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(506) 2223-1327       Published Monday, March 30, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 62      E-mail us
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Judges are above the law, Sala IV seems to decide
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The judge won.  He said his decisions were not open to question.  The Sala IV of Costa Rica agreed.  A judge can make whatever decision he or she wants in a case, and it is not up for discussion.   The office of judicial inspections were told not to question the decisions — even in cases where there may be obvious bribery or fraud.

The Sala IV said that a judge's decision could be overturned by a superior court but could not be voided by anyone other than him or herself.  The decision would seem to reject any oversight of judicial decisions.

The Sala IV ordered the judicial inspection department of the court to reinstate a judge who made a suspicious decision and pay all his back wages because the office suspended him wrongly.  The inspectors questioned one of his decisions and suspended the judge because investigators felt there was some monkey business going on concerning a civil collection case.

Costa Rican law is based on Roman not Anglo law.  Roman law is based on rules, and Anglican law is based on jurisprudence.   Rules are written down in laws, and their interpretations are left up to judges.  Their rendition is their business, no one else's, according to the highest court in the country.

Here is the story:

In a case where an asset was given as a guarantee, the creditor asked for the asset to be put into the hands of a court-appointed trustee, as is a creditor's right in Costa Rica, until a collection case was settled.   A judge, not the main player here, said no to the request.

The creditor appealed the judge's decision to a higher court.  Superior courts are usually made up of three judges in Costa Rica, and they are referred to as a tribunal court.  The appeal process took more than a year to resolve, but the creditor won.  The higher court ordered the lower court in very stern language to put the court-appointed trustee in possession of the asset to protect the creditor. 

Now here is where things get interesting.  The creditor contacted the trustee, and they went to the court on a Friday to get the pickup order for the asset.  They got the run around from the court clerks, but the clerks finally prepared the order for the judge to sign.  As it turned out, the same judge who said no the first time and whose decision was overturned by the superior court was in charge that day.

Amazingly, the judge had some emergency come up and had to leave the court building.   None of his assistants told the creditor or the trustee that the judge had left until the court was going to close.  The creditor and the trustee had waited all day for the order.   A clerk finally told them they had to come back Monday and the judge would sign the document.

Was the judge there on Monday?  No.  It just so happens he went on vacation and a substitute judge was in his place.   After a bit of pushing, they finally convinced one of the assistants to let them speak with the replacement judge.  The creditor and the trustee explained the whole case to the man so he would sign what was already prepared Friday, the pickup order for the asset.  After the judge listened to the story with little interest, they were told to wait outside.
judge is always right

Lo and behold, the debtors were sitting in the chairs outside the judge's office waiting to see what was going to happen too.

Expats with any time in Costa Rican can probably guess what happened.  The replacement judge said he would not sign the order as it was written.  He called in the assistant — the same one who prepared the order on Friday — and told the assistant to redo the order to say exactly opposite what the creditor and the trustee sought.

The creditor with nowhere else to go filed a complaint with the court's judicial inspection office.  They took the case immediately and went to the court in question to investigate.  The original analysis said the investigators felt the judge's decision was wrong and went directly against the order from the higher court.   After further probing, they suspended the substitute judge.  He immediately filed an amparo, which is a special injunction for relief and stay, with the Sala IV based on his position that a judge's decision cannot be questioned in Costa Rica.   

The results are in.  The creditor, trustee and the judicial inspections office lost.  The judge won.  The Sala IV very clearly agreed with him.  Decisions by judges, no matter how weird, wrong, or suspicious, cannot be scrutinized by anyone, including — and they were reprimanded strongly by the Sala IV for over stepping their bounds — the judicial inspections office.

The Sala IV, in it decree, told the inspectors' office that to investigate a judge they had to investigate his or her performance in the execution of their duties — like do they show up for work on time — but not to meddle with their application of the law.

Three lawyers who have seen this recent decision were flabbergasted over the Sala IV's ruling.  They feel it makes it that much easier for judges in this country to be swayed in their judgment, especially if they cannot be held liable for a decision that is even very suspicious.

Garland M. Baker is a 36-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2004-2008, use without permission prohibited.

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Legislators will get chance
to void maritime zone law

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Several lawmakers are considering a measure that would allow some 35,000 persons to continue to live in the country's maritime zone. They also have asked President Óscar Arias Sánchez to halt evictions and demolitions in the zone.

The measure, if passed, would overturn the 1970 maritime zone law in favor of long-time residents of the strip, which is the first 200 meters of land above high tide on both the Caribbean and Pacific. The zone also includes some river frontage.

José Merino del Río of Frente Amplio is among those proposing the legislation. He said that it will be presented in the session of the legislature that begins May 1. Merino said that the proposal would help dozens of residents of the provinces of Limón, Guanacaste and Puntarenas to continue living in the strip and exploiting its resources for their subsistence.

He means mostly fishermen and those who would be involved in the management of turtle eggs under the direction of universities. The text of the bill will cite more than 30 population centers that are affected by the maritime zone law.

Residents of Cahuita recently suffered a setback when the Sala IV constitutional court invalidated a law that would have given long-time residents there rights to property that falls within the maritime zone.

Under the 1970 law, the maritime zone consists of two parts. The first 50 meters above mean high time is the public zone and very few uses are permitted here. The remaining 150 meters cannot be sold but can be offered as concessions by the municipality to homeowners, business people and tourism operators. Getting a concession is complex.

The distance of 200 meters is 656 feet, which includes a good part of most beach properties. Many homes have been constructed in the maritime zone, but most do not have paperwork showing they predate the law. Even then homeowners have to go to court to establish ownership in the maritime zone, and decisions in favor of citizens are rare.
There have been high-profile demolitions in Quepos and Playas del Coco.

Mexico wins game, 2-0,
but some TVs lose signal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Mexican national soccer team scored two goals, one on a penalty kick, Saturday to defeat Costa Rica.

Some fans were saved the anguish of watching the gory details when Amnet's cable television network failed about a half hour into the game. The company said Sunday the problem was in a fiber optic cable, but they were not clear on how much of the network was affected. Internet service was halted for about six hours, too.

In other World Cup qualifying games, the U.S. team tied with El Salvador and Trinidad and Honduras also tied. Costa Rica now is in third place behind México and the United States.

Teams again play Wednesday with El Salvador traveling to Costa Rica for an 8 p.m. start. Trinidad and Tobago will be in Nashville, Tennessee, to meet the U.S. team, and Honduras will play México at home.

Mexico ended its four-game winless streak when it got goals from Omar Bravo and Pavel Pardo. The victory before a crowd of about 100,000 at Estadio Azteca was only Mexico’s third in its last nine games.  The result also ended Costa Rica’s eight-game winning streak in qualifying and was its first loss in nine games since qualifying began.

Commercial fishing dock
is getting a makeover

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Commercial fishermen will have a remodeled state terminal in Barrio El Carmen, Puntarenas Centro, in a few months as a 30 millon-colon makeover is completed. That's about $53,000. The job is being done by the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura.

Commercial fishermen are supposed to unload their catch at state docks, but many do not because the facility has fallen into disrepair.  This is critical in the case of shark finning. Shark fishermen are supposed to leave the fin attached to the fish to improve identification, but many do not. In fact, some have private docks that operate contrary to the law.

Radio frequency concessions
have to be reregistered

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Businesses and individuals with radio frequency concessions are supposed to register that fact with the new Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones by April 27.

Officials estimate that there are about 6,300 entities using frequencies. The executive branch has been awarding these frequencies, but under the new telecommunication law, the Superintendencia is in charge of controlling the electromagnetic spectrum.

The frequencies will be classified as commercial, non-commercial, including experimental, amateur radio and similar, law enforcement, emergency agencies and other uses.

Freedom House condemns
U.N. OK of religious shield

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Washington, D.C.,-based Freedom House has condemned the U.N. Human Rights Council for undermining the universal right to freedom of expression by once again passing a resolution that urges members to adopt laws outlawing criticism of religions.

The defamation of religions resolution, introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for the Islamic Conference, passed last week, 23-11, with 13 abstentions. Muslim nations have been introducing similar resolutions since 1999, arguing that Islam — the only religion specifically cited in the text — must be shielded from unfair associations with terrorism and human rights abuses.

"These countries are using the U.N. to expand and bring legitimacy to their frontal assault on freedom of expression," said Paula Schriefer, Freedom House advocacy director. "This assault starts at the level of domestic blasphemy laws present in many . . . countries, which are routinely employed to harass and imprison religious minorities, political dissenters and human rights advocates, and is elevated to the international level through resolutions at the U.N."

Freedom House said it was disappointed that South Africa, a liberal democracy whose citizens' have a deep understanding of how such laws are used to punish dissenters, continues to back these resolutions. Similarly, strong democracies such as South Korea, Japan, India, Mexico and Brazil should have actively worked to defeat the resolution, instead of casting abstention votes, Freedom House said..

In contrast, Freedom House applauded the leadership shown by Chile in rejecting the resolution.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 62

Craig Snell, expat in Ostional, has been missing for 40 days
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Craig Snell left his computer on when he left his home in Ostional. He also left his wallet,  passport and credit cards
Craig Snell
Craig Snell
within the dwelling.

He left his dog and did not provide any extra food.

That was 40 days ago, and he has not been seen during that time.

His son and friends are trying to find out what happened to the former Key West, Florida, resident. But it does not look good. They arrived at the home 15 days after Snell vanished to find the computer on and the personal effects there.

His son, Aaron, has reported the disappearance to the Judicial Investigating Organization. He
and a friend, Rob Delaune, have contacted the U.S. Embassy. Neither agency has contacted A.M. Costa Rica.

The son and the friend have broadcast his name on the Internet via various discussion lists. But they are no closer to solving the mystery.

According to Delaune, the last reliable report was of Snell being seen about 8 a.m. Feb. 18 walking south along the beach from Ostional toward the Boca Nosara.  Three independent witnesses placed him there at that date and time, and all three agree about his dress, shorts and t-shirt, and the fact that he was empty-handed and not carrying a backpack or similar item, he said.
Although he was a surfer despite being in his 50s, his surf board was found in his home. His vehicle, a motorcycle, was there, too, said Delaune.

The usual reasons for expats vanishing in Costa Rica do not seem to be operating here. Snell did not have a regular girlfriend, and when he dated it was within the expat community, according to his friend. He was reported to drink alcohol but not to use drugs.

Typically tourists get in trouble when they follow someone for a purported drug buy. That happened in Tamarindo with Australian Brendan Dobbins in March 2005. He was last seen following someone down the beach. The 24-year-old man's skull was found sometime later.

Snell has spent five years in Ostional living in a home in the center of the community. He was described as well liked. The town is on the far Pacific coast.

One resident had a 2 p.m. appointment with Snell on the day he vanished. Snell was to repair the surfboard of the man's son. The man found the Snell home locked, as it was several other times he visited.

Snell has a mother and sister living in Panama City, Florida, and another son in Key West. He was divorced 15 years ago, said Delaune.

The Santa Cruz office (2680-2280) of the Judicial Investigating Organization is in charge of the case.

Not every missing person is found here. An elderly U.S. citizen, a tourist, disappeared Nov. 18, 2001. The man, Leo Widicker, 86, walked away from the Tabacon Resort west of La Fortuna de San Carlos.

He has never turned up despite intensive searches.

Push to find stolen 320 kilos of cocaine has no success
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anxious investigators are following up leads in the southern zone with surprise raids on the homes of suspects in the wake of a robbery of 320 kilos of cocaine.

Tactical squad members made two such raids Sunday morning but failed to find any drugs.  They did encounter what they thought were stolen items. No arrests were made.

Police and investigators have spent the weekend maintaining roadblocks, mainly those on routes south. They fear that the stolen drugs will be shipped to Panamá. There also is a chance the drugs are headed north, following the route usually taken by illicit cargo on the way to the United States.

The drugs, found in an Ecuadorian open boat Monday,   were in the custody of the Poder Judicial in Golfito when
at least five armed men invaded the courts building and took the packages of drugs early Thursday. The two guards were overpowered by the better armed robbers, they told investigators.

The embarrassing robbery has brought the heads of agencies to the southern zone. Jorge Rojas of the Judicial Investigating Organization has been there for several days directing the probe. Francisco Dall'Anese, the nation's chief prosecutor, showed up Sunday to explain that the drugs were in not in the custody of the local prosecutor, the fiscal, but in the custody of the Poder Judicial. That is a small point, but it lets his department off the hook.

Investigators wonder why the drugs were not shipped to San José by air immediately, as is the custom. The drugs were to be shipped out Thursday morning. The 704 pounds of cocaine were hidden in the hull of the Ecuadorian boat, and it took drug dogs to lead police to the stash Monday.

Biden will meet with Arias and other heads of state today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Costa Rica shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday and took his Cadillac limo imported from the United States to the swank Marriott Hotel in Belén from Jaun Santamaría airport.

Biden will meet with President Óscar Arias Sánchez today as well as with other presidents of Central American states.

Biden, 66, who spent 29 years in the U.S. Senate, was accompanied on Air Force 2 by his wife, Jill. She has a doctorate in education and is expected to visit schools while here.

The vice presidential party arrived under tight security provided by Costa Rica officials and many U.S. government employees. U.S. security officials have been particularly tense overseas since Sept. 11, 2001.

In an essay published in 11 Latin American newspapers
Friday Biden said that he represents a new day for partnerships in the Americas.

The opinion piece coinciding with Biden's arrival in Chile for meetings with Latin American leaders.

The gatherings in Chile and Costa Rica are designed to discuss common interests and challenges ahead of a Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago next month.

Biden said nations are interconnected and have a duty to work together. He called for partnerships to help solve the global economic crisis, fight illegal drug and weapons smuggling, battle climate change and promote democracy.

Costa Rican traffic officials will be closing the Autopista General Cañas and the Circunvalación highway south of town to make way for motorcades as the various heads of state and Biden travel to Casa Presidencial.

Although some expats wanted to meet with Biden to discuss local problems, it is unlikely that they will be able to do so.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 62

In the age of the Internet, can the free press still do its job?
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

For a newsperson, there are few joys in life more fulfilling than to watch a giant urban print press crank up to send freshly written words and ideas to hundreds of thousands of persons.

The machines roar and the floor shakes as if a post-World War II locomotive has just arrived at the station. Not the dinky, energy efficient locomotives of today, but the coal eating, steam snorting monsters that used to ply the rails.

Pressmen always are stained with ink as they race through the maze of press units to adjust ink flow here, impression there. The newspaper arrives assembled at the cutter that chops off individual copies. Then a conveyor takes them to the inappropriately named mail room where they are counted, packaged, tied and pushed to waiting trucks.

Then there is the feeling of power for an editor as he appears in the pressroom doorway and pulls his index finger across his throat, signaling press workers that a major news development has taken place. The bells ring, the lights flash and the press crew moans, knowing there will not be an early quit tonight. Sometimes the editor signals for a slow run, and the press is put in first gear waiting for a replated page with new information.

Or maybe the managing editor has found an inadvertent obscenity in a news story or ad.

The final product, moved by a complex transport system, smells of ink and newsprint as it lands on the doorstep. Soy-based ink improves the smell. Add a cup of morning coffee, and the result is a smörgåsbord for the senses.

Fewer and fewer presses are running today. Newsprint consumption is down double digits. Newsprint at $650 to $850 a metric ton is just too expensive. Even major national newspapers like The Christian Science Monitor are turning to the Internet, which sidesteps the press, the mail room and the distribution trucks to carry information at the speed of light.

Advertisers, too, are finding that investing 60 to 75 percent of their dollars in newsprint is wasteful.

A number of traditional U.S. newspapers have gone out of business. Others are in financial trouble. Newsprint is not the cause, but it is a financial consideration.

In Denver, former staffers at The Rocky Mountain News, killed by its corporate owner last month, have started an online edition to compete with the exiting Denver Post.

At the Tucson Citizen in Arizona, corporate owner Gannett Co. Inc., has invited potential buyers of newspapers to visit the newsroom and interview employees this week. 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer also has shifted to Internet-only publication, leaving The Seattle Times as the only print daily in the State of Washington city.

Curiously, all these newspapers had something in common. They all were involved in a joint operating agreement with their rivals. This type of agreement was authorized by the 1970 Newspaper Preservation Act. Basically it allowed newspapers to merge all but the news department, an act that normally would be prohibited by anti-monopoly laws.

The history of the Newspaper Preservation Act is littered with the bones of dead newspapers. At least 18 newspapers, including the Rocky Mountain News, have either folded or merged with a rival after having been involved in a joint operating agreement. Corporate publishers found out they could make a side deal and profit more by killing one newspaper to give the existing newspaper a monopoly in its geographical area.

So the 1970 idea of preserving a second voice in a community really has resulted in the elimination of that newspaper voice. Never mind the U.S. Constitutional restriction against Congress making a law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . " No judge has had the courage to brand the Newspaper Preservation Act as unconstitutional, and the matter never has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The legal problem is less pressing now that Internet commentary can appear. At this point the Internet seems to be in the same state as U.S. newspapers at the beginning of the Republic. There is no clear way an online publication can make money, and many great thinkers are opposed to going into the streets to solicit ads. So many of the current Internet offerings are like the party press of the early and mid-1800s where major funding comes from those who hold a political point of view.

The liberal Huffington Post is one such publication.

The well-known Huffington Post has the visibility to attract funds. Sunday it said it was starting an investigative unit with an $8.5 million foundation donation. Other Internet efforts are not so lucky, and not many have strong advertising support.

The scarcity of funds is a result of the overwhelming number of Internet sites that confound advertisers and the lack of an Internet advertising tradition. Google and AdBrite are pioneering advertising on random sites with mixed results.  Google is plagued by false clicks on its pay-by-click ads.

There even are job offers on the Internet for homeworkers to spend their days clicking on Google ads, causing an unnecessary expense to advertisers and illegal profits to publishers. It's called click fraud.

A most startling response to the Internet economic situation comes from a University of Illinois professor, Robert W. McChesney, and John Nichols, The Nation magazine's Washington correspondent.  In a March 18
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A major metro newspaper press in action

article in The Nation, the pair suggested a national tax credit for reading a newspaper:

"Let's give all Americans an annual tax credit for the first $200 they spend on daily newspapers. The newspapers would have to publish at least five times per week and maintain a substantial 'news hole,' say at least 24 broad pages each day, with less than 50 percent advertising. In effect, this means the government will pay for every citizen who so desires to get a free daily newspaper subscription, but the taxpayer gets to pick the newspaper — this is an indirect subsidy, because the government does not control who gets the money. This will buy time for our old media newsrooms — and for us citizens — to develop a plan to establish journalism in the digital era. We could see this evolving into a system to provide tax credits for online subscriptions as well."

They also want elimination of postal rates for some publications.

The pair's approach, of course would put the governments camel nose into the publisher's tent.  In the short run this is attractive to small publishers, even those at The Nation. In the long run, the result is government stipulations and control.

An even stranger proposal has come from Benjamin Cardin, a U.S. senator from Maryland. He wants newspapers to be able to operate as non-profits and pay no taxes on advertising and subscription income. This is another plan to preserve local newspapers, he thinks.

Costa Rica almost certainly will see a contraction of print-based newspapers. Publishers are in a spiral. The Tico Times, for example, seeks 600 colons, more than one U.S. dollar, for its Friday publication.

El Heraldo saw the writing on the wall several years ago when it switched to Internet publication by subscription.

Typically, however, Internet users are not anxious to purchase online subscriptions except for major operations like The Wall Street Journal.

The Internet certainly has expanded knowledge, even local knowledge.  Beach residents can follow the Broncos or the Nuggets via the Denver newspapers with just a click. Readers from more than 90 countries sign on to A.M. Costa Rica every day to find out about this country.

No matter where an Internet user is, he or she can be somewhere else electronically. That is why China, Cuba and other countries restrict access. Ideas, too, can travel at the speed of light.

And ideas are most dangerous.

Equally dangerous is the duty of newspaper to keep an eye on politicians. This clearly is the reason for including the press in the Bill of Rights along with freedom of speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has amplified this concept over the years so that a citizen or a newspaper can say what he, she or it wishes about a politician.

Many readers believe incorrectly that newspapers only recently became harsh critics of politicians. The early newspapers were more critical than even the most one-sided blog of today. Publishers and politicians participated in duels because of the level of discourse in the late 1800s. But the advent of libel litigation chilled newspaper comments.

Although many newspeople knew that Jack Kennedy was frolicking with starlets in the White House swimming pool when Jackie was away, none would say so for fear of legal action. They knew it, but they could not prove the facts to a standard appropriate for court presentation or publication.

Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision, changed all that and said that a public official would have to prove that a reporter knew something was false but wrote the lie anyway before he or she could be the loser in a civil case. (In Costa Rica defamation laws still are criminal.)

Consequently Matt Druge could speculate on the relationship of a female intern with president Bill Clinton without having solid proof. Now harsh, even unfair commentary is accepted as part of political life. Subsequent Supreme Court cases broadened this standard to public figures.

The question that remains in the air is: Will Internet reporting have the same effects on political corruption and misdeeds as the current paper product? On such a question democracy hangs.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 62

A.M. Costa Rica

users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.


A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

California fraudster sought
fake passport for his escape

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An Orange County, California, man has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges related to a long-running ponzi scheme in which he collected more than $15 million from investors with bogus promises of annual returns as high as 18 percent.

The man, John Anthony Miller, 51, of San Clemente, pleaded guilty Friday to mail fraud in relation to the ponzi scheme, as well as bribery, passport fraud and identity fraud charges resulting from his attempt to procure a fraudulent passport and flee the country after his scheme collapsed.

From 2000 through last November, Miller operated a ponzi scheme through his Newport Beach-based investment companies, JAM Jr. Enterprises and Forte Financial Partners. Miller promised investors guaranteed annual returns of between 10 percent and 18 percent per year, telling investors that their money would be invested in foreign currency trading, oil wells, real estate and other vehicles. Miller had never earned any real profits from his investment activity and, in the pattern of a typical ponzi scheme, used money from some investors to make payments to other investors.

Over the course of his scheme, Miller defrauded more than 200 people out of more than $15 million, taking millions of dollars that his victims has initially invested in IRA retirement savings accounts.

The mail fraud charge is the result of a Sept. 26 letter that Miller sent to investors in which he falsely stated that investments made with him were performing well despite the economic downturn, and that his companies had more than $150 million in assets and only approximately $30 million in liabilities. In reality, at that point Miller and his investment companies were nearly out of money.

Miller was taken into custody in November as he was preparing to leave the United States. The month before, Miller told a former associate that he wanted to obtain a fraudulent U. S. passport under a false name that he could use to flee the country. Miller and the former associate discussed the countries that they thought would be best to flee to.

Nov. 12, during a meeting at the Federal Building in Westwood with an undercover State Department agent whom Miller believed was a corrupt passport officer, Miller paid a $5,000 bribe to secure a bogus passport that was to be in the name of a former high school classmate who had recently died. The $5,000 came from money collected during his fraud scheme. After Miller completed the fraudulent passport application in the name of his deceased high school classmate and handed the undercover agent $5,000 in cash, he was arrested by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Miller is scheduled to be sentenced July 20. As a result of his guilty pleas to the four charges, Miller faces a statutory maximum sentence of 47 years in federal prison.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 62

Latin American news digest
Guerrillas planned to kill
Bogotá newspaper editor

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Leftist guerrillas planned to kill the editor of the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo because he was of the same family as the nation's defense minister, officials said Friday. The target, Enrique Santos Calderón, also is president of the Inter American Press Association, the hemispheric press group based in Miami, Florida.

The newspaper run by Santos reported that authorities had captured 10 guerrillas of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia who were going to kill or kidnap other family members.

President Álvaro Uribe confirmed that law officers had captured 10 men who had police uniforms. The killings and kidnappings were to take place next week.

The defense minister is Juan Manuel Santos. The editor said that because the defense minister is so well protected, the killers were seeking members of the family.

Chinese computer spies
blamed for infiltrations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Canadian researchers say they have discovered a large China-based electronic spying operation that infiltrated computers and stole information from government and private offices around the world, including the Dalai Lama.

The New York Times and the Associated Press quote researchers at the University of Toronto as saying close to 1,300 computers in 103 countries were affected.

The article says embassies, foreign ministries, government offices and Tibetan exile centers in several countries were affected, but that there is no evidence that U.S. government offices were breached.

The researchers say they were able to track the hacking effort to computers in China, but were unable to identify exactly who was behind the operation.

Latin American news feeds are disabled
on archived pages.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details