Steven Donziger, the plaintiff's lawyer in the Chevron Ecuador case that was found guilty of violating the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act), and which was unanimously affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, now has something in common with Republican U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50th District): they both are working to avoid jail.
In Duncan Hunter's case, he and his wife Margaret Hunter are accused of spending $250,000 for golf outings, trips to Italy and Hawaii, school tuition, theater tickets and other expenses between 2009 and 2016. Both were indicted on 60 criminal counts related to allegations of misuse of campaign funds and working to hide illegal spending.
Now, it's reported that Duncan Hunter's wife "flipped" on him. Fox News reports that "The congressman’s wife had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, but it was reported Wednesday that she had decided to change her plea at the last minute." Now, she faces five years in jail.
Steven Donziger Gets In More Chevron Ecuador Legal Trouble
Steven Donziger's digging in deep trouble with Judge Kaplan. The story is the latest in a long-running battle that started in Ecuador, where Steven Donziger fashioned an argument that some 30,000 people claimed they'd been hurt by environmental pollution between 1972 and 1990 caused by TexPet, an Ecuador / Texaco Inc. organization. Texaco was purchased by Chevron in 2005 and so that company inherited the case and Donziger. Steven Donziger bribed and directed an Ecuador Court to order Chevron to pay $19 billion in 2011, though the amount was
later dropped to $9.5 billion.
Judge Kaplan ruled in 2014, on what Steven Donziger himself admitted in outtakes to the movie CRUDE: that the Ecuadorian judgment was ghostwritten by Donziger and other members of his legal team, who had bribed a judge to sign off on it. Judge Kaplan's ruling was affirmed by the Second Circuit in 2016.
Donziger and Chevron have continued to battle, with Donziger losing, as Chevron has issued claims that Donziger hasn't complied with the terms of the RICO decision and pressed for payment of a related $800,000 monetary judgment.
In Steven Donziger's Chevron Ecuador case, his legal nemesis U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan him to surrender his passport as a way to pressure Donziger to follow court orders. Kaplan on Tuesday said "additional coercive remedies" were necessary because Donziger, who helped secure a $9.5 billion oil pollution judgment against Chevron that the judge ruled fraudulent in the RICO trial, had not has not paid any of the fines Kaplan set stemming from two recent contempt findings, which totaled $952,000.
"Keeping in mind that it is desirable to calculate coercive sanctions to employ as little 'coercion' as is needed to produce compliance, an appropriate next step — in view of the ineffectiveness to date of the escalating coercive fines — is to require Donziger to surrender his passport(s) pending his full compliance with the outstanding order," Judge Kaplan said.
Donziger is playing with fire in his constant attempts to defy Judge Kaplan's orders and rulings. So far, he's fighting a losing battle.
Law360 reports that...
In an order related to a handful of Chevron contempt motions, Judge Kaplan said Donziger had raised at least $2.3 million by selling interest in the judgment to investors and "personally profited from this money that he raised, allegedly on behalf of his clients." The court ordered Donziger to sign over his claim to the Ecuador judgment and to repay some $666,000 he'd raised from investors and put into his personal accounts, gave to his wife, or used to pay his mortgage and credit card bill. The judge also said that if he has not complied with the order by May 28, he will be on the hook for a $2,000 fine that will double every day until he complies.
Considering that it's now June 14th, it would seem that Donziger's on that hook. If he's not careful, he could wind up in Duncan Hunter's situation.