PinoyWatchDog.com Investigation Unearths Architects of Bander Fictitious Sex Scandal
By Rene Villaroman with PWD Investigative Team
In 2005, Atty. Joel Bander began representing more than 40 underpaid workers being denied minimum wage and overtime pay by the owner of Le Vien Homes, Inc. and Taliavi Enterprises, two companies that owned about half-a-dozen board-and-care and rest home facilities for the elderly or mentally disadvantaged in Southern Los Angeles County and Northern Orange County.
Immediately after it was known that these 40-odd clients were being represented by Atty. Bander, Superior Court files indicated that Bander began receiving reports of intimidation and harassment from his underpaid clients. In addition, the business owner, Vivian Fermin, allegedly was using her ability to sponsor immigration petitions as a bargaining chip to try to force the dismissal of the underpaid workers’ lawsuit.
Le Vien Homes, Taliavi Enterprises and Vivian Fermin were being represented by Fil-Am attorney. This employer even arranged for another attorney, Scott Glovsky, to represent “retracting” employees. Glovsky would send letters of representation to Bander and then just dismiss the employees’ cases. “This is not the job of a true worker’s advocate,” Bander stated.
Beirne Unethically Represented Employer and Employees
However, a different attorney’s office was the one that made the greatest impact: the Law Office of James P. Beirne. Atty. Bander told PinoyWatchDog.com that in 2006, a Bander client, one of the workers that filed the lawsuit, received a call from a Beirne staff member, Lita Brutas, saying, “How can you be suing your employer when they are sponsoring you for your labor certification?”
The anomaly here was that Beirne was representing the workers for their labor certification, but he was also representing the owners of the business as counsel for the lawsuit, a practice that is totally unethical. In addition, Ms. Brutas was the same Beirne staff member that purportedly arranged successive labor certification petitions using fake employers in the case of Mr. Rey Villarica (PinoyWatchDog.com, Nov. 26, 2011 issue).
“I was pretty incensed by the complete lack of ethics of the Beirne Law Office,” Bander told PinoyWatchDog.com. “They were co-presenting both the employer and employee. Such a tactic was way beyond ethical bounds.”
Balita Media Owns Beirne Law Office
Bander recalls that when he recounted the incident to a prominent Filipino-American he was immediately informed, “Don’t you know that Balita newspaper is the real owner of that law office? Beirne does not own the law office. He is not in charge. It is owned by the newspaper owners, Anthony Allen and Luchie Mendoza. It is an open secret in the Filipino community.”
In retrospect, Bander had no idea how true that was. But it made sense; any ethically managed law firm would not call a client co-represented with an employer and threaten them, in essence, choosing one client – the one with more money – over the other.
The Alleged Perpetrator
This dispute raged on, with false declarations of scared employees tendered to the court by Attorney Glovsky and the Fil-Am attorney. That situation has made those employees no longer interested in the tens of thousands of dollars of settlements; they just wanted to forget everything. PinoyWatchDog.com does not have information whether those two lawyers were aware that Beirne was representing both employer and employees.
But, Vivian Fermin, Balita Media, Beirne Law Office and its non-lawyer owners, Anthony Allen and Luchie Mendoza-Allen, still were not satisfied. As shown in an accompanying story “How Bander’s Enemies Set Him Up for Fake Sex Scandal”, PinoyWatchDog.com’s investigation has determined that it was Vivian Fermin who was behind Myrna Tiu’s planning of the fictitious ‘Christina San Jose’ to malign Bander because he was so successfully representing Fermin’s workers who were denied their rightful wages.
The PinoyWatchDog.com Investigative Team has spoken with the confidential investigator hired by Bander to investigate Myrna Tiu, who actually used her real name in her communications with Bander and his staff in Manila.
Court filings in Manila contain detailed text message exchanges between former Bander staffer, Lotis Rosario, now a leading clerk at the Philippine Supreme Court, and a purported brother of the fictitious ‘San Jose’ seeking money to reveal was behind the setup, asked if Bander is staying in the Discovery Suites in Ortigas. “Hardly anyone knew where I was staying when I went to Manila, for security concerns. I am still that way,” Bander said. “I am still cannot be sure of Balita Media’s plans to harm me.”
When PinoyWatchDog.com asked the investigator how could this person know where Bander was staying then? He responded, “I learned that the brother of a Le Vein homes staff member was the night manager of Discovery Suites. It was a coincidence. That is how Fermin knew where Bander used to stay. I could not find any other reason this low-life trying to extort money from Bander because Fermin didn’t pay them to know where he was staying.”
The investigator reported: “I personally called Myrna Tiu from the cell phone number she had provided Bander’s assistant. She admitted knowing Vivian Fermin. But once I asked more she hung up the phone.” Digging further, the investigator tracked Tiu to a small agricultural bank in Lucena, Lagua, where he had some good connections. He found the bank president who was livid about being asked about Tiu, stating “she swindled us for about a million pesos using false real estate documents as collateral.”
During 2006 Bander remained quiet regarding this fake criminal matter, waiting for the investigation and criminal process to play out. However, Fermin and Balita were just feeling uneasy because they weren’t getting any reaction from Bander. On September 25, 2006, then Balita Editor James Saspa, wrote Bander’s office seeking comment on the fake charges, even one reported in the newspaper purportedly existing in Taguig that did not exist at all. It has been reported that Saspa was an illegal alien at the time he was Balita’s Editor, and they also used an immigration petition over his head to make him work beyond the prescribed legal number of hours at low wages.
“I told them if they reported it I would sue for defamation,” Bander revealed. No story ever ran in Balita until Rhony Laigo traveled to Manila just to arrange for a Hold Detention Order from the former corrupt Arroyo administration. Laigo took this action after Bander exposed Balita Media’s pattern of false advertising regarding the true circulation figures of Balita. But the Bander versus Balita/Beirne dispute all started when Beirne’s law firm started calling Bander’s clients to have them withdraw from righteous wage claims.
PinoyWatchDog.com will continue to inform the community about the roots of this dispute, and await Mr. Rhony Laigo’s unsubstantiated denials without facts; his made up stories and maniacal rants.