Stamford, Conn. -- The bizarre "Ultimate Severance" murder case is taking on a whole new level of importance today as Pentagon investigators reportedly have now also weighed in. It has been learned that the U.S. Department of Defense has launched its own probe into the cover up.
According to sources, the secret reopening of a previously suppressed Fairfield County grand jury investigation into the two-year old slaying of executives Pasqual Valentine and Al Tate, set off alarms at the DoD. Apparently, the grand jury found ties to unregistered lobbyists and black-bag PRs promoting terrorist agendas.
High-level PR consultancy Valentine-Tate was noted for its secretive, behind-the-scenes work for global enterprises. But insiders are now testifying that the company virtually pioneered the establishment of the now widely popular "cut-off" consultancy. It is also now known that the company's entire clientele was composed of organizations on the State Department "undesirable" list.
Another line of investigation the Pentagon is now pursuing is an in-depth high-tech review of the use of powerful webware stealth technologies. These "crawler bots" are designed to scrub targeted Internet files and block search engines from locating them. Two such bots are said to have been employed in the "Ultimate Severance" murder cover up. According to one source, the so-called "searchmangler" developed in Beijing, as well as the nefarious "fielder mole" out of Mumbai, have all but whitewashed the entire investigation.
Meantime, despite denials, broad hints that would seem to be abetting the investigations continue to be found in the novel "Ultimate Severance" by author James Baar. The fictional account featuring the silencing of two PR execs has turned out to be an almost exact portrayal of the actual murders of Valentine and Tate.
Pentagon investigators are now particularly interested in the whereabouts of a certain Hamid al-Sammmara. In "Ultimate Severance," following the murder of Trotter Pugg Mitchell CEO Marvin Runnymede, one Hamid al-Sammmara was named the agency's new Senior VP for Media Relations.
Again reached for comment, Baar repeatedly denied the connection between his novel and the murders. "It's purely coincidental," he said. Baar added only that on advice of counsel he could not comment further.
Ken Wolfson is a freelance investigative reporter. Wolfson's career spans more than 25 years. He began his career in the late 1980s at the infamous San Francisco alternative paper, People's Gazette; and in 1986, joined the Financial News Network as director of investigative reporting. In 1993 Ken gained national notoriety for his investigation into the pharma industry which was the subject of the Academy-Award-nominated documentary film "Dr. Feel Good." Wolfson co-founder of the Stamford Center for Investigative Journalism. He is also the recipient of numerous Emmys and other honors, including five Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University silver and golden Baton awards, three Peabodys and a Polk Award.
Thou Shalt Not Follow the Example of Sloppy Volunteer Public Safety Groups!
I recently got on an altruism kick and decided to get involved in a volunteer program in my neighborhood. Since I am a desk jockey by profession, I figured that it would make sense if my volunteer work involved a bit of physical activity and intensity. Thus, I decided to poke around at the volunteer fire departments and EMS services in my area.
To date, I’ve not joined any department or service. And at the rate I’m going, I don’t know if I ever will. But in making inquiries, I received a reminder education in PR practices that would be salient to any communications professional. These include the following incidents and indignities that I experienced:
1. Make sure your web site is in working order. One site had its officers’ e-mail addresses listed – but when I tried to contact them, all of my messages bounced back. Another site had a PDF application to download, but the software was a bit buggy and I was unable to open the application.
2. Make sure your web site has all of the necessary functions in place. One site allowed me to download a PDF application to fill out, but it did not provide an address where I should submit the application. Two sites requested that I fill out my application online, which is fine, except that they wanted my Social Security number; one of those sites also wanted my driver’s license number. Neither site was secured, so I would be making my important data openly available to any joker who wanted to hack into them. Can you say “identity theft”? (I must say that I am amused by the idea of a public safety site that is unsafe.)
3. Acknowledge all inquiries. The site with the bounce-back e-mails did list a phone number. I called and left two messages, but neither was returned. I submitted my application to that group by fax and mail, but to date no one has contacted me. I e-mailed one of the sites with the unsecured application, but my message was ignored.
4. Avoid last minute call-outs. The one group that actually acknowledged my inquiries twice asked me to visit special events they were hosting. That was very nice, except that the invitations came on the day before each respective event. Since I already made plans for those days, I had to decline. If I knew about the events in advance (which could’ve been done very easily), I would’ve been able to participate. Strangely, the person who made those last-minute invitations seemed a little annoyed that I couldn’t drop everything to join in – that’s terrible PR, in my book.
5. Keep your appointments. That group in the fourth example invited me to visit their HQ. I agreed to show up at a specific time to meet with a specific person. I was on time, but my contact person wasn’t there – he decided to go out on a meal run with two of his colleagues. Needless to say, his superior (who wasn’t expecting me) had to fill in and keep me occupied until that contact person returned (which was 20 minutes after I arrived).
6. Listen to people and don’t force your agenda where it is not wanted. That 20-minute conversation mentioned in the fifth example was hilarious. The officer I met with was very happy to meet me: he wanted a PR person for his group. Which is perfectly fine, except that I was interested in EMT training and was not particularly eager to coordinate PR programs. Oddly, when I kept mentioning I was more interested in EMT training, this fella didn’t seem to be paying much attention – he then told me there were other duties I could possibly consider, such as volunteer janitorial work within their HQ (and, no, I am NOT making that up!).
7. Have someone with a brain answering the phones. Out of frustration at being ignored, I called one service yet again and got some loopy old timer on the phone who clearly didn’t know his ass from his elbow. All I wanted was for him to leave a message for the person in charge of volunteer membership reviews, but you’d think I was explaining the space-time continuum to him – I had to repeat myself four times just to get him to leave the message with the person in charge (please recheck last week’s Gospel about the PR perils of idiotic customer service).
So, here I am without a volunteer outlet, but with new lessons on how not to present yourself to the world. From a PR perspective, these organizations gave the impression of being disorganized, sloppy and rude. And if that’s how they treat people reaching out to them, I shudder to think how they respond to people facing life-threatening emergencies!
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]