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New Canaan Man Sues Journalist, NBC Universal for Libel

Mitchell Vazquez claims that fellow resident Teri Buhl posted a story on her blog late last year that contained "false and defamatory" statements about him.

A civil lawsuit in which a New Canaan-based trader alleges a town woman and NBC Universal libeled him online is expected to go before a judge on May 4.

According to the suit, filed in in Stamford, Mitchell Vazquez is seeking $15,000 in monetary damages and $100,000 in punitive damages from Teri Buhl and the New York-based TV network.

The suit alleges Buhl posted a story on her blog in December containing "false and defamatory" statements. The post, dated Dec. 30, 2011, and updated on Jan. 5, accused Vazquez of violating orders given by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission following an investigation into his company’s trading practices between 1999 and 2001. In addition, Buhl wrote that Vazquez might have traded under his girlfriend Pamela Mercedes Chiesi's name in 2009 to get around the CFTC’s orders and "[lied] to… clients about the value of some derivative contracts" while serving as a trader for Bankers Trust in 1996.

Also according to the complaint, John Carney, a senior editor at NBC Universal-owned CNBC.com, published an online article on Jan. 6 urging readers to read Buhl's post about Vazquez and provided a hyperlink to her site. "I don't want to steal Buhl's thunder, so click on her report for the big reveal," Carney wrote.

Carney did not respond to a request for comment.

Vazquez wrote in his affidavit that "[these] defamatory statements are causing irreparable harm to my personal and professional reputation and if they continue to be published on the Internet, they will severely harm me and my business.”

The case has already attracted attention in wider First Amendment circles.

“We are aggressively fighting this case,” Buhl's attorney Carol Head told Patch. Head’s online bio notes her work in helping filmmaker Michael Moore in a defamation claim involving “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Vazquez’s attorney says this isn’t about infringing on anyone’s First Amendment’s rights.

“We believe bloggers are entitled to their opinion, but [are] not entitled to allegedly misstated facts,” said Stamford-based Mark Sherman.

Buhl responded: "I'm not surprised Vazquez would try to bully a freelance journalist, who has the potential to uncover more problems in his trading business, with litigation. But for attorney Mark Sherman to take this frivolous case reads like a truck full of money showed up at his door and he couldn't refuse it."

Buhl and Sherman also disagree on what prompted Sherman to drop his request to prevent Buhl from talking or reporting on his client. Buhl says he dropped it because he knew any attempt to prevent a journalist from reporting something before a finding of legal fault runs afoul of the First Amendment, but Sherman says it was dropped after Buhl made edits to her posts about Vazquez that were satisfactory to his client.

Attorneys for NBC could not be reached for comment.

Buhl's post reported the arrest of Helen Kapoutsos, who served as Vazquez's assistant, by New Canaan police. According to the post, Vazquez accused Kapoutsos of stealing money from his bank account. Kapoutsos revealed to police that she was having a sexual relationship with Vazquez, Buhl wrote, and that he was paying her $2,000 a night to stay at his house and have sex with him and his “fiancé.”

Buhl continues to write and speak publicly about Vazquez, including recent appearances on the Kaiser Report, a video chat show on financial matters [Buhl starts at 13.49], and international finance show Capital Account [Buhl starts at 3.15]. She told Patch that she has “crowd-funded” $3,600 from her readers for her latest reporting involving Vazquez. This one seeks to uncover what Buhl believes is New Canaan’s swinging sex underground, or, as she states in her pitch paragraph for the funding, “...A story that could make the movie 'The Ice Storm' look like kiddy [sic] play.”

This is not the only legal issue involving Buhl locally.

She is also still facing criminal charges stemming from a 2010 arrest by New Canaan police. Buhl is accused of posting personal and sexually explicit information on Facebook about her boyfriend's daughter, who was 17 years old at the time. She faces charges of second-degree harassment, second-degree breach of peace and interfering with an officer, and is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in April. Buhl in favor of a trial.

Anne Nonimus March 26, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Teri: How about a story on excessive teeth-bleaching in the 'burbs?
Ty Webb March 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Go git yer shine box, blogger!
Anonymous9898 March 26, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Ty, I wonder how Teri measures herself against other blogger/journalists?
Kash March 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM
This woman is a total nutcase. The details of how she harassed her ex-boyfriend's daughter are absolutely appalling. She's a grown up mean girl hiding under the guise of "freelance reporter."
NewCanaanVoter March 26, 2012 at 04:56 PM
"The Harvard Digital Media Center worked to get me a pro-bono lawyer at a top law firm - Bingham - because they thought this suit went to heart of first admendment issues and didn't want to see a wealthly Wall Streeter using a suit to stop future reporting on him." You seem to think your incentives are aligned, but they aren't.
Ty Webb March 26, 2012 at 09:57 PM
I'll take number of bunnies boiled for $1000, Alex.
susan March 27, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Give it a rest already, Teri! You're giving serious journalists a bad reputation. Stealing a teen's personal diary to broadcast on Facebook for your own notoriety to now pandering for "New Canaan swing scene" drivel....c'mon, seriously? Get a real job and get a conscience.
Teri March 31, 2012 at 10:51 PM
I raised another $400 for this story in the last two days. The cameraman/digital editor is paid for now. It's been amazing to see how many international readers stepped up to fund the story on Mitch Vazquez questionable Forex broker dealer and the millions he spends on leading the swinger scene in New Canaan.
Glen K Dunbar April 01, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Leave this gorgeous Goddess alone. WOW is She lovely or what !!!!!! Ummmm She is innocent till proven guilty. Freedom of Press remember folks. While I am at ig\t ...who is accusing this innocent Angel.?? Vazquez??? Ummm. I could say something but I will refrain. Trader??? Again, another person who is richer than poor Glen AS USUAL I am at the dirty end of the stick
Ade April 01, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Glen - You're at the creepy end of the stick. What on earth do Teri's looks have to do with the story? And, as usual, what the heck does it have to do with your life. PLEASE stop the whining or do it elsewhere.
watchman April 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
The problem is that all you "Next Station to Heaveners" just want to bury your heads in the sand to what really goes on. Oh please do not touch my precious town image. What about all the drogs in our schools, teenage sex, un-civility amongst officials. Where do you think it starts at home. So all you can do is kill the messenger who is opening your eyes.
Ade April 01, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Teri - If you think people are funding you to find out about ill-gotten trading gains, you're nuts. You can't swing a dead cat on Wall St without hitting a shady broker. I know, I work there. Your funders probably just want to hear about the swinging. Watchman - All you have to do is read the weekly police blotter news to know that this town is a soap opera in and of itself. We've all heard tales about the swinging lifestyle here and, quite honestly, innuendo and rumor is more than all I need to hear about the subject. With all the real problems in the world that could use attention, time spent outing a bunch of egomaniacal, group sex addicts is not news worth reporting. It's just sensationalism.
S Tadik April 01, 2012 at 04:33 PM
GLEN K DUNBAR MEMORIAL YELLOW BRICK ROAD Watchman, you are inaccurate. When the executive and legislative leaders withheld the Lakeside Bridge fiasco information, they did it with the utmost civility and many NO voters voted in ignorance of the huge cash shortage. The concealing town leaders took responsibility, searched for answers and cooperated with an investigating committee, all with politeness and civility. And the remainder of town government reciprocated with civility or absented themselves. Having so done, it is entirely fit and proper for past and current town officials to claim a mandate for the expensive albatross down Main St. Walk down the yellow-brick road some time after it is completed and see your dollars in action and remember who to thank. We should perhaps consider naming it the Glen Dunbar Memorial Intratown Transway (GDMIT). Just think; the taxpayers are funding a cup of coffee a day for this boondoggle instead of providing a daily caffeine jolt for Mr. Dunbar. Sorry, Glen.
Ade April 01, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Teri - Your sleuthing powers could not be more off. Just don't care to know what the neighbors are doing in their bedrooms. It doesn't take a reporter to know who is part of the scene. You hear enough about it in the course of general town gossip.
Glen K Dunbar April 01, 2012 at 06:24 PM
S TADIK. Thanks. I assume that was a compliment. I still say it is unfair to a come down so hard on this lovely Princess. Politely speaking of course. I like the idea of naming a road or bridge after ME. I can't think of a more deserving soul. Now, if only I could get out of this town. I 'd like to move across the Street from the Opera House if I could Any sponsors???
S Tadik April 01, 2012 at 07:11 PM
NAME SOMETHING FOR GLEN Glen, would you rather have the Lakeside Bridge named for you or South Main Street? How about both?
Ade April 01, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Glen - For a couple hundred bucks, you can rent a Uhaul and make your own dreams come true. If you can afford to live in New Canaan (assuming you're not freeloading off of the mom that you always complain about helping), you should be able to manage it.
AS April 01, 2012 at 09:18 PM
so there are perverts and voyeurs beyond New Canaan, beyond CT and the US who want Teri to write a stupid story. If she were a real journalist, a legitimate publication would give her an advance, not a bunch of overseas pervs (that she thinks legitimizes the drivel she writes under the blanket of "freedom of the press"). I'd pay more for a 6 pack of Charmin than to buy anything she writes. Signed, Not a fan of self-aggrandizing journalists
Glen K Dunbar April 01, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Abe: Actually, I am living w/Mom. I am a Patron at The Met which is why I have NO money. I am like Mozart. Can't hold on to money If my life was easier at home and I could just lie around I'd be willing to save more. But, everyone else push/pull me I do not expect you to understand. You are a Wall Street in NY person. Good for you. I never got those breaks though. S TADIK: Thanks. I will take the Lakeside Bridge please. Can you call the Town Hall for me to start the process?? Thanks buddy. As for Terri. She speaks her mind like I do. I still say (politely speaking) She is a beautiful Princess. I would bow at her feet. I would sing opera to her.
Ade April 02, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Glen - What exactly do you have to complain about? You live in a safe town, you have a mother who is still alive, a wife (who probably wouldn't appreciate you singing opera to Princess Teri), a child, a job with health insurance, easy access to good medical care, food, electricity, clean water, and opera. You don't live in a 3rd world country or a war zone. You are "forced" to drive to work.... so you must have a car and enough cash to pay for the gas to run it. You have more than most people in the world right now. So what if you have to do errands for your mother and walk a dog? You think because I have a Wall St job it equates to an easy life? I'm not pulling down a giant salary but am glad I have a job. My husband and son were killed by a drunk driver but I am glad that my daughter was not in the car with them. Do you get the picture yet? Everybody in New Canaan is not living a carefree, magical life and there is always something in life to be thankful for. Did I sit around wallowing in tragedy and sadness waiting for some imaginary system to bail me out of my life? No. I took control of it myself. So, please stop complaining and realize that you've actually got a pretty decent life. The only way people can walk all over you is if you lay down and let them.
Bemused April 02, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Now THAT I would pay to see.
S Tadik April 02, 2012 at 02:37 AM
FUNDS RECOVERY ON LAKESIDE BRIDGE OVERRUN Glen, I think there's a win-win solution here. Check out the link for the Dunbar Toll Bridge below. If you can convince the town government to grant you the toll concession, and name the bridge after you, your need for income will be satisfied and the reputation of the Lakeside Bridge will be enshrined forever. http://bridgestunnels.com/bridges/west-virginia/dunbar-toll-bridge/ Of course, it would be better if it were a covered bridge, but a little sunshine won't hurt the bridge and you can get a healthy tan collecting tolls. If you change your mind and want Main St. as a toll road, please let Town Hall know. They want to fix Town Hall up and maybe you could share revenue. I knew if we stayed optimistic we could find a gold nugget somewhere, by golly. What do you think, Glen? Is this a country, or what?

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