Le Nature’s Disaster

by Johnny Debacle

Greg Podlucky former CEO of Le Nature'sYou want to know how to commit corporate fraud? Gregory Podlucky, founder of Le Nature’s / evangelist / genius, shows how to get it done. A little background, Le Nature’s is a bottled water company, based in Pennsylania that was about to be sold for $1.2bn until all this came out. This story is not getting any coverage despite being a huge fraud and an even huger source of absurdity.

WTAE Channel 4’s news exchange partners at the Tribune Review reported Podlucky was escorted out of the building last week, and the locks were changed.

Mr. Podlucky was evicted Oct. 27 after the company’s minority shareholders presented evidence of widespread accounting fraud and document destruction implicating Mr. Podlucky.

Le-Nature’s “reported revenue of $275 million to the outside world when it had [revenue of] $32 million,” Mr. Basta said.

the custodian found the situation at the company “far worse than imagined” when it took control. He cited “widespread document destruction” at a company that kept two sets of books and has less than $1 million in cash on hand. Le-Nature’s has nearly $750 million in bank and bond debt, lease obligations and other liabilities.

two safes were found at the company that contained watches, jewelry and a considerable amount of cash

“We’re in a bit of a corporate governance mess,” Mr. Basta [incoming custodian CEO] said.

LeNature’s was sued earlier this year by two investment groups, George K. Baum Capital Partners and S.W. Pelham Fund, which had invested $13 million in the company as part of LeNature’s expansion plans, which included construction of a plant in Arizona and plans for a third in Florida.

LeNature’s also is accused of “fraudulently inducing” a lending company to loan it $25 million for the purchase of equipment for its proposed Florida plant, according to Strine. The money, according to the judge’s order, was placed with an equipment manufacturer.

Then using forged documents, LeNature’s got the equipment company to transfer more than $20 million of the loan to LeNature accounts, Strine said.

Strine also found evidence that LeNature “intentionally doctored” minutes of a board meeting.

In its lawsuit, Baum and Pelham demanded an accounting of whether any corporate funds were used in the purchase of land for Podlucky’s proposed Grace Community Church of the Valley in Ligonier.

The land was purchased through Missy’s Place Foundation, named after Podlucky’s late daughter, Melissa. Tax records indicate that the company contributed $440,000 to the foundation.

and my favorite part

The firm, founded in 1989, was up for sale last November, but Podlucky rejected a $1.2 billion offer and refused to allow potential buyers to inspect the company’s records before making an offer.

You know how I know you are gay committing widespread corporate fraud? You don’t let me see your books when I am a bidding on your assets. Also, having your VP and your legal counsel threaten random bloggers who write negatively about your product is never a good sign either. It sounds like there is a lot more bizarre stuff going on with this case than what has been released in the wire reports, so if you know anything else of amusement value please post it in the comments or email it to johnnydebacle@gmail.com.

Snippets compiled from ThePittsburghChannel.com, PittsburghLive.com, Post-Gazette.com and the WSJ. Also the WSJ has a Le Nature’s entry on its Law blog.

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  1. nameless
    November 7th, 2006 | 12:59 am

    Why are these corporate fraudsters always republicans?



    definitely a long/short strategy here

  2. November 7th, 2006 | 7:28 am

    That picture is incredible, I think his tie is scared of his stomach. Luckily for the tie, it has a stranglehold on his neck.

  3. November 7th, 2006 | 8:38 am

    They aren’t always Republicans — example Global Crossing.

    But the reason that so often corporate fraudsters are Republicans is not because being Republican makes you more likely to be the type of person to commit fraud.

    It goes like this; the older you are the more likely you are to be Republican. The whiter you are the more likely you are to be Republican. Being a male makes you more likely to be Republican. Being rich makes you more likely to be a Republican.

    Most people in positions to commit these kinds of fraud are white rich males. Voila.

  4. zeek
    November 8th, 2006 | 9:03 am

    Has anybody heard anything regarding the whereabouts of Mr. Podlucky? You are right, this story is getting zero attention right now. I suspect we are just scratching the surface as far as what is going on.

  5. November 8th, 2006 | 11:30 am

    Maybe the rapture got him like it got Rick Santorum.

  6. Sam
    November 9th, 2006 | 8:05 pm

    It seems that only republican do these things, but thats only because the media only reports them when it’s republicans or christians, or both. Anyone who would ask why it’s only Republicans or Christians is really naive and fooling themselves. Greed attacks all types. It’s only made into a big deal when it’s someone that others don’t like. Please review your facts and note that Dems do the same. Some worse some not so bad.

  7. November 10th, 2006 | 8:26 am

    Sam I think my explanation was better and more accurate. Media reports both, and the liberal media bias thing is ridiculous to claim in a world with a million journalists of a million angles and a million outlets. It’s tired, put it to bed.

  8. Anonymous
    November 16th, 2006 | 9:14 pm

    My father worked there. He was in constant fear of losing his job, because the Podlucky brothers constantly threatened to fire anyone who did not submit to everything they wanted. Anyway, now my father is on the verge of filing bankruptcy because he cannot his bills after being furloughed earlier this week. I cannot wait to see Greg Podlucky, John Podlucky, and the rest of the corrupt board (who were all related) go down hard.

    On a side note: those performing the inspection of the company are the same people that did Enron and they said that what Podlucky was doing is 10 times worse than Enron and will be in college textbooks and taught in colleges/universities for the rest of time.

  9. Sandra
    November 29th, 2006 | 9:39 pm

    Is there anyway we can still buy the product. The lemon tea is great and I want more of it.

  10. Michael
    December 19th, 2006 | 7:52 pm

    Everybody is up in arms about what happened. It is not typical of all republicans. But that is not what I want to say or even discuss. As a consumer I truly enjoyed le Nature water. Was there a patent on the production method. If not why can’t someone pick up the plant in PHX AZ and start selling this product again?

  11. Ann Marie
    January 19th, 2007 | 5:56 pm

    I just learned of this terrible news from my local gracer when I went to buy my favorite water – Le Nature’s. I wish another corporation would buy Le Nature’s and use their filtration process because I found it to be the best bottled water on the market. In addition, Le Nature’s brand new plant in Phoenix, AZ is absolutely beautiful! Someone should make good use of it.

    “Every dog has their day” and these guys are no different! I feel sorry for those who lost their jobs and the investors.

  12. January 19th, 2007 | 6:39 pm

    Actually it’s not the filtration process that gives water its taste. Pure H2O is not as palatable as people might think. Many bottlers do their thing to get water to be pure H2O and then add back a certain mix of minerals to give it is taste.

    I’m long Dasani, and short the gross generic water I bought at CVS once.

  13. January 25th, 2007 | 12:56 am

    Now I remember, it was that gross water where you get 11% of your daily recommendation of calcium in each bottle. Apparently calcium tastes like ass, unless it’s in delicious Viavctive chocolate or caramel chews. They’re pure candy. Mmmm.. candy…

  14. A Bunch of Crooks!
    March 7th, 2007 | 3:49 pm

    Hey, I worked at that company. The way the sales figures got so inflated is that an artificially high frontline price is published, and then the product is discounted on invoice with the deduction being charged as “marketing”. I spent a year there a while back. I was not comfortable with how long it took them to pay my expenses – 2 months – so I left. while having no proof, I did not trust these guys at all.

  15. sherlockholmes
    May 6th, 2007 | 6:55 pm

    Le-Nature’s: The Unnecessary Demise Of A Great Beverage Producer

    What really happened at the small beverage producer located in the small, rural community of Latrobe, Pennsylvania? Aside from the chatter of understandably disgruntled (yet misinformed) employees and wannabe rebels against Corporate America who have very little knowledge of what they are getting involved in (hello, Jay Silver) through various weblogs, I believe a greater truth must be realized. At the root of the deception being concocted in the media and other struggling entities we find the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The massive assault against Le-Nature’s—actually more so against Chairman and CEO Gregory J. Podlucky—began with an article titled Naughty by LeNature’s. The article, circulated in the Sunday edition on August 20, 2006, would set the stage for a great production of false allegations, greed, and jealousy. Since that article, many other fine works—all authored by a questionable character in his own right (Richard Gazarik)—have been published. However, no matter how poor his journalism skills may be, Gazarik does make a few key discoveries that piece together this mess.

    1. Preferred Shareholders—The group of people responsible for triggering the implosion of the Company. Originally, the lawsuits filed in Delaware claimed “breach of contract, wasting corporate assets, fraud and negligence.” Such claims stem from an alleged document that “proves” all of this. I would really like to see such a document. One document (supposedly containing a forged signature) that proves all of the aforementioned allegations? I find it insulting they would have us believe such nonsense!

    What really happened? Any person who has ever built a business from scratch understands that growth requires some form of debt. Le-Nature’s obtained such funding from private entities who would in turn receive a return on investment. In this case, Le-Nature’s received approximately $25 million in funding (the real number remains a mystery due to the varying numbers published by Gazarik). At the time of the August 20th article, Le-Nature’s had offered close to $300 million to buy the shareholder’s equity of the Company. We ran a series of complex calculations and determined that the shareholders would have received a measly (gasp) 12 times return on investment—all in a matter of a few years. Now I do not spend a whole lot of time researching the stock market, nor do I claim to be an expert, but I would fare to say that no stock or investment option would yield that kind of return. For the sake of simple comparison, you would be fortunate to find an investment fund that offered a 12 percent return. The kind of return we are talking about here is 1,200 percent. Where am I going with all of these facts? I will tell you simply: greed. The preferred shareholders saw an opportunity to exploit what they viewed as a “small player” in the beverage community that was growing rapidly; seemingly under the radar of “big players” such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. They figured they could use loopholes in the legal system to steal the shares of the Company they did not already own, turn around and sell to somebody who was offering even more money (remember hearing about that magical $1.2 billion). Eyes got bigger than stomachs! In closing, let’s just say the preferred shareholders lost—big time. Not only did they forfeit the $300 million they could have had free and clear, they basically threw $25 million out the window because they will never see a dime of the initial investment. I’ll bet whoever ends up with the Latrobe bottling facility (shout out to Giant Eagle) at bargain basement pricing will be thankful! Lesson number one: greed is a blinding evil that kills those who become entrapped in its grasp.

    Unfortunately, this does not end here. The next group I will analyze is the custodian that was hired as a crisis management team.

    2. Kroll Zolfo Cooper—We need to determine the function this group played in the demise of Le-Nature’s. Let’s review the facts. Kroll was appointed as the custodian and they infiltrated the facility on Friday, October 27, 2006 after business had concluded for the day. It should also be noted, contrary to Gazarik’s fine reporting that Gregory Podlucky, his brother Jonathan, Andrew Murin, Jr., and Robert Lynn were escorted out of the office, the four were not even in the building at noon—six hours before Kroll’s “crisis management team” showed up. I just wanted to point out one of the many discrepancies found in Gazarik’s work. So now we have Steve Panagos, Sal LoBiondo, and many other “professionals” in place. Le-Nature’s employees are told their jobs are secure and that its “business as usual.” Monday, October 30, 2006 rolls around and reports are already coming out of Latrobe via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that 2005 revenues have been overstated by $200 million. Now let me get this straight, you’ve set up shop for less than a full business day and already you conclude that revenues were overstated by 725 percent? I could have sworn there was a huge factor missing from this equation, oh yeah, the 2005 financial statements were audited by BDO Seidman! Now you’re saying “wait a minute, Layne, they could have been fooled by Le-Nature’s.” Yes, they could have been fooled by Le-Nature’s, it’s been done before (i.e. Enron) However, don’t you think it would take a little bit longer for Kroll, who is NOT an auditing firm, to realize such a gross overstatement if a large accounting firm scrutinized the financial statements using strict accounting guidelines for several weeks? Common sense tells me ‘yes.’ Okay, so a few days go by and now a witch hunt has begun by the United States Federal Government to track down “missing assets” and what do you know, a secret room is found within the building containing two safes filled with precious gems and large quantities of fine jewelry. Now we have fraud. Wrong! First, let’s keep in mind that Le-Nature’s, while it does have outside investors and outside board members, is NOT a publicly traded company. It is a private organization whose majority shareholder is Gregory J. Podlucky. If he decides he has some assets that he wants to store in a building that he owns a majority of, where is the crime? I hear all this nonsense that “if it were legitimate, why the need for a secret room?” Hmm, let’s see, I have a large collection that is very high in value, maybe I should keep it out in the open so it is a target for thieves. Or better yet, why do banks “hide” their money in safes that cannot be seen by account holders who go to the counter to cash their paycheck on Friday? Open your eyes, people! If you want to trash talk people because they have and you do not have, that is your freedom as an American, but do not slander people by saying that they are criminals when they do things any intelligent person would also do. Let’s continue to assess Kroll. So now we have overstated revenues and secret rooms filled with gems (oh yeah, I forgot to mention sex toys were found too, way to make the story believable Rich). It is hard to believe that so much has happened in one week. I wonder what happened the other 15 weeks Kroll was at Le-Nature’s? Well that’s a good question. The Company was forced into bankruptcy so they were obviously pretty busy with that. Then there was that little issue of money (they demanded $5 million to render such “professional” services) which is odd considering the Company could not even pay the creditors who legitimately had a right to be paid. And my personal favorite is the holiday shindig at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. According to an employee of the airport, employees of both Kroll and Le-Nature’s drove two leased Mercedes-Benz SUVs to the restaurant and were drinking merlot, vodka martinis, and White Russians. Their tab was in excess of $1,000 before they drove the vehicles back to Le-Nature’s. How do I know all of this? Let’s just say Layne knows a lot of people and leave it at that! Funny fact concerning the Mercedes-Benz SUVs used that night—Kroll had been using the vehicles as personal accommodations during the entire time they were in Latrobe even though the lease payments were long past due (sixth one down).

    More to come…

    Hey, salesman did you put in the time?

  16. May 7th, 2007 | 10:52 am

    That was very long and very biased. Are you a Podlucky?

  17. A Bunch of Crooks!
    May 30th, 2007 | 2:08 pm

    Let me tell you about cases of water (1-12 pk. .5L) being sold at a frontline price of $7.85, while the actual amount paid (including freight) was $1.85. Distributors were told to just deduct the difference. Let me tell you about product being shipped after its expiration date had passed. Let me tell you about being threatened with termination if you dare ask where your expense money was (2 months after the expenses were submitted and approved). On the other hand, their pricing was too good to be true. Were their products good? No doubt. Talk about crazy pricing, look what Coke is paying for Glaceau (4.1 Billion). If they had been able to hold on, maybe the Aqua Xtra enhanced water would have taken off. However, the apple does not fall far from the tree (Jones Brewing, Gabriel Podlucky – father of Greg Podlucky).

  18. Philip
    July 19th, 2007 | 2:42 am

    So that explains why it’s been so hard to find the Aqua Xtra flavors anymore. Last places were some of the 99 Cents Only stores in Las Vegas and Phoenix, but that’s been a few month ago at least. That’s too bad, the product itself was great. I agree with some others in the hope that someone will manage to bring the company back to life and send the Podluckys to jail.

  19. Tomasemone
    October 1st, 2007 | 3:45 pm

    This whole disaster facinates me. How about the 1 Million dollars worth of Model Trains Podlucky had stored at the Latrobe Airport. FraudLucky!

  20. Nobody Man
    November 6th, 2007 | 7:35 pm

    I always wondered why LeNature went to all the trouble of building that warehouse in Phoenix and then it just sit’s there rotting. They took down the LeNature sign a few weeks ago.
    I hope those people who were lied to get a little bit of justice.


  21. reggie
    December 2nd, 2008 | 9:22 pm

    Looking for a perfect little weekend vacation this fall? Here’s a travel tip you don’t hear very often: Head to Pittsburgh. Right away.

    Seriously, get in the car and read this story later, because when you’re done reading, you’ll wish you’d left 10 minutes ago. There are towns with better vistas, sure, and there are getaways with more sunshine. But only Pittsburgh is the scene of the fabulously tawdry and surpassingly vicious spectacle that is the divorce of Richard Mellon Scaife.

    Remember him? The cantankerous, reclusive 75-year-old billionaire who’s spent a sizable chunk of his inherited fortune bankrolling conservative causes and trying to kneecap Democrats? He’s best known for funding efforts to smear then-President Bill Clinton, but more quietly he’s given in excess of $300 million to right-leaning activists, watchdogs and think tanks. Atop his list of favorite donees: the family-values-focused Heritage Foundation, which has published papers with titles such as “Restoring a Culture of Marriage.”

    The culture of his own marriage is apparently past restoring. With the legal fight still in the weigh-in phase, the story of Scaife v. Scaife already includes a dog-snatching, an assault, a night in jail and that divorce court perennial, allegations of adultery.

    Oh, and there’s the money. Three words, people.

    No. Pre. Nup.

    Unfathomable but true, when Scaife (rhymes with safe) married his second wife, Margaret “Ritchie” Scaife, in 1991, he neglected to wall off a fortune that Forbes recently valued at $1.3 billion. This, to understate matters, is likely going to cost him, big time. As part of a temporary settlement, 60-year-old Ritchie Scaife is currently cashing an alimony check that at first glance will look like a typo: $725,000 a month. Or about $24,000 a day, seven days a week. As Richard Scaife’s exasperated lawyers put it in a filing, “The temporary order produces an amount so large that just the income from it, invested at 5 percent, is greater each year than the salary of the President of the United States.”

    The numbers are just one of many we-kid-you-not dimensions to this tale. In late 2005, Ritchie Scaife peered through a window at one of her husband’s many homes and saw him with one Tammy Sue Vasco, a woman whose colorful criminal history includes an arrest for prostitution. And this tryst was no one-afternoon stand. Ritchie Scaife describes Vasco in court filings as her husband’s “mistress.”

    It gets better. But to fully appreciate this mesmerizing debacle, one must study it up close, for its many strategic blunders and its moments of epic brutality — like a visit to Gettysburg, minus the gravitas. The good news, weekend travelers, is you can get close enough to most of the landmarks to gawk to your heart’s content.

    So buy a map and pack a lunch. And keep your hands inside the car.

    Fireworks From the Start

    We begin in Ligonier, 50 miles east of the city, at the Rolling Rock Club, once part of the Mellon estate, now a social center for the city’s small community of super-rich, a place where Dick Cheney has gone game bird-hunting on a few occasions. The Scaifes wed here 16 years ago, with a reception that included a massive display of fireworks. The two had been openly dating for years, while Richard was married to his first wife, the former Frances Gilmore, with whom he had two children, and Ritchie was married to an attorney named Westray Battle, with whom she had a son.

    Friends were not surprised that Ritchie, with her elegant cheekbones and lilting Southern accent, had turned the head of one of the country’s richest men, currently No. 380 in the Forbes 400. She is known within high society as a woman who is fierce and formidable when she has a goal in mind, and in the ’80s, her top priority was marrying Richard Scaife, say acquaintances.

    Now, to the site of postnuptial domestic bliss, such as it was.

    Head west on Route 30 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and follow the signs to Pittsburgh. Once in the city, notice that “Mellon” is slapped on just about everything — buildings, libraries, banks, streets, and on and on. That would be Andrew Mellon, the uncle of Richard Scaife’s mother, a financial wiz who built a Gilded Age fortune through banking and oil. Income from the trusts of that estate yields roughly $45 million a year for Scaife, according to a filing by his wife. That’s a gross disposable income of nearly $4 million a month, apparently just for having been born. As the lawyer of his soon-to-be-ex-wife noted, “These massive streams of income are attributable to no employment, business enterprise or other effort — intellectual, physical, creative or ministerial — past or present.”

    During the years they dated, Richard and Ritchie had lived a block and a half apart, in a moneyed section of town called Shadyside. Once the two were united in holy matrimony, for reasons perhaps only they know, the arrangement didn’t change. She lived on a cul-de-sac called Pitcairn Place. He lived two blocks away, on Westminster Place, in a huge red-brick Georgian-style home, with a multi-car garage and an American flag on the front door.

    Dickie, as he’s known to his handful of friends, acquired a mean streak at an early age, according to his now-deceased sister, Cordelia Scaife. (She once told The Washington Post that she and her brother hadn’t spoken for 25 years.) His trouble with alcohol started when he was at prep school, and he later was tossed out of Yale when he rolled a keg of beer down a flight of stairs and broke the legs of a fellow student. His father, a below-average businessman, died a year after Richard graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. His mother was “just a gutter drunk,” as Cordelia put it.

    Scaife owns a handful of newspapers and newsweeklies, including the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, a conservative answer to the Post-Gazette. When he isn’t tending to this modest publishing empire, he’s underwriting what Hillary Clinton once called “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” His highest-profile expenditure is the $2.3 million he gave the American Spectator magazine in the mid-’90s, to try to unearth prurient and embarrassing details about Bill Clinton’s years as governor of Arkansas. (The magazine came up virtually empty-handed.)

    Though he jousts, indirectly, with public figures, Scaife seems to detest attention. He almost never speaks to the media, and on one of the few occasions he did, it was to tell a reporter, who’d sandbagged him on the street, that she was ugly and that her mother was ugly, too.

    But Scaife is said to be extremely kind to his staff, which includes security, a chef, housekeepers, and a pilot for his DC-9. His lawyer did not return calls requesting comment for this story.

    As for Ritchie Scaife, she was considered by her peers to be ostentatious and a touch too loud, say two acquaintances. Publicly, she was credited with helping to humanize her husband. It was she who reportedly helped him get sober after years of alcoholism, and she who persuaded him to channel some of his philanthropic largess to tsunami relief. (Richard Scaife has long given to charitable causes, but conservative politics is his passion.) Ritchie was involved with his business, too, serving on the board of her husband’s publishing company. Through her lawyer, she declined to comment for this article.

    At some point in late 2005, Ritchie started having suspicions about her husband and hired a private investigator named Keith Scannell, a specialist in high-end surveillance for insurance companies. In December of that year, Scannell followed Richard Scaife to nearby North Huntingdon, home of Doug’s Motel, a place where the TVs are bolted to the furniture and rooms can be rented in three-hour increments, for $28. (It’s now under new management and renamed the Huntingdon Inn. Head east on Route 8, then east on Route 30.) There, according to Scannell, Scaife spent a few hours with Tammy Sue Vasco.

    Why a billionaire would shack up at Doug’s Motel, of all places, is a mystery. Ditto his choice of companions. Vasco is a tall, blond 43-year-old mother who in 1993 was busted in a sting operation after showing up at a Sheraton hotel and offering to have sex with an undercover cop for $225, the Post-Gazette reported.

    Social Register material she is not, but Vasco and Scaife seemed to have a relationship that went beyond the purely professional. The two usually met each other twice a week, for months, at the motel, says an employee of the motel. Scaife would show up in a chauffeured car, dressed in a suit, wearing cuff links, always bearing flowers. Vasco would be waiting in same room every time, Room 5 on the ground floor, facing the parking lot, said the employee. Mr. Dick, as he was known at the motel, would stay for two hours or so, then get back in the car, which had been waiting, and leave.

    “He actually seemed infatuated with Tammy,” says the Doug’s Motel employee, who did not want to be identified because of the powerful parties in the case. “She’d talk about trips that he took her on, to California, New York City. And it was great for her. It changed her life.”

    Despite a long history of financial disputes and a variety of liens, Vasco currently lives in a three-bedroom house that an attorney named Patrick Derrico bought outright for $50,000 a few years ago. Her name is currently on the deed. Derrico, who practices in Washington, Pa., would not discuss the deal, or Vasco.

    She has also traded up from the Jeep she once drove. She’s now behind the wheel of a dark green Toyota Sequoia, a large SUV that goes for about $40,000. Attempts to reach her for comment through her father, who lives in West Virginia, and through Derrico were not successful. She did not reply to a message hand-delivered to her home.

    A few days after Scannell reported the Doug’s Motel rendezvous to Ritchie Scaife, she noticed Vasco’s Jeep in the driveway of his mansion at Westminster Place. Gaping through a window, according to court papers filed by her lawyers, she spotted Vasco. Then the trouble started.

    Private investigator Scannell, commenting on what became a much-discussed local news story, put it this way: “Mrs. Scaife acted as any loving wife would upon finding out just days earlier that her husband had a confirmed meeting, for several hours, at a $40 motel with a woman previously arrested for prostitution.”

    Police would later say that Ritchie Scaife began pounding on doors and windows and refused to leave, which is why she was promptly arrested for “defiant trespass.” She was handcuffed and driven downtown to the Allegheny County Jail — near the Liberty Bridge, at 950 Second Ave. — where a woman accustomed to traveling with a personal hairdresser spent the night in what her lawyers later called a “grim” holding cell.

    The trespassing charge was eventually dismissed, but as Ritchie Scaife’s lawyer stated in a divorce filing, “The marriage was over!”

    Baring Fangs

    Both sides lawyered up, and the war over the Scaifes’ considerable assets began. Ritchie started at a bit of a disadvantage: Few of her belongings were actually in her possession. In 2002, Richard had told his wife that as a birthday gift he would renovate her home, which required her to temporarily relocate virtually everything she owned. When the legal proceedings began in early 2006, Ritchie’s home was still uninhabitable, and she lived around the corner from Pitcairn Place, at the home of William Pietragallo, her lawyer, and Pietragallo’s wife, a friend of Ritchie’s for many years.

    For Pietragallo and his colleagues, one of the first orders of business was persuading Richard to cough up his wife’s goods. Which took some doing. A lawsuit was filed, with Ritchie’s lawyers accusing Richard of behavior “designed to harass and annoy Wife” and “to create obfuscation, chaos and uncertainty as to the existence, location, condition and ownership of the vast amounts of personal property owned by the parties.”

    The key word here is “vast.” One of the most astounding stacks of papers in the pile that is the Scaife divorce is the inventory of Ritchie’s stuff, compiled by her lawyers. The list runs for more than 80 pages, like an episode of “Antiques Roadshow” that will not end. Meat platters, sardine forks, melon forks, a circa-1804 Dutch teapot, a painting by Magritte, Victorian cream pitchers, bread trays, candlesticks, a sterling silver nutmeg grater, flatware service . . . you get the picture. Much of it was stored at Vallamont, the weekend house Richard Scaife owns near the Rolling Rock Club.

    “Defendant has and continues to unlawfully hold in his possession six pairs of asparagus tongs manufactured by Mappin & Webb, Birmingham, 1926 weighing 10 ounces total,” reads one of dozens of paragraphs. “The last-known location for these items was at ‘Vallamont,’ 132 Pheasant Circle, Ligonier, Pa. 15658. The estimated cost for these items is $1,800.”

    Eventually, Scaife returned this massive collection, with Ritchie’s lawyers accusing him of “dumping” the stuff on her without a proper heads-up. Scaife’s lawyers countered that the transfer was handled with respect and care.

    The real fight, though, was not over the Shreve & Co. finger bowls. It was over the dog. Specifically, a yellow Labrador retriever named Beauregard, who Ritchie has told friends is a direct descendant of a pooch belonging to a king of England. Until March 2006, the animal was in Ritchie’s hands, living with her and the Pietragallos. Then one day, Beauregard was scooped out of the Pietragallos’ back yard and whisked around the corner, to Richard’s house on Westminster.

    This brazen canine abduction was not covered up. Quite the opposite. It was celebrated with a banner on wooden stakes posted on Richard’s front lawn: “Welcome home, Beauregard,” it read.

    It’s safe to assume that despite his lineage, Beauregard is unable to read. The point, it seems, was to needle Ritchie.

    And it did.

    On the afternoon of April 6, 2006, Ritchie stopped her car when she spotted a housekeeper of Richard’s walking Beauregard in the neighborhood. Game on. The cops later said that Ritchie punched 51-year-old Sue Patterson, then tried to grab the dog. A secretary of Richard’s, 77-year-old Genevieve Still, saw Ritchie and Patterson on the ground, with Ritchie on top, pulling Patterson’s hair. When she tried to intervene, Still wound up with “a swift kick to the lower back,” she told police. Then a security guard named Dennis Bradshaw got in on the action and took a slap to the head, which reportedly broke his glasses.

    Ritchie did not win this one-on-three suburban cage match, nor did she manage to grab Beauregard. She did, however, get arrested, again, this time for assault. All three of Richard Scaife’s employees went to the hospital, where they were treated for scratches and bruises, then released, the Post-Gazette reported. A judge eventually dismissed the assault case, though personal-injury lawsuits by the employees are still pending.

    Beauregard, by the way, still lives with Richard.

    The lawsuits did little, it seems, to sate Ritchie’s appetite for confrontation. In September of last year, she drove to Vasco’s home, located in nearby Port Vue, perhaps to get a better look at her husband’s paramour. Ritchie allegedly started shouting obscenities. Many obscenities, and she caused some kind of ruckus. Enough to provoke Vasco’s 20-ish daughter, Winnifred, to file a criminal harassment complaint with a local magistrate, accusing Ritchie of what might be described as carrying on.

    That charge was also eventually dismissed.

    A Media Magnate & Magnet

    The fight for the dog is matched in intensity only by the fight for the money. The filings in this case have unveiled a scrumptious buffet of new information about Richard Scaife’s riches — where they’ve come from and where they’ve gone. Until a few weeks ago, these documents were under seal, by consent of both parties. Then the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discovered that someone in Allegheny County’s prothonotary’s office had mistakenly, and briefly, posted filings in the case on a part of its Web site that is publicly accessible.

    Now we know that Scaife is beneficiary of nine different trusts, including one called the “1935 Trust,” with an approximate value of $210 million, and another called “The Revocable Trust,” valued at $655 million. Altogether, these gushers are worth about $1.4 billion.

    We learned, too, that the Tribune-Review has been a gurgling sinkhole from Day One; Scaife’s lawyers say their client has pumped as much as $312 million into it over the years. And he’s going to have to keep on pumping. The Tribune-Review’s CEO has predicted an annual shortfall of $20 million for years to come.

    These figures matter in the divorce because Scaife is arguing that the funds he forwards to the Tribune-Review should be deducted from his aggregate income, putting his annual haul closer to $17 million a year, a long way from the $45 million a year cited by Ritchie’s lawyers. If true, that would of course reduce the monthly alimony check he could owe his wife once there’s a permanent settlement.

    Not surprisingly, Ritchie Scaife’s attorneys have a different view. They say that Richard Scaife operates the Tribune-Review with so little concern for profit and loss that it’s more a hobby than a business.

    Viable corporation or sugar daddy’s divertissement — either way, you can take a gander at the Pittsburgh office of the Tribune-Review. It’s on the third floor of the building that was once the factory where the Clark candy bar was made, near the fields where the Pirates and Steelers play. (Over the Fort Duquesne Bridge, to 503 Martindale St.)

    So, plenty to see, and truth be told, plenty of time to see it. A final settlement could easily be a year away, and the meanness, for all we know, has just begun. Which is why the Scaife Divorce Tour of Pittsburgh could be the ultimate family vacation. If it doesn’t bring your family together — in mutual horror, in a group hug that says “we don’t have it that bad” — nothing will.

    Drive safely!

  22. reggie
    December 8th, 2008 | 4:53 pm

    NEW YORK – Media conglomerate Tribune Co., smothered by $13 billion in debt and weak prospects for generating cash through advertising, on Monday became the first major newspaper publisher to seek bankruptcy protection since the Internet began siphoning readers from traditional outlets.

    Although Tribune’s next major principal payment on the debt, of $593 million, isn’t due until June, has been in danger of missing lender-imposed financial targets at year’s end. Those targets are based on the level of Tribune’s debt relative to its cash flow, and become harder to meet as revenue declines, even if the debt itself doesn’t increase.

    Other newspaper companies have also struggled with their debts, but many have successfully negotiated with lenders to ease their targets in exchange for higher interest rates.

    “Tribune’s debt was so outsized and so disproportional to its cash flow compared to these other companies that it can be the sore thumb sticking out rather than an example of the industry,” said Ken Doctor, media analyst with Outsell Inc.

    The Tribune owns the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise, as well as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Sun of Baltimore, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, six other daily newspapers and 23 television stations. Most of the company’s debt comes from the complex transaction in which the company was taken private, with employee ownership, by real estate mogul Sam Zell last year.

    To make a payment this year, Tribune sold the Long Island daily Newsday to Cablevision Systems Corp. for $650 million.

    To generate additional cash, the Chicago-based company has been looking to sell the Cubs, Chicago’s storied Wrigley Field and the company’s 25 percent stake in a regional sports cable channel. But a tight credit market has made it tougher for potential buyers to obtain loans.

    And while Tribune had planned on meeting its obligations with lenders through income at its various properties, the recession has led consumers and advertisers to severely cut spending this year, exacerbating pressures the industry already was facing because of the migration of readers to the Internet.

    “So, how did we get here? It has been, to say the least, the perfect storm,” Zell wrote in a memo to employees. “A precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy have coupled with a credit crisis, making it extremely difficult to support our debt. All of our major advertising categories have been dramatically impacted.”

    Monday’s filing, made in bankruptcy court in Delaware, could give Tribune time to raise cash by waiting until the credit market eases to sell off assets. It also could put additional pressure on its lenders to ease the financial targets that Tribune must meet.

    The company entered court protection with $13 billion in debt and $7.6 billion in assets.

    Zell said the company’s operations will function as before during the bankruptcy protection period. He also said in his memo that the Cubs franchise is not part of the bankruptcy filing. The Cubs issued a separate statement saying that the timetable for a sale has not changed.

    Economy in Turmoil
    Stocks close strong on Obama stimulus plan
    A stock market gaining in confidence shot higher for a second straight session as investors bet that Barack Obama’s plans to increase infrastructure spending will help lift economy.

    Noted economist has dire jobless warning
    Dow, 3M slashing jobs amid slowdown
    Auto deal likely Monday with new autos ‘czar’
    Company will meet workers over sit-in

    John Penn, a partner who specializes in bankruptcy at Haynes & Boone LLP, said the Tribune’s decisions about whether to sell papers or other assets would boil down to one issue: “If it makes cash, keep it. If it loses cash, get rid of it,” he said. “And that’s either by selling it, closing it or whatever it takes to stop the bleeding.”

    Tribune’s biggest unsecured creditors are its lenders, led by JPMorgan Chase Bank and Merrill Lynch Capital Corp. JPMorgan is the administrator of $8.57 billion in senior debt and holder of about $1.05 billion of that. Others include Deutsche Bank AG, New York-based investment management firm Angelo Gordon & Co. LP, hedge fund Highland Capital Management LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

    Barclays Capital Inc., which bought key assets from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., is also among Tribune’s creditors, with about $142.9 million in interest rate swaps.

    Media industry players were also listed among the creditors. Warner Bros. Television is owed $23.7 million, Twentieth Television Inc. $8.1 million, Buena Vista Entertainment Inc. $6.2 million and NBC Universal Domestic Television $4.9 million.

  23. Area Man
    December 21st, 2008 | 11:37 pm

    Reggie, you’re a moron, and possibly a Podlucky.

    And I don’t say that with any due respect intended.

    Tribune Co. (controlled by Chicago billionaire Sam Zell) is not equal to Tribune-Review Publishing Co. (controlled by Pittsburgh billionaire Dick Scaife).

    And what does Scaife’s divorce have to do with the price of water in Latrobe?

    Here’s a tip: Grab an ear with each hand and pull. When you hear a “pop!” your head has finally come out.

    What a nincompoop!

  24. Harry Chaseman
    December 22nd, 2008 | 9:23 am

    Podlucky Family Seeks Record Libel Damages From Tribune Review Publishing Co.
    Ligonier, Pennsylvania., USA, December 19, 2008 – The Podlucky Family have retained the services of prominent officials from various international law firms, risk management companies and various high profile advisory groups to assist them in the prosecution of a $2.5 Billion libel suit against the Tribune Review Publishing Co.
    Over the past two years the Tribune Review Publishing Co. has published over 135 articles and editorials smearing family members. The lawsuit remains sealed pending final review by various advisory groups who specialize in libel litigation. If the Podlucky Family is successful in the prosecution of the lawsuit the damages sought would be the largest in the history of the United States.
    Additionally, the merits of the lawsuit have successfully passed a controlled panel of focus group individuals comprised of retired lawyers and judicial personalities.
    The Podlucky Family maintains a private residence in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
    Abraham Zonensein
    Tel Aviv, Israel

  25. Media Partners
    December 24th, 2008 | 9:35 am

    Who killed Steve Kangas?
    Case overview
    Steve Kangas was found dead on the 39th floor of his enemy’s doorstep at 11:30 PM on February 8 1999. In the bathroom of the offices of Richard Mellon Scaife, 2000 miles from home, — in Pittsburgh PA. Shot (twice?) in the head. Due to obstructions of justice, local police investigating the wrong circumstances quickly ruled it a suicide. There are over 1000 heated Usenet posts on this topic, dated from eleven days after his death. How did he die?
    It seems much too messy for a pre-meditated hit. And too quiet for a political suicide stunt. And his death was far outside the depressed and paralyzed suicidal person’s profile — on a long trip? — it’s just not done. Suicide is normally done in, or close to the rut of daily life. Suicide counselors often recommend; “Take a long trip, and now! Break out!” It fits just right for a scuffle or the flared temper of a cold and mean man who owns the town and a small private army of “security”. Of course, anything is possible, suicide is too. But what fits best?. Where does logic and reason lead us if we toss aside the preconceptions that have been skillfully laid for us from the very first day? We shall explore one range of possibilities that one path takes us. I say “we” in part because this path is evolving quickly even now among the political newsgroups, in a huge battle between liberals and neo-conservatives. It is now mid May, 1999.
    What is the entrance to this path we will follow?
    1) It’s based on the fact that Scaife and/or his employees had fouled the police investigation within hours to suggest a “closed case” random suicide by concealing or withholding critical information.
    2) It’s also based on the fact that Scaife’s Tribune-Review tabloid attack articles were so unfactual, and such an obvious smear that ALL information from them has been rejected.
    3) It’s based on the assumption that there was a real reason for the Scaife tabloid’s news black-out, the eventual risky lies, the Kangas smear, Scaife’s nation-wide investigation, and the obstructions of justice. That is; we assume that these were not merely the frivolous ravings of a paranoid mean-spirited man, — nor a mere haphazard coincidence — as the police and mainstream press seems to have assumed as the only realistic premise. Even if Scaife is a paranoid mean-spirited man, this is hardly a rational defense.
    If we establish those assumptions, only a few possibilities remain. I intend to establish them as reasonable and realistic assumptional foundations that no complete investigation should ignore.
    It seems that if not for Usenet/Internet, the police would have long ago closed the case on a “random suicide by a random out-of-state drifter.” In fact, that’s what they quickly concluded within hours, and that conclusion stuck, it became an assumption unchallenged by anyone outside of Team Scaife for the next five weeks.
    But, Scaife’s cover-up and his news black-out of his relationship with Steve Kangas was revealed by the boiling of dozens of ever angrier netizens in the political debate newsgroups of Usenet, and the sharp-eyed police spotted it on the front page of the Pittsburgh newspaper, the Post-Gazette.
    But the cover-up bought Scaife time. The police, unaware of the Scaife-Kangas connection never made a criminal investigation. The Pittsburg Police did not request the Las Vegas Police to search Kangas’s home. During all this time Scaife had sent a private investigator traveling the country. Scaife’s employee entered and searched Steve’s home and smeared Steve’s name to witnesses long in advance of any police investigation. If Steve had any material worth being killed for, the police have little chance of ever finding it now.
    Police now claim the investigation has been widened to include Scaife. The same friendly police department that has been routinely stationed in front of the billionaire’s home providing him with “security” for decades.
    However exposed, Scaife’s cover-up did succeed for five weeks, it’s been cleaned up, and the body cremated. And Steve’s name has been smeared with womanizing, pornography, theft, drunkenness plus a murder attempt by Scaife’s famous dirt-manufacturing propaganda mill. In fact, despite the fact that Team Scaife’s cover-ups, meddling and steering of the evidence from the very first hours to insure a suicide verdict have recently come to light, the press as of mid-May still continues to unhesitatingly assume suicide.
    This is not a banner most people would care to fight under. The squeamish, the gentle, the “reputable” need not apply, nor did they. While smearing the enemy is a common tactic, it’s just not polite. Even if nobody really believes that garbage, the knight in shining armor has been successfully destroyed, tainted.
    That’s the power of first-information, of first-assumption. Perhaps Team Scaife has learned a few tricks of mind bending over the last three decades? It’s what they do. High-dollar “spin” is their claim to fame. Underestimating that power might be an error.
    “To truly know a man, learn what he takes for granted.”
    The players:
    Steve Kangas.
    Ex army intelligence, a Doctoral Candidate at UC: Santa Cruz in economics and political studies. His book was almost completed, and was working with a publisher. Once president of the local chess club in Santa Cruz for several years. Net presence: 1600 Usenet posts found on DejaNews.com, a double award winning political Web site with over 300 html pages. His most popular page was on the Great Depression: 75,000 hits. The Web site was also a “one-stop-shop”, — an armory — of liberal oriented arguments, facts, charts and tables to be used in debates against popular neo-conservative myths. (Yet while many liberals blame the great recession of ’82-’83 on Reagan, Steve Kangas argued strongly that Reagan had nothing to do with it.) Above all, Steve Kangas was a truth-seeker. See his AboutMe.html.
    In the jungle of Usenet political debates he was known for his calm reasonable arguments and facts, even when outrageously provoked. Few could touch him, and even now the rabidly attacking neo-conservative vultures on Usenet cannot present a credible, reasonable argument against his undefended Web site. “I don’t like it”, is the sum of their arguments before resorting to the ad hominem fallacy.
    I’ve experienced a Web Warrior’s death before, we knew the the dreaded death dance of the mean-spirited was coming, we try to get through it as best we can, but I think everybody feels dirtied by it, and by who we have to associate with. I’d like to thank those who manage to stick with it, and apologize to Steve’s loved ones for not always meeting Steve’s high standards in this mess.
    Richard Mellon Scaife.
    Grand master of propaganda. Bored billionaire. Many consider him to be the hub of Hillary Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy.” He’s largely responsible for the “Vince Foster murder conspiracy theory.” Some even say Ken Starr was his toady.

    MUCH more, for example,
    Quoting TIME MAGAZINE, 21-FEB-99
    New Rules Of The Road
    * …outsiders and scandal prospectors of every kind,
    * from the anti-Clinton tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife
    * to the freelance spider Lucianne Goldberg
    * and the Jupiter of sleaze, Larry Flynt. “There’s a
    * cottage industry of digging up dirt and slinging
    * mud,” says Kyle McSlarrow, chairman of Quayle
    * 2000.
    End quote

    Quoting TIME MAGAZINE, 10-FEB-99:
    Crazy and In Charge
    *Brilliant tycoons have had a
    *tendency to get eccentric, or worse

    *…acute that he lived out his later years in
    *double-insulated, soundproof rooms. As for Scaife,
    *he spent some of his Mellon family megabucks
    *(Alcoa, Mellon Bank) to buy a suburban newspaper,
    *give it a Steel City moniker and publish an
    *unending string of kooky conspiracy theories
    *centered on the Clintons.
    End quote
    So Scaife and his tabloid have a reputation as dirt-slingers and known for kooky conspiracy theories. According to the May 3 Washington Post, Scaife “has given at least $340 million to fund a `war of ideas’ against American liberalism.” That is, he finances propaganda and propaganda mills.
    He owns the Greensburg Pa. Tribune Review tabloid, home of the Vince Foster murder conspiracy. According to the Washington Post, Newsweek, and other publications, Yale expelled Scaife for drunken brawling and breaking the legs of a classmate with a beer keg — he is known to be a petty bully, to hold a grudge, to assume everybody wants to steal from him, and either you are for him, or you are his enemy. Most people who know him don’t think he’s particularly bright. And believe it or not, according to his ex-employees, he’s an obsessively cheap bastard too, such as in one case, he personally rejected laundry and valet expenses for an employee conducting Scaife’s business while traveling in Vietnam.

    According to various officials this case will be re-opened. Many documents in the Wecht trial are being analyzed as source for the probe.

  26. Media Partners
    December 24th, 2008 | 2:13 pm

    On Feb 8, 1999 at 11:30 PM Steve Kangas was found lying on the restroom floor of One Oxford Center, Pittsburgh in a semi conscious state by electrician, Don Adams. Adams reported blood on the floor around the spot and left to call for help. Upon returning they found Steve sitting on the toilet slumped over covered in blood, the victim of an apparent suicide. On Feb 12 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke the news in a terse 46 word article that police had ruled the death a suicide. Note to the reader, the reader should refer to Jason’s page as he presents the best time line as well as links to all of the news articles. The following is not a complete time line of events nor is it intended to be such.

    But what appears to have been a simple suicide at first is much more complex and several questions has arisen from a set of bizarre circumstances. It is hoped that in airing these questions in an open an unbiased manner that a non-partial investigation can be triggered in an effort to get to the truth. The reader is referred to Doug’s page for a similar view and mission. This page will present some of the more troubling questions of Steve’s death in the mind of this writer as well as present links to other pages that likewise question the events around Steve’s death. In addition links to mirror sites of Steve’s award winning web site, Liberal Resurgent will be included. The man can be killed but his ideas can live forever.

    At one point I was nearly convinced that the death was a suicide, but there was still the troubling question of why anyone would travel from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh just to commit suicide. And the more that several web warriors and myself dug the more unanswered questions we kept finding. In much the same vein as each new article from the media that was published more troubling questions were raised for which the answer went begging.

    On March 14 Scaife’s lap dog and reporter, Richard Gazarik for the Scaife owned Pittsburgh Tribune Review published a smear article on Steve. The article could be describe in no other terms other than a smear, it was inherently a vicious attack. Much of the article was factually incorrect and served no purpose other than to smear Kangas. But it was the beginning of a vicious mean spirited attack by the right wing media involving the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Tony Snow and Tucker Carlson. Gazarik made wild claims about Steve being obsessed with Scaife, the fact remains that only 7 pages in Liberal Resurgent even mentions Scaife and 5 of them only in passing. In one case the only mentioning of Scaife was in a list of right wing foundations. The reader is reminded that Steve’s web page consisted of over 400 files. With only two percent of those files even mentioning the name Scaife one is very safe in concluding that Gazarik was only trying to inflame his readers. Its hardly the case of being obsessed.

    Gazarik attacked with vigor Steve’s page The Origins of the Overclass as being false. This is hardly a surprise for someone working for a member of that Overclass. Its inclusion could be to serve but one purpose to inflame the right wing reactionaries and mean spirited greed heads that are unfortunately all to common today. My own research has found that Overclass in this country to be real and a topic of scholarly research. Perhaps Gazarik could try and refute the book by G. William Domhoff entitled Who Rules America before sounding off on a topic that he obviously knows nothing about. It is a somewhat of a classic on the topic and is in its 3rd printing. Incidentally Domhoff was a professor at Santa Cruz where Steve had been working on his Doctoral degree, although he didn’t know Steve.

    Gazarik also attacked Steve’s opinions of the close association of the media (reporters and editors) with the CIA. Probably in a vain attempt to build credibility for himself and to distance the fact that the Scaife foundations had served as a conduit for the CIA to funnel money through and in at least one case to be an out right front organization for the CIA to spread disinformation. Perhaps Gazarik isn’t old enough to remember the Church committee back in the mid 70s in which the CIA’s use of the press was made public in a congressional hearing. Perhaps Gazarik should spend less time investigating liberals in an effort to smear them and spend a little time getting the facts straight. If he had he would realize that the New York Times’ web site has one page devoted to exposing the CIA-media connection. But then I doubt if the facts are any concern of Gazarik, the Tribune-Review or Scaife.

    On March 28 the Post Gazette prints the article Mission: Implausible; Dick Scaife couldn’t keep his probe of Kangas a secret. The Post-Gazette details the efforts of Scaife using Gazarik along with the hire thug Rex Armistead whose name has arisen in Ken Starr’s fiasco and the possible bribery of some of Starr’s witnesses. It’s the first print article to raise the question of why Scaife hid his investigation from the police. If we are to believe Scaife that he was only concerned with his safety why then hide any information that he may have gathered from the very people that could help him the most and guards his home, the local Pittsburgh police? Also troubling is if we were to believe smears appearing in the Scaife owned paper portraying Steve as a loser down on his luck why did Scaife apparently still believe him to have been a threat and launch an all out mean spirited attack?

    As autumn approaches it appears that the Pittsburgh police have yet to interview Scaife. Although on March 17 the Post Gazette printed an article entitled Police seek to question Scaife in man’s suicide stating that the Pittsburg police were then wanting to take a second look at the case due to the information coming forth from the media coverage. The exact quote from the police was as follows “are going to interview Mr. Scaife, if he’ll submit to an interview.” Excuse me but just when the hell did police interviews in a crime investigation become voluntary for the rich elite?

    But even more troubling is the reckless disregard for common decency displayed by the Tribune-Review towards Steve’s family. We now know that much of the Tribune-Review stories was blatantly false. For example the story about Mein Kampf being one of the books in Steve’s backpack has now been shown to be false. The media source of this information appears to have been from Steve’s mother. She is unsure who had told her that and thinks she may have misunderstood the original statement and believes it may have referred to finding it in Steve’s apartment instead. The only source of that information would have been through the Scaife organization and his private thug Rex Armistead. But Steve’s parents mistakenly gave their ok for Armistead to search Steve’s apartment and access his email.The police never conducted an investigation beyond the autopsy. This is evident from the Feb10 Tribune-Review article in which it was stated that the autopsy was ruled a suicide on Tues Feb 9th. Again we can see the rush to close the case, this would not have been time enough for the completion of toxicology tests. The reader needs to ask himself what kind of a low down snake would imply to a grieving parent that their child was a Nazi admirer. Apparently the answer is the same kind of low down snake that would publish knowingly false smears and call it news.

    It was in this time frame of late March early April, that Scaife directed another member of the Tribune-Review, Adam Music into the lion’s den of the Usenet political groups to quell stories concerning Steve’s death. Mr. Music announced his presence as an editor and stated he hoped to clear up any questions. This is one writer among many web active warriors that hit Mr. Music with a barrage of questions. Unfortunately Mr. Music was long on bullshit and short on answers. His all too familiar refrain of not knowing the answers to questions and that the questions should be directed to the reporter was hardly reassuring and flew against his stated purpose for posting in Usenet. Needless to say Mr. Music probably still awakes nights in a cold sweat over his experience on Usenet. I am sure from some of his responses to queries from others as well as myself that the experience was less than pleasant for him. I am also left wondering just what kind of paper the Tribune-Review is when the reporters seem to know more than the editors. But that is a logical summation of Mr. Music’s presence on Usenet.

    In the course of a normal investigation the number of unanswered question first rises then falls as the scope of the investigation is established and testimony and evidence is gather. However this is not the case in the death of Steve Kangas with the passing of time and with each outside investigation the number of unanswered questions just keeps rising.

    With this short background it is time to look at the serious questions that have arisen and the need for some straight answers if not a full investigation. Some of these questions may indeed have harmless answers. I would be willing to overlook a couple such questions and conclude that Steve’s death was a suicide. But when not one or two but several such questions start clustering around an event its obvious that someone has not done a proper investigation or that someone is trying to feed the public a lot of hooey. Many of these questions Jason has asked on his web site a couple however are new.

    1. Why Pittsburgh, Why Suicide??? This is perhaps the most troubling and elusive of all questions to answer. The fact remains most people commit suicide at home or work or in close proximity to one or both. No one travels 2000 miles to a town in which he’s and unknown just to commit suicide. Nor do those planning to commit suicide make long range plans or even short range plans. In a later question we will show that Steve was indeed making some long range plans. As for the short range plans it is known now that Steve had a list with him. Was this a list of people to interview as part of his longer range plans? Or was it a list of people to interview for a job or some other reason? One thing is certain it established that he had a plan and given that he had only arrived that day in Pittsburgh he could have hardly spoken to more than one or two.

    2. Why did Steve buy a gun and install a burglar alarm??? This is the question that troubles his mother the most. Was Steve trying to protect himself or something of value? There is no other answer for the burglar alarm. It has one purpose only. But then what was he protecting and who was threatening him? And why if we were to believe the Scaife stories about a man down on his luck and broke would he spend some of his last money on a burglar alarm? And what would he have to protect? Why would a person with strong anti-gun views even buy a gun? Why would a man planning suicide and yes most suicides are planed as long as six months in advance would bother to register the gun as reported by the media?

    3. How Did He Remain Undetected for almost 9 hours in One Oxford Center??? How could anyone remain undetected wondering about a major upscale office building for a total of 9 hours while carrying a backpack. One guard from the building remembers observing that he was wearing expensive shoes. Sitting in the restroom down the hall from Scaife’s offices is one answer but it’s hardly satisfying. It’s hard to imagine that no one else used that facility without observing the presence of someone else.

    4. Why Did Scaife refuse to answer Steve’s parents questions??? This is another question that troubles his mother. Why did Scaife refuse to answer her questions of whether he had met with Steve that day? Likewise why did building security officials refuse to answer her questions and in her own words give her a run around? Coupled with the immediate preceding question it raises only more questions and hoists a red flag.

    5. Why does the police report and autopsy report differ??? This is the biggie. Why does the police report list the wound to the left temple area but the autopsy state it was through the roof of the mouth? The ambulance report also lists a gunshot wound to the left side of the head. How was it that the corner missed this wound? Why did the electrician state there was blood already on the floor when he first found Steve but there is no mention of that fact in the autopsy report? Once again we encounter a question that needs to be thoroughly answered before any doubt can be removed.

    6. Why no exit wound??? Another biggie that has never been addressed. I find it impossible to believe that a 9mm would not have made an exit wound. I would with trouble accept the lack of an exit wound if it had been a 22 rimfire. (This writer has the scars in his left leg to know what a 22 can do even after ricocheting twice. Once off a rock, I saw the rock explode through my scope then of a car fender before hitting me in the calf and traveling through about 3 inches of muscle.) Even more troubling is from the articles printed in the media was the fact that two fragments was retrieved from the back of the skull. I will acknowledge that bullets can do strange things but I find it hard to believe a 9mm slug would fragment going through 4 inches of soft tissue. The normal expected outcome would be for the slug to remain intact and to mushroom not fragment. Nor has the media ever stated that these two fragments composed the majority of a 9mm slug. Were these fragments large or were they small? Combined would these fragments compose an entire 9mm slug or not? In light of further evidence an considering the other oddities surrounding this case it leads this writer to the conclusion that the slug was of a devastator type, the bullet of choice for an assassin. Once again until a complete thorough answer to the size and number of fragments is forthcoming all doubt must remain.

    7. How was the death ruled a suicide within one day??? One day for an autopsy would not have allowed time for toxicological tests to be completed. Yet according to the news article of Wed. Feb 10 from the Tribune-Review the autopsy was completed on Tuesday. Was this just part of a rush to sweep it under the floor? Why didn’t the corner check the mouth for powder burns? According to one of the articles it was because of rigormortis. If thats the case how did they determine the wound was through the roof of the mouth? Its just another example of how rushed this autopsy was. At the very least it shows a corner jumping to conclusions before all results are in.

    8. Why no Nitrate residue on the hands.??? Another mystery from the autopsy report, no nitrate residue was found on Steve’s hands. The corner tries to make a claim that only 50% of suicide victims show a residue. That some weapons have next to no blowback and that the residue could have been rubbed off in the handling of the body. Well maybe but then I am old enough to remember that Oswald went home washed his hands and changed clothes, yet they still found nitrates on his hands.

    9. The blood alcohol content why the discrepancy??? Adams reported first finding Steve one the floor in an almost comatose state and unable to answer intelligibly. The toxicology report stated a blood alcohol level of .14. Certainly high enough to be arrested for drunk driving but far from the level to render a person semi-comatose. And even if factual then how did a stumbling down dead drunk pick himself up find his gun and commit suicide without anyone hearing the shot all in the manner of a few minutes.

    10. Why did Scaife seek out Steve’s parents??? We know that Scaife associates sought out Steve’s parents. Scaife people obtained permission from them to search his Las Vegas apartment, to read his Email and who knows what else. What was Scaife looking for? Coupled with a question below it seems that it was more than just paranoia, but part of an almost hysteric search. From the text above it seems that the Scale organization used Steve’s parents in one of the most iniquitous manner I have ever heard, to feed disinformation to the press as in the false story about Mein Kampf. Even Steve’s mother admits to feeling somewhat used or taken advantage of in one of the media reports. Simply put taking advantage of another’s grief is the lowest form of malevolent behavior.

    11. What was Music doing in usenet??? From the text above we know that it was not for his stated purpose of answering questions and to clarify any questions. Was Music nosing around Usenet in hopes of stumbling onto whatever it was that Armistead couldn’t find in Las Vegas? And remember Armistead is a top notch thug for Scaife.

    12. Why the vicious mad dog media attack??? Why did Scaife launch and all out mad dog attack on Steve? It served no purpose other than maybe unwittingly attracting more attention to the case. There still is no evidence that Steve intended to threaten or in any way harm Scaife. Such rumors are solely based on conjecture and are noting more than playing fast and loose with the facts.

    13. Why sell Steve’s computer??? This is another puzzling question that defies logic. According to the media reports Steve’s roommate had returned from an extended trip to find Steve hadn’t paid his share of the rent so he sold the computer for $150. This roommate was also Steve’s former business partner. A partner that had bought Steve’s interest for $30,000 after telling him it was worth $100,000. But Steve had refuse the higher offer not wishing to become part of the 2% top income earners that he deplored in his web page. Are we to believe that a person that had received essentially a $70,000 gift from Steve would quibble over $150? It simply doesn’t make sense.

    14. What was Steve’s plan??? This writer believes very firmly that Steve had a coherent plan and was in the process of executing it when he was killed. The story appearing on April 11 in the Washington Week mentions the first step of this plan. It refers to an October post in Usenet in which Steve sought out advice if the computer he had just purchased would be adequate for a high volume server application. The article concludes that if Steve had the funds, the time and the presence of mind to expand his political activism how could anyone believe the Scaife smears. Confirmatory evidence from Deja News reveals that this is one of the first posts in which Steve used a new Email address of Liberalism Resurgent and that he also had registered the server as Resurgent. It fully destroys the Scaife smear that he was going to use the computer for a sex site. This I believe was the first step in the plan in January the second step of his plan is revealed on his web site. On Jan 9 he modified the file Help_the_Fight revealing his plans for Liberalism Resurgent. In it he detailed plans to hire writers in particular college students, as well as setting a maximum cap on income for any employee. Now we know beyond a doubt that he had a plan and what the computer was for. It also shows a continuing effort over an extended period requiring time, money and a presence of mind. But the plan doesn’t end here. There is one final piece of evidence of this plan. It was found with his knapsack upon his death. It was the list of names. It is this writer’s opinion that the list of names were people that Steve was going to interview for the initial expansion of his web site. Up to this time there is every indication that Steve had but one plan and that he was diligently working toward that goal of expanding his web site. The list should be viewed in that light. When it is things begin to make sense. The reader of this page is now invited to go back and reread each of the questions keeping in mind Steve’s plan and notice how many of the previous questions have suddenly been answered. In fact if one assumes that Steve had other information as put forth in the final paragraph here it wipes out 7 of the preceding questions and leaves only the questions about the autopsy report left. But now even those questions have a plausible answer as part of an on going cover up.

    These interviews with people on that list would then be used as the basis for additional pages. Perhaps even as collaborating evidence for additional information that he may have had. If such was the case it would certainly explain and remove any doubt about the Armistead search in Las Vegas and the presence of Music in Usenet.

  27. slasher
    August 28th, 2013 | 6:32 pm

    The Podlucky family has a history of bad misfortunes. Greg has always been a dirt bag even before his daughters unfortunate death. He worked and stole from his Fathers company’s pension fund Jones brewing. Gabby took full responsibility and told me that he would never talk to him again. The only other time that I know of Gabby talking to Greg was at his granddaughters funeral(which devastated him).Greg went on to steal and Gabby died. So Greg; don’t blame your corruption on your daughters death you’re just a dirt bag