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The Role of the Press in the ELS Federal Tax Fraud Scheme.

by John Rasmussen

Please read a disclaimer for the statements I make on this website accusing judges, politicians and activists of criminal actions.



United States Constitution
First Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.



Freedom of the Press:

         Above, I print the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees "freedom of the press". When our government commits criminal acts against its citizens, the press becomes our "last line of defense". This "last line of defense" failed in the case of the federal tax fraud scheme used to establish the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

         In early 2000, I discovered that the leadership of King County had participated in the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme. My efforts to resolve the harm this tax fraud scheme did to my family were thwarted by the County. When the tax fraud was described to Federal District Judge Barbara Rothstein, she struck the evidence of the tax fraud on a motion by the King County Prosecutor. That was a windfall for King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, because Maleng was a major participant in the crime. Rothstein refused to handover the uncontested evidence of the fraud to federal prosecutors. She denied my constitutional rights in her court, manufactured facts, and misapplied the law in her dishonest opinion, King County v. Rasmussen (2001). The appeal was "handled" by a fellow Seattle based federal judge, who I assume to be Rothstein's personal friend. Further appeals were denied by the Ninth Circuit "en banc", and by the United States Supreme Court. My subsequent Complaint of Judicial Misconduct to the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit was ignored. There is massive corruption in the federal and State courts of King County, Washington. The King County press, our "last line of defense", was repeatedly advised of the federal tax fraud scheme and refused to report it to the public.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

The Seattle Times refused to report the East Lake Sammamish Federal Tax Fraud Scheme:

         As I wrote above, when our government commits criminal acts against its citizens, the press becomes our "last line of defense". In the case of the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme, the press failed to use its constitutional right to inform the public of that crime. Because reporting this crime required more that a TV "sound bite", I believed that the local newspapers were the best avenue to expose the tax fraud scheme. So, I concentrated my requests on The Seattle Times and the King County Journal. I wrote to both of these newspapers a number of times. Both newspapers refused to report the tax fraud scheme to the public. On this webpage, I concentrate on the failure of The Seattle Times because the Times is still in business and has the capacity to redeem itself. Here is an email that I sent to The Seattle Times in late 2002:
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      From: "John Rasmussen" johnras@attglobal.net
      To: opinion@seattletimes.com
      Subject: Enron, WorldCom, ELST
      Date: Monday, September 30, 2002 11:15 AM

      The conventional wisdom about Enron and WorldCom style scandals is that they are caused exclusively by greedy corporate executives and accountants.  It's not that simple.  Responsibility for these scandals runs much deeper and lies, in part, with our politicians, our judges, and ultimately us.

      The events associated with the establishment of the East Lake Sammamish Trail are an example.  Evidence strongly suggests that Burlington Northern railbanked the East Lake Sammamish right of way on the condition that The Land Conservancy and the leadership of King County would agree to accept a phony tax donation and certify it to the IRS. BNSF hired Arthur Andersen to appraise the right of way for $41.7 million.  This was a ridiculously overvalued appraisal, at least three times its actual worth.  King County's own appraisal was for less that $14 million.  Norm Maleng, the King County prosecutor, and Gary Locke, then the County executive, were faced with the moral decision of turning over this evidence of federal tax fraud for prosecution, or turning their backs and simply allowing the fraud to happen.  Apparently, they chose to do the latter.  Had Gary Locke, Norm Maleng, and a number of other politicians dealt honestly with this fraud several years ago there likely would never have been an Enron scandal because Arthur Andersen would have already been exposed and prosecuted for its unethical accounting practices.

      This fraudulent tax write-off by Burlington Northern has cost the American taxpayers somewhere between $9 million to $15 million in lost taxes.  More important, it is likely only the tip of the iceberg with respect to this railbanking tax fraud scheme, nationwide.  Two of the individuals associated with the ELST transactions are present or former officers of the national organization, The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. It would appear that federal tax fraud is the financial engine that drives the establishment of these bicycle trails.  We greatly need public parks and trails, but they should be established honestly, without passing on exorbitant, unnecessary, costs to the next generation through these federal tax fraud schemes.

      The saddest aspect of this event is that the fraud was spelled out to a federal judge in a related lawsuit.  She struck the evidence on a technical motion by Norm Maleng's office, refusing to consider it, and failing to forward it to the U.S. Attorney for investigation. Had this judge turned the material over for investigation and federal prosecution, there may have not have been an Enron scandal.

      If we want our children to inherit a governmental system based on the law and honesty, we not only have to prosecute dishonest corporate executives and accountants, but also the politicians and judges that have actively participated in these crimes or turned their backs knowing these crimes are happening.

      John Rasmussen

      1043 Lingon Berry Court, B3
      Anchorage, AK 99515

      907-229-9493

The Seattle Times was repeatedly advised about the East Lake Sammamish Federal Tax Fraud Scheme:

         The Seattle Times refused to print the above editorial submission. The Seattle Times stubbornly refused to investigate and report the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme, the associated corruption in King county government, and the associated corruption in our courts. Here is another example of the emails that I sent to The Seattle Times which detailed the tax fraud scheme. In this case, I addressed a number of the Times staff and attached a letter which I had sent to each of the forty-six judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The letter described the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme and the misconduct by Ninth Circuit judges in its cover-up.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      From: John Rasmussen
      To: Farrar, sfarrar@seattletimes.com; Stanton, mstanto@seattletimes.com ; Varner, lvarner@seattletimes.com; Rosenthal, krosenthal@seattletimes.com; Riley, kriley@seattletimes.com; Ramsey, bramsey@seattletimes.com; Dickie, ldickie@seattletimes.com; Balter, jbalter@seattletimes.com; Bisbee, bbisbee@seattletimes.com; Amoranto, damoranto@seattletimes.com; MacLeod, damacleod@seattletimes.com; Fancher, mfancher@seattletimes.com; Pohlig, cpohlig@seattletimes.com; Moriwaki, lmoriwaki@seattletimes.com; Vesely, jvesely@seattletimes.com

      Date: Saturday, May 24, 2003 1:09 AM
      Subject: Nothing very important, really

      Dear Seattle Times people,

        Attached is a letter that I recently wrote to the Chief Justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  I modified the letter slightly and addressed it, individually, to each of the 46 judges of the Ninth Circuit.

        I'm curious, would the Times be interested in investigating the facts and speculation that I describe in this letter?  It would require that the Times actually verify the facts, and ask a couple of questions.

        It strikes me that is would be newsworthy that Norm Maleng has participated in federal tax fraud...if the facts would suggest that that has happened.  Every member of the King County council was advised of the fraud and not one showed even the slightest interest in looking at the facts.  It seems newsworthy that Gary Locke may also be involved.  Further, it seems newsworthy that a couple of Seattle based federal judges have apparently covered up the fraud with their bizarre decisions.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems that this would be worth a small effort to investigate by a legitimate newspaper.

        If the Seattle Times is a major regional newspaper it will look at the facts that I describe in the attached letter, and investigate.  If the Seattle Times is a pathetic joke, it won't. 

        John Rasmussen

        Attached Document: Open attached document Letter to Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Schroeder, May 16, 2003 in a separate window.

Apparently, The Seattle Times sent its reporters to cheerleading school:

         Instead of investigating and reporting the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme, The Seattle Times acted as a cheerleader for King County's criminal actions in establishing the trail. Here is a typical article about the East Lake Sammamish Trail, written after the newspaper had been informed numerous times about the tax fraud scheme.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      The Seattle Times

      The long hike

      Thursday, May 12, 2005
      Editorial

      "Spring already might have sprung, but fitness walkers and cyclists have cause for even more spring in their steps this week.

      The entire 11-mile East Lake Sammamish Trail, now diced into far-flung parts in Issaquah and Redmond, will likely be open to the public by next spring.

      King County announced Tuesday it received the last of the nine permits required to finish the interim trail, conceived two dozen years ago and litigated fiercely the last eight. A U.S. District Court ruling in the county's favor earlier this year paved the way for construction on the former railbed.

      Ends of the trail were completed last year, prompting supporters to have a traveling celebration at Marymoor Park in Redmond and Gilman Boulevard in Issaquah. In between lay seven miles in Sammamish, which was the trail's battleground. Homeowners there protested a city permit and tried to distance the trail from their properties and closer to a nearby road.

      As soon as January, the unfinished section, closed to the public for most of the past decade, will be open, initially covered with gravel but eventually paved. About $900,000 of the $1.6 million construction cost will be paid by federal funds, with the rest coming from real-estate taxes earmarked for recreation.

      The East Lake Sammamish Trail will enhance the existing web of trails looping through King County and linking to points east and north.

      Many people are responsible for the success of this trail, but the victory especially belongs to King County Executive Ron Sims. From the time he took office, Sims was adamant about following earlier visions to turn the railbed into a trail, giving the public access to the beautiful scenery and lake views along it.

      He was willing to commit county resources to develop and fight for the trail — about $1 million a year since 1997.

      It was a righteous fight and a worthy investment, now that the trail and its benefits will belong to the public for years to come, not locked away behind "No trespassing" signs."

The Seattle Times reporter Natalie Singer definitely went to cheerleading school:

         Directly below is a portion of an email letter that I sent to Natalie Singer at The Seattle times on October 16, 2002. In that letter I spelled out the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme and explained where she needed to go to confirm evidence of the crime. In instead of reporting the crime, Natalie Singer produced at least two articles for The Seattle Times that are little more than cheerleading for the County. Directly below, see a portion of my email to Natalie Singer on October 16, 2002, followed by portions of her Seattle Times cheerleading articles.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      "I have documents that indicate that BNSF, Arthur Andersen, TLC and King County conspired to commit federal tax fraud in the ELST project.  That is the seminal event that affects every aspect of this controversy.  It appears that after taking part in that crime, the prosecutor of King County had no choice but to claim outright ownership of the right of way land.  It would then follow, that to protect Norm Maleng, his staff, and possibly Gary Locke, from going to prison, the County has taken an adversarial stand against its own citizens along the Lake.  The County "wins" in court are a disgrace, an insult to the Constitution and the law, and cast an ugly shadow over the Federal and Superior courts. Attached to this e-mail, is an e-mail to Norm Maleng that I sent almost three years ago outlining the fraud.

      The case that has progressed the furthest in the legal system is mine, King County v. Rasmussen.  I found out yesterday that we were denied en banc consideration in the 9th Circuit.  That leaves in place the ridiculous decision that all the deeds for the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway were written by Bill Hilchkanum.  By his own admission, Bill Hilchkanum was an illiterate Duwamish Indian who gave up his tribal affiliation to homestead along Lake Sammamish in the late 1800s.  In spite of that fact, among others, Federal Judge Barbara Rothstein found that Hilchkanum wrote his own deed to the railroad.  Since all the SLS&E deeds I've seen are written in the same language as the Hilchkanum deed, one must conclude that Hilchkanum wrote all the deeds for the railroad. This dishonest decision rewrites the history of the northwest.  It is ethically insensitive and harmful to the Duwamish who are trying to attain tribal status.  It is an outright lie.

      Further, the evidence of  the federal tax fraud, described below, was struck by Judge Rothstein on a technical motion by the King County prosecutor.  I believe that Judge Rothstein might have prevented the Enron scandal if she had turned that evidence over for federal prosecution.  However, prosecuting Arthur Andersen for its fraudulent appraisal along East Lake Sammamish likely would have required prosecution of some very powerful people in King County.  Did Judge Rothstein fail to turn over this evidence for prosecution to protect those powerful people?

      The obvious truth is that the deeds for the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway were written by the railroad's lead attorney Judge Thomas Burke and his co-council.  If this fact had been recognized by Judge Rothstein in her decision, she would have had to admit that BNSF and its successor in interest, King County, did not own the right-of-way land, and have only had an easement.  This would have stripped away much of the protection that the King County Prosecutor needs to avoid prosecution for federal tax fraud.  Every deed to the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway previously construed by the courts has been found to be an easement.  The Rothstein decision overturns 100 years of railroad right-of-way legal precedent in Washington State.  Further, the absurdity of the decision casts an ugly shadow on the integrity of the 9th Circuit in its denial of reconsideration.

      Natalie, if you want to understand what is going on here, you are going to have to do some serious homework.  You will need to study some legal decisions, verify facts and ask to see proof.  Since I wrote the attached e-mail to Norm Maleng, not one person has asked to look at the evidence of tax fraud.  Not one.  This includes officials from the Sammamish city council to one of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate.  If you want to understand what is going on here, you are going to have to learn how summary judgment can be used by judges to completely control a case and deny the constitutional right of due process.  If you want to understand what is going on here, you are going to have to learn how manipulation of extrinsic evidence can allow a judge to decide the outcome of a suit regardless of the facts, and more compelling intrinsic evidence.  If you want to understand what is going on here, you are going to have to learn that the Washington State Supreme Court does not signal a "sea change" in the law by tucking it in a footnote in the dissenting opinion.  If you want to understand what is going on here, you are going to have learn how much is a scintilla.  I doubt you or your editor are willing to put out the effort to understand what is happening here, and write that story.

      Do you ever think about why we have freedom of the press in this County?  It's not so the press can report on the latest movie star gossip, it's to deal with judicial and governmental abuse like what is happening with ELST.  Freedom of the press is the last layer of protection for our rights and the Constitution.

      Natalie, the truth is my friend...and the mortal enemy of a number of powerful people in King County.  It is very likely that truth will never see the light of day.
      [Email to Natalie Singer from John Rasmussen on October 16, 2002]

Evidence of Natalie Singer's cheerleading:

         Ms. Singer ignored my email, refusing to investigate the corruption in King County government, and instead worked her "pom-poms" with the following two "cheerleading" articles. I had explicitly explained the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme to Singer and she refused to describe it to the community. Instead she worked as a propaganda mouth for King County. (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      "Surrounded by tall firs and expansive views, the former railroad corridor is seen by recreation advocates as a public treasure, a critical missing link in a trail system stretching from Elliott Bay to the Cascades and as far as Idaho."
      ["Lake Sammamish rails-to-trails vision: 'One person's dream, another's nightmare'" by Ashley Bach and Natalie Singer, November 1, 2003]

      "The trail, which the county has been trying to build since the former rail corridor was abandoned in 1996, provides a critical link in an otherwise nearly continuous trail system that stretches 40 miles from Ballard to Issaquah and then along Interstate 90 as far as Idaho.

      'We're going to get it built," said King County Executive Ron Sims, who has pushed for the trail since he took office in 1997. "There are times when you have to hold firm so the public can win, and 10 years from now the people will not remember the battle, they'll just be enjoying the beauty of the trail.'"
      ["E. Lake Sammamish disputed trail is a go" by Natalie Singer, May 11, 2005]

More Seattle Times cheerleading:

         Below, are two hyperlinks that will take the reader to more Seattle Times "cheerleading" articles about the East Lake Sammamish trail. The articles were written after I had repeatedly informed The Seattle Times about the federal tax fraud scheme. The Seattle Times has never reported the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme to its readers.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      "Some things are worth the wait. The official opening of the East Lake Sammamish Trail, coinciding with the beginning of spring, is one of them.

      The seven-mile path is a scenic beacon to cyclists, walkers and nature lovers. To those with an extra-long memory, it is also powerful testament to the doggedness of groups and local government committed to a good idea. Stroll down memory lane to gain an appreciation of how uncertain the trail was."
      ["Happy trails in Sammamish" Seattle Times Editorial, March 23, 2006]

      "For the region, it is impossible not to acknowledge the East Lake Sammamish Trail will be one of the gemstones of an interlocking pathway that reaches from Puget Sound to well east of the Cascades.

      "The Trail," as it is simply known in that community of waterfront homes and suburban angst, cannot be underestimated as a milestone in the way the region is changing. The railbed stretch of homes that delightfully perched on the shores of Lake Sammamish is changing to much higher density, more traffic and more everything."
      ["The Trail of success and regret" by James Vesely, March 26, 2006]

Respected Seattle Times reporter James Vesely refused to report the tax fraud scheme:

         The above article by James Vesely came after he and The Seattle Times had been repeatedly advised of the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme. Vesely was personally advised of the tax fraud scheme a number of times. I believe that Vesely shows by his Seattle Times article above that he chose to intentionally withhold this important information from his readers. Here are links to four emails which challenged Vesely to investigate and report the East Lake Sammamish Federal tax fraud scheme. (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      Letter addressed to James Vesely and other Seattle Times staff on June 7, 2004.

      Letter addressed to James Vesely and other Seattle Times staff on May 24, 2003.

      Letter copied to James Vesely and other Seattle Times "Opinion" on November 29, 1999.

      Letter copied to James Vesely and other Seattle Times "Opinion" on August 11, 1999.

"Freedom of the press" is a responsibility.

         Because of its importance to our Nation, it seems to me that freedom of the press is a responsibility for those in the news business, not a privilege. Freedom of the press exists to protect our nation against abuse in government, not to protect newspapers from claims of sloppy reporting. The Seattle Times failed the public in its responsibility to report the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme to its readers.
        (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

The King County Press has failed the public in its duty to report the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme.

         From the above discussion, I believe folks can conclude that the King County Press has failed the public in its duty to report the East Lake Sammamish federal tax fraud scheme. For further proof, I provide the following hyperlinks which take the reader to my chronologically organized correspondence with the King County newspapers relating to the tax fraud scheme and the East Lake Sammamish trail (ELST). This correspondence documents the many times that The Seattle Times and the King County Journal were informed of the criminal actions by King County government. (Note: the King County Journal went out of business in early 2007.) (My statements describing wrongdoing or criminal actions on this webpage are a First Amendment expression of my opinion.)

      ELST email correspondence with The Seattle Times

      ELST email correspondence with the King County Journal (Eastside Journal)