Guest: Tracie Dean, Bryan Davis, Eric Convey, Susan Filan, Joe Tacopina,
Daniel Petrocelli, Michael Ramsey, Robert Heim, Michael Feldenkrais
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the gut instinct of one woman helps law enforcement allegedly crack a horrific case of child sex abuse.
ABRAMS (voice-over): A haunting look from a little girl in a convenient store prompted Tracie Dean to search missing children Web sites, even review surveillance tape until finally one police officer trusted Tracie's gut. Now two accused child abusers are behind bars. Both Tracie and the officer join us.
A murder mystery in Massachusetts, a mother and 9-month-old baby found shot in their home. The husband considered a person of interest. He sits down with police in London and reportedly will now return to the U.S.
And does this woman have extraordinary assets that entitle her to a special visa from the United States? Her lawyer says so.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket an incredible story of a good Samaritan with a gut instinct. Tracie Dean stopped into an Alabama convenient store, saw a little girl roaming the aisles alone, didn't sit right with her. The little girl left with an older man. Dean took down the license plate on the truck they drove off in.
She then spent a week calling the police, checking missing children's Web sites, even contacting “America's Most Wanted”. Nothing. Finally she decided to drive back to the convenient store many miles away and ask to look at the surveillance tape. While she was looking at it, Sheriff's Deputy Bryan Davis walked in.
Dean told him her concerns. He launched an investigation, which brought them to 58-year-old John Wiley and his wife, 40-year-old Glenna Faye Cavender, who are now charged with multiple counts of sex crimes and child abuse against the little girl and a 17-year-old boy found in their trailer.
Joining me now the persistent Good Samaritan Tracie Dean joins us and Deputy Bryan Davis with the Evergreen Alabama Police Department. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right, Tracie, take us through this, if you can, chronologically from the time that you see this girl and tell us what it was about her that led you to be suspicious.
TRACIE DEAN, CAUGHT A SEX OFFENDER: Well I want walked into the gas station and she was alone and a small child alone in a gas station is definitely a bad sign. So when I was in the gas station three or four minutes she was still alone and unattended. I went over to her. I said hello.
She said hi and she sort of ran off and then a few minutes later came back over to me. At which point I asked her you know does your mommy work here. At that time a man from across the room said the name Elizabeth and walked over to her and said are you trying to find a new mommy. And when he said it, it was just a chilling way that he said it.
There was no warmth there. She seemed frightened or tense. And so when I went to check out the things I was buying and walked back to leave the store she had gotten up under me and was pushing the door open to the point where I actually asked her if she was going with me. She wouldn't let go of the door. I wouldn't let go of the door and then the man said you can let go of the door now. And when I walked away I just in my heart knew that he was not supposed to be with her.
ABRAMS: Wow. All right. So you have this sense—it's just a gut sense, right? And so you say you know what, I am just going to take down the license plate number of the truck and then you start making calls?
DEAN: Yes , sir. I got the license plate number of the truck. It was an older model car. It was a Washington plate and therefore, you know, when I plugged it in the navigation system it was nearly 3,000 miles away. So I immediately called 911 when I got on the interstate and told them basically everything we just talked about, including the location, what they were wearing, what happened, and the license plate number.
ABRAMS: And at that time their response is probably without more we can't do anything, right?
DEAN: No, their response was we'll get right on it. They called me back five minutes later and said, you know asked me what kind of car it was. I told them and they said well that tag is registered to a 2001 Honda. At that time I said I had a feeling something was wrong. They said we'll get someone to check it out.
Five minutes later they called back and said it was the grandfather. Everything is fine. Don't worry about it. I said what about the tag? And they said it all checked out. Don't worry about it.
ABRAMS: But you weren't satisfied?
DEAN: No, I got home to Atlanta and I realized that only nine minutes had gone by from the time I called 911 to the time they told me everything was fine. Fortunately, I was able to look at those times on my cell phone. So I sat down and got on the Web site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I typed in a description of the little girl and a little girl popped up that I thought was her.
ABRAMS: And then you go to the gas station, which was pretty far from your house, right?
DEAN: Well at that time I contacted the 800-number for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, gave them the tip. The story - it—it's four days later before I actually drove back to the gas station. And I had actually contacted on Monday—was a holiday. Therefore, I couldn't get in touch directly with the detective in charge of the case.
So I contacted “America's Most Wanted”, gave them the tip, got no response. Wednesday contacted them again via e-mail, tried to contact the detective a few times to no avail. On Thursday contacted the Alabama Bureau of Investigators, got routed to the division for missing and exploited children and wanted to find out exactly what officer responded to the call.
I wanted to personally speak to him, could not get that information, encouraged the Alabama Bureau to please investigate the video surveillance of the store or to get the little red cowboy hat the little girl was playing with in the store to get fingerprints. They said they were not able to do that without a court order.
At which time I told them that their job was to get a court order then and check it out. They said they weren't able to do that. I hung up the phone. I contacted the store, grabbed two girlfriends, and we drove 300 miles back to the store to look at the tapes ourselves.
ABRAMS: Wow. And that's when Deputy Davis came in, right?
DEAN: Yes, it was about 12:30 at night because the manager of the store who was not feeling well, already at home 60 miles away, agreed to come back. So it was about 12:30 at night. I guess Officer Davis was actually coming in maybe just for a drink. I don't think he was supposed to be there. He just happened to walk in and immediately said what are you guys looking at.
ABRAMS: All right...
ABRAMS: Deputy Davis, why don't you take us from there? What happened? You walk into the convenient store and you see Tracie looking at this surveillance tape.
DEP. BRYAN DAVIS, CONECUH CTY., AL SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Yes, Dan. I stopped in the store to do a check on the clerk in the store as we usually do at all of our gas stations and other stations that are open. And when I walked in, her and her two friends were viewing the videotape with the manager and I inquired about what they was doing and why they was watching the videotape.
ABRAMS: And once they tell you, did you right away say all right, we got to act on this?
DAVIS: Yes, when she first stated what had happened and she thought it was maybe possibly a missing child, at that time I went ahead and started doing a report and I contacted the supervisor and he come down and we then started a further investigation to find out if it was indeed the missing child in which she had a laptop with a picture of the child on it.
ABRAMS: So how do you end up at the home of the two suspects?
DAVIS: The following day—well up until that night that I saw Ms. Dean I had done further investigation up until the morning and had got some tips that the suspects were probably staying around in this area. The following day the sheriff and I along with the chief deputy investigator come back to the same area and searched the area and was able to contact the vehicle description that Ms. Dean had gave us located at the residence.
ABRAMS: And you get there and what happens? (INAUDIBLE) one of them answer the door?
DAVIS: Yes, sir. The first attempt we went there and no one come to the door. And the second time we went there approximately five minutes later the gentleman later known as Jack Wiley come to the door. And we advised him that we was there to check on the welfare of a child.
ABRAMS: And did you then see the missing child?
DAVIS: Yes, sir. Just a few moments later the female subject walked outside with the child, who was—the female subject was later identified as Glenna Faye Cavender.
ABRAMS: And did she confess at some point?
DAVIS: We spoke with her and began to get their names and information. And we started the investigation there and we took pictures of the small child and was doing a further investigation and our dispatcher advised us that Mr. Wiley come back as a possible sex offender out of Wisconsin.
ABRAMS: Right and you had actually arrested him for failing to register properly in Alabama as a sex offender. But at what point did you—were you able to file charges against them for the abuse of the child?
DAVIS: Well the investigation led to that they was both giving false names, so they were then arrested and transported to our office. And a further investigation by our investigator and the sheriff and with the Department of Human Resources with the children determined there had been sexual allegations against the child and they took over the investigation from there.
ABRAMS: Tracie, you ever done any detective work in the past?
DEAN: I don't think so. Not like this.
ABRAMS: What do you do for a living?
DEAN: I am the general manager of an Audi dealership in Atlanta, Jim Ellis Audi.
ABRAMS: Wow. Well look, it's nice to see a good ending to a horrible story. And Tracie Dean, it sounds like you are single handedly responsible for that, in addition to some good work from Deputy Davis.
DEAN: Thank you. I wouldn't say I was single handedly responsible...
ABRAMS: Well, I probably—that's why I added in addition to the good work...
ABRAMS: ... Deputy Davis. You know that's—I got to pick my words carefully. Single handedly does mean by yourself and you're right, you had help from important people. Tracie...
ABRAMS: ... thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
DEAN: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Deputy, thank you very much for coming on the program.
DAVIS: Thank you, Dan.
DEAN: Bye, Bryan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, new details in a murder mystery in Massachusetts. A wife and her 9-month-old baby shot inside their home. The husband, a person of interest, has been in London, reports now about whether he will return to the U.S.
And the man who gets much of the credit for bringing justice to O.J. Simpson in the civil case is now trying his first criminal case and it's a biggy. He is leading the defense of the former Enron CEO. That case starts Monday and Daniel Petrocelli is with us.
And later, nude model Dorismar say she's got extraordinary abilities that entitle her to a visa to work in this country. Her lawyer is confident the INS will agree.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: We're back. Neil Entwistle officially a person of interest in the brutal murders last week of his wife Rachel and their 9-month-old daughter Lillian Rose is said by British radio reports to have agreed to return to the U.S. from his native England. Entwistle met voluntarily today with Massachusetts' detectives at the U.S. embassy in London.
While the exact timeline of the murders is still unclear, it seems Entwistle may have left the U.S. sometime shortly after his wife and daughter were killed. However, the office of the Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley, who is investigating the case, says of Entwistle's returning it's not in police custody. He's not under arrest.
Police in England say—quote—“Neil Entwistle is not a suspect. He's being treated by the U.S. authorities as a potential witness. There are no extradition proceedings in relation to him.”
Eric Convey is the “Boston Herald's” executive city editor. Susan Filan is MSNBC analyst and former Connecticut prosecutor. And Joe Tacopina, criminal defense attorney. Thanks to all of you for coming in. Appreciate it.
All right, Eric, what do we know about where he is and whether he is coming back?
ERIC CONVEY, “BOSTON HERALD”: The latest we know or we think we know is that he's at the U.S. embassy in London where he's been—they sat up a room where he could meet with Massachusetts authorities and answer their questions.
ABRAMS: Do we know—I mean there was initially a report that was saying that he wasn't going to come back, even for the funeral.
CONVEY: We were—he told investigators, according to our sources, that he was not sure he would come back for a funeral. And then there was—I think you know a British radio report earlier today saying he had agreed to come back. Now you know we don't know what he plans to do, what he's agreed to do expect that we're quite certain he is at the embassy in a room they set aside, talking to the four investigators from Massachusetts.
ABRAMS: Susan Filan, in the event, and this is a big if, but if he were charged with this crime, would they be able to use against him the fact that he didn't come to the funeral, again, if he didn't go?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well Dan it's going to be part of the circumstantial evidence that could be going to something called consciousness of guilt. Certainly it's evidence that would come in. It's something that the jury would have to weigh, but what's going to be far more important are the statements that he makes to law enforcement, what the forensic evidence yields. Remember, these were small-caliber bullets, the bodies were covered by blankets.
We need to find out the timeline, as you correctly said, Dan. When did he leave? That's going to be much more the key to this prosecution if he is in fact charged and prosecuted.
ABRAMS: Joe, I want to read you the timeline, all right, of what we know, and I want to ask you if you were his lawyer whether you'd be having him talk at all.
Thursday, January 19 is the day she's last heard from. Friday, January 20,
Entwistle buys an air ticket to London. Leaves the U.S. late Friday or
early Saturday. Saturday the 21st, Rachel's mother is unable to reach her
Friends find their home locked. Police are called. They go to the home for a well-being check. They don't find anything. Sunday, January 22, friends and family enter the home, find nothing suspicious. Missing person's report is filed with the police. Police come back to the home. They smell a foul odor and find the bodies in the home.
All right, so Joe, with that timeline in mind and the time he leaves the country, et cetera, and of course the fact that he is the husband, would you be allowing him to talk to the authorities?
JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well as a criminal defense attorney, Dan, and only as a criminal defense attorney, not as a father or someone who wants this guy to look less than inhuman, absolutely not. I mean there is absolutely no reason to have this guy talking to the authorities if you're representing him as a criminal suspect because he is where all of the focus is on, at least as we know right now.
The circumstances look horrible, although we don't know if there is any evidence, forensic circumstances that look horrible, but at least just the way he, you know, they last heard from him on Thursday. Friday morning he suddenly buys a ticket and he's is in a different country and doesn't want to come back and his wife and child are dead. I mean nothing would be able to tear me away from being at that scene.
TACOPINA: So you know everyone's knee jerk reaction is (INAUDIBLE) he did it. So you know a lot of those weird reactions are things that I don't know if you're going to have a proper answer to. And more importantly, as you well know, Dan, a lot of these cases are made by the statements and interviews the defendants or at the time suspects give to police.
They get caught up in some maybe stupid lie that really doesn't go to their guilt or innocence, but it looks like they are guilty when they are done with that interview. I would never, ever let this guy speak to the authorities.
ABRAMS: Because, Susan, they can call him a person of interest and no one knows exactly what that means. But the reality is they have got a lot of questions for him.
FILAN: That's exactly right. I mean semantics, he's somebody who is very, very important to look at in this case. He's the husband. He's the father. He fled. He's in England. These are close-point gunshots in the home covered up by blankets.
That indicates usually it's somebody that knew them. The door was locked after the person who killed them left. It's not a forced entry. It doesn't look like stranger murder. Plus, other circumstances that mitigate against him there is evidence coming out now that his business on eBay was going very sour, a lot of disgruntled customers, financial difficulties. They rented that house. I think it was 2,500 a month. Neither of them had any income, so there's a lot to look at when you talk about this guy.
ABRAMS: And Joe, bottom line, if he decided he does not want to leave England and let's say that there is an arrest warrant filed, they would have a pretty easy time getting him back, right?
TACOPINA: Well yes, I mean the rule basically is one, you have to have probable cause that a crime was committed. That's obviously a ground ball. And the second thing they'd have to do, the American authorities would have to convince the prosecutors or authorities in London or England that there is probable cause to believe that this person, this individual is a suspect or is guilty of this crime.
And if they show probable cause and they make a compelling case yes, extradition will be granted. But it really is up to the U.K. prosecutors. That's the bottom line. It really is in their ballpark.
ABRAMS: Yes. Very quickly, Eric, do we know how long he spoke with the authorities for today?
CONVEY: We don't know. We've had some conflicting reports on that. There are some suggestions that he was there for a couple of hours and left. There is a wire service story moving right now saying he is still there.
ABRAMS: All right. Eric, Susan Filan, Joe Tacopina, appreciate it.
TACOPINA: Thanks, Dan.
CONVEY: Thank you.
ABRAMS: It may well be the white-collar version of the O.J. Simpson case with a defense, which could be just as groundbreaking. It even includes a lawyer who successfully sued O.J. for millions. Monday is day one of the Enron trial or more specifically the trial of Enron founder Ken Lay and former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, who together face dozens of charges including conspiracy, fraud, and insider trading.
Shareholders lost upwards of $60 billion. But don't expect the old don't blame me, I was just the CEO defense. No, it seems Skilling and Lay's attorneys are going to tell the jury that Enron was actually a pretty healthy company. That everything they did was legal. And that a few bad apples in conjunction with overzealous prosecutors brought the company down. The outcome of this case could become the legacy of corporate fraud during the 1990's economic boom.
We'll talk to one of Mr. Lay's attorneys in a moment, but joining me now my friend Daniel Petrocelli, attorney for former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who I got to know when he represented Ron Goldman's family in the O.J. Simpson civil case.
Dan, good to see you. Thanks for coming on the program.
DANIEL PETROCELLI, ATTORNEY FOR JEFFREY SKILLING: Thank you, Dan. You did an excellent job of summarizing our case.
PETROCELLI: ... need to say anything more than that.
ABRAMS: Well let me ask you a pretty simple question. Do I have this right? You are going to argue that Enron was basically a sound company when it went under?
PETROCELLI: Not only argue, but prove, Dan. I mean I have never seen a situation where there has been a wider gulf between perception and reality than this Enron story. I mean the public made up its mind. The media made up its mind and of course the government made up its mind long before anybody really bothered to get to the facts.
Now you know Jeff Skilling, you know, has had a hard time having to endure the last three or four years getting ready for this trial. But I will tell you this much. He's relieved to finally get there. We're at the threshold and finally, finally, the facts of this story are going to come out.
ABRAMS: But how are you going to argue to a jury of ordinary folks that a company was healthy when it completely went out of business?
PETROCELLI: Well there are such phenomena in the world of business, Dan, particularly with respect to financial institutions called runs on the bank. We had them in our great depressions. They almost brought the country down until the Federal Reserve was created to protect banks.
In many respects we had a run on the bank at Enron. And we are going to get into that in detail and explain exactly how in a few short weeks an immediate and temporary and punishing drain on the liquidity of the company could literally suffocate it. And that's exactly what happened. And Enron was rich in earnings. It was a liquidity problem. It was a bankruptcy of liquidity not solvency.
ABRAMS: But wasn't there also a problem about lies? I mean one of the things and correct me if I'm wrong because this is a somewhat complicated case. I want to make sure I understand this. But one of the things that they are alleging that Skilling did is that he exaggerated Enron's earnings. He was hiding losses, et cetera. And my understanding is that you all are going to argue that he may have been doing some of that, but it was legal. And are you concerned that jurors are going to say wait a second, that's OK?
PETROCELLI: Well let me be real clear about this. I don't know where you got your information. But we in no way, shape or form are going to be arguing that Jeff Skilling lied about anything. He absolutely had no reason to lie...
ABRAMS: But I didn't say lie. I didn't say lie.
PETROCELLI: ... would not lie, could not lie...
ABRAMS: I didn't say lie.
PETROCELLI: ... did not lie.
ABRAMS: Dan, let me repeat my question...
PETROCELLI: You said exaggerated...
ABRAMS: ... exaggerated Enron's earnings...
ABRAMS: That's what I said...
PETROCELLI: He did not exaggerate, mislead, deceive, lie, whatever word you want to put on there. This is all part of the mythology that has built up around Enron. The truth is that Jeff Skilling told the truth about the company. It was one of the most over disclosed companies in the country at the time. It was one of the highest profile companies. It was one of the companies that investors and analysts knew more about than any other company and prior to the bankruptcy, Dan, there wasn't one law enforcement official who had any problem with Enron. Nobody came knocking on the door accusing Enron of fraud, Dan.
ABRAMS: But the same people in the industry would say we were totally fooled and lied to.
ABRAMS: They would say all the reports we got from Enron were full of misstatements.
PETROCELLI: Now Dan, how can hundreds of the most astute, sophisticated financial analysts whose job it is to cover a handful of companies possibly be deceived not one day, not two days, but three years? I mean it's preposterous and that's the problem with this case.
Now some of these corporate fraud cases, I grant you, there have been situations involving a fraud where both sides agree that a fraud occurred and the only question is whether the guy at the top knew about it. That is not this case, Dan. When you ask people on the street what was the fraud at Enron they cannot tell you...
ABRAMS: Well the answer would be that they continued to—this is what the prosecutors would say—is that they continued to mislead investors. They continued to lie in their reports about the success or failures. They continued to hide losses, et cetera, and that ultimately, effectively the Ponzi scheme fell in on (INAUDIBLE).
PETROCELLI: Well you know that's why in a way we are happy to be starting this trial. Because finally, all of these mythologies are going to be destroyed.
ABRAMS: I got to clear up one other issue about a mythology. I've heard that you know you as a New Jersey heading down to Houston, you actually bought a pair of cowboy boots...
PETROCELLI: Not only did I buy a pair of cowboy boots, but I'm wearing them now, Dan...
PETROCELLI: No, you're going to have to come down to Houston.
ABRAMS: I thought I might get just like a little peek look. You know we're doing a segment later on whether this porn star should get a visa to this country and I'm thinking I'd like to see your cowboy boots...
PETROCELLI: You come down and visit.
ABRAMS: Final question, first criminal trial for you, no concerns there, right?
PETROCELLI: I have a lot of great help, so I'm going to try to get through it.
ABRAMS: All right. Dan Petrocelli, one of the best. Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it. Good to see you.
PETROCELLI: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Ken Lay has become the poster child for corporate greed. Lay's attorney joins us next to tell us why he's not to blame for Enron's losses. We'll also talk to a prosecutor to get the other side.
And later you have got to be highly skilled at what you do to get a visa to live permanently in the U.S. This nude model and adult entertainer says she's got the skills and notoriety to get one.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike. Our search in Maryland continues.
Authorities are looking for Maurice Jackson. He's 41, five-six, 140, convicted of raping two 14-year-olds at knifepoint, has not registered properly with the state. If you have got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Baltimore Police Department, 410-887-5584.
Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our balance sheet will be back even in stronger shape than it—than it is or was before the write-offs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: According to prosecutors, it's statements like that one by Enron founder Ken Lay just weeks before the energy giant collapsed that misled the public into believing Enron was financially sound when Lay they say knew it wasn't. The trial against Lay and former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling begins on Monday.
Joining me now is Ken Lay's attorney, Michael Ramsey, and former SEC attorney Robert Heim, who has followed the case closely. Gentlemen thanks for coming on the program.
Mr. Ramsey, let me start with you. I was just talking to Dan Petrocelli about the defense that Jeff Skilling is going to be presenting. Is part of your defense also going to be that Enron was a fundamentally sound company?
MICHAEL RAMSEY, ATTORNEY FOR KEN LAY: Absolutely. The third quarter of 2001, the quarter before the bankruptcy was the strongest quarter Enron wholesale ever had. And it was an enormous profit center. It was a wonderful machine that was making money hand over fist.
ABRAMS: So Ken Lay's defense is not going to be I was just the CEO and I didn't know everything that was happening?
RAMSEY: Absolutely not. I mean Ken Lay had been CEO before. He moved back into that position after Jeff left. He was getting his hands on the wheel, but he had been there as chairman the whole time.
ABRAMS: All right, let me play this piece of sound from Ken Lay.
This is from July 8, 2004 after the indictment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH LAY, FORMER ENRON CEO: As CEO of the company, I accept responsibility for Enron's collapse as I've said before. However, that does not mean I knew everything that happened at Enron. And I firmly reject any notion that I engaged in any wrongful or criminal activity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The I didn't know everything that happened at Enron sure sounds like he's saying I was just the CEO.
RAMSEY: No, no, no, no. He is accepting responsibility as a business leader for the collapse of the company, for the bankruptcy of the company. He did not know everything. There was—by Enron's standards were minor thefts going on by Andrew Fastow over the years, which finally were gradually coming to light I think which set off the panic that eventually sank Enron.
What people don't understand is the very size of the Enron trading operation is one of the things that killed Enron. Because when they lost the faith of counter parties because of the Fastow situation, they started demanding full collateral. No company could have supported that way (INAUDIBLE).
ABRAMS: Let me ask you about—Andrew Fastow is expected to be one of the star witnesses against both your client and Jeff Skilling. And yet, you're going to I assume you know paint him as someone who was engaged in crimes. He's going to have pled guilty. The problem is, as you know, that some of his crimes were ones that benefited Enron and not him personally.
RAMSEY: No, no...
ABRAMS: So none of them. You are saying none of the crimes benefited the company?
RAMSEY: No, no. He stole for his own account. He stole on his own with all of the attributes of a secret criminal activity that you would expect...
ABRAMS: That's not all...
RAMSEY: ... off shore effect, off shore accounts...
ABRAMS: But that's not all of the crimes. I mean the bottom line is...
RAMSEY: Well there were no crimes that Enron was aware of is what you've got to understand...
ABRAMS: But I'm focusing on some of the crimes that Fastow is accused of.
RAMSEY: Well tell me one.
ABRAMS: Robert Heim, what's the name of the crime?
ROBERT HEIM, FORMER SEC ATTORNEY: Well Dan, I think that Andrew Fastow is definitely the government's star witness. Essentially the way the government has portrayed Mr. Fastow is having set up these partnerships and other financial maneuvers that were really designed to get liabilities off Enron's balance sheet and essentially pump up the earnings. Now remember the government has to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.
HEIM: But certainly the government's case is going to be based upon Andrew Fastow's conduct and I am sure that Mr. Fastow is going to be providing some pretty damaging testimony in support of the government.
ABRAMS: When you say part (INAUDIBLE) the bottom line and let's be clear because I want to make sure my question is accurate. The trial is starting Monday. I've still got three days to brush up on this if I'm wrong, but Mr. Heim—and I'll let you respond to this, Mr. Ramsey—but Mr. Heim, my understanding was that much of what Andrew Fastow is accused of actually helped Enron or he did it for the benefit of Enron in addition to other things he was accused of to benefit himself.
HEIM: Yes, the indictment in this case against Mr. Skilling and against Mr. Lay portrays a situation where Andrew Fastow and others at Enron set up a complex maneuvers and financial situation, which essentially helped mislead investors and make Enron look like a much more profitable company than it really was. And certainly the government is going to put Mr. Fastow on the stand...
HEIM: ... to help make its case...
ABRAMS: So the question, Mr. Ramsey, is why would he do that and not consult his superiors if it's benefiting Enron?
RAMSEY: Well you're assuming that the things that Fastow as CFO structured the off-balance sheet financing, which every company in America does, were somehow crimes. They were not. And that's what nobody seems to get. The point is the man was a brilliant man. Fastow is a pitiful creature in this sense, he's got a brilliant mind. He did wonderful financing for Enron, but they were not—it was not criminal. What he did for Enron were not crimes.
ABRAMS: And Mr. Heim, see this is really what we're going to hear. We're going to hear the defense teams saying that Lay and Skilling and Enron did not do anything wrong, that the only things that were done wrong here was when Fastow tried to benefit himself.
HEIM: That's right. And I think that's going to be one of the key issues of the whole trial, is whether what Mr. Fastow did with his off-balance sheet transactions, was in fact illegal. The government is going to have its experts testify that it was. The defendants I'm sure will have experts to rebut that and it leaves the jury, which is essentially probably people untrained in accounting in a very precarious position to be able to try to evaluate these very complicated accounting rules, which a lot of times...
HEIM: ... at that time were not crystal clear.
ABRAMS: And Mr. Ramsey, are you worried about that? About the complexities of this case?
RAMSEY: No, not at all. I informed by the government they're not even going to call experts. They—I think they are admitting now that they understand that the off balance sheet financing Enron did is just as common as grass in the corporate world.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, Mr. Ramsey, who then is at fault for the collapse of Enron?
RAMSEY: Well, there are a series of converging events that caused the panic. We were in a down—we were in—at the tail end of the bubble bursting. There were a lot of other events that made the market nervous, but what put it over the edge, the catalyst was Wall Street beginning to smell Andrew Fastow and what he was up to.
ABRAMS: We shall see if it was just Andrew Fastow or not. But we'll be following this case. Michael Ramsey, thanks a lot for taking the time...
ABRAMS: ... to come on the program. Appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Robert Heim, thank you.
HEIM: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a very different topic. She wants special permission to stay in the U.S. because of her extraordinary ability. Stick around to see why this illegal alien says that she should be a legal alien based on really what you are seeing.
ABRAMS: Coming up, can a woman's physical assets and the fact that she is a nude model entitle her to live in this country, even if she is from abroad and afar? It's coming up.
ABRAMS: We're back. They are called the superstars of their profession, people like musical legends John Lennon and Yoko Ono, British open winner and PGA champion golfer Nick Price, and U.S. ice dancing champion Tanith Belbin, one of America's greatest hopes for the upcoming Winter Olympics. Some of the lucky few with achievements so outstanding that they qualified for a special visa, allowing them to live permanently in the United States under the category alien of extraordinary ability.
Only 40,000 of them granted every year to artists, athletes, outstanding professors, researchers, and executives. Argentinean nude model, soft porn star, “Playboy” playmate, an endangered sea turtle activist Dorismar wants one too. The 29-year-old whose real name is Dora Noemi Kerchen, claims that her accomplishments in the arts and her notoriety in the Latino community meet the high threshold the U.S. government has set for receiving the visa.
The legal standard, that she have a—quote—“level of expertise indicating the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”
Apparently, the U.S. government acknowledged her extraordinary talents back in April, but it won't give her the visa because she's been in the country illegally since 2001. Her attorney is trying to make that case that someone with artistic assets like Dorismar deserves the visa anyway.
Joining me now is Michael Feldenkrais, Dorismar's immigration attorney. Thanks a lot Michael for coming on the program.
MICHAEL FELDENKRAIS, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: My pleasure, Dan. Thank you for having me.
ABRAMS: All right. So tell me about her artistic accomplishments.
FELDENKRAIS: Well, she's done television. In several aspects she's done novellas. She starred in a movie. She's done several television performances that have obviously in the Spanish industry been very recognized. She's in one—was in one of the top shows in Univision called (INAUDIBLE) for quite some time...
FELDENKRAIS: She's also performed...
ABRAMS: Is that the one...
FELDENKRAIS: Go ahead.
ABRAMS: ... that's sort of the “Girls Gone Wild” Latino version?
FELDENKRAIS: No, no, that's—this is Univision main afternoon show that does—well she—it was a—it's a funny show, but it's sort of—well anyway, it's a television...
ABRAMS: With some nudity...
ABRAMS: ... and some risque...
FELDENKRAIS: It doesn't have nudity. It has—it doesn't have nudity. Univision is just a normal news station just like everybody else. It's more like a—she does Jacuzzis with one of the people—the gentleman that is in the show.
FELDENKRAIS: But aside from that she's also a singer. She sang at the Democratic Convention—John Kerry's Democratic Convention recently and she's also been in “Playboy” and certain other magazines. She's a well-recognized artist in the Spanish community.
ABRAMS: Now you informed us that the INS has granted the petition recognizing her as an alien of extraordinary ability. And just so I'm clear, the extraordinary ability was in the performing arts?
FELDENKRAIS: It was a combination of all three. We used her singing career. We used her acting career and we used her modeling career in order to show that she has excelled as an artist as a whole in all three of the different areas where she performs.
ABRAMS: It's kind of—isn't it kind of odd that they are using the same class that they use to sort of grant Nobel Peace Prize winners and—or Nobel Prize winners, world class athletes, et cetera, same sort of category to give them a special visa?
FELDENKRAIS: It's not odd. I mean you've got to look at the industry in and of itself. The industry of sex, which sells is—let's go to the porn industry just for an example. It's $57-billion industry. That is a higher industry than the normal theatrical box office and movie, Hollywood, which is only a $8.9-billion...
ABRAMS: But you can't argue—you wouldn't have been able to argue just that she's—has a particular specialty in porn and as a result, she should be able to get a visa for that, right?
FELDENKRAIS: Absolutely not and that is not what we argued. We went nowhere near porn industry. She does happen to have the “Latinos Gone Crazy” video that she did, but that's not the reasons why she got her—anything of extraordinary ability classification.
ABRAMS: This is kind of funny, though right? I mean you know as you're saying that—I am not making any judgment as to whether she should or shouldn't get it, but you know it's hard not to laugh, isn't it?
FELDENKRAIS: It is hard—listen, it's an industry that everybody wants to look at it as something bad or something that we shouldn't be looking at, but 50 percent of the population takes care of that industry. Now yes, is it funny? Maybe, you know in the sense that we're looking at her as a sex symbol and she does show a lot more than normal other people would show. And in that sense yes, I would argue OK, it's an industry that you wouldn't find it common to have a Nobel Prize winner...
FELDENKRAIS: ... in that sense.
ABRAMS: Michael Feldenkrais, thanks a lot for coming on the program.
FELDENKRAIS: My pleasure. My pleasure.
ABRAMS: Coming up, public school teacher is suspended then resigns after showing his class the movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, but is there an argument that rather than resigning, he could have made the point that it was sending a pro-abstinence message to his students? It's my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—with the administration pushing abstinence education in schools across the country, you might think a public high school teacher would be congratulated, not suspended, for showing his class a movie about abstinence or more specifically about a man proud of his decision to put off sex. But I guess this was not exactly your typical educational deal. Spanish teacher Fernando Del Pino agreed to show his Lexington, Kentucky class the blockbuster movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” on Monday afternoon. Del Pino resigned.
But I think a good lawyer could have made a creative case for him. The school's policy states that movies shown in class must be part of the lesson plan with genuine instruction objectives. Well first, this movie celebrates a 40-year-old man's abstinence, a message so many in this country want our young people to hear. In one scene, Andy takes his girlfriend's daughter to a family planning meeting so she can learn about birth control before making the decision to have sex. Andy readily admits that he is at age 40 still a virgin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? I'm a virgin, too. No, you know, it's a personal choice, and I don't think it's weird at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And one could argue the movie highlights other virtues that we should all appreciate as well. Steve Carell's character Andy ends up a passenger in a car with an inebriated young woman, who almost kills him, reminding us of the dangers of getting into the car with a drunk driver. Andy doesn't even own a car.
He rides a bike instead, just like President Bush who's an avid bike rider and frequently extols the physical benefits of such vigorous exercise. Not to mention the pro-environmental message teens can draw from Carell's decision to use a bike instead of a gas-guzzling SUV and Andy likes to read. He shops at bookstores.
Those school administrators in Kentucky must appreciate a subtle reminder that reading is fundamental. It might even conjure up images of former librarian Laura Bush's literary message. Maybe it's not the movie that got him into trouble at all. If only Mr. Del Pino had shown (INAUDIBLE) “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” in Spanish, he might have made a stronger case to keep his job teaching Spanish. I don't speak Spanish.
Coming up, many of you thanking us for fighting to get a sex offender a sentence stiffer than 60 days. It's coming up.
ABRAMS: Welcome back. I've had my say, now it's time for “Your Rebuttal”. Yesterday a Vermont judge caved and upped the sentence of a serial child molester from 60 days to three to 10. I said the judge may have been watching the program about justice right here.
C.M. Elder in North Carolina, “Thank you so much for demanding the spotlight be placed on this judge. Thank you for being as relentless as you could be.”
From New City, New York, Gayle Levison. “Dan, you may absolutely take credit for the judge's reconsideration of the sentence. You raised the awareness of the public and exposed an injustice that should not result in public apathy. Thank you.” No, thank you, Gayle.
But Louis Duquette in Cliff, New Mexico makes a comment actually echoed by a few of you. “You did not lead the charge on this issue. It was O'Reilly. He was screaming about the judge first”—referring to Bill O'Reilly from FOX.
Sorry, Louis, actually not so. We exposed the sentence beginning on January 6. Did a long segment on it at that point. I had someone look it up. Bill O'Reilly didn't begin covering it until January 9, but he did cover the story.
Duane Gary in New Haven, Connecticut, “How can you state the Vermont judge tried to bully everyone when you and the other talking heads couldn't let this play out in a court of law before trying to intimidate and bully the judge into giving a sentence that you wanted imposed? Don't give me this most Americans stuff. At least be honest and admit that you're injecting your own views.”
Oh Duane, I'm always honest about that. It is my opinion, for sure. But actually it did play out in a court of law. That was the problem. And Duane, you might want to check out the latest Zogby poll indicates that you are one of the three percent of people polled who support the judge's sentence. Ninety-two percent opposed it. Please check the facts before writing a vitriolic message like that.
Best selling author James Frey comes clean to Oprah admitting making up some details in his book. Now she says she was duped. Some of you not happy.
Kathy writes, “While Mr. Frey is making money, people with real stories who are trying to get published are now being turned down without a read. My son was an addict, has been clean for seven months, due to an extraordinary process of self-help and has written a book. Mr. Frey has severely cut down the chances my son's book will be published.”
From Kinder, Louisiana, C.L. Johnson, “The only reason he's telling the truth is that he got caught and in my opinion he's just working another con.”
Finally, George Tandy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, “If Oprah is embarrassed by being duped by the author, wait until Oprah sees his next book, 'How I Duped Oprah'”.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
That's it. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. He's got his special panel tonight. See you next week.
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