I will begin with the first Denver Post story and what first set me off that something wasn’t going right beyond a simple correction. The information below is not an isolated or complete account, it requires the prerequisite information of Part I.
The four articles produced at The Denver Post were created by one reporter named Christopher Osher and they are listed specifically as works of investigative journalism that all together form a single “investigative series”.
Chris Osher started off his first story about Humanwire detailing the lives of two displaced families at Humanwire. He spends some time setting up a visual scene and relies on these two families as the primary examples of things going terribly wrong. Before the article was released, however, Osher emailed me to ask about these two particular families, which were perfect examples of things going perfectly right. Osher wrote in his email to me:
Chris, when you first called and agreed to stop by our office, I thought whatever story Anna and Justin have created to make it appear that we are not doing our job, our best strategy for showing that we are doing a good job will be to show the facts on the families. Especially because I knew they have been misrepresenting us to others in this area.
When you did come by, we ended up saying a lot, but we didn’t get to actually showing the hard facts/records as they actually are, visually, for any families. I am not here to say we are perfect or flawless - not at all - but I felt certain that whatever families you mentioned, we would have the records on the spot and be able to see what was going on together. I knew that at the very worst, we might be a bit behind with a non urgent matter with some family you identified but nothing serious as Anna keeps describing to people. We take good care to be sure we are not causing any harm for people no matter what daily business problems we might have.
You mentioned a couple of families finally in your email below and in fact they are quintessential examples of what Anna is doing to us unfairly with her “stories”, and thus I want to first jump right ahead to these questions and show some facts. Not only are Anna and Justin unfair to us by making the claim that we are not supporting these families or doing our job, but these examples show that literally, they are being mischievous in how they handled us and these families, and especially mischievous for using these examples to say we are not acting above board.
I’m going to start with the first family you mentioned “Fatem and Family”. This is a perfect, perfect example of us being there and doing everything we could possibly do to remain front and center for this family, it shows the mischievous behavior of Anna with her interference in our business, and it also reveals how it is that we are dealing with the unaccounted for funds in a fair and forgiving, conservative manner.
Please let me know which records you would like to see and Ill send over PDFs showing all of the following:
1. Faten has received all payments, on time.
2. Faten’s expected, due payments for July and August were paid on time by Florence when she was working at Humanwire, with Humanwire funds. Regarding the theft of the $9000 in July, as I mentioned for tax and practical purposes, we do not know where this went and its unaccounted for, however so far, we have triangulated three payments that were made with the stollen funds, and one of them was Faten’s August rent, which we reduced from our stollen column. We call it the “Tent to Home July Fund” (the stollen $9000), and when we can confirm a payment that was made by Anna, we reduce the theft amount from the $9000. So to clarify, Florence took the money from the ATM in July before she “quit”, and then made the payment to Faten and the landlord Nick with HW funds in the last days of July, and then again later in August.
3. We contacted Faten and surveyed her on Aug 3rd, immediately after Florence had left, to get an update.
1. Is your situation on rent urgent with regards to a past due payment on rent, or an upcoming payment that you were expecting from Humanwire? Tell me about anything that is currently late or due immediately, with rent or other distributions:
“I have to pay August rent on 18 August and pay August electricity and water bills $118.62 on 31 August”.
2. What are your future plans? What is your expectation for what will happen to you in terms of citizenship? Do you think you will receive asylum soon in Europe beyond Greece? Or do you think you will stay in Greece for a long time? Or will you go back to Turkey or Syria one day? What is your expectation for what will realistically happen in the future?
My husband lives in Germany. We applied for the reunion and we are accepted. We will travel on September, but i’m scared because i’m pregnant (7 months) and as i know they don’t allow pregnants to travel.
3. If not obtaining asylum, what will you do when the Tent to Home program runs out? We want to be thinking of ways to help beyond the campaign so that it’s not just over and you have to go back to lesser living conditions if we can. So when do you expect your campaign to run out, and what will you do?
I don’t know what i have to do and when will the campaign end. I wish i can travel before this problem
4. List the top three needs that you wish Humanwire could cover for you that are not expected, that is not being covered by Humanwire or anyone else?
I have to pay $355.75 to the lawyer I have hired to expedite the family reunification proceedings 2. Food 3.clothes and diapers for the upcoming baby
5. How would you rate your experience with your representative from Humanwire’s Tent to Home program. What improvements could we make based on your experience?
I just can say,without your help i would be in a bad situation
Each time Layla returned a set of answers for campaigns in Greece, I would provide Layla with a follow-up (as recorded also in the doc) on any action or response that should be taken or communicated.
As a result of the pregnancy concern, after reading the report, I reached out to Faten’s lawyer to understand the legal requirements around her pregnancy and learned that the pregnancy would not interfere with her asylum. The following detail is what I added to the document at that time after speaking with the lawyer:
Please tell Fatima that she should not worry about her baby interfereing with her chance to go to Germany. If They call her to go to Germany, and she is not ready because she must have her baby first, it will be okay. She can have her baby and then when she is ready to travel, she will be able to travel. We do not expect that they will tell her that she can only travel on a certain date. She will have time to travel when she is ready. We have one question: Does she have a prenatal doctor? And does she know where to go when she is ready to deliver? - Andrew
I provided all of the above information to Osher and let him know that I can substantiate it with the docs and emails if he would like to see it. I also detailed to the reporter the interaction I had with the host of this campaign, Jenny, whom he had been speaking with. The following excerpt is from my email to Osher. In my email to Osher below, I was not leading to an argument that was meant to undermine Jenny (who I found to be sincerely trying to help) but to show that some of what Jenny said was possibly driven by misinformation from Anna.
6. The host “suddenly” got involved in August and started to email me exhibiting the exact same out-of-course pattern of behavior that a few other Tent to Home hosts who are friends of Anna exhibited after becoming “alerted” by Anna to Anna’s claims. Its always the same: She called up out of nowhere for the first time since TTH campaigns are run by us, not hosts, said she wanted all of the remaining campaign funds released to her personally (which makes no sense and would not be appropriate, she didn’t contribute the funds) and to remove “her” family from the site. She also happens to live in Boulder.
7. The host began to complain about July rent payment (which had already been paid), and she complained about the legal fees which was not part of the budget, for as you can see above Faten did not expect HW to pay for the legal fees.
8. I invited her to stop by the office and explained that we were having a problem with our staff in Athens, but that it was not effecting the success of her campaign and that everything was in order for Faten. I showed her all the records that everything was fine and up to date, that we were in direct contact with Fatem, etc. and not to worry. She seemed to be fine with everything at the time.
9. But then a few days later, despite the meeting and lack of expectation or orders, the host started complaining again, this time that the legal fees were past due again, because of HW, and that as a result, Humanwire was going to cause Faten’s lawyer to stop working for Faten, and would thus jeopardize her asylum.
10. The lawyer is Fotoni, who as a matter of fact, I had been emailing with only a week before and she said nothing about Faten or any bills at the time. She was not under any expectation that HW would pay for the legal, and she never asked. Fotini is a very nice and bright person IMO, and Anna had suggested we hire her for the role of director. When I interviewed Fotini months before for the role, I felt she would be great to work with and she was my first choice, however, she is a practicing lawyer, and director of HW would not be the right fit for a long term position.
11. So I contacted Fotini again and asked her if she had been doing work for Faten (because even though the host was emailing about the legal fees, no one else was) and she said yes, but by now, Anna had apparently sent her stories to Fotini, so Fotini had changed over night with her communication, and was instantly cold and rude to me. She said that yes, she did work and that I should send her the money immediately for her work.
12. I told Fotini that the payment wasnt expected but that I wanted to make sure it got paid so that this would not jeopardize Faten, and asked Fotini to send over an invoice.
13. To show a bit how cold she had suddenly become (which you can see in the emails), she also responded that I should just send her the money first, right away, and then she will send an invoice.
14. Thats not how business works. You have to send the invoice first. I didn’t say that to her, I just responded and asked if we could chat on the phone, and that I only wanted to get a good understanding of what work she actually did for Faten and how she came to be hired so I can have a record of it, and Fotini refused and has never responded again.
15. The host asked me again with a followup if the lawyer got paid, and I explained that I was in touch with the lawyer and ready to pay her but still waiting to speak with her at least once about her work, or get a proper account of what she has done.
16. I never heard from anyone including Fotini or the host about this ever again. I.e., I told Fotini that I was prepared to pay for it, but just wanted to speak with her once about it and learn more about the work she did, and she has yet to ever contact me again. I told the host that she was probably paid from the Tent to Home July Fund, and that we were thus going to account for it that way (and reduce the $9000 theft from Anna further) and that if anyone cared to let me know what was actually going on - e.g. who paid her, and from where - because Im sure she got paid or was told by Anna not to contact me back - then I will update that with the new fact.
17. Next, the host emailed me out of the blue one day after all of that to say that she has great news, Faten had her papers and we were ready to buy plane tickets to Germany. I emailed back to say great, let me know when you find the tickets you want to purchase (or if you want us to find the ticket), and Ill be on standby ready to purchase the tickets with the campaign fund.
18. Then she writes back a couple of days later and said that the ticket had been purchased by “volunteers” and she sent me a copy of the invoice for the ticket, and asked that I send her the funds personally (ie. send the funds to the host, not the person who purchased it)
19. I said, oh, ok, who are the volunteers that purchased it? Because they are not working with us. She did not say and I still don’t know. So I said to her, I see on the receipt it doesn’t show who purchased the ticket nor does it show a credit card or even four digits from a card, who bought this ticket (this info had been purposely not on the receipt)? She said the volunteers again but would not tell me who.
20. I am nearly certain that Anna paid for the ticket, and that she used stolen funds from HW, so I explained to the host that I have closed out the order, and that the airplane ticket has been probably been paid for by the Humanwire Tent to Home July Fund, but if whoever actually bought the ticket wants to contact you or me, Im absolutely willing to reimburse that person, so long as its not Anna. I have never heard from anyone again about it.
21. The host came back again after she dropped the concern over the ticket.The host said that she was in touch with Nick the landlord of Faten and that there was a remainder of rent that needed to be paid, due to the extension of the lease. Faten’s lease has expired by now, but its been extended and the host wanted to use campaign funds to extend the lease. Like the legal fees, I said sure, Ill send the funds directly to Nick, the landlord.
22. She emailed back to say to send the funds to her, but I persisted and said I would send directly to the landlord.
23. She emailed Nick to ask for an invoice but he never sent her one. I then emailed Nick (and ‘ccd her) and asked him to send me an invoice - twice Ive emailed - and he has never responded to either of us.
24. After all of that, I sat down with the campaign dashboard for “Faten and Family” and note that all records are there and can be seen (just like the Denver fund) in order by number, with photo receipts, and that $8 remains in the account.
25. Anna took to Facebook and posted about how great she is and what a wonderful job she has done on her own, without Humanwire and without Humanwire’s money she stole, in getting Faten to Germany.
You can see I told Osher above I had the records to validate what I was saying and that he could come over and see, or I could send him any document he would like to verify or question anything, but Osher never responded, and decided to present this family as the prime example of a family who was suffering because of me. The reader takes away that these two families wouldn’t have made it to asylum, maybe not even in life, if not for Anna’s valiant work saving them from the complete disregard of an apparent refugee thief. The article conveys this primary take-away, and it’s simply not true.
Osher asked me about this family because he believed that this family was treated in a way that supports his portrayal that refugees in our care were put in “harm’s way” (his words) and despite what I sent him above, which is all documented in writing and I know shows the extensive effort I personally took to care for the particular details of families under my watch, which goes way beyond what anyone ever expected or would get to hear -but what else for this is the purpose of my work - even while I myself was put under extreme duress by Anna Segur, and despite having the system records and financial activity ready to back it all up, Osher decided to ignore it all, and move forward with this case as being representative of things going wrong based on pure hearsay by Anna. It became apparent to me that Osher had never communicated with any displaced family, not via a translator, nor on his own via any attempt to send through questions.
Because Osher ignored my side of this story and my availability to show the written documentation to back it up as much as he would want for this family and the other family he named that was also perfectly taken care of, another story very similar that shows how we were there every step of the way in a secure and accountable manner that goes beyond the expectations of what anyone would expect, the article is not truthful to the audience as they could only take away one opinion which is that I disregarded the families and they were practically suffering.
His story relied on the notion that these two families were validated examples of the kind of “harm” that I personally caused though he is not able to substantiate a single problem that either family underwent. Upon verifying the email correspondence from me I already sent, from Jenny, Nick, and the lawyer, while also asking Anna to provide any evidence to the contrary which she will not be able to do, this should be enough to warrant taking down the article, though there are other reasons too.
The following, specific statements made in the Denver Post article are incorrect:
“About $1,200 of the $5,000 Jenny Otto of Boulder donated to and raised for Humanwire to help that family was never delivered” — As described above, this is false. Otto did not raise the funds for the airline ticket through Humanwire, she said she would pay for that herself as a result of not meeting her own goals. But I offered to pay for it anyway because I knew that it was their ticket to asylum and time was of the essence. The family lived comfortably in Greece from the moment Humanwire began raising funds for this family and this family made it on to Germany without any concerns of any kind. Humanwire took extra care to assure this family’s particular needs were always met. Any type of argument that suggests $1,200 was never delivered should first ask to who it was never delivered to and why that entity never came forward.
“And the refugee family, already struggling to survive in a foreign country, went into debt,” — This is false. The family never went into debt and The Denver Post can not substantiate this. It’s possible that Anna Segur went into debt or used the money she took from Humanwire and itemized it as a debt, though no person ever communicated to the family that they were in debt, and they were never in debt. This is a verifiably untrue statement.
“volunteers who say they now feel misled by its promises, still prominently displayed on the website, that pledges would go directly to needy refugees with “0 percent” going to operational costs,” — A volunteer may have said this but it’s a verifiably false technical matter. This false conveyance that “0 percent” would go to operational costs reflects the tragic misunderstanding the reporter had about Humanwire’s operating costs including costs raised at the point of sale in every transaction where donors decided what % they wished to allocate of their final donation to Humanwire for operating costs. It can not be argued that the material conveyance was vague enough to be journalistically viable or could be interpreted by anyone as truthful. Neither I, nor anyone at Humanwire, ever received a complaint or expression of a misunderstanding from anyone related to this, Osher was the only person who ever made this claim, which resulted in a misunderstanding that will affect me negatively for the rest of my life.
It‘s also worth noting that while this reporter had never seen such a style and technique for a platform to allow users to pay 0% to operational costs, as there had never been one before, two weeks after my arrest, the GoFundMe company announced that they changed their entire business model to the exact same model, previously demanding 5%, now taking 0%. While all four articles in Osher’s series mentioned that 0% goes to operating costs, he never once mentioned in any article that users have the option to give money to operating expenses. In the article above describing GoFundMe’s adoption of this method, it would not be fair to anyone if the writer failed to mention that GoFundMe has a method of attaining operating costs. If it did, the article should be retracted, just as this article from The Denver Post should be retracted for not mentioning that Humanwire had multiple revenue streams for operating costs.
“Those jeopardized…Facing eviction from the apartment due to a lack of support from Humanwire, the Alrahmouns now probably will have to relocate to a more cramped apartment provided by United Nations relief workers — one they will have to share with another family, according to former Humanwire volunteers.” — This is false. The family never faced eviction, and The Denver Post can not substantiate it. “Volunteers” refers again to Anna Segur. A review of the campaign finance records shows a detailed history for this family. The move to UNHCR housing was the result of a positive impetus to extend their support while their asylum was delayed, and because they only raised $500 total which was spent on food and rent already. Nevertheless, they did have rent paid for them by Humanwire that was not obliged, and thus the truth is the opposite to what The Denver Post wrote.
A review of email correspondence from Anna about this family shows an example of the significant types of accounting errors Anna made. In her emails on this family, she claimed in this family was due $4,835 which was their goal, though the family only raised $500, actually. In May and June, she requested rent for this family in a table of expenses, but then followed up her email later to say that she was unaware that some distributions had already been completed, so she updated her spreadsheet with the rent expense removed. Then later when she followed up to push for distribution, the rent appeared again on the table as she had put back in the old table again, and thus her new total reflected the rent which wasn’t due anymore. I also discovered that her table did not match the correct order numbers on the system and that her claim in this case for $4,835, was the result of both an organizational mistake on her part (if not yet another intended extraction), as well as a deep lack of understanding over allocations due to being a volunteer who was not in the loop over allocations. In the end, the family was paid significantly more than the $500 they raised.
“The volunteers say they’ve moved 47 refugees in Greece out of Humanwire housing and into units provided by United Nations relief operations and started relying on other nonprofits.” — This is a true statement but the actual act of moving families into UN housing was designed by Anna and myself, not because of any problem with Humanwire funding which is an idea that this sentence is placed to support, which thus makes it an incorrect use of the facts. The cause for moving them was a delay in their asylum applications. The correlation between moving families was not related to being jeopardized by Humanwire. The action was correlated to their applications process becoming uncertain and was put into place as a result of the extra care that we were taking in assuring that the funds they had would last over an extended period. Humanwire never caused anyone to become jeopardized and The Denver Post can not substantiate any of what they published regarding whoever these “47 refugees” are, likely including a group of single-mother refugees Anna found, but never raised any funds for, and never signed up through Humanwire.
“About $40,000 donated to Humanwire to help 149 refugees in Greece was missing from the $157,225 that had been raised for them, according to an August spreadsheet a volunteer prepared.” — This is false. First of all, this is another example that incorrectly conveys there was yet another volunteer who was a part of a concern, but this volunteer was already named in the article, and so it‘s misleading to say “according to a volunteer” without noting that its one of the volunteers that was already named. He named all three of the volunteers, the same three that they were working as their own team, against the Humanwire team.
Nonetheless, all money to Greece was allocated properly to Greece and the related claims by Anna to the District Attorney were dropped after looking closely at each individual one she rounded up from individual donors. As described in the accompanying report, Anna came up with a variety of different totals for the same claim and this was yet another total that contradicts all her other totals and was also false. When she made this claim, she did not provide any evidence, she only had a spreadsheet that she made and said it was true. The Denver Post can not substantiate any of her totals, even if she had a spreadsheet that she created to back up each one. I opened up all of the company records to the Denver Post that could be verified as true evidence but they choose not to request or look at any.
“Anna Segur, who helped Humanwire launch the tent-to-home program in Greece, quit in July over concerns pledges weren’t going to the families.” — This is a true statement. She did quit, as described in the accompanying report. Though The Denver Post never found it compelling to report that she continued to withdraw money from the business after she quit, nor did they find her legal demand letters compelling to detail, as described in the accompanying report.
“Hilton said at least $6,000 of that money remains unaccounted for by Humanwire,” — This is false and can not be substantiated by The Denver Post. We provided Hilton with a specific breakdown with receipts of how his claim for $6000 was spent, based on his own direction. The breakdown that was provided to him was validated by our director in Turkey who helped me with the facts for the record, as he was the one who managed the money at my direction for Hilton, in the correct manner, for which all of it was fully allocated toward the project properly, and none was allocated anywhere else. All funds were spent and they were spent legitimately for the cause they were raised for. I offered documents but The Denver Post did not take the time to look. Hilton also made this claim of $6,000 to the District Attorney, where he played a material role in trying to send me to jail for my life, but he did not provide the list of receipts apparently even though he had them, and his claim was rejected a second time after the DA’s office did have the time to look. Hilton did not receive any money for this false claim.
“Baron told him [Hilton] during those conversations that he used some of Hilton’s donations to pay other expenses and that he planned to eventually reimburse the organization, he said.” — This can not be substantiated by The Denver Post because it’s hearsay and also false, and is irresponsible of The Denver Post to include without looking at the list of receipts that account for the claim he made, which Hilton was provided a copy of.
“He’s paying back his investment in the forprofit as a form of sweat equity with payments from the non-profit.” — This statement is grossly false. I never said anything like it and The Denver Post can not substantiate their statement. I fully understood my own business structure and was well versed in articulating the structure and I never said anything like this at all. This is a misunderstanding he had or a conveyance he wished to make that was not true.
“During the recent issues regarding the distribution of campaign funds, refugees have been lining up at the office, calling and messaging us at all hours, threatening and begging us,” — I originally misunderstood the reference to this event and did not believe it happened, though I later found it was a result of Justin Hilton’s visit to Turkey, where he was active in promoting his claim that I stole money from campaigns. This group began to complain though they were not complaining about any specific distributions that were due to them, they were responding to Hilton’s rumors that the leader of Humanwire in America was using their faces to steal money, and they were demanding answers, which was the purpose of a call I was handed, also mentioned in the article to support the notion that I didn’t care when it was the opposite, I showed up to take accountability. The contractor who was himself a refugee in charge of this group began working for Hilton after Hilton convinced him that I was a thief, and the contractor did not communicate his status to me that he had stopped working, which compounded the problem that Hilton created by going to Turkey and telling people they would be accused too but that he would take care of them.
Other material problems with the article come into question naturally because the story is based on the oral testimony of Anna Segur and those she persuaded with information and opinions that they obtained through her. For example, the Greece accounting was not managed by the other volunteers, it was Anna’s job for them, and they followed her accounting. So when Osher is presenting the volunteers, in each case, they are simply regurgitating what they were told from Anna.
Osher presented Anna and Kayra as if they were two separate volunteers who were unrelated, even though they were business partners, and joined in the legal demand letters to take over the company.
The article did not clarify the relationship between Anna Segur and Jenny Otto, either. If Osher knew that Anna or her own new team member bought the ticket, he hid that from you by naming “a volunteer” but not the volunteers that he already named, Anna and Kayra. Humanwire did not have any other volunteers in the company, everyone else was a paid worker.
Since the entire article was like this, filled with example after example of wrong facts, and since the hour-long interview that Osher conducted with me in my office was recorded, I contacted Lee Ann Colacioppo, the very top editor in charge of the entire Denver Post, and I asked if I could come in to show her what Osher had not yet seen. She said she was too busy to meet herself and handed me back to Osher and his editors who refused to meet.
The editor felt it necessary to include as justification for their stance their conviction in Osher’s prior work, noting their comfort level with the sentiment that he must be “accurate, fair and thorough” because that’s how it’s been in the past.
So I asked for a copy of the tape, so that I could show that my vocabulary was misunderstood and that my points were taken out of context, but they said they don’t release “work product”, even though Osher and I were the only two individuals on the tape. After I asked to buy a copy of the tape, in case it would be a process for them to generate a copy and send it to me, Colacioppo wrote sharpy as the final words of her email to me:
“We will not give or sell you the tape.”
They would not provide the tape which should have been harmless to them, and they put up a wall. I can’t rest with this notion that they were trying to harm me on purpose. I couldn’t come up with an explanation that I believed in for why I was being treated this way by professional journalists, though my best guess was that they all lacked the time and interest and had already made up their minds.
I couldn’t understand what was happening to me that no one was willing to look for the truth even though it was right there and available to be seen. It was understandable that they wouldn’t have the time to focus on me because I’m just one minor dot in their universe of stories, but they didn’t seem to understand the impact and power they were having over human life.
After the Denver Post article came out, Anna’s lawyer wrote to me about the criminal complaint that Anna filed, which was supported by the Denver Post article: “Given the seriousness of Mr. Baron’s current legal situation, and Humanwire’s corresponding dreadful predicament, we well understand Mr. Baron must now be acting under tremendous stress and almost unbearable pressure”.
The second story Osher created was “the arrest story” and this story did not provide any new information aside from this one fact that I was arrested and naming counts, but conveyed how Osher’s first story was key in leading police to the arrest, based on his own personal portrayal that Humanwire could have never had any operating funds. Since I was in fact arrested for this, the reader is led to assume he was right. The story also states that I was arrested for taking over $100,000 which turned out to be false, though The Denver Post never reported that it was false. This second story was self-congratulatory and became syndicated to my local Daily Camera paper, on the front page, above the fold as the top headline for the day in the largest font size. The story made no mention of me being released four hours later, or ever. This was the most popular story about me in my community and remains so today.
Osher’s third story in the investigative series was a “victim piece” about Mona that could be summarized thusly:
After making excuses and not paying Mona her salary for almost two full years, Andrew then lured Mona to the U.S. for the specific purpose of blaming his evil plot on her, so that she would be arrested instead of him. When she arrived to Boulder, she began to ask for her salary but he rebuffed her, telling her she was an investor and thus wasn’t entitled to anything. After she found out Andrew had stolen over $100,000, that’s when he turned on her and started doing really bad things, like threatening to sue her. So she secretly started recording him and handed the recordings over to the police. When Mona confronted him one last time and demanded her $19,000, he said he would pay it, but he never did. But now that Baron has been arrested, you can assume he will be there for a long time because The Denver Post again never mentioned that he got out.
This is exactly what this story conveys to everyone in my hometown and anyone who may ever want to work with me in the future, which is not fair at all and based on the accompanying report, should be retracted without a second thought. I lived for a year in my hometown while most people assumed I was in jail.
Journalistically speaking, this particular article is the best place to start to unwind all of Osher’s articles because it’s the least substantiated no matter how much anyone may want to wiggle around a broad use of a particular word’s meaning. Each and every material conveyance is 100% unsubstantiated, and also verifiably 100% false. Full stop. I believe an editor should take the time to look at their records and see that they have no information to substantiate a single conveyance in this story against the information I’ve provided in my accompanying report. There is zero about this article that is in any way true. If The Denver Post ever did ask Osher or Mona to provide something to substantiate this story, after they are unable to do it, they should remove the article do the severity of each conveyance being wrong.
Osher did provide a comment from my lawyer in this third story, as if it was balanced, even though my lawyer told him we would not comment for this story. When Osher called to say he was doing a third story, this time on Mona, just days after his arrest story, we formally declined without hearing what his angle would be because there was no new information in our case so soon. But Osher didn’t say in his article that we did not comment, he decided instead to use a quote from my lawyer that was provided for the second story that he did not use at the time, another instance that misleads his audience into thinking that we had something to say about it, which obviously fails to act in defending my position on the new story about Mona. This is unfair, for this is the material response that Osher used to address these allegations by Mona, though there is no connection to the material matter of this story in and of itself.
As the reader is reading the third story about Mona, the only possible conclusion to make is that I am still in jail and that I am likely to be there for the next twelve years due to the way in which I was intentionally portrayed as obviously guilty.
I could write another article of equal length to this one that illuminates Osher’s method of creating unfair false conveyance, which can even be seen in the most minor details. For example, in his third story, the victim piece, he wrote:
“Weeks after her arrival in Boulder, she defended Baron, agreeing to accompany him when he met with a reporter wanting to know why promised aid for refugees had been delayed.”
That reporter is himself. He is the only reporter who has ever contacted me. Not a single reporter from anywhere has ever contacted me. Even to this day I have never been contacted about this by a single reporter. You would think at least one other reporter from another company somewhere on Earth would have contacted me about all of Osher’s stories. He was the only person who ever contacted me. He was the only person who came by the office and she accompanied me. He was the only reporter who reached out to me to meet, and he was the only reporter we ever “met”. Perhaps he decided that he wanted to influence you to make it seem like there were many other reporters following his lead, or perhaps he had some reason to hide from you, but in fact his position is critical in this story. Whatever his motivation, he did in fact become hidden here. He had a point he wanted to convey in this sentence, else it could be removed. It’s one tiny example that would be hard to explain away as an editor’s last-minute reworking-gone-wrong as if the editor was attempting to hide him which would not be fair either, it’s part of a consistent method in the details of conveying a message that is not fair or honest. This is not just an affront to me, this is not truthful to the reader, or the world, such that the world would never be able to formulate an honest opinion about what was going on with me, Mona, or Humanwire…or the Denver Post.
Almost certainly, the method behind the last, fourth story that Osher published on me will illuminate intended methods behind the Denver Post’s investigative journalism department.
The first sign I saw that Osher was going to write a fourth story on me for his series, after not hearing from him for approximately a year, was via an email from my lawyer. My lawyer forwarded the following email on a Monday around lunchtime:
I thought for sure Osher would have made himself available to attend “The Sentencing Hearing”, but no, he never showed up to any hearings on any case ever. He didn’t even know it was happening despite that it was publically listed. So I wrote back to my lawyer to give Osher a call and explain what he missed and my lawyer’s paralegal wrote me to confirm my lawyer would call Osher that day.
With the three stories so far, the reader and all the members of my community in Boulder would assume I’m still in jail a year later, so I assumed this news would at least help the reader infer that despite appearing to be in jail for a year, I would at least be released in the news. And that the theft charges were dropped.
But we quickly found out it was too late for Osher had published his story less than two hours later without waiting for my lawyer. Why rush? My lawyer always returned his calls. There was never a single time my lawyer didn’t respond to him. There was no competition, for no one else ever called to write a story, and it had already been a few days since the update he missed the prior week which was that my case would ultimately be dismissed, and why.
He had literally no knowledge of anything, whatsoever, from the day after he reported on his work towards my arrest and featured Mona in a victim piece, to a year later with no new information about anything, and yet he went ahead and posted a story anyway.
Since he’s done so many big stories, including the front-page above the fold story, helping to charge me with twelve years in jail as an evil refugee thief who stole $130,000, you would think the outcome should have been of interest for anyone interested in his work, why not take a minute to find out what actually happened? Especially since he is an investigative journalist and not a breaking news reporter. But the substance of his report is nothing more than a typical daily breaking news crime report one writes with public information they can find on the internet, just reporting on a docket and without having spoken to anyone with knowledge of the case. He didn’t even get the counts that were dropped correct, actual factual errors about the charges which were not changed until the next day.
I later noticed a message in my Facebook message requests. Osher had my phone and my email, which is how we communicated in the past, but we had never connected on Facebook, so I didn’t get an alert, I just found it after all this in the “other messages” request section by happenstance. In his Facebook connect request message which he sent to me about the same time he sent an email to my lawyer (he should not have sent me a message, he should have continued to just speak directly with my lawyer since I was represented and that connection had already been made and was effective), but he said in his Facebook message: “I did a story and would like to interview you. Could you call me when you get a chance…” You may want to read that sentence again. He said he already did the story. But how could he have already done the story if he hadn’t spoken with me, my lawyer, or the prosecutor, and doesn’t know what happened? He hadn’t spoken with anyone in the DA’s office who knew what was going on, and Anna and Mona didn’t know what was going on as they were led to falsely believe I was going to be convicted when they were asked to round up restitution, he wouldn’t know anything about the actual story, and it certainly wasn’t in the court documents, but it would have been clear from the hearing had he attended. Had he showed up to the actual hearing, he would have heard it right from the prosecutor’s mouth, the judge’s mouth, and mine, as I spoke there too.
When asked by the judge if I had any final words before he made his determination, even though I was not prepared, I said yes and it was related to this very topic. I said that I wanted to thank the police and the D.A., and Boulder’s criminal justice system in general for taking the time to stop and have a look at what no one else would, and then coming to make their considerations based on the actual reality of the facts, even though those facts turned out to be different than what they originally thought. Osher missed speaking with my lawyer who was ready to explain the financial breakdown. He could have spoken to the prosecutors to ask them more about the positive comments they made to the court about me through the process.
Later that day when we saw his story come out with a purposefully twisted headline again chasing down the wrong angle, conveying that 100% of all revenue was advertised as going to the beneficiaries, my lawyer said he would still call to explain if I wanted, but we decided there was no use since the story was already published and they already showed, time and time again, that they were not seeking the truth with me. They hadn’t changed or updated anything in all of the other stories that were wrong, why would they now?
Meanwhile, in parallel, on that very same Monday, my local paper The Daily Camera decided to run their own story. Two stories this time about me on the same day, from the same business group of people even though no one knew what was going on. I received a message from the Daily Camera crime reporter, Mitchell Byars, and he indicated he was writing a story based on a court document he saw come across the docket and asked me for “any sort of statement”, to which I responded “Off the record, please try not to do me more harm. Thank you.”
Aside from the fact that he didn’t know what had happened either, he published wrong facts that were completely material: He didn’t mention that the theft charges had been dropped! He stated that I plead no contest to theft charges! That’s no small mistake. I never once did. That was just one of many problems with his report.
So this time, I contacted Byars’ local editor, Matt Sebastian. Sebastian then updated their article and then again after two separate complaints by me, long after everyone who I know in my town read it. I was so exhausted of them by this point now with story number five, and in the end, they still didn’t get it right and missed the actual story about my results because of their tactics.
Perhaps the most profound insight I got about Osher that confirms to me that his writing was not to investigative journalist standards, despite him carrying that title as an investigative journalist on the articles and acting on behalf of the professional investigative journalism unit at the Denver Post, was from my twitter DM exchange with Sabastian that day, where he wrote ” It is not uncommon for us, and other media organizations, to post initial versions of stories and then flesh them out with further reporting. Which is what Chris tried to do. Did your lawyer respond to Chris? I’m seeing here that he reached out to you in multiple ways, and you apparently chose not to respond, and now you’re taking issue with the story.”
The editor explained that Chris Osher had not fleshed out his story but it was fine to publish it in an unfleshed out state, which is where it remains, because Osher couldn’t wait, as part of Osher’s four-part investigative series.
Sebastian went on to write in his Twitter DM that he didn’t see anything in the court records from that day that confirmed that I didn’t steal and thus he was comfortable with the story (i.e. guilty until proven innocent). This was despite the fact there was no guilty verdict and that my case was dismissed.
Sebastian also said that I could send him the forensic accounting documents and that he would take a look at them. By this point, I felt like I was being lured into a van where I would be chopped up for character assassination stories number six and seven, as if I was going to just send him a box of all my accounting documents at this point so he could take a gander and come up with some new conclusion on his own that was going to be helpful for me.
What I find so disappointing is that all of them in their communication with me seemed completely cold and inhuman with regards to their nonchalance about me, the truth, and the potential damage that they could have been responsible for by being incorrect in their pursuit at a public trial, while admitting to a method of publishing while not having things fleshed out. They all put up a wall before I was even contacted the first time.
I was always in good faith and I was good to everyone at Humanwire. I never yelled at anyone, I treated everyone with respect, I was excellent with customer service and partners, I communicated, I never lied, and I know that those who worked with me will tell you that I was good to them, transparent, and good at what I did for the position I was in, but in all of the four stories, there was not a single representative from my side of the story, since my side of the story itself was not included on purpose. Not even in one of the four stories.
None of my allegations against anyone were ever reported on still to this day, it was never reported that I got out of jail, and then it was never reported by The Denver Post that in January 2020 I returned to court and withdrew my no contest plea, and my case was 100% dismissed. It was never reported that by March 2020, my case was confirmed sealed and no longer on my record in any department. It’s my legal right to state in any court that I have no criminal record and that I have never been arrested. The reader would not ever be allowed to know. The court recognizes and has a method to handle the kinds of problems that The Denver Post and Daily Camera can cause people in helping to extinguish unfair criminal stories, while The Denver Post and The Daily Camera do not.
After his articles on me, I noticed Osher wrote one more article for The Denver Post before leaving, an obituary. After leaving the Denver Post, Osher began working for the Colorado Sun, but no longer in the capacity of an investigative journalist and instead as an education reporter. Several months later, Osher was removed from The Colorado Sun website but he still shows himself as working there on his Facebook bio where he also posted his newer job at a smaller local newspaper, the Gazette in Colorado Springs.
As it turns out, there is an entire industry around the problems created by the media getting it wrong and not being accountable, and in particular, a colleague pointed me to the Principal Post, a journal that will look into the facts. They have a large pool of journalists working as a team to vet stories. Since my story was financial in nature, they published a story around the actual accounting facts after looking into the accounting from my case, to show that I did not take any money. It was simple: it was in the Western Union account.
But as long as the old articles remain from The Denver Post, even with the new article from the Principal Post, people will forever use them against me and that’s the lingering part that is not fair because the articles are wrong and incorrect. The harm happens when there is a discussion that involves a difference of opinion, regardless of the topic.
Murdock (not of the Murdoch family) was trained at the CU Boulder Journalism school too, just like Mitchell Byars, the crime reporter at The Daily Camera who made multiple errors in his story about me and stood by as his colleague attacked me on numerous occasions as a result of Byars’ work.
When Murdock tweeted this out (the second time he has dropped into a thread I was in to make it known to everyone there what I had been accused of that was unrelated to the discussion) I saw it as the perfect example of the indisputable, persuasive conveyance of Osher’s articles that misled his audience from being able to ever get at the truth, practically blocking them from any other outcome. Osher’s writing style, though never saying that I embezzled, misled this particular man to live a false truth so specifically that he was willing to put his own integrity as the Sr Editor of the Huffington Post on the line for it. You simply can not read the Denver Post stories and come to any other opinion, and the strength of the authority behind the incorrect information makes it ironclad for the outspoken Murdock’s of the world.
Though I was unprepared myself for this attack, for I have no plans to ever contact anyone at the Denver Post or my local paper ever again, perhaps because it was his buddy and he was unrelenting, I took it up with Byars.
Only after I called upon two of my friends in Boulder who both responded was Byars persuaded to consider an update.
So I sent Byars an email about the update. My case was financial in nature so I did not mention anything about Anna or Mona.
He never responded. To this day there is still no reply. After weeks went by, I noted on Twitter that he decided against the story and wasn’t going to write me back to let me know, and he responded that I didn’t send him the actual accounting records in my email and that thus I was “playing games” with him. I was stunned.
He told me that I should stop asking for a correction and that what I should ask for is an update, which is what I asked for. However, the fact of the matter is, they wrote all these stories that turned out to be wrong. It’s not about the correction of one single little sentence or the need to change one word to be less misleading, nor is it about the need for an update as if there is another chapter in this story, the whole thing is just wrong.
Despite the difficulties including all of the above, I loved Humanwire, and others loved it too. It was the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. There is no question that there is a need for it, even more so today. My overall mistake was growing too large, too soon. Some would say that’s a good problem to have but it isn’t for me, because it puts me up against many of the limitations I know about myself. I think I was on the right track. I knew where I needed to be – in design and development – and I was getting there pretty quickly, because the product itself was the right product, and Humanwire had the right spirit. Over the last year I found myself rebuilding the software, taking into consideration lessons learned, as this could have all been avoided with a technical solution, too. I built it exactly to spec with the new designs that were created from the original investment and it also tracks where each donation is along its journey so that each sponsor and admin can see where each donation is physically resting, e.g. in a Stripe account, and so they can see the history of when it leaves and arrives in each account until it becomes available to be ordered, withdrawn and spent. I have two charities in Lebanon that I have been giving it away to for free. I was considering reinstating Humanwire but I don’t think I’m interested in running this kind of company myself. I plan to shut it down fully. If things work out with the charities I’m working with pro bono, I’ll look for a partner or company that might be interested in taking it on.
About this article, Part II: In 2017 I was falsely accused of theft related to my startup, Humanwire. Those charges were dismissed. The work above clarifies the roles of the Denver Post and Daily Camera.