Archive | October, 2011

Justified Killing? Maybe Not. New Evidence In Currie Killing, Did Glen Mead Get Away With Murder?

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

Just two weeks before he fatally shot James Taylor, Glen Mead vowed to a attendees at a Curie barbecue that if he did not received money from Taylor’s father ‘bullets would be flying’.

 

In an exclusive interview with the High Desert Advocate Wednesday night, Perette and Everett Rhodes of Cherry Creek said they were present at the barbecue when Mead made his threats.

 

“Glenn was coming in from Salt Lake,” said Perette Rhodes. “ and Mead said that if he didn’t get money from Glenn, bullets would be flying. I said something like you got to be kidding and he said no, three hots and a cot were better than nothing.”

 

Two weeks later James Taylor was dead after being shot five times by Mead and this Friday an Elko County coroner’s inquest ruled the killing a ‘justifiable homicide.

 

However the panel never heard from the Rhodes.

 

“We didn’t contact the police or the DA because who ever heard of a man shooting another man five times walking free?,” said Perette Rhodes

 

Currie station owner Glenn Taylor angrily denounced a coroner’s inquest verdict.

 

“It was completely outrageous,” Taylor said. “From the first moments of the investigation to this farce of an inquest my dead son had no advocate no one representing his interest, no one caring about whether he received justice.”

 

After seven hours of testimony Friday the three member coroner’s inquest ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide in the court room of Elko Justice of the Peace Al Kacin.

 

“I don’t blame the panel,” Taylor added. “After the instructions of the judge there was hardly a way for them not to get the verdict they delivered on the other hand I have know doubt in my mind that had this case been charged and investigated properly Mead would have been found guilty in a criminal trial.”

 

Taylor is running a full page ad in this edition of the High Desert Advocate and perhaps in other area newspapers to generate public awareness to the injustice he claims his son received.

 

“I hope once the public hears the facts it will bring pressure on the district Attorney’s office to reopen the case and charge Mead with murder as they should have done but didn’t when the killing happened.”

 

According to Sheriff’s detective Cpl. James Carpenter, deputies were dispatched at 10:30 p.m. September 4 to a trailer owned by Mead, 59, of Ely on a report of a domestic disturbance.

 

When they arrived deputies found a 24-year-old James Taylor, lying dead on the on the ground near the camper. He had been shot five times.

 

Mead was booked that Monday morning into the Elko County Jail on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant out of Ely Justice Court. His bail was $1,830.

 

According to Elko Sheriff Jim Pitts the incident began with a fight at a Labor Day barbecue and escalated.

 

A former work camp of the Nevada Department of Transportation the Currie Station located between Wells and Ely on US 93 was closed about 15 years ago and has since become a kind of a  hole-in-wall with isolation its number one draw for prospective residents.

 

A coroner’s inquest is a rarely used tool in Elko County and reserved almost exclusively for death’s where the cause is not immediately apparent.

 

The Rhodes statements should they be listened to by District Attorney Marc Torvinen may put the case in a whole new light. Instead of being a cowering old man in a trailer as he portrayed himself to the coroner’s panel Mead by his alleged statements to the Rhodes could be portrayed as a conniving scoundrel who just 14 days before the killing vowed to kill and expressed hatred toward his employer, Glenn Taylor.

 

“The police, the prosecutor and the judge all had their mind made up from the beginning,” the elder Taylor said Wednesday. “My son was killed September 5th. the investigation if you can call it that lasted a week. and three weeks later Mead walks out a free man. Tell me is that justice?”

 

“Of course we are ready to testify as to what Mead said,” said Everett Rhodes. “There is no way this guy should get away with murder. I warned James to stay away from Mead. I took his threat very seriously.”

 

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Fun Bus Cat Fight On Deer Widows Weekend

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

A fun bus cat fight ended with one woman in the hospital and another in jail on the infamous Dear Widows Weekend, reported West Wendover Police.

According to the reports the fight began on the bus between Adriana Aguya, 36, of West Valley and another woman while the fun bus was driving to Wendover on a special Deer Widows run.

When the bus pulled up to the casino parking lot, what had stayed a verbal confrontation escalated when Aguya threw her drink into the face of her victim. Police were called in. According to police reports the other woman suffered unspecified injuries from the flying glass and was transported to a Salt Lake area hospital.

Aguya was arrested, charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon and booked into the Elko County Jail. Her bail was set at $5,000.

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Deer Widows Weekend is a wild, raucous and highly lucrative event for the Wendover Gaming industry while their husbands and boyfriends are out in the mountains on the first week of Utah’s deer hunt, hundreds of Utah women flock to the Nevada/Utah border town for gambling and troops of male strippers brought in especially for the weekend.

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In addition to hoards of women the weekend also attracts a substantial albeit smaller number of men who have less interest in deer and more interest in poaching someone else’ significant other.

Recently the Utah Highway Patrol has stepped up its presence on Interstate 80 during the weekend even running DUI check points and it was because of that increased police presence that special fun busses began to run for the event.

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Gold Boom Coming To Wendover?

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

Representatives from Newmont Mining will give a presentation to the West Wendover City Council in next Tuesday’s meeting on the Lone Canyon project from Fronteer Gold  .

 

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Venerable Newmont Gold purchased the operation from the startup Fronteer Gold this February.

 

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“The Long Canyon project, with its Carlin trend-like metallurgical and geological characteristics, complements our existing project pipeline in Nevada. This combination of assets will allow Newmont to leverage our expertise and extensive infrastructure in the region.  Based on the work conducted to date by Fronteer Gold, as well as our own due diligence, we believe that Long Canyon holds the potential to grow beyond 3 to 4 times Fronteer Gold’s current stated resource estimate, with an attractive average gold grade of approximately 2.3 grams per tonne. Additionally, we believe that Fronteer Gold’s wider portfolio of assets offers further upside potential for our portfolio.”

 

In layman’s terms O’Brien confirmed that the long ignored eastern Elko County had some smoking hot ore that could rival that of the long exploited Carlin trend, Newmont has been mining for over 40 years.

 

“We think this could have as much potential as the Carlin Trend,” said Fronteer’s Chief Geologist Moira Smith last year. “It is truly remarkable.”

 

    What is even more remarkable is that the Carlin Trend mines are less than 80 miles to the west and are one of the most developed gold mining operations in the world with the most sophisticated equipment and a cadre of geologists that could a large department at any major university.

 

Still with all those no one bothered to look for more of the yellow stuff that was sitting less than a tank of gas away in eastern Elko County for almost 40 years since the Carlin Trend was first discovered.

 

In fact over the past 35 years most “experts” said that there was simply no gold to be found in eastern Elko County and that exploration would be a waste of time and money.

 

“In 2000 there were some promising digs out here,” Smith said. “But then the price of gold dropped to under $300 an ounce.”

 

Exploration was resumed in 2005 and with the price of gold at record levels the is a possibility that the east half of Elko County could join the western half with gold mines. Smith was however also at a loss to explain why an area so close and so similar geologically to proven and developed reserves was ignored for close to 40 years.

 

In addition to being having ‘smoking hot’ ore the area is a stones throw from Interstate 80, has no endangered species living anywhere near it and does not have any significant archeological sites located on it.

 

Like the geologists the recent past, ancient Native Americans also apparently ignored Long Canyon.

 

Ignored no longer, the mine has the potential to radically alter the economy and the lives of eastern Nevada, residents of Wendover and Wells. The two cities who once looked with jealously at the boom in Elko and Carlin could soon have a mine to call their own.

 

But while Fronteer officials were ecstatic about their find their mood visibly changed with the utterance of three letters– B-L-M. The Federal Bureau of Land Management is the agency that regulates the mining industry and many in the company looked at the three year long permitting process with the same amount of enthusiasm as one greets the prospect of root canal.

 

That dread is not shared by Newmont. Doing business with the BLM in Elko County for almost half a century, the company knows every in an out of the permitting process and has what was called an excellent working relationship with the agency.

 

In addition to its relationship with the BLM, Newmont is uniquely capable of developing Long Canyon faster and cheaper than almost any other mining company in North America.

 

With one of the largest gold mines operating not more than 60 miles to the west Newmont has the equipment and the manpower to begin full scale operations the day after it receives the final okay from the state and federal governments.

 

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Phones, Web Cut In Ely

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

An as yet unexplained outage left much of rural Nevada without telephone or internet service for much of Tuesday.

Roughly corresponding to AT& T’s service area, phone and internet service was off for most of the vast Nevada outback from Winnemucca to Ely and as far south as Caliente and Pahrump according to reports.

Some if not most cel phone service was also interrupted.

“Service was cut,” said a spokesman from the White Pine county Sheriff’s Department. “We were not given an explanation.”

Telephone and internet service in most of elko county serviced by Frontier Communications was not affected nor was service in Wendover, Utah with service provided by Centracom.

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Rush To Injustice

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

Our first reaction to the coroner’s inquest in the death of James Taylor was- wow that was fast.

Shot to death on September 5th, the inquest was held a little, a very little over a month after the young man was killed.

His killer Glen Mead walked.

Now it is quite possible he shouldn’t have.

What with the Mickie Costanzo murder and the Peter Coca trial coming up we can well understand how the resources of the Elko County District Attorney’s office are stretched pretty thin.

But still it would not have taken a whole lot of leg work to spend a day looking for potential witnesses.

Now those witnesses have come forward and the picture they paint is vastly different from the story line presented at the coroner’s inquest.

So what will be?

If those witnesses are telling the truth the DA had a pretty good reason to charge Mr. Mead with murder at least before the coroner’s inquest.

But just what would a jury make of it now?

He was acquitted in a court after all with a finding of justifiable homicide.

So we ask what might have been had there not been such a rush to the inquest.

We had a nice chat with Glenn Taylor Wednesday morning, before the bombshell was dropped.

To tell the truth while we sympathized with his loss, we did not think he had much of a chance to see his son’s killer brought to justice.

We were wrong.

Sometimes a father’s gut instinct is right.

So as fathers ourselves we ask Elko District Attorney Marc Torvinen to reopen the case and charge Mead.

Even considering the embarrassment and the added paper work and expense murders should be tried.

And even if this case is so polluted now it will make getting a conviction that much harder James Taylor deserves justice.

 

We have been told that those expensive ‘Opportunity is Knocking’ billboards paid for by the City of West Wendover are coming down.

Another in a long line of bad ideas and wastes of money.

We have no problem with the city council wasting money but they never waste it here.

And pretty soon there will be no more money to waste.

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DON RICHEY OBITUARY

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

DON RICHEY

 

Born November 18th, 1945, died October 7th, 2011.

 

Survived by mother Dorothy, brothers Mike and Frank, children Donny and Ceresia, grandson David, and granddaughter Isabella.

 

“We took care of you when you got sick, we watched you everyday.

 

Every time we talked or laughed, we knew you would be gone soon. So we treasured every moment we had when you were here.

 

You always took pride in your job in the Casino business, whether you were a Pit Boss or a Crap Dealer, in Wendover and in Mesquite.

 

We will NEVER forget You, We Love You and Miss You.

 

May you REST in PEACE, DAD.

 

Love, Donny and Ceresia.

 

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West Wendover Justice Court Trials October 10

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

Jeffrey Lynn Walker/Attorney Status

 

Shawn Warren Knox/Mandatory Appearance

 

Bobbi Lynn Arrum/Entry of Plea

 

Benjamin Earnest Coghran/Entry of Plea

 

Jose Mendoza Delmuro/Misdemeanor Trial

 

Adam Joshua Pendleton/Misdemeanor Trial

 

Salvador Avila/Citation Trial

 

Mitchell Jensen/Citation Trial

 

Garibaldi Garcia/Sentencing

 

Josue Jonathan Amaya/Attorny Status

 

Charvel MacNeil/Attorny Status

 

Ivan Abarca/Mandatory Apperance

 

Jerry Max Billsie/Mandatory Apperance

 

Mitchell Dee Vernieu/Entry of Plea

 

Mike A. Moreal/Misdemeanor

Peter J. Pozernick/Citation Trial

part one

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part two

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Patten Too Smart For Own Good? New Motion Could Clear Accomplice Fratto

Posted on 23 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

Does a motion filed by Kody Patten potentially clear Toni Fratto of murder charges?

Attorneys for confessed Wendover killer Kody Patten petitioned Judge Dan Papez to remove a possible death penalty facing their client on the grounds that Patten did not kidnap his victim, 16 year old Micaela “Mickie” Costanzo.

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Filed last week and reprinted in this edition the motion argues that the state has offered no proof that Costanzo was kidnapped by Patten before the murder and thus fails to meet the legal bar where a death penalty would be applicable.

Since it was reinstated the Nevada death penalty is applicable only in murder cases with “special circumstances” including the commission of another felony such as kidnapping, rape or torture.

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According to Patten’s motion Costanzo ‘voluntarily’ accepted a ride from Patten when she left the school after track practice and agreed to travel with her killer to the gravel pit five miles west of town where she was allegedly killed by Patten and Patten’s girl friend Toni Fratto after an argument became violent.

While making a case against the death penalty the motion also implies that Costanzo was killed between the hours of 5 pm and 6 pm on the afternoon of March 3rd, a time line Patten’s legal team had disputed.

Before this latest motion Patten’s lawyers, John Ohlson of Reno and Jeffrey Kump of Elko suggested that Costanzo had been killed much later the 5 pm to 6 pm window they now suggest in their motion.

Both Patten and Fratto confessed to the murder of Mickie Costanzo but gave widely different time lines.

In his confession taken just days after the murder Patten suggest that the killing did indeed take place shortly after 5 pm perhaps no later than 5:30 pm on the afternoon of March 3rd.

Patten also does not mention Fratto even being at the scene of the killing and in a throw away line to detectives says he left the gravel pit after the killing to pick up his girl friend.

In her confession made some six weeks after the murder, Fratto parrots Patten’s words except for the time of the killing putting it well after 7 pm that day. The reason for the difference in time lines is quite simple until Fratto’s where abouts are known from 5 pm to 7 pm and she was not with Patten and thus could not have been murdering Costanzo.

From 5 pm to a little before 6 pm Fratto’s alibi is her mother who has insisted on the witness stand that her daughter was with her at their home. According to one of Fratto’s lawyers David Lockie of Elko there may be even more evidence corroborating his clients presence between 5 pm and 6 pm.

According to the minutes of a March 3rd Recreation District meeting Fratto’s whereabouts from 6 pm to 6:53 pm were documented as being in the audience during the meeting.

The girl’s presence at the meeting was also corroborated at the meeting by several witnesses.

Even if Fratto’s mother is not to be believed the less than an hour from the time Mickie Costanzo is last seen alive and the start of the recreation district meeting leaves scant time for the crime and the cover-up.

A run through conducted by the High Desert Advocate this April suggested that 55 minutes was enough time but just barely. Following Fratto’s version of events in the police report the Advocate timed the drive involved. The drive from the West Wendover High School to the Nevada gravel pit, the murder scene took approximately 10 minutes. The drive back through Wendover to the Utah gravel pit took approximately 15 minutes and the drive back from the Utah gravel pit to the Fratto house another 15 minutes. With the drive times subtracted the couple had about 20 minutes to commit the murder, destroy the evidence across town and then return home to cleanup before Toni Fratto was seen again with her parents.

Fratto explains away the narrow window of opportunity in her confession by claiming that the murder occurred after Patten picked her up around 7 pm after the meeting was adjourned.

She also claimed that  Costanzo was in the car with Patten and that the girl was unrestrained. However by 6 pm Mickie Costanzo mother Celia had already begun panicking about her missing daughter. Frighten when her daughter did not answer her cel phone Celia Costanzo began calling Mickie friends and by 6:30 had already notified police. By the time Toni Fratto said her boyfriend was picking her up to commit murder with the victim in the car a full blown search for Mickie Costanzo had already begun by West Wendover Police and dozens of volunteers.

In testimony in both Fratto’s and Patten preliminary hearing Celia Costanzo as well as several of Mickie Costanzo’s friends portrayed the victim as a girl who would always answer or return calls from her mother within minutes of receiving them.

The idea that Mickie Costanzo if free to do so would not answer dozens of calls to her phone in two and a half hours is considered impossible.

When Fratto first came forward with her confession it was considered a boon to Patten. Claiming to be the planner and instigator of the murder, Fratto also admitted to delivering the killing blow against the young girl, Patten’s attorneys were painting as a romantic interest.

But if Fratto’s time line is to be believed it will be much easier for district attorney Marc Torvinen to prove Mickie costanzo was held two to two and a half hours against her will otherwise known as kidnapping by Kody Patten thus qualifying him and for the death penalty.

If on the other hand Costanzo was killed shortly after she went missing proving kidnapping will be much more difficult for the state. That could also mean however that Kody Patten acted alone and the case against Toni Fratto would collapse.

“Toni Fratto was always just a huge smokescreen,” said a source involved in the case. “Without her this is a simple murder of by a sociopathic kid of a sweet young girl. She (Fratto) was used by Patten’s side to confuse everyone. But they were probably too smart for their own good. With her time line the DA almost has a slam dunk proving kidnapping and murder but with the other time line Kody patten would have almost certainly had to have acted alone and again be qualified for the death penalty.”

Capitol punishment in Nevada is reserved for premeditated murder with extenuating circumstances which include:

Murder perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait or torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing.

Murder committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, robbery, burglary, invasion of the home, sexual abuse of a child, sexual molestation of a child under the age of 14 years or child abuse.

Murder committed to avoid or prevent the lawful arrest of any person by a peace officer or to effect the escape of any person from legal custody.

Murder committed on the property of a public or private school, at an activity sponsored by a public or private school or on a school bus while the bus was engaged in its official duties by a person who intended to create a great risk of death or substantial bodily harm to more than one person by means of a weapon, device or course of action that would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person.

Before she made her confession Fratto was in almost daily contact with Patten. Fratto visited him as often as twice a week making the four hour round trip to Elko on Wednesdays and Sunday ever since Patten was arrested March 7th.

She also talked to him at least once a day. The frequent and continued contact the girl had with Patten also undermines the police report that claims Fratto knew details about the case that were not released to the public. Her attorneys can easily make the case that she knew those details not because she participated in the killing but because Patten told her.

Far from the black widow who directed Patten to kill a romantic or social rival, friends and acquaintances of both Fratto and Patten describe her as a mouse of a girl who was “barely there”.

Even with the confession several observers in the courtroom expressed doubt that a jury would convict the girl for the murder.

Investigators admitted that there was not a scintilla of evidence putting her at the scene of the crime at the time it was said to have occurred.

“There isn’t a foot print, there isn’t a finger print, there isn’t any trace of her at the murder scene,” said one investigator. “This is the damnedest case I have ever seen.”

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pattenmotion

 

 

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Pedersen Loses Fight With City Hall

Posted on 23 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

The West Wendover City council turned a deaf ear to a local businessman who said the city’s planned beautification of Wendover Boulevard with landscaped islands could impact the value of his property.

 

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“The plan as it is now will cut down on access to my property,” said West Wendover businessman Lars Pedersen after the meeting. “I am all for beautification but it shouldn’t come at the price of restricting business. Business does after all pay the bills.”

 

According to Pedersen the city’s plan to put landscaped dividing islands in the center of Wendover Boulevard would hamper access to his and other commercial property on or near Wendover Boulevard the city’s main street. Pedersen also argued that the compromised offered by the city of a break in the island to allow left turns was not good enough.

 

“What’s wrong with a turning lane?” Pedersen asked.

 

Pedersen was not however to persuade the council which took no action and let the plans stand as they were.

 

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West Wendover saw a slight increase in the number of local businesses operating in town this year but a steep drop in the number of non-local firms more than offset any gains according to the annual business license report.

 

According to City Clerk Anna Bartlome there are a total of 171 businesses in West Wendover, 100 of which are local and 71 non-local. That is a 5.00 percent drop from last year total of 180. It is the lowest number of businesses ever recorded for West Wendover since even before incorporation in 1991.

 

In 2007 the city changed its criteria of what constituted a “local” business. Under the new criteria some businesses are considered local if they have a West Wendover address even if they are in fact owned by nonresident individuals or corporations.

 

All five of Wendover Casinos are considered local in the city’s new count even though their corporate headquarters are not located in Wendover. The same is true for West Wendover apartment complexes and for most of the fast food franchises.

 

Excluding those business from the list the number of locally owned and operated businesses falls below 60 in West Wendover an embarrassingly small number for a city with a population of about 5,000.

 

The dearth of private enterprise is most acute in the retail industry which apart from Smith’s Food Store is virtually nonexistent in West Wendover.

 

Purchases as simple as a computer printer ink, a telephone or even a coffee maker available literally in a half a dozen locations in communities of similar or even smaller sizes as Wendover, often necessitate a 240 mile round trip to Salt Lake City to the east or Elko to the west.

 

In the past five years West Wendover has seen a number of relatively large retailers also leave town such as Park Furniture, Bargain Barn Serendipity and Blanchard’s Furniture. Two years ago it saw the closure of one of its two full service banks, Nevada Bank and Trust. This year the closures spread to entertainment with the closure of the only non-casino restaurant and a night club.

 

   Small retailers and home based business owners have frequently complained about West Wendover’s over regulation of private enterprise that borders to the point of harassment.

 

From the color of paint to a building to exactly what merchandize a store may sell often becomes an item on the city council’s agenda.

 

This year the council passed an ordinance requiring the finger printing and police back ground checks of new business owners coming to town.

 

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Rapist Tries to Pay Off Victim, In Jail

Posted on 23 October 2011 by Howard Copelan

Attempting to pay off a rape victim didn’t work for one elko county man.

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According to sheriff’s reports Ciro Gonzalez 30 years old from Elko was arrested this week when he arrived at Drug court on one charge of sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl.

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The charge stems from a October 1st report made by the girl. During the course of the investigation detectives met with the sixteen year old victim and learned  Mr. Gonzalez attempted to pay the victim and another friend in an attempt to keep them from telling the police what happened.

Detectives attempted to locate Mr. Gonzalez, without finding him at his residence. Detectives were contacted by the staff at Elko County Drug Court for his weekly testing.

Mr. Gonzalez was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Elko County Detention Facility on one count of Sexual Assault, Bail set at $10,000.00 Mr. Gonzalez was also booked on a Parole and Probation, No Bail.

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