Archive for August, 2017

Norris Greenhouse Jr. And Derrick Stafford are the two Marksville deputy marshals who opened fire on Chris Few, wounding the 26-year-old man and killing his six-year-old son in November 2015.

As an update on that story, Stafford was sentenced to 40 years in prison last March. HERE is the Acadiana Advocate’s story about his sentencing.

Greenhouse is on a Caribbean vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Read the story HERE.

The presiding judge, upon learning of Greenhouse’s Caribbean trip, has ordered a contempt and bail revocation hearing for him on Sept. 8.

The two officers opened fire on Few after a two-mile chase last Nov. 3.

Stafford was tried and convicted of manslaughter after a jury rejected his claim that he felt threatened by Few and acted out of self-defense. A video of the shooting, captured on a third officer’s body cam, showed Few raising his hands out the window of his compact vehicle during the shooting. First-grader Jeremy Mardis, Few’s six-year-old son, was struck and killed in the hail of gunfire.

On Wednesday (Aug. 30), Avoyelles Today said in its online edition that Ruth Wisher, press secretary for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, confirmed that Greenhouse is on a vacation cruise. She said Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office had no prior knowledge of his trip out of the country.

Greenhouse is currently out of jail on $1 million bond while awaiting his scheduled Oct. 2 trial on charges of second degree murder.

One condition of Greenhouse’s bond is that he must wear an ankle bracelet so that his movements may be monitored. Defendants on bail are allowed to travel and their whereabout are supposed to be monitored but prosecutors were apparently unaware of Greenhouse’s trip to the Caribbean. Ruth Wisher, press secretary for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, confirmed that Greenhouse is on a vacation cruise but said Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office had no prior knowledge of his trip out of the country.

This is the same attorney general’s office that, after 16 months still has not concluded its investigation of a rape of a 17-year-old female meth user in a Union Parish jail cell even though the identities of the victim and the rapist are known to investigators.

If AG investigators cannot nail down the details of a rape that occurred in the limited confines of a parish jail cell, it’s little wonder they were unable to keep up with the whereabouts of a murder suspect—even one wearing an ankle bracelet. https://louisianavoice.com/2017/08/30/16-months-after-teenage-girl-raped-in-union-parish-detention-center-ags-office-says-the-matter-still-under-investigation/

The story of Greenhouse’s trip and the attorney general’s confirmation was posted on Avoyelles Today’s online news service after the story was first posted on the Avoyelles Watchdogs for Justice internet blog site.

12th Judicial District Court Judge William Bennett, apparently more concerned about the unannounced cruise than AG Landry, on Thursday (Aug. 31) issued an order for Greenhouse to appear at a bail hearing on constructive contempt of court for his violation of home monitoring provisions. The hearing is set for Sept. 8 at 11 a.m. at which time Bennett will issue a ruling on whether Greenhouse’s bail should be revoked.


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Ha·be·as cor·pus

[ˌhābēəs ˈkôrpəs]


A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

Habeas corpus is the legal procedure that keeps the government from holding you indefinitely without showing cause. It’s been a pillar of Western law since the signing of the Magna Carta in England in 1215. The Founders of our nation believed habeas corpus was so essential to preserving liberty, justice, and democracy that they enshrined it in the very first article of the United States Constitution.





The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.





Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.


Trudy White has been a judge in the 19th Judicial District of Louisiana since 2009. The district encompasses East Baton Rouge Parish. Before being elected a state district judge, she served for 10 years as a Baton Rouge city judge.

Cleve Dunn, Jr., served as Chairman of Judge Trudy White’s Campaign Committee, according to a campaign finance report filed on March 19, 2014 (scroll down to the second page of White’s campaign finance report by clicking HERE).

Cleve Dunn, Sr., who was paid $250 by Judge White’s campaign on Nov. 14, 2014, for marketing, is the operator of Rehabilitation Home Incarceration (RHI). RHI (see corporate filing record  HERE) has profited by its association with Judge White and is now a named defendant, along with Dunn and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, III, in a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Louisiana’s Middle District.


RHI is one of several private companies that offer pretrial supervision services for the court but is the only approved on Judge White’s website, the petition says. Judge White also assigns defendants a company called Street Crimes Alternatives for pretrial supervision, but, the petition says, that company is also run by Dunn.

A check by LouisianaVoice, however, revealed two other vendors for home incarceration on Judge White’s web page: Home Bound Monitoring Pretrial and Probation Services and Criminal Justice Service. There was no indication as to when those two were added to Judge White’s WEB PAGE.

Additionally, Judge White paid Frederick Hall and his wife, Gloria Hall, $250 each for campaign support activities on the same date as her campaign’s payment to Dunn. Hall is a former employee of RHI and, with his wife, now owns a bond company to which RHI routinely refers defendants, the lawsuit says.

Lead plaintiffs in the litigation, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are Henry Ayo and Kaiasha White (no relation to Judge White).

Ayo was arrested for attempted theft of an air conditioning unit and Kaiasha White for simple and aggravated battery following an argument. Both appeared before Judge White on August 8, 2016.

“Since Judge White’s re-election … in 2014, she has assigned arrestees to supervision by RHI,” the lawsuit says. “White does so without conducting in open court an individualized determination of, or providing an opportunity for arrestees to be heard on, the need for, or the conditions of, RHI supervision.”

The lawsuit said that Judge White appears to make the RHI assignments before the defendants even appear in her court nor does she inquire of arrestees whether or not they can afford to pay bond or RHI’s initial or monthly fees. White, the petition says, usually sets the duration of RHI’s supervision at 90 days or for an indefinite time, “irrespective of the supervisee’s next court date.”

White does not typically impose specific supervision terms for RHI to enforce nor does she order a curfew, house arrest or payment of the initial or monthly fee as a condition of release from the parish prison. RHI takes it upon itself to set all those conditions in an arbitrary manner, the suit says.

RHI demands an initial fee of $525 and arrestees typically learn of this only when they or family members attempt to post bail or at their first meeting with RHI at the prison. Those who cannot immediately pay the initial RHI fee may wait in jail for days or weeks until they can pay despite their having already posted bail.

Through an agreement with RHI, the lawsuit says, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Gautreaux and Parish Prison Warden Dennis Grimes “created and enforce a policy that the prison will not release arrestees from the prison until it receives permission from RHI—permission that comes only after RHI is satisfied with the initial payment made.”

Upon their release, they are required by RHI to sign a contract setting forth RHI’s future fees and conditions of supervision which require the arrestee to pay a monthly fee of $225 to their assigned RHI officer, or “monitor,” during their supervision term. The contract also sets a curfew for supervisees, restricting them from spending the night anywhere other than at their reported residential address.

“RHI monitors and Dunn himself threaten supervisees with re-arrest if they fail to make financial payments or comply with RHI’s costly supervision conditions—without affirmatively inquiring into their ability to pay,” the suit says. “Accordingly, supervisees pay (or attempt to pay) the fee out of fear of re-arrest and bond revocation by scraping together money from friends or family.”

Ayo was told his fees were in part to pay for an ankle monitor even though he was never provided one. When he and his wife were unable to make timely payments, RHI would assess him with late fees.

The federal RICO statute is invoked in the lawsuit because, it says, “Dunn has conducted the affairs of RHI through a pattern of racketeering to achieve the common purpose of unlawfully extorting money from plaintiffs Ayo and White and the proposed class. These racketeering acts are an integral part of RHI’s regular course of business.”

The petition says that Dunn “has committed multiple, related predicate acts of extortion by refusing to authorize the release of plaintiffs and the proposed class from the prison until they paid money towards the RHI initiation fee. Additionally, by unlawfully using the fear of arrest and jail by East Baton Rouge law enforcement or RHI officials, Dunn on numerous occasions extorted from plaintiffs and the proposed class a monthly supervision fee, along with fees for classes or other requirements imposed at the discretion of RHI employees.”

It said Dunn’s use of RHI to extort money from arrestees assigned by Judge White “constitutes a pattern of racketeering activity.”

The lawsuit listed a number of questions for the proposed class:

  • Whether RHI, independent of Judge White, sets terms for an arrestee’s release and the fees for its supervision services;
  • Whether Dunn, RHI, and Gautreaux, in his official capacity, have an agreement that individuals assigned to RHI by Judge White may not be released from the prison until they have paid RHI’s initial fee and RHI notifies the prison of such payment;
  • Whether RHI and Gautreaux, in his official capacity, enforce such agreement against the proposed class without determining whether individuals can afford to pay RHI’s initial fee;
  • Whether Gautreaux has a policy, practice, or custom of detaining arrestees until obtaining RHI’s permission to release them;
  • Whether RHI’s standard contract provides for an initial fee and monthly fees;
  • Whether RHI’s standard contract provides for arrest and jailing for failure to pay its fees;
  • Whether Dunn directs RHI employees to threaten to arrest and jail individuals who do not pay the monthly supervisory fees and other mandated fees to RHI
  • Whether Dunn’s operation of RHI through a pattern of racketeering activity, specifically, extorting money from (arrestees) by unlawfully detaining them in the prison until they pay RHI’s initial fee, then threatening them additional jailing if they fail to pay RHI monthly fees once released, violates the Louisiana and federal RICO acts;
  • Whether Gautreaux and RHI’s practice of detaining individuals because they could not pay RHI’s initial fee violates arrestees’ rights under the 14th Amendment to due process and equal protection;
  • Whether Gautreaux and RHI’s detention of arrestees after they posted bonds constituted an unreasonable seizure in violation of the 14th Amendment, and
  • Whether RHI lacks any legal authority or right to collect fees from arrestees.


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It’s been more than 16 months and still there is no word as to the disposition of a Union Parish case involving a prisoner already awaiting sentencing for aggravated rape who, inexplicably, was not only allowed out of his cell, but also given admittance into an isolation cell where he raped a 17-year-old girl not once, but twice.

The Ruston Daily Leader first reported the story on May 3, 2016, but the rape had occurred earlier, on April 19. LouisianaVoice posted its first story on May 10. (See that story HERE.)

Demarcus Shavez Peyton of Homer, then 28, was being held in the Union Parish Detention Center pending his sentencing in Claiborne Parish after his conviction there of aggravated rape. Union Parish officials were informed by the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office that Peyton was known as a serial rapist and that he had already been convicted of aggravated rape. He has since been sentenced to live imprisonment for the Claiborne Parish rape.

The Union Parish Detention Center is a public-run facility overseen by an operation committee comprised of District Attorney John Belton, Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates, the Union Parish Police Jury and the Farmerville Police Chief. Because no one individual has authority over the way in which the detention center is run, Gates was unable to adequately see to it that the girl, who had been placed in an isolation cell because she was under the influence of meth, was protected from Peyton.

Gates told LouisianaVoice on Wednesday (Aug. 30) that it was his understanding that the guard on duty that night has been disciplined. “The guard wasn’t paying attention,” Gates said. “When the call button was pushed, he just opened the cell without paying attention.”

The operational structure of the detention center and Gates’s explanation also brought into sharp focus the problems inherent with private prisons which are little more than money trees for the local sheriffs or private operators who run them. LouisianaVoice addressed that problem in a follow-up post on May 31 (click HERE).

In that story, three questions were posed:

  • How was it that the girl was being held in proximity to a convicted aggravated rapist?
  • Who (and this is the most important question of all) was the Union Parish Detention Center staff member who allowed Peyton out of his cell and into the girl’s?
  • Who is responsible for operations of the detention center?

The third question has already been answered. We’re still awaiting answers to the first two as well as a few other questions we put to the Attorney General’s Office in the form of a formal public records request because the AG was asked (rightly) by Belton to take over investigation of the matter in consideration of the DA’s involvement in running the prison (in itself, a curious arrangement):

  • Where does the attorney general’s investigation stand at this point?
  • Has a trial of Demarcus Peyton been scheduled for this alleged rape? If so, what is the scheduled date of that trial?
  • What disciplinary action was—or is anticipated to be—taken against the guard?
  • For Demarcus Peyton to have committed this act, two cell doors would have had to have been opened: his and the cell to the victim. Why was Demarcus Peyton allowed to leave his cell and even more egregious, why was he admitted to the victim’s cell when he was already awaiting sentencing for aggravated rape?
  • Are any measures being recommended by the attorney general’s office relative to the future operation of the Union Parish Detention Center?

Our questions were forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office at 10:09 a.m. Wednesday. At 11:25 a.m., we got out answer from Press Secretary Ruth Wisher: “This matter is under investigation; therefore, I cannot comment on the specifics or answer questions at this time.”

Sixteen months and it’s still “under investigation.”

How long does it take to investigate a rape in a confined area like a jail cell?

Another seemingly unrelated but nonetheless important question that we could be justified in asking is: To what end are sheriffs seeking bigger detention centers to house more prisoners? The answer to that, of course, is power, purely and simply. If the sheriff can build detention centers to house more prisoners, it brings in additional state money (the state pays about $26 per day per prisoner housed). With that extra income, the sheriff can shore up his power with bigger and more impressive weaponry arsenals.

That theory was underscored just this week when President Trump announced plans to remove the restrictions on military gear for local police departments (click HERE). That announcement must have local sheriffs and police chiefs salivating over the prospects of having a Humvee or a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle.

There will be those who will be just itching for the slightest provocation so they can roll out their military weapons to put down the insurrection and to haul anyone who might object off to their locally-run jails so they can keep the beds full and the payments rolling in from the state. It’s a self-perpetuating ATM.

Meanwhile, someone forgot to check the cell door, leaving a teenage girl vulnerable.

And now, 16 months after the fact, it’s still “under investigation.”

Perhaps Attorney General Jeff Landry has more important matters on his plate than bringing such a trivial matter as a sexual assault on a teenage girl to a close after more than 16 months. After all, she was on meth and in jail.

And we have to protect decent, upstanding citizens first, right?

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High school civics classes taught us about the checks and balances of government. You know, the three branches: the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative, each of which is supposed to serve as a safeguard against abuses by the other two.

In addition to those, at the state level at least, we have the Office of Inspector General, the Legislative Auditor, and the Attorney General—except that the Constitutional Convention of 1974, thanks to the muscle-flexing of the district attorneys, hamstrung the attorney general from intruding on the turf of the DA’s unless specifically invited to do so.

Another little-known fact about the attorney general is that the office is set up to defend, not prosecute, state agency heads who run afoul of the law. That’s why you see enormous expenditures on the part of the Louisiana Office of Risk Management when an agency head is sued for, say, failure to provide public records when requested or even when an agency head is accused of criminal wrongdoing. ORM, the state’s insurance agency, pays defense attorneys who are contracted by the attorney general’s office. Thus, as long as someone else is footing the bill, the incentive is for the public official to duke it out in court.

So, with all these safeguards in place, how is it that a quiet amendment was sneaked through the legislature 11 years ago that gives legislators control over the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars most folks, including the Legislative Auditor’s Office and those whose job it was to draft bill amendments, didn’t even know existed?

Well, we gave you the answer when we said “sneaked.” These types of bills are done very quietly, with zero fanfare but with laser-like efficiency.

Here’s the wording of that amendment:

R.S. 24:39(D) is amended and reenacted to expand the uses of the monies in the Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund to include supporting all other operations and activities consistent with the authorized mission of the Legislative Budgetary Control Council. This provision is effective June 7, 2012.” (Emphasis ours.)

The Legislative Capitol WHAT fund?!!!?

Legislative Budgetary Control Council?!!?

What is the Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund and who are the members of this Legislative Budgetary Control Council?

The members of the Budgetary Control Council are:

  • Sen. John Alario, Co-chair;
  • Rep. Taylor Barras, Co-chair;
  • Rep. Michael Danahay;
  • Rep. Cameron Henry;
  • Rep. Walt Leger, III;
  • Rep. Gregory Miller;
  • Sen. Eric LaFleur;
  • Sen. Gerald Long;
  • Sen. Karen Carter Peterson;
  • Sen. Gregory Tarver.

We also found the 2008 act that created the Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund which gives legislators a helluva lot of discretion over funds no one knew existed—especially with the slipping in of that 2012 amendment that gives them carte blanche control over a helluva lot of money.

Here is the wording of R.S. 24:39, including the key Section D:

RS 24:39     

Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund

  1.  There is hereby created in the state treasury, as a special fund, the Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund, hereinafter referred to as the “fund”.
  2.  The state treasurer is hereby authorized and directed to transfer ten million dollars from the state general fund to the Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund on June 30, 2008, and on July first of each fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009.  The legislature may appropriate, allocate, or transfer additional monies to the fund if it deems necessary to accomplish the purposes of the fund.
  3.  Monies in the fund shall be invested by the treasurer in the same manner as monies in the state general fund and any interest earned on the investment of monies in the fund shall be credited to the fund.  All unexpended and unencumbered monies in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall remain in the fund.
  4.  Monies in the fund shall be available for appropriation to and use by the Legislative Budgetary Control Council, hereinafter referred to as the “council”.  Such appropriations shall be used by the council solely to fund construction, improvements, maintenance, renovations, repairs, and necessary additions to the House chamber, Senate chamber, legislative committee meeting rooms, and other legislative rooms, offices, and areas in the Capitol Complex for audio-visual upgrades and technology enhancements and for supporting all other operations and activities consistent with the authorized mission of the council.

In 2010, Clifford Williams, who said he worked as a legislative staffer in the Legislature’s Amendment Room where his job was to draft amendments to bills, said, “I was not even aware of this provision until I was asked to do an amendment involving this provision one day.”

He said a legislator came in that day and requested the transfer of $5 million to some other long-forgotten project. “To tell the truth, I not only don’t remember what he said he wanted the money for, I don’t even recall the legislator’s name. But this was the first time I ever heard of this fund, which is nothing more than a slush fund for legislators’ use with virtually no oversight. It’s money that exists outside the regular legislative budget,” he said.

In 2012, just four short years after the initial $10 million appropriation, the fund had a balance of more than $32 million. Here is an analysis of the fund for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012:


The Council’s net assets increased by $20,161,763. This resulted primarily from significant increases in appropriations in the current year for the Legislative Capitol Technology Enhancement Fund and the State Capitol HVAC Replacement and Renovations project, as well as decreases in expenditures due to the completion of various projects.

 The general revenues of the Council were $32,749,917, which is an increase of $16,741,476 from the prior year. The significant increase is a result of additional appropriations received in the current year for projects and renovations. Prior year revenues did not include appropriations for the Technology Enhancement projects and Capitol renovations.

The total expenditures/expenses of the Council were $11,577,183, which is a decrease of $7,173,036 from the prior year. The decrease is a result of capital outlay expenditures for the Technology Enhancement projects and Capitol renovations decreasing due to project completions in the current year.

The other financing uses of the Council were $1,010,971, which is an increase of $283,007.

So, as the state struggles with budgetary shortfalls, looming deficits and near-certain budget cutbacks, it’s comforting to know the Legislature has solidified its financial future through legislation sneaked through the process with such skill that even Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera was caught unaware Monday when asked about the fund.

Just another way, folks, that your legislators continue to look out for their own interests (parties, fine dining, campaign cash) while leaving you and your concerns choking in the dust.

As the late C.B. Forgotston would’ve said, you can’t make this stuff up.

And the party goes on.

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Louisiana Voice made a couple of public records requests of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter for records of purchases made from businesses owned by two of his deputies, purchases that would constitute a violation of state ethics laws governing public employees doing business with agencies for whom they work.

A 1995 opinion by the State Ethics Commission addresses just such a scenario (CLICK HERE). It says that the owner of Fire Apparatus Specialties, who also serves as Assistant Fire Chief of the Third District Volunteer Fire Department in Jefferson Parish, purchased equipment from his company on behalf of the fire department in violation of state ethics laws.

In all, there are more than 80 opinions by the Ethics Commission that address various schemes in which agency heads or employees sold goods and/or services to their agencies—all of which are violations of the law.

In Terrebonne Parish, Brent Hidalgo and Douglas Chauvin, Jr. are sheriff’s deputies.

Hidalgo also owns Promotek, LLC, a screen printing and embroidery company in Houma that sells specialty items like shirts, caps and mugs with company and organization names imprinted on the product.

Douglas Chauvin, III, owns First Circuit, LLC, an electrician firm in Bourg, Louisiana.

PROMOTEK, LLC Limited Liability Company HOUMA Active


Previous Names
Charter Number: 41228919K
Registration Date: 7/16/2013


Domicile Address
HOUMA, LA 70360


Mailing Address
HOUMA, LA 70360


Status: Active
Annual Report Status: Not In Good Standing for failure to file Annual Report
File Date: 7/16/2013
Last Report Filed: 2/3/2017
Type: Limited Liability Company



Address 1: 226 EXETER RUN
City, State, Zip: HOUMA, LA 70360
Appointment Date: 7/16/2013


Title: Manager
Address 1: 226 EXETER RUN
City, State, Zip: HOUMA, LA 70360



Name Type City Status
FIRST CIRCUIT, LLC Limited Liability Company HOUMA Active


Charter Number: 36559236K
Registration Date: 10/9/2007


Domicile Address
HOUMA, LA 70343


Mailing Address
HOUMA, LA 70360


Status: Active
Annual Report Status: In Good Standing
File Date: 10/9/2007
Last Report Filed: 9/19/2016
Type: Limited Liability Company


Registered Agent(s)


Address 1: 7706 MAIN STREET
Address 2: SUITE 201
City, State, Zip: HOUMA, LA 70360
Appointment Date: 5/2/2017


Officer(s) Additional Officers: No 


Title: Manager
City, State, Zip: HOUMA, LA 70360

LouisianaVoice received reports that the sheriff’s department purchased all its shirts, with logos of the department, from Hidalgo’s firm and that Chauvin’s electrical company had performed work for the sheriff’s department despite prohibitions of employees or their immediate family members from doing business with an agency that employed them.

A public records request for any payments made to the two firms or to Hidalgo or Chauvin directly resulted in a response from Larpenter that said in part, “…this office has never paid anything to Brent Hidalgo or any of his family members, representatives or employees or Douglas or Doug Chauvin or any of his family members, representatives or employees.”

Fair enough, Sheriff. That seems to be a reasonable and timely response.

Except….except…well, one of your deputies says you may be back-dooring the purchases—at least insofar as Hidalgo is concerned.

The deputy, who for obvious reasons must protect his identity, says that Larpenter’s deputies are required to personally purchase any shirts they are required to wear but that they are directed to Brent Hidalgo as the vendor and that Hidalgo handles all such transactions.

That’s a pretty gray area. A 2011 Board of Ethics opinion, (read it HERE) quite clearly says, the owner of just such a specialty company who also was a member of the Covington City Council “would not be prohibited from selling products with the city logo, through his company, to city employees so long as the city employee pays for such products with his or her personal funds.”

That seems cut and dried but the key word is directed, as “directed to Brent Hidalgo.” It would seem as long as the purchases are 100 percent voluntary, Hidalgo and Larpenter would have no problem with Hidalgo’s selling shirts to deputies. But if our deputy is accurate in saying they are directed to purchase from Hidalgo, then what we would seem to have is an implied contract between Hidalgo and Larpenter.

That same 2011 opinion also says the council member would be prohibited from using the employees of the City of Covington “as a channel to enter into a transaction with his agency.”

Some may call this distinction an example of splitting hairs, but if deputies are in fact directed to Hidalgo by Larpenter, that does present an entirely different scenario than that represented in the 2011 opinion.

Perhaps the sheriff will address this in the special staff meeting he has called for tomorrow (Friday).


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