by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond by Jordan Green

Defendant was a victim of attorney’s previous client

Solomon Wisenberg, a Washington lawyer, acknowledges in a recent court filing that he previously represented a Michigan man who was ordered to pay restitution to Greensboro staffing executive Greg Harrison, among others, after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an African gold ore investment scheme.

The admission is significant because now Wisenberg represents Harrison, along with David Freedman, a lawyer who practices in Winston-Salem. Harrison was convicted last year of federal tax fraud related to his failure to pay payroll and personal income taxes.

In June, The US government raised the question of whether Wisenberg’s representation of both Harrison and Ryan Steensma might be a conflict of interest that could be used by Harrison later to make a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Wisenberg responded last week that there was no conflict of interest, and said Harrison had waived any conflict of interest as part of his engagement agreement.

US Attorney Ripley Rand contends in the government’s motion that “the cases are factually intertwined,” writing that at Steensma’s sentencing hearing the government put on evidence that Harrison transferred $380,000 from the accounts of Hobbs Staffing Services to accounts controlled by Steensma in June 2006. Rand argued that the fund transfer fell “directly within” conduct for which Harrison was convicted at trial, namely converting to his own use funds that should have been paid over to the federal government. Wisenberg characterized the factual overlap between the two cases as “minimal and wholly immaterial.”

The judgment also listed Jerry Pell, a Greensboro lawyer who has handled some of Harrison’s business dealings, as a victim of Steensma’s gold ore fraud scheme. Steensma was ordered to pay Pell $378,000 in restitution.

Harrison is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Winston-Salem on Sept. 5.

Forsyth colleges establish links with China

Winston-Salem State University announced that it has established a dual degree program in nursing with Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, located in Hubei Province in the central part of China. The program is designed to allow nursing students who complete two years at Hubei University to transfer to WSSU to complete a bachelor degree in nursing. WSSU expects the first group of students from China in the fall of 2014.

WSSU hosted a delegation from Hubei included the university president, the vice director of international exchange, director of the information and engineering school, and the director of the acupuncture and orthodontics school.

Meanwhile, 10 instructors from Zilang Vocational and Technical College in the coastal city of Nantong, China have been visiting Forsyth Tech to learn about the community college’s programs in global logistics, information technology and automotive systems technologies.

“We have similar courses in our school, but some things here are more advanced, Mao Xingfeng, an automotive engineering instructor at Zilang Tech said. A press release on behalf of Forsyth Tech said faculty at Zilang Tech hope to replicate some of Forsyth Tech’s automotive programs when they return to China.

The press release stated that the two colleges plan to eventually exchange students and faculty.

Delegations from the two Chinese colleges attended a Winston-Salem Dash baseball game before they wrapped up their visits.

GPD creates family violence unit

Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller announced the creation of a family-victims unit through the merger of what used to be the juvenile-services unit and the special victims unit in a July 26 memo to City Manager Denise Turner Roth. The new unit will investigate cases of domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault and crimes against juveniles, including child abuse, neglect, sexual molestation, abduction and death. Miller said the police department has revamped some of its processes through coordination with partner organizations such as Family Service of the Piedmont, the Guilford County District Attorney’s office, the Guilford County Department of Social Services and the NC A&T Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness. Among the changes implemented with the creation of the new unit will be the use of evidence-based prosecution to convict perpetrators without the cooperation of those who have allegedly been victimized, Miller said.