A couple months ago, this Navel Gazer allowed Karen Elaine Hanover, a Seal Beach real estate agent accused in federal court of running an investment fraud scam, to vent about what she claimed was misconduct by her prosecutor. She further alleged her victims had previously done to her what she was found guilty of doing to them.
That post was after several I reported on Hanover's alleged misdeeds. And one victim later let me know in a private email how chagrined she was at me for giving Hanover a forum.
My feeling was, allow Hanover to express herself and then see where the legal chips fall. As Andrew Stolper, the former prosecutor Hanover accused of misconduct, informed me the other day, some of those chips have fallen hard on the accused.
Besides facing trial for alleged mail fraud for a commercial property investment scam that conned 50 marks out of nearly $2 million, Hanover was accused in a related complaint of terrorizing fraud victims.
When some of those losing money began making noise about being ripped off, Hanover called them via "spoofing" technology that made the number appear on caller I.D. as the FBI office in Los Angeles and it gave the 46-year-old woman a man's voice. Impersonating an FBI agent, Hanover confronted the folks over the phone.
Hanover was convicted of using spoofing technology to impersonate an FBI agent, sentenced to six months in jail and fined $5,000 …
… with the more serious fraud counts still hanging over her.
But there is a divergence of opinion that the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles has never bothered to sort out for me, despite repeated attempts for clarification. The office's original press release claimed Hanover had posed as a bureau agent to "intimidate" the victims. She claims that was never proven and an obstruction of justice count based on that allegation was tossed.
In that March post, she furthered alleged she only posed as an FBI agent because some victims had done that to her first. Meanwhile, she wrote on her own blog that she had been wrongfully prosecuted and that the feds were spreading misinformation.
Hanover took particular delight in a recent Navel Gazing post about an ex-Broadcom official's talk about his book that states he was a victim of government persecution in the Santa Ana federal courthouse, singling out Stolper for scorn.
Now it is Stolper who gets to take delight in the most recent legal setback for Hanover.
Stolper, who earlier this year left the U.S. Attorney's office for a private company, sent me a five-page opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming Hanover's conviction, sentence and terms of probation from the spoofing case. Read it here: US-v-Hanover.pdf
Pasadena-based federal circuit judges Milan D. Smith Jr. and Mary H. Murguia and district Judge Jack Zouhary rejected Hanover's argument that "while the evidence may have been sufficient to demonstrate she claimed to be an FBI agent, it is insufficient to demonstrate that she subsequently acted like one."
And it sure as hell sounds as if she intimidated victims when you read this in the opinion: "Hanover then threatened to have the victim jailed. The credibility of such a threat is at least enhanced by, if not dependent upon, the predicate that the person making the threat is a federal agent."
The three-judge panel also rejected Hanover's allegation of prosecutorial misconduct due to evidence that could impeach a victim being withheld. As the district court judge had, the three judges found that evidence based on statements 13 years ago had no bearing on the spoofing case.
Finally, Hanover had tried to argue the terms of her conditional release were vague because of a prohibition from working for a "close friend." The appeal judges disagreed:
"Here, if Hanover questioned whether her prospective employer was too close a friend to satisfy the condition that she not work for a 'close personal friend,' she needed only ask her probation officer for clarification. Indeed, Hanover was also required by the terms of her supervised release to consult her probation officer before accepting any employment, meaning she could never accidentally violate the close personal friend condition, and thus would never be left to guess whether her acceptance of a job would lead to the revocation of her supervised release."
It must be pointed out, in light of my earlier remarks about having troubles getting clarification from the U.S. Attorney's office, that Stolper truly went above and beyond getting me the information I needed for this follow-up post, including access to court documents from the original district court case. It is only fair, then, to give him the last word:
"For whatever it's worth, I would appreciate being given the chance to comment or respond to your blogs/articles before your publish them.
"I was the prosecutor responsible for charging Ms. Hanover, convicting her at trial, requesting she be imprisoned, and briefing the government's position to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals which concluded that all of the foregoing was lawful. Ms. Hanover, in her various blogs and websites, has fixated on me, as opposed to her own criminal acts, as responsible for her own ignominy. It is disappointing that the Weekly gave a voice to Ms. Hanover's delusions without giving me an opportunity to respond."
OK, sorry, actually I'm going to give myself the last word. After I explained to Stolper the problems I experienced trying to get information on this case from his office, he said he understood. But he also had critical words about my post on the Ruehle case, which I have promised to present in a future post, soon.