I have started at the end of last year the series of blogs, here, and here, about the former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals Sol Wachtler, who was convicted of a felony extortion and intimidation to kidnap a child.
And, I promised that the series will continue.
Here is the continuation of the series.
Wachtler was charged by the feds for:
- intimidation to kidnap a child,
- sending obscene material to a minor, and
- abuse of office for his personal scheme of extortion and intimidation
He was looking at up to 16 years in prison on federal charges alone.
He could be - but was never charged for:
After expressing remorse, and being allowed to plead guilty to just one charge - extortion with threats to kidnap (to "save" court employees from testifying and revealing the mess of misconduct and corruption and in order to allow Wachtler to keep his over $74,000 a year taxpayer-paid pension):
This extraordinary return to grace of a dangerous felon who should have served tens of years in federal prison, and then in state prison, who should still be in prison at this time, and who should be, but is not, on sex offender registry, and who has been allowed by the state judiciary to practice law, got my attention, and especially that he is being portrayed as a "luminary" of the State judiciary, and the series of crimes that he has committed - and those are the ones that we know about only because they were finally charged, and they were finally charged only because he went too far and committed them against a personal friend of the then president and his spouse, George and Barbara Bushes - and his former law clerk of 2 years and advisor of 20 years before arrest and conviction (source: "King of the Mountain"), David Gould, claims in his article about Sol Wachtler-the-luminary that Wachtler should not be judged by his "one slip", and instead should be judged by a lifetime of his good deeds.
Of course, David Gould has a financial reason to try to white-wash his former employer, the "luminary" felon - he has a book and an audiobook co-written with the felon currently trading on Amazon.com:
There are no sales reported for the book, no customer reviews,
so David Gould apparently is trying to white-wash his felon "luminary" co-author in the hope that the book will start to sell better.
To prepare these series of blogs, I have read many publications, including three books publicly available on Amazon.com about Sol Wachtler -
Joy Silverman did not "cooperate" with those who, at Wachtler's behest, wanted to delve into her private life, with the exception of her interview to the New York magazine in 1994, when, after release of Wachtler, hang-up phone calls started, and even death threats to her employer.
Those were also not investigated by officials, and Joy Silverman, as far as I can see, never sued Wachtler to prevent splurging of information about her private life into the press - more than Wachtler already did.
Yet, had Wachtler been properly charged in state court for sexual misconduct, the names and private information about their victims would have been forbidden for him to use, and he would not have been able to give information to the two authors of the books, or write about Silverman in his own "prison memoirs".
So, the system once again allowed Wachtler, and those who were willing to hear his disclosures about Silverman, to get his revenge upon the victim for pursuing him under the law, and hurt the victim even more by failing to protect her and allowing Wachtler to splurge her private details around in books.
* * *
While reading about Wachtler's case, my attention was drawn to the charge of "official misconduct" - and to David Gould's claim in the "luminary biography" of the felon Wachtler that Wachtler's crimes had nothing to do with abuse of office.
In the "Court Legacy" section of the self-serving "luminary biography", trying to white-wash the co-author of David Gould's book in order to boost its sales, David Gould writes this:
First of all, Sol Wachtler committed many ethical transgressions - described without acknowledgement that such behavior is an ethical violation - in his own book and in the two other books about his case.
Second, that Wachtler never committed "any ethical transgression arising directly out of his work as a judge or a Chief Judge" is, first, untrue, and, second, Gould, as Wachtler's law clerk, is bound with a "code of silence", a confidentiality agreement, and thus his claims that Wachtler never did anything wrong are not to be believed for that reason alone.
But, there is documentary evidence indicating that what Gould is saying about Wachtler never committing any "ethical transgressions arising directly out of his work as a judge or a Chief Judge" are not true.
Books about the case describe that:
Wachtler ran for his judgeship on the Court of Appeals (it was then an elective office) by appearing in paid commercials in a black judicial robe in prison, banging doors of empty prison cells and promising to voters to fill those cells with murderers - after he was elected, that conduct was acknowledged as unethical, and judges were prohibited to either appear in their election campaigns in judicial official garb, or to make promises regarding future cases;
Wachtler tricked a surrogate court judge, #BertramGelfand, in an appealed disciplinary proceeding not to raise certain politically sticky issues (that the judge was targeted with discipline to prevent his re-election by his political opponents) by promising him, in an ex parte meeting in Wachtler's Mineola, NY chambers, that the court will go easy on him if he does not raise that issue - and then the court took the judge off the bench anyway; in his "After the Madness" prison memoir Wachtler had the audacity to lament that that particular judge was "only" taken off the bench, but was not disbarred or prosecuted like Wachtler did, even though his conduct was similar or worse than Wachtler's;
Gelfand has never been disciplined as an attorney,
and, same as Wachtler and Wachtler's co-conspirator, former 3rd Department Chief Judge Leonard Weiss, now works as a "mediator".
The reason why Wachtler hurt, instead of helped, Gelfand's case, as he promised Gelfand in their ex parte meeting, was because Gelfand inadvertently hinted that Wachtler may be doing the same thing as Gelfand was doing:
"Sol, who knew Gelfand and had been talking to him about his case, didn’t want to take part in deciding his fate. But maybe he wouldn’t have to, he realized. After all, his good friend, Milton Gould, was Gelfand’s lawyer; and his daughter Lauren, who had become a lawyer, was working for Gould’s firm. He would recuse himself, Sol decided.
He told this to Gelfand at a meeting between the two of them in his Mineola chambers. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I know the thinking of the court, and you have nothing to worry about— provided you don’t rock the boat.” Then, to get Gelfand to relax, he pointed out that the members of the court of appeals weren’t all angels and entertained him with some spicy anecdotes about them.
Still, Gelfand wasn’t sure he trusted Sol’s reassurances. Earlier Sol had promised him that he had sufficient influence with the commission to see to it that they wouldn’t even bring formal charges, yet nevertheless, he’d been repudiated. But he was grateful for Sol’s attention and concern, and reminded him, “You know the whole thing was politically motivated. I was up for reelection. The commission was responding to political pressure.”
“Don’t raise that,” Sol said.
Gelfand sighed. “But they’re applying a new standard to me,” he said. “A standard that others on the court aren’t being held to.”
“Look,” Sol said, “just don’t rock the boat and you’ll be okay.”
Gelfand said, “Yeah, I guess that if the court of appeals makes marital infidelity an ethical violation, there’d be a lot of vacancies in the court system— including a few on the court of appeals itself.”
Sol’s face changed. He looked agitated and edgy. Then,
“Look, if you rock the boat,” he said, “I guarantee you, you’ll be killed.” His tone was one Gelfand had never heard him use before. It was cold and harsh.
Gelfand listened to Sol. When his case came before the court of appeals, he didn’t rock the boat, didn’t accuse the commission of playing politics, or say anything about his being held to a separate standard. But nevertheless the court of appeals eventually ruled, in a decision that he felt was virtually aimed at impugning his credibility, that he had to leave the bench. “Sol clearly used his office,” he would say later, “to euchre and browbeat me into not discussing the things that might have helped me— into keeping quiet about both political corruption and marital infidelity in the judiciary.”
Wolfe, Linda. Double Life: The Shattering Affair between Chief Judge Sol Wachtler and Socialite Joy Silverman (Kindle Locations 1873-1894). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.
- spoke to a represented party whose case was pending before the court - before his recusal - about the case;
- gave the party (his friend) legal advice;
- hinted that if certain political issues are not raised (if the judge "does not rock the boat"), the determination of removal may be reversed;
- then changed tone, but sill offered assurances that the case will go his friend's way, after his friend, encouraged by Wachtler's anecdotes about his fellow judges, inadvertently pointed at court of appeals judges involved in marital infidelity, and
- while not participating in the case, influenced the case of Judge Gelfand behind the scenes.
That IS gross, egregious abuse of office.
Moreover, in his own book, Wachtler had the audacity to say this about his own case and Judge Gelfand's:
"Every day I read of some case of harassment, most far more egregious than mine— many involving actual stalking and physical assaults— where the sole punishment is an “order of protection” or mandated psychological treatment. Or other cases like that of the Surrogate of Bronx County, one of the highest judicial offices in the State of New York who, after months of following and stalking his victim, with whom he had an extramarital affair, that resulted in her losing her employment and having to change her address, was finally brought before the Commission on Judicial Conduct. He was removed from the bench, but was never arrested or prosecuted. He is still practicing law. After six months in prison, and after meeting and talking to hundreds of prisoners, I have yet to find or hear of one other inmate serving time in a federal prison for a crime similar to mine. So much for equal treatment under the law.
Wachtler, Sol. After the Madness: A Judge's Own Prison Memoir (p. 206). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.
Wachtler does not mention here his role in removal of Judge Gelfand, his ex parte communication, his ex parte advice not to "rock the boat, and everything will be ok", or his retaliation when Judge Gelfand, Wachtler's supposed "good friend", hinted that Court of Appeals judges are also involved in marital infidelity.
The next ethical violation is that Wachtler continued to consult Joy Silverman's super-rich stepfather Alvin "Bibbs" Wolosoff, uncle of Wachtler's wife Joan, as an attorney, long after he had become a judge, or a Chief Judge (source: "The Double Life"), and there were hints dropped in the book "The Double Life" that Wolosoff bankrolled Wachtler's career to have him become a judge to make his shady dealings easier;
Moreover, the way Wachtler's "courtship" of Joan Wolosoff, a heiress in her own right, is described in "The Double Life" (I will dedicate a separate blog to the lies and impersonations of Wachtler), Wachtler even married his wife in order to get into the good graces of her super-rich uncle and, have his road smoothed into politics by the Wolosoff money;
Wachtler, while being Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, consulted Joy Silverman as an attorney, in violation of New York State Constitutional prohibition for judges of Court of Appeals to practice law (source: "The Double Life");
Wolosoff designated Wachtler, when he already was the Chief Judge, as a trustee of a multimillion trust, while cutting Wolosoff's son James out of his will, specifically knowing that Wachtler, as a Chief Judge of the court to which an appeal from will contest can eventually come, is disqualified from taking that role - yet, Wolosoff lured Wachtler with money (the U.S. Attorney's office claimed Wachtler eventually received over $800,000 as a trustee and executor of the will), and Wachtler accepted (source: "The Double Life" where Wachtler is described as Silverman's "trusted advisor");
Wachtler later tricked Wolosoff's widow, unlawfully acting as an attorney, into ceding her position as a co-trustee of Joy Silverman's trust (source: "The Double Life") - in full knowledge that nobody will dare to prosecute the Chief Judge for a self-serving disciplinary violation;
When James Wolosoff did contest the will of his father, Wachtler did not disqualify himself even then, despite clear rules of judicial ethics requiring that, and continued to pressure the judge #Raymond Radigan (who also is a licensed attorney in New York with "no record of public discipline") into settling the case -
- despite the ethical problem that the judge was, administratively, Wachtler's subordinate, whose son worked in the law firm that Wachtler eventually hired to oppose the will contest (Gould & Shea), and while Gould & Shea later hired Wachtler's daughter Lauren, who initially was implicated as a co-conspirator in Wachtler's criminal charges and was subpoenaed to testify in the federal grand jury; James Wolosoff was eventually coerced into a settlement without court proceedings. Here is a whole quagmire of conflicts of interest, well described in books about Wachtler's case and in public documents - that Gould, as advisor of Wachtler, could not pretend he did not know about;
Former Judge Radigan was never disciplined for:
allowing Wachtler to proceed in a situation where he should have been disqualified;
allowing Wachtler to hire - and pay half a million dollars out of the trust (source: "King of the Mountain") to the law firm where judge Radigan's son was employed, the law firm that later hired Wachtler's daughter Lauren in an obvious quid-pro-quo;
coercing a litigant to settle on conditions that Wachtler wanted.
During his stalking, intimidation and extortion campaign of Joy Silverman, Wachtler, as a trustee and a fiduciary for Silverman, tried to cut off her income through the trust fund, claiming he has "discretion" to do that, and trying to give Silverman and her attorney (Wachtler's personal friend) legal advice that Silverman will get more money in a potential divorce proceeding with her husband if Wachthler cuts off her trust money - which is a planned fraud upon the court; Wachtler made those threats to cut off Silverman's money in full understanding of his own impunity as State Chief Judge, and thus using his position;
When he was arrested, charged and indicted, Wachtler still stuck like glue to the trust and refused to resign from it, insisting on continuing to act as Joy Silverman's fiduciary - and to draw money for such "work", and resigned only after Joy Silverman, through her attorneys, sued him to get him off the trust and to relinquish the money he "earned" while stalking her;
During the same stalking campaign, Wachtler threatened to coerce judges to strip Silverman of custody of her children; and claimed that he, as a Chief Judge, can "move mountains" to achieve what he wants;
During the same stalking campaign, in mid-October of 1991
"Wachtler had the deputy clerk of the court ... Stuart Cohen,
dig up articles about Samson”, Joy Silverman's new boyfriend (source: "King of the Mountain") - and Cohen, naturally, was never disciplined as an attorney for participation in what he had to know had nothing to do with any of the cases before the New York State Court of Appeals. Now #StuartMCohen is in private practice in Rensselaer, NY, "with no history of public discipline", and boasts of his experience as a clerk of the New York State Court of Appeals - of course, without disclosing the shameful episode of aiding and abetting the Chief Judge Wachtler in his criminal conduct:
In fact, after Cohen's role in digging up information on Chief Judge former mistress's new boyfriend, Cohen was promoted from deputy clerk to Chief Clerk of the New York State Court of Appeals - which promotion he proudly describes in his attorney advertisement:
The fact that Cohen uses in advertisement of his services as a private attorney, next to his name, the photo of the courtroom of the New York State Court of Appeals, and in the very first phrase describing his law practice, describes his connection to that court as its former chief clerk, screams of corruption, screams of "appearance of impropriety". Cohen sends to readers and potential clients a clear message that Cohen can do a better job for them because "a good lawyer knows the law, and a great lawyer knows the judge".
Stuart Cohen's self-described biography is also extremely interesting from the point of view of WHICH two judges of the New York State Court of Appeals he served:
Judge Jacob Fuchsberg in 1982-83 - the judge who Wachtler hated with a passion, worked cruel pranks on (sending elevator in the opposite direction to what Fuchsberg needed, to the basement, while pretending he is pushing Fuchsberg's floor and boasted about it to his staff (source: "The Double Life"); having his staff put a melting ice-cream cake into the judge's filing cabinet (source: "King of the Mountain"); ordering a lower court trial judge to impersonate Fuchsberg in a segregated club where all judges of the Court of Appeals, but Fuchsberg, turned up with the press waiting for them - so that the press who did not know Fuchsberg facially later wrote that Fuchsberg was there, while Fuchsberg was at the head of the movement of protest against segregation in that particular club in Albany, NY) (source: "The Double Life");
and had Fuchsberg disciplined
for conduct much less serious than what Wachtler himself was doing and involving Stuart Cohen in:
for giving an assignment to law professors to ghost-write his dissenting opinion; and
for presiding over cases where his bond ownership could come into question (source: "King of the Mountain", without indication of which cases were involved and how they were connected with Judge Fuchsberg bond ownership).
In fact, Judge Wachtler's hatred of Judge Fuchsberg - who was the first trial attorney to have won a $1 million jury verdict, as opposed to Wachtler's nearly absent trial experience before coming to the bench, and who have come to the Court of Appeals through an election, without political connections (graft) which was "the tradition" in New York - was so great that New Yorkers owe Wachtler's personal jealousy and hatred against Judge Fuchsberg that they now have the Governor appoint his hand-picked friends to the Court of Appeals instead of the public electing such judges: Wachtler exerted his influence on the then Governor and the Legislature and had the law passed for "merit selection" of New York Court of Appeals judges by New York State Governor, with confirmation by the Senate, instead of public election (source: "King of the Mountain").
It is a sad irony that the only law school that sank as low as accepting Wachtler now to work as a "constitutional law professor" is
In his book "After the Madness", Sol Wachtler laments the end of hopes for a judicial career of his law clerks, including, obviously, Stuart Cohen who "only" received a promotion to a non-judicial position of the court's Chief Clerk, and of his law clerk Michael Trainor because of Wachtler's criminal conviction.
By the way, Michael Trainor, as well as Sol Wachtler himself, is described in "King of the Mountain" as not really bright guys or good jurists - which, apparently, did not make a difference in their promotion.
As allegedly Sol Wachtler instructed Joy Silverman in how to advance herself in politics (source: "King of the Mountain"), "money is the lifeblood of politics". That is a personal credo of Sol Wachtler, and his desire to be in the limelight and close to the rich and powerful was so strong that he even risked breach of half-house release rules in order to attend a $500-a-plate charity dinner in 1994.
Why working as a law clerk for a judge who was later convicted of a crime must stop a person's chances of ever becoming a judge?
It is not a disqualification under New York State law, but Sol Wachtler stated that in his book "After the Madness" - and it turned out to be true, neither Stuart Cohen, nor Michael Trainor ever became judges.
But, this "hidden policy" does explain why Stuart Cohen, after clerking for a disciplined (and supposedly disgraced) judge Fuchsberg, wanted to get hired by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Sol Wachtler.
Yet, since law clerks have a confidential relationship with their judges, it cannot be deemed a freak coincidence that Sol Wachtler, on becoming Chief Judge, decided to hire as his own confidential law clerk a former confidential law clerk of his bitter enemy. And, it is not a coincidence that Sol Wachtler promoted Stuart Cohen, after he clerked for Wachtler, to be deputy clerk of the court, and then chose Stuart Cohen as a confidante to dig up dirt on Wachtlelr's mistress's new boyfriend attorney David Samson.
Stuart Cohen had to do something to earn Wachtler's trust before Wachtler hired his enemy's former law clerk and started to promote him and entrust him with promoting his criminal schemes.
Yet, Cohen was never investigated as an attorney, was never charged as a co-conspirator with Wachtler, and was allowed to first advance his career to become chief non-judicial officer of the New York State Court system, and then continue to peacefully practice law with "no record of public discipline".
The next "hero" in the "conspiracy to extort" and abuse of public office charge was another judicial "luminary", the former Chief Judge of New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 3rd Judicial Department Leonard Weiss, now a 94-year old practicing attorney with "no record of public discipline":
Weiss, 94, is also advertised as a current "judicial hearing officer" - a position that must disqualify his law firm from appearing in courts where he "serves" as a judicial hearing officer, but I doubt the law firm does that - I raised that issue in a court case and it was rejected, by the very court where Weiss was once Chief Judge, Appellate Division 3rd Department.
His autobiography indicates that Weiss was elevated to Chief Judge of the 3rd Department in 1992, the year when Wachtler was planning his stalking and intimidation campaign of Joy Silverman, and was appointed to that position by Wachtler's personal friend Governor Mario Cuomo.
Same as Wachtler, same as Cohen, Weiss is Jewish, he is the past president of Temple Israel in Albany.
It is quite a coincidence, isn't it, that a Jewish Chief Judge of the State highest court picks two Jewish court officers to do his criminal bidding? Some kind of brotherhood? Assurance of loyalty other than oath of office to be loyal to the State and Federal Constitution and the law?
And, Wachtler "chose" Weiss, same as he chose Cohen, for the task of helping Wachtler to dig up personal information on Joy Silverman's new boyfriend, attorney David Samson, which information Wachtler then used in his intimidation and surveillance campaign, including sending out letters with a forgery of David Samson's signature.
Weiss does not advertise on his law firm's website his role in Wachtler's criminal scheme.
Yet, that role was described in "King of the Mountain".
The 3rd Department was the court that issued David Samson's law license.
At this time David Samson "resigned" without being disbarred, from the practice of law because he was, like Wachtler, convicted in 2016 of a felony - but was not given leniency by the same 3rd Department whose Chief Judge Leonard Weiss helped Wachtler spy on him.
Yes, Leonard Weiss helped Sol Wachtler spy on David Samson - and escaped without judicial discipline, without attorney discipline, and without criminal charges.
Joy Silverman refused to tell Wachtler even who her new boyfriend was.
Wachtler used his power and resources as Chief Judge to find out.
Then, Wachtler pressed Silverman to get Samson's address.
When she refused, Wachtler used his resources and position as Chief Judge to find out.
Wachtler then decided to engage in character assassination of David Samson, and for that he needed all and every documents about David Samson, even those that are sealed.
For example, the order of reinstatement of Sol Wachtler conceals (improperly) even the name of the attorney who represented him in reinstatement proceedings in 2007.
Contents of an attorney's application for admission is private - at least, while the attorney remains admitted to practice.
In 1992, David Samson was admitted to practice in New York.
His admission file was a sealed file in the New York State Appellate Division 3rd Department.
Leonard Weiss was at that time appointed by Wachtler's personal friend Mario Cuomo to the position of the 3rd Department's Chief Judge.
And, Wachtler asked Weiss to provide to Wachtler Samson's sealed file.
And Weiss did (source: "King of the Mountain").
When asked why he did that, Weiss allegedly stated that when a Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals asks for something, anything, he could not say "no".
That one phrase is the summary of what constitutes law in the State of New York - the whim, even for criminal purposes, of a higher-standing public official.
There is no rule of law.
Wachtler's law license is restored, he is a constitutional law professor, two scholarships are established in his name, and he is back in the limelight, being invited to swearing-in ceremonies of new judges in the New York State Court of Appeals.
He sells books that shamelessly reveal private details of his victim's life that Wachtler obtained as a trusted advisor (attorney) for the family - and Wachtler is not disciplined for that, and is allowed to financially profit from his misconduct.
His two (at least two) co-conspirators, Stuart Cohen and Leonard Weiss, were both promoted after they aided and abetted Wachtler in his crimes:
Cohen was promoted to the position of Chief Clerk of the New York State Court of Appeals and is now drawing a taxpayer-paid pension, in addition to his income as a private attorney, of $86,000 per year:
Weiss, after his mandatory retirement when he turned 70, was:
- re-certificated as a judge for several more years;
- has been appointed, up to now, as a judicial hearing officer; and
- was appointed by the Governor in 1998 as a Commissioner of the New York State Public Service Commission.
In addition to his income, he is now drawing a taxpayer-paid pension of $25,000:
Wachtler is drawing a taxpayer-paid pension of over $74,000 a year, gets income as a constitutional law professor and speaker and lecturer, is allowed to practice law, and is publicly embraced by the present judges of the New York State Court of Appeals.
And, David Gould, a practicing attorney, Wachtler's former law clerk, longtime advisor and confidante, has the audacity to lie to the public, in order to boost sales of his own book co-written with Wachtler, that Wachtler had just "one slip" that had nothing to do with abuse of his official position.
When Wachtler was just charged, the New York State Court of Appeals Richard Duncon Simons, another "luminary",
was quoted as saying about Sol Wachtler:
“I told him
I forgave him for what he had done. If
there was a man alive who could’ve listened to him and not forgiven him, I
don’t want to know that man” - "King of the Mountain", p. 103.
Of course, Judge Simons was certainly not an attorney for Wachtler's victims, and certainly had no authority to "forgive" Wachtler.
Moreover, criminal law operates in such a way that even if victims of a crime forgive the perpetrator of the crime, it does not mean that criminal charges will not be filed and prosecuted - because a criminal case is not filed by the victim, but by the People of the State of New York, and the absolute discretion to file or not to file those charges lies with prosecutors, attorneys whose licenses and livelihoods are in the hands of judges, including the one who overrode all prosecutors in the state of New York claiming that he "forgave" Wachtler "for what he had done".
Wachtler was forgiven by a top judge of the New York State Court of Appeals before he was even charged in state court - and he never was.
Because a judge of the highest State Court already prejudged all charges against him and pronounced his opinion - which sounded quite like a threat against any prosecutor who would dare bring criminal charges against Wachtler based on criminal law.
"If there was a man alive who could’ve listened to him and not forgiven him, I don’t want to know that man” .
And, Wachtler, predictably, was never charged for his crimes under the state law, even though he could, for many crimes - and now all statutes of limitations have passed.
Because Judge Simons, an attorney "with no record of public discipline",
after talking with Wachtler, the judge's personal friend, publicly intimidated any state prosecutor (whose license was in Judge Simons' hands) to not dare charge Wachtler with any crimes.
Let's now remember what constitutes the law in the State of New York - a criminal whim of a high-standing public official to whom the Chief Judge of attorney-licensing court, and anybody else, simply do not dare say "no", or a teary "forgiveness" of a criminal friend by a judge of the top state court - before the charges are even brought.
The bottom line - if you want to get a license to commit judicial misconduct, attorney misconduct, or to generally break the law, including criminal law, in New York, befriend a judge, marry a judge or be a judge.
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