Twofer

— The Daily Beast publishes article featuring two Shooting the Messenger scoops

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I recently blogged these Donald Trump-related scoops:

1. The Felix Sater Files (Parts I and II), about how former Trump business partner Felix Sater apparently registered a number of crude domain names intended to disparage Sater’s Bayrock Group colleague Jody Kriss. Published: August 26, 2017.

2. Kriss-Krossed, about how Donald and Ivanka Trump were once named as co-defendants in a lawsuit against Bayrock initiated by Jody Kriss. Published: August 22, 2017.

Via “Trump Pal Bought IAmAF**got.Com and VaginaBoy.Com, Then the Sites Attacked His Enemy” by Betsy Woodruff, Katie Zavadski, and Ben Collins, The Daily Beast, August 29, 2017:

Sater used his email and office address to register websites including IAmAFaggot.com, IAmADirtbag.com, several variations of FecalBoy.com and FecalMatter.info, CuntMan.net, Blackmailer.net, VaginaBoy.com, and dozens of other crudely named domains.

While registered to Sater, some of those sites attacked Jody Kriss, Sater’s former business associate. The two used to work together at the Trump Tower-headquartered real-estate firm Bayrock, where Kriss served as a finance director until he left the company and sued them for money laundering, according to Bloomberg. Donald Trump was initially targeted in court by Kriss, as well.

Sater’s email and office address were used to register more than a dozen domain names relating to Kriss. Those sites then attacked Kriss for a lawsuit mentioning the Trump family, among others. That’s according to records The Daily Beast discovered using the domain analysis site DomainTools, which tracks changes in official domain registrar databases.

[…]

Kriss and others filed a $1 billion New York state lawsuit another [sic] against Bayrock, Sater, and others in May 2013, over the alleged concealment of Sater’s 1998 racketeering conviction. Donald and Ivanka Trump were also listed on the suit as a type of defendant; the plaintiffs asked the judge to find whether they might also be owed declaratory relief. The Trumps were dropped from the suit three weeks later.

The story was also picked up by Raw Story, MarketWatch, Digg, and others.

Update, 01/09/2017: Last month I sent the above story to a reporter at The Daily Beast. I wasn’t credited on the article, so yesterday I sent an attribution request to executive editor Noah Shachtman, who told me that Daily Beast reporter Ben Collins found this story independent of me, and that the similarities between the two stories are coincidental.

Insatiable

— Former Trump advisor Felix Sater swindled Holocaust survivors out of $7 million, then threatened to sue when they tried to get their money back

Felix Sater, a former advisor to Donald Trump, once threatened to sue the family of two now-deceased Holocaust survivors who lost $7 million in a mafia-linked racketeering scheme perpetrated by Sater in the mid-90s. That’s according to court documents filed in 2015.

Donald Trump with Felix Sater (source)

The two victims, Ernest and Judit Gottdiener, who emigrated to the U.S. after the war, died before they could reclaim their stolen millions.

In 2013, Judit’s brother, an Israeli rabbi named Ervin Tausky, filed a $100 million civil case against Sater and his co-conspirator, Salvatore Lauria, on behalf of the Gottdieners.

In retaliation, Sater sent a letter through multi-national Israeli law firm, Zell, Aron & Co., threatening to sue Tausky for 4,000,000 shekels (approximately $1 million) unless Tausky agreed to withdraw all legal action against Sater in the U.S.

The firm claimed that Tausky had damaged “the good name of Sater and his family,” and put “Sater and his family in jeopardy, and in danger of being killed.”

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The case was later dismissed because, according to U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield, “aiding and abetting securities fraud cannot serve as a RICO predicate act.”

This week, The Washington Post and The New York Times leaked a series of e-mails showing how during Trump’s 2016 election campaign, Sater tried to help the Trump Organization to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller is currently investigating Trump for evidence of possible collusion between the campaign and the Russian government.

The Felix Sater Files (Part II)

— Exploring the deleted websites of Donald Trump’s racketeering Russian-American former Bayrock Group business partner and senior advisor

Last month, I blogged about the deleted sites of Bayrock executive Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman and convicted fraudster who in the late 2000s worked with Trump on a number of high-profile real estate projects, including the troubled Trump SoHo hotel in Lower Manhattan.

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In that post I included an “exhaustive” list of deleted sites that once belonged to Sater. The sites were deleted during the 2016 election, when Sater became a key figure for journalists examining Trump’s Russian business ties.

Since that initial post, I’ve found evidence that between 2012 and 2016 Sater registered a number of other domains intended to disparage another key figure within Trump’s business sphere, Jody Kriss, who also worked for Bayrock as its finance director.

Kriss’ tenure ended when he filed an explosive billion dollar lawsuit alleging that Bayrock and its partners, including Donald and Ivanka Trump, had illegally concealed Sater’s 1998 racketeering conviction and later 1999 sentencing, that the company had itself engaged in financial fraud, and that it had personally cheated Kriss out of millions of dollars.

Last year, an ICANN-approved business dispute resolution forum determined that Sater had in bad faith registered a number of domains using his own name, and also possibly using the pseudonym “Larissa Yudina,” for the purposes of disparaging Kriss by accusing him of being a “serial litigator,” an “extortionist,” a “mobster” and a “fraud.”

According to Arizona court documents, Yudina is the founder of Moscow investment company OST Group, which apparently provides “internet marketing services” to Sater, although I was unable to find OST Group or any information online for anyone with the name Larissa Yudina.

In its decision, the forum ruled that the disputed domains be transferred from Sater to Kriss.

Via the Wayback Machine, which archives the web, those domains included:

www.jodykriss.com

• and jodykriss.net

By doing a reverse Whois search for “Felix Sater” and an associated e-mail address I’ve also identified a number of other disparaging domain names possibly created by Sater, including:

• blackmailer.net
• blowjobgram.com
• cuntboy.net
• cuntboyjody.com
• cuntman.net
• extortionist.info
• fecalboy.com
• fecalmatter.lawyer
• fecesman.com
• felcher.info
• felcherboy.com
• iamadirtbag.com
iamafaggot.com
• iamascumbag.com
• jodykrissthief.com
• thejodykriss2.com
• truthaboutjodykriss.com
• vaginaboy.com
• vor-ton.com 

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It also appears that in 2014 Sater took out this full page advert in New York real estate magazine The Real Deal:

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And if that didn’t sate your appetite, here’s a full list of Sater’s confirmed anti-Kriss sites:

jodykriss.com
jodykriss.net
• 
jodykriss.org
jodykriss.info
jodylkriss.com
• 
jodylkriss.net
• 
jodylkriss.org
• 
jodylkriss.info
• jodykrisscrook.com
• jodykrissvorton.com
• vortonjodykriss.com
• jodykriss.co
• krissjody.com
• eastriverpartnersllc.com
• eastriverpartnersny.com
• theeastriverpartners.com
• eastriverpartnersgroup.com
eastriverpartners.net
• eastriverpartners.info

Kriss-Krossed

— Donald and Ivanka Trump were once named as co-defendants in a billion dollar money laundering lawsuit involving the Donald’s former Bayrock business partners

According to this apparently as-yet unreported 2013 court summons, the Trumps were co-defendants in a billion dollar lawsuit brought by Jody Kriss, the former finance director for New York real estate and investment company, Bayrock Group:

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Kriss claimed that the Trumps and their fellow co-defendants illegally concealed Russian-American Bayrock executive Felix Sater’s 1998 $40 million federal racketeering conviction, and later 2009 sentencing.

He also claimed that Bayrock was “engaged in the businesses of financial institution fraud, tax fraud, partnership fraud, insurance fraud, litigation fraud, bankruptcy fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, human trafficking, child prostitution, statutory rape, and, on occasion, real estate.”

The Trumps were later removed as co-defendants, although another court document shows that they were served the summons at New York’s Trump Tower on June 24, 2013.

Sekulow Attacks!

— After Politico profile about “amateur sleuths” highlights – count `em – three Shooting the Messenger Trump scoops, Trump-affiliated lawyer Jordan Sekulow tells Fox News that independent researchers are “wasting all of their time”

This week I was featured in a Politico profile about “self-assigned Bob Muellers” who are doing independent research into Donald Trump’s Russia and business connections.

The article, by Darren Samuelsohn, highlighted three stories first reported on this blog. One of them, that Trump’s former business partner Tevfik Arif tried to scrub his arrest (and later acquittal) for human trafficking from the web, was picked up by The Daily Beast last month.

The article also mentioned that I’d “documented Wikipedia editing records that show how Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and Trump business partner, may have used a pseudonym to delete information about his criminal history from Trump’s Wikipedia page,” and also that I’d “identified about a dozen posts written under Trump’s name on his now-defunct Trump University blog that appeared to plagiarize content from news outlets including CNN, USA Today and The New York Times.”

Shortly after publication, Jordan Sekulow, director of the American Center for Law and Justice and the son of Jay Sekulow, Trump’s legal advisor during the Mueller investigation, appeared on Fox News to denounce me and the other featured researchers – including Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of highly respected fact-checking website Snopes – without disclosing his ties to Trump.

Here’s the clip, plus excerpt:

Sekulow: I think it’s wonderful that these people who are – who want to bring down the president – are wasting all of their time and money to do so. I don’t even think the special counsel is going to be able to find anything on the president, so good luck to these sleuths who are, again, spending all they’ve got to try and bring this president down. It does underscore, though, just how much hatred there is out there for this President of the United States, who was elected so overwhelmingly by the American people.

To which I say: If a part-time blogger like me with zero resources can locate and publish the kind of damning info I have on Trump, I can only imagine what the Mueller investigation is turning up!

For the record – savvy cat that I am – I found my scoops without spending a single penny.

Politiscoop

— Politico profile on “amateur sleuths” highlights three Shooting the Messenger Trump scoops

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Via “Amateur sleuths hunt for Trump bombshells” by Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, August 20, 2017:

Countless amateur sleuths are on the case, from a short-order cook in Belfast whose research was recently cited by the Daily Beast to a Florida art teacher who tells POLITICO he is applying his pattern-recognition skills to Trump’s sprawling business empire.

[…]

Anyone can join the hunt—even a 28-year old Irish short-order cook like Dean Sterling Jones, who grills salmon, burgers and steaks at Thyme, a restaurant in Belfast, but whose blog says his “principal activity is investigative reporting based on deep research using public records.” It only took Jones a few weeks of digging to find a couple of scoops. One of them, that former Trump business partner Tevfik Arif tried to scrub online details about his arrest (and subsequent acquittal) for underage prostitution, was picked up by the Daily Beast last month.

On his blog, Jones—who briefly worked as a community newspaper reporter —has also documented Wikipedia editing records that show how Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and Trump business partner, may have used a pseudonym to delete information about his criminal history from Trump’s Wikipedia page. He has also identified about a dozen posts written under Trump’s name on his now-defunct Trump University blog that appeared to plagiarize content from news outlets including CNN, USA Today and the New York Times.

“This is simply a hobby that I do in my spare time,” between the breakfast and dinner shifts, Jones explained.

From Russia with Business

— Former senior Trump campaign advisor Michael Caputo gave a talk at a Russian-American business/commerce event two months before denying Russia ties

— Former Trump campaign lawyer Kendall Coffey also spoke at the event

In an interview with CNN last month, Caputo, a former senior advisor to Donald Trump’s campaign with strong ties to Russia, “firmly denied” any knowledge of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Michael Caputo (source)

Caputo’s comments came shortly after he testified privately to the U.S. House Intelligence committee, which examined Trump’s “tarantula web” of ties to Russia, including Caputo’s work for a pro-Russian news network in the early 2000s.

In his closing statement to the committee, Caputo said that he no longer had any Russian clients, and had not had any business with Russia since 2004.

However, just two months before testifying, Caputo gave a talk about lifting Russian sanctions at a Miami, Florida event organised by the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (RACC), an Atlanta, Georgia non-profit organisation.

The RACC website states:

The Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA (THE CHAMBER) is one of the main business organizations in the USA that assists U.S. companies in CIS market entry…THE CHAMBER facilitates cooperation for U.S. members with the Russian Government, Russian Regional Administrations, U.S. Consulates in Russia, Chambers of Commerce in Russia, and corporate leaders from CIS countries.

In March, RACC founder Sergei Millian (birth name Siarhei Kukuts) was named as the source of allegations about Trump’s “long-standing relationship with Russian officials.”

Left: Sergei Millian AKA Siarhei Kukuts (source)

A 2009 RACC newsletter claimed that RACC had “signed formal agreements” with the Trump Organization. A Russian PR awards site also states that Millian worked with the Trump Organization.

During his talk, Caputo said he believed the U.S. government would lift sanctions on Russia within two years, that the Trump investigation would uncover “zero collusion,” and that the “investigation will lose steam.” He also touched on his personal relationship with Trump, stating: “We talk a lot.”

Kendall Coffey, a Miami-based lawyer who represented former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski, also spoke at the event.

Sated

— Online paper trail appears to show Trump’s Russian-American business partner Felix Sater tried to delete his criminal record from Trump’s Wikipedia page using a fake name

Last month I blogged about the enigmatic Felix Sater, a convicted brawler and racketeer turned FBI informant.

The Russia-born real estate mogul collaborated with Donald Trump on a number of high-profile projects, and until recently was one of Trump’s senior advisors.

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In my previous post about Sater (click here to read), I examined what appeared to be attempts to delete Sater’s criminal record.

Here’s the rundown.

In 2015, Wikipedia administrators banned a user named “591J” for abusively using multiple accounts to promote Sater and delete information about his “mafia and Russian criminal ties, as well as a 1998 racketeering conviction” from Trump’s Wikipedia entry.

After digging around, I found this promotional photo of Sater that 591J had uploaded to Sater’s own Wikipedia entry (which, incidentally, was created by 591J):

Felix Sater (source)

Under the now-deleted photo I found the following copyright information:

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Note that:

1. The source information says that the photo of Sater is their “Own work”;
2. The author of the photo is “591J.”

But that’s not all.

Yesterday I found this Wikipedia page of confirmed sockpuppets of 591J:

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Here’s what Samantha Lien of the Wikipedia Foundation told me regarding the process used by admins to determine if a user is using multiple accounts:

As you might already know, Wikipedia has an established process for dealing with sockpuppets. If an editor believes someone may be misusing multiple user accounts, they can begin a sockpuppet investigation and refer the suspected sockpuppet to a “CheckUser,” a trusted Wikipedia editor who has the ability to see and compare the IP addresses behind Wikipedia accounts, as was done in this case. If the CheckUser finds sockpuppets at work, they may use a number of governance mechanisms, including blocks, to address the issue.

After combing through one of the sockpuppet accounts, “Krissjody,” I found the following admission:

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If you can’t read that it states:

I am the owner of the majority of the sources that show up on the Copyvio report. I had originally submitted this article for review before writing the articles on the websites relating to Jody Kriss. I own http://www.jodykriss.com, http://www.jodykriss.net, and http://www.jodykriss.info, as well as the Ripoff Report that was the issue the first time.

Using Whois, which indexes information about websites, I found that one of the above listed URLs, www.jodykriss.com, is registered to none other than – you guessed it – Felix Sater of Port Washington, New York:

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Jody Kriss is Sater’s former Bayrock Group colleague.

Bayrock worked with Trump on a number of high-profile real estate projects, including the Trump SoHo hotel in Lower Manhattan.

In 2010 Kriss sued Bayrock, alleging that Sater and others at the company laundered money, skimmed cash, dodged taxes and cheated him out of millions of dollars. The suit named Trump and his daughter Ivanka as co-defendants, but they were subsequently removed shortly after getting served.

Sater seemingly used the site www.jodykriss.com to air his personal grievances against Kriss, accusing him of being a Russian mobster and of “putting people’s lives in danger.”

In 2015, a Hamilton County judge granted Kriss a permanent injunction ordering the deletion of the “false and disparaging” site and various other sites also possibly belonging to Sater.

Rather Droll

— Wikipedia once accused Trump’s new bible studies teacher Ralph Kim Drollinger of deleting unflattering information about himself using a sockpuppet account

This week it was reported by Breaking Christian News that about a dozen members of Trump’s cabinet, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are attending weekly bible studies in the White House.

The weekly sessions are taught by Ralph Kim Drollinger, a former NBA player who currently heads the evangelical group Capitol Ministries, which provides ministry to lawmakers and political leaders in Washington.

Ralph Drollinger (source)

Drollinger has in the past drawn criticism for his regressive views on religion, homosexuality, and the role of women in public life.

Via “Capitol Ministries state director leaves, joins new Christian group” by Capitol Weekly staff, Capitol Weekly, November 12, 2009:

In 2004, he wrote in his weekly newsletter that “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” In protest, 15 then senators, including now-Secretary of State Debra Bowen, held a protest where they carried toasters and wore aprons with a scarlet letter “M” on them, for mother.

In other instances, Drollinger reportedly called homosexuality “an abomination.” But he also criticized several Christian legislators for failing to attend his early-morning prayer sessions and for an alleged lack of piety.

In Feb. 2008, he angered many in the Capitol Community with an editorial in the Capitol Morning Report title “A Chaplains Worse Nightmare,” in which he declared that God was “disgusted” with many California legislators. “In the past several weeks I have visited with a Jewish legislator, a Catholic legislator and a liberal Protestant legislator – all of whom reject the Jesus of Scripture,” he wrote.

This prompted an ongoing back and forth between Drollinger, his supporters, and critics who called him “bigoted” and worse. Some questioned holding religious meetings in the Capitol, as well as the $120,000 annual salary Capitol Ministries reportedly paid to Drollinger.

Apparently, the Capitol Weekly article touched a nerve.

In 2010, Wikipedia administrators accused Drollinger of using multiple sockpuppets to remove links to the article. Evidence showed that a user named “RK Drollinger” had made several edits to Drollinger’s Wikipedia entry removing the links, and on three occasions had even referred to Drollinger in the first person on a Wikipedia discussion page:

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Admins then wrote to RK Drollinger asking them to stop interfering:

You should wait for others to write an article about subjects in which you are personally involved, instead of writing it yourself, as you did at Ralph Drollinger. This applies to articles about you, your achievements, your band, your business, your publications, your website, your relatives, and any other possible conflict of interest.

RK Drollinger was later banned from Wikipedia after an investigation by admins.