The Lerman Law Firm was delighted to be invited by Scripps Research Institute in West Palm Beach to attend their annual Research Fest. The Lerman Law Firm sponsored the Poster competition for Research Fest and the winning students will be announced this week.

It was an honor to be among such talented students and faculty and learn first hand the amazing things that Scripps is doing to create cures for many rare diseases and many common ones. Our community is truly blessed to have such a talented group of people in our backyard. We were just so impressed with the level of talent and dedication exhibited by the Scripps community and we look forward to a long-last relationship with them.

We will post the press release later this week with the names of the winners of the Poster Contest we sponsored. What a rewarding experience!!!


the Lerman Law Firm yesterday filed Consumer Protection Complaints against www.kitchensource.com an online seller in Stratford, Connecticut with the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Florida and the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Connecticut for Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices, False Advertising and Bait and Switch.

We have asked that the Attorney Generals of these two states investigate the www.kitchensource.com for their. practices related to the sale, shipping, return and refund of their products. While the Terms and Conditions on the www.kitchensource.com website state that consumers should inspect the contents of items they purchase from www.kitchensource.com. before signing the bill of lading, in fact, www.kitchensource.com is aware that its shippers may refuse to allow the consumer to inspect the goods before accepting them. Here is an actual email from a Customer Service Representative at www.kitchensource.com:

“The manufacturer has advised that if there is any visible damages to go ahead and refused the shipment. If there not any visible damages then you can accept the shipment and open everything up and inspect it after but the shipping company will not wait around for the you to open up everything and inspect it. The best advice I can offer is to write “Possible Damage” when signing and then, let me know as soon as you can if there is any damage.”

Consumers should also be aware that the Ts and Cs of www.kitchensource.com state that “when you sign for a package, you are signing a document transferring ownership to you; that states you have inspected the shipment and that it is in good condition.” In other words, a customer of www.kitchensource.com is forced to sign the bill of lading without inspecting the contents of the package and when the customer signs that bill of lading they are literally stuck with the purchase of that product under the Ts and Cs of www.kitchensource.com. Even though the Ts and Cs also state that “As with all deliveries, please thoroughly inspect the contents of all packages for damages before signing for the delivery.” www.kitchensource.com website- Freight Carrier

If a customer of www.kitchensource.com tries to ask for a refund or return an item because they are not permitted to inspect it before signing the bill of lading then they are threatened with storage fees, shipping charges to and from, a restocking fee and any other fee they can come up with. It should be noted that www.kitchensource.com advertises “free shipping” and “easy returns.”

The customer service representatives of www.kitchensource.com will tell you before you purchase an item that “you have the right to inspect your package for damage.” This is in an actual email from a customer service representative. However, that statement is false and is said to you so you will make the purchase and after the purchase and right before the item is delivered you will be told that you can’t inspect the item before accepting it and you have to sign the bill of lading first as in the email above.

Aggrieved Consumers are advised to contact the Consumer Protection division of their State Attorney General for assistance with www.kitchensource.com consumer complaints.

Growing Your Cannabis Business in a Regulatory Firestorm

Until cannabis is legalized at the federal level, companies working with marijuana-based products will continue to face regulatory burdens that make conducting business rather difficult. Every week, I hear of a new hurdle for patients and companies, these roadblocks leave cannabis businesses at risk for regulatory action.

A strong business strategy for those producing, selling, promoting, and providing cannabis, whether it is recreational or medicinal, is to get involved with state legislators who are creating business guidelines. Far too often, companies wait until proposed rules are up for a vote to get involved. This leads not only to a significant amount of stress and last minute scrambling, but the fall out from burdensome regulations can kill cannabis businesses all together. If your company doesn’t have someone paying attention to your state’s legislative and administrative actions of cannabis regulation, you have a major problem.

It is important to protect your intellectual property, have properly executed contracts, put plans in place to protect patient data, and form a solid business plan. However, this means little if these contracts, agreements, and plans are not being reviewed by an attorney who understands the complexities of state regulatory actions and legislation on the horizon. Your business should be able to adapt to the ever evolving world of cannabis, and so should your legal counsel.

Is Kratom The New Marijuana?

While the war against opioids rages on, chronic pain patients are struggling to find a suitable alternative to manage their condition. As a chronic pain sufferer myself, I am always concerned about any action taken by state governments and the FDA to limit access to medication. 

Kratom is a tree from Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that have psychotropic effects. Two compounds in kratom leaves, mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain, especially when users consume large amounts of the plant. The FDA has identified Kratom as an opioid like substance with similar properties, creating a wave of regulatory actions that impact both industry and patients.

Some states are banning Kratom by classifying it as a Schedule I controlled substance, like in Ohio. Unfortunately, it may be years or even decades before enough research is conducted to prove the medical benefits of Kratom for chronic pain. Ideally, the FDA would hear the patient voice about the potential clinical benefits and investigate further. Unfortunately, as we have seen with cannabis, this is not the case.

Actions to ban Kratom and limit research initiatives hurts patients. Congress passed major opioid legislation this week that was signed into law, again showing that our government knows we desperately need to do something about the opioid crisis in our country. Limiting access to alternatives like Marijuana and Kratom is counter productive. Instead, we should be actively researching the medicinal benefits to help pain patients. They do not deserve to suffer and have their medication taken from them.

Until the FDA recognizes the potential benefits, Kratom will end up in the same battle as marijuana.


Our law firm announced on September 4, 2018 that it had initiated an investigation of potential public corruption by the Superintendent of Elections (“SOE”) and Canvassing Board in the reporting of election results for the August 28th Primary. In our experience, most public corruption cases involve not only political officials but private citizens who facilitate the corruption, act as a go between among the participants, and serve to divert the attention of the public, law enforcement and/or investigators from the actual perpetrators.

Today I want the citizens of Broward County to become a little wiser and a lot more aggressive in protecting the sanctity of their vote, the integrity of the electoral process in Broward, and REQUIRE transparency and accountability by all public officials who affect the voting process and results of all Broward elections. Regardless of whether you are running for Judge, the School Board or the Governor, all candidates should be afforded a level and fair playing field in all Broward elections. And we don’t believe they are. We now know a lot of other Broward residents don’t believe it either. So let’s talk about how the Broward county elections could be rigged, may have been rigged and can be rigged in the future.

The elections could be rigged so that a particular candidate is pre-selected to win an electoral race by using any of the following techniques (all of which are illegal):

  1. The software used by the SOE to record and tabulate the votes could be modified to assure that a certain candidate gets the majority of votes. This would be the easiest way to rig the election and one of the hardest to prove because the software manufacturer claims intellectual property rights to the coding of the software and refuses to allow examination of it on that basis.

  2. Ineligible voters are not removed from the voter registration rolls and therefore felons and dead people are permitted to vote. Well, not really. Someone may create a ballot and complete it on behalf of a dead person. No one really knows if all of the disqualified voters are really removed from the voter registration records routinely in Broward since Brenda Snipes has testified under oath that she knew that they had in past elections. There is supposed to be an ongoing process of elimination of these ineligible voters by SOE but it is also a convenient way to “create” votes for the favored candidate without being obvious (unless, of course, you get caught or you are audited, which doesn’t seem to happen very much).

  3. The old fashioned way. You get some blank ballots and have a good ole’ time filling them in with the votes you want to rig and selecting the candidates you want to win. You can use the name of either absentee or mail in ballot voters who didn’t vote and have no clue what is going on.

  4. You offer votes for sale. Yep that is what I said. You offer to sell votes to candidates who need them. This is quick and efficient. You just need a lot of cash and the personnel to fill out out the purchased ballots and make sure there are no duplicate votes. This is likely to occur when votes are “found” after the fact and voting has closed or absentee and mail in ballots magically appear after the voting and polls are closed.

  5. Another useful and tried and true method is simply destroying ballots you don’t want counted so the selected “candidate” is a guaranteed winner. This is really easy because who knows or even tries to check to see if their ballot was destroyed and not counted, particularly if they mailed it in?

  6. Someone “purchases” the endorsement of heavy hitting political operatives in Broward such as the AFL-CIO, BTU, police and fire unions, influential politicians already in office, etc. This is the least transparent method and most difficult to prove and prosecute because it is really hard to trace a cash bribe. And when you have people who have been handling these types of transactions for years, they know how to make it invisible.

  7. On election day you have polling places that are inaccessible or closed, precluding the voters in that area from voting since on election day you can only vote in your own district.

  8. You remove a candidate’s name from the voting card so no one can vote for them.

  9. You tell voters at the polls on election day that they can’t vote for nonpartisan races because they are a registered Democrat or Republican.

    So my friends, that is a short list of how our elections may be rigged. I am sure there are many other methods we haven’t thought of or that have been brought to our attention.

    The point is that the residents of this County need to get serious about electoral integrity. Enough of the games. Get people in SOE who are responsible, accountable, know the difference between a state and federal election, and do not have a personal or political agenda which they use their position to fulfill. More to come, trust me. Cathy

CNBC's American Greed Spotlights Ponzi Scheme Mastermind Ephren Taylor, Brought to Justice by Lerman Law Firm

The latest episode of CNBC’s American Greed focused on how fraudster Ephren Taylor scammed more than 400 churchgoers out of millions of dollars until he was exposed by Lerman Law firm with assistance from strategic communications firm Red Banyan. Affinity fraud, especially among religious groups, is rampant, but this case proved that it can be stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice through a coordinated litigation and media strategy.

“Ephren Taylor would never have been caught and convicted without a robust legal strategy paired with a savvy media strategy,” said Lerman. “We were honored to partner with Red Banyan. They are a world-class organization and there is nobody better at what they do."

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (PRWEB) September 11, 2018

The downfall of financial scammer Ephren Taylor, triggered in part by the legal and media pressure placed on him by Lerman Law Firm (Cathy Jackson Lerman, P.A.) and strategic PR partner Red Banyan, was the focus of this week’s episode of CNBC’s hit show American Greed. Aired on September 10, the episode highlights Taylor’s ruthless scam, which bilked over 400 victims for tens of millions of dollars and ultimately landed him in prison for nearly two decades.

Before his arrest and conviction, Taylor portrayed himself as a socially conscious investor and the youngest African American CEO of a publicly traded company. But his “Building Wealth” tour at churches across the country was just a Ponzi scheme designed to build his personal wealth. The Lerman Law Firm, which represented more than 200 people scammed by Taylor, worked hand-in-hand with Red Banyan, a leading national PR and strategic communications agency, to expose Ephren’s fraudulent behavior and ultimately secure justice for the victims, who were awarded $15.6 million in restitution.

“I want to thank ‘American Greed’ for doing this story, which should be a warning to everyone that if someone is trying to sell you an investment from the pulpit, there is something very wrong,” said Cathy Lerman, Principal of Lerman Law Firm. “Ephren Taylor was a sociopath and master manipulator who used the faith of his targets to steal their life savings.”

Leveraging the power of the press, Red Banyan played a key role in supporting the legal strategy by sparking press interest in Taylor’s Ponzi scheme and unmasking the carefully contrived and false image that he had previously developed. As Red Banyan worked with enterprising investigative reporters to uncover the facts, hundreds of additional victims came forward to provide new information and to join the legal efforts against the perpetrator. Ultimately, the Lerman Law Firm pursued class action lawsuits against Taylor and his cohorts and facilitators with dozens of plaintiffs from nearly all 50 states.

“Ephren Taylor would never have been caught and convicted without a robust legal strategy paired with a savvy media strategy,” said Lerman. “We were honored to partner with Red Banyan. They are a world-class organization and there is nobody better at what they do. Red Banyan expertly managed press outreach to amplify our efforts and alert potential victims before they could fall prey to Taylor and his cynical and heartless scams.”

The Lerman Law Firm remains available to assist victims of similar schemes and affinity frauds, and to counsel religious leaders on methods for curtailing this type of fraud.

About the Lerman Law Firm

The Lerman Law Firm, provides legal services in a variety of diverse business and legal matters to individuals, companies, and business owners/entrepreneurs. The firm is committed to providing its clients with aggressive, ethical and cost-effective legal services backed by over 30 years of legal experience. The Lerman Law Firm website may be found at http://www.lermanfirm.com.

About Red Banyan

Red Banyan is a top public relations agency with clients across the country and internationally. With offices in Florida, Washington, D.C. and Texas, Red Banyan combines a substantive understanding of complex issues with the experience and skills needed to execute campaigns that deliver results. Specializing in crisis communications, corporate public relations, government relations, and legal PR, Red Banyan provides an integrated approach to communications rooted in strategy. Learn more at http://www.redbanyan.com, become a fan on the Red Banyan Facebook page and follow the firm on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.


ATTENTION:  Victims of the Ephren Taylor Ponzi Scheme, American Greed is doing a story on the Ephren Taylor Ponzi Scheme.  It will air Monday, September 10, 2018 at 10 pm Eastern on CNBC.  This will be an in depth look at the scam and the devastation Taylor left behind.  I was honored to be included in the show and I am happy that American Greed is using this story to warn investors about Ponzi Schemes and Affinity Fraud.  Thank you, American Greed!!!

Lerman Law Firm Announces Investigation of Potential Misconduct, Fraud and Corruption during the 2018 Broward County Primary Election

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Sept. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Lerman Law Firm (Cathy Jackson Lerman, P.A.) today announced it has initiated a public corruption investigation of the office of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections (“SOE”) and the Broward County Canvassing Board for potential fraud, misconduct, corruption, bribes, and illegal voting arising from the Broward County Primary Election held on August 28, 2018.

“It has come to the attention of our firm that multiple instances of irregularities in the voting process occurred on and before August 28 and thereafter,” said Cathy Lerman, principal of the Lerman Law Firm. “We believe that the people of Broward County deserve to know the truth about the propriety of this particular election, and certainly the candidates, both winners and losers, need to be assured of the accuracy of the results.

“Our law firm is dedicated to fighting public corruption and fraud at every level, whether it is a private person, a corporation or public officials,” Lerman continued.  “There are a lot of questions being raised by voters about the lack of access to polling facilities, ballots with erroneous or missing information, voters being given erroneous information by SOE staff and not being permitted to vote in certain races. Such conduct cannot and should not ever be tolerated.

“The SOE has a long and tortured history of skirting the election laws and it is time for the people of Broward County to hold everyone accountable who may have participated in election fraud in the August 28 election. I am certain there are people in Broward County who know the truth about the election irregularities that occurred both before, during and after the election on August 28, and we want them to come forward and help our law firm expose and stop this continuing election misconduct,” stated Cathy Lerman.

If you wish to provide information to assist us in our investigation or are a potential whistleblower, please contact Cathy Lerman via email at clerman@lermanfirm.com or by telephone at (954) 332-1143.

Yesterday Was a Sad Day for Broward County, This is A New Day-We March Forward

As I am sure you all know, Dr. Mendelson and Ryan Petty lost the Broward County School Board Race yesterday.  It was a tragic loss, not for them, but for this community.  After losing 17 souls, having many injured and thousands traumatized at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, our voters apparently thought the School District was doing a fine job and voted almost all incumbents back in.  Does that seem strange to you?  Because it does to me. 

It also seems strange that the number of voters in Parkland were barely noticeable.  Of all the people in the world, one would think that the Parkland voters would be out in droves to support their school, their students, their teachers, their community and the 17 families who lost a loved in the Parkland massacre.  I don't believe the people of Parkland don't care.  I don't believe the people in Parkland are that callous.  I believe something is really wrong here.

Now let me address the 17 families directly because I know they are suffering again with this bitter defeat and I cannot imagine their pain and disappointment at what appears to be yet just another slap in the face of people who have lost so much.  DO NOT SEE THIS AS THE AGONY OF DEFEAT.  SEE THIS FOR WHAT IT IS.  THE LOSS OF ONE SCHOOL BOARD RACE.  WE ARE NOT FINISHED, THIS IS NOT DONE AND WE DIDN'T COME THIS FAR TO BACK DOWN NOW. YOUR LOVED ONES DESERVE JUSTICE, THEY DESERVE TO HAVE THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DEATH AND INJURIES HELD ACCOUNTABLE.  WE HAVE TO PURSUE WITH A VENGEANCE THAT PROMISE TO THEM.

I have warned all of you over and over again that there is a mass corruption problem in Broward county in many areas including local police departments.  The School Board, BTU, the Broward Sheriff's Office, the Supervisor of Elections, just to name a few, are part of that corruption problem.  It is time for us to take the gloves off and stop being polite. We are dealing with a well organized, long standing corrupt political machine.

There are many things we can do to stop the corruption in this County, hold the people accountable who are responsible for the MSD tragedy and start putting the corrupt politicians  in jail where they belong.  Winning a school board race is meaningless if you are looking at an indictment. That is all I am going to say for now. 

But I want everyone of you who thinks we are defeated to STOP, STEP BACK, AND REGROUP.  We are in it to win it.  It is not a one time and done process and never was.


New Jersey May Move to Full Cannabis Legalization

Exciting news coming from the state legislature in New Jersey this week, after Senate President Steve Sweeney said he may be able to pass legislation to legalize recreational marijuana (New Jersey already has a medicinal cannabis program). 

Politico ran a story highlighting the upcoming challenges for the Jersey legislature, including figuring out the appropriate tax levels to discourage the black market, expunging criminal convictions for marijuana-related offenses, and possibly adding opioid addiction to the list of conditions under the state's medicinal cannabis program. 

It will be interesting to see how the proposed legislation plays out. Sweeney has expressed interest to work with Republicans, who have supported the medicinal but not recreational push. Hopefully, patients in New Jersey will have greater access to cannabis-based products and not be taxed to death for them. The proposed 25% tax rate from Governor Phil Murphy is extreme, and hurts low income patients who may not qualify for the medicinal program. 

Let's hope New Jersey takes the time to do this correctly, it is better to take the time to write great law, than rush and spend years trying to change it. 










This day has been set aside to honor the late beautiful and kind, Meadow Pollack, a student who died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting.  Each day for 17 days one of the 17 victims who were killed is being honored.  I wanted to take this opportunity to express to the families of these victims, as well as everyone who was injured or traumatized by this horrible tragedy, that despite all of the evil, incompetence and corruption that has been exposed in this county, good will prevail. Keep the faith!

I believe that, I know that and I want the families and this community to know that. My pastor says we must all be warriors for God. I believe anyone who is working to help expose the corruption, defeat the incumbent, incompetent Broward County School Board members, get Runcie and Israel indicted, expose the enormous corruption which is BTU (Broward Teacher's Union or Bully, Threaten and Undermine) and hold everyone accountable who could have prevented this senseless tragedy but chose not to is a warrior for God. Because this is not about politics, it is about right and wrong and protecting our children and their teachers as well as finally exposing the massive corruption that has plagued our school system for a long time.

I want the teachers in Broward county to stop being afraid to speak.  I want the teachers at MSD to get the professional help they need and deserve.  I want every school in Broward county to be hardened, safe, secure and buttoned up  I want our teachers to get the pay raises they deserve.

I want the families of the Parkland shooting victims who are at the polls talking to voters about the change we need to stop being harassed.  I want the families of all victims to see change happening NOW.  I want the world to see that none of these victims died in vain-that their deaths are the catalyst that will bring about the change and transparency we need in our school system, the removal of all corrupt politicians and public officers, their indictment and  harsh punishment for creating a system that then created a monster.  All of which could have been easily prevented by any of them if they had done their job.

So to all of you are who are fighting the good fight to take back our community from the hands of the corrupt, incompetent and ignorant, I leave you with one final thought and a whole bunch of love:




Jake Tapper Retweeted Johanna Feis #MSDStrong

Johanna Feis #MSDStrong‏ @FeisJohanna

Today the Husband of Lori Levinson screamed at me,while I was speaking to a voter.He said I am not emotionally stable enough to speak about a candidate because my brother was just murdered!Which his wife could’ve prevented.

Levinson is one of the members of the Broward County School Board facing challengers — more here: https://www.google.com/amp/www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-sb-school-board-candidates-20180813-story,amp.html …


Neil H. Levinson is a shareholder at the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale and the husband of Laurie Rich Levinson, an incumbent BCSB member.  Levinson is being challenged by Richard Mendelson, an educator and Ph.D..  Mendelson was a long time, close friend of Aaron Feiss, the coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, who was killed while shielding students. Our law firm is honored to represent Johanna Feis and several members of her family.

Johanna was at a public polling place talking to voters and passing out flyers for Mendelson when Levinson started screaming at her.  Levinson's attack on Johanna is both shocking and alarming.  Is this how the husband of a BCSB member acts in public towards his wife's opponent's supporters?  Moreover, is this the way a LAWYER in the state of Florida should be permitted to act at any time?

One only needs to read Florida Chapter 104 to know that it is illegal to interfere with the voting process in the state of Florida.  That interference includes being menacing or threatening, either directly or indirectly towards voters or potential voters.  What would prompt a prominent attorney to risk his bar card and potential arrest to harass, embarrass and attempt to discredit the sister of one of the Parkland shooter's victims?  How sick is that?

Indeed every voter in District 6 of the Broward School District should be asking that question.  Why is Neil Levinson so violatile?  Does his law firm, Becker & Poliakoff, make big bucks from School Board legal service contracts?  Is he worried about his future?  Or is Neil Levinson so concerned about his wife's prior activities as a School Board Member being exposed if she loses that he would stoop to this level to stop her opponent and his supporters?  Why the desperation?

I don't know the answer to these questions.  Yet.  But I hope some really smart reporter or perhaps even a whistleblower will come forward and enlighten us.  Because the one thing I do know is that when it comes to the Broward School Board and its members and executive management, NOTHING is ever as it seems.

I guess it will be interesting to see if Levinson is prosecuted for his conduct by Davie police who were called to the scene.  I think Aaron Feiss would have liked that.  May he rest in peace. 



This is not a political message.  Just like I am color blind, I am also apolitical.  I don't care if you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, politics are irrelevant when it comes to school safety AND when it comes to accountability for the Feb. 2018 Parkland massacre.

Because I am color blind, I don't see that School Board leader Runcie is black, just like I don't see that Sheriff Israel is white. I don't care if they both are purple or blue.  I hold them both equally accountable for that fateful day when we lost 17 precious people at MSD and many others were injured.  I also hold ALL of the current School Board members accountable for this tragedy.  Anyone and everyone who could have prevented this tragedy failed.  That has become pretty obvious pretty quickly.

But to make matters worse, Broward schools start again this week and I don't think they are any safer now than they were on February 13, 2018.  In fact, I think they are more dangerous now because it has become crystal clear that there are no security systems (or people) in place that adequately protect our students or teachers STILL.

Israel and Runcie are cut from the same cloth.  They are brothers from another mother.  They both make political decisions to protect themselves and their cronies that adversely impact the very people they are charged with the responsibility of protecting. Runcie and Israel cut deals to "pay back" their supporters with lucrative positions in their organizations and the award of pricey contracts to outside "consultants" who are people who will gladly do their dirty work for them. Both of these men are incompetent, corrupt, unethical and useless. They both need to be fired and then charged with neglect of duty and public corruption.  They reaped the rewards of living on the public payroll while not performing their responsibilities and now it is time for them to pay for that.  They both should be sitting in a cell beside Nikolas Cruz.  They created him.

Then let's talk about the poor Broward teachers.  Represented by BTU (which really stands for Bully, Threaten and Undermine not Broward Teacher's Union), the teachers have received no support from BTU. They have been threatened if they speak out about the atrocities of the School District and School administrators.   The teachers at MSD received no help, counseling or assistance with coping with the MSD shooting.  That is just wrong. But no one at the School District cares. Everyone in executive administration at BTU should also be held accountable and fired.  You can't represent the interest of the teachers in Broward County when you silence them, prohibit any teachers from receiving the help they desperately need, and bully anyone who stands up for them.

I urge the residents of Broward County to vote against any incumbent school board member.  Candidates like Richard Mendelson who actually have the experience and education to make reasoned decisions concerning school safety, safety procedures, personnel changes and a much needed cultural shift away from the priority of political considerations to the priority of hardening our schools and treating our teachers ethically and fairly need to be in office NOW.


Lerman Law Firm Expands Nationwide Investor Alert Concerning Financial Fraud Investigation of Hawk Systems, Inc. and Affiliated Companies to include William Baumner IV and Buckman, Buckman, & Reid

August 08, 2018 09:00 ET | Source: Lerman Law Firm:


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 08, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Lerman Law Firm (Cathy Jackson Lerman, P.A.) today is issuing a nationwide Investor Alert warning investors of a potential financial fraud involving their purchase of Hawk Systems, Inc. stock or any of its affiliated companies named herein. The scope of this investigation and investor warning include former investment broker, William Baumner IV, and investment firm, Buckman, Buckman & Reid of Boca Raton.

The Lerman Firm has already gathered information from whistleblowers and victims related to Hawk Biometric Technologies, Inc. and other affiliated companies including Hawk Biometric Technologies, Inc., Hawk Biometrics of Canada, Inc., Fist Enterprises, LLC, Auto Secure, Inc., Auto Secure USA, Inc., and Secure Start USA, LLC as well as individuals including Alan Aronson, a Florida resident.

Investors in Hawk or the other various Hawk-related companies are encouraged to contact the Lerman Law Firm  to aid in the investigation into potential investor fraud involving the Hawk companies and certain investment brokers and firms.  Multiple newspaper articles and op-eds about Hawk allege that the company was a scam designed to trick investors into putting their savings into a company which ultimately declared tens of millions in losses, reportedly distributed investor funds among its leaders, and never even produced a saleable product.

If you are an investor/victim of one or more of the companies listed in this alert, wish to provide information to assist the Lerman Law Firm in its investigation, or are a potential whistleblower, then please contact Cathy Lerman, Esq. at clerman@lermanfirm.com or (954) 332-1143.

Data and Privacy Protection-What Every Business Needs to Know

First, you don't need to know all of the laws on data and privacy protection.  There are too many and they are too complex.  But as a business owner or operator you need to make sure that your business has an ongoing process that protects personally identifiable information and also guards against data breaches. 

If you do business internationally in the EU, you need to comply with GDPR which we have discussed previously.  If you are publicly traded, you need to company with SOX and if you are in healthcare, you need to comply with HIPAA.  These are just examples of some of the major regulations governing privacy protections, not an exhaustive list.

Every business needs to know where its data is located and how to restrict access to it.  Every business should have a data catalog and map that shows where your databases exist, who has access to the various databases, information as to the data they contain, and the level of security applicable to that data.

Any sensitive data should be masked and encrypted to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access. This procedure should be followed for any new databases and the integrity of the system should be tested routinely to assure that the safeguards you have implemented are working.

Compliance audits should be done routinely to verify compliance with your data protection policies. Backups of all data should be created and maintained in case the unthinkable happens.

Make sure your employees understand the importance of data security to the business as well as the customers they serve. One data breach can be all it takes to tank an otherwise successful business.  Plan, assess, monitor and troubleshoot your data protection procedures-the viability of your business may depend on it.


Big Changes in Florida’s Medical Marijuana Industry

On Friday, Christian Bax submitted his resignation from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, planning to leave by August 10th. Bax’s tenure was tumultuous, filled with litigation ranging from smoking marijuana to licensing issues. I often heard from patients that their wait for cards was excessively long, dispensaries were understocked, and many felt Bax was to blame. This change in leadership is great news. Deputy Director Courtney Coppola has been named the interim director. 

The agency is so bogged down in litigation that the state has allocated $13.3 million for legal fees, a new seed-to-sale tracking system, and new license application reviews. This should help expedite an already long and drawn out process, and law makers have taken note. Businesses interested in Medical Marijuana and those already in the application stages should start to see improvements within the next few months. 

The state announced it has enrolled over 100,000 patients in June, opening the door for four more licenses to grow and sell marijuana. However, the system is still imperfect leading to delays, issues with supplies at dispensaries, and the looming “smoking” litigation. 

In other news,  3 Boys Farms sells to CannaCure/Scythian. The Canadian company will buy 60% of the shares before the end of August, with an option to acquire the rest of the company by the end of the year. The marijuana industry on a global scale is extremely lucrative, and our firm is keeping tabs on the mergers and acquisitions occurring internationally. 


Lerman Law Firm Praises Op-Ed for Helping Expose Ongoing Fraud by Hawk Systems, Inc. and Continued Inaction by Florida Law Enforcement

July 31, 2018 10:00 ET | Source: Lerman Law Firm

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Lerman Law Firm (Cathy Jackson Lerman, P.A.) today praised the op-ed “Something Is Rotten in the State of Florida” for exposing fraud by Hawk Systems, Inc. and its affiliated companies as outlined in the shareholder derivative action filed against multiple parties in Palm Beach County Circuit Court by a former Hawk director who uncovered the fraud.

The article details the multimillion-dollar Hawk scheme, raising questions about Florida and Federal law enforcement agencies’ failure to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, who took millions from investors, diverting it for their personal use. 

“This article highlights serious wrongdoing by Hawk Systems, Inc., and affiliated companies who have other names, but sell the same lies and harm victims by their financial fraud,” said Cathy Lerman, Esq., Lerman Law Firm principal.

Lerman added: “This article summarizes shocking details from investigative articles by outlets including The New York Daily News, Miami Herald, and Palm Beach Post. Why, despite the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, have the FBI, IRS, SEC, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw failed to shut down the scheme or arrest those perpetrating the fraud?  This is especially true given that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office concluded in its official report that Hawk was ‘an organized scheme to defraud.’”

The Lerman Law Firm has been investigating Hawk and gathering information from whistleblowers and victims. As alleged in the shareholder derivative action filed against multiple defendants, including former Hawk officers and directors, the scheme was designed to trick investors – from professional athletes to elderly citizens – into putting their savings into a company that openly declared $22 million in losses to the SEC while only claiming $5,570 in sales.

The Hawk investment fraud reportedly spans at least 13 states and involves affiliated companies including Hawk Biometric Technologies, Inc., Hawk Biometrics of Canada, Inc., Auto Secure, Inc., Auto Secure USA, Inc., Secure Start USA, LLC and Fist Enterprises, LLC according to litigation filed against those companies and their principals.

If you are an investor in one or more of the above-mentioned companies and wish to provide information to assist the Lerman Law Firm in its investigation, contact Cathy Lerman at clerman@lermanfirm.com or (954) 332-1143.

The Four Most Important Legal Terms in Your Business Contract

Frequently we are retained to assist business owners in resolving contractual disputes.  Just as frequently, the dispute centers around a contract that never received any type of legal review and therefore has many loopholes, missing terms, and sometimes the contractual terms actually conflict with each other. Our recommendation is always if a deal is important enough to document in a contract, then the written document is important enough to be reviewed by a lawyer.  Today I want to address the four most important legal terms in your business contract.

The first is that the contract provide for the controlling law that will govern interpretation of the contract terms.  In other words, the contract should provide that the interpretation and resolution of any issues regarding its terms be governed by a specified state's laws.  Usually the contract provides that the state of incorporation of the business or the state where the primary location of business operations  is located controls.  It is important to specify the controlling law or you could end up litigating your Florida company's claim based upon Iowa law which is not a good place to be.

Secondly, the contract needs to specify the state, including the county where applicable, where any disputes including litigation must be resolved.  If you do not provide this term in the contract then the parties are free to sue wherever they desire.  So while you may expect to litigate any contractual disputes in Florida, the other party to the contract may expect to file suit and litigate in the state where their company is domiciled which might be California.  Obviously, the issue of situs of litigation also brings up cost factors which need to be considered but it is always preferable to litigate where your business office is located and/or where the owner or owners reside.

Third, the contract needs to specify the length of the contract and how and when the contract can be terminated.  We see contracts all the time that are what is known as "evergreen" contracts meaning they have no end.  Often that same contract does not specify any way to terminate the contract regardless of whether the contract is breached by the other party or the parties simply want to end the arrangement.  This creates quite a problem particularly when one party breaches the contract and the other party wants to terminate. However, if the contract has no termination provisions, how do you do that?  We have dealt with that dilemma many times.

Finally, the contract should have provisions that address what the procedure is for modifying a contract.  No one can predict the future and many times contracts need to be modified to address a changing business environment, a change in the law that impacts the contract or a change in the business needs of the parties.  The procedure by which such changes may be mutually agreed to by the parties is definitely a necessity and should be clearly spelled out.

The Lerman Law Firm strongly recommends that business owners have all contracts reviewed by a lawyer before execution.  It can save a lot of time, money and headaches for everyone involved.

Navigating the Complex Regulatory Environment of Medical Marijuana in Florida

As states continue to legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana, businesses, patients, and law makers are left to determine the ins and outs of state based legalization. Congress has begun to show interest in tackling this issue at the federal level with legislation such as the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, and the Senate Farm Bill. However, nothing has been signed into law, so we are relying on memos and DEA Internal Directives to guide stakeholders on regulatory activities.

The State of Florida has legalized medicinal cannabis for patients that suffer from a variety of conditions and illnesses. However, not all patients who qualify for a medical marijuana card are obtaining them, some are looking at CBD and hemp products to help treat their ailments. The regulatory environment for marijuana and hemp based products is complicated, so having someone to help you wade through state and federal law is important.

Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, but enforcement of the regulations guiding Florida marijuana companies will likely come from state agencies. In December 2017, the state of Colorado shut down 26 legal pot businesses for violating the selling limits for customers. At the beginning of 2018, California warned almost 500 businesses that their marijuana operations were illegal.

Physicians who can issue patients a prescription for medical marijuana must successfully complete a 2-hour course and subsequent examination offered by the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. An important provision in Florida’s medical marijuana law states that a qualified physician may not be employed by, or have any direct or indirect economic interest in, a medical marijuana treatment center or marijuana testing laboratory (FL Statute 381.986 (3)(b)). Statute 381.986 (3)(b) has the potential to create a regulatory nightmare for physicians and physician groups who are in violation of the law.

In addition to physicians having rigorous regulatory guidelines, Marijuana Treatment Centers have extremely specific policies to abide by. Failure to regularly audit and monitor compliance with state regulations will leave your business open to enforcement actions. The regulations permit a statewide maximum of 25 dispensing facilities, with an increase of 5 more facilities per 100,000 registered patients.  There are also regional requirements that Marijuana Treatment Centers must adhere to. Groups may sell their dispensary slots and there are reporting guidelines that companies must follow. It is critical to have legal counsel review all contracts before engaging in the sale of a dispensary slot, and the proper compliance systems in place to accurately report the transaction.

The cultivation of medicinal cannabis to the sale of products to patients requires the use of a seed to sale tracking system that will eventually will be established and maintained by the state. Florida law also details strict rules involving the cultivation of medical marijuana and contracting with third parties for various business needs, such as lease agreements, hiring employees, transfer of ownership, security equipment, etc.

The most important action businesses in the medical marijuana industry can take is creating a solid compliance plan that will regulate all aspects of the business. Our firm is able to provide cost-effective plans to help facilitate the proper systems to abide by Florida law and ensure that employees are following the guidelines.

If you need assistance with Florida regulatory issues related to medical marijuana, contact Candace Lerman, Esq. , Of Counsel to the Lerman Law Firm, for assistance via email: Candace@lermanfirm.com or Cathy Lerman via email at clerman@lermanfirm.com..