I make no excuses for my past behavior - I own it. I say this because while I don't want to use this event as an excuse for my future behavior I was affected by it. I am to this day.
On a Saturday evening in late July 1978, I had a first date with a young lady who worked at a ladies clothing store next door to the men’s clothing store I was working at. I had graduated from high school the month before and turned eighteen three weeks earlier. It had taken weeks for me to muster the courage to ask her out. She was only a few months younger than me at seventeen but looked and acted much more mature. I was a bit suspect of her interest in me - I thought her out of my league.
I was working at Danny's Menswear at McCain Mall in North Little Rock at the time. The plan was simple - to impress her as best I could, I really wanted her to like me. An older co-worker was spending his evenings at his girlfriend's apartment so he offered use of his place that night if opportunity presented itself - then he gave me a key. I could not have been more excited.
Cajun's Wharf in Little Rock was my favorite restaurant so I took her there for dinner. Afterward she wanted to go dancing. We decided on a popular night spot near 10th and Main in Little Rock called "Don-T’s" (formerly One-Eyed Jacks). We each had fake Id’s; which in those days was simple because the Arkansas driver’s license had no picture on it.
The stars seemed to be lining up for me; after a few drinks and a half-dozen dances, she was game to leave with me to my friend's apartment - and it wasn’t even midnight yet. This was the during the days of disco and the tight polyester pants I wore did not have front (or back) pockets to hold my car keys - so she carried them in her purse.
We remembered this as we reached my car which was parked on a side lot across the street from the nightclub and she began digging in search. While she was going through her purse, I noticed a man quickly approaching from across the darkened parking lot - I told her to hurry but it was too late. The tall slender black man reached us just as she found the keys.
As she handed the keys to me he displayed a gun. He was very clear as he ordered me to quickly get in the car and drive. He got in the back seat of my 1974 Firebird Formula and she the passenger seat. I told him I may have had too much to drink to drive - to which he said if I didn't drive right, my murder would be his next but it wouldn't be his first. His words had the sobering effect he was looking for.
On leaving the parking lot, he directed me to drive north toward the Old Jacksonville Highway away from the outskirts of Little Rock. I could hear him rusting through her purse and my belonging in the back seat as we rode. She and I each made the usual pleas and bargains with our captor along the way - to no response from him. After a time when we reached a dark and isolated stretch of road where he directed me to stop the car and shift the transmission to Park.
He ordered me out of the car and her into the driver's seat. As she shuffled over and I stood there next to my car, he exited the passenger side to move into the front seat. Before he got in, he hesitated and appeared to be using the roof of my car to steady his aim toward me. My date saw what he was doing and quickly threw the engine into drive and floored it. Just as she did, he fired a shot in my direction but the effort it took him to hold onto the car and jump into the passenger seat must have caused the bullet to miss me. I recall the frenzied panic I felt watching them drive away - then being alone with the darkness and silence. A feeling you never really lose.
Everyone’s a hypocrite; I am no exception.
Even after learning profound lessons regarding our government’s power to prosecute and imprison - I ignored them. I had a couple of brushes with the law during the first three years following my release. One incident nearly cost me my freedom or worse. I believe the resolve to change was born that night.
It was January 27, 1990. The evening began with me attending a wedding then the reception with friends. After the event, I drove the friend I escorted to the wedding back to her apartment. It was around midnight so the streets were not packed with the typical congested Dallas traffic. I had not traveled far after dropping her off when a couple who looked like they were arguing caught the corner of my eye. As I did a double take, I witnessed the man punch the woman he was arguing with in the face.
As the confrontation began they were on the side of an apartment building, but as the argument continued she retreated toward a corridor located in front of a group of apartments directly in my line of site. I didn’t take time to weigh the options or deliberate consequences; I just reacted. I turned into the apartment complex, parked my car then retrieved a small two-shot Derringer I kept hidden in the vehicle for just in case situations.
Just having left a wedding, I was not dressed for a fight. I decided to try to play the role of a calm mediator.
I smiled as I approached but before I could say much more than a single word, the man made a calculated move by spinning in place to land a hard punch that connected against my face. Punching me distracted his attention away from the woman - it was not like I had a plan going into this situation and now I was proving it.
My interference gave the woman the break that she needed to remove herself from the abusive situation. With the man’s attention on me, the woman ran into an open door apartment, grabbed a few things, and then ran out. She never looked back as she bolted from the scene.
The next moments are trapped in my mind in slow measured motions. The man ambled over to the open door of what proved to be his apartment. His eyes remained on me as he reached inside. When his arm came out, a small bat was gripped tightly in one hand. About the same time, another man – this I found out later was his brother - emerged from the doorway as well. I stood against the opposite wall still slightly disoriented from the surprise punch. They approached me side by side - I tried to gather my senses enough to retrieve the Derringer from my pocket - thinking it would buy me the opportunity to leave as well. I assumed that brandishing the weapon would be enough to stop them in their tracks - I assumed wrong. The man with the bat immediately hit me across the head with it. As he hit me I fired.
POW!! I saw stars, smelled gunpowder and could hear nothing.
The next minute of my life may have been the longest I have ever experienced. In that instant as I was hit the bullet whizzed directly between the brothers and blew a chunk out of the brick wall next to the apartment door. Next as I struggled to stay on my feet I leveled and aimed the gun at the man with the bat, it misfired - I had no more shots left.
Both of the men responded without pause as they rushed me full force. Punches and kicks connected into every part of my body. The attack became a merciless assault as the beating continued even as I tried to crawl away. It felt like the onslaught lasted for hours - I feared I would lose consciousness before getting help. I inched forward just far enough to reach a nearby apartment door and knock as best I could. Even as the tenant inside the apartment finally answered by opening the door - they continued the attack with more punches and kicks into my head and ribs - she pulled me into her apartment and closed the door to stop the onslaught. She probably saved my life.
The police appeared a few minutes later with an ambulance right behind them. I was taken to a hospital and treated for my wounds but the nightmare was far from over. I was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon - then transported me to the Lew Sterrett Jail in Dallas. The men were not charged with anything. The mug shot - still on file - is a testament to the beating I endured that night. As for a Good Samaritan to self-defense claim - it was my word against theirs. It looked bad for me. Ultimately, the men chose not to testify and the charges were dropped.
The incident left an indelible mark on me that existed for beyond the physical scars in that it gave me a resolve I needed. The physical and mental wounds were still healing when I embarked on a personal mission to change the direction of my life. Having a felony conviction carries stigma enough but couple that with a lack of a college education and I knew my options for the future were limited in many ways - but not hopeless. I needed a break - or at least to get better at recognizing one.
For several months to that point I was dating a college student named Shannon who worked as an entertainer at Baby Dolls. Prior to the night I was arrested she encouraged me to interview for a position in management at the club where she worked. For the first time it sounded like a good idea.
Baby Dolls is a gentleman’s club run by Burch Management of Dallas. The company is the management umbrella group for a number of gentleman’s clubs, sports bars and restaurants in Dallas, Fort Worth & Houston areas.
The move to work for Burch Management turned out to be the opportunity I needed when I needed it. Since leaving prison I had lost my way. I was having problems finding a job I liked and was feeling sorry for myself.
On release from prison my parole custody was transferred from Little Rock to Dallas. There was only one person I met in prison who I associated with after my release and he lived in Fort Worth. He is still a friend today. He was only doing a 90 day sentence when I met him at the Big Springs federal prison camp and he spent most of his time there being schooled on how to cook methamphetamine. By the time I got out a year later (in 1987) he was cooking the best I had ever seen in my life.
A few months after my release he helped me get on my feet by giving me a quarter pound to sell. I was a social user - definitely not an addict. It went so well I was soon back for more. After that he began fronting me a large quantities at a time. I reasoned it was okay because my exposure was limited - I’d take the entire consignment then in turn front it all to the one person I trusted back at home in Arkansas. The same friend who betrayed me years later. The set up worked like a charm. For a time my Arkansas friend and I had a decent little enterprise going but things dried up. I knew that it couldn’t last forever and was right again. My friend the cook was arrested in Colorado and ended up doing thirteen years in federal prison. He completely missed the 90's - that is a sobering thought. I was very lucky to get out unscathed.
For a short time, I turned to petty thievery to eat and survive. Then a few weeks prior to the night I was beaten up, a friend who was in the same orbit as my life path, committed suicide. He and I hadn’t spoken in a few weeks over some silly disagreement until the day I ran into him at the North Park Mall in Dallas. We got along that day as if nothing ever happened - he hung himself that night in his closet. I believe he knew he was going to as we met.
Even though my eyes weren’t quite healed completely, I couldn’t wait any longer for opportunity to find me. I called and scheduled an appointment with Steve Webb, a VP for Burch Management to interview for a management position. The night before my interview I decided to stop by Baby Dolls to let Shannon know I was taking her advice. I also wanted to look around and try to see the topless business from a different perspective. At the time Baby Dolls Dallas was located in a strip center with several other gentleman’s clubs. Two or three of the clubs in the immediate vicinity were run by Burch Management.
As I walked across the parking lot toward Baby Dolls I noticed a customer being kicked out of the club next door, Déjà vu. The man looked as if he probably had a couple to many but wasn’t being aggressive and was even a couple of feet from the door on the sidewalk. Suddenly a young heavy set “manager” charged out and pushed the customer out onto the parking lot with a force far from necessary. Not wanting to get involved I hurried on into Baby Dolls, but I never forgot how repulsed I was by that display. I thought of the liability that manager was putting the business owner in - I hoped for a chance to manage a club differently than that.
As it turned out Burch Management was looking to hire a more professional applicant. Adept in business or management as opposed to grunts or bouncer types. The company was in the infancy of a transitional period and hierarchical organizational strategy to set up an infrastructure for the phenomenal growth the company experienced in the years to come. I was hired during a time when the owner Duncan, began to implement this more structural change throughout the organization. He also encouraged self-improvement courses, seminars and workshops. He sent upper management to a seven day Stephen Covey workshop, "The 7 habits of highly effective people".
The interview went well - I needed a new start and they got me for the low ball starting salary of $400 per week. I was so focused on the job at hand I don’t think I noticed the girls were topless for the first six months I worked for the company.
The company’s willingness to adapt to trends and market changes probably worked to my benefit. They wanted to establish professionalism - policy, procedures, processes and implementation, sales strategies and liability protection, etc. Burch Management was the only company of its type I know that enforced a zero-tolerance drug policy on everyone working at a club and including the dancers.
Other than obvious stuff, much of what became policy were lessons learned in the field the hard way by someone first. For example, I was arrested in 1994 when as the highest ranking manager in the club at the time, the Dallas police identified a dancer as being underage for employment. While I believed I had seen a valid ID for her on a prior occasion, it was not on her person then. So I was arrested and taken from the club in handcuffs. After that Burch implemented a policy that a valid photo ID be copied on the back of a card file and every employee required to fill one out before they can work.
I believe growing up the only brother of two strong willed sisters helped me better empathize with the bulk (and most important cross-section) of the staff I would need to run a successful gentleman’s club - the girls. It turns out I was a natural to the gentleman’s club business. I had a good rapport with the staff and I enjoyed the energy and excitement of working in the environment. Working at Burch Management helped me regain self-confidence and doing my job well gave me the sense of accomplishment I needed.
I rose quickly among the ranks and in less than a year I was running my own shift at a sister club in Dallas on Greenville Avenue called the Fare. After that I was promoted over the next few years to General Manager then ultimately a Divisional Consultant.
I launched the TexArville website in 2009 in response to learning the details surrounding the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham by the state of Texas in 2004. Having done an eighteen-month stint in Federal prison in the mid-80's for something I DID do; I could not fathom how to empathize with someone executed for doing something he did not. In anguish over the travesty of his execution, I found that writing helped vent the frustration of being able to change nothing. I have since come to believe the more personal or real the matter, the more cathartic the payoff.
When I began posting here it was not to be about me personally or my life circumstance. That has changed to a degree as life happened. So for the time being, the SiteWatch section of this site will serve as an outline of this story as it fleshes out.
It was 10 years ago this past March when a civil legal and personal nightmare that impacted the fabric of my world came to light.
The picture (right) is of my personal office door at our SiteWatch facility as I remember it last - padlocked without notice or just cause by my ex-mentor, friend and business partner, Gregg Hoss (pictured above) in concert with his wife Angela and others.
This picture is, was, and will be, emblematic of the circumstance it displays. This picture tells a story - whether of the injustice that came after it was taken or the betrayal before - it is the source of both. Even knowing the litigious nature of the parties involved, I have no qualms in posting what I do here because it is true.
To reprise the circumstance, in March 2005 on returning from a very successful trade show in Las Vegas. I discovered the aforementioned Mr. Hoss had locked me from my office and seized all company and partnership property, tools, inventory, etc. Nothing was ever returned or recompensed for. Read: The Demise of SiteWatch
While cloaked as such, this entire episode was not about a business dispute - it never was. This was a personal matter and Hoss used bullying tactics to attack me on both fronts. Punishing me was the key with taking the business a bonus. Hoss even offered my wife financial incentive to leave me, she refused but a couple former friends of mine were compensated handsomely to turncoat. That is another story
It seemed we were in a position to move the SiteWatch partnership forward and for a time we did. In early 2004, my old friend Joey was destitute back in Arkansas and called me for help. I offered to move him to Bedford to live with my wife and me while he got on his feet. I told him Gregg was building a lake house at Cedar Creek and I may be able to help him find work with Hoss.
Joey and I had a very long history and I thought us akin to brothers. I told Joey of uneasy vibes I was getting from Angela specifically and others associated with, so he could watch my back. He promised fealty for helping him get back on his feet by working for Hoss.
Hoss had a plan in motion for months to remove me from the partnership and keep the business for himself.
It emerged through depositions that Hoss hired David D. Yancey (pictured above: far right) to spy on me (SiteWatch) while working under the guise of a network administrator for SiteWatch. It was also revealed that such activity was part of a larger conspiracy Hoss used to oust me (and the business partnership) without just cause.
Ultimately various Hoss' entities made over $2 million in sales of a SiteWatch surveillance trailer progeny developed by the SiteWatch partnership. When fighting over the matter became too expensive, Hoss abandoned the surveillance trailer business to try to save his core interests, but it was too late. Hoss Equipment Company failed.
Despite Hoss spending well over $2 million (he claims) on legal costs to my less than $50k; the jury awarded me a $3 million judgement against him in 2008. Hoss posted a $3.25 million bond to appeal the judgement several weeks before the credit crash, which probably exacerbated what would have been a tough situation to overcome in the best of circumstance.
Texas has a reputation for Appellate judges overturning jury verdicts and my case another example of it. Nearly three years later in 2011 an Appellate judge in a non-nonsensical illogical decision threw out the jury verdict thus relieved Hoss or the bond underwriter from fiduciary liability. Being back to square one and depressed with the reverse, I ceded the venue. I do wish I hadn't.
The hardest part of this entire sad affair was witnessing how friends of my wife from this group turned their back on her when she took my side - these were friends who knew her years before me. Girlfriends who called her sister and for a time treated her as one. When push came to shove, these friends of hers didn't have the fortitude to question the false narrative being fed to them by the Hoss parties.
I guess every meal needs a ticket. I'd say to them, "shame on each of you...you know who you are." Those who know her understand it is their loss.
Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Betrayal has been very lucrative for Joey Garrison. I believe Gregg thought having Joey as his new sidekick would intimidate me - so he moved Garrison in with him and his wife, literally. Public records show Garrison's Texas Driver's License and other public documents with his residence at the Hoss' Colleyville address. Good for them.
Public records show residents listed for that same Colleyville residence include:
As described in prior posts, Hoss vilified me in court documents for my 1983 conviction in our lawsuit for Interstate Transportation of Stolen Securities and other malicious accusations. Of course he's a hypocrite as he knows Garrison was convicted in 1994 for Counterfeiting U.S. Currency.
It appears from this document Garrison was able to avoid prison in 2002 concerning a major mortgage scandal in Arkansas by testifying against potential co-defendants. He was a notary to many of the defendants in the 2002 Arkansas mortgage fraud scandal and subsequent cases. But the truth is Gregg didn't care about Garrison's or my past - he just wanted to embarrass me.
I am no lawyer but this sounds illegal: Affidavit Garrison signed with the State of Texas claiming to have never been convicted of a felony so he could be a Notary Public. After I brought attention to it with the Texas Notary Public office last year Garrison voluntarily terminated his Notary Status. I don't think a termination of status changes the fact he lied on the state affidavit he signed and most likely notarized documents in Texas and Arkansas without legal authority.
Does the SSN Garrison used for his Texas and Arkansas Notary belong to Joe Don Fincher above? The same information appears on other addresses and entities connected to Garrison.
My wife was threatened by Joey during our fallout and remains fearful of him. Garrison is the same "Joey" whose name is heard called in this video when he drove Angela and her son to urinate on our front door to harass. It is also proof he isn't beyond anything, no matter how stupid.
I met Gregg in 1996 when I was working for Burch Management as Divisional Consultant for Cabaret Royale gentleman's club in Dallas. Gregg was going through a divorce and had recently "retired" his girlfriend Angela who worked as an entertainer at our sister club, Baby Dolls of Dallas. I was dating her best friend Kathryn, a bartender for Burch Management. Because of the long and odd hours I was working in the nightclub business, after a while much of my off-work time with Kathryn was also spent with Gregg and Angela.
It was 1998, Gregg was riding high at the time - his company Hoss Equipment of Irving was a huge success. He had recently been named Entrepreneur of the Year. Gregg offered and I accepted job to work with him at Hoss Equipment even though I knew nothing about his industry and would be taking a substantial pay cut leaving Burch Management. We reasoned I needed a mentor to school me in business - he said he wanted to teach me.
****This is my recollection of events, I have related them to the best of my knowledge. I believe all details as offered are in furtherance of the overall theme of story. Should certain details need to be omitted for legal or other reasons, it will be addressed then.
At trial, I witnessed lead opposition atty & hottie co-council making-out n room adjacent Court; so I understood why their fees were so high
— Rainlad Cummings (@TexArville) July 21, 2014
What happens when the lawyer I had grown to despise for how he treated me (and my wife) personally as opposing council in my case now professes on his new business website to have found ethics, scruples and empathy? This lawyer's new website boasts; "This firm prides itself on good sportsmanship. It does not engage in mean-spirited or obnoxious litigation, and it will not compromise its integrity or honesty."
The website further states his approach to the practice of law is simple: "shoot straight, avoid sharp practices, cooperate with opposing counsel, take people at their word, and dissuade people — including clients — from taking unreasonable positions."
WOW!!! What bullshit.
Hindsight has shown me how very late I was to realize I was engaged in a very personal, nasty uncivil but legal war. In many ways I was too late figuring it out.
One early example of this began the afternoon of January 11, 2006; I was meeting with my attorney concerning a legal dispute with Gregg M. Hoss and his wife Angela Livingston of Colleyville, TX. I had retained attorney Chris Vickers, who runs a law firm in Colleyville in attempt to mediate an agreement. Up to that point; I had only paid a few thousand dollars to Mr. Vickers, which was exhausted. In consult that afternoon, Mr. Vickers informed me of his belief I had a strong case of claims to file against Hoss but proceeding would require I pay large retainer. I told Mr. Vickers I was still holding out hope things could be worked out amicably with Hoss without filing a legal action.
Mr. Vickers made clear he believed after trying to work with the Hoss attorney, the situation was beyond that and said he expected no reasonable compromise settlement would voluntarily come from Hoss. He predicted that if he were to call the Hoss attorney and simply ask where to serve his client with a lawsuit, that Hoss would probably try to beat me to the courthouse steps.
"At worst," Mr. Vickers told me, "if Hoss files a preemptive lawsuit, you'll know where things stand."
I gave Mr. Vickers the go ahead to make the call, then listened as he did. Afterward, we shook hands as I left his office with no plans to meet again.
Just as Mr. Vickers had predicted, the very next day the same Hoss' attorney we had called for service instructions, filed the following vile screed of a lawsuit with lies and false claims against me. The substance of the Petition they filed seemed more designed to embarrass me rather than to make valid legal claims. Read: Hoss Original Petition below.
But it was only the beginning.
Bear in mind if you read the original lawsuit (below) that Gregg Hoss and I had been friends for years to that point. Gregg was the best man in our 1998 wedding and his wife Angela the matron of honor. The bulk of our wedding photos tainted by this sad turn. But to read the Petition filed by Hoss you would think we didn't know each other very well. From March 15, 2005 when the lockout from my office at the Hoss facility occurred until the lawsuit (below) was filed by HOSS; I didn't believe the difference in amount of money we were arguing over justified the legal means Hoss ultimately took.
Several months earlier, in an effort to appease my wife and try to help save her friendship with Angela, I relented to pressure for me to compromise. In early October 2005, Gregg Hoss and I verbally agreed to a compromise settlement in which he would pay me $125,000 for the business that had in essence been stolen from me and I would go on my way to start again elsewhere. When I showed up at the Hoss facilities to sign the settlement agreement; the check was for $100,000. I refused it on principal because Gregg Hoss wasn't honoring the terms of his verbal commitment to me. Yes I went ballistic then and there and made a scene in his office; I believed he was trying to fuck me over and I had enough. In that anger and knowing Gregg's "hot buttons", I pushed them all, but words in anger did not negate Hoss' obligation to me.
Yet Gregg Hoss reasoned it did; telling me that because I caused a scene and said mean things to him, he decided not to pay me the agreed amount. Give me a fucking break. And his legal brain-trust must have signed off on the reasoning for this type of acrimony to continue as it did. Therefore the entire legal affair spanning the next six years was spawned over that $25k Gregg Hoss tried to short me.
It was then that I retained council.
I admit to having wondered if the high-powered Thompson-Knight attorney advising Hoss believed that not paying the verbally agreed upon $125k was the best legal strategy. It definitely was the best strategy to get Hoss on the hook for outrageous future legal fees. It was this same attorney who drew up the agreement they wanted me to sign that day. My guess is that $25k low-ball tactic ended up costing Gregg Hoss millions. It proved to be the catalyst to irreversible personal rancor between the parties and begat a fortune in future billing for the law firm that advised Hoss regarding it over the next six years.
I recall asking who was going to save Hoss Equipment Company from Gregg Hoss when it came to dealing fairly with me, because his attorneys weren't. Hoss Equipment Company went bankrupt in 2009 and I would bet the collateral pledged to appeal the 2008 jury verdict of $3 million against Hoss as a result of the lawsuit didn't help the matter.
It is my opinion the Hoss attorneys exploited the personal rancor between our Parties (and Mr. Hoss' ego) in a weak effort to fashion a non-existent business claim narrative that rang hollow to anyone earnestly looking at the evidence. The jury saw it and the Trial Court judge agreed.
The Appellate Court? That is another matter for later and my heartfelt opinion is the appellate justice who wrote the opinion dismissing the jury verdict could not have been more wrong. His opinion as well as my argument against the flawed decision are here.
I do believe Gregg Hoss has an over-sized ego and have told him so; (it may be part of why he doesn't like me) but he is a smart and savvy business man who needed an attorney who would tell him to do the right thing. He needed an attorney very much like the one described in that new website referred to above. But he didn't get that guy.
Gregg Hoss told me last year the legal episode cost him over $2 million and I do not doubt that. I told him my guess is that it cost him much more beyond any legal fees. I also reminded him that it did not have to play out that way, it was a battle he chose over a pittance (all in-consult with his attorney). I had tried for nearly a year to work things out before he filed that lawsuit. I did apologize for what I said but I received no forgiveness. I wish he would have been magnanimous and done the right thing when he had the chance, but it is what it is - rancor lives on. Personally, I think he should have sued his legal team.
In the end; the only on winner in the case was the Hoss attorney, and he has a new practice and website. I do not believe growing his hair long, playing in a band or wearing jeans and tennis shoes to work alone can make him the rebel, zen-like, karmic-conscience, "eclectic" musician/lawyer he now professes to be. That all said; I hope he has changed.
For more read: SiteWatch
Hoss Original Petition - Filed January 12, 2006
Shortly after arriving at the local hospital in Jacksonville, a determination was made that I be transported to the new Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. This recently opened hospital was built to replace the old Baptist Hospital I was born in on the 4th of July, nearly sixteen years earlier.
My death that night was neither instantaneous nor permanent. On waking in the hospital from a coma some days after the accident; I asked for something to write with, then scribbled the following poem.
Life is so lovely
I’m having such fun.
The engine is roaring
Cares, I have none.
Life is so lovely
I’m having such fun.
My friends are all with me,
My girlfriend is one.
We are going too fast.
The radio blaring loud.
Nighttime in falling
Brings a thunder cloud.
Dear God, what has happened?
It’s out of control.
The wet road we're leaving,
This old tree our toll.
I’m lying here bleeding
I hear moans and cries.
My body is broken
Soon I will die.
Death comes as a humming,
A noise I hear.
Through a tunnel I’m flying,
As if nothing to fear.
I now see my body,
Above it I dwell
Left with the knowledge
That life is the Hell.
A message from ISIS
(Translation by Google)
Conquests of the Islamic State in the northern regions / the western state of Nineveh Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family and companions and allies; After:
Lost from God to the soldiers of the Islamic caliphate and is pleased to have opened many northern regions - western bordering
The jurisdiction of Nineveh, the proud first and foremost (Sinjar, and aspects of Zammar and Rabia and Oana, a large number of villages in the Her), after intense battles fought by the state with the black gangs "peshmerga" militias "asayesh" Kurdish Secularism, they have been used all kinds of weapons, and incurred during the apostates heavy loss of life and equipment,
The Mujahideen were able, from the families of hundreds of them, including officers and leaders of the flock and huge quantities of arms and mechanisms And various types of ammunition, during 6-7 September 2014, corresponding to 2-3 August 2014, and this side
Photos of Blessed Invasions
Battle For Iraq - 5 part series from Vice
Susan McDougal is an American hero (to some) and fellow Arkansan but noteworthy for her stint as a political prisoner of Ken Starr and the United States during his Whitewater witch-hunt of the 1990's. McDougal served what I would call "hard-time" because she was kept in-transit while in the Federal system. She was remanded to custody because she would not lie nor succumb to the immense pressure that a Federal Special Prosecutor can apply. While I can not attest that she did not commit a fiduciary crime; it was not commensurate with the price she paid. I awe her fortitude.
The tentacle of the investigation that found Monica Lewinsky was McDougal's saving grace. Monica Lewinsky allowed Ken Starr to shift the focus of the investigation from the growing embarrassment that was "Whitewater" including the Special Prosecutor's treatment of Susan McDougal, to the salacious details of the relationship between Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton.
I recall meeting Susan McDougal when I worked at Collins, Locke & Lasater in Little Rock around 1983. I have not seen or spoken to her since. I was acquainted with many of the players at the heart of several of "Clinton Conspiracies"; Volume I from the 90's. What the Witch-hunters of Whitewater won't say, I will. There was no there there then or now. The only scandal relating to Whitewater was the way it was prosecuted.
As for conspiracies - Whitewater was just a bad business deal; Dan Lasater was no drug overlord; Mena had nothing to do with Clinton; Vince Foster was not murdered, and on and on.
The ignorant GOP representative who defended Benghazi this week by stating that "if it's a witch-hunt then there must be a witch", proves my point. Benghazi is a farce, but that doesn't mean it can't be made spectacle of. The problem for Benghazite theorists is the VA scandal; it is too far removed from Hillary and real, so it will not go away. If it gets too obvious they are ignoring a real scandal for "Faux Ghazi", it looks bad.
Benghazi was to be a bow shot warning to Hillary but it will turn out a dud. Still one shouldn't blame her if she shudders at the memories of Whitewater and decides to wait until necessary to announce her candidacy. After all, FoxNews was just cutting its teeth then and since has proved claims of a vast right-wing conspiracy against the Clinton Administration, true.
But Hillary will announce and I'd postulate Benghazi will be exploited for all it can by the GOP now; as it did then with Whitewater, and again as then, overplay the hand. In the interim, Hillary will recall how even bullshit scandals take a toll, as she takes in the pomp of Chapter One from the "Clinton Conspiracies Volume II: Benghazi".
When you arrived at the old prison; if you weren't afraid, you were in the wrong place. Here is a brief rundown on the events that brought me to this circumstance.
El Reno in 1985 was the scariest place I would behold in the struggle for my custodial jurisdiction. The Federal Prison in El Reno was a major hub in the transit system utilized by U.S. Marshals to transport inmates of all classification levels. In my opinion, there was no worse way to spend time in the federal prison system than being "in-transit" - it was both like being lost without a home during a slow wait to uncertainty.
You learned the closest distance between two places was not a straight line.
If being in-transit wasn't bad enough; the El Reno prison got me the rest of the way. More than anything; I recall how El Reno helped me appreciate the existence of prisons and understand the importance of segregation of offender classifications. Some inmates are dangerous - I wasn't. But while in-transit everyone was considered the same thus dangerous.
Mercifully during the week or so there I was was housed in the administrative segregation unit, so I would not be among the general population. It was jail within in jail. Showers were once a week in Ad-Seg. At the allotted time the inmate would disrobe completely in his cell, then wait for the guard to handcuff him through the bars. Inmates were led in groups of three; naked and handcuffed, down a walkway passing the cells of other inmates in route to the shower cell. Once in the shower, each inmate would would present his hands through the bars so the cuffs could be removed. All the while, guards were positioned outside the shower cell to observe any interaction.
A couple of hours after returning from the shower to my cell, an inmate-orderly dropped off the following "kite" to my cell. The note was from another inmate who observed my trek to the shower cell.
On receiving the "note"; for a moment, I was horrified but realized I was in no danger. I was isolated behind a set of bars and in that moment, happy it was so. I cannot say precisely why I responded as i did but it seemed rational at the time. As I had no way to keep such a note while in-transit, I asked for an envelope and stamp which he supplied so I could mail these notes to myself in the free world.
For whatever reason, I chastised "Rodney" in my reply for wasting his amazing gift to write in a sad effort to mess with my head. I questioned his rationale for writing such a note and I wrote of the journey that brought me there. The tonal difference in the subsequent notes from Rodney was astonishing. Read for yourself.
Current news reports have it that NY is reforming its use of solitary confinement. I find this heartening as I have first-hand experience. I estimate that at least 90 days of my first 120 in federal custody prison in 1985 was spent in some form of solitary confinement. This excerpt from Leaving Little Rock offers background on what brought me there.
Let me preface by saying I do not believe myself a victim in this matter and deserve no sympathy. There are scores of people who unjustly endure far worse; at least I was culpable for what I was there for. I cannot imagine anything worse than serving time or death for a crime yet absolutely innocent. It brings to mind Damien Echols sentenced to death in Arkansas and Cameron Todd Willingham executed by the state of Texas in 2004; each convicted of unfathomable crimes he did not commit. These guys were victims; I am merely recounting an experience. As much as I may want to ponder what if (my probation were not revoked); I believe being taken from the environment I was in, when I was, the way I was, probably saved my life. I wrote judge Roy a letter to tell her as much some years later.
My 25th birthday occurred during the midst of a sixty day stint in solitary confinement at the Federal Correctional Institution - Ft. Worth in July of 1984. The incident which begat my confinement in solitary occurred when I was physically assaulted by another inmate. I had been in Fort Worth for around 35 days and was just settling in when I was attacked. My attacker and me were confined in segregated isolation during investigation of the incident. Most distressing to me then was that I was to be transferred to a Federal Prison Camp in Big Springs, Texas.
If you had to serve Federal time at that time; FCI - Fort Worth was a good place to be. There was little violence there. (my altercation an unfortunate exception) The institutional culture focused on rehabilitation over punishment. They had a renowned drug-alcohol treatment program and it served as the best mechanism to get assigned there. Also the prison was co-ed with both men and women incarcerated at the facility. The dormitory housing was segregated by sex but the common areas including education, work, cafeteria, recreation and visitation were co-ed. They had a modern convalescent center where old mobsters and politicians were often assigned to.
I was surprised and excited to find a friend from Little Rock, Roger Clinton serving time there as well. While Roger and I were more social acquaintances than close friends, we did hang out more just prior to his incarceration. He lived in an apartment next door to the one I shared with my sister, Lisa. On the night before he was to report to prison we hired a limo to party the night away on a double date. We were both at a low point of our lives out for a night to forget. Me with no clue I would be joining him in prison very soon.
The only physical contact permitted between the male and female inmates was to hold hands. "Walkie" was the moniker used to identify an inmate's preferred "hand-holding-while-you-walk-around" friend. The inmate who assaulted me did so out of jealousy; I had been innocently striking up a friendship with his walkie. I recall he was in motorcycle club; he was quite a bit bigger than me and he hit hard. He and I got to know each other a bit through the conversations we could manage from separate cells in isolation; he apologized for the assault and I believed him to be sincere.
I was informed the longest I could be held in detention under "investigation" was 60 days and ironically that is how long I was. Locked in a cell for 23 hours a day; one hour was offered to walk around alone in a small enclosed court yard, I seldom went. I was depressed. During the investigation; all my personal property was taken except for the underwear and t-shirt I was wearing, a pillow and a blanket. No TV and no radio. There was controlled access to a few donated books to read, a bible or legal books. I was allowed a pen and paper on request. The light switch to my cell was controlled from outside. The door to my cell was solid except for a horizontal narrow slit of Plexiglas and a hinged slot lower on the door for a food tray to pass through. There was a narrow vertical window opposite the door that could not be opened and was painted over. I was able to shower twice a week. I recall a haunting emptiness but I have always been good being alone.
What I am sure of is that the degree of negative effect of not just isolation, but incarceration in general, is relative to the person. In prison, the line for the pay phone was an enlightening vantage to size up who was how. It was in their eyes as they waited in line to make a phone call home. Panic, crying...hanging up when their time is up only to get back in line to call again. It was painful to watch but I learned from it; the difference was "allowing time to do them" rather than "doing their time".
writing in progress...
Leaving Little Rock
Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved
I left Little Rock in May of 1985 with my tail tucked between my legs. With leg irons on and hand cuffs attached to a chain around my waste, a prison bus delivered me to a Federal Prison near the state line in Texarkana. Prisoners not destined to serve time there were held-over in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) to wait for transport to their final destination; I fell into this category. Ad-Seg was considered jail-in-jail as inmates were separated from regular population. Imagine my surprise on arriving to discover the orderly mopping outside my cell and passing out toiletries was a familiar face from Little Rock.
With time to ponder what brought me to this point; I reasoned everything in life boiled down to a few moments. A few decisions or words here and there mattered enough to change the trajectory of everything, and the big stuff wasn't always clear or the difference proportionate. The hard lesson; a few bad moves could wipe out a lifetime of good.
Years before there was the Wolf of Wall Street, there were Little Rock Bond Daddies. Bond daddies were a phenomenon of the 70's & 80's that began in Memphis and migrated to Little Rock. In a 1989 article by Constance Mitchell for the Wall Street Journal titled, The Bond Daddies: Fast-Talking Brokers in Little Rock Target Small-City Treasuries, she wrote, "Bond daddies are a nomadic Southern strain of telephone securities salesmen known for their tenacity on the job and ostentation off."
After high school, a friend convinced me the way to go from rags to riches in Little Rock was to become a bond daddy. I decided to bypass college and go for it. I passed the Series 7, Registered Representative exam prior to my twenty-first birthday and started hawking bonds for a bucket shop in the Quapaw section of Little Rock in 1980. I call it a bucket shop but remember it fondly; I gained some confidence and learned to sell on the phone there.
Shortly after Collins, Locke & Lasater opened their new offices around 1982; I was recruited to join them. I was blown away by the lavish workplace, the luxury amenities, and the lifestyle - so quickly and eagerly I agreed. I was good at it too; earning over $50k in the month of October 1983, I was twenty three years old.
Sadly, it didn't take long before I self-destructed and succumbed to greed, temptation & excess. In that course; I violated securities' laws, plead nolo contendre to Federal charges, was placed on probation, and forfeited my securities license. My flame-out may have been the first to occur and a canary in the coal mine that was Collins, Locke and Lasater. I was heartened to learn that another broker-dealer offered to sponsor me (Thank you Butch) and apply for license reinstatement upon successful completion of my two year probation.
I learned about the murder of Staci Ellis five years after her May, 2001 death. The suffering this eighteen year old girl endured the final moments of her life is unimaginable. It was a senseless murder of a teen not long out of high school with everything to live for. What haunts me was my brief interaction with her killer, Ron O'Neal. I never knew or even met Staci Ellis; she was only two years old when I met the man who would take her life, and when I took that prison bus ride years ago. Her death made me question the consequence of turning him in when I did, rather than let him be caught for what he was planning to do. In a nutshell; In 1984, O'Neal used several accomplices to help him bomb a lingerie store and numerous nightclubs in Little Rock & North Little Rock.
My association with O'Neal lasted only around three months but it altered the direction of my life completely. I first met Ron O'Neal in late 1984; he was hanging out by the back door at the Wine Cellar nightclub. Curious, I asked who he was and he told me he was the janitor at the club, but not allowed in during business hours. I later learned he actually owned the club with his wife. He had been recently released on parole for insurance fraud and could not enter his own nightclub as a condition of that parole. I also learned there was much more to that insurance fraud incident as it also involved a man killed in a suspicious accident in Oklahoma in order to collect. There were a lot of rumors but no proof.
O'Neal got nervous over the media attention the bombings were stirring up and feared being caught, so he determined the best course of action was to kill potential witnesses and perceived enemies. Hoping to find another accomplice in me, he told me he had a list of people he needed to deal with (some friends of mine). O'Neal was scary enough without this new sense of paranoia adding an unpredictability to the mix; I feared I could just as easily make his list on a whim. Had I done nothing at the time; I am confident he would have killed one or more people, but he wouldn't have been free to murder Staci sixteen years later.
I admit I vacillated on what to do. I had less than six months left on a two year probation and still a shot at a career in the bond business. Additionally, the action necessary to put him away would expose me legally since I was on probation and O'Neal would know I turned him in. Ultimately, I did what I believed to be the right thing and testified about the eminent threat O'Neal posed others if he was not locked-up. It saddens me he was ever released after the 1984 bombings and I am haunted that all I did was alter who would die, not that he would murder.
The last time I saw Ron O'Neal he was mopping the floor outside my cell in the Administrative Segregation unit at the federal prison in Texarkana. Ron was as surprised as I was to see one another. He was cordial; he gave me some toiletries, an envelope and a stamp.
To be continued...
- Bucket Shops and Bond Daddies
- Firebombs at the Checkmate
- Collins, Locke & Lasater
- The Janitor at the Wine Cellar
- Sounding the Warning
- Cause and Effect