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As I’ve researched this story of the tangled, deceitful, web-like lines of entrapment, which seem to have entangled the lives of quite a few Bakersfield and Fresno area residents; I think I have found the spider at the center of this web. There has been much talk in the news lately of “liberal judges,”  “Activist Judges,” “Extremist Judges” and “Partisan Judges.” Yet one type of judge, which is not being spoken about, is the old-fashioned “Corrupt Judge.” To me it is the corrupt judge, the one who works for bribes, for favors, or who hands out bribes and favors to others, that is at the rotten core of what is wrong with this country’s legal system. Judge Lawrence J. O’Neil, I think, qualifies of one of the great corrupt judges of our time!

Why do I think that? The IRS case against Dr. Steven V. Booth and Michael Scott Ioane alone has shown how corrupt this judge really is. He started out by signing a vague and suspect search warrant for the IRS. The warrant was to search the premises of Dr. Booth and Mr. Ioane; it was so vague that it seemed to be an excuse to simply ransack the citizen’s homes. The homes were ransacked, money and personal property went missing and Mr. Ioane’s lawyers called them on it. Judge O’Neil was only a magistrate. You see magistrate judges have only statutory authority and if someone challenges what they do, which Ioane did, they have no authority to decide their own case, instead it must be heard by a Article Three Federal Judge. O’Neil was not legally supposed to rule on whether his own signed warrant was valid after it had been questioned. He should have recused himself. Instead, he buried the case until he was catapulted from being a magistrate, to being a fully-fledged Federal Judge after being nominated by President G.W. Bush in 2007. Oddly, the case involving his signing of a disputed search warrant as a magistrate, now came under his own jurisdiction!  O’Neil should have recused himself in that case as well.  This is what he did wrong, he ruled on his own search warrant as to whether it was valid or invalid just as the IRS was making their criminal case against Dr. Booth and Mr. Ioane. Evidence was then put forward by the IRS, which should never have been allowed. Talk about letting the fox guard the hen house!

Judge O’Neil then went on to become one of the most arrogant, heartless and cruel judges on the Federal Court dais. He continually handed down severe, almost medieval sentences. He quashed bills about cutting California carbon emissions in favor of the Big Oil companies. He was said by his colleagues to be an extremist judge. Yet, what he said and did to Dr. Booth’s co-defendant was indeed a crime bred out of corruption. Judge Lawrence was washing the backs of the IRS while they apparently washed his. The co-defendant was made aware by several friends and attorneys that there was a cabal of judges and lawyers in Fresno that had pretty much staked a claim on the Federal Courts. Anyone crossing this gang of corrupt personages was bound to feel their wrath. In his case, every time he tried to make a motion to save himself, Lawrence O’Neil quashed it. He would not reverse his decision on the search warrant, allowing evidence to be brought to the case that was nothing but circumstantial. “Right to a speedy trial” for Michael Scott Ioane? Denied! Then, mixing the trial of Booth with Ioane as if they had been some sort of criminal cohorts, O’Neil allowed Booth’s perjured testimony to be seen as “proof” that Mike Ioane had bilked the government out of millions of dollars! Calling Booth’s trust manager a “slick, cagey, wily con-man who was only upset over getting caught, rather than having committed a crime” he sentenced Ioane to 9 long years in Federal prison, using the IRS “$4,000,000.00 estimate” of what Booth owed them, as a basis for the harsh sentencing! Even though he knew full-well that Booth only owed $207,000, and that his tax burden had nothing to do with Michael Ioane’s case.

However, it gets worse. For Michael Ioane himself reported to me that an attorney for the court was ushered into his cell, (not into an anteroom or meeting room or other area where most such conversations take place in prison, but right in the defendant’s cell, as if he were some sort of Death Row inmate). There Mike was offered a deal. It seems that Judge Lawrence O’Neil did not really think he was guilty of conning the government. Instead, he was angry as hell that he would not deed over the properties in his portfolio back to Booth. So now, O’Neil was cutting a deal on behalf of the IRS and Booth! If Ioane would simply turn over his 5% portion of the properties, and convince the company he worked for to give over their 95%, back to Booth and the IRS he would be released. Case closed. Records expunged.

Now Michael Scott Ioane faced a real dilemma. Either do something that was patently wrong…since the IRS had convinced a jury that all the various trusts involved were “shams,” he would be signing documents that said this was correct and true, that he was a criminal and his life’s work a sham. He would be relinquishing properties, which were legally bought and paid for and mostly in the hands of a corporation he worked for, which could also be seen to be disreputable if he did as Judge O’Neil demanded. Mike would then have to try to convince his partners to do likewise. Then he would be freed. Or he could say no and spend 9 years in prison. He was put between the veritable rock and a hard place. His wife needed him out and working. His associates needed him to be out, and not only that, his reputation re-established. His kids needed him. His community needed him. He was already in jail and desperate for freedom. Yet if he did what O’Neil asked, he would be denying every principle he ever stood for or believed in.

After a long night of prayer, Mike Ioane gave his answer to his wife and to his own attorney and to O’Neil. “No deal.” He had chosen prison over lying and wrongdoing. He would not give over the properties to Booth or the IRS. Instead, he would fight them all. Now you tell me, what con-man, with a deal like that, which could free him to go about his daily confidence games, would NOT have taken the deal? Only an honest man would say “I’m staying in jail!” In the end, Judge Lawrence O’Neil’s evil plan did not work. Only because he was facing down a decent man; someone who would not roll over and play his games.

Michael Ioane was finally released on appeal. He still remains under house arrest, unable to work, to make a living, to travel or even to walk to the local store. He wears a Federally mandated ankle alarm bracelet, which the Feds want him to pay for even though they have disallowed him the right to work! They still work their evil machinations against this man who stood up to them and to the vile Judge O’Neil, who sentences men to 750 years in prison and doesn’t care if his own children choke on the noxious polluted air of California, so long as his Big Oil bedfellows are happy.

Having heard all this I realized, Judge O’Neil is the wily, cagey con-artist here. He’s the fat spider spinning the web to entrap and entangle innocent people. He does it for power and favor and money. He’s the ringleader of the Fresno/IRS gang, going after chiropractors and business managers instead of drug lords and crime king-pins. This man needs to be exposed. He’s not fit to be a judge. And really he needs to be in a cell somewhere contemplating his own failings, rather than lording it over others.

Tom Horne, Investigator.

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