Peter F. Paul

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Peter F. Paul
Hillary Clinton and her largest donor Peter Paul.jpg
Peter Paul with Hillary Clinton in 2000.
Born Peter Franklin Paul
(1948-09-02) September 2, 1948 (age 66)
United States
Nationality United States
Occupation Lawyer, entrepreneur
Known for conspiracy, drug dealing, securities fraud

Peter Franklin (F.) Paul (born September 2, 1948)[1] is a former lawyer and entrepreneur who was convicted for conspiracy and drug dealing, and later for securities fraud in connection with his business dealings with Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. He has repeatedly brought suit against Hillary Clinton, accusing her of lying about donations he solicited on behalf of her 2000 senatorial campaign.[2]

The Cuban coffee caper[edit]

In the 1970s, Peter Paul was a lawyer in Miami, Florida, representing foreign governments and political leaders in South America and the Caribbean.[citation needed] He also served as President of the Miami World Trade Center[3] and was the original owner and operator of the largest[citation needed] Foreign Trade Zone in the U.S., Miami Free Zone Inc.[2] As a result of what Paul described as anti-Communist and anti-Castro political activities,[4] he directed a fraud on the Cuban government of $8.75 million by selling agents of Cuban president Fidel Castro nonexistent coffee. The plan apparently also involved sinking the ship that was to deliver the nonexistent coffee to hide the fraud from Castro and, according to Time magazine, to defraud its insurer, but the conspirators neglected to bribe a port official in Santo Domingo, and the people who were supposed to scuttle the boat were not allowed on board.[2][5]

Paul pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges. When his home was raided by the police in connection with this crime, they found cocaine in his garage, and Paul also pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to distribute.[2] He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the cocaine charge, and a concurrent three years for fraud; he was paroled after three years. His license to practice law was suspended as a result of the convictions,[6][7] and he claims to have been sued by the Cuban government as well.[4][8]

In 1983, Paul was caught traveling to Canada using the identity of a dead man;[9] he pleaded guilty to federal charges of making false statements to customs inspectors. This was a violation of his parole terms from the 1979 felonies, and he went back to prison.[2]

Involvement in politics and the entertainment industry[edit]

After being released from federal prison in California, Paul moved to Los Angeles. In 1985, he was appointed President of the California Bicentennial Foundation for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, a foundation designated by the California state legislature and governor to direct California's role in the Bicentennial celebration of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.[10] Paul's efforts on behalf of the Foundation were derided in the Los Angeles Times, in part because the commission was selling a book that described blacks using the slur "pickaninnies”, and declared slaveowners “the worst victims of slavery”,[11] and in part because Paul referred to the founding fathers of the United States as "39 sweaty old men arguing in Philadelphia",[10] and remarked that most Californians weren't able to understand the 18th-century language in the constitution anyway.[12] Before the Los Angeles Times article, Chief Justice Warren Burger had commended Paul for his efforts in a letter that read in part, "We commend you for the many contributions you have made during the national commemoration of the Constitution's 200th anniversary".[13][14]

Paul became a business manager for, or otherwise involved with several celebrities, including becoming manager for a time of romance-novel icon Fabio.[15][16]

Hillary Clinton's senatorial campaign[edit]

Paul emerged in 2000 as the largest contributor to Senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton. Paul and his attorneys have at various times offered two explanations for this. First, that he was trying to attract her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, to serve on the board of Stan Lee Media after leaving office. Second, that he hoped to negotiate a pardon for his previous criminal convictions.[17][18] Paul produced and underwrote what he described as the largest fund raising event ever held for a federal candidate,[19] in Los Angeles, days before the 2000 Democratic Convention began. The Hollywood Farewell Gala Salute to President William Jefferson Clinton featured prominent entertainers singing for the President, while raising over $1 million for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.[20] The event cost $1.9 million to organize according to Paul and $500,000 according to the Federal Election Commission filing, much of it borrowed fraudulently by Paul from Merrill Lynch. Later indictments would state that Merrill Lynch lost about $5 million it had lent to Paul.[18]

Two days after the gala, the Washington Post publicized Paul's criminal record, and Hillary Clinton denied knowing Paul and "vowed not to take any contributions from him". Through her spokesman, Howard Wolfson, Hillary stated on August 16, 2000, that she would return $2,000 she reported receiving from Paul in June 2000.[18]

Paul alleged that Clinton was deceitful in this,[21] and retained public interest law firm, and frequent Clinton opponent, Judicial Watch to represent him in a series of civil and criminal lawsuits against the Clintons, the Clinton campaign, and ultimately the Federal Election Commission (which he charged was negligent in failing to convict Mrs. Clinton).[22][23][24][25] These charges were delayed, as courts held that Paul could not bring charges against the Clintons as he fought extradition from Brazil (to which he had fled in 2001 to escape Stan-Lee-Media-related criminal charges, see below),[26] but proceeded once he was returned to the States.[27]

In March 2005, Paul had a falling out with his advocates at Judicial Watch. He accused them of using his name to raise more than $15 million from people who disliked the Clintons, while doing little to advance his case. He announced his plan to replace them with a "dream team" of Republican lawyers,[28] and in February 2007, he filed suit against them, saying that they had taken advantage of him and that he was “not a big fan of their behavior”.[29]

Regardless, Paul's claims have not found traction. An audit by the Federal Elections Commission found that neither Senator Clinton nor her Senate campaign had accepted any illegal funds in connection with the Hollywood fundraiser,[30] though the campaign was asked to pay $35,000 in fines for having under-reported the cost of the party.[31] Paul's suit against the FEC was thrown out; his attempt to bring ethics charges against Clinton were rejected,[32] and his fraud charges against Senator Clinton were tossed out in April 2006.[33] Paul continued to press civil charges against Senator Clinton and former President Clinton for "looting"[34] his business, but the courts refused to allow him to sue Senator Clinton, with the appellate court specifying that her behavior had been “perfectly legal”, and allowing her to recoup her legal fees from Paul.[30]

Finding no luck in the courts, in 2007 Paul promoted a thirteen and a half minute video titled “Hillary Exposed: The Case of Paul v. Clinton”, attacking Senator Clinton. Her office responded “Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of seven-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission, and the Senate Ethics Committee."[35]

In January 2008, he re-filed his complaint with the FEC.[36] Paul's suit against former President Clinton remains, as of December 2007, outstanding. He is seeking $41.9 million in damages.[37]

Involvement with Stan Lee[edit]

Founding of Stan Lee Media, fraud, and flight[edit]

In 1998, Paul co-founded Stan Lee Media with comic book legend Stan Lee[1] and took the company public via a reverse-merger into a trading shell in August 1999.[38]

In February 2000, in the midst of the Internet stock market boom, Stan Lee Media built a 165 person studio, and the company's market capitalization grew to over $370 million.[citation needed] However, at the end of the year, Stan Lee Media ran out of money. Paul alleged in a later civil fraud and coercion suit against Bill and Hillary Clinton that the company failed because of the intervention of Bill Clinton, who he claims persuaded a large investor not to further support the company.[39]

In the aftermath of the company's collapse, it was alleged that Paul and a corporate officer named Stephan Gordon had illegally tried to support the stock's price by using nominee accounts to buy 1.6 million shares of the company's stock, attempting to pay for the stock with bad checks.[40]

In February 2001, Stan Lee Media filed for bankruptcy, and Peter Paul fled to São Paulo, Brazil.[41][42][43] There he managed 112 Interactive do Brazil, a seller of English language acquisition software,[41] and fought extradition.[42]

Stan Lee-related litigation[edit]

Paul has promoted lawsuits against Marvel Entertainment claiming that Stan Lee Media owns the rights to all the Marvel characters created by Stan Lee.[44] These would include Spider-Man and The X-Men.[45] Paul and his associates further claim that Stan Lee Media was never properly dissolved as a corporation, and that they control the company.[46] Though courts have found that some Stan Lee Media characters were improperly transferred to Stan Lee's later company, Pow Entertainment,[47] plaintiffs have not yet found traction with these broader claims,[48][49][50] and Stan Lee himself has both publicly dismissed these claims and has engaged in a series of cross-suits with Stan Lee Media, Peter Paul, and his associates.[46]

On March 3, 2008, Paul posted a message to his blog,[51] subsequently reposted by one or more unknown parties verbatim on other websites,[52][53][54][55] in which he claimed that Stan Lee helped disguise the origin of Paul's unreported donations to Hillary Clinton, and that he (Paul) has a video tape of Lee admitting to this subterfuge. Lee responded with a lawsuit against Paul, claiming defamation.[56]

Securities fraud conviction and jail terms[edit]

On June 12, 2001, Paul was indicted on one count of violating SEC Reg. 10(b)5, for manipulating the price of the stock in Stan Lee Media. On August 3, 2001, Paul was arrested in Brazil and jailed, pending the outcome of extradition proceedings.[1] Paul failed in his efforts to avoid extradition and, in September 2003, he was delivered to the Metropolitan Detention Facility in Brooklyn, New York, for arraignment and trial.[57][58]

In August 2004, the SEC formally filed its complaint against Paul for the manipulation of Stan Lee Media's stock in violation of the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, and SEC Rule 10b-5.[40] Paul pleaded guilty to the securities fraud charge. The government characterized his conduct as causing "losses to the investing public and financial institutions of approximately $25 million".[1] In July 2005, he settled related civil charges, consenting to a permanent injunction against ever serving as an officer or director of any reporting company. He pleaded poverty and, as a result, was not asked to pay any fine.[59][60] He then spent four years under house arrest,[29] wearing an "ankle bracelet".[45]

In July 2009, Paul accepted a plea bargain [61] and was sentenced to ten years in prison,[62] and ordered to pay over $11 million in restitution to Merrill Lynch and Spear, Leeds & Kellogg.[46] He self-surrendered on September 30, 2009, but subsequently tried to have the plea bargain annulled, claiming that the judge coerced him into agreeing to the deal.[61] In March 2011, the courts rejected this attempt,[61] and Paul is serving his 10-year imprisonment term as inmate number 78802-012.[46] As of February 2012, he was imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution, La Tuna, in Anthony, Texas, and eligible for early release in late 2014.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d United States Attorney's Office, "Peter Paul, co-founder of Stan Lee Media, Inc., pleads guilty to securities fraud; Fraud scheme caused $25 million in losses to investors and financial institutions", press release, March ], 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d e April Witt, "House Of Cards: What do Cher, a Hollywood con man, a political rising star and an audacious felon have in common? Together they gave Bill and Hillary Clinton a night they'll never forget – no matter how hard they may try", The Washington Post, October 9, 2005, p. W10.
  3. ^ "Lawyer Extradited Back to U.S. from Brazil for Fraud Charges", Miami Herald, September 30, 2003.
  4. ^ a b "Who Killed Stan Lee Media? Peter Paul Tells His Side of the Story", Comics Journal, May 2001, p. 6.
  5. ^ "The Cuban coffee caper", TIME Magazine, February 12, 1979.
  6. ^ "Clinton benefit has a lesson: Double-check that donor list", The New York Times, February 9, 2005, p. B1.
  7. ^ "Heroes wanted: Stan Lee Media struggles to stay afloat", Animation World Magazine 5.11, February 2001.
  8. ^ His supporters cite Dean Witter Reynolds v Fernandez v McDonald & Paul, No 79-112 CIV-CA (S.D. Fla)
  9. ^ "Clinton Link to Fund-Raiser Adds Spice to Mundane Trial," Leslie Eaton, New York Times, May 11, 2005.
  10. ^ a b "Most Unconstitutional: Editorial", The Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1987.
  11. ^ "We The People: The Selling of the Bicentennial," ABA Journal, September 1, 1987.
  12. ^ "Selling the Constitution," Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1987, Metro p. 4.
  13. ^ "Letter published in the tribute journal for the 2nd Annual Spirit of America Awards and Governor's Ball, Los Angeles, California, October 17, 1988"
  14. ^ "Hillary Returns Bucks to Ex-Felon" Lloyd Grove,The Washington Post, August 17, 2000.
  15. ^ "Wall Street: The dubious profits in patriotism", The New York Times, July 22, 1990, p. A15.
  16. ^ "Comics exec focuses on 'Spider-Man 2' as former partner prepares for trial", USA Today, May 12, 2004, p. B01.
  17. ^ "The Golden Fleece; Aaron's Cash Cows", Vanity Fair, August 2003, page 160.
  18. ^ a b c "Money, Politics and the Undoing of Stan Lee Media; A fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton triggered events that contributed to the Web firm's collapse. In the fallout, several may face prison terms", Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2003, p. C1.
  19. ^ Hillary Clinton Campaign Acknowledges Violation by NewsMax.com Staff, NewsMax.com, Jan. 5, 2006.
  20. ^ Clinton Campaign Magic: Making a Scandal Disappear
  21. ^ Clintons' Fall Guy May Turn the Tables by Paul M. Rodriguez, Insight Magazine, October 16, 2003.
  22. ^ Paul appeared on ABC's 20/20 with allegations against Hillary Clinton
  23. ^ Paul's civil fraud and coercion suit against the Clintons
  24. ^ "U.S. fugitive tied to Clintons caught in Brazil", The Washington Post, August 4, 2001, p. A12.
  25. ^ FEC Litigation Release, "Judicial Watch Inc. and Peter F. Paul v. FEC (1:01CV02527)", August 30, 2003.
  26. ^ "Court upholds dismissal of fugitive's lawsuit against Clintons", Metropolitan News-Enterprise, December 12, 2002.
  27. ^ "Court allows suit against Clintons", San Francisco Chronicle, p. B2, October 21, 2004.
  28. ^ “Battling the Clintons, and each other (Judicial Watch may tie up Peter F. Paul)”, The New York Times, March 15, 2005, p. B3.
  29. ^ a b “Former Donor To Clinton Sues Judicial Watch”, Josh Gerstein, New York Sun, February 8, 2007, p. 5.
  30. ^ a b “Court says Hillary Clinton shouldn't be defendant in lawsuit”, Greg Risling, Associated Press, October 16, 2007.
  31. ^ [1] MUR 5225 "In the Matter of New York Senate 2000 and Andrew Grossman, in his official capacity as treasurer, Conciliation Agreement", December 19, 2005.
  32. ^ “Ethics Committee Won't Hear Clinton Fund-Raising Case”, The New York Sun, June 14, 2006, p. 4.
  33. ^ “White House 2008 — The Democrats”, National Journal Group Hotline, April 10, 2006.
  34. ^ “Producer accuses Clintons of ‘looting’; Complaint will be heard today”, Washington Times, September 25, 2006, page A01.
  35. ^ “Anti-Clinton Video Draws Web Audience”, Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, October 30, 2007.
  36. ^ “Former Clinton Donor Files FEC Complaint Seeking Further Investigation Of 2000 Event”, National Campaign News, January 8, 2008.
  37. ^ “Clinton: Stand by Your (Wo)Man”, The Hotline, September 26, 2006.
  38. ^ "Stan Lee Media debuts as public company, stock up 41 percent", Bloomberg News, August 16, 1999.
  39. ^ "All The Ex-President's Scandals", World Net Daily, April 25, 2006.
  40. ^ a b SEC Litigation Release No. LR-18828, August 11, 2004.
  41. ^ a b "Stan Lee Holder Peter Paul Flees to South America, According to Cohort's Affidavit", Inside.com, March 5, 2001.
  42. ^ a b "Witness: Fundraiser Knew Party's Cost",The Washington Post, May 13, 2005, p. A10.
  43. ^ "Clintons ask court to dismiss fraud suit",San Francisco Chronicle, August 7, 2004, p. B3.
  44. ^ "Bam! Whap! Marty Garbus Joins the Tortured Legal History of Stan Lee; Marvel" Brian Baxter, The American Lawyer, January 29, 2009.
  45. ^ a b "The Rage Offstage at Marvel," Bill Alpert, Barron's, June 30, 2008.
  46. ^ a b c d "Peter Paul Takes The Fall", Newsfeed Unlimited, August 9, 2009.
  47. ^ Law360 summary, January 27, 2009
  48. ^ United States District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 07-CV-00225-SVW (SSx).
  49. ^ Pow Entertainment press release, March 17, 2009
  50. ^ "Federal Judge Dismisses Claims By Stan Lee Media Shareholders," Eriq Gardner, THR, Esq, April 1, 2010
  51. ^ "Media Protects Hillary’s Role in Bill Clinton’s Civil Fraud Case in Los Angeles," on Paul's personal website.
  52. ^ [2] posting by "pedromatos," on March 13, 2008.
  53. ^ [3] posting by "Pedro," on March 16, 2008, at 2:41 am.
  54. ^ [4] posting by "Pedro," on March 15, 2008.
  55. ^ [5] posting by "Lani," on March 8, 2008.
  56. ^ "Stan Lee Sues Peter Paul For Blogging Libel in $100k Illegal Donation to Hillary Clinton," on Paul's personal website.
  57. ^ "Lawyer extradited back to U.S. from Brazil for fraud charges", Miami Herald, September 30, 2003.
  58. ^ "SEC joins probe of Stan Lee Media; Sources say investigators in Los Angeles are conducting interviews and reviewing records", Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2003, p. C1.
  59. ^ "Stan Lee Media co-founder settles SEC charges", The Hollywood Reporter, July 22, 2005.
  60. ^ "Final Judgment Against Stan Lee Media Co-Founder P. Paul", Litigation Release No. LR-19308, July 21, 2005.
  61. ^ a b c "2nd Circ. Affirms Ex-Stan Lee Exec's Fraud Sentence," Melissa Lipman, law360.com
  62. ^ Politico.com July 22, 2009, "After 4 years, Clintons' accuser sentenced to 10"
  63. ^ Federal Prisoner Locator

External links[edit]