By Attorney David Engler

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Yesterday, an ICU physician gave me the concept of “The Documentation of The Demonstration of Love.” It is a beautiful concept and especially useful when trying to determine at the end of life, who is truly acting as the next of kin.

This came up because I am litigating a case for two adult daughters and adult son-in-law who were taking care of their father at the end of his life. To their shock, Adult Protective Services jumped in without a court order and took the ailing father off to live with a longtime “lady-friend.” The father, completely incompetent because of long term COPD, told APS and hospice that he wanted to go back to a friend’s home outside of the county.  The man was being loved by his only daughters and son-in-law as well as his grandchildren.  The government brought in a local police officer and literally strapped the dying man to a stretcher and carted him away.  The scene was emotionally charged as Father and Grandpa was being loaded into the back of an ambulance.  They would never see him again.  He would die two months later, but not before the lady-friend changed the life insurance, power of attorney and will.

Is there a value for losing the presence of your dying parent for the last two months of his life? How do you measure the loss of ability to provide loving care for your dying parent? Maybe the better question is, whether a value can be placed on this sacred time.

But, back to the Doctor’s comments about “The Documentation of The Demonstration of Love.” His thought was brilliant.  Just being related by blood. as opposed to friendship, does not mean your loss of time with a dying person has value.  The physician who sees life and death on a daily basis had a keen intuition as to the relationship between the patient and those who have come to be near at the moment of death.  Some might be there looking at their smartphone in the lobby dealing with the guilt of not having been there enough for Mom. There is the family member who is counting down the minutes to inheritance, big or small.  They are there to make sure the troublesome sibling isn’t getting one over.  There are those who are inconvenienced by the process of death.  Imagine the mind of the Doctor whose sole interest is the patient. He is looking for the Documentation of the Demonstration of Love.  Was the family member at the rehab center every day?  Was Mom’s hair brushed by her daughter no matter what meanness came out of the Mother’s mouth controlled by a progressing dementia? Did the family turn their family room into a hospital room?  Was money spent? Are there pictures of smiles and a hand being held?  Or was the grieving “lady-friend,” twenty years his junior, constantly on the receiving end of money from the older man? Were his clothes clean?

Now, the government agency should never have come in and taken a dying elderly man from his only daughters without some court order. It was a screw up when it happened and that is why we have a lawsuit. But having a legal point is not the same as proving the damage that comes from not being their when your Dad is dying.  We have to dig deeper.  We need proof to show; where was the love?

And as we go through life, maybe it’s not a bad idea to live as if you were preparing for a jury trial.  One day there will be a judgment day and someone will ask to see the documentation of the demonstration of love. If it is important to you that you be seen as having loved, then make sure your life is filled with proof.  Did you leave a smile? Did you sacrifice your time? Did you do the tasks that were difficult; like changing a soiled sheet or holding a person’s hair back when they were sick? Did you bring gifts? Did you send cards? If we live our lives knowing that we will be asked to document our love then we will live in peace with our self and the ultimate finder of fact. 

By Attorney David Engler

This week I stood in the parking lot of Trumbull County Children Services with two brave young women. We were very close to the spot where they were sexually molested as 12 and 13 year olds. It took so much courage for them to get in the car with me and drive to a group of awaiting cameras including their old caseworker who stood outside during his work day filming the young women. The two recounted how they were preyed upon by a Youth Leader woman that was hired to protect them while at children services. This Dorm Mother actually would take overtime so she could sleep with one of the three girls during the night.

There were three girls age 12, 12 and 13 when the sexual abuse first started. They each were left into the care of the Government because their own homes were broken, parents were addicts or a father was a molester.  Each of their lives had not been easy but they have overcome extreme cruelty to become good mothers, daughters, friends and employees.  Each of the three have given me more inspiration then what I could possibly gain from representing them.

The cruelest comment, after we announced a lawsuit against CSB for employing a pedophile, came from the Director Tim Schaffner.  His response to finding out that three preteens  were sexually abused by an employee was shocking. He said he was appalled that Attorney Engler would expose these girls. I have encountered many tone-deaf Government types in my 26 years of practice but this is the worse. Instead of expressing outrage that the abuse happened, or expressing concern for the girls, or being troubled… he was appalled that the girls would dare show their sweet faces This guy is running an agency that is supposed to protect children. These girls are heroes for giving a face to childhood sexual abuse. If you’re a victim you do not have to hide in a closet. The shame is not the victims but the pedophile and the agency that employed her and did nothing to stop her and protect young girls who could not have been more vulnerable.

Since I have first stepped up to take on the agency that permitted a known pedophile to rape a baby at its own office, I have been swamped with the calls of victims or parents or grandparents who are suffering at the indifferent hands of Trumbull CSB and others throughout the State. Others have joined the fight with the notable exception of no elected officials or judges who place kids into CSB. I cannot figure out how many murdered or abused children it takes before someone in power cares to act.  I suppose this is the same sort of thing that happened at Penn State. 

As an attorney we are taught to stay dispassionate from our clients in the course of litigation. I am shaking with anger. My clients are each beautiful, intelligent, caring young African-American women. They needed good foster parents to have taken them out the CSB hell they were placed into. But the reality is people want babies not young teens. I told each of these girls that I would have been proud to have been their father. I am not sure I could be a foster parent now but wish I had known these girls when they were 12.  There are other children out there.  They are victims of all sorts of terrible things. It is so sad that they had to be insulted and victimized one more time by a Director who believes victims of abuse should hide their faces. Shame on you Director Schaffner.

Attorney David Engler

Phone: 330-729-9777

http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website

Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

By Attorney David Engler

Private placement agencies if not monitored well by Children Service Boards can end in tragedy. In Trumbull County, Ohio there have been at least 5 murders of children who were either directly through foster placement or indirectly through custody orders placed with the abuser.

In Fairfield County, Ohio a 5 year old boy was made to stand out in the rain and cold as a punishment. The boy was taken by ambulance to ER after going into cardiac arrest. He has permanent neurological damage.  A private agency working under the County made the placement.  The agency did not inquire as to why the foster parents had been denied a license in Hamilton County, Ohio.

The failure of Children Protective Service agencies is an epidemic.

The New York Times reported earlier this year reported about the wide spread abuse in the City. I am quoting it in its near entirety.

The New York Times -

“Lawyers for 10 disabled children who were fraudulently adopted by a Queens woman more than 15 years ago and subjected to years of abuse have proposed a $68 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed on their clients’ behalf, according to a confidential court filing.”

Matthew Ratajczak/Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers,

“The proposal comes as a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn appears to be trying to mediate a settlement to the suit, filed in 2009, which seeks damages from New York City and three contract adoption agencies that placed the children with the woman, Judith Leekin.

Serial Abuser for Foster Money

The case has been seen as one of the most disturbing child welfare fraud cases in the city in recent years. Ms. Leekin used four aliases to adopt the children, who had physical or developmental disabilities, including autism and retardation, and later moved them to Florida. The children were caged, restrained with plastic ties and handcuffs, beaten with sticks and hangers, and kept out of school, according to court papers. An 11th child disappeared while in Ms. Leekin’s care and is presumed dead.

The suit asks that the 10 plaintiffs, now mostly in their 20s, be compensated for their years of suffering as well as for the services and treatment they will need for the rest of their lives.

The letter was filed publicly in October, but was quickly sealed after the lawyer wrote that it “referred to confidential discussions between the parties.” The New York Times obtained the letter while it was publicly available.

Ms. Leekin, 66, was imprisoned after she was convicted of fraud in federal court in Manhattan and of abuse in a state court in Florida. Federal prosecutors have said that as part of her scheme, she collected $1.68 million in subsidies from the city that went to support a lavish lifestyle.

When the 10 children were removed from her care in 2007, none had completed elementary school; only three could read and only at a third-grade level; and about half were declared either “totally incapacitated” or “vulnerable adults,” according to a report by a former Columbia University social work professor retained by the plaintiffs to examine the cases.

The 10 have since lived in Florida in state programs or on their own, and at least one is homeless, according to court filings.

New York City and the three private agencies have denied liability in the case, claiming that Ms. Leekin was a sophisticated serial criminal whose scheme fooled various professionals and, given the capabilities and practices of the time, would not have been foreseen or detected.

The agencies are HeartShare Human Services of New York, SCO Family of Services and the now-closed St. Joseph Services for Children and Families.

The agencies’ lawyer, Robert S. Delmond, did not respond to messages seeking a comment on Thursday. Lawyers for the city and the plaintiffs declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

In the now-sealed letter to Judge Go, Mr. Delmond described the $68 million demand as “a significant sum, which requires much consideration, thought, planning and involvement of corporate officers before they can reach a decision.” The agencies’ insurance carrier was reviewing the matter, he noted, and was “not prepared to make a settlement offer at this time.”

He requested more time to allow for further consultations with the insurer and meetings to discuss “possible settlement offers.”

It is unclear how the city and the private agencies might apportion any payout if a settlement is reached.

Jonathan S. Abady, a lawyer whose firm, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, has handled suits against the city and private agencies in cases involving abused and neglected children, said “there does appear to be a uniform indemnification provision” in the contracts the city has with such agencies.

“But the city has the ultimate legal responsibility for the child,” said Mr. Abady, whose firm is not involved in the Leekin suit.

In August, Theodore Babbitt, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, asked Judge Go to move the case forward because of the “fragile, unstable and precarious” condition of the plaintiffs. “They are desperate for care that cannot be provided through the Florida state system,” he wrote.

He cited three of the male plaintiffs, who ranged in age from 19 to 24: one had been on a round-the-clock suicide watch after multiple attempts to take his own life. Another had fathered children out of wedlock and was homeless. A third had been arrested for domestic violence against his older brother. “He is angry and depressed and bottles it up inside until he violently explodes,” Mr. Babbitt wrote.”

ifference towards the sexual abuse of children by men in leadership positions does not seem to be isolated only in Happy Valley.

Attorney David Engler

Phone: 330-729-9777 http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/

Also published on Attorney David Engler’s Law Blog http://davidengler.wordpress.com

By Attorney David Engler

A critic uses Facebook and Social Media to challenge government rule. The critic gains followers online. The government seeks to jail the critic.

 

FOUNDING FATHERS APPALLED !!!

This sounds like a rogue Mid-East nation or third world African state.

It is not.

This is happening in Trumbull County, Ohio.

A small businessman, Berry Meadows, who has run a septic installation company for many years had an argument with The Trumbull County Health Department.

TCHD is in charge of approving septic systems and responsible for approving installers.  The nature of the dispute is really not important. It has been the reaction of the government to quash any dissent that is down-right scary.

Mr. Meadows runs a company called Digging Dirt, LLC.  He is married to a very bright woman, Deanna, who assists in running their business.  They have three beyond adorable children and believe fiercely in the Word of God. What they thought was wrong, was a decision made by TCHD in conjunction with the State of Ohio EPA, or maybe on its own, to deny a septic system that Digging Dirt believed would produce a clean effluent and cost homeowners $3000 less per installation.  The Meadows believed the County had either directly or indirectly created a monopoly for one brand of septic system in the County and had cost the taxpayers of Trumbull millions of dollars.

So they took their dispute to the social media. They create a group site on Facebook called Trumbull County Septic News and it immediately gets followers. The Meadows do some digging of their own into ‘how things work’ and discover some real dirt!

They uncover what they believe to be a pattern of favors for friends of TCHD.
They fight to get public records. They sue TCHD for failure to provide the records. 
They ask for records to either prove or disapprove whether the Health Commissioner actually works the hours he is contracted to provide.
It’s a sweetheart job the health Commissioner holds and he refuses to release records that would show when he shows up to work.  He claims that such records pose a security risk.  Mind you that we are talking about a local health department and not the NSA.

The Trumbull County Septic News starts to take off.  The Meadows post the rants of the Health Commissioner, Dr. Enyeart on the website.  They post video of the entire meetings.

Kaboom. 

The Meadows ask for records that show the possibility that the local Sheriff got favorable treatment for a property with a non-compliant septic system. The property is owned by the Sheriff’s son and maybe there is nothing wrong, except Mr. Meadows asked for the records. 
He then asks for the records of the Board’s attorney who gets $3250 per month for a part-time gig.  The records show that the Board’s attorney didn’t have to pay up front for an inspection like most citizens. Once again maybe everything is kosher with the process, but it looks messy.

What happens next is straight from China’s or Syria’s play book of how to deal with a critic:

First call him crazy to anyone that will listen.

Next do not allow him or her to speak at the public meetings.
The local board hires the Sheriff’s office to post an armed guard and stand over seemingly anyone who has the temerity to make a public record request. 
Dr. Enyeart himself asks for the guard to be present at the Health Department.
And then when the subtle forms of intimidation do not work…..seek to imprison your critic.

 Amazingly the very top of the Sheriff’s chain of command gets involved with the case and seeks out a customer of Digging Dirt from 2007 that had a dispute.  The customer does not seek criminal charges but rightfully was claiming that they deserved a refund. They take their contract dispute to civil court and name Wells Fargo as a Defendant since they believe Wells Fargo released money in 2008 that should not have been released.  But the Sheriff’s office takes a contract case that is nearly 5 years old and charges Berry Meadows with felony Theft by Deception! 

The Health Department posts the newspaper article of my client’s arrest on its government website!

The high ranking Sheriff’s official then finds another customer of Digging Dirt and uses that case to file a criminal complaint for Theft by Deception. 

In Ohio and every other jurisdiction Theft by Deception is used when someone promises to do something that they have no intention of ever doing or delivering something that they cannot deliver in order to get someone’s money.  Digging Dirt had been doing hundreds of quality installs. This was not the scam of the door to door siding salesman taking a deposit then skipping town.

It is not coincidental that after months of posting damaging information about the Health Department and possibly the Sheriff’s office that a criminal charge is initiated, investigated and brought by the Sheriff’s office on civil matters that were very old.

What is amazing is that the local government officials could not contain themselves from understanding that their actions are nothing short of strong armed goons going out of their way to quiet opposition. 

This government and others are going to have to come to grips that they need to treat their social media critics with the same deference they treat the traditional news media.  I know they might like to jail a reporter or two, but it is against the law. 

Why can’t they look at their great government jobs and benefits and be happy to have them, instead of risking all of it to put some small businessman out of business and in jail.  Our framers of the Constitution called it the First Amendment for a reason.  They didn’t think to place it eighth or fifteenth or forget to list it at all.  It is the First Amendment and it guarantees that we will have free speech. Here is the entire First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Oops maybe the local Health Board forgot about petitioning of government for a redress of grievances. Get used to it government.  Facebook, Twitter and blogs is part of the new press.  Do not try to jail your critics.  Try listening to them. Act like you understand that the truth will always come out.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/ and on David Engler’s Law Bloghttp://davidengler.wordpress.com/

By Attorney David Engler

For the last 12 years I have been a school board member of a county board and a career and technical center. On the county board or Educational Service Center we provide the services to help local districts improve. We also run special schools including one for emotionally disturbed children with varying behavioral issues; a school run in conjunction with a great program started by the local Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick.  At the MCCTC almost a third of our students have an IEP. An IEP stands for Individual Education Plan. It is required by law and so many parents do not understand how important to ensure your child’s IEP is carefully constructed to specifically help your child no matter the cost or inconvenience to a district.

 

The worst thing I ever heard was from the lips of a fired teacher who told me how hard it was to chase after “tongue draggers” every day. My emotions were caught in between punching him and simply shaking my head. I am glad we fired him. Instead I will never forget those words and how insensitive some in education can be towards a child with a disability.  And if that disability is one of a severe emotional problem or a slight shade of Autism or Asperger’s, then most of our teachers are ill-trained to help the child with the different wiring. There are many teachers who just get it.  They are naturals at knowing how to reach the student with a disability that can be unnerving and tiring. They also understand the investment a parent has made in this child.  The teacher may have the child 6 hours a week or maybe more if an elementary student.

And often indifference is the answer from an administration concerned about increased costs.  So whether they admit it or not, every administrator knows that a diagnosis of a disability might bring years of extra costs for the district. In a famous case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Forest Grove School District v. T.A. (2009) the court ruled that the district should have reimbursed the parents for the costs of private schooling since the District should have been aware of the disability and provide assistance to the family.  The District claimed they had no idea there was a problem. Justice Stevens of the Supreme Court stated: “We conclude that IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) authorizes reimbursement for the cost of special education services when a school district fails to provide a FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) and the private-school placement is appropriate, regardless of whether the child previously received special education or related services through the public school.” The cost to the district was $65000 to reimburse the parents and potentially $500000 in legal fees. 

Every school district is legally required to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities (20 U.S.C. §1412(a)(3)). After the evaluation, the district may provide the child with specific programs and services to address special needs.

IDEA defines “children with disabilities” as individuals between the ages of three and 22 with one or more of the following conditions:

  • Mental retardation
  • Hearing impairment (including deafness)
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Visual impairment (including blindness)
  • Serious emotional impairment
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Autism
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Specific learning disability, or
  • Other health impairment                  (20 U.S.C. §1401(3); 34 C.F.R. §300.8).

For your child to qualify for special education under IDEA, it is not enough to have one of these disabilities. There must also be evidence that the disability adversely affects your child’s educational performance.

Now each school district should be well aware of its responsibilities.  But sadly not every administrator can see life from the eyes of a parent struggling to find help for their child.  The schools seem relieved if they can cause the child to graduate and be done with the financial exposure. The former Director of Special Ed for Maryland, Dr. Linda Bluth gave me the best advice ever.  “Our children do not fail…it is we who fail our children.” It is very difficult to cause a school culture to adopt this core belief.  It makes us accountable.  It denies us the ability to blame little to no achievement on a kid with a mental problem, a broken home, a history with children services, parents who think they know better(they almost always do) or some other societal bogeyman.  No we have to own it.  This means we will have failures.  And they will sting. 

But for the guardians and parents there is help for you. I have included some of the language in the federal IDEA statute above to help you know what to do.  The regulations can be found at www.gov/about/offices/list/users.  The country has 81 million students that fit this category.  Ohio has about 3 million.  We need more teachers and aides with special education training. We need to pay them more to encourage their numbers and recognize that their job makes teaching even tougher than it already is.  You can also look at www.mdlclaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/pub-special-ed-handbook. This handbook gives you sample letters to ask for independent evaluations  and how the legal process works.  Or hire a lawyer.

Most importantly we need parents to step forward and be armed with the law as you demand the very best possible Free and Appropriate Public Education for your child. The key word to me is appropriate.  These children are all so very different.   Make sure the IEP has real goals that can be measured without someone guessing that your son or daughter has advanced with soft logic.  Don’t give up and never be afraid to ask to talk directly to the Board of Education.  Often the Board members are shielded from the other side of the story. Do not assume that they will side with the administrators standing in your way.  

You have been given a child with special needs because you can handle it.  I do not need to tell you your journey is tough. Not everyone is going to be understanding.  But I can tell you that the law is on your side and many more people than you could possibly imagine.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/ and on David Engler’s Law Bloghttp://davidengler.wordpress.com/

By Attorney David Engler

Custody disputes take place in Juvenile Court, if the families are not married or Domestic Court, if the family is in the process of a divorce or have divorced previously.

Custody disputes take place in Juvenile Court, if the families are not married or Domestic Court, if the family is in the process of a divorce or have divorced previously.

Clearly having an agreement about how a couple will jointly parent the child or children is the best result.  But if there is no agreement, often accusations will fly.

And I warn all clients to be aware that the court might order a drug screen at any given time.  The courts will almost always take the child or children from the parent on illegal drugs and give custody to the parent who is not hooked.  Sometimes it is hard to find anyone not taking pain pills without a prescription. In one case both parents and a grandparent were dirty. In Ohio for the first time overdoses of drugs has overtaken auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.

In one case the mother was asked by the Magistrate to give a urine screen and she said she couldn’t because she had a yeast infection.  Everyone found that to be disgusting and a weak excuse.  Recently a nice looking young mother was asked to take a screen and at first she agreed.  Then after 15 minutes she comes back and said she had just pee’d before court.  The Court told her to drink some water. 30 minutes later still no urine.  I really didn’t need to see a drug test. She had all the signs.  Empty pill bottles without prescriptions.  Selling things from her house.  Unable to keep a schedule.  A doctor at an ER saying no narcotics for you after she came with a complaint of a tooth ache.  (I was thinking good for the doctor who checked the database from his Akron offices and saw she had filled 21 prescriptions for pain meds in the last two years.)

So she only sees her child if supervised.  That is the overwhelming power of the pain pill epidemic. This scourge does not see race, sex or income.  It is even more powerful than a mother’s natural instinct to care for her child. 

People can recover and get their children back.  But the road is very difficult and those who are nearest to the addict must not be fooled.  We the parents, or friend or guardian must dispense very tough love. Get help; call 211. You will find a counselor, clinic or N.A. Group.  It is a persistent enemy.  For some it is stronger than motherhood.

 

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/ and on Attorney David Engler’s Blog  http://davidengler.wordpress.com//

By Attorney David Engler

All of our parents and clients and ourselves should have durable health care power of attorneys. It is called an Advanced Directive because it takes your client’s wishes and makes them known in advance of them being incompetent of making such decisions. For many professional conservators or guardians the Health Care POA either existed or there would never be one now.

Each Health Care POA has a part where the client designates who will make such life and death decisions in the future. I thought it might be helpful to give some examples of who not to appoint.
DO NOT APPOINT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING :

1. The wife who keeps your emergency inhaler stored in a covered crock pot on the storage shelf in the basement.
2. The son who has labeled some of your favorite possessions with the word “Mine”.
3. Your husband who removed the “9” and “1” keys from the phone.
4. Your daughter who believes Tylenol is VooDoo medicine.
5. Your younger sister whose first comment after you last came out of recovery was “Your still here huh?”
6. Your neighbor who while driving you to ER with chest pains says “Wait just a sec, I’ve got to pick up just a few things from the store for the weekend.”
7. Or the grandson who tells you why can’t you old people get a buzzer reservation system like they use at Applebee’s to give us a 3 hour notice of your death.
8. The Mother who said you had to stay home on family vacations in case there was a car wreck, at least someone from the family would survive. You were only three at the time.
9. The caretaker sent over from the agency who tells you it’s her hobby to know the name of a person’s first pet; street they grew up on and mother’s maiden name.
10. Your girlfriend who knows a great astrologist in Seattle she consults for all of life’s tough questions. Madame Xanthar is always booked two months in advance so it can’t be a question that needs an answer like RIGHT NOW.

Please contact us at info@eguardianship.com if you want a Durable Health Care POA for your state, or follow our blogs at FamilyFaultLines.com or eGuardianship.com .

I appreciate the work of a caregiver and wanted to give you a moment of laugh.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

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