trustee keeping watch on him, it would likely be impossible for him to actually access and use that money. That is why I used the term “available” cash earlier in this paragraph. If — if — he has become aware that he is facing federal criminal prosecution, then he may have decided that his remaining assets would be better spent trying to fend off prison time.

A second angle that could tie his decision in the MN lawyer discipline case with a potential criminal prosecution is that he had provided only the minimum possible amount of detail in his answers to the OLPR petition (allegations.) One well known prosecution strategy in a criminal case is to lock the defendant into one version of events, and then once they can’t change anything, attack their story. If the referee would have ruled against Hansmeier and if he chose to continue the fight before the MN Supreme Court, he would have been forced to provide evidence, explanations, time lines, etc., etc. This would have had the additional effect of locking a future criminal defense attorney into one story, and probably not a very good story. (Note the same rationale applies to much of his bankruptcy case.)

The timing of the announcement of this settlement (“stipulation”) is worthy of the best political “spin-doctors.” If you want to bury a news-story, then announce it late on the Friday before a three-day weekend. If the goal was to slip this story “under the proverbial radar,” then it certainly succeeded. According to a web search on the evening of 07/02/2016, there is only one (1) news article that mentions these developments. Not surprisingly, it was written by Dan Browning. However, the story itself is a generic piece on MN lawyer discipline with only a few sentences added about Hansmeier. Determining why such spin-doctoring was desired a little more difficult. As mentioned, while the MN Supreme Court could impose a superficially tougher sanction such as disbarment, it could also theoretically let him off with just a reprimand. It is also true that if you are facing a criminal trial over the very things that led to this discipline, it is better for the jury to learn you were “suspended” as opposed to “disbarred.” Perhaps he and his attorney felt it is best not to let the anger he has generated from his MN ADA cases materialize before the MN Supreme Court.

 

Now on to the MN ADA Cases: If you think “Prenda” has been crazy so far, I have a hunch the resolution of the ADA cases will be a couple orders of magnitude more entertaining. I outlined a couple of the possible outcomes in the “What is next for Paul Hansmeier?” post. However, I don’t know enough about MN civil litigation to really predict what impact the recent “reform” legislation (HF 2955/SF 2584) will have, or how these ADA cases will end up.


As a summary, if you think Hansmeier is going soft, it is worth pointing out Dan Browning’s tweet that on the day before he filed this stipulation, he also filed 8 more “serial ADA” cases.

 

(Once again, it is important to point out that the MN Supreme Court has not yet made a decision on the discipline in his case, and his license is not yet suspended.)

Coverage

Updates

9/13/2016 (SJD)

Yesterday the Minnesota Supreme Court followed up the stipulation, indefinitely suspended Paul Hansmeier from the practice of law, effective 9/26/2016, with no right to petition for reinstatement for 4 years:

 


¹ The one allegation he did not admit was 135-L in the Supplemental Petition which stated that he paid himself $23,000 from the checking account of “Class Action Justice Institute LLC” between 12/3/2012 and 7/18/2013. The MN OLPR agreed to drop the allegation.

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Discussion

27 responses to ‘Prenda’s Hansmeier stipulates to suspension of his law license

  1. Never give up hope. As a personal aside I knew a highly respected PI attorney who was caught on tape bribing a judge. Both were immediately disbarred and the judge might have done some time. The attorney kept petitioning for reinstatement which was finally granted after over 20 years at age 75. He died at age 82.

    Keep your chin up Hans.

  2. I agree that there is some spin doctoring being done here. Most people and comapnies know that if you really want to bury a press release or bad results or to getunder the radar you do it late on a Friday and hope that there will be no noise because everyone is thinking about the weekend.

    Hans knows that with the US DOJ, FBI & IRS Criminal Division on his tail that he needs to be very careful in the statements he makes and his actions. I am sure when Hans thought filing for Bankruptcy it would be a quick in and out and he could stall and pay off his debts ( yeah right ) years down the road if at all.

    Hans I believe underestimated those he owes monies to in the way of judgments and sanction orders that were awarded against him , Steele and whatever law firms and entities etc and that those owed would pursue their claims not to mention the bankruptcy trustee checking everything with a fine tooth comb.

    Now I will admit I have not heard if Hans has settled the various claims that are alleged owed in his bankruptcy, the fact that he went to arbitration to see if those various claims could be settled with the trustee and any other outstanding issues could be resolved was indeed a surprising detail.

    Now we all know May said Hans had a ” come to Jesus moment ” in bankruptcy court, but I and I doubt most of you took that seriously, and Hans was fighting tooth and nail with the bankruptcy trustee over monies and debts etc etc, so why would he all of a sudden ask for an arbitration with the trustee when things had been acrimonious from the start between Hnas and the trustee?

    IMHO I believe that Hans follow the news happenings about himself, Steele and anything involving Prenda ( hello google alerts )and that when word got out about the FBI looking into Prenda and them contacting those who had dealings with Prenda Law over a lawsuit that Hans knew that if the Feds were really soliciting that kind of information from victims that there was storm clouds rolling in hard and fast and he needed shelter quick.

    I’m sure Hans was on edge some much when the Domino’s guy came flying up in his car and went jumping out in his blue jacket that Hans probably thought it was the FBI and had one leg of his pants on while trying to get to the back fence to scale over it for that getaway ( or this could be my over active imagination kicking in and this is the way it plays out in my mind ) I would bet that Hans was very very concerned when he caught wind the FBI was looking at him.

    There is no way Hans would want to have anymore depositions or have to give answers under oath in court in his bankruptcy case, as it stands EVERYTHING Hans and Browne have said in deposition and documents regarding funds, trusts, businesses ect is going to come back to bite them in the ass as I am sure the IRS will be very very interested in this as well when it comes to the movement of cash with penalties and taxes not paid.

    All of what Hans and Browne have done so far has been part of the court record and they cant be taking that back now, so Hans will be up against it. While Hans may well be trying to settle the bankruptcy issues and outstanding debts owed , I think this is going to be an uphill climb especially for someone who is claiming they have no money and little assets. So either Hans has cash and or assets hidden away or Hans doesn’t, or Hans has a family member loan or gift him the cash ~wink wink~ either way whether Hans settles or doesn’t he is going to have to come up with how the cash came about to make some or all of it go away in his BK settlements.

    Now if Hans is peeing his pants and Browne has packed his soap on a rope and anti fornicator underwear set with optional yellow ducks on them because they fear that the FBI is going to come and cart Hans away, then you can bet your ass that Steele is searching non extradition countries and hiding pennies like Grandma does to save to go to bingo.

    While the MN bar or whatever they call them self agreed to an indefinite ban with possible reinstatement after 4 years ( I guess they dont give them the chair for bad lawyers in MN…shucks! ) I am hoping that the MN Supreme Court will kindly reject this recommendation and boot Hans for this lifetime and any other lifes he may have.

    Now the fact that Hans is still filing ADA cases hardly sounds like contrition and Hans living up to the newly passed law that gives those sued a grace period to have the repairs done that they are initially being sued over. I believe that Hans will continue his trolling ways and use a new wet behind the ears lawyer or some other lawyer who is down on his luck.

    Some have said Browne could come in and pinch his but I dont see her wanting to ruin her reputation after all being marries to Paul and his notoriety would seem to be bad enough in my mind.Now I am not 100% sure on this fact but I was under the impression that even if you are disbarred , suspended , exiled, kicked in the groin and down on the ground crying like a little girl that you could still act as an agent in the lawsuits game but can not act as a lawyer, with that said Hans could hire a newly grad law student to act as the head while he pulls the strings in the background could he not?

    There is no way in hell Hans sits in the shadows and misses the opportunity to get sweet sweet easy settlement cash no matter how much of his blood is in the water with the sharks swimming around him, I doubt it is in Hans DNA to walk away from that addictive settlement money. We have a better chance of Jim Varney from the ” hey Vern , It’s Ernest” fame winning an Oscar before we will see Hans walk away from the settlement game.

    Steele and Hans will keep trying to accrue as much cash as they can before the jig is up. I swear if they show a raid on John Steele and the have a T.V. camera there John will be in the bathroom with the phone line going under the door leaned against the bathtub with the pick flamingo shower curtains, one leg stretched out trying to hold the door closed and phone in one hand receiver to his ear trying to swing a settlement with some poor Doe while the FBI agents are trying to boot the door down to arrest him…( yes yes I do have a very vivid imagination… thanks! )

    The Prenda boys wont stop, I dont think they could, I honestly seem Hans and Steele in the phone line in prison asking the cons waiting to use the phone if they would like to make some cash by letting them use their phone time to make some settlement calls…seriously.

    Now could Hans latest ” come to Jesus moment ” in regards to trying to settle the claims in Bankruptcy with the Trustee be related to the FBI snooping around. it could. Lord knows he couldn’t poor anymore gasoline on the fire that he already has with his answers he has given on paper and in depositions so far in his bankruptcy case. My opinion is that Hans is trying to stave off having the bankruptcy court say no go and this is all yours to deal with, if that Happens you know the creditors will go after Hans full bore and that would not be something that Hans will want as he wont have the protection he has no with his BK.

    One has to be of the belief that Hans is having more than a few sleepless nights like many of the Does have had and the small business owners is MN have had over the lawsuits, and now the worm has turned and it is Hans trying to fight the fires he has burning around him. Can’t say I have sympathy for him as I dont, karma can be a bitch.

    It will be interesting watching the vents unfold for Hans over the coming days, weeks and months, Steele too will be in the same boat. If the FBI come knocking I am sure that they already gave Brent Gibbs and deal and immunity for his help and testimony that may very well leave Paul and John finding there are no chairs for either of them when the music stops.

    • I also believe that Hans was expecting an in-and-out bankruptcy filing.

      He viewed the situation from his perspective. Prenda had a vast pool of targets. Most paid the quick settlement, because it was the least expensive path. If the target didn’t appear to have any money, or fought back in court, they quickly dropped the case. Not because it wouldn’t yield a return, just because there was easier money to be had with the next target.

      If you have that perspective of the world, that the court system is just a game, filing for bankruptcy and appealing every loss should quickly tire out your opponents.

      Fling for bankruptcy turned out to be a bad choice. But it’s likely that the real problem isn’t that Hansmeier is going to lose some of his cash, and live an less-luxurious lifestyle for a little bit. It’s that it will be much more difficult for him to access and spend any of the money he has stashed away.

      Or worse, that someone will be able to trace where the money went. What if the FBI isn’t just gathering victim statements. What if they are tracing where the payments went? They likely don’t have a definitive list of all of the local attorneys. Even if they did, those attorneys aren’t going to voluntarily turn over settlement information. So there may be a lot of legwork into tracing payments. And then figuring out how the money was transferred, and where.

      • Although the situations are radically different, the way this whole “Prenda” thing has played out reminds me of the way teenage criminals tend to think of things. That is, ‘what is my immediate problem, and how do I solve that immediate problem?’

        (Now for a bit of self help. The only moment you can control is the present. You can become paralyzed with anxiety over the future, or depression over the past. However, none of that really helps you, so you need to focus on ‘What do I need to do right now?’ But while excessive worry over future plans can paralyze you, complete disregard of consequences can cause you to end up dead, or a ward of the Attorney General.)

        You don’t have to be intimately familiar with Prenda to realize that there was little long-range planning. “A problem? The Judge might ask damaging questions? Don’t show up! How can I avoid complying with this order to disclose financial information? Declare bankruptcy! How do i slip through bankruptcy without paying anything? Sell the condo on the side!” Even if those decisions were incredibly stupid, they did solve the immediate problem at hand.

        If these guys stuck to “chasing ambulances” they would be far better off than they are today. Heck, the only reason we really pay attention to these guys is that they were so utterly incompetent at their scams. As I believe ‘SJD’ has pointed out, there are far more dangerous trolls floating around out there, and they are perfectly happy to let “Prenda” and the like get all the publicity.

        There has been an obvious change in litigation strategy from Hansmeier over the last month or two. People who don’t care about consequences rarely change overnight. Perhaps the birth of a child has caused him to change perspective, but I doubt it. Perhaps Padraigin Browne has suddenly decided to take charge. Or perhaps, they are facing something so frightening that they are finally forced to listen to professional advice and actually ACT ON IT. (Barbara May wasn’t able to get them to do that.)

        • Well the easy money is what got Steele and Hans hooked on the trolling for settlement scheme, and I believe at first they were amazed at how having many Does in one filing and then figuring they would at least obtain a certain percentage of their total filing that would pay up to avoid legal fees and avoid being tied to a porn downloading lawsuit was just easy money for them.

          Steele and Hans though seeing all the cash they made just plain got greedy and didn’t like having to give up that percentage to some porn company that they more than likely felt the porn co’s didn’t earn it and they devised a scheme to cut them out of the equation.

          A s the Prenda gang scheme went on and on with no serious challenges, the greed and laziness is what started their downfall, spend less make more seemed to be the motto, that and the fact that the entities and the people that had connections to Prenda and the entities started to appear after some of the anti troll folks started doing some research on those very facts, and after that…. well we all know how that went for them ( my personal favorite is Steele and Lutz in the Sunlust case in Florida and the Judge question Lutz and then John trying to whisper answers to a faltering Lutz and then the Judge noticing what John was doing and questioning why he was there… hilarity ensued from there)

          As for Hans and Steele doing ADA cases I am not surprised that they found some people to be their service group who would be the plaintiffs and then sued all these businesses up and down MN and to an extent in IL and once again all in the name of the settlement game. While Steele has been filing but mostly under the radar Hans on the other hand has been filing his more than enough to annoy small business people and of course the media in MN has picked up on this and ran it.

          Even after the media picked up on Hans proliferate lawsuit filing of ADA cases Hans still didn’t slow it down or wait till the heat died down, no it would almost appear he doubled down. Now one has to wonder if that is Ego or desperation? If you ask me both. I do believe that Hans thought the publicity of his filing ADA would scare more people to settle rather than fight and thus he’d be able to rake in more cash.

          Hans though I believe mis-read how angry people and small business owners were and how they were taking their pleas to local chamber of commerce groups and various city and state officials about how these lawsuits were about getting cash not fixing the alleged differences under the ADA act and that was a major mistake on Hans part, enough of one that the state legislators stepped in and brought changes into law regarding ADA suits and notification and time to fix the deficiencies alleged.

          Of course most of hear how enraged Hans was about that publicly about the changes to the ADA statute as I am sure it put a dent in his income from these suits. What is most fascinating to me is how the gravitation to the next way to obtain easy money is so hard for the Prenda gang to resist, I mean we had the Porn troll lawsuits, the class action objector payment scheme, now the ADA lawsuit settlements. It is painfully obvious how addictive getting that easy money with boilerplate lawsuits is hard to walk away from.

          It takes some audacity to know your career is under the microscope by Does and their attorneys, the anti troll community, Judges, state bars, the US DOJ, The IRS but yet you continue on in the same manner all in the chase of the mighty dollar. That takes some balls, no brains but lots of balls.

          Paul thought his bankruptcy would be a quick in and out, and I believe he thought he could sell the BK court judge on his ” 100% full funded plan ” ( even though the more May talked about it, there is no way in hell the numbers added up to a ” fully funded plan ” far from it in my estimation… and I doubt Paul would have lived up to the commitments to pay anyways… hasnt done it were sanctions are concerned..so why would he start now ) ( my opinion of course )

          I agree with you assessment that something shook the ground under Paul’s feet that made him change tactics, what exactly did it, we will probably never know. Maybe Browne mentioned she didnt want to be bringing their child to the pen for weekly visits, maybe it was the heat from the FBI and IRS. Could it have been the pit bull trustee in his BK using Pual and Browne’s own statements in discovery and their filings against them perhaps.

          I will say I was shocked that Paul went into mediation with the trustee to resolve the issues of his bankruptcy, something clearly scared the shit out of him and Browne, maybe it was the fact that Browne too was getting caught up in the mess that Pauls BK was creating and she didnt not or her parents did not want him taking her with her when he goes down for the count.

          I am of the opinion that Paul had thought he had outsmarted his creditors by filing for BK leaving them unable to get paid and thinking he could pay pennies on the dollar amounts owed and they would have to take it or leave it, and then paul could either plead poverty and inability to pay down the line or emerge clean after paying trivial amounts and just go on his merry way, and that he really outsmarted himself, or rather maybe the creditors knew this was a probability but would put Hans in a corner and just let it happen

          What we have been seeing is that there is no quit in Paul and John, they do not desire to change their methods of how they make a living, they are still of the belief that they are smarter than anyone else, and they still scheme to avoid paying their debts. Until John and Hans are behind bars, I dont think they will change at all.

          There was some new entity that was coming up in the newer ADA lawsuits in MN that were being filed that most believe was connect to Hans with the same plaintiffs I believe. Paul would have picked up on the reports that their was interest by the authorities in hearing from Prenda victims about their encounters with John, Paul and Duffy and a looming FBI investigation. Even with all that Hans was still filing ADA suits now that he has stipulated to be suspended from his law licensce and even when it becomes official, I dont think he will stop, just use someone else as a front man and keep on trolling and if the DA jig is up, research some other scheme to use for settlement lawsuits.

          It will be interesting what happens with Paul as time goes on, I would bet that Steele is shitting bricks but will be revising his course of action based on whats transpired with Paul. It will be interesting to see what the end result will be n all this for John and Paul

  3. This little fun and games reads like Hans trying (again) to take care of numero uno.

    What I can’t figure out is, whether he’s playing the bankruptcy situation off against the OLPR, or whether it’s something akin to a multiple personality disorder – one persona isn’t aware of what the other is doing or has done.

    So, three questions.

    Is this his attempt to play “look what a good boy I’ve been”, or is it his attempt to play “woe is me”?

    Who is the intended audience?

    What is his end-game?

  4. It may be that Hans is getting ready to cooperate with the FBI and is clearing the decks for that. Any cooperation agreement would probably require him to disclose where the money went. He may not know where his accomplices hid their loot.

    One can only hope.

    • While Hans may not know what or where Steele’s cash went, I would be of the opinion they both would have had ideas about where to “park” their money. There was an article a ways back that John was boasting the millions they have made from the porn trolling operations, I believe it was around 8 or 15 million or something like that was what the quote was.

      Now do I believe everything that comes from John? hell no, but if you recall Gibbs produced some docs that said in that one calendar year the Prenda gang made over a million dollars and then there was a further breakdown of how much went to Steele, Hansmeier and Duffy and what not.

      Now the Prenda gang’s porn trolling operation was well into things way before that info Gibbs provided came out, so one would have to think they have some cash tucked away some where if their pornt trolling was doing that well beforehand. If that is the case that they have money tucked away, I dont think Hans or Steele are going to admit it even if they have to do a nickel in the joint because they would still have their tucked away cash to use one day.

      I agree that Hans would give up any cash the Feds know about, but anything they dont know about, I dont think he would fess up about if the way his BK has gone with depositions and the answers in his initial filing is any foresight into how it could go.

      What I would like to see is neither of them get a deal and they both go to the clink for a long while, if there real is a deal for one to testify against the other in the mix it ought to be interesting to see who sells out who first.

      • Steele and Hansmeier studied and worked together for many years.

        They studied and kept up-to-date on foreign trusts to hide money and corporate control. We know this from both the way they used the unique and obscure Nevis ‘undefined beneficiary trust’ and from the various expensive ‘sketchy foreign trust and money laundering’ newsletters they paid for.

        They many all of the well-known ‘judgement proof’ things, like owning houses in “homestead” states such as Florida and operating a business out of Nevada.

        Given their history and specialized knowledge, It seems extremely unlikely that they wouldn’t have stashed much of their money overseas. Of course it wouldn’t all be there. Part of keeping hidden money secret is that you want any specific purchase or payment to have plausibly come from a legitimate account. Like making a big cash withdraw so that any specific shoebox full of money used to pay for something could be claimed as coming from that withdraw. But the bulk of their money could still be stashed away.

        • The issue is not if they have money stashed away overseas, but rather that if they have done so, it will be incredibly difficult to actually use any of it. Remember, Hansmeier has an aggressive bankruptcy trustee watching over him like a hawk, several attorneys representing clients who have judgments against him, and likely several federal agencies that are preparing for a criminal prosecution.

          The face that he declared bankruptcy is a huge mistake, since it created the legal obligation for him to disclose all of his assets. So if any additional money pops up anywhere, he has set himself up for another indictment. If he attempts to access any money he has hidden away, he will increase his legal problems by an order of magnitude. First off, it would be evidence of bankruptcy fraud. Not to mention a number of cases of perjury and filing falsified documents, not to mention the possibility of more generic money laundering and other financial crimes. If all of a sudden, he or Browne tries to deposit cash into any account linked to him, there would be hordes of attorneys and agents demanding to know where it came from and again, it would be “prima facie” evidence of bankruptcy fraud. The same thing if he tries to pay any expense from a previously unknown source of funds.

          Once again, the fact that he declared bankruptcy puts him in a situation that is very different from just about any other person. If I claim to have $100K in a shoe-box, the government has the burden of proving that it was obtained illegally. For Hansmeier, the mere existence of any assets not declared as part of the bankruptcy is automatically a crime. He very well may have lots of money hidden in “overseas accounts”, but any action at all he takes to access it will become another crime. Bankruptcy was a very stupid thing for him to do.

        • Dr. Vandalia–what is the statute of limitations on bankruptcy fraud? I could live like a pauper for seven years, if I knew I could bring in 5 mil at the end.

          Plus, what’s to prevent him from operating an all-cash basis? He might have access under “Freshwater Marsh” to half a mil, but withdraws it five kay at a time, in cash, and uses that for groceries. Unless the other side is following him around, how are they going to know? (Assumed: he has been able to get false papers for ID, etc.)

  5. I think Hans defense counsel convinced him there was no point in trying to keep his law license, and to conserve energy and resources for the TLAs(3-letter agencies). I mean, whenever did a missing bar admission bother Prenda?

    So he has sAcrificed a pawn to protect himself. We shall see what he cynically expects in return.

    • I don’t think there has been any discussion with a federal prosecutor with regards to a plea bargain for Hansmeier. Yet.

      A plea bargain is old-fashioned “horse trading.” The more things that you have to give up, the better deal you get from the government. In these types of cases, the prosecutor generally wants the defendant to give up any license (medical, law, stock broker), and/or resign from public office and promise to never seek office again if applicable.

      Therefore, it was probably not in Hansmeier’s interest to effectively surrender his “law license” if he had any choice in the matter. In an ideal world, his criminal defense attorney (if he has one) would probably have preferred that he had an unencumbered “law license” so that he could give it up as part of the plea negotiations. (Not that it would likely return much, since it is basically automatically forfeit with this type of felony conviction anyway.)

      But as I mentioned, there are likely several things that tied his hands. First, spending a lot of money for something with little chance of success probably wasn’t a good idea. Second, a decision from the referee was likely coming sometime in July so he could not put this off forever. Finally, along those lines, if the referee found against him, to continue the fight to the MN Supreme Court he would have had to provide actual evidence to contradict the OLPR case. That would have telegraphed his overall defense strategy and would have tied his hands in the criminal prosecution.

      (If Ken White from Popehat ever reads this I would love to hear his thoughts on this aspect.)

      • In my opinion, I think if anyone got a plea deal it would be Gibbs. Remember Gibbs is the one who let the cat out of the bag about how much money went to Paul and John and the pittance Duffy got from the trolling operation that one year, and of course we also got to hear about Under The Bridge Consulting.

        Gibbs would be in a perfect position to get a plea deal and avoid any jail time, remember that Paul and John tried to get Gibbs to take the rap for what went on and wrong. Gibbs knowledge of how the settlement scheme worked, who and how the inner workings went on while he was there etc would be some damning evidence and testimony for John and Hans to overcome.

        While Gibbs was part of the operation, it is really John and Paul that the Feds and IRS would want. I’m sure Paul and John still regret trying to throw Gibbs under the bus. I honestly dont believe there will be a deal for John and Paul… not like the one Gibbs would receive and honestly I hope that there is not one to be had for John and Paul either.

  6. He’s clearing the plate and going to rat out the accomplices with protection from the Feds as a witness. Happens all the time.

    He has boatloads of money hidden, and letting everything collapse now and liquidating is prudent. Turning state’s witness outlining the whole machine to secure other convictions and a potentially lighter sentence for himself is the best he can do. When he’s released in 24 months, he’ll leave the US, denounce his citizenship, and live in a warm country slowly withdrawing the proceeds from his efforts.

    He’s in a bind and this is the easiest way out without surrendering the nest egg.

    • That only works if you can give the feds someone they want to nail more than you.

      There is no one the federal government wants more than Hansmeier right now. (That is very good for John Steele.) They really don’t care that much about the copyright-trolling. However, he has upset A LOT of people with the ADA stuff, and the entire MN legal community wants him “hanged, drawn and quartered.” He has created such a groundswell of outrage that people are seriously talking about tort reform, and when you start messing with lawyer’s livelihoods, sentences with letters instead of numbers start to come into play.

  7. As predicted by the author, Hansmeier’s wife will assume the command of the ADA trolling (not the control though: it looks like Paul’s role won’t change, it will only become clandestine):

    So who will litigate those claims when Hansmeier loses his license?

    “Someone is taking over my practice so they’ll be substituting in on virtually all my cases. I plan to remain active in the area of disability rights enforcement but just not in a legal capacity,” Hansmeier told Minnesota Lawyer.

    The website for Hansmeier’s firm, Class Justice, PLLC, was down this week. However, the firm’s phone tree now includes a listing for attorney Padraigin Browne, Hansmeier’s wife. Does that mean she be taking over his cases?

    Hansmeier declined to answer that question directly, saying only: “I’m going to allow the attorney to make their own announcement when they want to. I’m not going to steal their thunder.”

    Minnesota Lawyer: Appeals Court delivers rare win for Hansmeier

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