Center City Lawyer Charged with Engaging in Sex with 14 Year Old Human Trafficking Victim

November 25, 2014 by

November 25, 2014: Today, the Philadelphia District Attorneys Office charged 56 year old Brian Meehan of Berwyn with Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Statutory Sexual Assault, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, Corrupting the Morals of a Minor, Indecent Assault, Promoting Prostitution of a Minor, and Patronizing Prostitutes for sexual intercourse with a 14 year old girl. The arrest of Brian Meehan comes after a lengthy Grand Jury and Police Special Victims Unit (SVU) investigation.

In April of 2012, SVU Detectives began investigating a Germantown area man and woman accused of forcing girls into prostitution, one of whom was a 14 year old girl. That girl told police that she had been recruited by the couple to have sex with men for money and that they would beat her and threaten to kill her if she tried to leave them. The couple later admitted to police that this young girl was one of five girls that were being prostituted out of their W. Harvey Street house. The couple was arrested and charged with Human Trafficking, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Statutory Sexual Assault, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, Corrupting the Morals of a Minor, Indecent Assault, and Promoting Prostitution of a Minor. The grand jury investigation into this couple is still under investigation, and therefore the names of the couple are not being made public at this time.

The 14 year old victim in this case was taken on multiple “out-calls” to engage in prostitution. An “out-call” is when a girl is taken to a person’s home or place of business to engage in sexual activity with a “john”. The 14 year old victim in this case was taken to “out-calls” at the defendant’s place of employment- a Center City law firm at One Penn Center- several times where he engaged in sex with her for money.

During testimony to the Grand Jury, the 14 year old victim was able to describe Meehan’s office and the interactions she had with him in the office. She testified that Meehan engaged in vaginal and oral intercourse with her on several occasions. She also testified that Meehan told her he knew that she was only 14 years old, that he liked younger girls, and that the youngest girl he had sex with was a 12 year old.

On October 10, 2014, SVU detectives executed a search of Meehan’s 1617 JFK Boulevard office and recovered forensic materials consistent with sexual acts occurring in there.

Brian Meehan turned himself in to authorities this morning, and he is currently being processed by police.

Timeline of Events with the 14 year old victim

She meets the couple near her Germantown neighborhood in March of 2012
The couple recruits her and then forces into prostitution
She works in Philadelphia for a month
She is then sold to a man in Camden, NJ for several hundred dollars
While in Camden she is brought to the hospital in April of 2012 for severe vaginal pain and trauma
She leaves the hospital and is returned to the Germantown couple
She is recruited by another pimp who convinces her to travel with him to Georgia
She is in Georgia for approximately a year, that is when Federal authorities identified her as a victim of human trafficking
Philadelphia investigators are able to meet with the victim in March of 2014, and that is when they began the investigation of Brian Meehan
• November 25, 2014, Brian Meehan is arrested by

Statement from District Attorney Seth Williams about Charges Being Dropped Against Tomayo McDuffy

November 20, 2014 by

November 20, 2014: “Today my office withdrew charges against Tomayo McDuffy that arose from an alleged home invasion last year in Northeast Philadelphia. Although the original charging decision was appropriate based on the evidence then available, further information has now persuaded us that the evidence is not clear enough to warrant a trial.

This was a highly unusual case involving an apparently blind complaining witness, a service dog, and conflicts among neighbors and family members.

The original incident dates to May 2013. The complainant reported that two men had broken into her home in the middle of the night, that she recognized one of them by his voice as her next-door neighbor, and that her dog scared off the intruders and fetched her phone to call 911. Police responding to the scene found that the basement door had been forced open and that gas burners on the stove had been turned on.

In July 2013 an article in the Daily News raised questions about the victim’s account, quoting neighbors on the block and estranged relatives of the victim. The following week the judge reduced bail, but allowed the case to proceed.

In September 2013, the defendant made bail and was released from custody. Trial was accordingly scheduled for the fall of 2014. A request for a voice identification lineup was withdrawn by the defense in October of 2013.

New counsel entered an appearance for the defendant in December 2013, and provided us with a packet of information in May 2014. We followed up on that information, and eventually developed additional evidence raising substantial concerns about the victim’s prior history and visual acuity. A new voice lineup was held this month, resulting in a misidentification.

As a result, I have concluded that this case cannot proceed. As always in such circumstances, we must be fair both to the complainant and the defendant. Sometimes that takes time; the overburdened criminal justice system seldom moves as fast as it should. The last several years have seen major reforms that have significantly augmented and expedited the charging and investigative process for most cases. But there is always more to do, and we must and will do our part to seek justice in every case. I am thankful for all who helped to achieve this just result; my staff, defense counsel, the media, and all concerned members of the community who shared information with us.”

Raphael Stewart Convicted of First Degree Murder for 1998 Killing

November 20, 2014 by

November 18, 2014: Today, exactly 16 years to the date that he committed his crimes, defendant Raphael Stewart was convicted of First Degree Murder, Criminal Conspiracy, Attempted Murder and Possessing an Instrument of Crime for the November 18, 1998 killing of Darris Cuthbert and shooting of Omar Johnson.

Raphael Stewart and his co-defendant Jaime Kirnon believed that Darris Cuthbert and Omar Johnson had robbed their drug house. After an argument, Stewart shot Cuthbert five times- killing him. Kirnon shot Johnson eight times, but due to quick action by Philadelphia Police, who were one block away when they received the radio call, Johnson survived his injuries. An eyewitness to the murder, Danny Milton, removed a gun from Omar Johnson’s waistband and tried to take him to the hospital. Police arrived quickly, and Milton was taken to the Homicide Division instead to give a statement. Both Johnson and Milton identified the defendants as the shooters. After the defendant was arrested, Johnson was unlocatable, and Milton was presumed dead. As a result the case was nolle prossed in 2000.

However, Homicide Detective Joe Centeno did not believe that Milton was dead and continued to search for him. On April 10, 2001, Detective Centeno found Milton on the very corner where the murder had occurred in 1998. Charges were reinstated against Raphael Stewart and Jaime Kirnon. Kirnon was arrested in 2001, tried and convicted; Stewart was unlocatable and a bench warrant issued for his arrest. Stewart was finally arrested in September of 2013.

After less than an hour and a half of deliberating, jurors convicted Stewart of First Degree Murder and all related charges. The Honorable Steven Geroff immediately sentenced him to Life in prison without the possibility of parole. Deputy District Attorney Jodi Lobel and ADA Brett Furber successfully prosecuted this case.

Former Court Administrator Charged with Stealing Bail Money

November 20, 2014 by

November 18, 2014: Today, the Philadelphia District Attorneys Office Public Corruption Task Force (PCTF) charged 42-year-old Steven Martorano, a former First Judicial District Bail Acceptance Unit Supervisor, with Theft, Receiving Stolen Property, and Tampering with Public Records for stealing over $150,000 in bail money from the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF). Martorano turned himself in to PCTF detectives this afternoon and he is currently being processed by police.

Martorano’s arrest comes as a result of a lengthy Grand Jury investigation. Grand Jurors found that between September 17, 2010 and February 8, 2011, thirteen (13) bank deposit bags with bail money totaling $155,440.00 disappeared from the First Judicial District’s Bail Acceptance Unit located at the CFCF. Records related to those funds, specifically, Brinks logbooks and the manual bail binder-government records maintained by the First Judicial District -also disappeared. Extensive evidence presented to the Grand Jury established that Steven Martorano stole this money and intentionally and unlawfully removed and concealed those records.

The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (FJD) collects bail from two different Bail Acceptance Unit locations. The main office of the Bail Acceptance Unit is located at the Criminal Justice Center (CJC). That bail office is in the basement and is operational twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A satellite office, established in August of 2007, is located inside the CFCF.

The CFCF office is a small room that is accessible through a door inside the visitor lobby. That door is at all times kept locked, and the public is not permitted to enter the office. Bail transactions are conducted through a window between the office and the visitor lobby. During the subject time period, there was no surveillance equipment at the office, which operated, with some deviations, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. After operation hours, the FJD employees could access the office at any time. The office is not within the secure perimeter of the prison. Therefore, FJD employees are not subjected to searches when they enter or leave the office. Keys to the office door are only given only to FJD employees. Prison officials and employees do not have keys to the doors or access to the office.

The bail acceptance units are staffed by full and part-time cashiers. It is the cashiers’ primary duty and responsibility to collect the money posted for bail, document the transactions, and deposit the money in a safe located within the bail office. The paramount duty of the supervisor is to conduct and document the process through which the money is collected from the safe and delivered to the Brinks messenger. At the end of their shifts, the cashiers count the money they collected, fill out a bank deposit slip, and place the slip, along with the money, into a deposit bag provided by Wells Fargo Bank. The deposit bags are of the heavy-duty, tamper-proof type, with a double seal, which prevents reopening. After sealing the bags, which are sequentially numbered and utilized in numerical order, the cashiers enter the bag number in their “cashier drawer”, and deposit the bag in the office safe.

The safe at the CFCF has a hopper on the top of it, which is a round cylinder with a slit on the top. The cashiers deposit the bag into that cylinder and crank the handle. The bank deposit bag rolls over and drops into the safe. The cashiers are not supposed to have the combination to the safe and cannot retrieve the bag once it is tumbled. Policy of the bail acceptance unit dictates that the cashiers should always seal their bags before tumbling them in the safe. Martorano, despite being thoroughly trained in these policies, regularly instructed his cashiers not to seal their bags when there was a problem detected with their work for that day, such as a discrepancy between their count of the money, and the total amount indicated in their computerized “drawer”. Martorano told the cashiers to wrap a rubber band around the bag and its contents, claiming he would recount the money and try to resolve their issues for them. No other bail acceptance supervisor instructed their cashiers to tumble unsealed bags into the safe.

Martorano was the sole supervisor in charge of the Bail Acceptance Unit at the CFCF, and was trained in the protocol for the handling of the bags of money. Prior to May of 2010, Martorano was responsible for transporting the bail money to the bank in the northeast section of the city or the CJC in center city. On a couple of occasions, Martorano was observed with the money deposit bags inside his home in South Philadelphia, located in the 3200 block of Chaucer Street , which was not on the route from the CFCF to the bank or to the CJC. Martorano was never, under any circumstances, authorized to take the money anywhere other than the bank or the CJC. Further, there was no legitimate reason for Martorano to bring money home, or to perform any tasks concerning the money outside the secure confines of the CFCF bail office, which was accessible to him 24 hours a day seven (7) days a week.

In May of 2010, Brinks began rendering services at CFCF. In preparation for the Brinks pickup at CFCF, Martorano was supposed to open the safe, remove the bank deposit bags and line them up in numerical order. It was his duty to ensure that all of the bags were present. If the bank deposit bags were not sequential it would be a signal to him that there was a possibility of a missing deposit bag. He was required to resolve this problem immediately by stopping all activity in the Bail Acceptance office, contacting his immediate supervisor, and searching thoroughly until the bag was found. Once all the bags were accounted for, Martorano was required to fill out the Brinks logbook by documenting each bank deposit bag that he turned over to Brinks, and the amount of money that the bag contained. The last step in the process was to present the money bags to the Brinks messenger, who would verify their receipt by signing off on the Brinks logbook that Martorano prepared. Martorano should have then secured the logbook somewhere inside the CFCF bail office. During the subject theft period, Martorano never reported any problems with missing bags to his superiors.

In March of 2010 the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, responsible for the accounting of the collected bail money was dissolved. It was well known, and even documented in the local newspapers, that the Clerk of Quarter Sessions was lax in its financial management. The First Judicial District was now tasked with the responsibility of performing the bank reconciliations for the Bail Acceptance Unit. In December of 2010 they began the process. On February 8, 2011, the FJD Deputy Court Administrator in charge of Financial Services called a meeting with his accounting staff and all Bail Acceptance Unit supervisory personnel. In attendance was Martorano. At the meeting it was discussed that the reconciliations were behind and that new accounting procedures were going to be put in place. It was mandated that the same group would meet weekly until the accounts at the bail acceptance unit (both locations) were reconciled and up to date. Martorano was requested to provide the accounting staff the CFCF Brinks logbooks and manual bail binder. Martorano never attended any future meetings nor did he provide the logbooks and bail binder. Instead, on February 22, 2011, he suddenly and unexpectedly resigned from his job after ten years of employment with the FJD. The logbooks and bail binder disappeared as well.
Based on their reconciliation findings, as well as an internal audit and preliminary investigation, the FJD determined that between September 2010 and February 8, 2011, thirteen bank deposit bags totaling $155, 440 from the bail acceptance unit at CFCF were never picked up by Brinks nor deposited into the FJD bank account. No thefts have occurred since Martorano’s resignation. The matter was referred to the District Attorney’s Office for investigation.

Martorano owned various businesses while he was employed with the FJD: a helicopter business, operating under the names of Bella Choppers and Independence Helicopter; a pizza shop, Is-A-Bella Pizza; and a company called Bella Investment Properties. None of his businesses have been profitable. Martorano kept separate bank accounts for himself, his daughter and his businesses. During the period of the subject thefts, from September 2010 through February 2011, when Martorano had unfettered access to the cash at the bail acceptance unit at CFCF, Martorano made a total of $131,908 in cash deposits into those accounts. During the same time period a year later, September 2011 through February 2012, when he was no longer employed by the FJD, the cash deposits into those same accounts dropped precipitously, to a total of $27,796. Thus, Martorano deposited $104,112 more during the theft period.

Members of the Grand Jury determined that Martorano routinely flouted the rules and violated the protocols concerning the bail money, as demonstrated by his engaging in activities such as: taking the money bags home; instructing the cashiers to place unsealed bags in the safe; and commanding a subordinate to deliver only some of the bags to Brinks for pickup. That conduct, coupled with his unfettered access to the cash, foreshadowed and was consistent with Martorano’s theft of the deposit bags. The lax oversight by the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, as evidenced by Martorano’s statement to an employee he supervised that “nobody questioned” him, provided the opportunity for his thefts, and his precarious financial state stands as a motive.

RECOMMENDATION OF CHARGES

Based upon the evidence in this case members of the 26th Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury recommend that Steven R. Martorano be charged with the following offenses:

Theft by Unlawful Taking (F-3) – 13 counts
Receiving Stolen Property (F-3) – 13 counts
Tampering with Public Records or Information (F-3) – 3 counts

20 Year Old Philly Man Charged with Insurance Fraud

November 17, 2014 by

September 30, 2014: Today, Philadelphia Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) detectives charged 20 year old Shawn Smith for registering a 2002 Pontiac with a fraudulent Travelers Insurance Company financial responsibility identification card. On June 18, 2014, a Philadelphia Police Officer from the 39th District stopped Smith during a vehicle/pedestrian investigation. Smith produced a Travelers Insurance Company financial responsibility identification card during the search. The officer called Travelers Insurance Company and they informed him that they do not insure Smith. The officer then referred this case to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit.

Detectives obtained the title history for the 2002 Pontiac and learned that the car had been registered with the same Travelers financial responsibility identification card in April of 2014. Detectives spoke to a representative from Travelers who responded that the company did not insure Smith nor was the listed policy number legitimate. Smith was arrested on September 30, 2014 for Forgery and Insurance Fraud. He is next scheduled to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court on October 16, 2014.

Man Arrested for Conspiring With Wife

November 17, 2014 by

September 29, 2014: 30 year old Job Boatneg was charged with Insurance Fraud, Theft by Deception, False Reports and Conspiracy by Philadelphia Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) detectives. Job Boateng was arrested in connection to an insurance fraud case in which his wife, Awura Boateng, was previously arrested. Awura Boateng filed a claim with Nationwide Insurance Company alleging that her husband had been driving her BMW when a phantom vehicle cut off their car and caused them to strike a tree. Awura Boateng reported to Nationwide Insurance Company that her car was inoperable and had sustained damages to the front bumper, lights and hood as a result of the accident. The investigation revealed that Job Boateng had repeatedly struck a pole with the BMW in order to create additional damages after the initial collision. Job Boateng was later joined by several other males who helped to strike the BMW with sticks. Job Boateng was arrested for Theft by Deception (F-3), Insurance Fraud (F-3), Conspiracy (F-3) and False Reports (M-2) on September 29, 2014. He is next scheduled for a status listing in Philadelphia Municipal Court on October 6, 2014.

ADA Dawn Farrell and Detective Al Quintile of IFU are specially assigned to this case.

47 Year Old Man Charged with Fraudlent Homeowners Claim

November 17, 2014 by

September 27, 2014: Philadelphia Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) detectives charged 47 year old Darryl Pickett with filing a fraudulent homeowners claim after he alleged that a burglar stole over forty-eight hundred dollars worth of electronic equipment from his home. On June 14, 2013, Pickett reported to both the Philadelphia Police and State Farm Insurance Company that his home had been burglarized and that electronic devices, including two Apple laptops, over ten video games, and a PlayStation 3, had been stolen from his home. State Farm requested receipts for these purchases. Pickett provided a Best Buy receipt which listed an itemized transaction of over forty-four hundred dollars but did not show a date of purchase or a method of payment. Detectives performed a search warrant on the Best Buy and were told that no information was available on Pickett. Best Buy also included a copy of their receipt format, which was not at all similar to the one Pickett submitted to State Farm. Pickett had also submitted an EB Games receipt for over ten video games and a PlayStation game console. Detectives contacted representatives from Game Stop who stated that they purchased EB Games in 2005 and that the store on the alleged receipt is no longer listed under the old title. Furthermore, the listed address for the alleged Game Stop is a residential property and has been since its construction. In addition, many of the purchased games that Pickett listed on his receipt were not even released until after the date of the supposed purchase. Finally, Game Stop employees stated that Pickett is not an account holder nor did his receipt match their company format. Pickett was arrested for Insurance Fraud and Theft by Deception on September 27, 2014. He is next listed for a status hearing on October 3, 2014 in Philadelphia Municipal Court.

ADA Deb Naish and Detective Andrew Snyder of IFU are specially assigned to this case.

Philadelphia Man Use Fake Insurance Card to Get Car out of Impound

November 17, 2014 by

September 25, 2014: 28 year old Chealley Tardey was arrested by Philadelphia Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) detectives for registering a 1993 Chevrolet with a fraudulent State Farm financial responsibility identification card. On July 1, 2014, Tardey went to the Philadelphia Police Impound Unit and presented a State Farm financial responsibility identification card in order to retrieve his Chevrolet. The sergeant on duty called State Farm Insurance Company and learned that they did not insure Tardey. The sergeant then referred this incident to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit. During the course of the investigation, detectives obtained the title history for the 1993 Chevrolet and learned that the car had been registered with the State Farm financial responsibility card in March of 2014. The title history further revealed that Tardey had registered the same vehicle with an American Independent financial responsibility identification card in March of 2012. Detectives called representatives from both of these companies and learned that neither had ever insured Tardey nor were these policies legitimate. Tardey was arrested on September 25, 2014 for Insurance Fraud and two counts of Forgery. He is next scheduled to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court on October 3, 2014.

ADA Mike Kershaw and Detective Robert Stansfield of the IFU are specially assigned to this case.

23 Year Old Man Charged with Insurance Fraud

November 17, 2014 by

September 25, 2014: Today, Philadelphia Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) detectives charged 23 year old Khary Carrington with Insurance Fraud, Theft by Deception, and False Reports after receiving a referral from the Philadelphia Police Department Major Crimes Unit. The referral indicated that Carrington fraudulently reported his 2006 Dodge Charger stolen to both the Philadelphia Police and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company despite the fact that he had sold the vehicle to a junk yard two days prior. On July 26, 2013, Carrington reported to the Philadelphia Police that he had parked his car on the 6800 block of Greenway Avenue in Philadelphia and later discovered it was stolen. The Philadelphia Police Vehicle Theft Report stated that the Dodge Charger was valued at about ten thousand dollars and had twenty-five hundred dollars worth of sneakers in his trunk. The police report also indicated that Carrington had reported the theft to his insurer, Liberty Mutual.

Detectives retrieved the claim file from Liberty Mutual which contained a copy of Carrington’s recorded statement. Carrington told the insurance company that his Dodge Charger had been stolen from the 6800 block of Greenway Avenue in Philadelphia and further stated that he had only one set of keys to vehicle, which he allegedly stored in his mother’s Nissan in Upper Darby. An Upper Darby police report revealed that Carrington had reported a theft from a vehicle on July 25, 2013 and had reported that various clothing and four thousand dollars worth of sneakers had been stolen from the vehicle. Detectives then interviewed a tow truck driver for D and J Junkyard who related that Carrington sold him a 2006 Dodge Charger with a defective engine on July 23, 2013 which was crushed on the same day. Detectives also reviewed the tow slip receipt which showed that Carrington had received three hundred and seventy five dollars for selling his Charger two days before he made the theft report.

Khary Carrington was arrested on September 25, 2014 for Insurance Fraud, Theft by Deception and False Reports. He is next scheduled to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court for a status listing on October 17, 2014.

Detective Gilbert Brooks and ADA Deb Naish of IFU are specially assigned to this case.

New Election Fraud Task Force

November 3, 2014 by

November 3, 2014: Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has created a new task force that will investigate and prosecute all allegations of criminal activity during elections. The new Election Fraud Task Force is part of the office’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), and is comprised of ADAs and detectives who will be specially assigned to Election Day allegations. In the past the investigation and prosecution of Election Day crimes were assigned based on where and when the complaints came into the office.

“This Task Force is another tool for my office to ensure that all crime in Philadelphia is investigated thoroughly, and prosecuted swiftly,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “For far too long it has been assumed that Election Day in Philadelphia involves inappropriate actions at the polls. I want those assumptions to end now. The new Election Fraud Task Force helps guarantee that my office will not only thoroughly investigate Election Day complaints, we arrest and prosecute the culprits.”

“No eligible Philadelphia voter should be impeded from casting a ballot,” said Ellen Mattleman Kaplan Interim President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy. “The Committee of Seventy applauds the District Attorney’s Office for taking aggressive and prompt action to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute anyone who engages in elections-related criminal conduct.”

“The District Attorney has shown a real commitment to making the integrity of elections a priority,” added City Commissioner Al Schmidt. “The creation of the Election Fraud Task Force will help Philadelphians be confident that elections in our city are conducted in a fair manner.”

Today, the Election Fraud Task Force charged 64-year-old Oxana Turetsky of the 1200 block of Unruh Avenue with Tampering with Records, Criminal Mischief and Tampering with Voting Machines. Ms. Turetsky is scheduled to turn herself in to authorities later today.

On May 20, 2014, police responded to a complaint at the polling location for the 53rd Ward, 13th Division of Philadelphia on the 6900 block of Summerdale Avenue. The Judge of Elections there notified police that Oxana Turetsky had written her name in ink on the voting machine at that location. Upon inspection, the officer confirmed that the name “Oxana Turetsky” was handwritten on the machine next to the box for “write in” candidates. Turetsky, a write-in candidate for committeeman, later admitted to writing her name on the voting machine.

In February of this year, the Election Fraud Task Force charged 65-year-old Dianah Gregory with Fraud by Election Officers, Tampering with Records, Criminal Mischief, and Tampering with Voting Machines for her actions during the November 5, 2013 election. Dianah Gregory pleaded guilty to Tampering with a Voting Machine in an open plea on May 27, 2014. She was sentenced by the Honorable Michael Erdos to fifteen (15) months of probation.

The investigation into Dianah Gregory began when the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office received a complaint on Election Day at the Ethel Allen School polling site located at 31st & Lehigh Avenue. On location, a candidate for “Judge of Election,” William Thompson, explained that a voter left the polling site visibly upset after Dianah Gregory reportedly entered the voting booth and attempted to make a “write in” vote on the voter’s behalf.

The voting booth was then examined as part of the investigation. The detective observed the name “Dianah Gregory” was written in marker on the voting booth. The name was scrawled next to the button to select a “write in” candidate. Still on location, Dianah Gregory admitted that she wrote her name on the voting machines, as she explained, for voters to know how to spell her name.


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