By hurting animals to get drugs, addicts hit a new low

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Just when I thought I’d heard (and seen) it all, this is a new low.

According to published reports, veterinarians in upstate New York are voicing alarm about cases in which pet owners deliberately hurt their animals in order to get painkillers.

“There’s unfortunately always the risk of abuse with any of these medications, and it’s a sad reality we have to be aware of,” veterinarian Lexi Becker told an NBC TV affiliate.

When it comes to Tramadol, Becker definitely has cause for concern. Although it is generally used to treat discomfort in dogs and cats suffering from arthritis, it also appeals to people with certain proclivities. Because it’s cheaper than Oxycodone, some addicts will stop at nothing in order to get their hands on it.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As a result, New York State lawmakers have created strict rules with regards to prescriptions.

“There’s a new regulation that came out in January of this year for New York State that basically restricts how long you can prescribe it initially, so there’s only a seven-day course that you can initially prescribe,” Becker said.
Veterinarians also take certain precautions when prescribing Tramadol, Becker told News 10.

“We are very, very strict about following the rules as to how quickly they can have a refill,” she said. “We will only give certain amounts of refills. We’ll only give how much the patient should be receiving.

Concern about Tramadol abuse are hardly limited to New York, however.

As the New York Post reports, Oregon authorities “seized 100,000 tramadol pills and rescued 17 dogs living in conditions so squalid, there were dead rats in their drinking water” in a raid outside Portland in 2016.

Police also made four arrests in the case. While the suspects “claimed to be breeding AKC-registered puppies,” police believe they were actually “running a thinly disguised opioid distribution ring.”

If so, it may well be the largest operation of its kind involving dogs, The Post reports.

Smaller cases are just as disturbing — if not more so. For example, the suspect in a Kentucky case was arrested and charged with “using a disposable razor to slice open the leg of her 4-year-old retriever on two separate occasions to get her hands on tramadol,” The Post reports.

Chad Bailey, the veterinarian who initially treated the suspect’s dog, said he had a gut feeling something was amiss when the owner quickly requested a refill.

“What’s scary is it took me two times to pick up on what was happening,” Bailey told The Post. “It worries me about the instances we miss.”

Yes, there’s protective custody for pets, too

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In a recent article, Martinsville Bulletin reporter Amie Knowles posed an interesting and important question.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

“When pet owners are arrested, what happens to their pets?”

In Martinsville (Virginia), the issue surfaced when police arrested the owner of a dog and six cats on drug charges — and her house got condemned.

“In this particular case, Martinsville building officials condemned Roknich’s house due to ingress/egress and sanitation issues” after authorities executed a search warrant there, the Bulletin reported.

“With the owner taken into custody and the house being condemned, we didn’t feel it was safe to leave the pets there,” Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn said.

They ended up at the pound, instead. At least, the dog did. The cats went to the local SPCA.

SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County Executive Director Nichole Harris told the Bulletin that all six cats, which are being housed at the shelter, appear to be doing well.

“The pound’s not really set up to house felines,” Harris said, while the SPCA had available space.

Although they ended up in different places, all of the animals will receive the medical care and attention they need.

According to Dunn, the facilities will provide short-term care for the animals’ food and medical costs could be at the owner’s expense if arrangements are not quickly made. He also encouraged her friends or relatives to inquire about the pets and take them in if possible.

“We provide custody holds until something is facilitated,” Harris told the Bulletin. There’s no limit on how long the SPCA will provide a custody hold for an animal, he added.

“Especially if it’s an investigated case, it might take three or four months depending on court dates and if there’s a continuation,” Harris said. “It’s been four or five months before.”

Defending the indefensible: the demise of American decency

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So I was really looking forward to writing about something fun today. I was planning on writing about the use of feral cats to curb the rat population in New York City. Frankly I think it’s genius.

Unfortunately I’ve got more serious things on my mind. Or more accurately, with the U.S. election looming, there’s something important I’ve got to get off my chest. So the post about feral cats being put to work in the Big Apple will just have to wait.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Today I am completely fed up — not only with presidential politics — but with hyper-partisan behavior in general. Americans on both sides of the aisle are happily defending the indefensible and justifying their behavior by saying “well at least he’s not as bad as she is,” or vice-versa.

Frankly it is deeply disturbing on many levels — for many reasons. But the partisan defense of the indefensible is especially troubling when it comes to Donald J. Trump’s (actual and alleged) behavior, Bill Clinton’s (actual and alleged) behavior and Hillary Clinton’s (actual and alleged) behavior.

Let’s begin with Donald J. Trump and Former President Bill Clinton. Both men have been accused of committing serious crimes against women. Trump is currently facing numerous sexual assault allegations. Yet Trump’s supporter loudly proclaim, “at least he’s not as bad as Bill Clinton.” Or something to that effect.” For his part, Former President Clinton has also been accused of sexual assault — and rape.

If nothing else, both men have demonstrated a proclivity for objectifying women. As everyone knows by now, Trump’s tendency to do so recently surfaced when his comments caught on that “hot mic” 11 years ago became public. As for Bill Clinton — well, there was that affair with a White House intern while he was president — among other things. Allegedly.

So what is the objectification of women? Objectification is commonly defined as “viewing and/or treating a person as an object, devoid of thought or feeling.” The definition of sexual objectification is ” the reduction of people to physical objects of sexual desire.”

So what’s the big deal? According to The Huffington Post, a recent study that included nearly 300 participants found that “over one-third of the participants had experienced sexual victimization as defined by the study.” The study also found that participants who experienced unwanted sexual advances — and worse — also reported experiencing objectification at one time or another.

In that sense, the study didn’t break new ground. It merely confirmed prior findings. It also confirmed what I witnessed as a crime reporter. As soon as someone stops seeing a person or group of people as human beings, it is easy to engage in criminal activity targeting that person or group of people.

In other words, it’s all “locker room talk” and “boy talk” until people get hurt. And then it’s not so funny anymore.

Listen Up, Ladies…

If there’s one thing worse than a man who mistreats women, it’s a woman who defends him. Hillary Clinton — who may very well be the leader of the free world come January — is accused of not only enabling her husband’s behavior, but verbally attacking his accusers.

And then there’s Melania Trump, who recently blamed everyone except Donald J. Trump for the comments that he made back in 2005. To her, Donald’s comments were just “boy talk.”

Really? Unbelievable.

Listen up, ladies. It is not okay. It is not acceptable. It is not a joke, and it is not funny.

It is inexcusable. And indefensible.

Period.

Yes, a man actually threw a puppy off a building

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“Felony penalties for animal cruelty allow prosecutors to better prosecute offenders, because, sadly, most domestic violence cases are only prosecuted at the misdemeanor level.” — Animal Legal Defense Fund

A recent story about a Connecticut man accused of throwing a puppy off a building highlights the need for tougher animal cruelty laws and harsher penalties.

According to published reports, Shaquille McGriff, 24, of New Britain, allegedly threw a seven-month old Chihuahua off a “second-floor porch” in July. McGriff stands accused of “choking a man after an argument with a woman” and then tossing the helpless puppy “two-and-half stories in an arc that spanned about 25 feet.”

The puppy named “Munchkin” survived, but needed extensive medical care to repair a broken leg and internal injuries. Thanks to the Connecticut Humane Society, she received the necessary treatment and is now on the road to recovery. She will be made available for adoption once she is fully healed.

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In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In the meantime, McGriff is reportedly being held on bond while facing assault and animal cruelty charges. If convicted of the latter, his maximum sentence under Connecticut law would be five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Now I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned, in this case even the maximum penalty doesn’t fit the crime. Personally, I would love it if the law would allow someone far bigger and stronger than Mr. McGriff to pick him up by the scruff of the neck and throw him off a building. Now that would be a fitting punishment for someone as clearly depraved as Mr. McGriff.

Of course, the law would never allow that. But with growing awareness about the links between animal cruelty and the propensity for violence towards people, the need for tougher animal cruelty laws is clear.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, “felony penalties for animal cruelty allow prosecutors to better prosecute offenders, because, sadly, most domestic violence cases are only prosecuted at the misdemeanor level.”

As it now stands, the situation is grim. Citing information from “studies that were published in peer-reviewed professional journals or books,” the Animal Welfare Institute shared the following on its website:

  • Multiple studies have found that from 49% to 71% of battered women reported that their pets had been threatened, harmed, and or killed by their partners.
  • In a national survey, 85% of domestic violence shelters indicated that women coming to their facilities told of incidents of pet abuse.
  • According to a survey, women in domestic violence shelters were 11 times more likely to report animal abuse by their partners than was a comparison group of women not experiencing violence.

An article on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) website pertaining to the link between animal abuse and violent crime is also disturbing.

“Of 36 convicted multiple murderers questioned in one study, 46% admitted committing acts of animal torture as adolescents.[ii] And of seven school shootings that took place across the country between 1997 and 2001, all involved boys who had previously committed acts of animal cruelty,” the HSUS article states.

I rest my case.

A lawyer accused of bank robbery — now that’s rich

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Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

So did you hear the one about the lawyer who (allegedly) robbed a bank?

Are you waiting for the punchline?

There isn’t one.

It really happened. Allegedly.

According to published accounts, Meighan Marie McSherry, 46, of Manhattan, has been charged in connection with a recent bank robbery in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is also the suspect in another one, which happened in New York City last week.

I’m not too sure which Wells Fargo branch in Greenwich McSherry allegedly robbed. I seriously doubt it was the one across the street from my house. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the incident did happen there.

For one thing, there’s no shortage of drama in this neighborhood. Secondly, from what I understand, police caught her on West Putnam Avenue. I don’t know exactly where on West Putnam Avenue, but the beginning (or end) of that particular road isn’t too far from my house.

But anyway, that’s all beside the point. The point is that an attorney who, by all accounts was once very successful, is now facing felony charges. Specifically, Greenwich police charged her with first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery.

Authorities said McSherry left the bank with an untold sum after she passed a note “demanding money and claiming that she had a weapon.” No one actually saw any sort of weapon during the alleged commission of the crime, but police reportedly found other evidence linking McSherry to the incident when they apprehended her.

So we know what McSherry is accused of doing — but lots of questions remain unanswered. The most puzzling of those is why.

Perhaps we’ll learn more as the case wends its way through the court system.  McSherry is reportedly scheduled to make a preliminary appearance in state Superior Court in Stamford in a few weeks.

In the meantime, there will be plenty of time to come up with some really bad jokes. I mean, I’ve heard of an attorney robbing someone blind, but this is ridiculous…

Cue rim shot!

FBI decision about Hillary Clinton email scandal is a crime

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Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, when I was gainfully employed as a reporter at a weekly newspaper in the New York City suburbs, some rumors surfaced about Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The newsroom scuttlebutt was that the former president and his wife were thinking about buying a house somewhere in Westchester County so Hillary could pursue her own political ambitions. And because the publisher’s husband was an ex-big wig in state politics, I had to drop everything else I was doing and chase the Clinton “story.”

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Things went from bad to worse when the Rye Brook police got involved. From what I understand, there was some kind of hoax involving Bill and Hillary’s house hunt. And because I just happened to cover the Rye Brook police, I had to write about that, too.

Eventually, Bill and Hillary Clinton bought a house in Chappaqua. That’s when the rumors (about the house hunt) finally stopped and the jokes started. “Oh yes,” people said with a wink. “Isn’t that interesting… Chappaqua… Chappaquiddick!”

I am sure some of you are too young to understand the joke. And I am sure there are some of you who have learned revisionist history at one of our country’s wonderful academic institutions that don’t get it, either. Well, I will try to make it a little easier for you. The people who made the joke were drawing parallels between the Clintons and another powerful political family — the Kennedys.

You can read more about the incident that has convinced critics and conspiracy theorists the late Senator Ted Kennedy got away with murder here.

Yes, rumors, innuendo and scandal have dogged members of the Kennedy clan over the years. The authorities have even had the audacity to charge two of its members who were accused of criminal wrongdoing in the past. First there was William Kennedy Smith who was charged with rape but acquitted in the early 1990s. More recently, there was Michael Skakel, another Kennedy cousin. He was actually convicted of murdering Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Connecticut back in the 1970s and spent some time in prison. But a judge has since ruled that he didn’t get a fair trial and he has been free on bail ever since.

Hmmm…. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? If you’re from a rich and powerful political family in the United States of America, you can get away with — well — just about anything.

Which brings me back to the Clintons. The rumors and allegations about Bill Clinton’s sexual “indiscretions” are legendary. And then there was the little matter of the “inappropriate relationship” he once had with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Don’t even get me started about the Clinton Foundation. You can read everything you need to know about that online, but I won’t make you do all of the heavy lifting. You can click here for an article about some of the allegations leveled against that “fine” organization.

And then there’s Hillary. Oh, Hillary. Where do I begin? Should I start with Benghazi and the U.S. ambassador killed on her watch? Or should I begin with her conduct and  testimony before the Select Committee on Benghazi? Perhaps I should just forget about all of that and rehash the whole email server debacle?

Never mind. For brevity’s sake I won’t go there. After all, her constituents think it’s all  just a political witch hunt, anyway. And apparently FBI lackey… er… Director James B. Comey doesn’t think her conduct with regards to her email server warrants much attention.

In a statement issued yesterday, Comey said in pertinent part:

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

He also said:

“I know there were many opinions expressed by people who were not part of the investigation—including people in government—but none of that mattered to us. Opinions are irrelevant, and they were all uninformed by insight into our investigation, because we did the investigation the right way. Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way.”

Well, with all due respect, Mr. Comey, here’s what I think. I think you are full of fecal excrement. I think one day, when your ambition is no longer a factor and your career is no longer at stake, you may actually find the intestinal fortitude necessary in order to share the truth about this whole situation.

And perhaps someday, someone with more courage and integrity than you could ever dream of having will hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her actions. But somehow I doubt it…

Don’t you dare feel sorry for Brock Turner

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Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

To hear his daddy tell it, Brock Turner — the convicted sex offender and former Stanford University student — is actually a golden boy who doesn’t deserve much more than a slap on the wrist for the crime he committed.

Apparently the judge agrees with him.

In March, Brock Turner was convicted of three felony charges: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated/unconscious person; penetration of an intoxicated person; and penetration of an unconscious person. The charges stemmed from a January 2015 incident in which Brock Turner, 20, took advantage of a helpless young woman on campus.

The California Penal Code is very specific about the punishment upon conviction for these crimes.

First there’s Section 289 subdivision (d) which states: “Any person who commits an act of sexual penetration, and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this is known to the person committing the act or causing the act to be committed, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”

Under the law, a victim who is “unconscious of the nature of the act” is one who can’t fight back because he or she was “unconscious or asleep” or because he or she is not “aware, knowing, perceiving or cognizant that the act occurred.”

Then there’s Section 220. subdivision (a) (1), which states: “Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who assaults another with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, or 289 shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.”

At any rate, you can do the math.  And then ask yourself why Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky couldn’t seem to do the same. Or why he didn’t want to.

Last week he sentenced the former Stanford University swimmer to just six months incarceration and three years probation.

Boo Hoo

Even so, Brock Turner appears to be feeling pretty sorry for himself, according to a recent article in The New York Times that included a copy of his letter to Perksy and a link to his father’s controversial statement.

“The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever,” Brock Turner says in his statement. “I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life.”

Although he acknowledges and says he regrets that he also caused the victim “emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair,” most of the emphasis in Brock Turner’s statement is on himself and how he has been affected.

“I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case,” he says. “I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers would want to write stories about me.”

He goes on to beg the judge to give him only probation, saying that wants to be a positive influence on young people and that he’s already paid a steep price for his actions.

“I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school. I’ve lost my chance to swim in the Olympics. I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunities, my reputation and most of all, my life,” he says.

The Apple Hasn’t Fallen Far…

That Brock Turner is so selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered can be partially attributed to youth and immaturity. That he seems completely incapable of taking responsibility for his actions is also easily explained — especially when viewed in context of his own father’s statement.

In the written request that his son be placed on probation Dan Turner also indicates that his son has already paid — and will continue to pay dearly — for what he did. Specifically, he bemoans the fact that Brock Turner would have to register as a sex offender and says  incarceration would be too a harsh penalty for something that took place in a relatively short period of time when viewed in the context of his entire life.

Well with all due respect, Mr. Turner, the length of time it took your son to assault that young lady has nothing to do with the punishment he deserves. It takes someone a split second to decide to drive after they’ve had too much to drink. And guess what? If they hit and kill or maim someone, they are punished accordingly — even if it’s their first offense and they’ve never been in trouble. It can take years to plan and carry out a homicide. And guess what? If you’re caught and convicted, you’re punished accordingly — even if it’s your first offense and you’ve never been in trouble.

It’s the price we pay for living in a society governed by rule of law. There are always consequences for our actions. We all need to be held fully accountable for our choices.

By the way, my mother taught me that when I was little. Too bad you didn’t teach your son the same thing.

This time a pit bull was the victim

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Every once in a while, I come across a story that makes me cry. This week I found two.

A Real Tear-Jerker

The first one was an article I found on Yahoo.com. To sum it up, the story is about a man who was afraid of pit bulls — and was scared to death of what his wife’s pit bull-mix might do to their newborn baby. As it turned out, the pit bull-Lab cross loved the little girl. As they grew up together, the bond between the girl and her dog got even stronger.

But one day, everything went horribly wrong. The man, Greg Heynen, claims some neighborhood children poisoned Zack — the pit bull-cross who faithfully followed his daughter to bed every night. Zack died and for the first time, Greg’s daughter didn’t have her faithful companion by her side as she climbed the stairs at bedtime.

That’s when Greg’s own dog, Sam, stepped in. Somehow sensing the little girl’s distress, Sam escorted the little girl upstairs that night — and continued the tradition until his death six years later.

Needless to say, a lot of people commented on this story. Some of them said it made them cry. Others expressed outrage that children killed Zack. One even said that they should be poisoned as well. Others said they should be thrown in jail. Most agreed they should be punished in some way.

I agree. If these children deliberately poisoned Zack, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If permitted under state law, I would charge and try them as adults. Not only did they (allegedly) kill an innocent animal — they robbed a little girl of the rest of her childhood with her best friend. They robbed the Heynen family of a loyal and loving pet.

More importantly, if this was a deliberate act, these children demonstrated the depraved indifference characteristic of hard-core criminals. This is no exaggeration. Scientific studies provide irrefutable proof that children capable of harming animals can and sometimes do grow up to become serial killers.

Leo’s Story

The other story is one that hits closer to home. In fact, it’s about one of the dogs at the animal shelter where I have volunteered for almost three years.

Take me home! A dog up for adoption and an Adopt-a-Dog volunteer. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
An Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with a dog up for adoption at the annual Puttin’ on the Dog show in Greenwich last September. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

At this point, Leo, another pit bull-mix, has been at the shelter almost as long as I have. He came to Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk, N.Y., after a Good Samaritan spotted him by the side of a busy highway and rescued him in the spring of 2014.

He’s such an awesome dog that everyone at the shelter thought a family would adopt him pretty quickly. But a couple of things seemed to work against him from the beginning. For one thing, he will do best in a home with older teenagers. Secondly, he will be happiest in a household without any other pets.

The good news is that he’s thrived in the shelter’s enrichment and training program. He loves agility and he loves to swim, so he’d be a perfect companion for someone who needs a training partner!

You can learn more about Leo by clicking on the “What’s up at Adopt-A-Dog?” link in the sidebar here at inbrieflegalwriting.com tomorrow. You can also visit his profile page on the shelter’s website.

Finally, if you live in the New York metropolitan area and are interested in learning more about Adopt-A-Dog, you can also visit the shelter during our open house and adoption event on Saturday, April 23. The event, at 23 Cox Avenue in Armonk, N.Y., will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there!

A taxing situation: IRS turns its back on honest citizens

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When it comes to controversial issues, I’m clearly not afraid to speak my mind.

But when I do so in this forum I usually try to keep my emotions out of it. I prefer to present both sides of the argument in a calm, rational, mature and objective fashion. It’s the same philosophy I had as an award-winning reporter: Present “Side A” and “Side B” and let the readers reach their own conclusions.

Based on what I just read, this post will be different. I am extremely angry and utterly disgusted by the alleged IRS conduct revealed in a Washington Examiner editorial. But in all honesty I am hardly surprised.

IRS Philosophy: For Illegal Immigrants, (Almost) Anything Goes

Published yesterday, the editorial details IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s response to an investigation conducted by Indiana Senator Dan Coats. Based on his findings, Coats raised serious questions about the federal tax agency’s policies regarding the fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers.

Essentially, Coats says, the IRS looks the other way when illegal immigrants use fake Social Security numbers in order to secure jobs. Koskinen doesn’t deny it. If anything, he says, letting the activity to go unchecked is a good thing because it “helps the agency collect more in taxes.”

Koskinen says the agency does not condone the theft and/or use of Social Security Numbers belonging to other people in order to claim refunds, however.

As A Victim of Identity Theft, I Beg To Differ

He cannot be serious.

Koskinen’s agency may not condone the theft and fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers in order to claim refunds — but the IRS does nothing to stop it, little to correct it and nothing to help victims of identity theft who are entitled to legitimate refunds.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

How do I know? I speak from experience.

A few years ago, I actually filed my tax returns early and happily anticipated the large refund I had coming. There was no problem with state return. But issues surfaced when my accountant tried to file my federal return electronically. The next thing I knew, someone from his office was asking if I’d been declared as a dependent or if I’d already submitted  my federal return electronically.

To make a long story short, it turned out that someone had used my Social Security Number and married name to file a fake return and get my refund. Now keep in mind that this happened after I’d gotten divorced and officially reclaimed my maiden name. It took several consultations with authorities and months in order to resolve the situation — and in the end the IRS issued the refund check using the wrong last name anyhow.

When I called them out on the mistake, they gave me limited options: put the check in the bank or wait even longer for another one.

Needless to say, I took the money.

The Martha Moxley murder and her killer’s fate: a personal perspective

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In the fall of 1975, a heinous crime rocked Greenwich, Connecticut. A teenage girl was brutally murdered in Belle Haven, an especially private and wealthy neighborhood in what consistently ranks as one of the wealthiest communities in the country.

A cautionary tale

I grew up not far from there. But as a kid, I was blissfully unaware of what had happened on the other side of the tracks — or more accurately — on the “right” side of I-95, just a few short miles away. As the years went by and the case remained unsolved, my friends and I spent countless hours playing on our own street, less than a five-minute drive away from the spot where someone had beaten Martha Moxley to death with a golf club.

At some point — probably in my early teens — I learned all about the girl who was killed on “Mischief Night,” the night before Halloween when teens egg cars, houses and decorate their neighborhoods with toilet paper. Adults used Martha’s story as a cautionary tale, warning us not to go out on Mischief Night, or not to stay out too late if we did. Being teenagers — and more accurately being teenage girls — we also swapped stories, gossiped and speculated about the  unknown killer and unsolved crime.

‘Super Cop’ comes to town

As a young reporter my first “real” newspaper job in Greenwich in the 1990s, I worked with one of Martha’s closest friends. As you can imagine, that gave me a whole new perspective on the matter. It was no longer just a brutal and senseless crime that rocked my town; it was a brutal and senseless crime that directly affected someone I knew.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Given that, you can also imagine my reaction when, as a reporter for the same paper, I witnessed  former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman’s arrival in town. Although I wasn’t the police reporter at the time (I had happily given the beat to a colleague) I do know the Greenwich police — long frustrated and embarrassed about their inability to solve the Moxley case — weren’t exactly happy about it, either.  Apparently Fuhrman got what he wanted — and then he wrote a book. In it, he identified Michael Skakel, who is related to the Kennedys, as the “prime suspect” in the case.

The wheels of justice

As so often happens, especially in big cases, the wheels of justice seem to turn very, very slowly — until something happens to speed things up. In this case, it just so happened that a grand jury investigation was authorized in 1998, the same year that Fuhrman’s book was released.

The grand jury investigation itself took more than a year. As a result, Skakel turned himself in to authorities in January, 2000. Two years later, he was tried and convicted of murder, and he was ultimately sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

He remained in prison for more than 10 years, until a judge ruled that his attorney made mistakes that resulted in a wrongful conviction.

According to a Hartford Courant account, however, prosecutors now want Skakel “back in prison.”

So do I.