Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Letter of the Week

Goes to Evelyn Richwine of Glen Mills who rails about the injustice being done to one defrocked attorney H. Beatty Chadwick who has been in Delaware County prison for 13 years for contempt of court.

Ms. Richwine apparently doesn't know that Mr. Chadwick has had the keys to his own jail cell since his incarceration. All he has to do is sign legal authorizations that would permit the court to find (or not find) the money he stashed away overseas during his divorce.

He has stubbornly refused to do so for 13 years. A series of judges have reviewed the case, given Mr. Chadwick the opportunity to free himself but he has declined to do so. He has outlived a couple of the judges on the case, most notably, the Hon. Joe Battle.

Granted it is a strange situation. But then H. Beatty Chadwick is a strange man. Ms. Richwine calls him a "decent human being" (though she admits to never meeting him) and the judge who sent him to jail, "inconsiderate, mean and cruel."

I met Chadwick only once. Decent is not the word I would use to describe him. Is it decent to flout a court order to deprive your wife of what is legally hers? To consistantly lie to judge after judge for years?

He is mannerly though. However, his defining characteristic is his stubborness.

"Release him you idiots," demands Ms. Richwine. "... Somebody better start to look into this ungodly situation."

Somebody has. In fact, many people have.

If H. Beatty dies in prison, he'll have only himself to blame.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

does she really think Chadwick will "do some good" for the community???
Q: why do you even publish a letter like that? She just looks foolish, ya know....she obviously doesnt know the facts of the case

November 28, 2007 at 1:34 PM 
Anonymous randal said...

The fact is he has been incarcerated longer than many of our most violent criminals. And that's just wrong.
It's only money.

November 28, 2007 at 1:53 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

"The fact is he has been incarcerated longer than many of our most violent criminals."

Yeah, but it's by his own choice.

He could get out tomorrow. But he refuses to end the behavior that landed him in jail in the first place.

As far as it being "only money," somebody should tell him that.

Weird guy. He'd rather sit in jail than obey the law and share his money with his ex.

It's a crazy world.

November 28, 2007 at 4:30 PM 
Anonymous randal said...

Yeah it’s only money. Scorekeepers often like to cite corporate crooks in a failed attempt to show that white collar crime is as bad or worse than the black collar variety. It’s not. It doesn’t matter if some CEO makes off with $127 million vs. some street thug that rolls an old lady for $.27 cents. The street thug is worse.
The amount of money is irrelevant; it’s about the level of uncivilized violence committed in the commission of the crime that matters most.

November 28, 2007 at 5:47 PM 
Blogger patbiswanger said...

Gil, with all due respect, you really should refrain from giving legal opinions, because when you do, you're almost invariably wrong.

Judge Clouse appointed Leo Sereni as special master to track down the money. Beatty Chadwick cooperated fully with Judge Sereni, and gave Sereni everything he wanted.

Judge Sereni thereupon hired a forensic accounting firm with international connections.

That firm searched far and wide, to the extent possible, and found nothing.

The problem isn't that Beatty Chadwick won't sign releases. (Where do you get this stuff, anyway?)

The problem is that Beatty Chadwick has been given an impossible task: prove to the court that there is not a bank account somewhere in the world with that money in it.

Could you do that?

I got to know Beatty Chadwick pretty well, and he is indeed unique. But you shouldn't let your evident distaste for him to color your judgment. He's still a human being.

There is no evidence that Beatty Chadwick is responsible for his present plight. He may have been in the beginning, when the money was sent off to Gibraltar. (I think it's a reasonable assumption that the swindler got swindled.)

But that means he cannot produce the money now, and that therefore continuing to incarcerate him is punitive, not coercive, and therefore unlawful.

If you want to know why Chadwick has been unsuccessful in proving that to a court, that's the subject of another lengthy posting!

November 28, 2007 at 10:13 PM 
Anonymous e said...

If that's the case, then he should just be able to explain to the court that he was in contempt 13 years ago, show who he gave the money to, that they "swindled" him and that he no longer has control over the money. I'm sure they would give him time served the contempt if he proved that he no longer had control over the funds that he hid from the court 13 years ago.

Also, the forensic accountants did not find the money, but that doesn't mean they didn't find evidence that he is in contempt of court or he wouldn't he have been released?

November 28, 2007 at 10:25 PM 
Blogger patbiswanger said...

He shouldn't have to admit that he misappropriated the money 13 years ago in order to get released today. That's not the way the law works.

You can be held in contempt only if doing so is "coercive," i.e., it will force you to comply with a court order, in this case, to disclose the location of the money.

You cannot be held in contempt if doing so is punitive, i.e., used to punish you for not complying. If the court wants to punish you, you are entitled to due process, including a trial.

In this case, Chadwick was given the utterly impossible task of proving that there was not a bank account somewhere in the world with his name on it. Or he had to disclose the location of the money.

If he was incapable of doing either, he should have been released. Instead, based on no evidence, Judge Clouse decided that he didn't believe Chadwick. Add to that the fact that Leo Sereni did a terrible job as master, and Chadwick's doom was sealed.

And apart from the law, just think about it: the taxpayers are spending God-knows-how-much money to keep an old, sick man in an already overcrowded prison, because he, allegedly, won't give his wife money. Is that really an appropriate use of taxpayer money, to serve as his wife's personal debt collector and enforcer?

Another thing Gil probably doesn't know: the ex-wife's lawyer has run up a bill that goes into the millions, and yet, for all his posturing, he never once contacted the lawyer in London about the money. He knew about this lawyer from the get-go, but never contacted him. What gives with that? And now the lawyer disclaims any recollection of the matter, and says his files from that time have been destroyed, which is, actually, a fair response.

I also don't understand Chadwick's ex. What kind of a person would allow an elderly man, who has lymphoma, to rot in prison, to get money? She has a nice life up in Maine, and she's not wanting for anything. Just how bitter and vindictive is she anyway?

Chadwick is an oddball, and a lot of people don't like him, Gil being one of them, obviously. But he is still a human being, and this is still America.

The real test of our humanity and democratic principles is how we treat the unappealing, the unattractive, and the unpleasant. Do we only care about and protect people who are attractive, pleasant and compliant?

Remember what Jesus said about the least amongst us.

November 29, 2007 at 7:10 AM 
Anonymous e said...

He certainly should have to come clean if he has been in contempt of court for 13 years. Just because his plan didn't work out, doesn't clear things up with the Judge. He is not being "punished". He was court ordered to do something 13 years ago and he is still turning his nose up at the court system.

In my opinion, if he wants out, then yes he should admit either where the money is or explain what happened to the money. Apparently he thinks he can be more bull headed than the judicial system, while his advocates plea for his release and mock the system from the sidelines.

Honestly, if he came forward and said, "Alright, you win, I hid the money 13 years ago and then it got stolen from me. Here is what I did with it and this is the last signs of it before it disappeared." he would be out of jail tomorrow, whether it's true or not. In 13 years, someone should have been able to figure out a plan to stage a fake "swindle" and end the accounting trail.

November 29, 2007 at 9:46 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

In response to Ms. Biswanger, and her suggestion that I refrain from giving legal opinions:

Pat, you should reread my post. I didn't give a legal opinion, I only made observations based on my knowlege of the case and my personal experience with Mr. Chadwick.

Your account of Leo Sereni's appointment and investigation is almost laughably wrong.

You claim that Chadwick provided Sereni with everything he asked for. No, he didn't.

Were you present at the three-judge panel hearing on Sereni's
report?

I was.

The panel included judges Frank Hazel, Chad Kenney and Ken Clouse.

Frankly, I was embarrassed for the former the President Judge, Sereni who was roundly criticized for his woeful investigation.

Do you recall any of this?

The forensic accountant that Sereni engaged couldn't find Chadwick's stashed bank accounts because Sereni failed to acquire the necessary power of attorney that would have allowed the search to go further. The forensic accountant as much admitted that.

If memory serves, Sereni asked for it but Chadwick declined. Sereni acted as if this was no big deal and continued his investigation as if he had all the tools necessary to track down Chadwick's hidden funds, when, in fact, he didn't.

As I recall, it was this failure that led the three-judge panel to unamimously reject Sereni's recommendation to release Mr. Chadwick.

Is it your legal opinion that judges Kenney, Clouse and Hazel were wrong in their analysis of the Sereni report and the law

In your second post you say that Chadwick shouldn't have to admit he misappropriated funds 13 years ago to get released today, "that's not the way the law works."

No, the way it works is that Chadwick is asked to obey a standing court order and TO THIS DAY he continues to refuse to do so.

His past lies to the court are obvious to every judge he has petitioned and to anyone who is familiar with the case record.

If you think the judges who have heard these matters are wrong, you should take up Mr. Chadwick's defense and explain why to the next judge he appears in front of.

Maybe you are a better lawyer than Mike Malloy, who represented Chadwick in his last go round, but I doubt it.

I think there is an argument to release Chadwick on humane grounds.

There is also the argument that the contempt order should be lifted because such an order should only stay in place as long as it might reasonably be expected to force compliance. Some 13 years later it still hasn't worked.

But to argue that Chadwick is being forced to prove his innocence, is, to me, ludicrous and shows a lack of familiarity with the known facts and the record.

That you, a trained lawyer, would offer such an ill-informed opinion while criticizing others does you little credit.

With all due respect, of course

November 29, 2007 at 10:42 PM 
Anonymous tbagger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 29, 2007 at 10:53 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Additionally, here's a story I found on-line concerning the three-judge panel hearing.

Judges blast release recommendation...

A report recommending that former Main Line lawyer H. Beatty Chadwick be released from prison drew heavy criticism from a three-judge panel yesterday in Delaware County Court.

A. Leo Sereni, the former president judge in Delaware County who wrote the report, endured a long day on the witness stand during a hearing about whether Chadwick, 68, in prison for more than a decade over a divorce dispute involving $2.5 million, should be released.

President Judge Kenneth A. Clouse, Judge Frank T. Hazel, and Judge Chad F. Kenney were a veritable troika of critics during Sereni's hours on the witness stand.

Sereni had concluded in October that because forensic accountants couldn't find any accounts that Chadwick controlled, the former Main Line lawyer's incarceration should end.

"He didn't have the ability to comply" with the court order to pay his wife, Sereni said. "Therefore, his incarceration no longer serves any purpose."

But only weeks after Sereni issued his recommendation, the case took a new turn when it was revealed that Chadwick had recently discussed setting up a no-name, numbered account in the Cayman Islands.

A videotaped deposition of Carl Fernandes, a lawyer and a friend of Chadwick's living in North Carolina, was played in court.

Earlier this year, Fernandes, in a letter to Chadwick in prison, offered to ask a banker friend about "starting up your numbered account in the Caymans," according to court records.

Chadwick's attorney, Michael J. Malloy, played down the significance of the offshore account, saying that no money went into it and that it was being established for Chadwick when he eventually left prison and went back to work as an attorney.

But most of the testimony focused on Sereni's report, ordered up by Delaware County Court in an effort to end the long-running case, considered to be the longest incarceration ever for civil contempt.

Chadwick has long maintained that the $2.5 million that was supposed to be divided with his ex-wife, Barbara Jean Crowther Chadwick, was lost in a business investment.

Clouse asked Sereni whether he ever considered following the trail of $1.9 million in assets that were once divided and held in various banks. Forensic accountants Sereni hired concluded that they were unable to determine whether Chadwick controlled the accounts after 1994.

"Didn't you think that going back through the investigation, to pick up the trail from where it stopped?" Clouse asked. "Didn't you think that was relevant?"

Sereni said he relied on the experts, Parente Randolph and Intelysis Corp.

Both firms said that bank records had been destroyed, hampering their investigation.

"I can't even keep my own checkbook straight," he said.

Sereni also drew fire from the judges for not obtaining power of attorney from Chadwick, which would have given Sereni the authority to obtain tax returns and access to any bank records in Chadwick's name.

During meetings at Delaware County Prison, Chadwick resisted granting Sereni power of attorney, Sereni said.

Hazel asked Sereni whether he ever thought that Chadwick should have said: "I'll sign anything you want to prove that what I say is true" when Sereni sought power of attorney.

Sereni said that the forensic accountants told him they didn't need power of attorney to pursue their investigation.

(Oh, and tbagger, I deleted your comment but I wanted to delete your tag name. The post was fine. Use a different tag, send it again and I'll let it stand.

November 29, 2007 at 11:01 PM 
Blogger patbiswanger said...

Gil: I apologize for critizing your legal opinions, especially where none was offered. My opinion is not ill-informed. I know more than you realize, but not anything I can post here.

I was not present at the Sereni hearing, but I do recall reading about it. And yes, I think Judge Sereni made quite a hash of it, to Chadwick's detriment.

As it happens, I was present at some of those meetings Judge Sereni mentioned. I do not recall him asking Chadwick for his power of attorney.

You say that "[t]he forensic accountant that Sereni engaged couldn't find Chadwick's stashed bank accounts because Sereni failed to acquire the necessary power of attorney that would have allowed the search to go further."

That's not correct, which you seem to suspect by hedging your bets and stating that "[t]he forensic accountant as much admitted that."

In fact, the forensic accountants were able to trace the money back pretty far, but records any older than that were destroyed, and the banks were thus unable to produce them.

No, I do not think that I am a better lawyer than Mike Malloy. I think Mr. Malloy did an admirable job, especially considering that he has a very difficult client.

I am glad to hear that you think there is an argument for releasing Chadwick on humanitarian grounds. (I think that's the first time I've seen you write anything about Chadwick that wasn't derisive.) I wish someone could convince the judges to look at things that way, and realize that continuing to imprison Chadwick obviously isn't coercing him, and is just plain cruel.

November 30, 2007 at 9:24 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Pat,

Thanks for your reply. But it doesn't answer some questions and it raises a lot of others.

I did not know you were so intimately involved in the Chadwick case.

You say that you were present at some of the meetings between Chadwick and Sereni.

How so? And in what capacity?

You say, you don't recall Sereni asking Chadwick for his power of attorney. But for that to mean much we would have to know how many meetings you attended and how many took place without you there.

Isn't it possible that Sereni asked for his power of attorney at a meeting you did not attend?

As I recall, and I will try to go back and check it, Sereni said he asked for Chadwick's power of attorney but Chadwick declined to give it to him.

Do you believe, as apparently the three-judge panel did, that having Chadwick's power of attorney would have enabled Sereni and the forensic accountant to conduct a more thorough search for the funds Chadwick admitted moving off-shore during his divorce? If not, why not?

If, as you say Sereni never asked for the P of A, is that what you mean by his making a hash of the case?

You say that Sereni made a mess of it. How so? What did he do wrong?

In your last response, you skip over the fact that Chadwick continues to lie to the court every time he appears.

And what about the Cayman Island account his buddy Fernandas offered to set up for him? Why would he do that if Chadwick lost all his money in a bad investment years ago as he claimed then and claims now?

How do you explain that? Because, at the hearing, Chadwick was mum
on the subject.

Are you sure your personal (or is it professional) involvement with Chadwick hasn't colored your "legal" opinion? Made you less objective?

Your shots at the former Mrs. Chadwick suggest a taking of sides.

You say: "I also don't understand Chadwick's ex. What kind of a person would allow an elderly man, who has lymphoma, to rot in prison, to get money? She has a nice life up in Maine, and she's not wanting for anything. Just how bitter and vindictive is she anyway?"

Isn't it just as reasonable to look at it this way: How bitter and vindictive must a man be to rot away in jail for 13 years just to withhold from his ex-wife marital assets to which she is entitled?

Also, my suggestion that there is an argument to release Chadwick on humanitarian grounds does not mean I, personally, buy into it. But I have made it before, in print, even if you haven't seen it.

You write "I know more than you realize but not anything I can post here."

But what you have posted raises so many questions about your involvement with Chadwick that I have to ask: Are you or are you not part of his legal team? Paid or not?

December 1, 2007 at 8:58 AM 

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