Friday, April 8, 2011

To Catch a Fortune: How Perverted Justice conned us out of $1.2 Million

This is an "aussome" article from theLand Down Under on the woes of Perverted Justice. Do I need any more proof of the Big Registry industry?


Remember ‘To Catch a Predator’, the awful festival of horror and shame from Dateline NBC that briefly captured America’s heart in the mid-aughts? We thought we’d check in with the creepy internet vigilantes behind it, and guess what? They’re broke.

“To Catch a Predator” was a series of Dateline internet stings where fake 13-year-old girls and boys would lure would-be statutory rapists to fake houses set up by NBC News. Instead of the promised pre-teens, they’d encounter NBC News correspondent Chris Hansen, who would explore their awfulness and berate them in an interview before sending them out the door and into the arms of awaiting cops.

For a while, it was the best thing NBC had going, beating The Office and matching The Apprentice in ratings in 2006. Then one of the caught predators shot himself in the head while NBC News cameras waited outside his home, and people started to wonder whether reveling in the sickness and criminality of damaged people whose crimes were hypothetical and who wouldn’t have even been there if NBC hadn’t lured them there was really such a good idea. The network pulled the plug in 2008.

The stings were conducted by Perverted Justice, a loosely organised online vigilante outfit founded by a Portland man named Phillip John Eide in 2003. Eide – who changed his name to Xavier von Erck in 2006 – and his volunteers initially just documented the predators they caught and exposed them online, but soon they started working with law enforcement and local TV stations. When NBC News took them national, the network paid Perverted Justice more than $US100,000 per sting. “Von Erck” was an odd partner for a national news organisation – he looked like Kevin Smith, called the civilian victims of al Qaeda “shameless and pathetic” on his blog, and once pretended to be a woman to seduce an online enemy in an attempt to ruin him. All told, NBC News paid him somewhere in the neighbourhood of $US1.2 million between 2006 and 2009.

Where did the money go? Back in 2006, “Von Erck” had big plans for his franchise. He founded a nonprofit called Perverted Justice Foundation Inc. to receive NBC’s funds, and hoped to apply them to the tax-exempt goal of “promot[ing] internet safety” and helping cops “apprehend internet based sexual predators”.

In 2006, according to PJFI’s application for tax-exempt status, he predicted that NBC would pay the foundation $US2 million in consulting fees by 2008, and that it would soon be raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from major corporate donors like Wal-Mart and Microsoft. It planned to develop special software to help parents monitor their kids’ internet usage. It hoped to send its members on speaking tours to spread the word about predators and to publish guides and brochures for parents and kids. PJFI set up a web site and started paying “Von Erck,” treasurer Dennis Kerr, and secretary Allison Shea $US120,000 annual salaries. Shea and Kerr were active volunteers for Perverted Justice prior to the NBC deal; Shea, who also goes by the name Del Harvey, is now Twitter’s “director of trust and safety.”

The NBC money dried up sooner than expected, and corporate donors never emerged. In 2009, according to PJFI’s tax return, the group had a whopping $US2148 in income and $US10,368 in cash on hand at the end of the year. While Perverted Justice as a group still conducts untelevised stings and claims convictions of predators—their 542nd, they say, was convicted on Tuesday—the foundation is obviously nonfunctional. Its “programs” are little more than apparently defunct web sites—, for instance, purports to help teens deal with abuse and hasn’t been updated since 2008. The Perverted Justice Academy, which supposedly trains law enforcement in how to conduct stings on its own, is “conducted online in our own private law enforcement training chat rooms.” Each course lasts an hour.

All told, the Perverted Justice Foundation spent more than $US1,202,739 in from 2006 to 2009 in pursuit of its tax-exempt goals. Of that, an astonishing 82% – $984,233 – went to salaries. Almost all of it – $783,000 – went to “Von Erck”, Kerr and Shea.

Over the course of four years, the foundation spent just $US218,506 on things other than employees. More than $US50,000 of that went to “travel and entertainment”. Another $US13,766 went to “equipment”, and nearly $US29,000 went to “website”. In other words, “Von Erck” basically set up a nonprofit to accept NBC News’ money and spent it on himself, his friends, and his web site. Rather than use the money to build a long-lasting institution that might help people – or at least spark more paedophile suicides – he blew through it, and now he’s got about ten grand left.

“Von Erck” didn’t return an email seeking comment. A message left on the foundation’s voicemail wasn’t returned.

Read the Perverted Justice Foundation’s 2006 application for tax exempt status and its 2007, 2008, and 2009 tax returns here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Paraplegic faces jail in violent citizen’s arrest

‘I’D DO IT...

Why do people continue to take the law into their own hands rather than let the police do their jobs? I'm sure this guy will get off Scott-free of course, but at least he was arrested for assault. I'm not defending his victim's wrongdoing in saying this, but allegations are just that-- allegations. That is a job for the Criminal Justice system, not every armchair vigilante out there, to determine guilt or innocence. Even though dealing with this guy in prison will cost taxpayers a fortune in medical costs, I'm all for locking another vigilante up in the name of public safety.

I find it hard to believe he didn't mean to assault the guy. He could have called the police and had them arrest the man at his home. Sorry but something smells funnier than the typical old man scent of ben-gay and moth balls. This sounds a lot like intentional assault to me.

Paraplegic faces jail in violent citizen’s arrest

‘Victim’ charged with child abuse

By Laurel J. Sweet and Christine McConville
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe is pressing ahead with a felony assault charge that could put a paraplegic grandfather in the slammer for up to 10 years for whacking his 3-year-old granddaughter’s alleged molester with a Louisville slugger after setting a trap for his arrest...

Hebert, left confined to a wheelchair with only partial use of his arms after a car crash in Falmouth a decade ago, was summonsed to Edgartown District Court on March 25 and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He said he was advised by a judge to get an attorney and is due back in court May 2 for a pretrial conference...

Hebert’s granddaughter is the child of his life partner’s daughter, but he considers her his kin. The child goes by a different name and her mom married the accused last summer.

Hebert claims it was over Christmas that the tot began asking her grandparents to protect her.

On Feb. 22, Hebert said his partner took her daughter and granddaughter, who were visiting, back to the mainland to talk to police, while he lured Hardy to his Mac PC Sales and Service shop in Vineyard Haven.

Hebert said “fear” prompted him to bring a baseball bat to the rendezvous and call state police to back him up.

Hebert said he pointed the bat at Hardy and ordered him to stay seated until police arrived, but Hardy, he said, stood up and laughed at him — and that’s when he used the bat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vigilante blogger Danielle Schneider sued

Fighting back: Danielle Schneider, the mother of sex offender Patrick Rojas's young victim, has set up a fund on her blog and a Facebook page to help pay for her legal caseT

Far too often, people feel justified to commit criminal acts in the name of revenge, retribution, or what they believe to be "justice." Such is the case of Danielle Jones Schneider. If you haven't heard about this story, just read on:

From the Seattle Weekly Blog--

It doesn't take long to look through Danielle Schneider's blog and realize that she really doesn't like Patrick Rojas. She has, of course, good reason not to. In 2007 the then-22-year-old pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges--communication with a minor for immoral purposes--for incidents involving Schneider's 11-year-old daughter. He's free now, and says that her hate blog is keeping him from getting a job. As such, he and his lawyer would like "unspecified damages" to compensate him for his troubles...

In fairness, Schneider's 277 blog posts go back to March 2009, and are vitriolic as they come. The posts blast Rojas, his father Eddie, wife Kathy, a host of clergy members at their church, nearly all of their children, and just about anyone else who's ever associated with them. She writes about where they go, what they do, and whatever rumors she hears. She accuses them of other crimes, though her documentation backing up the claims is typically lacking. At any rate, it's clear that the shaming of Rojas and his clan is something that Schneider is obsessively committed to.
 We tend to think people are somehow justified in doing this, but we have a justice system for that. However imperfect it is, it is there to punish criminal behavior.What Rojas did was wrong; however, this does not give John Q. Public free reign to harass Rojas. What Schneider is doing today is harassment, plain and simple, and as such, she is a criminal. It remains to be seen whether a judge will do the right thing and rule against Schneider in light of the rants on both her blog and throughout the internet. Some of her other comments really make me question her integrity (a lot of things simple are not adding up):

I believe if someone is accused of childhood sexual abuse or rape that they should be required to have a psycho sexual evaluation and PASS it as truthful in order to even be considered eligible for a plea offer....what would need to happen for this to be made into law? Since the abuse in my family occurred, I've noticed that individuals that harm animals seem to get harsher legal consequences than those who harm/sexually abuse children, can the statistic be looked into for this.
We need to network, come together and make real, meaningful change. I DO NOT BELIEVE a pedophile can be cured...although I do believe in a God of miracles, I WOULD NOT be willing to risk an innocent child to test if a convicted pedophile has been "healed" would you?

She's also begging the public for money to support her legal fees for committing harassment. No doubt she's raking in the funds-- they did the same for Angry Tammy Gibson. I guess what people say about the Pacific Northwest and mental illness is true.

I'll be watching this case closely. It is time a vigilante gets deterred from engaging in criminal activity.