CMKM's Turino loses detention appeal
2014-12-03 10:53 CT - Street Wire
by Mike Caswell
Jeffrey Turino, a Nevada man who prosecutors say was in the "shadows" of the CMKM Diamonds Inc. scheme, has lost another attempt to secure his release from prison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied his request to reopen his pretrial detention hearing. In a ruling handed down on Nov. 26, 2014, the appeal court has upheld an earlier decision in which a judge found no reason to let Mr. Turino out of jail while he awaits trial.
Mr. Turino is one of eight people that the U.S. is prosecuting for the CMKM pump-and-dump. Prosecutors claim that he and others, including Saskatchewan's Urban Casavant, were part of a scheme to dump billions of unregistered shares of the company, reaping $60-million in profits. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) Mr. Turino's role in the pump-and-dump was to route unregistered shares through nominees in Florida, according to prosecutors.
Unlike most of the defendants, Mr. Turino has been in jail awaiting trial because a judge deemed him to be a flight risk. In 2006, after the scheme ended, he left the U.S. to work in Moscow, and later moved to the Netherlands as part of what prosecutors say was a conscious effort to avoid the charges. Police in the Netherlands arrested him on a U.S. warrant in March, 2010, but he fought efforts to return him to the country for over two years. The U.S. Department of Justice finally succeeded in extraditing him in September, 2012.
Upon his return to the U.S., Mr. Turino pleaded not guilty, and has since been in jail. At his pretrial detention hearing, the judge found that he had no family or community ties. He also had no job and no money. The judge concluded that there was nothing to ensure he would appear at future proceedings, and ordered him detained until trial.
Unfortunately for Mr. Turino, the trial in the case has been repeatedly delayed because of the complexity of the matter. This led to him filing a motion on April 14, 2014, for release until the case went ahead. He said he could live with his mother in Nevada and could manage any flight risk concerns with electronic monitoring. Prosecutors did not file any response to Mr. Turino's motion, but the district court judge denied it nonetheless. The judge found that Mr. Turino did now show any change of circumstances since his initial detention hearing. He was simply trying to reargue the matter.
Mr. Turino was not satisfied with that outcome, and appealed. The result was the present ruling, in which three appeal court judges also found there was no reason to reopen his detention hearing. Their decision, which is three sentences long, says that Mr. Turino failed to present any new information that would have any bearing on his release.
Meanwhile, Mr. Turino has now seen the trial in the case delayed for the seventh time. The day before the appeal loss, the court vacated a Jan. 15, 2015, trial date, in part because the only other defendant in custody, John Edwards, will not be available. (He is in California undergoing an evaluation for mental health issues. Defence lawyers contend that Mr. Edwards, 72, suffers from dementia to the extent that he will not be able to properly participate in the trial process. His evaluation is not expected to be complete until March, 2015, at the earliest.) The soonest the trial could now go ahead is in September, 2015.
In the "shadows of the conspiracy"
Details of the case against Mr. Turino and the others are contained in an 87-page superseding indictment filed in the District of Nevada on March 24, 2010. Much of the indictment focused on Mr. Casavant and Mr. Edwards, explaining how they caused CMKM's issued share total to reach an extraordinary 800 billion between 2002 and 2004. They did this through a string of illegal share issuances, prosecutors claimed. They also allegedly dumped billions of those shares while the company issued misleading news releases touting the "Casavant diamond brand" and a purported $50-million jade collection, among other things.
Mr. Turino's role, as described in the indictment, was to help route billions of shares at the direction of Mr. Edwards. He placed stock with nominees in Florida, prosecutors claim. Mr. Turino also received part of the proceeds from the sale of $5-million worth of shares, according to the indictment.
The indictment says little else about Mr. Turino, other than to state that he remained in the "shadows of the conspiracy" because the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had banned him from penny stocks in 2003. (The ban stemmed from his role in the promotion of a company called Pinnacle Business Management Inc. The SEC claimed that the company had greatly overstated the value of a proposed spin-off. Mr. Turino settled that case in December, 2003, agreeing to the penny stock ban, but the SEC has since secured a $9.6-million civil contempt penalty against him for violating the ban.)
The remaining active defendants in the CMKM case are Brian Dvorak, Ginger Gutierrez, James Kinney, Nickolaj Vissokovsky and Melissa Spooner. All have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Edwards also pleaded not guilty after the U.S. successfully extradited him from the United Kingdom. An eighth defendant, Jeffrey Mitchell, pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with the prosecution in return for a reduced sentence recommendation.
The trial, whenever it does go ahead, will have to proceed without Mr. Casavant. He died on Feb. 14, 2014, during a routine surgical procedure. Prosecutors dropped the charges against him on July 14, 2014.
(Further information regarding CMKM Diamonds and associated companies can be found in 84 Stockwatch articles dated Oct. 21, 2003; June 22; Sept. 16 and 24; Oct. 1, 15 and 20, 2004; Feb. 11, 14, 18, 22 and 23; March 1, 3, 4, 7, 14, 15, 16 and 21; June 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 29 and 30; July 1, 4, 6, 12 and 13; Aug. 2, 5 and 9; Sept. 7, 12, 27 and 30; Oct. 24, 26 and 31; Nov. 7, 11, 22 and 25; Dec. 1, 6, 9, 15 and 22, 2005; Jan. 3; Sept. 29; Oct. 4, 2006; Aug. 30, 2007; and April 7, 9, and 11, 2008; Sept. 21, 2009; Feb. 17 and 23; March 2, 5 and 10, 2010; May 18, 2010; Nov. 7, 2011; Jan. 20, April 25, Sept. 26, and Oct. 24, 2012; and Sept. 30, 2013, Oct. 7, 2013, Feb. 20, 2014, May 13, 2014, Aug. 14, 2014, Oct. 7, 2014, and Oct. 16, 2014.)
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