Editor's Note: This next article is an amalgam of comments made on a radio program (the "Christian-Patriot Connection", KPBC-770 AM, Dallas, Texas in which I and Michael Ellis interviewed attorneys Erik Moebius, David Parker, and Nick Milum) and a 207-page article written by Erik Moebius. The complete text of the radio interview and Mr. Moebius' article can be read or downloaded from the "News" sub-section from the AntiShyster Internet webb site located at "www.antishyster.com". Although I've edited and reorganized this article, Mr. Moebius is the principal source of virtually all of the comments and is therefore credited as its author.
Erik Moebius has been a lawyer for fifteen years and served for five years as a Texas Assistant Attorney General. The man is credible; his story is too fantastic to be fictional. Although I believe his allegations are essentially true, I don't know them to be precisely accurate. Therefore, this article is presented only to provide the reader with an opportunity to consider Mr. Moebius' extraordinary public allegations. However, as another journalist pointed out, if just 10% of Mr. Moebius' allegations are true, they deserve a very serious investigation. In fact, if all of his allegations are true, they will cause a fire storm of public anger, investigation, criminal indictments, and perhaps a massive reform of the courts and insurance industry.
Mr. Moebius' allegations are complex. Read them anyway -- they are important. I guarantee this article offers some unimaginably chilling insights imaginable into the underbelly of our legal system and the insurance business.
According to Mr. Moebius, "reserve fraud" depends on several elements:
1) Unlike conventional insurance companies, mutual insurance companies have policy-holders but no public stockholders. Therefore, mutual insurance companies are not subject to the rules, oversight, or investigations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
2) When an injured party files a claim against a mutual insurance company, the amount of money that might be paid on the claim is removed from the insurance company's profit account and placed in their "reserve account" until the claim is settled. At any given time, a reserve account can contain millions of dollars. If the money is paid to the claimant, it is deducted from the reserve account as an untaxed business expense. If the claim is denied, the money is taken from the reserve account and restored to the profit account.
3) At the end of the year, mutual insurance companies pays taxes on whatever money is left in their profit accounts, and return the balance to their policy holders in the form of reduced premiums or cash rebates. Although a particular company may have generated millions of dollars in profits, those profits are not generally available to the company's owners and executives. Being denied easy access to millions of dollars in profits can make some owners and executives jealous, frustrated, and greedy.
4) Money paid out for insurance claims is reported as legitimate business deductions by insurance companies to State and federal taxing authorities. However, because money won in court is not taxable -- there is also no tax reporting requirement for the recipient of those funds.
A criminal opportunity is created because insurance money paid out is reported but insurance money received is not reported, and because there is minimum public oversight for mutual insurance companies.
Mr. Moebius alleges that coalitions of lawyers, judges, and mutual insurance company executives have devised a scheme to extort enormous sums of money from the insurance company "reserve funds" by 1) finding -- or causing -- catastrophic accidents (often involving the deaths of children); 2) "separating" the plaintiffs from their legitimate claim against the mutual insurance company,; and 3) secretly processing the claim and dividing the proceeds among the conspirators without paying one dime to the legitimate plaintiff.
The "genius" of this reserve fraud scheme is that just one or two catastrophic accidents per year are enough to extort tens of millions of dollars that should legally go to the IRS as taxes and the policy-holders as rebates. Further, if enough money is extorted, the insurance company may be able to report a loss for the year and justify raising its insurance premiums and thereby generating an even larger sum of money to be extorted in the next year.
Since Mr. Moebius started making these allegations, the State Bar of Texas has reportedly tried to disbar him twelve times. Failing to disbar him, a judge has recently "enjoined" him from practicing law (he's still licensed, but can't practice law without being jailed for contempt). He has been fined $175,000 -- nine times more than any other attorney he can find -- for attempting to expose his allegations. Various elements of the Texas government have repeatedly tried to arrest Mr. Moebius and he is in fear for his life -- especially if he is jailed.
As attorney David Parker said, "Erik Moebius is an unusual lawyer in the sense that he encountered corruption in the legal process and wanted to do something about it. It's important to remember that Erik was a normal lawyer before all this happened. He had worked for five years as a Texas assistant attorney general as a litigator for the highway department. He has a wife and a family. He thought he was doing a good job in the judicial system and actually thought that when you stumble upon corruption, you're going to get a medal for exposing it. Instead you get a heel on the back of your neck and quite a few problems after that "
[Note: The majority of this article was written or spoken by Erik Moebius. Additional comments from attorneys David Parker and Nick Milum, or Michael Ellis and Alfred Adask are identified by their names.]
"Reserve fraud" first came to my attention and that of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) -- Texas through the case of Mrs. Abelia Garcia of Seguin, Texas. In 1987, Mrs. Garcia's son was airlifted to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas with massive brain injuries following a head-on collision in a highway reconstruction zone. Because her son had suffered catastrophic injuries, he had a "catastrophic claim " against the insurance company which would probably win a massive, multi-million dollar insurance settlement. Within days of her son's arrival, Brackenridge Hospital Administrator Jesse McNeil Tubberville illegally referred Mrs. Garcia to Austin attorney Michael Wash. Four years later, in January of 1991, Mrs. Garcia hired me, complaining that her former attorney told her that she no longer had a viable appeal related to her son's $2.4 million brain injury claim. I discovered that Mrs. Garcia had been subjected to what is now called a "separation scheme" in which an attorney fraudulently tells the plaintiff that she no longer has a claim. Believing her appeal has been lost, the plaintiff is "separated" from what is still a valid claim. Unfortunately, the only thing of value that the plaintiff brings into the courtroom is his or her personal injury claim. When you look at the plaintiff, his injury and his claim, it's only the claim that produces the value. We all know that you can't separate the plaintiff from his injury but what we didn't know was that the courts can separate a plaintiff from his claim. So it's the claims they're stealing with these separation schemes. Just four days after Abelia Garcia's previous attorney told her she no longer had an appeal, Nationwide Mutual, its attorney and her former attorney secretly filed an appeal on Mrs. Garcia's claim, and then filed documents evidencing a "settlement" of her claim. Ten days later, Nationwide Mutual, with full knowledge of the separation scheme, transferred enormous sums of money out of the mutual's reserve accounts into the accounts of the participating attorneys and defense firms.
We now know that Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company shows that it has paid Mrs. Garcia over $90,000. Despite the discovery of the fraudulent transaction, to this day Mrs. Garcia has never received a dime of her monies. Actually, we think it may be worse than that. If you have a normal "adversarial" relationship with an insurance company, you want to get as much money as you can and the insurance company wants to pay as little as possible. But suppose you've got a claim that's worth $2.4 million, but you've been "separated" from your claim. If the insurance company has an "extra" $10 million in their reserve fund, they can launder it through your claim -- they can agree to pay a $10 million "settlement" on your $2.4 million claim and since you won't get a dime, they will keep it all for themselves.
In the Abelia Garcia case, we found a check to a cash management account that was used to buy three cars for three witnesses right before a hearing. We actually captured checks -- we have in our possession, checks from Nationwide Insurance Company that were issued some ten days after she was separated from her claim. Ten days after she was told she no longer had an appeal! The level of evidence here is very, very high.
The central component of all separation schemes is the absolute need to maintain the "appealability" of the pirated claim. Therefore, the separation scheme has two components: 1) "pirating" ("separating" the plaintiff from his claim); and 2) maintaining the appealability of the claim. The primary device used by the courts to maintain appealability is the intentional use of reversible error by the trial court judge -- error that obviously denies the plaintiff a fair trial and thereby creates a guaranteed basis for appeal. Although the trial court judge rules against the plaintiff, the plaintiff's later appeal must still have absolute merit for the mutual insurance company to be able to launder reserve funds. The mutuals don't want to win an absolute victory at the trial court level since that victory would terminate the claim and force the money allocated to the claim from their reserve account, back into their profits account where it would go to the IRS or to the policyholders as rebates. However, if the mutuals can download the reserve money through a pirated claim, instead of paying taxes to the government and rebates to the policyholders, the insurance executives, owners and scheme participants can keep the money for themselves. So the mutuals want "catastrophic claims" which have been "separated" from the plaintiffs and which can be secretly "settled" for enormous sums of money. Once we recognized the elements of reserve fraud in the Garcia case, we began to recognize similar elements in other cases.
Over time, we realized that the mutual insurance carriers seemed to be the main culprits in the reserve fraud transactions. We then realized that the mutuals have no stockholders and aren't publicly traded companies. As such, the mutuals don't fall under the 1932 and 1933 SEC codes. And remember, neither the plaintiff nor his lawyer reports the receipt of personal injury compensation. Compensation for damages arising from a personal injury is not a taxable event. So the absence of reciprocal reporting requirements, makes it extremely easy for the mutuals to convert the pirated catastrophic injury claims into enormous money laundering devices. In fact, if the insurance company claims a $10 million payout on a pirated $2 million claim, who's to stop them? Who is there to check up on them?
To our dismay, we observed the same illegal scheme in the area of the intentional tort, including a four-dwelling arson and what appears to be the intentional killing of five-year old Andreas Hernandez. Both the arson and the death of this child have caused us to focus with a great deal of concern on the Yogurt Shop Killings, a multiple mutilation and murder of four children that took place in Austin, Texas on December 6 of 1991.
This four-dwelling arson where this land developer Eli Garza set these fires -- it was just deadset arson. I brought the lawsuit, got into court and I get this wild ruling: Judge Jean Meurer from Austin, said I couldn't put on any evidence of motive. Even my clients thought this was crazy. They said wait a minute, that jury's not going to understand why this guy burned down our houses. What are we doing in court? Why are we not allowed to tell this jury why this guy set our fires? So this judge and I went head-to-head for 7, 8 days. I told her, I want to tell this jury why this guy set these fires. Besides that, if I don t tell them, you're going to direct a verdict against me at the end of the trial. You're in effect enjoining me. I might be standing in this courtroom, but I'm not conducting a trial. At the end of the trial, Judge Meurer did in fact direct a verdict against my clients for failing to put on evidence of motive! (Now that's reversible error that'll keep the claim alive.) And they were grinning ear-to-ear when they did it. Now, remember, I've been around for a long time but I'm wondering what is going on here?
And here's the kicker -- I got a great appeal! Right? Obviously you have a right to put on evidence of motive.
Well, the Judge and the defendant's law firm had put my twelve clients through $40,000 worth of depositions. So Judge Murer said, if you want to appeal my judgment, you'll have to come up with $40,000 cost bond.
Those are what we call "impossible commands". The plaintiffs couldn't afford the bonds. If you can do the impossible then you can have your rights. But your rights shouldn't lie behind an impossible command. However, through a kind of miracle, I managed to recuse Judge Meurer. Once I did, the reserve scheme failed since we could appeal without the cost bond and therefore weren't "separated" from the claim.
Three days later Roy Minton (the attorney who represented the arsonist, Eli Garza) issued a threat to my wife (who worked at the Minton firm) that I'm going to be disbarred if I continue with my complaints of judicial misconduct. That's when all my problems started because suddenly Roy Minton was facing arson liabilities.
Members of the LULAC-Texas board of directors and I believe that mutual insurance companies are going to extraordinary lengths to assume liabilities for the catastrophic injuries, even where contract defenses are available that would exclude insurance company's liability. For example, as Mr. Gil Gamez of LULAC District VII noted:
"The four dwelling Eli Garza fire had two eyewitnesses who gained entrance to the Garza dwelling within minutes of the fires being set and within minutes of Mr. Garza leaving the dwelling. Recorded statements were taken from each individual the day after the fires, with each witness reporting that upon gaining entrance, the Garza dwelling still had a cool, relatively smoke free interior. Yet each witness also saw as many as four separate points of origin, with all the fires being floor-to-ceiling fires."
"Multiple points of origin and the presence of floor-to-ceiling or `full bloom' fires is a compelling sign of arson. Therefore, on the day after the fire, Aetna had what is termed a `reasonable suspicion' of arson. Like all insurance contracts, Aetna's contract also excluded coverage for arson. Therefore, within one day after the fire, Aetna was obligated to issue a `reservation of rights' letter notifying Garza that Aetna had no contractual obligation to pay for the arson-related damages. The Clark, Thomas law firm had the same obligation. With that one letter, the insurance carrier would have been completely off the hook."
"Yet in this case, both the carrier and the law firm steadfastly refused to issue a `reservation of rights' letter. Even when Mr. Moebius ultimately alleged and then plead arson, Aetna deviated from all industry standards and continued with its coverage." "The only conclusions that can be drawn from Aetna's unusual conduct is that Aetna anticipated the reserve fraud separation scheme at trial; that Aetna wanted the twelve catastrophic loss claims generated by the arson to be used post-separation as money-laundering devices. All you have to do is look at the at trial conduct of the trial judge and the defense counsel and see whether or not they ran a separation scheme with the reversible error necessary to preserve the claim as a laundering device. If so, at the time the fires were set, the arsonist must have envisioned the at-trial fraud and the separation scheme." LULAC-Texas has also complained that reserve fraud schemes are taking place in both the Texas state and federal courts. On September 16, 1995, LULAC wrote a sixteen page letter to U.S. Attorney Janet Reno detailing the manner in which the schemes are conducted and requested that a special prosecutor be selected and that a team of Department of Justice attorneys come to Texas to investigate.
LULAC has also filed a grievance with the Texas State Bar on December 13, 1994, complaining that the State Bar was actively concealing and conducting a large scale barratry or referral scheme at Brackenridge Hospital, a State and County Hospital in Austin, Texas. LULAC complained that the illegal, organized hospital referral scheme was designed to fraudulently induce the injured working poor to hire attorneys who would subsequently separate them from their claims pursuant to the reserve fraud schemes. Included with LULAC's grievance to the State Bar is a copy of the February, 1992 deposition of Brackenridge Hospital Administrator Jesse McNeil Tubberville. In that deposition, Mrs. Tubberville confirmed that seven Austin attorneys and law firms were receiving illegal referrals of air ambulance patients from the State and County hospital on a rotating basis. Significantly, Bill Whitehurst, a former Texas State Bar President and Mac Kidd, a former partner of Mr. Whitehurst and now a Third Court of Appeals justice, were among those named by the Brackenridge administrator has having received the illegal referrals.
The Empire Strikes Back
On the same day that LULAC filed its grievance, the Texas State Bar filed its disbarment lawsuit against me. Notably, at the time the State Bar filed its suit seeking my disbarment, I was LULAC's chief attorney and advisor in the area of reserve fraud. As such, the facts suggest that my disbarment was politically motivated and designed by the State Bar to prevent an inquiry into the Brackenridge barratry scheme and its relation to the conduct of reserve fraud in the courts of Texas.
I had just managed to disrupt the in-court separation scheme being conducted by Judge Meurer and Dan Ballard of the Clark, Thomas firm. Three days later, Roy Minton told my wife that he, Judge Lowry, and Judge Meurer intended to have me disbarred as mentally impaired unless I quit with the appeal. Roy sees himself as a leader in this reserve fraud. And, to a great extent, he is. Judge Cofer, Judge Meurer, Judge Cooper, all the reserve fraud judges, follow Minton's orders.
My disbarment lawsuit was very unusual in that it was initiated by a threat from Roy Minton in relation to the four-dwelling arson case, and the grievances were filed by a judge's mistress, Dotty Bell Matthews . . . a woman who had never seen me, who was never my client, but filed to have me disbarred on the grounds of mental impairment, threat of being a peril to my clients . . . . The November, 1995 disbarment trial was conducted before State Bar Judge M. Kent Sims of Wheeler County and State Bar attorney Mike McKetta (who also worked with Mr. Minton on the high profile "F.M. Property case"). At the trial. Mr. McKetta requested that 150 items of evidence and witnesses be excluded, including any reference to the four-dwelling arson trial and my association with LULAC. Judge Sims also placed a guard at the door of the courtroom, a peculiar security device that at times resulted in excluding my wife and a great many other people from the trial.
Despite these unusual precautions, the jury found my complaints of judicial corruption and reserve fraud were not frivolous and not filed with the intent of harming third parties. The State Bar immediately requested that Judge Sims throw out the jury verdict and issue a finding that my complaints of judicial corruption were frivolous. Judge Sims granted Mr. McKetta's request and found that Mr. McKetta was entitled to $175,000 in attorney's fees for his work in disbarring me. If all this sounds weird, you need to realize that since Roy Minton threatened me with disbarment, I have either gone through these harrowing disbarment trials, or even more harrowing, three arrest attempts, where they send the police door-to-door and -- you know, some of the lawyers talk about getting closer to God. I have a feeling that when you are fighting evil, whether you are religious or not, God comes to you. We've had -- like Eilene Flume, or David Parker -- we call them "angels" -- people do show up and it's happened time and time again. David Parker: "We were here all the time."
David Parker: "We have two types of disbarments here. First, we have disbarments of lawyers who resist the reserve fraud schemes. But who brings the charges? Judge or state bar?"
Nick Milum: "Anybody. It's usually somebody who's in the business. Who's in the state bar."
Not your clients?
Nick Milum: "No. For example, I was taking the deposition of attorney Roy Minton in the Erik Moebius case. I was representing LULAC and it was amazing, we got some major information out of the old boy. But then he got up and he says `the deposition's over now. I quit. I'm going home.' "That's highly unusual -- and on our way out of the deposition Minton looks over at the state bar lawyer, Mike McKetta, he says `Mike, I want you to get rid of Milum. Get rid of him now.' I was kind of amused by that. I didn't think nothing of it, you know. Three days later I get a letter from the State Bar of Texas saying `Hey, we're suing you, Nick.' They've sued me three times. I beat them all three times."
David Parker: "The second use of disbarments is to limit access to the courts. When Nick Milum started running for judge, and when Eilene Flume and when Carolyne Barnes started making noise about running for judge -- Wham! -- they get hit with disbarment activity.
"Strangely enough, with lawyers, we don't have precedent. One lawyer can be disbarred, another one can have all charges dismissed for the same conduct. There's nothing to stop that and it happens on a regular basis. "Moreover, State Bar procedures have been modified substantially so judges in a disbarment proceeding may be selected by the State Bar itself or the Supreme Court. The people suing you are picking the judge.
"What's worse is that even after selecting the judge they can also hire a big law firm to prosecute a sole practitioner so you may have three or four major litigators after you under the name of the State Bar. They have enormous resources to use against you. You can imagine a sole practitioner trying to represent his clients while defending himself against the Bar."
We've seen a case handled by attorney Don Kilpatrick. Don was a sole practitioner -- yes, he's also been disbarred -- we think this is an epidemic.
Don represented a mother whose five year old son, Andreas Hernandez, was playing in a vacant lot in San Antonio. A construction company truck dropped off a laborer across the street. According to the eye witness, the truck peeled out, came across the street, backed up through the vacant lot past the small child all the way to the end of the lot. He then put the truck in first gear and peeled out and slammed the boy into the ground, crushing his skull. When I was an Assistant Attorney General with the Highway Department, we looked at accidents and talked about the "geometrics". Did the truck deviate off the roadway a little bit? Well, in the Andreas Hernandez case, it's hard not to conclude it was an intentional rundown. Which means we're talking about reserve fraud and "intentionally-induced catastrophic injury". Murder.
The law says you have a right to know about insurance coverage. Don brought the lawsuit and filed interrogatories to ask about insurance coverage. The construction company and the insurance company both lied. They both told him there was no insurance coverage.
Because I was formerly with the Attorney General's office, I've done a lot of public works contracts so I knew there must be insurance coverage because the construction company's contract would mandate it (usually $500,000). Don found the contractual provision and saw that they had to have $500,000 in coverage so he started digging into the file and found the big surprise -- $19.3 million in insurance coverage. (He also found that three weeks before the death occurred there was a letter from the contractor to the insurance agent who, by the way, happened to live next door to each other, asking him to make sure the coverage extended to the trucks as they were taking the workers to and from the site. Apparently, they were "locking down" coverage.) We'd never seen this before. You normally have a geometric relationship between what we call your "primary insurance coverage"and then your "umbrella coverage". If you have $500,000 in primary insurance, your usual ratio is between three and six, so you might have as much as $3 million in umbrella coverage. With the $19.3 million policy, we saw for the first time what we now call a "hidden towering umbrella policy".
After the truck hit the boy, the driver's only explanation was that he was mad at a laborer for slapping his sister. It didn't make sense. But what also doesn't make sense is why does this pickup truck have $20 million worth of coverage on it? And why did the contractor and the insurance company both deny there was any coverage?
We suspect the truck may have been intentionally over-insured in anticipation of causing a catastrophic accident that could be used to launder $20 million out of the mutual insurance company's reserve fund.
Alfred Adask: "I've heard that the insurance companies' overall financial structure is not easily accessible to the public."
Nick Milum: "We tried to get a hold of it and they didn't hand it out, I can tell you that. In fact, when we tried to get hold of it, some people from Texas Attorney General Dan Morales' office rolled in and prevented us from getting the closing files from a number of cases." Reserve fraud is well entrenched in both the state and federal courts in Texas, and has been assisted by compromising various prosecutorial authorities, including Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. We believe neutralizing prosecutorial authorities has created a risk-free legal environment and caused attorneys such as Roy Minton, to engage in more dramatic and devastating conduct in order to create catastrophic claims to be used in the reserve fraud, money laundering transactions. Roy Minton's reserve fraud schemes are leading the way. Everyone else is content to pick up the naturally-occurring catastrophic injury at Brackenridge hospital. You know, the Mexican laborer, what these people might consider to be the claims of the "throw away" people. But Roy is way different. Roy's schemes involve burning down four luxury, cliff-side condos in broad daylight. Further, Roy Minton and the Plunkett, Gibson & Allen firm were the primary attorneys on the Yogurt Shop Case where four young girls were mutilated and murdered.
Yogurt Shop Murders
On December 6, 1991 there were four children in a yogurt shop in Austin, Texas. Two sixteen year olds and two fourteen year olds. At closing time, approximately 10:30 something happened . . . at about midnight the fire trucks were called to the scene because there was a fire in the back of the shop. What they saw when they came in was the four hung, mutilated bodies of these four children. And the children had been sodomized. What we're concerned about with the Yogurt Shops is -- the information is that the claim settled for $12 million. Why would a yogurt shop have $12 million worth of coverage? You normally would have half a million. You're talking about slip-and-fall liability out there or maybe food poisoning.
We first thought that these murders were your typical walk-in/walk-out murders. But even then there's always a concern on the part of the robbers to get in and get out quickly to avoid detection. But my wife worked at the Minton firm at that time and she told me that the children had been mutilated. When we discovered that the information about the children being mutilated was not released to the public -- it was a very gruesome scene and they were hung, then burned and water was poured on the floor -- we have a very staged murder here. How did the killers know they had enough time to do all that? Your first thought is -- is this an inside job? How did someone know that they would have an hour to mutilate these children? You'd expect a brother, a sister, somebody who's responsible -- you've got girls from three different families here -- to pick them up after work. And, a robber who is a stranger to the scene wouldn't know what the travel arrangements were.
It turns out that a stepfather of two of the children had arranged for all the children to be transported in the oldest daughter's car and that they were going to go out somewhere together. That would create unaccountability. But we're very concerned that this involves reserve fraud . . . .
If anyone thinks these reserve fraud transactions are a once in a while event, they are tragically mistaken. Reserve fraud is an industry and it has taken a firm grip in both the state and federal courts. The amount of capital flowing through these reserve fraud schemes may soon dwarf the capital that disappeared through the S&L crisis. Reserve fraud creates a huge and spiraling demand for pirated catastrophic injury claims and explains why the Texas State Bar is so well organized at the state and county hospitals where it is illegally picking up referrals of severely injured patients. Tragically, the Bar's intent is to subsequently defraud the illegally referred plaintiffs by separating them from their claims in order to free those claims up for the reserve fraud transactions. But add to this tragedy the fact that there is an enormous body of evidence that conclusively demonstrates that this almost insatiable demand for the catastrophic claim has resulted in the use of intentionally induced catastrophic claims; intentional injuries and murders conducted through the use of over-insured vehicles or on overinsured premises. As a result, we are seeing multiple arsons and multiple murders.
Michael Ellis: "What is the next step?"
We're meeting with state representatives. We're meeting with chiefs of police to inform them about the hidden motive.
David Parker: "We need public support. We need people actually getting out there and contacting us to say we're behind you. We need people in the courtrooms when we go in there to observe the proceedings. We need people making demands about the state bar. We need people asking questions with their state legislators asking for investigations and hearings.
Michael Ellis: "Praise God for your work. God bless you in this. We would like to join forces with the sole practitioners. Perhaps the time has come to form an association between laymen and sole practitioners to expose this type of corruption. The people out here in the public are sometimes ignorant and awkward but believe me, our heart's in the right place and we'll support you as best we can."
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