PRINT PAGENotable Cases
The cases below represent examples of the wide range of cases that the firm and its attorneys have handled over the years.
The Firm’s civil division, led by Roy Black, successfully defended BuzzFeed from a defamation lawsuit by a Russian entrepreneur and his tech company who were mentioned in a report by a former British spy about links between Russia and Donald Trump. A federal judge in Florida ruled in November 2018 that BuzzFeed’s publication of the Christopher Steele dossier was protected by legal privilege.
“The Court found that BuzzFeed behaved properly in printing the Steele dossier,’’ Black told reporters. “The ruling is a strong affirmation of the First Amendment. It’s more important that the public know what is being discussed at the highest levels of government than anything else.’’
BSKS defended Rolls Royce against a billion dollar civil claim by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for breach of warranty, fraud and misrepresentation related to cruise ship propulsion systems. After years of other firms handling the case with little to no progress, BSKS assumed representation and aggressively litigated the case to a prompt and successful resolution for the client.
The Firm represented one 50% owner of a national staffing company in litigation in Florida and Boston involving claims of corporate wrongdoing by the other 50% owner, where control and ownership of the company was favorably resolved.
Represented Grammy award-winning singer Enrique Iglesias in a 10 million dollar contract dispute with his former manager.
Successfully defended then-two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Helio Castroneves in a big win over former racing world champion Emerson Fittipaldi when a jury denied Fittipaldi’s multi-million dollar claim that Castroneves had breached a management contract.
The Cordish Company
Larry Stumpf and the BSKS civil team defended The Cordish Company, one of the world's foremost real estate development and entertainment operating businesses, against a high stakes civil lawsuit by Donald Trump's casino company. The lawsuit sought over a billion dollars in casino profits earned from developing the Seminole Hard Rock Casinos in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida, two of the most successful casinos in the country. Trump alleged that the Cordish entities conspired with one of Trump's former consultants to steal the casino development deal from Trump, who tried but failed to complete the deal in 1998.
State of Florida v. Albertson's, Inc.
The State of Florida charged this Fortune 500 Boise, Idaho-based company with criminal manslaughter after a shoplifter in their Delray Beach, Florida, supermarket accidentally died during his detention by store employees. During the course of discovery, numerous errors in the autopsy and toxicology performed were uncovered. After being presented with evidence pointing towards an incorrect opinion as to the cause of death, the State dismissed the charges prior to trial.
State of Florida v. Eller Media (now Clearchannel Outdoor)
The Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Eller Media, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fortune 500 company, Clearchannel Communications, and some of its employees, for possible criminal wrongdoing with regard to an incident surrounding the death of a 12-year-old boy. The State of Florida claimed that the young boy was electrocuted due to Eller’s and some of its employees’ recklessness and charged the corporation and the employees with manslaughter. After a 4-week trial, the jury reached a verdict of not guilty, concluding that the 12-year-old boy died from lightning, and not from the company’s recklessness in the electrical installation of one of its outdoor bus shelters.
Worldwide Security Firm
In 2010, one of the world's largest corporations and employers was the subject of an investigation conducted by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. After approximately 5 months of tireless legal work, the State of Florida declined to prosecute our corporate client.
National Vending Machine Company
Conducted an internal investigation of a nationally-known vending machine company entangled in a nationwide multi-agency operation against business opportunities and presented findings to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Branch Division which resulted in a resolution of the case for the successor company and the non-prosecution of our individual client.
Father of Infant Child (Shaken Baby Case)
In June, 2011, the parents of a nine-month-old baby appeared in our office after being terrorized by police and a hospital physician, that the life-threatening injuries sustained by their baby, who fell three feet from their bed, could not have been caused by such a short distance fall and was, instead, intentional child abuse. With no evidence other than the baby's brain injury, retinal hemorrhage and the surgeon's opinion, the father was accused of violently shaking his baby in a manner which has become known as the Shaken Baby Syndrome.
After meeting with the parents, Mark Shapiro immediately traveled to Lee County, Florida and began an intensive investigation. The prosecutor assigned to the case was also contacted to request a meeting in advance of any charging decision being made. The prosecutor who was on the verge of filing charges and being urged by the local police to authorize the arrest of our client, agreed to "give us an hour" of her time as long as we did so within the next 14 days. In the two weeks which followed, Roy Black and Mark Shapiro reviewed and reconstructed nearly 1,000 pages of medical records and CT scans, identified and hired the finest medical experts in the country, demonstrated through the science of biomechanics that short distance falls in children could and do cause such injuries, pieced together how the baby actually fell from his parents' bed and, ultimately, made a presentation to the prosecutor by the 14th day, as she forewarned.
After presenting the prosecutor with a comprehensive package of information, including written opinions from our experts, a biomechanical re-enactment of the fall and resulting injury, live testimony of a medical professional and a PowerPoint video detailing the nature of the injury and how it was consistent with a short distance fall, the prosecutor immediately pulled back an arrest warrant package which had already been prepared by the police in advance of our meeting. Over the next few weeks, after closely analyzing the information provided and updated science supporting our client's innocence, the State Attorney's Office refused to authorize the police request for an arrest warrant and declined prosecution.
Today, mom, dad and baby are doing fine.
Acquittal in First Degree Murder Case
After three weeks of trial, firm partner Marcos Beaton obtained an acquittal for a young man charged with premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a firearm in Broward County. Prosecutors argued that the client chased and shot a young man in the parking lot of a club after several altercations earlier in the evening between different groups of people, including one where prosecutors argued that the client had pointed a gun at another young man. The three week trial featured 46 witnesses, including witnesses who were at the scene during the shooting, numerous police officers, as well as expert witnesses in firearms, DNA and forensic pathology. Mr. Beaton argued that the evidence showed the shooting was in self-defense and that, among other things, the client had not chased the young man who was shot, that instead the young man was pursuing the client when the fatal shot was fired, that the client had been beaten by the young man, and that there appeared to be more than one person involved in the attack on the client . After less than a full day of deliberations, the jury acquitted the client of all charges. For news coverage of the case, click here.
Chinese National Art Basel Stabbing Case
Siyuan Zhao, a 24 year old Chinese national and exceptionally talented artist and architectural student, was charged with attempted first degree murder, after attacking another young woman while both were in attendance at the Art Basel Exhibition in Miami Beach. Siyuan did not know her victim but attacked and stabbed her in the neck believing that the young woman was a terrorist agent for ISIS and was about to “destroy the art.” After immediately arresting Siyuan at the scene and after questioning by police, it was apparent that Siyuan was suffering from severe mental illness. Attorneys Howard Srebnick and Mark Shapiro were contacted by Siyuan’s family and quickly took the necessary steps to stabilize Siyuan’s mental health condition and to defend her against the serious criminal charges. Over the next several months, leading mental health professionals were brought in and a plan was formulated to coordinate Siyuan’s mental health treatment with a legal strategy to prove that she was not legally responsible for the attack and to get her back home with her parents in Beijing. The coordinated effort was highly successful. Siyuan’s mental health condition was carefully managed and brought under control and, after a lengthy evidentiary hearing before a criminal court judge, Mr. Srebnick and Mr. Shapiro proved that Siyuan was not legally responsible for her actions. The Court found that Siyuan was not sane at the time of the incident and permitted her to leave the United States and return home to China. Coverage in China was published in both the China Gate and the China Press.
For news articles relating to the case, click here.
South Florida Physician Charged with Income Tax Fraud
Successfully represented a prominent South Florida gastroenterologist charged with fraudulently underpaying more than five million dollars in federal income taxes over a five-year period by negotiating a global plea agreement binding on the U.S. government and the IRS that resulted in the dismissal of all but one of the charges. The agreement explicitly included the understanding that the client’s underlying conduct in no way involved or implicated the practice of medicine and was therefore critical in preserving the client’s medical license and his ability to continue practicing medicine. Ultimately, Mr. Black, together with firm partner, Mr. Beaton, successfully convinced the District Court to impose a sentence well below the sentence recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and actively sought by the government.
Miami Plastic Surgeon Charged with Attempted Murder and Kidnapping
A well-respected Miami plastic surgeon was charged with the attempted murder and kidnapping of his ex-girlfriend which supposedly occurred because of a Facebook posting she made. After an exhaustive investigation that included forensic analysis of electronic devices, witness interviews, searches of police files and photographs of the alleged crime scene, a presentation was made to successfully demonstrate to prosecutors how the purported crime could not have happened. The State declined to file felony charges, and instead filed two misdemeanor ones, to be dismissed after the client completes a deferred prosecution program.
Karlie Tomica Successful Plea Negotiation
Karlie Tomica, the self-described “Party Princess” who described herself as such on a social media website, was 20 years old when she struck and killed a popular Miami-Beach chef in the early morning hours as he was walking to work on Collins Avenue. Karlie, who was driving home after finishing her overnight shift as a bartender at Nikki’s Beach Club on South Beach, had a blood alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit, after having consumed alcoholic beverages while at work. Though not realizing at first that she hit and killed a pedestrian, she drove away from the accident. However, a witness to the accident began following Karlie in his car and pulled alongside of her and told her that she hit a person and to pull over. Karlie panicked, continued to drive away and eventually drove home where police were waiting to arrest her. Karlie was Charged with DUI Manslaughter and Leaving the Scene of an Accident involving Death. The facts of this case were particularly ugly and public sentiment, even worse. After months of investigation and work-up of the case, and with only four days remaining before her 21st birthday, Mark Shapiro was able to negotiate a very favorable plea resolution, whereby Karlie Tomica would be sanctioned as a Youthful Offender and probation. Had she turned 21 before the deal was secured, Karlie would have been ineligible to receive the benefit of pleading as a youthful offender.
Elderly Widow Sentenced and Served Five Seconds of Probation
Represented Mary Estelle Curran, an elderly widow, who was charged in one of the largest offshore bank account tax cases, for failing to pay taxes and disclose $43 million held in accounts at UBS and LGT in Switzerland. Following a sentencing hearing before a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Ms. Curran was sentenced to five seconds of federal probation. This is perhaps the shortest term of probation ever imposed in a federal criminal case. Links:
Banker Charged with Financial Crimes Involving Derivatives in Southern District of New York
A Senior Executive Vice President of a publically traded bank holding company and the once leading residential mortgage lender in Puerto Rico, was charged in the Southern District of New York with one count of securities fraud, four counts of wire fraud and forfeiture. The superseding indictment returned against the client charged him with having made misrepresentations to stock analysts and investors regarding certain core characteristics of a unique and complex financial instrument known as a variable-rate interest only strip ("IO") and the IO portfolio's external valuation.
There was a 5-week trial where our client was convicted of certain counts and acquitted of others. At the sentencing held on November 16, 2010, the government sought 27-34 years of imprisonment, based on their estimate of $75 million in losses and an aggregate decline in shareholder value of approximately $4 billion. The defense established, by filing pleadings and affidavits and supported by legal argument at the sentencing, that the loss attributable to our client's conduct could not be determined. Our client was sentenced to 5 years.
Helio Castroneves and his Sister Acquitted of Income Tax Evasion Charges
Three-time Indy race champion and Dancing with the Stars winner, Helio Castroneves, and his sister, Katia, were acquitted of 5 of 6 counts of income tax evasion after a 7-week trial. The one charge on which the jury was deadlocked was dropped shortly thereafter.
To hear Roy Black's closing argument in the case, click here.
To hear Howard Srebnick's closing argument in the case, click here.
South Florida Jeweler Found Not Guilty on 8 Counts of Money Laundering Charges
After three weeks of trial, Roy Black and Howard Srebnick left federal prosecutors stunned as a Miami jury found this South Florida Supply Corporation, its owner and sales manager not guilty on all eight counts of money laundering. The prosecution charged that the company and its employees had knowingly accepted more than $8,000,000 in drug cash as payment for gold bullion. The company is one of the largest jewelry supply companies in the country, servicing customers in the southeast United States and Latin America. Due to having a large clientele of gold customers from Colombia who paid in cash, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies targeted the company for three years, orchestrating a taped sting operation - dubbed by the government as "Goldstar" - in which an undercover agent and confidential informant posed as customers interested in buying gold.
40-year-old Accountant Charged with Manslaughter in Shooting Death of 16-Year-Old Prankster
This 40-year-old accountant was charged with Manslaughter following the highly publicized shooting death of a 16-year-old boy who was playing a late-night prank on the doorstep of the accountant's home. The accountant maintained that he had acted in self-defense as he opened his front door and saw what he believed to be a gun in the boy's hand. No gun was ever discovered and an eyewitness claimed that the boy was running away when the gun was fired. After a solid year of intensive investigation, forensic trace evidence analysis and interrogation of prosecution witnesses, the defense team was able to build a strong case for our client’s justifiable use of deadly force. These factors, in conjunction with four very intense days of jury selection, resulted in a particularly favorable resolution negotiated only minutes prior to the commencement of opening statements.
Miami Police Officer Found Not Guilty in Overtown Video Arcade Shooting
This City of Miami Police officer fatally shot a patron of a Miami Overtown video arcade when he moved suddenly as if to go after a weapon. The shooting sparked days of riots, burning and looting. After a 9-week trial, the jury took only two hours to find the police officer not guilty.
Miami River Cops Case
The trial lasted four months, and resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial.
Alleged "Queen of Cocaine" Cleared After Case Dismissed
The Defendant was alleged to be the "queen of cocaine." After a week-long proceeding, the Judge suppressed all the evidence and the case was dismissed. The government subsequently dismissed its appeal.
Florida Man Found Not Guilty in Charges He Murdered His Girlfriend
The Defendant was charged with first degree murder of his girlfriend. The indictment charged him with shooting her in his apartment and then taking her body out and placing it in a car at a drive-in teller location at a local bank. They say that he then called her in as a missing person. He later confessed to accidentally shooting her. He was found not guilty.
Alleged Crime Boss Cleared After Case Dismissed
The Defendant was alleged to have been an organized crime figure. He was the subject of several months of wiretaps. After extensive hearings, the trial court suppressed all the wiretaps. The state appealed. The suppression of the wiretaps was affirmed by the Third District Court of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court. The case was subsequently dismissed.
Death Row Inmate's Sentence Vacated
In 1974, the Defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and given two death sentences. He was subsequently convicted of the first degree murder of a guard on death row. In 1981, this case was taken as a pro bono case. On December 8, 1988, the Eleventh Circuit vacated his death sentences.
Retrial of Miami Police Officer in Highly Publicized Manslaughter Case
After 5 years, 241 depositions, 10 interlocutory appeals, and 3 change of venue hearings, this Miami Police Officer was acquitted. At the second trial, Roy Black made the very difficult decision of not putting on a defense, but rather getting his entire case out through the cross examination of the witnesses called by the State.
President of Largest Hispanic Bank in U.S. Acquitted
The defendant, president of the largest Hispanic bank in the United States at the time, was charged with bribery and money laundering. He was acquitted of all charges.
Public Figure Found Not Guilty in Highly Publicized Rape Case
A highly publicized rape case. After 3 weeks of jury selection and 9 days of trial, the jury reached a verdict of not guilty after only 77 minutes of deliberation.
Former South Florida Mayor Charged with Hobbs Act Violations, Conspiracy and Tax Violations
The Defendant was indicted while he was serving as Mayor of the City of Miami Beach. The indictment alleged approximately 45 counts of Hobbs Act violations, conspiracy and tax violations. After a 3-month jury trial, our client was acquitted on 9 counts but convicted on 1 count. The jury was also hung on more than 30 counts where the vote was 11-1 or 10-2 for acquittal.
Not Guilty Verdict Found in Hurricane Andrew Insurance Fraud Case
A 2-week trial based on allegations of insurance fraud stemming from insurance claims exceeding $350,000, made after Hurricane Andrew, resulting in a not-guilty verdict on all counts.
Former U.S. Justice Department Official Acquitted on RICO Charges
The defendant, a former Justice Department official, was indicted for RICO violations and accused of conspiring with his drug-lord client. The government's motion to disqualify Howard Srebnick as trial counsel was denied. Following a 5-month federal trial, the jury acquitted the defendant on the RICO charges and hung on the remaining counts.
Nationally-Known Sportscaster's Charges of Sodomy and Assault Dismissed
The Commonwealth of Virginia charged this nationally-known sportscaster with forcible sodomy and assault of a long-time intimate acquaintance. Unlike most states, oral sodomy between consenting adults, a lesser included offense of forcible sodomy, is still a felony punishable by a minimum of 5 years in jail. After challenging that consensual oral sodomy should not be a crime, based on constitutional rights to privacy, and after four days of trial, the case ended with a deferred finding with no adjudication on the misdemeanor assault, with all charges being dismissed one year from the sentencing hearing.
NFL Super Bowl Wide Receiver Found Not Guilty
NFL Super Bowl wide receiver was accused of laundering drug money for a childhood friend. Following a 3-week federal criminal trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts.
Felony Customs Fraud and Tax Evasion Charges Against Cuban-American Businesswoman Dropped
Successful Cuban-American businesswoman indicted on 18 counts of felony customs fraud and tax evasion. After filing a motion for severance arguing that she needed the testimony of her co-defendant husband to support her innocence, the trial judge granted a dual-jury on the eve of trial and the government dropped all felony charges against her.
Six Cuban-Americans Charged with Conspiring to Assassinate Fidel Castro
Six Cuban-Americans were accused of conspiring to assassinate Fidel Castro while he was delivering a speech in Venezuela. Three of the men were arrested on the high seas in possession of two .50 caliber assault rifles and high tech commando gear, and one of them supposedly confessed. Nevertheless, a Puerto Rico jury acquitted the men on all charges.
South Florida Attorney Charged with Knowingly Engaging in Graphic Online Sex Chats with 13-Year-Old Girl
After a 2-week-long trial, a federal jury acquitted this 35-year-old lawyer in a case where the government alleged that he knowingly engaged in graphic online sex chats with a 13-year-old girl, and drove to a Broward County park to meet her to entice her to engage in sexual activity or lewd and lascivious behavior. After arriving at the park, the LEACH task force detective who had been the one operating in an undercover capacity as the 13-year-old girl arrested the Defendant.
Owner of Large Underground Utilities Contractor Charged with Unlawful Compensation of a Public Official
Gary Czajkowski, owner of Chaz Equipment Company, is one of the largest underground utilities contractors in Florida. In April of 2010, Mr. Czajkowski was charged with Unlawful Compensation of a Public Official, stemming from allegations that he paid a $25,000 bribe to the Town Of Palm Beach Public Works Department construction manager. Mr. Czajkowski's case was seen as one of largest in Palm Beach in recent memory.
Following an intensive two-year investigation by the defense into the government's case, Mark Shapiro and the defense team were able to prove at trial that in fact, no bribe had ever been paid and that the government's case was based largely on speculation and the testimony of unreliable "cooperating" witnesses. Facing up to 15 years in prison, all were relieved when the jury returned its "not guilty" verdict in just over two hours.
United States Supreme Court Granted Writ of Certiorari
A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was granted in the case of United States v. Kaley, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 12‐464. The question under review is whether criminal defendants who cannot use their assets to retain counsel of choice because of an asset freeze have the constitutional right to challenge the government's underlying charges during a pretrial hearing.
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Reversal
Dr. Robert Ignasiak was charged in a 54-count indictment with health care fraud and illegally dispensing controlled substances. He was found guilty and sentenced to 292 months' imprisonment. The opinion issued January 19, 2012, by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Dr. Ignasiak's conviction.
Second District Court of Appeal Reversal
The defendant, a seventeen-year-old boy, was convicted of first degree felony murder. The Second District Court of Appeal found that the defendant's confession to the state attorney should have been excluded, because the defendant subjectively and reasonably believed that he was speaking as part of plea negotiations. The conviction was reversed, and the case remanded for a new trial. To see Roy Black's oral argument, click here. To read the opinion of the court, click here.
Fourth District Court of Appeal Reversal
The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the defendant's conviction because the court erred in refusing to give a special jury instruction on constructive possession of cocaine which more accurately stated the law to be applied on the facts of the case. The 4th DCA agreed that the special jury instruction should have been given instead of the standard instruction which was misleading under the facts. This reversal also led the 4th DCA to recommend to the Criminal Standard Jury Instruction Committee that it review the standard instruction for modification in cases where an issue at trial involves the joint possession of the premises on which contraband is found.
Attorney Convicted of Grand Larceny Wins Appeal
The defendant, an attorney, was convicted of Grand Larceny. After the defendant received psychological treatment, she was found competent to stand trial. Her conviction was reversed on appeal on the basis that coverage by the electronic media during the trial had such an adverse psychological impact on this borderline competent defendant that it rendered her incompetent to stand trial. The state subsequently appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, where the reversal was affirmed.
Conviction Reversed and New Trial Set in Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault Case
The defendant was convicted of numerous charges, including kidnapping and aggravated assault. On appeal, the appellate court found that the trial court's severe and prejudicial limitations on defense counsel's efforts to question witnesses during both direct and cross-examination concerning testimony elicited by the State deprived the defendant of a fair trial. The conviction was reversed and remanded for new trial.
Conviction Vacated in First-Degree Murder Case
The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder. After conviction, the defendant filed a motion to vacate his conviction on the ground that he had been denied effective assistance of counsel at trial because his trial counsel failed to call as a defense witness the county chief medical examiner to support the defendant's claim of self-defense. The trial court granted the motion to vacate. The state appealed, and won. The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the case, and reversed and remanded back to the appellate court. After the Florida Supreme Court's remand for reconsideration, the conviction was vacated.
Case Dismissed Against Alleged Organized Crime Figure
The defendant was alleged to have been an organized crime figure. He was the subject of several months of wiretaps. After extensive hearings, the trial court suppressed all the wiretaps. The state appealed. The suppression of the wiretaps was affirmed by the Third District Court of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court. The case was subsequently dismissed.
Appeals Court Requires Change of Venue in Highly Publicized Manslaughter Case Involving City of Miami Police Officer; Wins Appeal in Manslaughter Case
The appellee, a City of Miami Police Officer, was charged with two counts of manslaughter after he fired one shot which killed the driver of a motorcycle, and the ensuing crash killed the passenger. Riots, arson and looting followed the shooting. The trial was held in a city terrified that an acquittal would trigger another riot. The officer was convicted. He appealed his manslaughter conviction claiming he was not afforded a fair trial in Miami. The appellate court found that the threat of further rioting required a change of venue.
Appeals Court Dismisses Indictment Due to Violation of Double Jeopardy Rights
Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment after the judge granted the government's motion for mistrial and discharged the jury. When the trial judge denied the motion, the appellate court granted interlocutory review and agreed that the defendant's double jeopardy rights had been violated. Indictment dismissed.
Alleged Chop Shop Proprietor Appeals Sentencing
Defendant, who ran a chop shop operation, appealed the imposition of consecutive sentences and restitution. The Court of Appeals reversed the district judge and held that (1) defendant's federal sentence was to run concurrently with state sentence for running similar operation, absent upward departure, and (2) trial court could not enter restitution order in amount defendant was not likely able to pay.
Felony Charges Dropped Against Nurse Accused of Felony Grand Theft
A nurse accused of felony grand theft claimed that the "victim" had given her money. The trial judge denied the requested jury instruction on the "good faith" defense, and the jury convicted. The court granted bail and the appellate court reversed the conviction based on the denial of the requested instruction. Felony charges were dropped.
First-Degree Murder and Kidnapping Conviction Reversed
The defendant was found guilty on charges of first degree murder and kidnapping. His conviction was reversed for failure to give proper jury instructions regarding involuntary intoxication for prescription drugs used in treating the defendant for clinical depression.
Conviction of Lewd and Lascivious Act on a Minor Conviction Reversed
The defendant was convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child under sixteen. The conviction was reversed for prosecutorial misconduct.
Cocaine Possession Conviction Reversed
The defendant was convicted of conspiracy to possess and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. The conviction was reversed due to prosecutorial misconduct.
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