Tag Archives: Teri Buhl

Teri Buhl sentenced to 30 days

I still don’t know much about this case involving a frequent FWIW commenter  (well frequent in the past- haven’t heard much from her in a couple of years – do you suppose Walt scared her off?) but it involves her stealing a girl’s diary about drinking in New Canaan and publishing it on the Internet. The prosecution failed to introduce the evidence needed to support that charge (never send interns to do real work) but Buhl was convicted on a misdemeanor and today a judge sentenced her to 30 days in jail and a year’s probation. I’m suspicious of this entire case – the vigorous police inquiry into the incident, an investigation that according to the cops took “months”, a full press prosecution and now a terrifically harsh sentence for a misdemeanor, violations of which usually result in a hundred-dollar fine and court costs. Buhl obviously offended someone powerful up in New Canaan and I wonder who it was?


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Curiouser and curiouser

Teri Buhl alerts me that our newest Connecticut Lottery winner Brandon Lacoff is not only the failure behind Greenwich’s Beacon Hill, he’s now involved in resurrecting a failed Norwalk development. Want to see a picture of that project? Well here you go. Say, wait a minute, that’s a picture of Beacon Hill! Guess they couldn’t afford a new picture, or they just believe in recycling.

And here’s another curious thing: the winning ticket was sold November 2nd yet no one stepped forward to claim his winnings until yesterday. Although Fudrucker would never admit it, the Lottery Commission ran a bogus billboard campaign asking the winner to appear. When Mssrs. Lacoff et als did show up yesterday they did so accompanied by a lawyer from Long Island who “represented” the boys at the Lottery’s press conference by repeating “no comment, no comment, no comment” all afternoon. Is it possible that the attorney’s vocabulary has shrunk after decades spent representing low-level Mafiosi? Who knows? And who knows if the reason for the lengthy delay in claiming the prize was due to a desire to shield those big bucks from the grasping claws of rapacious creditors? I sure don’t and asked about it by Scuzie, FWIW’s top investigative reporter, Lacoff said this: “no comment”.

UPDATE: Teri points out that Madoff’s Lacoff’s winnings were deposited into a “family trust”. What’s that about, do you suppose?


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This should put an end to SpongeTech’s suit against Teri Buhl

UPDATE: Metter has been arrested, along with the lawyers he used to issue his phony documents, and an international manhunt is underway for the PR firm that collaborated with him. Perhaps they should look in Dubai?

SEC charges WGCH’s Michael Metter with penny stock pump and dump scam. This was, I believe, the story that got Teri fired from Greenwich Time.[Teri Buhl has written that this isn’t so – of course, since she still doesn’t know why she was fired, I choose to believe she was fired for offending someone and Metter, the fat bully, is as good a candidate as any].  Here at FWIW we’ve encouraged Teri to write what she likes and I hope we’ll have her report on this soon. In the meantime, here’s to you, Greenwich Time.

Washington D.C., May 5th 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged New York City-based Spongetech Delivery Systems Inc., an affiliate, and five people involved in a massive pump-and-dump scheme that deceived investors into believing they were buying stock in a highly successful company.


–>The SEC alleges that Spongetech CEO Michael Metter and another senior executive, Steven Moskowitz, hyped fictional customers and grossly exaggerated sales figures through dozens of bogus press releases and fraudulent SEC filings to pump up demand for stock in Spongetech, a company that sells soap-filled sponges. After flooding the market with the false information to fraudulently inflate the stock price, Metter, Moskowitz, and Spongetech dumped approximately 2.5 billion shares by illegally selling them to the public through affiliated entities in unregistered transactions. They spent portions of their illicit profits in highly visible sponsorship deals with professional sports teams to further create the aura that Spongetech was a well-known and prosperous business.

The SEC suspended trading in Spongetech stock on Oct. 5, 2009, due to questions about the accuracy of the company’s press releases and SEC filings. In today’s enforcement action, Spongetech is accused of obstructing the SEC’s investigation by producing phony sales documents in an attempt to legitimize the make-believe customers it hyped to the public. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York today announced a parallel criminal action in the matter.

“Spongetech used a menu of manipulative strategies to perpetuate this scheme, including fake sales orders and public statements as well as obstruction of the SEC’s investigation,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We will utilize all available means, including referral to criminal authorities, to prosecute those who attempt to thwart our investigations.”

Christopher Conte, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, added, “Investors were deceived into believing that Spongetech was a successful business, while Spongetech and its senior executives were illegally dumping shares into the market.”

Two of Spongetech’s former attorneys — Jack Halperin and Joel Pensley — and stock promoter George Speranza are also charged in the SEC’s complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. RM Enterprises International Inc., an affiliate through which Spongetech dumped shares, is also charged.

According to the SEC’s complaint, after several years of relatively little business with a single customer comprising the bulk of Spongetech’s limited sales, Metter and Moskowitz began to paint a more promising and misleading picture of Spongetech’s business. Beginning in approximately April 2007, Spongetech issued dozens of phony press releases touting increasingly larger, yet fictitious, sales orders and revenue. The press releases fraudulently exaggerated the demand for pre-soaped sponges by referencing millions of dollars in sales orders, business, and revenue from five primary customers that purportedly accounted for 99 percent of Spongetech’s business, yet none of those customers actually existed.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Metter, Moskowitz, Spongetech, and RM Enterprises used false and baseless attorney opinion letters by Pensley and Halperin to distribute shares of Spongetech to the public. Metter, Moskowitz, and Spongetech also used false and misleading attorney opinion letters — forged in Pensley’s name and in the name of a fictitious lawyer, David Bomart — which were transmitted to Spongetech’s transfer agents. The SEC further alleges that Speranza created websites and rented unoccupied office space for the fictional customers in an attempt to legitimize them.


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What am I, chopped liver? WGCH’s Metter sues Teri Buhl, but not me!

"Oh, we'd NEVER cheat YOU, big boy!"

Michael Metter, evil genius behind the Sponge Bob penny stock scam, is offended at Buhl, the NY Post and various other writers for exposing his fraud and has sued, but left me out of the fun. Gee, I thought I was pretty plain how I felt about this purported business enterprise, again and again and yet again, without result, but I’m willing to try one more time. By the way, the complaint is about the worst drafted piece of crap I’ve ever seen, so perhaps Metter’s lawyers will want to bring a separate action against me for calling them incompetent hacks who should never have been admitted to law school, let alone granted admission to the bar. I knew that on-line law schools were a bad idea.

UPDATE: Matchbook lawyer’s hiring explained: Turns out, SpongeTech’s passing rubber checks to people like the NY Islanders, and getting sued therefor. You can’t pay your bills, I guess you’re stuck with hiring your useless nephew as a lawyer.


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Teri Buhl

What was really behind O’Neal’s billion dollar write-downs at Merrill Lynch

By Teri Buhl

Today, Fortune’s William Cohan gets  former CEO Stan O’Neal to spill about some internal quarrels he had with his board about selling Merrill Lynch, in a move that almost make it look like he wasn’t the only fall guy to screw Merrill shareholders.

O’Neal, who was ousted in October 2007 after mega billion dollars CDO write-downs hit Merrill’s books, tellsFortune that he really did try hard to sell the troubled bank to Ken Lewis while the stock price was still high and the world didn’t quite know about his $45 billion mortgage time bomb. He’d even started talks with Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis asking for $100 a share in September 2007 when the stock was trading below that, but influential board member Alberto Cribiore, a wall street dealmaker  he’d help get on the board, wouldn’t let him sell the bank. Why because he thought Lewis was ‘an asshole’. According to Fortune, O’Neal also said Cribiore thought they could work their way out of the looming CDO write-down problem and didn’t need to sell when they were weak. A year later Merrill sold to BofA for a heck of lot less than the number Stan had been aiming for and the $MER shareholders were left wondering if they’d been saved or royally screwed.

Cohen points out that O’Neal failed to influence his executives and board members during his reign and communicate the real seriousness of their problems in the bank’s mortgage related assets. The question still unanswered is did he really know what those problems where and why not?

Cohen writes: “When O’Neal got back to New York from Martha’s Vineyard in September 2007, he spoke to Cribiore about his growing concerns. “This is a serious and deep problem,” O’Neal says he told Cribiore. “Well, just take as big a write-off as you can imagine,” Cribiore told him. “The problem, Alberto, is I don’t know how deep the hole is,” O’Neal remembers explaining. “I can’t sit here and tell you that if I decide to take a $5 billion or $10 billion write-down, I can’t tell that that’s the right number. I can’t tell you if there’s $15 billion or $20 billion more, and the reason I can’t tell you that is because I don’t know how the market will evolve, and there is no market today for these securities. Whatever value we come up with is highly theoretical.” O’Neal felt uncomfortable telling Merrill’s employees and shareholders that a big write-off would solve the problem when he wasn’t sure it would.”

You see this wasn’t the only time O’Neal had been challenged by the banks executives. According to a senior member on Merrill’s CFO team who talked to this reporter on the condition of anonymity, Jeff Edwards, the bank’s CFO, had some serious issues with the number on the losses O’Neal was telling investors. In the beginning of October, Merrill shocked the street and announced they’d be taking a $5bn write down on mortgage assets. And then a few weeks later O’Neal came out and told The Street they reexamined their positions and that it’s actually going to be over 50% more that they need to write-down. Well according to the Merrill executive I spoke with, Edwards told O’Neal that he wasn’t marking these CDO assets right and the real loss to the firm would be much higher. The two got in a verbal confrontation, O’Neal didn’t want to announce more write-downs so soon and Edwards threatened to quit that week if O’Neal didn’t revise them. And that’s why we suddenly saw a very different number announced, which was for $7.9 billion on their CDO and subprime portfolio.  Ouch!

When the write-down adjustment was announced the New York Times wrote “The additional write-down, coming so soon after the company’s $5 billion charge, may raise more questions about the leadership of O’Neal, and the ability of his top executives to assess the firm’s risk exposure.”

But in reality it looks more and more like O’Neal knew the risk exposure he just couldn’t stand up and admit it. And even if he’d tried to stand up to his board it looks like Cribiore, the influential board leader, was too entrenched in his own agenda to do the right thing with it.

Fortune’s ‘Merrill Lynch’s $50 billion feud’: http://money.cnn.com/2010/04/15/news/companies/merrill_lynch.fortune/index.htm

Editors Note: Teri Buhl is an investigative news reporter who has written for Trader Monthly, New York Post, HousingWire, Dealbreaker, Greenwich Time, and  Fortune.com

A previous reported stated Nelson Chai was the CFO in Oct 2007 that was corrected to Mr. Edwards.


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Too funny – Greenwich Time is looking for (another) financial blogger

And what an attractive job it seems to be!

Financial Services Reporter

Hearst Connecticut Media Group is seeking a financial services reporter to blog, break stories, investigate and lead coverage of the high-end financial services industry and community in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Blogging and writing for our online products will constitute about 70 percent of the job.

The beat will include hedge funds, investment banks, private equity, insurance, and financial instruments and commodities trading. A major focus will be on the people involved in the industry and those affected by it.

The successful candidate will be an excellent people person, able to develop sources and establish a constant flow of information from a traditionally closed-mouth community. He or she must have strong familiarity with the industry and a high comfort level in reporting on complex financial and economic matters, interacting with C-level executives and high-net-worth individuals, and translating it all into compelling copy for our newspaper and online readers.

Excellent story-crafting skills are a must, as is experience with online reporting through blogs, Twitter and Facebook, etc., as well as traditional news Web sites. Video skills are a plus.

Requirements include boundless enthusiasm for the beat, a bachelor’s degree, outstanding business clips in his or her portfolio, and the ability to juggle multiple print and online assignments and deadlines.

The position will be based in Greenwich and report to Business Editor Jim Zebora in Stamford. Anyone interested should contact Jim at 203-964-2420 or jim.zebora@scni.com.

Gee, it seems to me they had all these skills, and more, in Teri Buhl, yet she lasted just three months on the job. Mr. Zebora should, in fairness to job applicants, add a few more requirements to that skill set, including ass-kissing and fear of and respect for the rich, powerful or influential in Greenwich. Maybe you can make it one of those unpaid intern jobs for teenagers, Jim – they’ll need the experience and the resulting cynicism.

(H/T, Pulled Up in OG)

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Teri Buhl finds a real job

100 W. Putnam


Drat – there goes my free content. But here she is with a Fortune article on Barry Sternlicht’s play for the last of the Antares empire, the old UST building on Rt. One. Sternlicht may be on the cusp of seizing control of the building away from Antares and perhaps even grabbing the whole thing for $60 million, less than half it last sold for.


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Another viewpoint on Stevie Cohen

(DealBook, NYT)

One I don’t necessarily share but if Greenwich Time doesn’t want Teri Buhl’s output, I’m grateful to have it.

What the NY Mag story didn’t tell you about Stevie Cohen v. Mrs-Ex SAC

By Teri Buhl

Today we learned that the secretive hedge fund manager from Greenwich, Stevie Cohen of SAC Capital, whose trading prowess is legendary, is not so good at managing his family life.  According to a New York Magazine article, he plays an underhanded game of mental abuse to control the people in his family. Steve Fishman’s two month investigation into the lives of Steven (the billionaire hedgie), Alex (current wife), and Patricia (ex-wife) Cohen gives us an on the record account of the domestic financial battles of the Cohens over the last twenty years. Unfortunately, the New York Magazine story left out some very important facts in their tale of all things Cohen that we know were discovered in their research and not reported.

At the heart of this story are the dollars paid to Patricia for child support and household expenses for the children as part of her divorce settlement. We found the explanations of these numbers, as reported in New York Magazine, are not what they appear to be.  First of all let’s be clear: it’s the current wife Alex who reigns over monitoring the payments to Stevie’s ex-wife Patricia and signs the check.  A move Alex relishes and lords over like the mad Queen in Alice In Wonderland, because according to Patricia, reimbursement payments were often challenged as unnecessary or not related to the children.

Take a look at this example in Fishman’s story:

In 2001, Alex wrote checks to Patricia totaling $576,950, though the average annual payment, including child support and all other expenses, was closer to $400,000 while her kids were at home, according to documents. Of course, however generous the sum, it was no hardship for Steve. In 2001, Steve earned $428 million, according to Institutional Investor.

That sounds like a lot in a year and makes you question what Patricia has to complain about. Except according to documents seen by this reporter, that sum also included a $200,000 loan that Alex and Stevie had given Patricia with 7% interest with a 12% late fee penalty. Patricia ended up paying back the loan within months and Steve and Alex made $13,000 on interest.  Also the $576k sum included household and kids expense for 2-3 years, not just one. Patricia’s attorney told this reporter that on average Patricia was only reimbursed around $125,000 a year for expenses she had already had to spend on the children including college tuition, room, and board, which otherwise not be paid on time by Alex and Stevie.

Patricia told this reporter, “I have never once, submitted a reimbursement request for any expense that was either explicitly stated as Steve’s obligation per the terms of our agreement that address child support, or an expense that fell outside of those outlines, that Steve did not specifically approve in advance of the expenditure.”

The worst part is according to Patricia’s current lawyer, Gaytri Kachroo, principal at Kachroo Legal Services P.C., these facts and loan documents were presented to Fishman for his story but clearly were left out. This makes us seriously question what other facts Alex and Steve manage to massage in the story.

Kachroo told this reporter, “We reluctantly agreed to respond to questions in the New York Magazine story around the children’s expenses as they are irrelevant to Paricia’s divorce settlement. But we did provide documented evidence so that the issues that arose concerning reimbursements where accurately detailed. However I see very little evidence of the information we supplied.”

When we asked Fishman, the writer, why factual information was left out of his story he only responded asking what publication I was writing for and did not supply an explanation. Fishman did tell Kachroo that parts of the story were cut by the editor because of space –A reason we find journalistically irresponsible. There was a clear effort to write both sides of the story so why leave out those facts?

But that’s not the only missing link New York Magazine chooses not to tell the reader. There is an implied tone that after the divorce, Patricia never even bothered to try and work and earn money for herself. Yet according to Patricia she continued doing real estate deals for the first ten years after her divorce in which she’d buy properties, fix them up and sell them for a profit. Alex Cohen is quoted in Fishman’s story wondering to a friend “Why didn’t she get a job?” Yet Alex knows full well that Patricia did work and also that she’s been plagued with a chronic illness for the last 10 years.

In an interview with Patricia, she described months of hospitalization over problems with her pituitary gland.  Her chronic illness affects her thyroid and kidneys, a medical disease that comes without warning and can place her in the hospital for months. According to Patricia’s attorney, Stevie’s divorce settlement covers her health insurance for life but since 2001, her illness has made it difficult for Patricia to work. In fact of the $9,000 monthly payments she gets from Stevie today, only $2,500 is left over for travel to see the kids, for groceries and household expenses she must still supply as the children live with her some of the time, and other health related costs given her illness: $3,500 goes to her son, $1,500 for health insurance, and $1,500 for rent in an apartment Stevie owns. But none of this was explained in the New York Magazine story. According to Patricia, Alex and Stevie even tried to downplay Patricia’s illness when Fishman asked them about it saying ‘Patricia has allergies.”

Now as Patricia is about to re-file her civil RICO suit against Stevie for allegedly fraudulently concealing from her the true value of their marital assets during their divorce, some media reports and commentators label her as a money grubbing ex-wife who keeps going back to the well because she can’t manage money. Others cheer her for standing up to the powerful multi-billionaire who can squash her with legal fees and cut off her only source of funds. When I asked Patricia why Stevie doesn’t just settle with her and avoid the public battle, one that’s only added to the suspicion that he’s been avoiding taxes and running insider trades for years she simply answers, “We would probably have to start to talk for that to happen.”

New York Magazine’s ‘Divorced, Never Separated’:

[Editors Note: Teri Buhl is an investigative financial news reporter who has written for: Trader Monthly, New York Post, HousingWire, Dealbreaker, Greenwich Time ]


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Did WGCH’s Michael Metter get Teri Buhl fired?

Bill Clark writes that Ms. Buhl may have been fired from Greenwich Time for reporting on the stock scam WGCH owner Michael Metter is running. I don’t know – it seems to me that GT’s Dave McCucumber is a frightened rabbit, scared of his own shadow, and would a dump a reporter at the first sign that someone was “Angy” at McCucumber, but certainly Teri gave Metter something to be angry about. He’s running a penny stock fraud for something called SpongeTech and people running scams just hate when you point that out.


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A new Teri Buhl article

While Greenwich Time editor Dave McCucumber stil refuses to provide her with copies of her own stories (they’re ours,” he insists, “and we can do what we like with them” – like erase them – that’s a nice way to help a fired reported find new work, Dave), Teri graciously sent along this article that would have appeared over on the Elm Street rag, were she still there.

J.C. Flowers Exec says FDIC will allow single private investment firms to buy failed banks this year

by Teri Buhl

The FDIC is meeting with private equity titans today to talk about the
rules around private investment firms buying failed banks. Reuters was first
to report the pow-wow and quoted industry sources who said they don’t expect
the FDIC to make big changes to the rules <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62G50O20100317>
. Some of the tension between the FDIC, the OCC, and the private equity firms
centers around the percent of ownership individual P.E. firms can own in
banks and the higher levels of capital they are currently required to have
if they want to buy a bank. The FDIC would not admit the date of the
private meeting with industry financiers but told Reuters they will ‘issue additional clarifications’ about
the rules.

Two weeks ago Dow Jones held a distressed debt restructuring and turnaround
summit in New York where industry leaders talked about deal flow, economic
conditions, and regulatory or legal issues involved in buying bankrupt
companies. Industry speakers second the view that there will definitely be
more opportunity for private  investment firms to buy failed banks because
of the number of banks expected to continue to fail this year.

John Oros, managing director at J.C. Flowers & Co. who runs a fund that
invests in financial firms, told this reporter in an interview at the
conference that he believes in 2010 single private equity firms will be
allowed to buy failed banks. Oros is the first industry vet we’ve heard say

Oros reminded us that his firm tried to bid twice for the assets of IndyMac
when the FDIC placed the failed bank out for bid in 2008 but were turned
down. Since his firm wasn’t allowed to buy the bank on their own, it ended up working with a group of other P.E. firms
teEquityFirm.html> including Dune Capital, Paulson & Co, George Soros, and
Michael Dell’s investment firm to successfully win the bid to buy IndyMac.
It was the first time we’d seen the regulators allow a group of private investors to
buy a failed bank and many industry veterans thought they got a sweet-heart
of a loss sharing deal. At last weeks industry conference there was
consensus that margins on buying failed banks have shrunk since last year,
but the opportunity is still a viable economic investment for distressed

For now it’s a waiting game as the FDIC works to find the best possible
solution for how to unload the droves of toxic assets it’s taken on from
loss sharing in failed bank deals and prepares for future failures.
In an interview last week, Connecticut Banking Commissioner Howard Pitken told this reporter that they are carefully watching the commercial loan portfolios of banks in Fairfield County. He told this reporter there is concern about default levels in some local banks but they are trying to get ahead of the problems before failures occur. He would not name which banks he is currently worried could fail because of their troubled commercial loan book. Patriot Bank and Darien Rowayton Bank have both needed private investor funding as they neared collapse, but if they were seized and placed under FDIC conservatorship it is unlikely a single private equity firm would have been able to take control of the failed banks.


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More on Teri Buhl’s firing

Not content with firing her, Greenwich Time has also completely erased her presence from its archives. It’s as though she was never there – I assume they’ve also hired an old Stalinist to airbrush her out of any staff photographs, too. I’m not sure when Greenwich Time lost its caojones, but it was a long time ago. God forbid anyone should take offense at anything they print. They deep sixed Sarah Littman awile ago after her liberal point of view hurt someone’s feeljngs and I know they have self-censored themselves for a long time.

So where did this passion and devotion to “happy news” come from? Beats me, but it sure makes for a dull paper.


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While I was out

Greenwich Time fired Teri Buhl. Every time I hear some paean to the main stream media about the importance of maintaining its independent voice, its courage in speaking truth to power and all that rot, I snicker. My own experience and now Teri’s shows that so long as newspapers are dependent on advertisers, they will deep six anyone who offends. A newspaper without advertising is hardly a commercially viable model, of course, but so what? These folks are well past their expiration date – it passed the very first time they caved to an angry, powerful person and they can never get it back.

Buhl was hired to report on Greenwich’s financial industry – makes, sense, doesn’t it? First innovative idea the morons (formerly) on Elm Street have had in years. So that lasted three months and the editors are back to the pabulum they’ve been spooning out for decades now as they dragged their paper into irrelevancy. What are they trying to charge for today? Suzie’s Dish, of course – Jerry Springer seen in Greenwich!! That’s worth the buck-fifty they ask right there, but as a bonus, there’s an article warning those suffering from food allergies to be careful in restaurants – hard hitting reporting, no holds barred. These are words that must be said! What a crock.

Dead, defunct, obsolete and cowardly. Yet they continue to pat each other on the back and pass around prizes as though they are doing something worthwhile. They aren’t.


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Greenwich Time’s new pit bull strikes again

Teri Buhl’s certainly earning her keep at our once moribund local. Today she’s out with a story of WGCH’s owner Michael Metter’s other profession: selling soapy sponges and watered stock. The SEC’s after him and, poring over the various Internet hits on his company, here, here and here, just for instance,this has all the earmarks of the penny stock pump and dump schemes I used to pursue. It’s possible the poor guy’s the victim of nefarious outsiders seeking to profit at his expense. It’s also possible that Frankie Fudrucker will conduct his next political campaign dressed in a full burka. I’m betting I’ll witness Frankie’s comely form draped and hidden from sight before SpongeTech clears its name.

Besides, Metter ruined a dinky radio station that, while irrelevant, did once have its uses, like announcing snow days for the schools. Did you know that WGCH doesn’t have an Arbitron rating now because the audience surveyors could find no one who admitted listening to the station? I’m not sure if any of you are spending money on ads on WGCH but you could do just as much good by sending me the cash – I’ll take better care of it, I promise.

Michael Metter, president and part-owner of Greenwich radio station WGCH, is facing a federal securities investigation and multiple lawsuits against another business concern, his penny-stock company SpongeTech.

Metter, who lives on Tinker Lane in the backcountry [ Note to T. Buhl: Tinker is south of the Merritt, which puts it in mid, not back country – ed.], co-founded SpongeTech Delivery Systems Inc. in 1999. The company makes a sponge filled with soap, which is intended to eliminate the need for a bucket of soapy water to be used during a car wash. The company has been a prominent advertiser at Yankee Stadium and other sports venues, including Madison Square Garden, and co-branded with the cartoon character Sponge Bob in a marketing effort.

In October 2009, trading in the company was halted for 10 days by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which announced that it had “temporarily suspended trading in the securities of SpongeTech because of questions that have been raised about the accuracy and adequacy” of the company’s financial disclosures.

Then, in December, the SEC issued a notice to the company that its staff “intends to recommend that the Commission bring civil injunctive actions” alleging violations of federal securities laws.

"Vote for Me!"


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Teri Buhl covers hedge fund real estate

(The Original Fake) Walt accuses me of having the hots for Ms. Buhl but since she and I have never met and, were we to do so she would run screaming from the room, I feel perfectly comfortable recommending her articles on hedge funds and the general business world, including this latest from Greenwich Time.


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Greenwich’s Plainfield Asset Management toast?

Antares better hope not. The company, under investigation by New York and , now that someone else has done the leg work for him, Connecticut’s own Richard Blumenthal, is paying $7 million a year on ultra-plush digs at 100 West Putnam Avenue. Blumenthal is such a joke – it’s a shame he’ll be moving to the Capitol to work greater mishief.

UPDATE: Here’s the Fortune article that recounts Plainfield’s troubles. From managing $5 billion before the crash, Plainfield’s down to $560 million plus $2 billion he’s holding captive until 2012 from investors who want their money back. That doesn’t sound like a strong business model.

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More Teri Buhl

Just because I like her (I’ve never met her actually – Teri, can we have coffee?)  doesn’t mean I’m her flack, but this woman is going to make Greenwich Time a must read for anyone interested in the financial world’s Greenwich roots. Check out her blog today on who lost their money when Dodd quit. Great stuff.


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Teri Buhl’s already hard at work at Greenwich Time

Nice link to a Dodd appearance on Meet the Press where he explains why the right and responsible thing to do is to help out his hedge fund pals who had paid him so handsomely.

UPDATE: Mother Jones put up a detailed posting back in April of some of the many, many financial types giving money to the this awful man. I’ve said before that his entire presidential “campaign” was nothing more than a fund grabber from the industry he regulated and nothing that’s happened since has convinced me I was wrong.

Update Update: I went searching for my first anti-Dodd posting but it was lost when Google banned me and I switched to WordPress. I did discover this post from April Fools day, last year, passing on my very first boss’s guarantee that Dodd was not going to run and that Blumenthal would. I’m obliged to keep that gentleman’s identity secret, but, for a Republican, he’s pretty plugged in to Demmerkrat politics.


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First Tiger, now Stevie? Oh, say it isn’t so

Teri Buhl’s put up some interesting rumors about hedge funders shunning Steve Cohen’s company out of fear that the FBI’s about to bring him down. True? False? I sure don’t know,* but I find it significant that he and Tiger were seen boarding Privacy yesterday and heading out to sea, alone.

* At least one reader says it’s true. See comments.

Since we all first learned at Dealbreaker that Stevie Cohen’s ex-wife thinks he operates outside the lines of the law- we thought we’d look into who else felt the same.

What we found is that almost everyone in hedge fund land also trades equities like Stevie does – and they’re starting to move away from anything that looks like they’re a mini-me SAC. In fact, there’s a new buzz word the titans who run other billion-dollar funds are using to direct their legions: being `SAC-REMOTE’.

Funds like Blue Ridge, Greenlight, Third Point, Glenview, and Maverick are cutting back on any contact with King Stevie. When we asked major players such as Jim Chanos and others if they’ve been pinging Stevie about a trade lately, you’ll get a very defensive `no.’ Why? Because word on the street is they all think FBI special agent BJ Kang, who is now dogging Stevie, has the goods to deliver the hammer soon in the form an indictment or arrest for insider trading.

Extra measures are being taken to hire data-miners to comb through any and all emails firms and their trading consultants ever sent to anyone at SAC in an attempt to erase them from internet memory. According to traders we talked with, they are even going as far as getting out of trades that might look similar to any of Stevie’s. So it looks like running due diligence on your `SAC risk’ to prove to your investors that you’re clean – like Larry Robbins of Glenview capital just did – is the new `killing it’.

Now that we’ve got Patricia Cohen’s tell-all lawsuit that reads like another white-collar crime novel in the making, the FBI just received a huge layup. The ex-Mrs.-SAC has flat-out told us Stevie had revealed he used inside info to score a nice profit on trading GE’s acquisition of RCA in 1985. And let’s keep in mind, as Matt Goldstein at Reuters pointed out this week, Stevie denied these allegations (according to Patricia Cohen’s suit, filed last Wednesday). Instead he choose to take the 5th.

Word among journalists is that draft copies of the ex-Mrs.-SAC’s lawsuit had been floating out there for a while but no one thought she’d actually file it. Boy are we glad she did. If we look at another very SAC-friendly story that just happened to be printed by Alex Berenson at the New York Times the same day Patricia filed her juicy lawsuit, we think it shows Stevie knew a woman once scorned for being allegedly cheated out of hundreds of millions was going to be big trouble for him.

The coverage, which some say shows Berenson was played by SAC’s stealth pressmen at Sard Verbinnen to write a ‘defense piece’ before all hell broke loose, was even highlighted that fatal Wednesday by NY Mag’s Jessica Pressler who wrote, “So there you go, readers. The Times isn’t coddling you. It just doesn’t have room for the whole truth.” Ouch!

Let’s just say hedgies going SAC-remote means those famed ‘idea dinners’ the NYT Dealbook likes to write about (get story ideas from) are likely out of the question for now.

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Wells Fargo is toast?

So says Teri Buhl, and others. Interesting if true (and I’ve heard this from a number of other sources) because, even if it’s their commercial loan portfolio that brings them down, they hold a ton of mortgages on Greenwich residents. Work-outs will be even more difficult if the person in a decision making role is a bankruptcy trustee.


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Jim Himes speaks on ObamaTalk

Himes Disappointed with New Canaan Parents
By Teri Buhl
Congressman Himes isn’t happy with New Canaan teachers and parents enforcing a school wide decision to opt-out of Obama’s speech tomorrow. So much so that he dragged his wife and two young daughters to stand on the steps of New Canaan’s town hall and listen to him hold a press conference (with TV cameras) touting that fact he is “deeply disappointed and even frightened’ about the towns decision.
On Friday, Superintendent David Abbey sent a letter to all New Canaan parents notifying them a school wide assembly to watch the President’s speech wasn’t going to happen.
Today, Himes who arrived in jeans and a preppy pink-stripped oxford spoke with zealousness and passion.
“We should embrace a chance to let our children hear their President talk and are missing a unique teachable moment,” says Himes. In New Canaan registered Republicans out number Democrats two to one.
FOUR local cops were there to police a crowd of only 50 residents, including at least 10 elementary school kids.  Maybe officials thought Himes would come up against rowdy opposition; but unlike last week’s town halls on health care, there were no shouting constituents and very few had questions for Himes. Why would they, considering he’s not a resident and doesn’t play a role in local school decisions?
One parent who did speak out freely, Roy with a daughter at the middle school, told Himes, “Why isn’t Obama’s speech happening at night? So I can sit there and discuss it with my daughter instead of her teachers.” Roy was glad the school system chose to allow parents to opt-out of the event.
Not surprisingly Ginny Apy, chair of New Canaan Democratic Town Committee, was handing out a statement expressing frustration that New Canaan’s decision had drawn the eye of the national press.  She wrote, “We find it detrimental to be drawn into national spotlight, on this issue.”  Yesterday on Meet the Press, MSNBC’s David Gregory quoted from New Canaan’s letter to parents.
What was surprising was the fact Himes didn’t ask New Canaan’s superintendent David Abbey to attend the press conference — luckily he showed up on his own accord. To clarify any misconceptions parents might have regarding whether their kids will be required to do school work for Obama. Abbey reiterated this was a decision by the teachers and principals and not solely his or the Board of Education’s.
After Himes scooted away from the crowd Abbey told parents, “Look, all that’s going to happen in most schools is Obama will give the speech, some kids will clap, and they go back to class.” Abbey added that it concerned him that the speech has become a political event instead of a learning event.
Jim Kurcharczyk, member of New Canaan Board of Education said, “Even though I only heard from about 80 parents (there are 4,000 students in New Canaan’s school system), the majority were against forcing their kids to listen to Obama’s totalitarian views.” Kurcharczyk pointed out that this is really a special event and not a part of a regular curriculum – with special events parents are usually given the chance to opt out.
In letter sent to the media that is addressed to school superintendents and parents of Himes district, he writes, “As a Democrat, I might be charged with fighting to promote the President’s point of view. Nonsense.”  Looks like New Canaan parents thought what was non-sensical is President Obama coming through our school systems to spread his message to our kids.


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