Putting shambolic journalism on the subject of structured settlements in its place. Despite a wealth of credible information about structured settlements at the ready, these two legal reporters really "flubbed their lines"-
- Miami Herald's David Ovalle's Epic Failure for lazy research and failure to report The Truth About Jose Camacho Jr. Forgery in a story about Camacho's August 2017 sentencing
- ABA Journal Reporter, Debra Cassens Weiss. who has a law degree, piggybacks Miami Herald and gets an F plus a raspberry for shoddy research and reporting on Jose Camacho Jr. Forgery In a story about Camacho's August 2017 sentencing
Miami Herald, a Shambles on Structured Settlement Reporting
The Miami Herald gets an F for publishing the inaccurate and lazy reporting of a convicted Miami lawyer's criminal acts in forging structured settlement transfer documents and publishing a false narrative about structured settlements, despite the fact that there was more than enough concrete information out there on the Internet and freely available Broward County court records, for over 22 months the court records, 19 months from this blog and 18 months from a rival newspaper's accurate rendition of the facts and those of other legal commentators, for the Miami Herald to publish something accurate.
The Miami Herald has an unfortunate recent history of incompetent reporting about structured settlements. In 2012, three years after Scott Rothstein's ponzi scheme was discovered, the Miami Herald published a story by Adam Beasley which misrepresented as structured settlements what Scott Rothstein himself said were not structured settlements in his deposition. The term "structured settlements" was not even in the criminal complaint against Rothstein as I reported here.
ABA Journal a Shambles on Structured Settlement Reporting
But the ABA Journal reporter, Debra Cassens Weiss, a graduate of Depaul University School of Law, whose bio on the ABA Journal website states that she is a senior writer/online, who joined the ABA Journal staff in 1986, who had worked as a news researcher for WMAQ-TV in Chicago, as a reporter and editor at the City News Bureau of Chicago, and as a newscaster at WMRO and WAUR radio (Aurora, Ill.), and therefore must be held to a higher standard, adopted what the Miami Herald published as fact, without apparently researching or checking any other sources and completely and irresponsibly flubbed her lines. The misinformation authored by Deb Cassens Weiss and published by the ABA Journal was then shared over and over again on LinkedIn and other social media.
The ABA Journal also has an unfortunate history of incompetent reporting about structured settlements. As I reported in 2011, Martha E. Neil, a legal affairs writer/online for Law News Now, could have simply read the criminal complaint against Scott Rothstein, in which there was no mention of structured settlements, instead of dredging up old and inaccurate information that the ABA Journal published.
What information was available about the Camacho forgeries if reporters from Miami Herald and ABA Journal made a minimal amount of effort?
When I learned about the Camacho forgeries on January 6, 2016, I was astounded that in the 90 days since Camacho was arrested and charged with multiple counts of forgery that not a peep occurred anywhere in the South Florida press. There was a story about a pizza delivery guy getting robbed, nothing but crickets on Camacho from the Miami Herald. Not only was it a great scoop for a reporter given that Camacho was a crook from Miami, the number of the forgeries was in excess of 100, but many of the companies that hired the convicted lawyer were from South Florida and there was an intentional cover up orchestrated by the structured settlement secondary market of the newsworthy story while wagons were circled. I personally broke the story on January 9, 2016, 44 days before any reporter anywhere broke the story, only days after Jason Sutherland on behalf of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers issued a public statement tantamount to "our poop does not stink"
Florida Structured Settlement Lawyer Allegedly Charged With for 14 Counts of Fraud/ Forgery January 9, 2016
Miami Structured Settlement Lawyer Scam | Corrupt Lawyer Forged Structured Settlement Transfer Orders January 11, 2016
Forgery and Structured Settlement Factoring | Q&As January 12, 2016
Forged Structured Settlement Transfer Orders Update | Which Structured Settlement Buyers Used Camacho? January 17, 2016
Forged Broward Order Was on Novation Funding LLC Case With 48% Discount Rate! January 21, 2016
Forger Miami Lawyer Jose M Camacho Jr. Done In By His Own Poor Caligraphy January 21, 2016
Camacho Structured Settlement Forgery Scandal in Broward | Who Whited Out Notary's Name? January 24, 2016
Lawyer for Florida Settlement Buyers Forgeries in Broward County Gets Mainstream Press February 23, 2016
In January 2016, I pitched the story all over South Florida,including the Miami Herald. The only newspaper with the balls to lead the story was the Sun Sentinel, Sally Kestin, Investigative Reporter, and its court reporter Rafael Olmeda who was credited with the article. Olmeda and his colleagues took the time get their facts straight, namely that Jose Camacho forged structured settlement transfer orders. The Sun Sentinel story was published February 22, 2016 in its Crime section, 4 days later. They were the first, after me.
Here is an excerpt from the Sun Sentinel article "Lawyer accused of forging signatures of seven Broward judges"
"In structured settlement cases, someone expecting a large payout in installments over a period of time will negotiate a deal with a buyer who agrees to pay a lump sum immediately in exchange for the future payments. Judges have to sign off on the transactions and will reject them if they conclude the original recipient of the payments is not getting a fair deal. According to an arrest report, Camacho admitted forging the judges' signatures and filing the orders with the clerk of courts"
Of note on the debrief to Ms. Cassens Weiss, Joe Patrice, AC/DC fan and author of one of legal commentaries that followed in Above the Law, a member of the ABA Journal Blawg Hall of Fame, said this, 18 months before Ms. Cassens Weiss' errant commentary:
"Attorney Jose Manuel Camacho, a graduate of the University of Miami Law School, reportedly admitted (though he has since pleaded not guilty) to forging the signatures of a gaggle of judges on court orders approving structured settlement deals for his clients.
In Florida, judges have to approve this type of arrangement to guarantee it’s not a bum deal for the poor schmuck signing away their income stream for a lump sum of quick cash. Assuming we believe his admission, Camacho apparently didn’t think the bench was going to see things his clients’ way. Now he faces 14 counts of forgery".
Putting poor journalism on the subject of structured settlements in its place. Let's try to do better in the future folks.