Freedom of Press – Journalists Without Borders

To Our LM Audience:

We are asking you to kindly support organizations that support journalists and free press worldwide.

Since our inception in 2016, we have a significant worldwide readership. We thank you for that. We are eternally grateful for your concern when the site went dark for periods along the way, many were concerned for our physical safety. Others were concerned that we would sell out. 

WE WILL NOT SELL OUT. 

By way of explanation, at times we went dark because the undertaking involved in keeping this blog active is immense. There is simply so much information. We are well aware that we may have let some of you down, those who were counting on us to do something or say something in an area of interest. 

We must express our apologies. We continuously endeavor to rectify that. There really is so much information and the necessity for help from our readers is unquantifiable. 

While we had not really focused on the issue of “Chofesh Ha’Bitui” before now, we have been placed in a position wherein this is now first and foremost in our thinking. Free Speech and Free Press should not be available to only those persons who can afford to defend against false claims and allegations that somehow we have committed some violation. The ability to scrutinize a community and its members (whether ultra-Orthodox or otherwise) should not be stymied by those with the money to afford to use the judicial system as a weapon.

The state of Free Speech throughout the world is at risk. In many parts of the world it is threatened by violence to journalists. In the US it is threatened by the wealth of those who can either hire firms to begin scrubbing the internet or who can hire lawyers to drag people through costly litigation.

The following link is to is a post from Journalists Without Borders. We ask that you please pay close attention. In the meantime, please send along information. Please speak up. Please alert us to what is happening in the world. We are committed to this endeavor. findinglostmessiah@gmail.com

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-8mWBSOShPKdUEzT795R83BAVfxtjR2F/view

To donate to Journalists Without Borders click here. https://rsf.org/en/rsf-usa-membership

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Chofesh H’Betui – The Right to Convey Free Thinking – at Stake PART II

The Word “Philanthropist” and the Services Money Can Buy –

Taking Aim at Free Speech

We have stated many times that we really do not like the word “Philanthropist.” Those self-proclaimed philanthropists, in our view, who riddle these pages have not given freely. They have not given anonymously to a beneficiary and taken no credit for the gifts, one of the highest forms of giving in the Jewish faith. Instead they have boasted philanthropy as a badge of alleged honor. Philanthropy, as such, is not a gift but a justification or a remediation of whatever sins have been committed.

And at this the holiest season on the Jewish calendar, we are taught that giving money to repent for our sins is simply not enough.

We are not philanthropists. We are supporters of a cause-accountability. We take on issues involving children, education, the treatment  of our elderly, honest business practices, human decency, mutual respect for our neighbors, integrity and most importantly, the right to free speech.

Nearly each page we have published contains the name of someone, whose ‘Wikipedia” page would call a philanthropist, as self-described. These alleged “Philanthropists” have learned to game a system, whether by greasing the palms of politicians, sending police officers to Israel, making friends with the appropriate corrupt officials in the Congo, purchasing a nursing home by manipulating zoning laws and then treating the patients reprehensibly or altering the zoning laws to suit their fancy. And, all of this under the guise of “Philanthropy.”

To our valued readers, these same self-proclaimed “Philanthropists” filed a lawsuit against a blogger, served on a Saturday which will require a response of one form or another in the middle of the holiday season. It will require funding and time. And in the greatest of ironies, the Plaintiffs refer to themselves as “Philanthropists.”

This lawsuit is an effort to silence the blogger and presumably silence this blog. The stakes are high. We have a readership of well over 1.5M views in the last few years and if we are forced to shut the doors to this site, it will send a message to each of our readers that it is too risky to speak up, something which runs counter to our very system of beliefs. A victory by these Plaintiffs would be the destruction of society’s ability to hold bad actors accountable for their actions, a horrifying result.

The law firm handling the suit is well connected in Kings County and is well known for its political connections and for its support of so many of the members of the community that grace our pages. The law firm has as great an interest in this case as its clients.

We will be asking for your support in the coming weeks. We have never asked for financial assistance to keep these pages running but a crowdfunding site is being established by friends of this page.

In the meantime, the findinglostmessiah@gmail.com address is up and running after some maneuvering. We are happy to answer questions and we could use any help you may have.

Finally, insofar as WordPress has a set of standards they follow, we encourage posting and participation. We remain faithful to the trust placed in us by you, our readers.

With many thanks. With kindness and immeasurable gratitude.

L’Shana Tova – LM and all of those who make this endeavor possible.

 

 

The Use of Litigation to Chill Speech – LostMessiah, Fensterman and the SandosaCare Example – PART I

936754_10200089158137358_142753902_nDear Reader:

Last week one anonymous blogger, allegedly associated with the LostMessiah site, was served with a defamation suit for two articles written in 2016. It appears that to obtain a blogger’s information, WordPress was handed a Court Order to uncover the identity of LostMessiah’s associated individuals, the basis of that Order remains open to numerous questions.

The relief being sought is the removal of the articles, which had already been facilitated, a blanket ban on the appearance of any story written on LostMessiah (or anywhere else by this blogger), as such story might relate to Plaintiff family and its related companies. This last relief is known in the legal world as a prior restraint. The suit also requests damages and punitive damages.  

The objective of the complaint can be nothing other than to chill speech, something we find unpalatable, at best, reprehensible at worst.

It is most certainly inconsistent with this country’s notion of Freedom of Speech. If every activist, speaker, author, writer, painter, blogger and celebrity who tries to speak out against the wrongs in our society gets slapped with a lawsuit, free speech gets trampled and wrongful actors get to act with impunity. In this particular case, the implications, are broad ranging since so many subjects of our articles have endless sums of money, as does the Plaintiff family. This is from our perspective, totally unacceptable.

To you our readers, you should be incensed. 

Without going into all of the specifics, the articles had been published on LostMessiah in 2016 and remained continuously on the site until the anonymous blogger was contacted to remove them, the removal of which said blogger facilitated in an act of good faith.  

Consistent with our mission of integrity and substantiated reporting, we had sources to back up our stories. Ironically, in what appears to be a concerted effort at scrubbing the internet, the backup stories were cleansed as well, including the stories’ underlying lawsuit which had been available on the University of Virginia site. That underlying lawsuit and its information, largely substantiating the facts and circumstances of the articles in question, are still publicly available, but far harder to find.

Since getting served on a Saturday afternoon, an irony not lost on us (the blogger did not ask the process server if he was Jewish), a group of people has been researching every inch of the web, submitting Freedom of Information Act requests and searching publicly available information to determine exactly why this issue is of such great importance to this family. The stories had been on the internet for well over 2 years.

As to the law firm representing the plaintiff, we can only say that they are no strangers to using the court system as a tool for quelling free speech.

The Sentosa Care Story is one example. It should be noted that the Courts dismissed that case against the ProPublica freelancers as a “fair and true report”.

 See here.  

See: TheDailyBeast: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-brooklyn-machine-vs-the-first-amendment

The Brooklyn Machine vs. the First Amendment

A nursing home operator who says he was defamed in ProPublica is ignoring the publisher with deep pockets and instead taking aim at two freelance investigative reporters.

Continue reading

SentosaCare – Filipino Nurses – October 2015 – Accountability (or the lack thereof) and Politics

Ben Landa – a Comment to Our Previous PostSentosaCare and Google

LostMessiah – 20.04.17

After reading one of the “glowing endorsements” of Ben Landa we received in the comments to our previous posting, and in an effort to stay true to investigating the voracity of our commenter’s claims that the staff at SentosaCare is happy in their positions, we decided to do as the commenter asked, “Google.”

Much to our chagrin, there were numerous glowing articles about SentosaCare and Ben Landa all of which, unsurprisingly, were posted on SentosaCare’s websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages or those of SentosaCare’s affiliates and partners. We also found glowing reviews of Ben Landa, also on his own website, LinkedIn pages and Twitter feeds.  Unsurprising, there were no flowery reports about Ben Landa being a “great guy.”

In fact, among the many things we found on our Google search (completed at the request of the commenter) were a string of lawsuits against SentosaCare, the most chilling of which related to the company’s treatment of its Filipino staff. We were surprised to find a string of repeated accusations dating back to 2004 and elder care issues at Fensterman’s nursing home in 2003 and earlier.  But Fensterman was not the subject of our commenter’s words of praise. We were thus shamed into realizing that not enough has been said about SentosaCare, Ben Landa, Howard Fensterman and the political gamesmanship that has facilitated, if not out rightly endorsed these facilities.

We discovered, thanks to our commenter, that the most interesting and unsettling explanation for the success of these facilities can be found at least as early as 2005. There are certainly numerous articles supporting our repeated contentions that politics and the political generosity of the owners of these homes are like binary stars, functioning because they feed off each other like parasites. Political clout knows no bounds and moral bankruptcy can likely not be crammed down.

The reality of today could not be better described than it was in an article from  2007 by Michael Amon and Ridgely Ochs entitled:

“How a Long Island Nursing Home Empire Got Its Way”

/01/05/how-a-long-island-nursing-home-empire-got-its-way/

Instead of posting that article, which only serves to outline the history of behavior found in our previous post, we decided to post the text of an article found on the website of a South Carolina law firm. While we know nothing at all about this firm, their words speaks volumes.

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT:

In the interest of full disclosure, this posting is not an endorsement of the law firm quoted nor is it an advertisement on behalf of the law firm. We know nothing about the law firm or their services but are simply posting information we found in a Google search. We felt it important to show that we indulged the request of one of our commenters and the results of that request led us here. – LM

 

SENTOSACARE: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE AREN’T PUT FIRST?

POSTED BY CHRISTIAN & DAVIS LLC || 29-OCT-2015

With more than 5000 beds in 25 facilities, SentosaCare, LLC is now the largest nursing home network in the state of New York. However, a quick look into the record of complaints, fines, and violations is enough to make one wonder how SentosaCare is allowed to run one facility, let alone acquire dozens more.

In one particularly harrowing story, a 60 year old patient was placed into a SentosaCare facility to recover from a diabetic emergency. He entered the facility with minor wounds on his foot, and expected them to heal over the six weeks he planned to stay at the home. However, his “recovery” soon led to an emergency hospital visit, as negligence by caretakers led to a severe infection which required amputating his foot.

Why is SentosaCare Being Allowed to Expand?

In New York, prospective buyers of nursing home facilities must pass a “character-and-competence” review before the transaction will be allowed. The Public Health and Health Planning Council is supposed to deny these deals when they find that the facilities have repeat violations which could potentially put the residents at risk. The Council works primarily off of reports and records compiled by the Department of Health.

However, the Department of Health has regularly excluded or failed to report major violations, including more than 20 federal fines which SentosaCare facilities have been ordered to pay. Inspections reports have indicated numerous instances of residents wandering away, and in one case, freezing to death. Prosecutors and inspectors alike have found that staff members have falsified records. Despite this, the Department of Health found that SentosaCare homes provide a “substantially consistent high level of care.”

We Fight for Those Who Can’t

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of instances of improper patient care in SentosaCare facilities. While this group appears to be particularly troubled, similar abuse and neglect unfortunately occurs in facilities around the country. The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general has even stated that one-third of all Medicare patients suffered preventable harm in a nursing home within one month of being admitted for short-term rehab. For more information, read this recent ProPublica article.

At Christian & Davis, LLC, our Greenville nursing home abuse attorneys are proud to stand up for the rights of the elderly. We believe that when you put your loved one into a nursing home, they deserve to receive a high standard of care – and the law is on our side. If someone you love has suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff, contact our firm immediately to pursue justice.

Hold negligent or abusive nursing homes accountable for their actions. Call (864) 408-8890 today for experienced, compassionate counsel.

State Sanctioned Harm To Our Most Vulnerable, Landa, Fensterman, the DOH and Schneiderman, Accountability?

Maybe US District Court Judge Will at Long Last Hold the DOH, AG Schneiderman and Owners Like the Sentosa Consortium Accountable for the Deplorable Treatment of The People in Their Facilities

In 2002 the New York Times reported on accusations against the State of New York for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by allegedly “warehousing” adults with disabilities and placing them in homes that were not meeting their needs.

In 2009, the New York Times again reported on violations in an article entitled: State Discriminated Against Mentally Ill, Judge Rules

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/nyregion/09mental.html?_r=0

According to the allegations, not only is the State allowing nursing homes and other facilities to continue to operate substandard facilities that do not adequately protect the most vulnerable in our population, including the elderly and mentally ill; but there are backdoor dealings and conflicts of interest by the State, lawyers representing the State, attorneys representing the nursing homes and the Department of Health (DOH).

In an online radio interview on WNYC (link below) one of the sites referenced is Ocean View Manor in Brooklyn—which is run by the Ben Landa (under an LLC). It happens (fortuitously) that Ben Landa is the business partner of Attorney Howard Fensterman who is also the principal in the sketchy SentosaCare consortia. This incestuous relationship between an attorney, his political connections and a for-profit nursing consortium was further revealed in an investigative story in ProPublica in Oct 2015.

As a reminder, Fensterman has been a campaign fund raiser for Governor Cuomo, Mayor deBlasio and Senator Schumer all of whom are named throughout the allegations, lawsuits and even by the attorney in the referenced lawsuit.

US District Court Judge Garaufis’ words implied that there is appears to be collusion by the DOH and AG Schneiderman and the attorneys for the Nursing Home Industry. He commented that AG Schneiderman should spend less time writing press releases and more time looking into the issues at hand. AG Schneiderman has been defending the DOH and the implication is that the Nursing Home’s attorney was back-door dealing with the health department. This would be consistent with the ProPublica article and the New York Times reports.

WNYC Radio Report: https://www.wnyc.org/story/federal-judge-admonishes-new-york-state-warehousing-mentally-ill/

Mar 23, 2017 · by Cindy Rodriguez

A federal judge is demanding to know whether the state colluded with adult home operators to undermine a legal settlement that took more than a decade to come to fruition.

Under the settlement, which protects 5,000 seriously mentally ill adults, the state agreed to prohibit psychiatric hospitals from discharging people into what are called adult homes, which have come under scrutiny in the past.

But when a man who wanted to live in an adult home challenged the regulation in state court, the state agreed to temporarily halt it — a move that could potentially dissolve the larger agreement.

The man was represented by an attorney for the adult home industry. Jota Borgmann, an attorney for the mentally ill, say emails show the attorney for adult homes potentially colluding with health department lawyers on the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis says if that’s case, he would consider it “a fraud” on the court.

The state attorney general was representing the Department of Health in the federal court legal settlement. Lawyers for the Attorney General have accused the state of going behind their back to halt the regulation. They’ve asked to withdraw as counsel.

Adult homes are like large group homes — many of them have more than 200 beds — that are for the frail, elderly and disabled.

The state says it can’t comment on pending litigation and any allegations of collusion are patently false.

Listen to the interview above to hear more.

Sentosa, Lawsuits, ProPublica, Filipino Servitude, Elder Abuse, ENOUGH?!

fILIPINO.case.108934

WHEN IS ENOUGH- ENOUGH?

SENTOSACARE’S ALLEGED ABUSES CONTINUE AS ALLEGED!

In a March 14, 2017 McKnight’s story on the class action complaint filed against SentosaCare for allegedly keeping 350 Filipino nurses in ‘indentured servitude,’ the author adds another example of the abuse of a system intended to protect our frail and vulnerable elderly.

http://www.mcknights.com/news/new-yorks-largest-for-profit-snf-operator-kept-nurses-in-indentured-servitude-lawsuit-claims/article/643845/

Notwithstanding the detailed ProPublica Oct 2015 revelations about PHHPC and SentosaCare’s malfeasance, the Cuomo appointed agency has nonetheless facilitated the licensure of one of the stakeholders of SentosaCare-Benjamin Landa to purchase Briarcliff Manor. Operators of the largest skilled nursing facility consortia in New York State, with repeated articles regarding their treatment of both staff and patients are being permitted to expand.

Benjamin Landa and his gang of merry elder “caregivers” (using the terms loosely and with sarcasm) are suing propublica for reporting:

https://www.propublica.org/article/new-york-for-profit-nursing-home-group-flourishes-despite-patient-harm

In spite of mounting evidence that this group should not be permitted to expand, we have the Public Health and Health Planning Council’s buy with no character/competency issues identified…Page 96

https://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/public_health_and_health_planning_council/meetings/2017-03-22/docs/exhibits.pdf

            Program Summary

            No negative information has been received concerning the character and competence of the above applicants. The proposed operators intend to enter into a contract for accounting services with Sapphire HC Management Care, LLC, which is a related party.

What does it take to be deemed “negative information”? If ending the continuation of the licensure of alleged criminal owner/operators is not a moral imperative question, what is?

Are we not obliged to ask whether it is no mere coincidence that Landa’s partner in SentosaCare, Howard Fensterman, (formerly of the PHHPC), contributed heavily to de Blasio’s first mayoral campaign?

Is it such a small world that he headed up the recruitment of Schumer’s Long Island campaign donations? Is it happenstance that $10,000 was given to Cuomo for his 2018 Campaign?

How many more vulnerable and disabled elderly will our Department of Health allow to be victimized by these same people?

How much money is enough to buy the silence of the very people we elect and hire to protect the most frail and fragile in our rapidly aging community?

How many aides must be subjected to abuse in the workplace, as these Filipino nurses were; or laid off by the thousands, as facilities are churned for real estate profiteering? 

WHEN IS ENOUGH-ENOUGH?

READ ALSO:

 

Who Would have Thought Ageing Could be So Lucrative?

 

What Happens When you Mix a Law firm, Politics and a Multimillion Dollar “Ageing” Industry?

Contributor Opinion, Lost Messiah, August 1, 2016

We are posting the following as a sort of related story to the picketing by Shlomo Rechnitz’s own nursing home employees, who seem to have more decency and care for their charges than Rechnitz. What follows is the East Coast’s version of the nursing home mafia, or at least one of them. We are fairly certain there is far more to follow.  

The AG has gone after Allure for ‘misrepresentations’ having to do with the churning of the Rivington House & CABs Bed-Stuy properties. Both of which were transitioned into luxury housing. The idea that ‘misrepresentation’ of bricks & cement are the priority for those in charge of justice shows you how ass-backward are the ethics of our elected officials.

Instead of preventing these unscrupulous amoral owner/operators from doing more harm to the frail and weak, to the disabled who cannot speak for themselves, and preventing these dangerous owners who lie about their intentions to care for their patients; it takes financial transactions to have the AG step up.  

Is it better than nothing? Yes…but not much.

Assertions of ‘supply and demand’ excuses and the parsing of deed restrictions in the lawsuit are the sole prioritized subject matter for the courts!? Killing off the disabled in sub-par nursing homes is not of any interest. The Department of Health “approves” the applications of these same owner/operators who have already been guilty of blatant disregard for the lives of those entrusted in their care.

Unless someone is maimed or dies…and a malpractice lawyer is hired (sorry, Mr. Fensterman, you would be conflicted) -these Nursing Home owners have unfettered access to more facilities, more fluid deed restrictions and more money.

Re the AG trying to stop Allure:

Context means so much…

The firm of Abrams Fensterman & Fensterman are Allure’s counselors in contesting the AG’s challenge for their effort to acquire the Greater Harlem Nursing Rehab facility and another nursing home. This case is currently being heard in Manhattan Supreme Court (Index 155305/2016). Fensterman, as already reported in Lost Messiah, has a long sketchy history and tentacles not only to Albany-and to Schumer in D.C. but also to deBlasio in NYC. We are posting prior forwarded links below as a matter of convenient reference.

Fensterman, dear Fensterman, is the Consigliere of the Nursing Home ultra-Orthodox mafia… The Rubin(s)/Landau -were the state’s DOH appointed Receivers in 2014 & were given the opportunity by a complicit NYS Public Health and  Health Planning Council (appointees of (corrupt) Cuomo) to get their foothold in this Harlem Rehab-in order to buy and inevitably (as they did with the churning of the Rivington Nursing Home and the Bed-Stuy CABS facilities) leverage it for sale. 

We also believe that they may have played financial “Twister” with Medicaid, Medicare and Workers Compensation in the process. They have employed the Fensterman attorneys as their defense team. In fact, Fensterman seems to have made defending the questionable business tactics of nursing home owners, and fighting for additional nursing homes for his clients a lucrative legal industry.

The coup d’grace is that Long Island’s Fensterman recently opened a branch of his office in Brooklyn with County Dem Boss and ‘appointer’ of  judges, Frank Seddio and his partner Frank Carone. Ready to make sure that all of the ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn owners of nursing homes and long term care facilities know who to hire as the lawsuits come rolling in. Hard to know which judges have Seddio to thank for their seats…

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/nyregion/reinventing-long-term-care-and-endorsing-firms-accused-of-fraud.html

Excerpt from above:

Mr. Fensterman is past chairman of fund-raising for Mr. Cuomo on Long Island, and his Lake Success law firm has donated more than a half-million dollars to candidates of both parties over the past decade, records show, including more than $17,700 to Mr. Cuomo and $43,291.25 to Senator Skelos, the Senate Republican leader. Excellent and the Fenstermans’ separate contributions include another $13,500 to Governor Cuomo.

https://michaelamon.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/how-a-long-island-nursing-home-empire-got-its-way/

Excerpt from above:

“Howard Fensterman, SentosaCare’s chief attorney, is Schumer’s Long Island finance chairman and a top fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, chaired by Schumer. Fensterman, along with the SentosaCare executives he represents, said they had supported Schumer for years, well before he acted on their behalf.”

The Sick Looting of Home Health Care

Excerpt from above:

More problems surfaced when the media got wind that Fensterman, Landa’s attorney, was lining up contributions for Cuomo’s campaigns. Both the Voice and Newsday reported that Cuomo had received donations from partners in a company under investigation. The campaign quickly returned $6,000 from Landa. Fensterman said his own donations were fine, since he was no longer seeking to become a partner. Actually, he simply had his wife, Lori, replace him as a would-be shareholder.

http://www.howardfensterman.com/in-the-news/bill-de-blasio

In October, 2013, Mr. Fensterman hosted a fundraiser for NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio at his Long Island residence, where over ninety Long Island community leaders gathered to show their support for the Democratic nominee.

So while the optics would seem to be promising-this case MUST be followed closely. Perhaps in his own evaluation, the political gains for Schneiderman from newsworthy attention of the public will be considered worth the ‘sturm und drang’ from the Hasidic community-Schneiderman’s former  ‘sponsors’ and patrons?