On Friday we saw the letter signed by 23 Miami Herald journos to management in which they decried the influence of Twitter (and the Sun-Sentinel) on their hallowed newspaper. One of the specific stories they lambasted was this front-pager that was based on Twitter and Facebook posts from readers on where they were during the September 11 attacks.
Signing the screed were a lot of Herald stalwarts (Ronnie Greene, Mike Sallah, Scott Hiaasen, Jay Weaver, Elinor Brecher, Andres Viglucci, Glenn Garvin, and more). But veteran reporter Carol Rosenberg, another of the newspaper's heavy hitters who has done stellar work covering Guantanamo, didn't sign it. Instead she wrote a rebuttal:
While I too lament the loss of the resources and luxury to produce The Miami Herald
front pages of yore, I think we dismiss the import of new media at our own peril.
There is a conversation going on in society on Twitter and Facebook sites of a
sophistication beyond the rude smear tactics that turn up on our comment boards. And
Twitter is a marketplace of ideas ... and news tips ... as well as way to market ourselves.
On Sept. 11, a moody, broody Saturday morning when cable TV was running a roll call of
the dead, The Herald invited readers and followers to recall where they were when they
learned about 9/11 ... and we got a snapshot of our community.
Yes, I agree we need to hew to journalistic standards. And, yes, I agree we don't know
exactly who is tweeting all the time any more than we know the identity of grafitti
artists. But sometimes they make statements and sometimes we see fit to report them ... with full disclosure, which the 9/11 story did.
Obviously there is a middle ground somewhere. I think we're trying to find it here.
-- Lisa Rab is trickling out the Villegas transcript before Judge Zloch very slowly (and this is her baby). Here's another post with key excerpts of the transcript. Inside after the jump are highlights of highlights of Villegas' statements, aka the cream of the crop so far.
THE DEFENDANT: Mr. Rothstein -- well, initially I was preparing the settlement agreements believing them to be legitimate settlement agreements for Mr. Rothstein. And sometime after that Mr. Rothstein ... informed me that the settlement documents were not legitimate and that --
THE COURT: Approximately when was that that he told you that these settlement documents were not --
THE DEFENDANT: I would -- I estimate that to be in February of --
THE COURT: Of?
THE DEFENDANT: -- 2008.
MR. STICKNEY: How do you know that?
THE DEFENDANT: I know that because it happened several weeks before a dear friend of mine was murdered. ...
MR. STICKNEY: Another attorney at the law firm, and her husband is currently charged with that murder.
THE DEFENDANT: Ex-husband.
THE COURT: And so several weeks before that incident is when Mr. Rothstein told you that the --
THE DEFENDANT: He told me that the settlement documents were -- he told me that he had gotten in a position with some not-so-nice people and that if I did not assist him in signing these documents, that individuals would put a bullet in his head. And ultimately -- not immediately, but ultimately I did sign the documents. And I knew that upon signing the documents that it was wrong, and I should have gone to the authorities. I wish I would have gone to the authorities, but unfortunately that wasn't the decision that I made at the time.
THE COURT: But then you continued on assisting him after that point in time.
THE DEFENDANT: Yes. Initially he said it would be a one-time thing, and I did it. And then I was out. I'm sorry. I was out of the office for a period of time because of the murder. And after I returned he approached me again and then again and always with a promise that it was the last time; but obviously it wasn't, and I did sign the documents.
THE COURT: Well, what did you think was happening to the funds?
THE DEFENDANT: I thought that the people that Mr. Rothstein expressed that he had gotten involved with was the Mafia, and I believed that the money was being laundered through the firm's trust accounts.
THE COURT: Well, did you ever transfer any monies to Mr. Rothstein?
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir. I had no access to firm bank accounts.
(Counsel confers with client) THE DEFENDANT: The document -- the settlement documents that I prepared, Mr. Rothstein and another individual had formatted an Excel spreadsheet for the dollar amounts and information on those settlement documents to be put into an Excel spreadsheet. So I would put the information into the Excel spreadsheet and email it to the person who would then -- (Counsel confers with client)
THE DEFENDANT: To Irene Stay.
THE COURT: Pardon?
THE DEFENDANT: To Irene Stay. And she was the firm's CFO and handled the firm bank accounts. And I would email the spreadsheet to her, and she would deal with the money. I didn't deal with that part of it.
THE COURT: So, Ms. Villegas, just so I understand what you're telling me, you did not know that other people were investing in these so-called settlement agreements?
THE DEFENDANT: Not until the last several months when another individual became involved in it and he was bringing in investors and he was preparing the bulk of that paperwork. And I assumed that it was the same scenario. To be honest I --
(Counsel confers with client)
THE DEFENDANT: Now I've lost my train of thought.
(Counsel confers with client)
THE DEFENDANT: Oh, investors. You used the term "investors." I didn't know there were any investors. I didn't understand this to be an investment scheme. I understood this to be a money-laundering scheme I guess you would call it. So I never met an investor. I never sat in on a meeting. I never talked with anybody. I never spoke to the bank. I prepared these documents, and I signed names to these documents. And I didn't ask questions because it being the Mafia, I really didn't want to know any more than I already knew.