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Lance Armstrong Faces New Doping Charges; Sandusky Trial; Charity Scam?

Aired June 13, 2012 - 20:00   ET



Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with breaking news. Doping allegations, new allegations, against champion cyclist Lance Armstrong surfacing once again. Now the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is investigating Armstrong in what he calls a vendetta against him. As he has all along, Armstrong is denying every using performance- enhancing drugs and says he's passed more than 500 drug tests over the years and never failed even one.

But the investigation has already had consequences for his career now as an athlete. He's immediately banned from competing in triathlons, which Lance Armstrong has taken up after retiring from professional bicycling.

In a statement, Armstrong says, and I quote, "I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars, but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try to strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned. These are the very same charges and the same witnesses the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity."

Joining me now on the phone is "New York Times" sports reporter, Juliet Macur.

Juliet, Lance Armstrong has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs before, but the doping agency says they collected blood samples in 2009 and 2010 that were, quote, "fully consistent with blood manipulation, including EPO use and/or blood transfusions."

What do you make of that?

JULIET MACUR, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES (via phone): Well, first of all, I don't think that saying that you've never tested positive as an athlete really means anything because we've heard that with Marion Jones, the athlete, the five-time gold medallist or however as many medals she won. She constantly said she never tested positive and as it turns out she was part of a systematic doping scheme. So that being said, I think that the -- the United States Anti- Doping Agency is bringing charges that include more than just these weird blood levels that came up on -- in 1999 or -- was it 2010 or something? It has more to do with doping conspiracy on the past teams that he used to ride for.

And I guess multiple witnesses on each team, including multiple riders that said that Armstrong not only doped but encouraged doping and administered doping at times, so it's more than just that he had tested positive, which he didn't. It's more of a -- sort of analytical way of saying that he cheated.

COOPER: And they're saying this is a conspiracy that went on, I think, from 1996 all the way through his entire career of some 14 or so years.

Now talk a little bit about the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its powers. What it can and cannot do. Because it's different -- before it was the Department of Justice, which was bringing charges. They dropped all those charges and they're not pursuing it. But the bar is lower this doping agency.

MACUR: Exactly. It's much lower. And it has nothing -- the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is a quasi-governmental agency that gets money from the government, but has its own rules and could really bring charges against anyone it wants or sanction anyone it wants based on the evidence they collect.

The bar is much lower. You know, as we know, the two-year long investigation of Armstrong didn't go anywhere. But all that information and all those people that stepped forward during that investigation, I guess, went right to USADA's door and they have all this information that they're using against Armstrong and some of his former colleagues.

COOPER: In the recent past, "Men's Journal" -- in "Men's Journal" magazine Armstrong recently said that basically he wouldn't fight the allegations. He said you can interpret -- he said, I'm done. You can interpret that however you want. I'm finished, I'm done fighting. I've moved on.

Do you think he's going to fight this?

MACUR: Well, yes, I read that, too, in "Men's Journal" and I immediately thought, you know, I'm not sure if that's going to happen. I mean we've seen Lance Armstrong deal with these doping allegations for more than a decade now and each time he's fought them until the end. Each time they've gone away and he's won. So there's really no reason for him to back down now considering even a federal investigation couldn't get him.

I don't see him backing down although his lawyer did say today that they're going to look at the evidence that USADA has against him and determine whether it's going to be a fair fight and I guess that might be a way of saying they might go forward with it or they might not. But my guess is that it will go forward and he'll fight it to the end. But, you know, it could be a new Lance Armstrong.

COOPER: And if they find him guilty on this, I mean, this is not legal charges but they could strip him of those Tour de France titles and also even the investigation prevents him from competing in triathlons, which we're seeing pictures of him doing right now.

MACUR: Exactly. Yes, he'll lose -- I mean if the charges are upheld, he'll lose his seven-tour titles and whatever other titles he gained during that time. It also -- the USADA case doesn't ban him from triathlons. It's actually triathlons own rules that say any athlete who is under a doping investigation cannot compete. So that's not USADA's fault. That's triathlon's fault that he won't be able to compete in France later this month and also in the Ironman world championship of which he has qualified. That's in October.

COOPER: What do you think the ramifications of this are for his cancer charity? I mean he's so well respected in that realm. If he is found guilty of this, what happens?

MACUR: Personally, I don't think anything will happen. If he can survive a federal investigation that lasted two years with accusations back and forth and teammates going on TV saying that he encouraged doping and he was sort of a ringleader of the doping on some of his teams, I guess his cancer foundation survived through and people still look at him as inspiration.

I don't think it changes anything. I think that he's inspiration to someone. He will be an inspiration for someone even if the USADA does find him guilty of doping.

COOPER: And do we know the timetable for this? How long this might take?

MACUR: Well, officially it should take 10 days before they -- Lance Armstrong's lawyers respond to USADA and that it could take three months for them to gather an arbitration panel and to have all the hearings but, best case scenario, and some of the cases like with Floyd Landis or Tyler Hamilton, two of Armstrong's former cycling teammates, I think it lasted almost two years. So I don't think this is going to end anytime soon.

COOPER: Yes. Juliet Macur, appreciate you calling in with this. Thank you very much, Juliet.

MACUR: Thank you.

COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment" tonight. Day three in the Jerry Sandusky trial. And again, some incredibly disturbing allegations being leveled in court today. Three more alleged victims took the stand. There's a disturbing portrait emerging in their stories of an alleged sexual predator that had the perfect setup to groom vulnerable young boys for abuse. Over and over, the same key details stand out.

Underprivileged boys in Sandusky's Second Mile camps said they were offered coveted tickets to football games. Each claims unwanted contact from the former Penn State assistance coach, allegedly beginning with a touch of the leg on a car ride. The alleged victim say they were too ashamed to talk but they also wanted to keep going to football games.

Today, one witness accused Sandusky of threatening his family if he ever spoke out. Sandusky says he's innocent, obviously, of the charges.

I want to go to Jason Carroll at the courthouse for more.

Jason, today we're hearing for the first time new information that Sandusky may have actually threatened one of the victims.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's what we're hearing, Anderson, from the young man identified as victim number 10. He says back in 1998, Jerry Sandusky assaulted him in the Sandusky home in the basement. We've heard that before from some of the other accusers, saying that he forced him to perform oral sex on him, telling the court, quote, "He told me that if I told anybody that I would never see my family again. He apologized for saying that. He said he didn't mean it and that he loved me."

Another reason why this particular young man is interesting is because, as you know, the defense has been saying a lot of these young men are coming forward and trying to cash in in some way by hiring attorneys to pursue some sort of a civil case. This is one young man that has not hired a private attorney. He said he is coming forward because he said, quote, "It was the right thing to do."

COOPER: Perhaps the most emotional testimony today came from the man referred to as victim number 5 who said that Sandusky sexually assaulted him in the shower. What did we learn?

CARROLL: Right. He said this happened when he was about 12 or maybe 13 years old. And it was one of the most emotional moments of the day without a question. He described it to the court this way. He said, once he was in the shower, he actually tried to move away from Jerry Sandusky but could not get away, telling the court, quote, "I crept forward a little more as he -- as he did. And I felt his body on my back. I kept lurching forward but I didn't have anywhere to go, and I felt his arm move forward and he touched my genitalia."

Now I have to tell you, as I was sitting there in the court, right to my left, just a few feet away, this young man, his mother and his father, were sitting next to me. And as he cried on the witness stand, they began crying as well. It was an incredibly emotional moment, an impactful moment on the courtroom as well.

COOPER: Jason, appreciate the update.

I'm joined now by Thomas Kline who's an attorney for the alleged victim number 5, accuser number 5.

Thomas, your client gave emotional testimonies. I'm told that we're still getting him milked up on camera. Got to change locations between him and Jason. But again, as Jason said, this was some of the emotional testimony coming today from alleged victim number five.

Thomas, are you there?


COOPER: Your client --

KLINE: I can hear you.

COOPER: As we've been talking about, gave very emotional testimony today. First of all, how is he -- how is he doing? How is he holding up after testifying?

KLINE: He was relieved and is looking forward to kissing his girlfriend Brittany when he gets home. He's looking forward to going to work tomorrow. My client is a remarkable young man and I saw in him today the face of a victim of sexual abuse and what it does and how it impacts on a young man even as he is an adult.

COOPER: I'm trying to imagine what it's like testifying in front of the person you were accusing. In this case, Jerry Sandusky. Did you watch Sandusky today? How did your client deal with being face to face with Sandusky?

KLINE: It was a remarkable exchange. I talked to my client just about an hour ago. And he told me how Sandusky stared at him. Sandusky, when they were having an early discussion in the testimony, about the fact that my client comes from a polish family and they -- and Sandusky spoke Polish and the Polish wasn't very good that Sandusky spoke how Sandusky was looking at him as though -- almost in an adoring and to my eyes odd fashion.

My client told me that he actually stared at him, Sandusky stared at him during the entire testimony, almost as though my client felt that he wanted to make him uncomfortable.

COOPER: And -- I mean a number of the accusers have had some pretty tough cross-examination by the defense. That didn't happen to your client. Why do you think?

KLINE: I believe that my client's testimony was bulletproof. He -- there was nothing to cross-examination him on. The usual routine of Mr. Sandusky's defense council, which includes drugs and crime and the like, there's nothing here.

I represent a young man who is a productive, solid citizen with a wonderful, loving family. His father and mother were in the second row center. He glazed at his mother and father. His family, two brothers flew all the way in from California. He has a wonderful girlfriend. And there wasn't anything to pick at.

The only issue that was raised was in the investigation the investigators somehow got the date wrong and he was asked a question or two about it. But it was very clear, he was at Second Mile at a certain period of time and he saw Mr. Sandusky in 2001. I thought, Anderson, one of the most interesting things that came out of the back-to-back testimony here that we've seen is that Mike Macquarie testified that in February of 2001 he saw this incident and looked into the face of Jerry Sandusky. And here we have a similar incident in the shower some few months later from February to August. And I would say that that conduct is downright brazen.

COOPER: Do you think -- you know, the defense has raised this idea that Jerry Sandusky has some sort of a disorder, a hysterical disorder. Do you buy that? Do you think this has any bearing on that?

KLINE: I believe that the conduct is classic predatory conduct. As I've said in many interviews today, I've never seen a man who liked to shower with so many young boys. The fact of the matter is that the pattern here is classic predatory. He groomed the young men. He bought them gifts, he took them to games. He got them tickets. He took them away. He got them in his car.

And then what he did was he put his hand on each one's knee basically and found an opportunity wherever it existed, whether it be in the shower or in a -- or in the basement of his own home while his wife was present.

I don't believe that they will sell to this jury that he hasn't progressed beyond his teenage years and it's some kind of disorder. I don't see it happening.

MITCHELL: I should have said, it was a histrionic disorder, is what they called it, not hysteria.

Thomas Kline, I appreciate you --

KLINE: Yes, I've heard --


KLINE: I've heard --

COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.

KLINE: Sure, my pleasure, Anderson.

COOPER: No, I'm sorry. Go ahead. You were saying you've heard?

KLINE: No, I'm sorry. I've heard various incapacity defenses that have been vetted, both publicly and otherwise, and they include that he hasn't gone beyond his teenage years, that he has this impulsive disorder. I mean the fact of the matter is that you have a man who was running the defense for one of the most successful football teams in the country for decades. And he was a man who had premeditated, plotted conduct. Not some kind of impulsive or hysterical disorder. That's my view of it.

COOPER: The other thing I don't get is, you know, the defense has sort of alleged that this was part of a team culture and this is how Sandusky grew up, the generation he's from. I mean I was on a team. I've never heard of any coach showering with a player, let alone with a child. But again, it's up to the jury.

Thomas Kline, appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

Follow us on Face book, on Twitter right now @Anderson cooper. Tweet us about this. What do you think? Do you think there's any chance that Jerry Sandusky is not going to be convicted of these charges? Let us nose what you think.

If you look at the animals being so well cared for by the Montreal SPA, you'd think it's a charity in solid shape. Well, the charity says it's in serious debt to a direct mail company here in the U.S. A direct mail company with ties to other charities that we've been investigating. This really is just a story about charities and where does the money go. We're "Keeping Them Honest" next.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now. With yet another troubling case of a charity that is asking you to open your wallet for a good cause but where the money actually -- were it actually goes is a completely different story.

Now over the past couple of weeks, if you've been watching, we've been taking a very hard look at some veteran charities. Charities for disabled veterans, in particular, that have taken in tens of millions of dollars in donations but used almost none of it to directly help those veterans.

CNN's Drew Griffin has been investigating one of those charities, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, the DVNF, for years now. They've raised nearly $56 million in the past three years. $56 million. And not one dime that we've found has actually gone directly to help disabled veterans.

Now you may remember Drew's attempts to talk to the president of that group? It's been met with resistance to say the least. There, she just shut a door in his face.

Drew's reporting on the DVNF has gotten a lot of attention. Many of you have been outraged, you've tweeted us about it. You've e- mailed us about the story. It's also gotten the attention of the Senate Finance Committee which has launched an investigation into the DVNF.

Drew is going to join us shortly in just a couple of minutes with an update on that investigation.

The million-dollar question is, if the DVNF isn't spending your donations on directly helping veterans, where is all that money going?


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: As far as we can tell, up to the 10th floor of this Manhattan office building through a company called Quadriga Arts. A company that specializes in fundraising. And as far as we can tell, Quadriga Arts knows a lot about fundraising for itself.


COOPER: So Quadriga Art. That's the name you need to remember. Quadriga Art is this company that essentially gets paid to build mailing lists for groups like the DVNF. And that's where the money trail took Drew.

Now following the trial was one thing. Actually getting answers at the end of it, that was another thing entirely.


GRIFFIN: Yes, it's Drew Griffin. G-R-I-F-F-I-N.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He is not here. This is regarding?

GRIFFIN: I'm trying to reach Mr. Schulhof. Oh, he's not in?


COOPER: In the course of investigating the DVNF Drew uncovered yet another veteran's charity called the National Veterans Foundation that takes donations but uses only a very small percentage to actually help veterans. The connection you ask? Well, both veterans' charities use that same fundraising company, Quadriga Art.

And now, tonight, Drew has uncovered yet another charity. This time a group that's supposed to help animals that has a similar money- losing connection to -- you guess it. That same direct mail organization, Quadriga Art.

Here's Drew.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): In Montreal, like every big city, the needs of the local SPCA was great. Abandoned dogs and cats needed help and the money to help them was running out. So in 2005, what seemed like a great opportunity came knocking. A private fundraising company called Quadriga Art proposed a major expansion. Montreal's SPCA would become the Canadian SPCA, and Quadriga Art would send fundraising mailers across all of Canada.

The deal was done and the money started rolling in. But there was a big problem. Practically every dollar that came in according to Montreal's SPCA's new executive director was going directly into the coffers of Quadriga Art, the fundraising bill is so large that after three years the Montreal SPCA, despite receiving about $13 million in donations, was in the hole more than $4.5 million. (On camera): How do you get in debt to a fundraiser?

NICHOLAS GILMAN, MONTREAL SPCA: By incurring expenses and not having a plan for getting out of it. It was not a smart decision on the SPCA's part. And we let Quadriga create strategy for us.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The strategy was simple. Quadriga Art would send out pleas for money on behalf of this shelter, include tote bags and other gifts made by Quadriga Art's Chinese factory. But the cost far exceeded the donations and the SPCA was locked into this contract for seven years.

(On camera): The fundraising operation was so upside down for the Montreal SPCA that they actually still owe Quadriga Art nearly $2 million. And Quadriga has even taken out a lean on this animal shelter.

(On camera): It's a lot of money.

GILMAN: It's a lot of money but it's a lot less than the $4 million we owed them seven years ago.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Quadriga Art and its president, Mark Schulhof, pictures here in an ad for an unrelated charity, have repeated refused interview requests to explain its unique process of raising money. A public relations firm explained that the cost at the beginning and raising funds by Quadriga involved long-term strategies to develop donor list, creating databases that would eventually pay off.

A spokesman told us, quote, "This has been a proven model for 50 years, despite being criticized by some charity watch groups." But at the Montreal SPCA, when the Quadriga Art contract has been running for nearly seven years now, the results have been a disaster.

(On camera): Will you sign with them again?

GILMAN: Probably not.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And that is hardly the end of this story.

(On camera): Mr. Barnoti?


GRIFFIN: My name is Drew Griffin. I'm with CNN.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Meet Pierre Barnoti, fired by the Montreal SPCA board only to emerge as the founder of a new U.S.-based charity. SPCA International. From his home in Montreal in a rarely staffed office in New York, Barnoti and Quadriga Art have designed a new charity, to tug on the heartstrings with its signature program called Baghdad Pups. The stated goal, reuniting vets and their war pets. But you're going to be stunned to find out just how this operation works.


COOPER: This is so -- and once we start scratching the surface of things -- of this thing, Drew, it just gets deeper and deeper and more shocking. So many of these charities, Drew, that you've been investigating where hardly any of the money goes to charity. All of them seem to have this one private fundraiser taking in all the money and that's Quadriga Art right here in New York.

I had never heard about them.

GRIFFIN: Me neither. But they are huge. A private company that simply will not speak to us, Anderson. Won't even return phone calls except to a public relations firm. But it is this firm that's doing all the collecting and as far as we can tell, collecting millions and millions of dollars in donated moneys that the actual donors intend to be going in this case to animals. In so many other cases, veterans and disabled veterans.

COOPER: You know, if I ran a charity and somebody was doing a report that raised questions about where the money was going and I was doing everything on the up and up, I would, you know, open up the books, I would do interviews. Just to get the word out that the charity is legitimate. The fact that nobody would talk to you about this stuff I just find amazing.

What -- one of the charities you've been reporting on is this Disabled Veterans National Foundation, DVNF. They've just now filed their financial forms for the last year. They raised, we know, $56 million in three years for disabled vets. Not a dime of that money that we found has actually gone directly to help vets. Has their new tax filings gotten any better?

GRIFFIN: No. According to the just filed 2011 documents, DVNF took in $29 million. That's how much Americans sent to this group. As far as we can tell, most of that money went again to Quadriga Art and its affiliates. In addition, the charity is telling us, Anderson, the charity is telling us they're in debt now to Quadriga, $15.5 million. So things seem to be getting worse, not better.

COOPER: And this is the group that the Senate Finance Committee has opened an investigation into?

GRIFFIN: Yes. The Senate Finance Committee says the staffers are now going through the very documents that we have, also documents that were sent in by the DVNF, they're going to try to determine exactly what's going on here. They're just starting to look at this. We don't really have anything to report other than they are beginning their investigation.

COOPER: Drew, I mean, again, I just appreciate your reporting. We're going to have another part of this coming up tomorrow. We're going to look into this other charity which is allegedly helping animals, pets, and veterans, but again it doesn't seem to be.

I mean I don't understand how people sleep at night who are raising money allegedly for veterans or homeless animals and the money is not going to where they're raising money. I just don't -- I do not get that. We're going to continue on this, Drew. Great reporting, thank you. Coming up, is President Obama making a mistake by talking about the economy improving? James Carville says he's worried the president's message can be backfiring with voters. We'll talk to Paul Begala coming up. That's "Raw Politics" next.


COOPER: Plus the turning point in the battle against the deadly wildfire burning now in Colorado. We'll tell you how much the blaze is contained ahead on the program.


COOPER: Welcome back. "Raw Politics" tonight. Is President Obama making a campaign mistake by talking about signs that the economy is improving? One Democratic voice says yes.

On "Good Morning America" today, Democratic strategist, James Carville said that voters want to be reassured that the president understands how bad things are for the middle class and he has a plan to deal with it.


JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm worried when the White House and the campaign talks about the progress are being made, people take that as a signal that things are fine and people don't feel out to believe that.


COOPER: Latest polling shows Carville may have a point. According to "Washington Post"/ABC poll out today among independent voters, only 38 percent said they have a favorable view of the president's plan for the economy and 54 percent unfavorable.

Mitt Romney's economic plans don't fare much better, 35 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable. I want to talk about it now with CNN political contributor, Democratic strategist, Paul Begala and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

So Paul, there's no denying the president's campaign had a tough stretch lately. What's your take on what James Carville have to say that the message is off?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first off, of course, he's been my best friend for almost 30 years now. And I advise the pro Obama "Super PAC." So I have a dog in this hunt. I'm obviously biased and I'm trying to help the president get re-elected.

At the same time, I think James has a point. Elections are always about the future not the past. It is very difficult for incumbents to understand that because in most other jobs when you're up for renewal you say, I did a good job. I sold this many widgets or I hit this many home runs. Hire me back. For the presidency, it's always about the future and when you're in a recession, they're not interested in handing out gold stars. I mean, I know the president has actually stopped the Bush depression.

I know he's created 4.3 million private sector jobs. If you go out there and say that though to those 25 million Americans who are hurting and the 100 million Americans who are worried, you're not going to be well received.

So I do think the president has to make this much more about the future and much more of a contrast between his vision for the middle class and what he I think will couch and describe, and I would, Mitt Romney's vision for an elitist economy.

COOPER: Gloria, it is interesting to hear Paul's saying that for an incumbent president it's about the future, never about the past, about your record even though that goes against maybe a president's instincts.

What's he saying is don't tell people the economy is getting better, they won't believe you. But if people don't think things are getting better, can the president be re-elected?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's really hard for any president to get re-elected in a terrible economy. I think the problem about trying to characterize the economy, Anderson, or talk about the economy is that the economy speaks for itself.

You know how you feel around the dinner table, in your household, what's happening in your savings account, what's happening in your bank account and your children and how they're feeling.

So you can't really characterize the economy for other people. Now, what President Obama can do and what he's been trying to do is sort of say look, here was the context in which I came to the presidency.

We were in a ditch. I'm trying to get you out of it. And the Democrats I was talking to today are saying that's fine, but A, you can't sound like you're whining when you're president of the United States because that's not what people expect from a leader.

And, B, at some point, you have to come up with a large plan, particularly if the economy is not doing well, people want to see some bold leadership from the president.

COOPER: Paul, talking about this future-past dynamic. I know you've done research on what kind of ads work about attacking Mitt Romney on his past record. Do attacks on Romney's past work? Do attacks on President Obama's past work?

BEGALA: Well, yes, I have and again, I advise the "PAC" that's running ads attacking Romney. Here's why they're working. There are lots of data not just ours. There are ABC News focus groups that said they were working. Wal-Mart focus groups said they were working. Two national polls show that they're working. Here's why. Mitt Romney is still largely a blank slate oddly. He's well known to information elites, but most voters they don't know who he is.

They know he's rich. If you say he got rich by laying people off -- in part he made some very good business positions, but in part got rich by laying people off, taking away their pensions and health care, boy, they don't like that.

And the president attacks on him, the problem with those are he is not a blank slate. He's a Jackson Pollack painting. OK, they can throw one more bucket of paint out there, but it's a pretty fully formed portrait.

People like me like him, about half the country doesn't and that's kind of both his strength and his weakness. Romney, though, the marginal relative utility of attacking Romney is much higher than marginal relative utility attacking Barack Obama.

BORGER: But, Anderson, when the president goes on the attack or the when his "PAC" goes on the attack, the problem for the president is that people like him and his likability is one of the things about him that people say OK, I'll vote for this guy because I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and I like him a lot.

If you start going really negative, you can lose some of that. And Romney is not as likable as Barack Obama at least according to the polls. So I think the president has a little bit of a problem there because he doesn't want to give up his advantage on that front.

COOPER: OK, so Paul, for you, it's a lot less about the president, the advice would be even though you're not allowed to give advice, but hypothetically, it would be don't talk about the past or the bumps in the road. Talk about -- it's feel your pain. That the president can feel your pain?

BEGALA: It is. This whole thing is about empathy. You know, I know he watches AC 360 so this is legal. I'm allowed to do this. Mr. President, you need to tell folks that you understand your pain because you've been there too.

You know, he's the child of a single mom who had to struggle even sometimes had to go on food stamps to make ends meet, but he got scholarships. He worked his rear end off and look at him today.

I've been where you've been he should tell them. I can help you get to where you want to go. The other guy, however, as even the Republicans said looks like the guy who just laid your daddy off.

BORGER: You know, I think the problem for both of these campaigns is the American public views both of these candidates as elites in one way or the other. One may be the financial elite. The other may be an academic elite, right, but they're both not regarded as somebody who really feels your pain.

COOPER: Paul Begala, appreciate it. Gloria Borger, interesting. Thanks very much.

Coming up, a former Peace Corps volunteer and a successful realtor. Right now, this American man is locked up inside one of Nicaragua's most dangerous prisons.

He was sentenced without really any evidence that we can find against him. How can this be and what's being done to free him if anything? I'm going to interview Jason in prison next.


COOPER: We'll have the latest on the wildfires coming up next.


COOPER: Welcome back. "Crime and Punishment" tonight. A rare interview with an American literally trapped inside a Nicaraguan prison. In 2010, police arrested Jason Puracal accusing him of money laundering and drug trafficking.

He was convicted even though there was no evidence to back up the charges. Now recently 43 members of the U.S. Congress joined the fight to free Jason Puracal by signing a letter urging Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega to release him.

The group includes Washington State Congressman Adam Smith that says this case qualifies as kidnapping. Puracal's family warns time could be running out for him to leave prison alive.

Before my interview with Jason, I want you to take a look at how he landed in this situation.


COOPER (voice-over): It's one of the most dangerous prisons in the world. An American who just about everyone says is innocent has been here for 18 months, serving a sentence of 22 years. His name is Jason Puracal and he's living a nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you could explain what this has been like for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very hard. It's tough.

COOPER: Puracal grew up in the Washington state. He wanted to be a veteran and after graduating from the University of Washington, he joined the Peace Corps hoping to work with exotic animals around the world. In 2002, he was stationed in Nicaragua. His sister said he was immediately struck by the beauty of the country.

JANIS PURACAL, JASON'S SISTER: He absolutely loved it. He just fell in love with the country and decided to stay there.

COOPER: After his two years with the Peace Corps, he met and fell in love with Scarlet, a local Nicaraguan that he later married and moved to the popular beach town of San Juan Del Sur. They have a son named Jabu. Puracal began working in a local Remax office as a real estate agent and eventually began running the office. In 2007, he was even featured on an episode of HGTV's "House Hunters International."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approximately two hours from the capital of Nicaragua.

COOPER: Life was good. He was raising his son in the community he says he loved and finding success with his company. But everything changed on November 11, 2010.

On that afternoon, according to his family, Nicaraguan police burst into Puracal's home and office. They confiscated his files and took Jason away.

PURACAL: I heard about the arrest from my mom. She had flown down there to visit Jason and was staying at the house. She called me on a Friday morning and said the police have taken your brother and they won't tell us where he is or what's happened. And that's what set all of this off. It was panic on all accounts.

COOPER: He was accused of using his real estate business as a money laundering front for an international drug trafficking ring. He was arrested along with 10 other suspected drug traffickers. His family thought it was all a big mistake.

PURACAL: There's absolutely no evidence that Jason committed any of the crimes with which he was charged. I am an attorney and I've read through the entire case file and I've fought this case every single day for the last 18 months. But more than that, I'm Jason's sister and I know my brother. I know that he's absolutely 100 percent innocent.

COOPER: Puracal was hopeful that this would be resolved quickly. His lawyers say the Nicaraguan authorities weren't able to provide any evidence linking him to a drug trafficking ring. There say no drugs were found in his home or office, no evidence of money laundering.

Former FBI agent, Steve Moore has studied this case on its own and says that Jason Puracal could have been targeted by authorities because he's a wealthy American.

STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI AGENT: They claimed he had all this money in bank accounts. OK, fine. But Jason called witnesses to show this is my money. I'm a witness, that's my money in an escrow account to buy this property. The judge declared that inadmissible.

COOPER: The prosecution was also unable to prove any money changed hands between Puracal and the other 10 accused traffickers who told the judge they never even met Jason.

MOORE: All of what's happening is the prosecutor and the investigators are saying there's money laundering going on here. This guy did it. You're going to have to take our word for it. COOPER: But despite the lack of evidence or any evidence according to his lawyers, Jason Puracal was still found guilty and sentenced to 22 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're accusing me of international drug trafficking without any drugs. Money laundering without any money. Organized crime with other 10 people charged in this case and I don't know any of the other 10.

COOPER: He's filed for an appeal, but that has gone nowhere. CNN has tried to contact Nicaraguan authorities multiple times over the past few months.

We've only been promised comments, but so far have not been given any answers on the case. Time is critical for Puracal whose health is said to be deteriorating under the harsh conditions of the prison.

PURACAL: Jason will not provide 22 years in that prison. There's not enough food. There's no potable water. There's no medical care. The last time I visited Jason, he had lost nearly 40 pounds.

COOPER: Puracal just spent his 35th birthday sitting in prison. Despite everything, he remains hopeful that his conviction can be overturned and that reunited with his family as a free man.


COOPER: Well, Tonight, that freedom seems as elusive as ever. It's not easy to contact Puracal. We managed to reach him on the phone from inside the prison.


COOPER: What is the prison like? We're showing videos of the prison where you are right now. What are the conditions like?

JASON PURACAL, AMERICAN JAILED IN NICARAGUA: It's basically a hell hole. There are concrete cells that are overcrowded. I'm in a cell with anywhere from 9 to 12 people in 12 by 15 foot cell. It's hot, dirty, dusty, a lot of insects.

COOPER: More of my interview with Jason Puracal tomorrow on 360. Running a little short of time tonight.

German police need your help tonight. They released a photo, this photo of a boy, a teenager who showed up at the Berlin City, claiming to have lived in a forest for five years and doesn't know who he is. Police are just now releasing this picture to try and understand who this teenager is. More on the mystery coming up.


ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, firefighters in Colorado say they're just beginning to contain the massive wildfires just outside of Fort Collins. The flames already have scorched more than 46,000 acres, killing one person and destroying at least 100 buildings. Right now, the fires are only about 10 percent contained.

Syrian government forces have regained controlled of the northwest town of Alhafa that's after eight days of intense fighting against opposition forces. And attacks continue elsewhere. An opposition group says at least 77 people were killed today in Syria including 23 in Homs Province.

And police have released a photo of a 17-year-old boy who claims he lived for five years in the woods. They're hoping someone will know him.

The teenager known only as Ray turned up at Berlin City hall last year. He speaks English and a little German and claims his parents are dead. German police say they have doubts about his story.

COOPER: Yes, it's a very strange story. We'll see if anybody identified him. "The Ridiculist" is next. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time for "The Ridiculist." And tonight we're adding the Miss USA controversy. That's right. There's a new development, a new wrinkle if you will in the greatest scandal you forgot existed.

But first, if you haven't been following this story, shame on you, let me remind you how we got here. Ms. Rhode Island won the MISS USA pageant, which was broadcast on NBC earlier this month.

The very next day, another contestant, Ms. Pennsylvania claimed yet another contestant told her that she had seen a predetermined list of the names of the women who later went on to be finalist.

Are you following this? Yes, me neither frankly. Anyway, that other contestant, Ms. Florida said she was just joking about the list. But Ms. Pennsylvania said she's not buying it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have many years of psychological training. I know when someone is telling a joke. I know when someone is scared and when someone is serious.

In my opinion her body language was very serious and she looked a little scared because she had just seen something that would potentially drastically change the reputation of the Ms. Universe organization and this is a big deal.


COOPER: It's a big deal, a huge deal. Don't forget, she's had years of psychological training. Now I know what you're thinking how could a pageant owned by this man possibly be controversial?

Pageant officials deny the allegations and say Ms. Pennsylvania is using up this so-called list scandal to cover up her real problem with the pageant, the fact that it allows transgender contestants. By the way, she dodged that question on the "Today Show." For his part, Donald Trump told "Good Morning America" that Ms. Pennsylvania is suffering from loser's remorse.


DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR (via telephone): I think her primary issue was that she lost and she's angry about losing. Frankly, in my opinion, I saw her for barely a second. She didn't deserve to be in the top 15.


COOPER: Trump and pageant officials say they're going to take legal action against Ms. Pennsylvania. Just to be clear, I for one am shocked that there is a controversy. I mean, the aftermath of beauty pageants is always so calm and so pleasant.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Larry, you're being inappropriate. You really are. I'm not going to talk about --

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: What? I'm asking a question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's confidential and you're being inappropriate.

KING: All right, inappropriate "King Live" continues. Did you hear the question? Is she leaving because I asked what motivated the settlement? Did you hear the question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't hear you.

KING: If you put the mic on, we can hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you're being extremely inappropriate right now and I'm about to have leave your show.


COOPER: Poor Larry, he did his best that night. Now back to the new development about Miss USA. A second contestant has reportedly told a similar story about an alleged list of finalists, but only on condition of anonymity.

So where does that leave us? I think we can all agree it's time for an independent council or the very least a blood hound wearing a detective cap. That's how serious I take this story. He's going to sniff out the truth and get back to us.

In the meantime, we'll keep holding the crown on "The Ridiculist." That does it for us. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again one hour from now. The latest on the allegation against Lance Armstrong and the latest on the Sandusky trial. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.