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Spam Government The Courts Your Rights Online News

Anti-Spammers Win Major Court Battle 213

Brian Bruns writes "Well, the antispammers have won a major battle against EMarketersAmerica.org (now offline, but mirror here). The judge involved with the case has dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that all of the spammers arguments were denied. The win is a big one for the antispam community." It's always good to see my inbox come out on the winning side of a court decision. Sounds like the case was fun to watch as well.
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Anti-Spammers Win Major Court Battle

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:22PM (#7234458)
    Was the lawyer constantly telling the judge he could lengthen his penis by 2-4 inches, and that he had the hottest underage beastality porn anywhere on the net.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Did anyone else go and sign up Mark Felstein and emarketersamerica.org in Boca Raton Florida for every possible free sample, spam, and random catalog list? I did...then I laughed my ass off after trying to get him a Depends sample...

      "you have already requested this sample..."

      for those who wish to know...

      admin@Emarketersamerica.org

      Mark E. Felstein
      Emarketersamerica.org
      555 South Federal Highway Suite 450
      Boca Raton, FL 33432
  • Extreme Prejudice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uberdave ( 526529 )
    The judge involved ... has dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that all of the spammers arguments were denied.

    I guess there are some things in life that are just plain wrong.
    • The judge involved ... has dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that all of the spammers arguments were denied.

      The important bit is that it's with prejudice, which means that the judge not only ruled against the spammers but also ruled against their entire line of reasoning in a way that sets a precedent applicable to other cases.

    • I disagree. If we could expect these people to respect our privacy, or not buy/sell our email addresses, then no legal decision would have been necessary.

      The fact is, they might have been operating within the confines of the law, but they have absolutely noones best interest in mind except their own. They simply don't care if they fill up your inbox, or if a kid gets porn in his mail box.

      As often as an ISP might block a spammers IP, the spammer simply spoofs an address or uses an anonymous service. If t
    • by Kelz ( 611260 )
      Its great, that most child pr0nography cases arent dismissed with prejudice, but this spammer case was.

      God bless America.
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:24PM (#7234475) Homepage
    This victory is bitter sweet. While the judge did throw the case out completely, he didn't rule that the defendants' (anti-spammers) legal costs should be paid by the plaintiff (spammers).

    You can help by donating to the legal defense fund [spamcon.org] established by the SpamCon Foundation. The donations are tax deductible.

    Please do donate, if you have any to spare.

    Proletariat of the world, unite to kill spammers
  • "Our real costs are less than what are quoted, but we still need money."

    So what are the "real costs", then? How much do you currently have, and how much more do you require?

    "Give us money" will work a lot better with a real accounting of where said money is going....
  • Moo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by harikiri ( 211017 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:24PM (#7234480)
    This is fantastic, but how long till the boca raton gang move to vietnam or somewhere similar to continue their "business".
    • by jcr ( 53032 )
      Let 'em move to Vietnam. As soon as the authorities there realize that they're blocked from most of the net because of the behavior of a couple of shady foreigners, the spammers will have to flee for their lives.

      -jcr
    • Re:Moo (Score:3, Informative)

      I don't think they were actually shut down. They were the ones who filed the lawsuit; the outcome is that they lost the lawsuit and are barred from suing again.

      This means that the anti-spam outfit is free to continue blacklisting the spammers, but the spammers haven't actually been legally enjoined from continuing.

      The real gain, IMO, is that this case demonstrates that the legal mindset is strongly against spammers. It seems like a sort of litmus test to me -- not deciding so much as revealing -- and I'm
    • I just happen to live in Boca Raton...

      This town is a cesspool of human conscience. Words can't explain just how contemptible people are here...

      It's the perfect place for scum like spammers. they fit right in with the social atmosphere here.

      I feel out of place and quite alone here. This is not a suitable terroritory for the humble geek. =(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:26PM (#7234494)
  • now where am i going to get my penis enlargement pills from?
    • "now where am i going to get my penis enlargement pills from?"

      Worse, where are you going to find a girl to impress with it once it's reached normal levels?
  • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:27PM (#7234506) Journal
    Let hope the spammers learn a very valuable lesson here. *do*not attempt to legitimize your crap, you will end up with discovery proceedings. This will ruin hem, and possibly get them killed. The shady operators they work for dont want to be found the ISPs the contract with dont want to be found. they dont want the systems they hack to be found, they dont want to get nailed for tax evasion. In short.. dont ever stand in front of a train again. Next time you are gonna get plowed down.
    • I'm glad that there's some headway in shutting these people down. I hate spam as much as anyone and I resent the fact that these people feel entitled to spam us.
      on the other hand, I'm afraid that down the line, some gov't or corp will use these rulings to stiffle legitimate email/free speach/ or whatever - DMCA anyone?
      I'm just concerned about the long-term legal tamifications of these actions. That's all.
      Or, I'm just catastrophizing - as usual.
      • I think you need to go RTFA. Your comment makes no sense.
      • I'm afraid that down the line, some gov't or corp will use these rulings to stiffle legitimate email/free speach/ or whatever

        Spam has nothing to do with free speech.

        Free speech means "you can say whatever you want."

        It does NOT mean "you can force people to listen to you", nor does it mean "you can force people to pay for your speech."

      • Simple rule of thumb: exercising a right should cost no one (other than possibly the person exercising the right) anything. When someone claims a "right" that costs someone else something in order for them to exercise their "right", it usually means they are just trying to get the government to be their enforcer in an extortion scheme that they have somehow wrapped up as a "right." As an example, freedom of religion doesn't mean the government can force me to build a church for someone.

        In this case, the
  • Oh no! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:29PM (#7234523)
    The penis enlargement pump they sold me worked so well I need the next size up. Where will I get one now? Oh well, I guess I'll use the lost pumping time to take care of that business opportunity in Nigeria ...
  • The judge involved with the case has dismissed the case with prejudice

    <dr evil>But was it, extreme prejudice?</dr evil>
  • Does anyone have any backgroundinfo on this case? The statement linked to in this slashdot article doesn't give any good details. What I can gather is the spammers tried sueing this guy for "interrupting and blocking the Internet
    traffic of lawful businesses and individuals", "damages from blocking", and "Libel". It does not however say any of the things this person did to cause the spammers to sue.

    This "press release" also seems very poorly written and not very professional. "Nor indeed will any spammers t
    • No, he's calling the *spammers" attorney a "junior ambulance-chaser." Try reading the message a little more carefully.

      -jcr
      • well thats part of the problem. they never identify who this "Marin" is before calling the lawyer an ambulance chaser. he could have offered a link or background info properly explaining the parties involved.

    • "Nor indeed will any spammers try suing us again after the very public fiasco Marin's junior ambulance-chaser endured..." So he's calling his lawyer who saved his ass an "ambulance chaser". jeebus. this guy is probably in ass in real life.

      Marin is the spammer, right? The "ambulance chaser" would therefore be the lawyer that lost, not the one that saved the anti-spammer's ass.

    • Re:background info? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Cirkit ( 584149 )
      No, he's calling the lawyer who brought the SLAPP suit against the anti-spammers an idiot.

      Read some of the stuff at http://bruce.pennypacker.org/SLAPP/ [pennypacker.org] if you want to see just HOW much of an idiot. The defendant's response [pennypacker.org] is amusing. You don't get to LAUGH at legal papers every day.

    • I'm not so sure I would call it a formal press release...you won't generally find press releases posted on a newsgroup. It looks like it was meant as a informal "hey guys, didja hear what happened..." newsgroup post.
    • Does anyone have any backgroundinfo on this case?

      Try this [slashdot.org]
  • Just use the attached form and return along with your membership dues.

    I think that says enough about MarketersAmerica.org
  • Take that EMA. It's a shame we can't hang spammers.
  • The first link is dead.. and the supposed mirror takes you to a copy of the emarketersamerica.org site, which has NO INFO on the outcome of the court case.
    A link to a copy of the actual article would be more helpful...
  • I imagine this question has already been answered, but I still wonder - what's the point, exactly, of spam? The Spamhaus Project says that "90% of spam received by Internet users in North America and Europe is sent by a hard-core group of under 200 spam outfits." Yet these companies/individuals know that their marketing hardly ever works (what's the reply rate of spam? Something like .0001%?). So why do they keep coming to work? Are they idiots? Or just malignant bastards? And why do companies keep us
    • a good question... sadly "someone" must be buying "something" from these spammers for them to keep doing this. And even if the ratio is .0001% you still are getting FREE marketing to millions of people - most of which just delete your email (very few actually are able to find who you are and take you to court) and occasionally some buy apparently.
    • Re:A Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:56PM (#7234715)
      > The Spamhaus Project says that "90% of spam received by Internet users in North America and Europe is sent by a hard-core group of under 200 spam outfits." Yet these companies/individuals know that their marketing hardly ever works (what's the reply rate of spam? Something like .0001%?). So why do they keep coming to work? Are they idiots? Or just malignant bastards?

      The 200-odd spam kingpins are malignant bastards. They are not idiots.

      > And why do companies keep using spam for advertising?

      The customers of Eddy Marin and the 200-odd spam kingpins are both malignant bastards and idiots.

      If you hire Eddy Marin to spam for you, Eddy Marin makes money whether you make money or not. If you're an idiot and a malignant bastard, you'll hire an Ethikul E-Bidniz Murketeer to "help you get the message out to a 100% confirmed opt-in list of targets, the EEBM will gladly take your money and ruin your reputation (Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Martha Stewart Online).

      So yeah, that's why, even despite a near-zero response rate and the visceral hatred his marketing campaigns bring towards his customers, Eddy Marin gets up in the morning and goes to work.

    • Yet these companies/individuals know that their marketing hardly ever works (what's the reply rate of spam? Something like .0001%?). So why do they keep coming to work? Are they idiots?

      While 0.0001% would be a poor reply rate for conventional advertising, the internet offers an economy of scale that makes this a financially viable business as the commission from the one-in-a-million people who respond is enough to pay for the cost of delivery (plus profit).

      I submitted an article this week (rejected, of

    • Yet these companies/individuals know that their marketing hardly ever works (what's the reply rate of spam? Something like .0001%?). So why do they keep coming to work? Are they idiots?

      If it's the same spammers who go on and on doing it, I think it's safe to guess they have found a formula that works, and are getting rich by doing it. A 0.0001% return rate, means that they need to earn 1000000 times the cost of sending one email per sale. Considering that sending email is basically free, and that 0*100000

    • Re:A Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schon ( 31600 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @08:05PM (#7235836)
      So why do they keep coming to work? Are they idiots? Or just malignant bastards?

      Neither - they are con men.

      why do companies keep using spam for advertising?

      Take a look at some of the other replies to post, and you'll see why.. people see lots of spam, so they erroneously conclude that it works (after all, why would there be so much spam if it didn't work, they ask.)

      It's all because spammers are con artists. They convince the stupid people (companies) that they can make money.. the net result is that the spammers get money, the stupid people get hosed, and everybody else gets spam.

      The spammers then find another victim, and it all starts over again.
      • They don't make money off selling the products in the spam. They make money off selling their spamming services to lousy companies.
      • I think the assumption that spamming doesn't work is erroneous. A teeny tiny response rate is irrelevant if your output is very, very high, which is what spam is all about and why it is so annoying. If everybody were like me, there would be no spam, telemarketers, or junk mail - because I won't respond to direct advertising on principle. I decide when I want something and then I go looking for the best product at the best value.

        But. More people "discover" the world of email and online every day. Many

        • I think the assumption that spamming doesn't work is erroneous.

          I guess we disagree then.. there is no hard evidence either way, just supposition. I stand by my beliefs.

          If everybody were like me, there would be no spam, telemarketers, or junk mail - because I won't respond to direct advertising on principle.

          Again, I disagree. Even if everybody were like you, there would be people who believed that there are people who are not like you - and that would be enough to maintain momentum. There would stil
          • I don't think the old tiger-stone chestnut is exactly applicable, however. One generally finds a multitude of reasonable explanations for the absence of tigers than the magic properties of rocks. Things like hey, I live in Minnesota.

            As you say, the key here is evidence.

            Like this

            http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,59907, 00 .html

            This gives a little with both sides of the argument, but it does demonstrate that email mass-marketing generates revenue.

            http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/ecommerce/

            • This gives a little with both sides of the argument, but it does demonstrate that email mass-marketing generates revenue.

              Not really - it's just as simple to believe that the list was placed to make people believe that it generates revenue.

              This article suggests that New Zealanders alone have ponied up over 100 million in response to the old Nigerian email scam

              The Nigerian scam is not an email scam - it existed well before the fax machine.

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2686411a10,00 . html

              Rule
  • Oh no wonder all those spam cans were gone when I went to Safeway today...
  • I know that I'd love a @spamhaus.org address. I bet a spammer wouldn't touch one of those addresses with a 10' pole.
  • by sssmashy ( 612587 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:49PM (#7234663)

    Felstein, Marin & Co literally ran for their lives from our lawyer, they had a very close shave indeed and were extremely lucky the Judge accepted their pleas for dismissal.

    This may just be a pet peeve of mine, but why is it that so many educated people use the word "literally" when they mean precisely the opposite?

    The sentence conjures up images of screaming shysters fleeing desperately from the good guy's lawyer, who in a frenzy of righteous anger is attempting to chase them down and cut their throats. That may be how the judicial system works in Afghanistan, but not in America, the land of the Free and Non-Literal.

    • This may just be a pet peeve of mine, but why is it that so many educated people use the word "literally" when they mean precisely the opposite?

      The sentence conjures up images of screaming shysters fleeing desperately from the good guy's lawyer, who in a frenzy of righteous anger is attempting to chase them down and cut their throats. That may be how the judicial system works in Afghanistan, but not in America, the land of the Free and Non-Literal.


      You've obviously never seen a picture of Pete "Heads On P
    • Other favorites that change meaning to the opposite depending on context:

      "Fast" - can mean that something is moving rapidly, OR that is it secured to the ground and thus immobile

      "Anxious" - seeking to avoid (anxious about the nearby gunfire) OR actively seeking out (anxious to see her)

      "Sanctioned", as in "sanctioned action" - An explicitly permitted action, OR an explicitly forbidden and punished action

      "Quite" - completely OR not completely

      "Apparent" - uncertain but possible OR completely certain

      This

      • Another one:

        Citation: Something bad, as in "the police officer wrote me a citation" OR something good, as in "I caught a citation bass" OR a reference to something, as in "Here is the citation to the article I mentioned".

        I hate the "could/couldn't care less". I have my wife watching what she says since I pointed out saying "could care less" made no sense.

  • What level of court was this case tried at? I'm afraid the spammers could appeal to a higher court.
  • by Kelz ( 611260 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @05:50PM (#7234670)
    Opt-in permission based email marketers have been blacklisted, harassed and threatened by anti-spammers---legitimate businesses wrongly pushed to the precipice of extinction. We need your help in keeping our industry vital by protecting email marketers.
    Taken straight from the EMA web site... these people must have a combined IQ that pines to be in triple-digits.
  • Could someone translate that newsgroup post into English? I'm sure it makes sense if you're deeply involved in the case, but if you're not it's a little on the opaque side of black.
  • Ok, I'm not a lawyer, and some of you may have heard me say this before. So, before you start blasting my idea (or praising it?), know that I dislike the DMCA as much as the next guy and that I am interested in feedback about the legal issues here.

    As I understand it, the DMCA makes it illegal to even try to circumvent any security system on a digital device. I define digital security systems (and I don't think I am alone) as any hardware or software that keeps private information inside of a system and un
    • Wow, I'm really impressed. I'd never considered using the DMCA, but I can't fault your logic. Considering that the dollar amount spent on anti-spam software is easily calculable, it's a no-brainer to show concrete monetary damages as a direct result of the spammers' circumvention tactics.

      Better still, a lawsuit based on the DMCA will force the court to examine the law itself. The defendants will face a US$500,000 fine [loc.gov] and (more importantly) five years in the pokey [hrw.org]. With the paper trail so clearly document

    • IANAL either, but I'm sure the DMCA specifically refers to copyright circumvention schemes. So, while you could in theory use it against an email crafted to get past spam filters, deliver a worm and use that worm to send your copyrighted data from /home/user to some.evil.host (just possibly copyright circumvention within the scope of the DMCA) I'm afraid that it wouldn't work against normal spammers.

      Whatever the evils of their trade you can't reasonably claim they're breaking your copyright.

      So the DMCA st
    • As I understand it, the DMCA makes it illegal to even try to circumvent any security system on a digital device.

      The DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent a security system in order to access copyrighted material.

      I define digital security systems (and I don't think I am alone) as...

      It doesn't matter how you define it. It matters how the DMCA defines it.

      any spammer that adds random characters, hides words in images or any other techniques to get through my blocking software is then intentionally circum
    • any spammer that adds random characters, hides words in images or any other techniques to get through my blocking software is then intentionally circumventing my security software

      That's not a DMCA violation, because the security system isn't being circumvented for the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to copyrighted material.

      However, it is a form of computer cracking, because the security system is being circumvented for the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system. If the exist

    • The missing part is "access to copyrighted material". Simple solution:

      Set up an autoreply that sends your copyrighted poem/short story/ascii art to everone that makes it through your filter. The the spam that bypasses you filter is unlocking your infomation.

      1. Sue Spammers
      2. ????
      3. Profit!?!

      Judges should at least be allowed to have spammers sterilized. At least we could keep some of the floaters out of the gene pool.

      SD
  • The defendants are asking for donations to recover attorney's fees.

    New Business Plan:
    1. Get sued by spammer.
    2. ???
    3. Win case.
    4. Solicit donations from Internet to cover legal fees.
    5. Profit!
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @06:09PM (#7234796) Homepage


    Idea: Lets call it Spamster... a P2P trading system set up not for warez, but explicitly for spam exchange. I know, hold on, hold on. Hear me out:

    The instant you come across a piece of spam in your inbox, you can flag that piece of spam to be shared. Within a few minutes, a copy of that spam (and perhaps an MD5 fingerprint taken from random but non-specific strings extracted from the spam as well) is made available to everyone via P2P.

    Meanwhile, someone on the other side of the globe a few hours later fires up his email client. As part of checking his mail, his client links up with a P2P spam hub and compares suspect contents against the list of globally known spam archetypes.

    Or even more fun, have that process handled at the mailserver level. Constantly parse the spool, generaring MD5 checksums, and using those checksums as search criteria in Spamster.

    Net result: The instant a piece of spam in sent, the clock starts ticking. Within a matter of minutes, that piece of spam is now indexed, and known to mail clients worldwide.

    Benefits: In order to defeat the process, spam would need to be sufficiently random in it's content to overcome multiple fingerprint runs.. Something that would next to impossible (or one hell of a headache) for any would-be spammer to attempt.

    Downsides: Net congestion.

    Hmmmm..

    • i forsee harddrives filling up in days around the world =-), and imagine how long it would take verify that a message is or is not on the list, say youve been running for a year got 10,000,000 messages, then your mail server gets an email that it wants to check against the database, it could take 5 minutes. but it is a nice idea =-)
    • Idea: Lets call it Spamster
      Why don't we call it Vipul's Razor [sourceforge.net] or Pyzor [sourceforge.net] instead?
    • The instant you come across a piece of spam in your inbox, you can flag that piece of spam to be shared. Within a few minutes, a copy of that spam (and perhaps an MD5 fingerprint taken from random but non-specific strings extracted from the spam as well) is made available to everyone via P2P.
      Been there. Done that. [sourceforge.net]
  • you can just imagine how fast Eddy stopped Foolstein's coke supply and you can imagine the yell of "Get us out of this _fast_ you a**hole". -- from the article.

    BAD LAWYER, no drugs! Between that, the 'near death experience' and 'literally ran for their lives' comments, this article paints a very amusing picture of coked out lawyers being chased and shot at by the Spam Mafia. I'm sure it didn't happen quite that way, but I can dream, can't I?
  • by ghostrider_one ( 182445 ) on Thursday October 16, 2003 @06:24PM (#7234967)
    1. The judge dismissed the lawsuit because EMarketersAmerica asked the judge to dismiss it (ie they abandoned the lawsuit which they themselves filed, supposedly because of lack of funds).
    2. The dismissal "with prejudice" means that EMarketersAmerica cannot refile the lawsuit against the defendants at a later date.
      It does NOT mean that the judge rejected the basis for EMarketersAmerica's case, and it definately does not (as Steve Linford from Spamhaus claims) set a precedent in their favour. If some other (better funded) spammer decided to sue them tomorrow for the same causes of action, the dismissal of this lawsuit would have zero effect on that case.
  • Well, the antispammers have won a major battle against EMarketersAmerica.org (now offline, but mirror here). The judge involved with the case has dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that all of the spammers arguments were denied. The win is a big one for the antispam community."

    First off, let me begin with a disclaimer - that article is not even the slightest bit clear, so the following is based on what I think happened.

    It's not necessarily true that all the spammers arguments were denied
  • Does Florida have an anti-SLAPP statute? This case seems to cry out for an anti-SLAPP countersuit.
  • This may be a victory for the anti-spammers, but at what cost (to use a cliche)? Why does the spam problem require government intervention? Almost every problem that has come up in recent history, particularly technical challenges, have been or can be solved with technical solutions or non-government practical solutions (like standards, etc). Natural language processing is getting better and better, and there are already spam-filtering solutions out there that do a pretty decent job. I use procmail, and
    • This may be a victory for the anti-spammers

      No, actually, it's a victory for pretty much everyone (except spammers.)

      but at what cost

      None - except the attorney fees.

      Why does the spam problem require government intervention?

      First of all, this is not government intervention. (the spammers asked the government for intervention to stop people from using those technological 'solutions' you desire so much, then tried to back out when they saw how fscked they were.)

      Second of all, it requires a social sol
    • Let's go over this again:

      1) Technological solutions only solve purely technological problems.
      2) There are no purely technological problems.

      Spam is a societal problem. Spammers refuse to acknowledge that they're stealing and committing fraud. Filtering is a technological 'solution' to spam, and not even a good one at that. First of all, it doesn't stop anything. If the spammers can get out a million messages and one is responded to, then they're happy. If 900,000 of those messages are blocked, then they'll
      • <PARAPHRASING>You can't stop societal problems with technical solutions. Spam is an example of a societal problem.<PARAPHRASING>

        Oh yeah? What about pop-up ads? They seem to fit your description of a "societal problem" too, and yet I haven't seen a single pop-up ad in over a year, thanks to Mozilla (a technical solution).
    • RTFA.

      Spamhaus was not trying to stop spam by legal means. They were trying to stop spam by technical means, AND THEY WERE SUED for it.

      This IS a win for civil liberties because it reinforces the right of spamhaus to publish any kind of blacklist they like.
  • Thanks slashdot guys for butchering my article. Here is what was cut out:

    The antispammers need serious help, their legal bills are huge. The legal funds are running dry at SpamCon. If you've wanted to donate some money to a good cause but haven't, now's your chance to help out!

    http://www.spamcon.org/legalfund/ [spamcon.org]
    Please donate!
  • Life's been pretty good recently. I've been losing pounds of fat, erasing those annoying stretch marks, and growing a massive pair--all while asleep or showering, thanks to these great herbal HGH patches that Jenny Gorman wrote me about. I get to sleep a lot more now, too, thanks to the one-hunnert-percent American doctor who prescribed me this nifty hillbilly heroin via e-mail. Shipped it FedEx overnight and in complete confidence, too. Gracias, Luciano Lane!!

    I do enjoy waking up sometimes, though, now t
  • Mark E. Felstein was denied admission [state.ny.us] to the New York state board on the grounds of "misconduct in college, history of substance abuse, criminal record and lack of candor since college concerning such matters"

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