Illinois’ Opioid Problem

Did you know that the number of people dying from heroin is steadily increasing? In the state of Illinois, there were 1,187 deaths from heroin overdoses in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Synthetic opioids claimed 1,251 people’s lives, and 623 more overdosed on prescription opioids in the same year. That’s a total of 2,202 people who died from opioid overdoses in one year, which is almost double the number from 2014. Such a big jump in such a short amount of time poses a concern for the future of the state.

Opioid drugs are dangerous for a number of reasons. First of all, they’re highly addictive. People who become used to prescription drugs such as OxyContin® or Vicodin® sometimes switch over to heroin because of the similar sensations between the drugs. Once people are addicted to heroin, it is extremely difficult to quit. Withdrawal symptoms from heroin include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Cold flashes
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness/trouble sleeping

Secondly, heroin users who are frequently high develop a tolerance to the drug, which leads them to need more of it to experience the same effects. This can easily cause them to overdose. Lastly, heroin is often laced with other substances that clog up arteries. People who inject heroin into their bloodstream are also susceptible to HIV and other diseases if they share their equipment with others.

Getting Caught

People who are caught with possession of heroin face harsh penalties under the law. Heroin is a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no apparent medical benefit, is highly addictive, and can easily be abused. Bruno Law Offices, in Urbana, Illinois, lists the penalties associated with possession and trafficking of heroin. Penalties for possession of a Schedule 1 drug are the most severe because they can cause the most harm. Penalties range from one year in jail to fifty, and fines of $25,000 to $200,000, depending on how much heroin was in the subject’s possession.

Trafficking heroin is another story altogether. Trafficking means that it was in your possession and you intended to sell or distribute it. Trafficking just 15-100 grams of heroin can land you in jail for up to thirty years. Illinois is one of the toughest states on possession and trafficking of heroin, though the entire country takes it very seriously. 

If you’re ever caught with heroin, it’s important that you immediately get in contact with a lawyer who has experience with heroin defense cases. It’s the only way you’ll be able to lessen your sentence. A lawyer who has been in the middle of cases like your own before will be able to plan your defense more effectively than anyone else.

Raising awareness of the dangers of heroin is necessary to stop it from killing more people. Eradicating opioid use completely is impossible, but by promoting rehabilitation for people who are struggling, hopefully, we’ll see a decrease in heroin use in the coming years.

How I Lost Money in LJM P&G Fund

February 6, 2018 is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. I had investments in the LJM Preservation and Growth fund. This mutual fund totaled more than $770 million at its peak. On February 5, the share price dropped a full 55% from $9.67 a share to $4.27. The fund failed to report this loss, so none of the investors were aware. The next day, the fund dropped from $4.27 to $1.94 per share, another 54% drop, and a full 80% decline in just two days. I was devastated. Some analysts believe it to be the most dramatic two-day decline of any mutual fund ever.

Well, how could this have happened? On LJMfunds.com website, you’ll see some photos of someone hiking up snow-capped mountains. The website has an online brochure with the tagline “make volatility your asset.” It goes on to claim “investors commonly associate market volatility with uncertainty. But volatility can be harnessed to target a return stream uncorrelated with the equity and fixed-income markets.”

As is with actual mountain climbing, the reality of the situation was much more treacherous than advertised. This fund worked by selling naked put options on S&P 500 futures. Its borrowing levels were well about the average margin, and it was leveraged. Put options are essentially a contract that makes it possible for buyers to sell their securities at an agreed upon price. This is going to be the price they’re purchasing at. Buyers can then basically hedge an entire position or a portfolio or funds. In the worst case scenario where the price of the option falls below the strike price, at least the buyer can make some money on the options. When a lender writes put options to buyers, the lender is making a bet that the price will remain higher than the option’s price. When sellers do not own the securities of which it is writing options, this is known as naked option writing. This sort of writing comes with almost unlimited downside risk potential.

S&P 500 option prices are partly dependent upon market volatility. So by investing in LJM Preservation and Growth, my money was in a fund that was betting the market would remain stable. This is known among fund managers as shorting volatility. Unfortunately, the volatility index spiked severely in those days. It more than doubled, going from 17 to 37 on its index. This is what caused LJM P&G to fail. It was a gamble that proved disastrous.

This fund was managed incredibly poorly, to say the least. The fund managers operated with utmost negligence towards the wellbeing of its investors. Luckily, there are LJM Capital Preservation and Growth Fund lawyers that work to recover losses made from this fund. If you lost money by investing in this fund, you may be able to recover all or part of them by contacting the attorneys at Erez Law.

Defending Spousal Maintenance

I have a lot of divorced friends here in Texas on both sides of the alimony system, and so I hear a lot about it. The thing is, those on either side dont usually talk to each other about the issue. So, one set of friends complains about alimony. They feel its unfair, a huge expense, and that their former spouse doesnt deserve it. The other side praises alimony as a lifesaver and will defend the need for it and the justification for it. But again, these sides dont often meet, and when they do, it isnt amicable.

So, Im going to try to introduce a defense of alimony that both sides can hear here on the internet that might help calm the one and make the other a bit more compassionate.

Lets start with the easier road. For those receiving alimony, its important to not just feel but express (should the occasion arise) compassion for the other side of that deal. You may feel entitled to the money and very much need it, but it is still tough on your former spouse that they not only have had their lives as changed as yours but must also continue to pay for someone they are no longer connected to. It can be a rough fact to accept. That doesnt excuse a failure of payment, but it surely isnt fun, and those feelings should be recognized and legitimized.

Now, the bigger issue: alimony itself. The fact is, it can be very difficult to walk away from a bad marriage when the one thing that marriage offers is comfort. Those bad marriages may be full of all kinds of problems, including abuse, and sometimes people will tolerate it just to avoid suffering a significant plunge in comfort. This is particularly true in the case where children are involved.

That philosophical argument is strong, but it usually doesnt persuade my friends paying alimony. We werent abusive, they say. It was as much our former partner as us that ruined the marriage.

Thats a fair counter-argument, but the fact is, alimony is usually involved when the person requiring alimony is simply unable to provide for themselves on a reasonable level. That may be because they have to watch the kids, which limits the hours they can work and the kind of work they can do. It may be that they stopped working for an extended period and cant now return to a reasonable level of their former career without some time. It may be certain physical limitations are involved.

Whatever the reason, alimony is better not just for the former partner but for any children involved.

Since Texas is not as alimony friendly as some other states, its important we come to comfort with the idea and show some compassion on all sides. This is important here since, as Alexander & Associates points out, there are two types of alimony in this state, and the court-ordered version is far more painful, humiliating, and drawn out.

Better to try to come to voluntary, contractual agreements upfront and avoid all the mess of the courtroom. Plus, itll help avoid some grumbling from my friends on all sides.

Our home in Texas

I have been self-employed for several years in appliance repair and home construction. Everything was going great, I liked the work, and was supporting my family just fine. My wife also works some as a teacher, but she really does it to help the kids; it’s not like there is a lot of money in that field. Last year, I was repairing a roof on a home, and I fell and broke a leg and severely injured my back. I have been recovering ever since, but the bills have been piling up and I am behind on my mortgage and other major bills. I’ve also had a lot of medical bills due to the rehabilitation that my physician recommended. The physical therapy is helping but the bills are getting out of control. When you are in any repair or construction business, it is not possible to do the work if you have a traumatic back injury that hasn’t healed fully yet. Although my wife and teenage children are helpful around the house with chores and some repairs, I haven’t been able to work in my own repair business for 18 months. I was thinking about filing for bankruptcy, but I don’t want it to affect my family in any negative way. I heard that as a sole proprietor or independent contractor that I can file for bankruptcy. Although, I’d have to verify my income and answer a lot of questions while producing my financial and legal documents. Well, I don’t have a problem with that. For the past year, I have been mostly sedentary, due to my injury, and I’ve had a lot of time to go through my paperwork, income, and bills.  I have my income tax information and all previous earnings. I also heard that I don’t have to be employed right now to file for bankruptcy. I don’t want to file, as I feel like I would be failing my family in some way. However, I discussed it with my wife and kids, and they are fine with it and seem to be supportive, due to my extended injury.

My family and I just need a fresh start after my unfortunate accident. My wife has been working but we are still in a lot of debt. I’ve got numerous creditors contacting me and it is stressing out my whole family. However, in my situation, bankruptcy seems the right and most responsible thing to do right now. I don’t want to lose our home and other important property, as we have a small farm with some animals and the kids love to play outdoors and hang out with their friends.

I may need to consult with a bankruptcy attorney because I want to be sure that I can keep my business going after I recover from my extended injury. Also, I want to be sure that the home and farm are protected so that we can continue to live here until I recover fully and I am working again.

If you Own or Operate a Boat, Then This is Something You Need to Know

With all the water surrounding a vessel, it would easily appear that boating is the least risky recreational activity – unless you fall overboard and do not know how to swim. The fact, however, is, a boating accident is just like any other motor vehicle accident; if person behind a boat’s wheel does not follow proper safety procedures, or operates his/her vessel while intoxicated, then he/she and all other boat passengers may likely find themselves in a bad situation.

The U.S. Coast Guard makes a yearly statistical record of all reported boating accidents in the US. For the year 2012, 651 fatalities and 3,000 injuries were recorded under recreational boating. Though this number is the lowest since 2004, this can still be considered to be pretty high considering the fact that boating accidents can be avoided.

Records from the U.S. Coast Guard also reveal that the top causes of boating accidents are excessive speed, machinery failure, improper lookout, operator’s lack of experience, man overboard and capsizing; in all these accidents, fault is attributed either to drunk operators or drunk passengers.

The following are facts about each of the top causes of boating accidents:

  • Excessive speed: if speeding on the road is like challenging the angel of death to snatch the life out of you through a tragic accident, operating a boat at excessive speed is no different. The force of impact created each time a speeding boat bounces off and back on the water can be strong enough to stun you and throw you or your passenger/s overboard, leaving you or anyone else with not enough strength to swim to safety. Boat owners and operators ought to know that drowning is the number one cause of death in the water and 80% of those who drowned were reported as not wearing a life jacket.
  • Machinery failure: if regularly maintained machines are still prone to malfunction, what can one expect with those that are not regularly checked and kept in good condition? Boats are definitely much more expensive than cars, thus, making sure that these are well maintained is not only less costly, but may also reduce chances of an accident (provided, of course, that the operator never does any irresponsible thing).
  • Improper lookout or improper forward watch: when operating a boat, steering clear out of danger can be more effectively done with the help of someone who can provide extra eyes and ears. Many accidents due to collision could have been avoided had an operator been given help in navigating his/her boat safely – to avoid anything that may cross its path or to navigate safely through shallow and rocky waters.
  • Inexperience: the less knowledgeable an operator is about his/her boat and the sea, the greater the risk of an accident, especially during emergency situations. While some states never require boat operators to undergo formal training, having the initiative to do so will definitely be beneficial; this includes paying lower insurance premiums.
  • Man overboard: abrupt maneuvering, freak waves, and rough weather can toss a passenger overboard, especially one who is not securely seated, intoxicated or just caught off-guard. The shift in momentum created by a powerboat, as it makes a turn, can also have the same effect.
  • Capsizing: this leading cause of fatality in boating accidents usually occurs during nightfall, when both darkness and intoxication begin to cause an operator to make poor judgment, especially when maneuvering, docking or anchoring. It is always safer to secure an anchor from the bow (front), rather than from the stern (the rear of the boat), or from the sides.

Taking a formal boating safety training course, wearing a life jacket, conducting a vessel safety check regularly, not drinking while out in the seas, not overspeeding and having a proper forward watch are just a number of the safety tips that the Coast Guard asks boaters to observe.

In its website, the law firm Truslow & Truslow says, “Many people who are on the water enjoy the view of the beautiful beaches with a drink in hand. However, when a boater is believed to have become too intoxicated to properly operate a boat, they can face serious criminal charges. In South Carolina, for instance, where those who engage in boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) has increased so much that approximately 34% of boating fatalities per year are caused by BUI’s, simply operating a boat gives implied consent for a law enforcement officer to perform an alcohol test. Failing such a test can lead to fines of up to $6,000 and imprisonment for up to three years. It is possible to protect yourself from the harsh penalties that can be incurred for boating while intoxicated (BWI) charges with the help of an experienced Columbia boating while intoxicated attorney.”