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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I’ve written here before about news reports saying that security cameras in the home of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez recorded him with a gun both hours before—and minutes after—his friend was shot to death.

Now a recent story about Hernandez in Rolling Stone magazine details other surveillance and cellphone information that the article says constitutes “a honey pot of incriminating evidence” against Hernandez, who is charged with murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston semi-professional football player.

Lloyd’s body, riddled with bullets, was found June 17 in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez's home.

Among the claims made in the fascinating Rolling Stone article is that “according to family friends, Hernandez was using angel dust and was so paranoid he always carried a gun.”

The article also says that surveillance video captured Lloyd and Hernandez arguing outside a nightclub two days before his shooting. Hernandez was angry that Lloyd spoke with another man at the club who was at odds with Hernandez, according to the story.

“… Hernandez was enraged," the article said. “Club security cameras allegedly capture the two men squabbling, showing Hernandez, six-two and a rippled 250, facing off with the five-11 Lloyd. The friends stopped short of throwing punches, though cameras mounted outside the club show the argument resuming in the street.”

Here’s what happened next, according to the article:
 

... Two days after the spat with Lloyd, [Hernandez] was nursing his rubbed-raw grievance. “You can’t trust anyone anymore!” he’s heard screaming on the footage of his home-security system. Sometime that night, he reached out to a couple of Bristol [Connecticut] goons, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz – two stumble-bum crooks with long sheets of priors and no job or fixed address to lay their heads – and ordered them to take the two-hour drive to Boston on the double, telling one of them, Hurry ur ass up here …

… Around 1:10 a.m., Hernandez set off with Wallace and Ortiz in a rented Nissan Altima to pick up Odin Lloyd. Hernandez’s security cams show him with what looks like a Glock .45 in hand, pacing in his living room. On the 30-mile drive to Fayston Street, a war-zone block in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, where Lloyd lived with his mother and younger sister (he’d been forced to move home after losing his job at the local utility company), the three men stopped to buy a pack of blue cotton-candy Bubblicious and a cheap cigar, the type used to roll blunts. Usually, that was Lloyd’s job – Hernandez fondly called him the Bluntmaster. Making do without him, they got to Lloyd’s house at 2:33 a.m., where a surveillance camera posted across the street showed Lloyd getting into the back seat of the Nissan. It fast became clear to Lloyd, though, that this wouldn’t be a night of hot-sheet fun. He began firing texts off to his sister, sending distress flares every few minutes. U saw who I’m with... Nfl... just so u know...

The last one reached her at 3:23 a.m. Minutes later, Lloyd got out of the car in an industrial park in North Attleborough. He seemed to know what was coming, but decided to make a stand: The driver’s side mirror of the Nissan was broken off, a sign that he might have gone down swinging. On a sand-and-gravel patch, Lloyd raised his arms in defense of the first shot, and was then hit in the back twice as he turned away and fell to the ground. The gunman pumped two more rounds into his chest for good measure. The next day, cops lifted tire tracks near the body that matched the Nissan. Tracing the car back to the rental agency, police would eventually recover a .45 shell case and a wad of cotton-candy Bubblicious. And though Hernandez would monkey with his home-security system, getting rid of six hours of key recordings, and smash up the cellphone he’d turn in to cops, he’d neglect to scrub all the data they contained, handing police a honey pot of incriminating evidence.

 

 

by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Just last year, I wrote about leadership changes at DEFENDER Direct, the country’s leading ADT dealer, when longtime employee Marcia Barnes took over as CEO and president, replacing company founder David Lindsey, who was stepping down to do philanthropic work.

Now, about 15 months later, Barnes is out and Lindsey is back in his old job, according to a recent news release from the Indianapolis-based company.

Here’s some of what the company had to say:
 

Lindsey replaces Marcia Barnes, who has left the company to pursue other business interests. …  “The board and I are grateful for Marcia’s 13 years of leadership in the company, which helped us achieve our strong growth,” said Lindsey.  “Our company is at an exciting point in its journey and I look forward to continuing that momentum.”

The release also said that, “the company has named Brad Cumings as chief marketing officer and has promoted Scott DeNardin to the role of regional VP of its HVAC business division.”

Founded in 1998, DEFENDER bills itself as the nation’s leading ADT dealer. It has more than 2,400 employees in 50 states and more than 140 branch offices, according to the company. Its residential services include offerings from Williams Comfort Air, a heating, cooling and plumbing company.

Barnes had been with the company since its early years and worked closely with Lindsey, rising to the rank of president before she became CEO. I’ve got a call in to DEFENDER to learn more about what the latest leadership change will mean for the company. Stay posted!

 

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Canary, a New York City startup with what it bills as the “the first smart home security device for everyone,” has managed to raise nearly $2 million in 35 days from prospective customers and supporters through crowdfunding.

The company’s experience suggests this is a funding approach other security companies may want to take a look at.

I wrote about Canary—which is both the name of the company and the home security device it sells—back in July when it launched the campaign on Indiegogo. Like a canary in a coal mine, the company was trying to see how much support it could garner from crowdfunding and set its goal at a modest $100,000.

But it exceeded that on the first day. Now, with the campaign recently concluded, Canary has raised a total of $1,961,494 from 7,460 funders, according to Indiegogo’s site. Most paid to receive one or more of the devices when they’re made and shipped early next year, but 123 people paid $5 each just as supporters of the product who want to be kept updated on it as it goes into production.

Was Canary’s crowdfunding experience unusual? According to a website called Android Police, the answer is "yes." Here’s what was recently written about Canary on that site:
 

Relying on crowdfunding is inherently risky. Regardless of whether a project's on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, some never get a fraction of the funding they aim for. Others fall slightly short or, if they're lucky, barely manage to crawl over the finish line. Still, a select few completely blow the doors off. The Canary [is one of them].

Now, is this because Canary is truly the unique product it's billed to be or do crowdfunders just really like home security? Time will tell us the answer, I guess.

 

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Monday, August 19, 2013

AT&T just launched Digital Life, its home automation/home security product, this April. But it’s already approaching its goal of expanding into 50 markets by the end of 2013.

The Dallas-based telecom announced today that as of Friday, Aug. 23, it will introduce Digital Life in six more markets: Orlando, Fla.; Providence, R.I.; Virginia Beach, Va.; and the cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse in New York.

That will bring the number of markets for Digital Life to 39, just 11 shy of the company’s year-end goal of 50 new markets.

After successful trials of Digital Life last year in Dallas and Atlanta, AT&T in April launched the service in 15 additional major markets nationwide, ranging from San Francisco to Miami, and has rapidly been adding on other markets.

In July, for example, AT&T introduced the service in Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; San Diego; San Jose, Calif.; and Tampa, Fla.

Digital Life is professionally installed and also professionally monitored by At&T's two monitoring centers, one here and one in Atlanta. In June, the company announced that had received Five Diamond certification from the Central Station Alarm Association for its monitoring capabilities.

Customers can use their existing home broadband provider and any wireless phone service to use Digital Life, the company said.

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

OK, there were enough rumors in early July about activist hedge-fund manager William Ackman planning to take a stake in The ADT Corp. that they caused ADT stock to temporarily skyrocket. But it turned out that Ackman instead had his sights set on industrial gas maker Air Products & Chemicals, of which he now is that company’s biggest shareholder, owning 9.8 percent.

But perhaps that’s good a thing for ADT, given the news yesterday that Ackman’s failed two-year effort to remake traditional department store J.C. Penney ended in his exit from Penney’s board. His decision to step down was voluntary but there is speculation his leaving was “under duress,” according to Reuters.

Ackman’s activism and ADT—who knows where that might have led?

Here’s more from Reuters report yesterday on the J.C. Penney dust up:
 

Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman's two-year campaign to transform department store J.C. Penney came to an abrupt end on Tuesday with his decision to step down from the board, after a weeklong public spat with fellow board members.

Ackman's decision to leave comes after a failed two-year attempt by his $11.2 billion hedge fund to remake Penney into an upscale retail chain and a week of public fighting with other board members, including interim CEO Officer Myron (Mike) Ullman.

People close to Ackman and the retailer said his decision to leave the board was necessary for Penney to focus on its operations and continue the search for a new chief executive.

Ackman agreed to step down on Monday night, and the move removes a major distraction as Penney prepares for the holiday season. Some retail analysts said the public feuding threatened to unnerve vendors and lenders.

Penney's shares closed down 3.7 percent at $12.68 on the New York Stock Exchange.

... Ackman's Pershing Square Management Capital Management started buying Penney shares nearly three years ago to the day, paying an average of $22 for 39 million shares. The hedge fund now holds nearly 18 percent of Penney's stock.

If Ackman were to sell them at current prices, he'd lose $356 million, or a 40 percent loss.

 

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It wasn’t the life term prosecutors sought, but 65-year-old security industry investor Timothy McGinn today was sentenced to be in federal prison until he’s 80. McGinn had asked for a more lenient sentence after being convicted earlier this year of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion in a Ponzi-like scheme that caused investors to lose millions. A judge spurned that request, calling McGinn  “arrogant,” news reports say.

David L. Smith, 68, McGinn's former partner in the Albany, N.Y.-based brokerage firm of McGinn, Smith & Co., which conducted dealings in the alarm industry, received a sentence of 10 years. Smith was convicted of the same charges on Feb. 6, but of fewer counts than McGinn. The judge criticized Smith for "going along" with McGinn with no regard for the law, according to an Albany Times Union story on the sentencing.

Here’s more from the Times Union on what happened in court today:
 

"I came up with one word that describes your downfall -- and that word is arrogant," U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd told McGinn.

"You ran your business and you didn't really care about the rules as long as you made money for you and your favorite clients," the judge continued.

… The crimes for which [McGinn and Smith] were convicted carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison. However, the Justice Department said federal sentencing guidelines call for life sentences because of aggravating factors that include the high amount of losses, number of victims and the sophisticated nature of the scheme.

Prosecutors said McGinn and Smith not only defrauded investors but diverted approximately $4.1 million from investment trusts for their own benefit. They said the two created false loan documents, misled investors and lied to federal regulators.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Coombe reject McGinn and Smith's assertions that the collapse of their business was caused by a downturn in the economy not criminal conduct.

… The former brokers' attorneys asked Hurd to sentence their clients to no more than "single-digit" prison sentences for their crimes, according to court documents unsealed last week at the request by the Times Union.

… [McGinn and Smith were indicted by a grand jury in early 2012.] ... [This February] McGinn was convicted on 27 of the 29 counts he faced; Smith on 15 of 28 counts. Both were convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and failure to file a tax return.

 

by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Security industry investors Timothy McGinn and David L. Smith are set to be sentenced next week and could spend the rest of their lives in prison after being convicted of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion earlier this year.

That’s the sentence prosecutors want a judge to impose on the pair—formerly partners at the Albany, N.Y.-based brokerage firm of McGinn, Smith & Co., which conducted dealings in the alarm industry—when they appear in court on Aug. 7, according to the Time Union, an Albany-based newspaper. Life in prison is warranted because the pair caused at least 250 victims to lose more than $30 million, prosecutors say.

However, McGinn, 64, and Smith, 68, are seeking leniency and having friends and relatives send letters testifying to their good characters, according to news reports.

Here’s more from the recent Times Union article:
 

In a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday, assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth C. Coombe said the maximum term of imprisonment is warranted by factors that include more than $30 million in losses to at least 250 victims. She said the defendants' argument that their misdeeds were caused by a collapsing financial market "misses the mark."

"After persuading investors to part with their money, defendants used it as if it were their own. Not only did they secretly skim large percentages of investor funds to line their own pockets, but they did their very best to make sure that the investments would keep coming in by using new investor money to pay old investors," Coombe wrote in a 13-page memorandum addressed to U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd.

The government also filed a motion seeking $30.2 million in forfeiture penalties from McGinn and Smith, whose bank accounts and assets were frozen three years ago under court orders. It's unclear that they have the assets to pay the proposed penalty.

A federal jury on Feb. 6 convicted the pair of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, and filing false tax returns. The two also were the target of a civil suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming they bilked investors of at least $80 million in a Ponzi scheme.

However, McGinn and Smith, formerly partners at the brokerage firm of McGinn, Smith & Co., filed motions asking a federal judge to overturn their convictions, saying the government’s claims were “based on the complete failure of the government to attempt to comprehend concepts of investment banking and the inner-workings of running a broker-dealer.”

It will be interesting to see what the judge decides in this case. Stay posted.

 

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Last year, AlarmForce Industries, a Toronto-based super-regional, announced that its board of directors was looking at selling the company. Now the board says the company won’t be sold but grown instead, and has “terminated” AlarmForce’s longtime President and CEO Joel Matlin.

Alarm Force announced in a news release Tuesday that it had “terminated the employment" of Matlin but said that he will “continue to serve as a director of the company.” Matlin holds a stake in the company of about 8 percent, according to news reports.

Company CFO Anthony Pizzonia is now interim president and CEO, the release said. A search is underway to find a permanent successor to Matlin.

Earlier this month, the company announced that its board had completed its strategic review begun last August and will now focus on growing the company.

Here’s more of what it had to say in a July 3 news release:
 

During the past eleven months, a special committee of the Board of Directors of the Company (the "Board") comprised of the independent directors of AlarmForce (the "Special Committee") explored and considered available opportunities for the Company, including a possible sale of the Company. The Special Committee has concluded that the strategic review process did not result in a transaction adequately reflecting the Company's value. As such, the Board has decided to conclude the formal process and dissolve the Special Committee. The Company will now move forward with a focus on the Company's growth.

AlarmForce provides security alarm monitoring, personal emergency response monitoring, video surveillance and related services to residential and commercial subscribers throughout Canada and in some locations in the United States. The company says it is a leading provider of two-way voice alarm systems in Canada.

 

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

There was additional speculation this week about whether activist hedge-fund manager William Ackman is intending to take a stake in The ADT Corp. An article in The New York Times said that his investing in the home security/home automation giant is more likely than his buying into FedEx, another company he is rumored to be considering.

The article said that’s basically because Ackman would have less say in FedEx, a much larger company than ADT, where he could wield greater influence.

There’s a possibility we could find out the answer later this week. Bloomberg reported July 9 that Ackman, who runs $12 billion Pershing Square Capital Management, was raising $1 billion over the next 10 days to buy a stake in a “large-capitalization, investment-grade U.S. corporation that principally operates in one business” that he didn’t name.

If he's successful, that would mean he’d have the money by this Thursday or Friday and he could reveal his pick then. However, he also could wait until later this year before announcing the choice, Nicholas Heymann, co-group head of global industrial infrastructure for New York-based William Blair & Company, told me.

"The issue is once you raise the money you have to put it to work," he said. However, Heymann said, "chances are, especially if it happens to be including some of his other 12 billion dollars of funds that he manages in addition to the $1 billion single stock fund, you and I are not going to know what his positions are until they’re reported 45 days after the close of the quarter, so we could end up hearing about this in mid-November."  The news could come earlier if Ackman chooses to voluntarily disclose it, Heymann said.

ADT has told Security Systems News the company does not comment on market rumors.

But some other important industry news is also related to ADT, and that’s the recent announcement that Monitronics plans to acquire Security Networks next month.

“We continue to look at the ramifications of the Security Networks acquisition by Monitronics as it relates to the implied value of ADT,” Heymann said.

In a July 11 William Blair & Company industry report authored by Heymann, the company explained how that pending deal sheds light on the value of ADT. Here’s some more detail from the report:
 

Our belief that ADT remains the most undervalued company in our multi-industry universe was starkly highlighted with the announcement after the close yesterday that Ascent Capital Group’s (ASCMA $84.15) primary operating subsidiary, Monitronics International, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Security Networks for total compensation of $507.5 million, or about 60 times Security Networks’ average recurring monthly revenue. Before the announcement of this transaction, Monitronics was the third-largest North American residential security company and Security Networks was the 14th-largest. Following the completion of the proposed acquisition, the combined company will have 1.034 million customers (almost the same number as Protection One, the current second-largest North American residential security provider) and, on a pro forma basis, hold just under a 4% share of the North American residential security market.

… The valuation paid for Network Securities by Monitronics would value ADT between $67 and $74 per share. On an implied market capitalization basis, ADT would be valued in a range of $15.4 billion-$16.8 billion, well above the company’s current $9.2 billion market capitalization.

ADT stock closed at $42.68 per share today. That's down 28 cents or .65 percent from its $42.96 close yesterday and Heymann speculated later today that talk that Ackmann was NOT interested in buying into ADT may have caused the drop, the opposite of last week when ADT stock climbed based on speculation that Ackman was interested. "We think Ackman may have been at this big hedge fund meeting this afternoon and said something that implied he was NOT looking at ADT ... or an ADT type company," Heymann told me in an email this afternoon.

So which company does Ackman have his sights on? The situation is decidedly very fluid, and very interesting. I’ll be reporting more on this. Stay tuned!

 

 

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by: Tess Nacelewicz - Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vivint has a new chief information officer, Todd Thompson, who hails from the hotel and airline industries, the company announced today.

Another home security giant also just hired a new CIO. The ADT Corp., based in Boca Raton, Fla., recently tapped Kathleen McLean, a former telecom exec, as CIO.

But while the position of CIO is a newly created one for ADT, that’s not the case with Provo, Utah-based Vivint. The Vivint CIO job that Thompson is stepping into was formerly held by JT Hwang, who will become chief technology officer, focusing on the development and integration of the company's products and platform, the company said in a news release.

Thompson will be responsible for companywide information technology functions, Vivint said.

Vivint President Alex Dunn said in a prepared statement, “Supporting our culture of innovation with advanced technology and effective processes has always been a priority, and Todd's experience in IT leadership will be a huge asset to our business.”

One thing both ADT’s McLean and Vivint’s Thompson have in common is that each comes from outside the security industry.

According to the Vivint news release, Thompson most recently "was CIO for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, where he led the team that implemented the industry's first new-age reservation system, drove initiatives to enhance revenue and the guest experience, and streamlined the IT function." Prior to Starwood, the company said, Thompson was CIO for JetBlue Airways and before that led consulting practices for SBI.Razorfish and Arthur Andersen Business Consulting.

“Vivint presents a lot of exciting advantages from a technological perspective,” Thompson said in a statement. “As a company, we have the opportunity to do things that have never been done before, and we want to do the same thing with information technology. We, in IT, are committed to continuously helping reimagine our business so it's more effective than anything else out there as we contribute to the company's future success.”

Thompson holds a BS in computer science and an MBA from Brigham Young University.
 

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