Saturday, September 20, 2014


Civic Skinny

How indicted Bauder pharmacist spent his money. And how lawyer Brooke Timmer talked too much.

4/8/2014

Let’s say, just to make conversation, that you’re a pharmacist and that over four-and-a-half years you sold more than 700,000 highly addictive pills out the back door of your pharmacy. Let’s say you made a small fortune doing that — a minimum of nearly $1 million — and you added to that fortune by not paying income tax on it.

And let’s say that you also got company Visa cards to buy things for the pharmacy but instead used them to buy more than $1 million of stuff for yourself, but you cooked the books so that your aged mother and your hard-working sister — fellow owners of your drugstore — knew nothing about this.

So you had all that money to yourself.

How would you spend it?

Well, if you’re Mark Graziano, the brash and supremely confident Bauder’s pharmacist indicted Feb. 25 on 16 counts of conspiracy to distribute hydrocodone, 11 counts of mail fraud and four counts of tax evasion, here’s how you’d spend it, according to the indictment, which was unsealed the other day:

You’d buy a 1948 Babe Ruth baseball card, a 1912 Honus Wagner baseball card, a 1933 Babe Ruth card and a 1933 Lou Gehrig card, a jersey and a bat and a batting glove used in games by Derek Jeter along with a jersey worn by David Ortiz. You’d splurge on a couple of cruises in the Caribbean, an expensive new Audi, an electric guitar signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen, another signed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and others, and yet another signed by Bruce Springsteen and the members of the E Street Band.

According to the indictment, you’d also buy with the ill-gotten gains from the drug sales some jewelry at Joseph’s and:
• Twelve baseballs signed by Ted Williams.
• A bat used by Babe Ruth from 1918 to 1921.
• A Michael Jordan rookie basketball card.
• A set of 132 1986-87 basketball cards.
• A 1915 Cracker Jack Honus Wagner baseball card.
• A baseball signed by Mickey Mantle.
• A basketball signed by George Mikan.
• A 1915 Ty Cobb baseball card.
• A 1918-21 Louisville Slugger baseball bat used by Babe Ruth.
• A jersey worn by Walter Payton.
• A warm-up jacket worn by Pete Maravich.
• A 1991 rookie card of Brett Favre.
• Red Auerbach’s 14-karat gold 1969 Boston Celtics NBA championship pendant.
• Dorothy Auerbach’s pair of Boston Celtics Gold Filigree charms.
• A basketball signed by Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.
• A baseball signed by Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb.
• A bat used in a game and signed by Cal Ripken.
• Red Auerbach’s watch presented to him by the Celtics owner after Auerbach’s 1000th victory.
• A limited-edition, six-ounce silver ingot memorializing Mickey Mantle.
• A signed image of George Mikan.

According to the indictment, you’d also use that Bauder’s credit card to acquire for yourself that 2011 Audi Q7 Prestige, three all-terrain vehicles — a 2008 Arctic Cat, a 2011 Arctic Cat and a 2012 Can-Am Outlander — and you’d use some for “college fund-raising contributions.” No college was named, but Graziano is a regular in a court-side seat at Drake basketball games. He’s a graduate of Drake, the 2009 winner of the Golden Bulldog Award — “the highest honor bestowed upon a Drake booster by the Department of Athletics” — and a past Drake “man of the year.”

And you’d use pharmacy money to buy for yourself — though your sister and mother wouldn’t know:
• A Hank Aaron bat.
• A Willie Mays game-used bat.
• Eleven 2009 American Gold Eagle $50 coins.
• A 1948 Babe Ruth card.
• A 10-ounce gold bar.
• A Chicago Bears Mike Singletary worn and signed jersey.
• A 1912 Honus Wagner card.
• Two 1952 Mickey Mantle cards.
• A 1933 Babe Ruth and a 1933 Lou Gehrig baseball card.
• A 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card.
• A Louisville Slugger bat used by Frank Robinson.
• A Pete Maravich rookie card.
• Eight 100-ounce silver bars and eight one-ounce gold bars.
• A football-card collection.
• A 1985 Super Bowl football with 48 signatures.

Graziano, 52, who has pleaded not guilty to all counts, has signed an affidavit that states what has become of the stuff — whether he has sold it, kept it, given it away or placed it with an auction house. He sold a Babe Ruth bat for $60,000, for example. If he is found guilty, the property is subject to forfeiture, and a restraining order filed under seal in February bars him from getting rid of anything.

Graziano’s trial is set to begin June 2 in federal court in Des Moines. …

“I am ecstatic about the way Brooke Timmer and Whitney Judkins handled my sexual harassment suit and retaliation suit,” Mindy Gilster says in the “client testimonials” section on the website of the Fiedler & Timmer law firm in Des Moines. “I will be forever grateful for the way they represented my case and me.”

Well, maybe not forever.

Gilster had sued a Sioux City bank and banker for sexual harassment and retaliation, and in August of 2012 a jury in Federal Judge Mark Bennett’s courtroom awarded her $900,000, which was reduced to $428,982.41.

During the closing argument, lawyer Timmer veered off into a monologue about herself. The transcript:

“Mindy Gilster had the strength to make that complaint back on July 2, 2009. I sure didn’t. Back in 2006, I was sexually harassed by a professor at Drake, but I was on my way out. I was a third-year law student, and I had been a student bar association president for the last year, and I was well respected and liked by my peers. I had a great relationship with the dean of the law school because of my role as president. But I refused to be that —

“DEFENSE COUNSEL: Excuse me, counsel, Your Honor, I do not think this is appropriate for argument.

“THE COURT: Overruled.

“MS. TIMMER: And I refused to stand up for myself….Given my calling as a civil-rights lawyer, I am constantly amazed by the strength and courage that my clients have when facing their employers and supervisors, the people who have all the power….”

Primebank and banker Joseph Strub appealed. Last Friday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the jury award and ordered a new trial, sharply criticizing the comments of Timmer and, by implication, the rulings of Judge Bennett.

Quoting another decision, the three-member panel of the 8th Circuit said, “The cardinal rule of closing argument [is] that counsel must confine comments to evidence in the record and to reasonable inferences from that evidence.” Timmer went well over the line, the court said. (In contrast, in setting fees, Bennett said he agreed with a description of Timmer as “a bright and talented rising star.”)

“We are left with the firm conviction that the timing and emotional nature of counsel’s improper and repeated personal vouching for her client, using direct reference to facts not in evidence…made the improper comments unfairly prejudicial and require that we remand for a new trial,” the circuit court said.

And quoting itself, the court said: “When a lawyer departs from the path of legitimate argument, she does so at her own peril and that of her client.”

It then reversed the judgment — “including the award of attorneys’ fees,” which Bennett had set at $161,418.24 — and sent the case back to Sioux City “for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”

As of the weekend, the testimonial remained on the website. …

Bauder’s, the venerable drugstore on Ingersoll, must have been a little goldmine. Graziano reported taxable income — which didn’t include his alleged drug profits or Visa scam — of $1,064,533 for years 2009 through 2012, and apparently the store with the fabled soda fountain was doing so well that his sister and mother didn’t notice that he allegedly skimmed off $1 million during those years. …

No one seems to have noticed, but on Iowa Press Friday Tom Vilsack did not rule out becoming president of Drake University when he steps down as Secretary of Agriculture. Drake’s David Maxwell has said he’s leaving in mid-2015. …

Iowa’s nonfarm employment in February stood at 1,518,400, not counting those laid off with secret settlements. That’s up a bit over 30,000 since he became governor more than three years ago — and promised to create 200,000 jobs in five years. He’s not on track. …

Cityview joins those mourning Alvin Kirsner, a wise and witty and lovely man who died last week at age 95. CV

Upper Iowa