We have been looking into Francis Ostronic, who represents Robert Stacy McCain against Brett Kimberlin. A member of the Maryland Conservative Bloggers Alliance, Ostronic’s blog has not been updated in a year. But he contributed $2,000 to Dan Bongino’s failed Senate race last year, and that link may explain how Mr. Ostronic came to be involved in the case.
Bongino is a former NYPD officer, Secret Service agent, and US Senate candidate known for his right wing opinions. We know him as a convener of Groundswell, the right wing grassroots lobbying organization that pushed IRS-gate, Benghazi-gate, and other ginned-up controversies on the US House of Representatives this year in a bid to grind government to a halt and attack the presidency of Barack Obama. Our old friend Ali Akbar ran the Groundswell email list, and his employee McCain is one of the most popular bloggers shared within that list. Did Bongino arrange legal counsel for McCain? If so, why would Bongino, who is running for a House seat next year, have anything to do with an S.P.L.C.-listed hater like McCain? Does Bongino have ties to Akbar?
And has McCain, who finally asked Ostronic to accept process service for him last week, been fully honest with his lawyer?
These are valid questions because Ostronec would not be our first, second, or even third choice of representation for a defamation suit. Team Akbar has relied on a disastrous “blog court” strategy thus far, and Ostronic seems like part of that larger picture. While he is licensed to practice law in Maryland, he is not a trial lawyer. In fact, Ostronic does not even hang a shingle on a law office. If you visit the building on Hungerford Drive in Rockville, Maryland where Ostronic supposedly works in a CPA firm called Millennium Financial Services, LLP, you will find the suite empty of furniture. But you might find former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Bill Lascelle in the building, as one of our sources recently did, and that is where things take a bizarre turn.
Lascelle is a partner at Millennium. Both he and Ostronic are Directors at Tamir Biotechnology, which currently trades as a penny stock because Onconase, a cancer drug that is the company’s only product, has failed to win FDA approval and can only be sold overseas. Tamir is one of several pharmaceutical ventures related to U.S. Pharmacia International, a drug licensing company located at a nearby address in Rockville. Katarzyna “Kasia” Kusmierz, who claims another nearby address that Ostronic sometimes uses, is another partner in Millennium and the owner of Unilab L P, yet another pharmaceutical company headquartered on Hungerford Drive.
We do not mean to suggest that these people are shady, or that Tamir is not being honest about its weaknesses. The company is 99% likely to fail and their SEC filings reflect that. What we find interesting about all this is that McCain’s lawyer makes his living by keeping the books for a bunch of struggling pharma companies, not by defending people in court. His representation of McCain is therefore probably a favor to someone, and we are not at all sure that Ostronic is doing his client the favor.
During a recent phone call, Mr. Ostronic reportedly told Brett Kimberlin: “you know more about the law than I do.” This will not inspire confidence in R.S. McCain, who has attacked and belittled Mr. Kimberlin’s pro se litigation many times now in his blog court. But perhaps that is only fair. After all, McCain has certainly not been heeding any lawyer’s advice in his blogging since the day Kimberlin filed suit against him and the rest of Team Akbar. McCain refuses to recognize his wrongs, apologize, or correct himself. Now that Kimberlin has passed Maryland’s “Brodie Test” and established a prima facie case for defamation against his co-defendant Kimberlin Unmasked, any competent trial lawyer should be telling him to fold his cards and settle. But again, Francis Ostronic is not a trial lawyer, and McCain has only lately trusted him enough to have him accept process. Why would any competent attorney invest more than a minimum of time and energy in such a client?
If Bongino is the reason why Ostronic represents McCain — and again, we see no other link that explains this circumstance quite as well — then the right wing hate blogger’s defensive denials about Groundswell ring even more hollow than before.
Rest assured we will stay on top of this story.