Con artist files 'suit' for Bernie Madoff

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A convicted con artist formerly of Pittsburgh with a propensity for writing frivolous civil suits is believed to have filed an apparently fake motion in Manhattan federal court to dismiss charges against Bernie Madoff, the jailed and infamous Ponzi scheme mastermind.

The bizarre, rambling legal document purportedly filed by “Frederick Banks, The Litigator Legal Assistant,” includes numerous misspellings and handwritten scrawl that alleges the “CIA Office of Science and Technology used bio-electric sensors and subcranial voice to skull technology to influence the court.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who as a U.S. District judge sentenced Madoff to 150 years in prison in 2009, ruled the “defendant’s argument is meritless” in an order made public Wednesday alongside the motion mailed to the court.

Banks, 46, is known in federal courts as a “frequent flier” for filing frivolous suits against a wide-ranging set of parties including the CIA, the U.S. Senate, the secretary of the interior, federal prison officials, the U.S. Senate and CNN, among others. In Pittsburgh federal court in October 2013, a report by Chief U.S Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan determined that between November 2004 and July 2013, Banks had filed approximately 304 civil actions. Most were deemed pointless and many complained the government was using “voice to skull” technology to control his thoughts.

He filed his suits under his own name or “Vampire Nation,” as his former one-man Goth band was known, or “Fredrik Von Hamilton,” his stage name. 

Banks was among five men charged in Pittsburgh as part of “Operation Cyber Sweep,” a nationwide investigation targeting a wide range of computer crimes from software piracy to child pornography that snared more than 100 suspects.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2004 on charges of using false identities and legitimate company names to sell counterfeit Microsoft software through Amazon.com. In one case, prosecutors said, Banks received a $30,000 deposit on a $294,859 Microsoft software purchase order and then delivered worthless software.

The grand jury also charged Banks in a separate case with mail fraud, money laundering, uttering counterfeited and forged securities and witness tampering.

He was sentenced in 2005 and 2006 on the two cases to a total of a little more than 10 years in prison. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said he was released in May 2013. It is unclear where he currently resides but court officials in Manhattan said the mailed letter did not have a Pittsburgh return address although they couldn’t remember what city was listed.

Ira Sorkin, the New York attorney who formerly represented Madoff, said he hadn’t talked to his former client “but I strongly doubt he’s the author of [the letter] based on what I saw and what I’ve heard since. I don’t believe it was done by anyone on his behalf.”

Still, until someone comes forward to deny the motion was anything but legitimately filed for Madoff, the court has no reason to believe a fraud had been perpetrated on it, said Catherine O’Hagan Wolfe, the clerk of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It was properly filed and motions are sometimes mailed and sometimes include a mixture of typewritten and handwritten parts, she noted.

“All we know is the document was received and there was a [signed for indication] for Mr. Madoff. Mr. Madoff could have been in discussions or correspondence with Mr. Banks who then filed it on his behalf,” Ms. Wolfe said. “ Until somebody — either counsel for Mr. Madoff, Mr. Madoff himself or the government — files something with the court in this case to say this was not filed with Mr. Madoff’s authority, no action can be taken on this.

”Until it’s challenged, there’s nothing further for the court to do.”


Michael A. Fuoco: mfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1968

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