Wednesday, December 31, 2008

IL - New Sex Offender Laws

View the article here | Video

This governor is in trouble himself, see here.

12/31/2008

The Governor (Contact) also signed four bills this year to protect citizens from sex offenders. Those become law on January first.

The first one –sponsored by State Representative Mike Smith of Canton, measures the 500–foot boundary a sex offender must adhere to from the edge of the property.

The second one prohibits sex offenders from serving as election judges.

The third – extends the number of years authorities can prosecute a sex crime.

And lastly – there are tougher penalties and sentencing for a person convicted of possessing 100 or more images of child pornography.


GA - New Law Will Track Offenders Online

View the article here
Encrypt your hard-drive and email

I guess all those in office who took an OATH to uphold the Constitution of the US and states, lied about that.  This is a direct violation of the fourth amendment, and is more communist BS to get around the search and seizure and search warrant issues.  I would recommend ALL RSO's in ANY state that demands your passwords, to DENY giving them this data.  Emails is one thing, but passwords is going too far.  You have to FIGHT for your rights!!!  For those NOT on probation or parole, demand they get a search warrant and have probably cause, before allowing them access to your computers!

12/31/2008

By Randall Savage

A new law takes effect Thursday that puts more restrictions on Georgia's registered sex offenders.

Registered offenders must give police their user names, passwords and other online identifications.

The idea is to let authorities track offenders' online activities.
- Bulls--t!  It's about abusing power and violating the Constitution, in the "name of security," or "for the children!"  You have no right, or need for passwords.  Emails, I can understand, but passwords?  Sorry, that is going too far!

Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena said Wednesday that he'll need another deputy to handle the extra work.

Modena said Bibb County has 336 registered sex offenders. He said a third of them are in jail or prison. But he said more than 200 are walking the streets. He said his office must make sure they comply with the new law.

The sheriff said that'll take money and manpower.

"We've got to have a deputy who is going to have to go out to the homes, knock on the door, go in to look at their computers to see if they've been viewing anything that they're not supposed to, that they're prohibited by the courts from looking at on the computers," Modena said.
- For those who are not on probation or parole, I hope you come with a search warrant and probable cause, or else you should be denied access into the home, period!

Deputy Gloria McDuffie handles Bibb County's sex offender registry. She said it'll take a computer expert to be sure offenders don't hide their identities online.
- Do you non-technical folks know someone who is a true predator and intent on committing a crime, can create a new email address and password in a matter of minutes?  So again, this is not protecting anybody, it's about punishment, control and seeing how many rights you can get away with eradicating, so eventually other people's rights can be eradicated as well.  Wake up folks!!!  This is a smoke screen, and mark my words on this, your rights will eventually be eradicated as well, it's only a matter of time, and you can bet, it will be in the "name of security," or "for the children!"

"To do that type of investigation on the computer will require someone that's highly trained in that," McDuffie said. "Most of us don't have the knowledge to go in and do the background of computer checking."

Lt. Greg Abernathy, head of Bibb's sexual offenders unit, said Georgia sex offenders will soon be housed in just seven prisons, including Central State Prison in Bibb County.

That means Modena's office must keep an eye on their online activities, too.

"If they are sent to Central State which is in Bibb County out on Fulton Mill Road, they could actually become part of the Bibb County sex offender registry," Abernathy said. "They'll be on our registry."

Modena said the new sex laws are growing his department.

"It's growing out to where it's almost a unit within the sheriff's office," Modena said. "It stands alone, like the patrol, like investigation, like now the sexual offender unit."

State Sen. Cecil Staton (Email) of Macon was the primary sponsor of the new sex law. Staton said the goal is to keep sex offenders from posing as someone else to contact children on the internet.
- This just shows you how much of an idiot he is.  If a true predator wanted to pose as someone else, they could create a new email address in a matter of minutes.  So again, it's just to make him look better, and nothing else.  A true predator is going to ignore this law, and do whatever they want to do.





VA - Deputy’s Sex Crime Conviction Overturned

View the article here

12/30/2008

MOUNDSVILLE - A former Ohio County deputy sheriff previously found guilty of sex crimes against children has been released from prison and his conviction overturned.

An order signed by Marshall County Judge John Madden said the prosecution made numerous inappropriate and erroneous allegations during the trial of Stephen Bowers.

Bowers was convicted in 2003 of several counts of sex abuse against three members of the Glen Dale Little League team he coached. He served five years in prison before his release Tuesday.

Former Prosecutor Herman Lantz said he is “shocked and very disappointed for the victims of the case.”

Lantz said he believed justice was not served and said “the facts of the case stand for themselves.”

“As a prosecutor, it is my job to be fair. I felt I did that. I felt that I always tried to do that in evaluating and prosecuting cases,” Lantz said.

The judge’s order further states that Bowers’ legal representation was ineffective, something defense attorney Fred Gardner admitted.

In a statement to NEWS9, Gardner said, “It was my job to protect my client from the prosecutor’s prejudicial remarks. Apparently, I failed in protecting my client.”


NY - Crooked politicians dominate ’08 in central and mid Queens

View the article here

See the videos at the end, or here and hereHow many of these politicians can you find on the sex offender registry?  I found NONE!

12/31/2008

By Ben Hogwood, Assistant Editor

Arson, murder and building development all took their turns on the pages of the Queens Chronicle in 2008, but nothing dominated headlines in mid and central Queens like political scandal.

Former city councilman Dennis Gallagher spurred a number of those stories, though his troubles really began in 2007, when he was accused of sexually assaulting a 52-year-old woman in his Middle Village office.

In a cramped arraignment courtroom at Kew Gardens Criminal Court in March, the Republican councilman pled guilty to forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse — class A and B misdemeanors, respectively.

“My conduct was wrong,” Gallagher admitted, “and I apologize to the complainant.”

In return for the guilty plea, Gallagher announced his resignation as councilman for District 30, which comprises Glendale and Middle Village and parts of Maspeth, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven. His last day in office was April 18.

Gallagher also agreed to enter and complete an alcohol treatment program, although he did not have to register as a sex offender or serve a period of probation.
- Of course not, he's a politicians, and they get away with everything.  Remember Mark Foley?

The crimes to which Gallagher admitted were significantly less severe than the felony charges originally levied against him. According to the allegation, Gallagher met the victim in Danny Boy’s bar in Middle Village, just around the corner from Gallagher’s home, in July 2007. The victim alleged that instead of driving her home, as he had promised, he drove her to his nearby office on Metropolitan Avenue, where he raped her.

Until the plea, Gallagher maintained that while the two had sexual intercourse, it was consensual.

The resignation sparked a complicated and somewhat confusing process that, so far, has already seen two elections, with two different people winning. A third will be necessary in 2009 before the elected candidate can serve a full four-year term.

In April, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for a special election to be held in June and six people originally showed interest in running. The field was eventaully whittled down to four — Republicans Anthony Como and Tom Ognibene, and Democrats Elizabeth Crowley and Charles Ober.

Como eventually won the race, though it was no easy feat. Initial results had Como with a 70-vote lead over Crowley. By the time the election was certified, the lead had narrowed to 38, but it was enough to take the title of councilman.

The title would be short-lived. The special election was just to serve the time until another citywide election, so on Nov. 4, Como and Crowley matched up again. This time, Crowely would come out the victor, perhaps with some help from President-elect Barack Obama, who pulled a record number of voters to the polls to vote Democrat.

Crowley, who is to be sworn into the council Jan. 1, will need to run for re-election in November 2009.

Also in November, Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) defeated 20-year incumbent state Sen. Serphin Maltese for the 15th Senatorial District seat after a much publicized campaign.

Gallagher wasn’t the only politician locally to plead guilty to crimes this year. Brian McLaughlin, the former Flushing-based assemblyman and union heavyweight, admitted under oath in March that he illegally took over $2 million in funds from a variety of resources: political campaign funds, union funds, state funds and funds from employers around the electrical industry, whose workers he represented through his union responsibilities.

The plea agreement reduced McLaughlin’s sentence to eight to 10 years in federal prison from 50. He is expected to be sentenced in January.

The former assemblyman’s name resurfaced in September when federal agents arrested Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill) for corruption. McLaughlin reportedly was the unnamed witness used by the FBI to tape conversations with Seminerio.

But the headlines didn’t only have to include the name of a fallen politico to garner attention. In Forest Hills, the murder of Dr. Daniel Malakov has developed into its own soap opera of sorts.

While Malakov was gunned down execution style on the outskirts of Annadale playground in October of 2007, his wife, Dr. Mazoltuv Borukhova, was charged in January with murder and conspiracy.

Borukhova’s uncle, Mikkail Mallayev, has been charged with committing the crime, using a makeshift silencer out of a bleach bottle and shooting the victim twice in the chest.

The tale twisted again in March when Borukhova’s older sister, Natella Natanova, also of Forest Hills, was charge with intimidating and tampering with a witness in the case. According to the criminal charges, Natanova approached the murder victim’s brother, Gavriel Malakov, and said to him, “You should know if you talk, you will be the next to go.”

Also in Forest Hills, the New Parkway Hospital finally lost its state operating license to continue running as an acute care facility.

A state committee identified the privately owned hospital as unnecessary in 2006 and scheduled it for closure. Dr. Robert Aquino, the facility’s owner, battled the decision and even took the state to court in September, but eventually lost. Community Board 6, representing Forest Hills, has since sent letters to state and city officials urging them to support reopening the hospital as an acute care facility.

Tragedy struck in Middle Village in May, when Agnes Bermudez allegedly started a fire in a three-story building that killed four people. According to police, Bermudez started the fire by pouring carpet cleaner fluid on her ex-boyfriend, William Salazar, 32, who lived in the second-story apartment. Salazar later died of his injuries.

The fire moved quickly, engulfing the third-floor apartment overhead and killing three members of the same family: Heriberto Garcia-Vera, 68, his wife, Flor Sandoval, 48, and their son, Felipe Garcia, 20.

In Maspeth, residents lost a year-long battle to prevent a cell phone tower from being constructed on top of a two-story home on 72nd Place.

Despite opposition at almost every level of government, from the Queens borough president and Community Board 5 to Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the city Board of Standards and Appeals approved the request, T-Mobil subsidiary Omnipoint was permitted to construct a 13-foot tower.

The decision outraged both city officials and neighbors. A group, led by Councilman Tony Avella, is expected to protest outside the offices of the BSA later this week.

But in another case, protesters were granted at least some concession from the city. After months of dispute from the elderly community, the city decided in December to delay an overhaul of its senior centers.

The Department for the Aging was in the middle of awarding new contracts for centers through a request for proposals process. The goal of the RFP was to make senior centers more attractive to younger, modern seniors. The centers, it claims, are widely underutilized and outdated.

However, the overhaul would have shut upward of 80 facilities, a figure that some elected officials, included City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Comptroller Bill Thompson, vehemently protested. They were joined by over 19,000 seniors, who sent letters to Mayor Michael Bloomberg stating their opposition.

In the end, the city relented, though it may have had more to do with the commissioner of the DFTA, Edwin Mendez-Santiago, submitting his resignation. Mendez-Santiago said he resigned for personal reasons, although it was recently revealed that his secretary filed a federal lawsuit against him alleging sexual harrasment.

Things may also be looking up for Newtown Creek, the 3.5 miles of polluted stew between Queens and Brooklyn. The environmental Protection Agency agreed in August to test the creek and determine whether it should be designated a Superfund site.

The Superfund program is the federal government’s primary tool to clean up the nation’s hazardous waste sites. If the EPA’s testing turns up significant levels of chemicals, the site could be eligible for millions of federal dollars in remediation.

The creek is home to one of the biggest oil spills in the world, with estimates between 17 and 30 million gallons, which resulted from a Standard Oil tank explosion in 1950. Standard, now ExxonMobil, operated along the creek for years.

Finally, while new buildings have sprung up in the area, including a two-story shopping center at the corner of Metropolitan and 71st avenues in Forest Hills, residents have also had to say goodbye to others they held close to their heart.

Bowlers rolled their last strikes at Woodhaven lanes, in Glendale, on May 18. Rumors first spread about the possible closure of the lanes in 2007, when Brunswick Bowling, the operator, tried to renegotiate its lease. In the end, Brunswick opted out, and efforts to bring another bowling company to the facility fell through.

“I really thought at the last minute that something would happen,” said Donna Fazio, a longtime bowler at the alley, as tears filled her eyes on the final day. “I really thought we’d hit a home run.”

©Queens Chronicle 2008





HI - Hawaii gets tougher tomorrow on sex offender registration

View the article here

12/31/2008

By Gordon Y.K. Pang - Advertiser Staff Writer

Legislation taking effect tomorrow also covers child support, drinking

Stricter requirements for convicted sex offenders are among nine new laws that go into effect on the first day of 2009.

More information about convicted sex offenders will appear online and in the actual databases of the state's sex offender registry starting tomorrow. And it will be harder for those required to register to escape penalty for failing to do so.

Other new laws toughen the penalty against those who fail to pay child support and clarify that it is illegal to drink alcohol in the common areas of public housing projects.

Act 80 is a multipronged measure that tightens laws against sex offenders. Some sections took effect when Gov. Linda Lingle (Email) signed the bill on May 16, while other parts take effect tomorrow after giving agencies time to implement new policies.

Starting tomorrow, Attorney General Mark Bennett said, the sex offender registry is required to provide a sex offender birthplace, a physical description, whether the person holds any professional licenses and details of the conviction.

Previously, "maybe all they get is a three-word description of the crime," Bennett said.

Other information about sex offenders previously accessible to the public only by walking into a police station or the Criminal Justice Data Center will now be available online as well, Bennett said.

Also beginning tomorrow, failure to register as a sex offender automatically becomes a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Previously, prosecutors needed to show that a person knowingly or intentionally failed to comply.

The most contentious part of Act 80 took effect in May. That provision requires courts to impose a mandatory 10-year prison sentence on those who communicate electronically with a child under 18 with the intent of meeting to have sex.

Designed to crack down on those who prey on children via the Internet, the measure raised concern with the state Public Defender's Office.

Public Defender Jack Tonaki said a mandatory sentence is too onerous and that judges should have leeway to impose a lesser sentence, including probation.

"A lot of these persons apprehended under this law are otherwise law-abiding citizens," Tonaki said. Many have jobs and can be rehabilitated through probation, he said.

But House Judiciary Chairman Blake Oshiro said actually planning to meet and then meeting a youth intending to commit a felony is a serious offense.

"It's not like all they're doing is chatting with a child and having a risque discussion," he said.

Oshiro said the measure would not be used lightly.

"This is really going to be used when (prosecutors) can show these guys had a serious criminal intent," he said.

"The attorney general's office showed us very compelling evidence that these guys were getting away with probation. Given that these are very serious crimes, we wanted to put out a very strong statement."

Another section of Act 80 that took effect May 16 created a new misdemeanor offense for offenders who use a computer to transmit lewd images of themselves. A person found guilty could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail.

An additional section that will take effect June 30 requires sex offenders to update their information annually rather than every five years, Bennett said.

Among the other laws taking effect tomorrow, Act 157 makes the knowing failure to pay child support, medical support or other remedial care a civil contempt of court, which could land a parent in jail.

Oshiro said the bill was pushed by the attorney general's office, which testified it was having difficulty enforcing laws against delinquent parents.

"We believe this bill will significantly enhance the child support enforcement agency's ability to collect delinquent child support," Bennett said.

Also becoming law tomorrow is Act 34, which makes it illegal to consume alcohol on public sidewalks or other common areas of public housing projects such as Mayor Wright Housing or Kuhio Park Terrace.

Police testified that they could not effectively curb drinking in such housing projects when the only prohibitions against alcohol were in building rules, Oshiro said.


VA - No escaping one’s past?

View the article here

12/31/2008

By The Daily Progress


Thanks to the Internet, there’s no “fresh start.” Once online, the past lives forever.

This holds true in the most mundane of situations — the dumb picture of yourself drunk at a frat party that you posted online, that got copied to endless friends, and that your prospective employer now has uncovered.

It holds true in the most explosive of situations — such as those involving state-sponsored Internet databases that let you know whether a convicted sex offender has moved near to you.

Somewhere between these extremes are gray areas now being explored.

A growing number of states are setting up criminal databases that allow public access. In some cases for a fee, anyone can enter a person’s name and birth date and find out if he or she has a criminal record.

Now, in many ways this is a good thing. If you’re hiring for a bank, you might want to make sure a prospective employee hasn’t been convicted of embezzlement. If you’re a concerned dad, you might want to ensure that your daughter’s new boyfriend doesn’t have a drunken driving record of any kind.

This double-edged sword, however, ensures that no one can ever shake free of old mistakes. A database cannot show whether someone has genuinely changed, or wants to change.

Instead, the inescapable shadow of the past may sabotage efforts to change. Getting a new job may be impossible if all people know about you is the few damning words of an online criminal record. Then what options are open?

Indeed, critics say that some online databases are particularly burdensome because of the way they post information — tersely, for quick perusal, with no supplemental information.

A member of the public might be able to go to the courthouse and read a thorough transcript of events, including mitigating circumstances, which might show that the crime was less serious than it appears on paper; or discover a series of plea bargains, which might show that the crime was more serious than the it appears on paper. Some Web sites do not provide this background.

“So somebody who was on a crime spree that commits 16 burglaries across several counties but pleads to only one case looks the same as the college student who, while intoxicated, breaks into a store on the way home from the bar,” said Michael Donoghue, executive director of the Vermont Press Association. Vermont has just launched its database.

Some critics also note that online access can spread misinformation quickly. If a name is keyed incorrectly, you might find yourself with a criminal record online even though you’ve never been arrested for anything.

Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, says the databases threaten the “uniquely American ideal of being able to start over.” Indeed, the dream of starting over somewhere has motivated Americans since the first colonists.

Can there be a fresh start?

We hope so.

We also hope that anyone who finds criminal information online, even official information, will realize that it might not be complete, and it might not even be accurate. It should provide a starting place for further inquiry, not a final answer.


FL - Father says sex offender label not based on truth

View the article here

12/31/2008

By Jamal Thalji, Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The family of Josiah Wineberger, the 5-year-old injured by a falling speaker at BayWalk last year, said Tuesday that they could be in a new home within days.

The family is struggling financially and living in a motel after electrical problems forced them from their rental home. But thanks to the public's help, the family said they soon could afford to rent a new house.

But a St. Petersburg Times reader raised this question in an e-mail: "Everyone wants to help the child but may not want to aid a sex offender."

The writer was referring to father John Wineberger's criminal record. In 2006 he pleaded no contest to charges that he had sex with three teen girls.

But Wineberger denied Tuesday that he had sex with them. He said he took a plea deal because it allowed him to stay with his kids — and because he couldn't afford a court fight.
- This is what the DA's and courts hope for, that you cannot fight it, and they get their "conviction!"  It's not about fairness, it's about punishment.  Why didn't you at least hire a court appointed lawyer?  Or did you?

"I was accused of something I didn't do," Wineberger said, adding: "There was no choice."

Court records show a judge adjudicated him guilty of two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and one count of committing a lewd and lascivious act in the presence of a child under the age of 16.

The incidents took place in 1998 and 1999, according to court records. Wineberger was 27 at the time of the 1998 incident. The girls' ages were not disclosed in records, but the two sexual activity charges apply to minors ages 16 to 17.

Wineberger believes the allegations arose from a business dispute over control of an 'NSync-like boy band that he belonged to called Second Nature.

He said he left the band in 1999 after a detective questioned him about the sex allegations. A warrant was issued in 2000, but he wasn't arrested until 2005, when he already had a family.

Wineberger was sentenced to the 75 days he spent in jail after his arrest. He said he took the state's plea bargain despite being labeled a sex offender because it came without restrictions, namely that it would allow him to be around all children, including his own.

"I can be with my family," he said. "I can go to my kids' school."

The Winebergers have four children. Sandy Wineberger works in accounts payable for a local company, but her husband, a former electronics salesman, is looking for a job.

He cares full time for Josiah, who was left brain-damaged and requires constant care. They are suing BayWalk.

The public came to their aid after their rental was declared a hazard Friday night. The Times has received 22 e-mails and 69 phone calls from people who want to help the family.
- That is not something you see often...  God bless them!

The father hopes the public will still want to help his family.

"I don't worry about me," he said. "I worry about them."


CA - Attorney Caught in Internet Sex Sting Suspended From Practice for 3 Years

View the article here

12/31/2008

By Mark Fass - New York Law Journal

Rare split N.Y. appellate court suspends former Kirkland & Ellis associate who admitted attempting to meet purported 13-year-old for sex

An associate who was fired from Kirkland & Ellis in 2004 after admitting he attempted to arrange a meeting "to engage in an oral sexual act" with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl has been suspended from practicing law in New York for three years.

In a rare 3-2 decision in a disciplinary matter, a five-judge panel of the New York Appellate Division, 1st Department, agreed that Steven J. Lever "brought shame to himself and to this State's Bar" by using the Internet "to prey on minors for purposes of sexual gratification." They also agreed his conduct required "a significant sanction."

However, finding a dearth of New York precedent on point, the judges could not agree on the appropriate punishment.
- Wow, it's hypocritical of them!  When it's not someone rich or famous, but just an average citizen, this is never an issue.

The three-judge majority, looking at similar cases from other states, cited the "substantial and credible mitigation evidence" in confirming a hearing panel's recommended three-year suspension.

"From the beginning, respondent has admitted responsibility for his actions and has taken 'uncommon' efforts to rehabilitate himself," the majority wrote in its per curiam opinion, Matter of Lever, M-1412. "After his arrest, he voluntarily entered sex offender treatment and all evidence in the record supports the therapist's opinions that such therapy appears to be working and that the likelihood of respondent repeating the misconduct was 'low.'"

Justices Luis A. Gonzalez, Eugene Nardelli and James M. McGuire joined the majority.

In a vehement dissent, Justices David B. Saxe and James M. Catterson argued for disbarment. Catterson wrote for the two.

"Because I believe that a convicted and registered sex offender has forfeited the privilege of admission to the bar and the elevated status of the officer of the court, I must respectfully take the unusual step in a disciplinary proceeding and dissent," Catterson wrote. "I believe that any penalty short of disbarment would not comport with the standards to which a member of the bar should adhere. I do not believe that we can reconcile the status of registered sex offender with that of a member of the bar in good standing."

The majority and the dissent did not dispute the basic facts.

Lever, a patents and intellectual property associate at Kirkland & Ellis, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1999 and was admitted to the New York bar in 2000.

In July 2004, using his law firm computer, Lever logged onto a chat room for "older men and younger women."

According to the decision, Lever "commenced an online conversation with a female who claimed she was thirteen and who purportedly lived with her mother on Long Island but who was, in fact, a police officer."

Lever and the officer engaged in six sexually explicit phone calls over the next three months. On Oct. 16, 2004, Lever, then 30, agreed to meet with the purported girl at the Ronkonkoma train station (map) in New York's Suffolk County to engage in oral sex.

When he arrived at the station, he was instead met by the police.

The Suffolk County district attorney charged Lever with six felony counts of disseminating indecent material to minors and one misdemeanor count of attempted criminal sexual act.

In November 2005, Lever pleaded guilty to the single misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to six years' probation and certified as a level-one sexual offender.

Under New York law, attorneys convicted of a felony are automatically disbarred, but disciplinary authorities have discretion when a misdemeanor is involved.

Citing the mitigating evidence, a court-appointed referee recommended a six-month suspension.

By a vote of 5-1, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee Hearing Panel recommended a three-year suspension or until the end of his probation, whichever is longer. (As Lever's six-year probation began in November 2005, at this date the three-year suspension will last longer.)

According to the committee's report, "[P]reying upon ... minors for sexual gratification by means of the internet should be dealt with more harshly" than the referee's proposed six-month suspension.

The committee moved to confirm its findings. Tuesday, the 1st Department granted the motion.

LACK OF CASE LAW

The main obstacle to unanimity was the lack of case law, the majority and dissent agreed.

The majority focused its attention on several cases from other states, including Matter of Engl, 283 Wis 2d 140, a Wisconsin action in which an attorney was only reprimanded for having sexual conversations with and arranging to meet someone whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.

In Attorney Grievance Commn. of Maryland v. Childress, 364 Md 48, the Maryland Court of Appeals imposed an indefinite suspension with no opportunity for reinstatement until after one year on an attorney who convinced five underage girls to meet with him, though there were no sexual conversations or contact.

While finding both Engl and Childress too lenient, the majority said they stand for the proposition that disbarment "is not the exclusive sanction for a single sexual offense involving solicitation of a minor, especially where significant mitigation exists."

Here, the mitigating factors -- such as seeking treatment, taking responsibility for his actions and cooperating with the criminal and disciplinary investigation -- merited only suspension, the majority concluded.

However, "in light of the inherent difficulty in predicting whether respondent's rehabilitative efforts will ultimately render him fit to resume practicing law," the panel required Lever to submit to a psychiatric evaluation before reinstatement. As the suspension begins immediately, he will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on Dec. 30, 2011.

In his dissent, Catterson agreed there is no "New York authority directly on point," but he disagreed as to which cases were "germane to the analysis."

He cited as relevant Matter of Harlow, 280 A.D.2d 870, in which an attorney corresponded with a 13-year-old over the Internet, then arranged to meet with her to have sex. The attorney was suspended by Connecticut, but disbarred by New York.

"The only substantive difference between Harlow and the instant case is that here, respondent was caught in a police sting," Catterson wrote. "But for that fortuitous intervention, it is beyond cavil that respondent fully intended to have sex with a thirteen-year-old girl in Suffolk County."

In a footnote, Catterson bemoaned the lack of uniformity or predictability in attorney sanctions. Alluding to the dissent in Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, he wrote, "The instant case demonstrates the danger of this Court becoming, to paraphrase [U.S. Supreme Court] Justice [Antonin] Scalia, a five-headed Caesar."

After his 2004 arrest, Kirkland & Ellis terminated Lever's employment, according to the decision. In January 2006, he "began temporary employment on a contract basis doing document review, corporate law firm litigation support and other projects," the panel said in a footnote.

Hal Lieberman of Hinshaw & Culbertson represented Lever. Lieberman declined to comment.

Raymond Vallejo represented the Departmental Disciplinary Committee. Reached by phone, the committee's chief attorney, Alan W. Friedberg, said, "The decision speaks for itself."


Momversation: Parenting In the Age of Google

YouTube Channel

The Internet holds a wealth of knowledge. But sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Between WebMD-diagnosed diseases and neighborhood sex offender sites, Rebecca Woolf of Girl's Gone Child wonders, Is the Internet turning us all into a bunch of paranoid parents?