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Posted: February 22, 2013
A Family Plan!
Pennsylvania -- A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, a court aide, and a former state senator — all three sisters — have all now been convicted of public corruption charges, accusing them of using state employees for political campaign work. Justice Joan Orie Melvin and older sister Janine Orie were convicted Thursday of theft-of-service charges and other crimes. Former Sen. Jane Orie, the youngest of the three, was convicted last year and is serving 2½ to 10 years in prison. The staunchly Republican, Catholic sisters from a Pittsburgh suburb say the charges were overblown or outright lies whipped up by a Democratic prosecutor. A sentencing date for Melvin and Janine Orie has not yet been set. A lawyer for Orie said he didn't like the verdict and planned to appeal.
Posted: Wednesday, 02/20/2013 07:38 PM EST - Updated: Thursday Feb 21, 2013 02:42 PM PT
DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- A corrections officer has been arrested after State Police say she was having a sexual relationship with one of the inmates she was charged with overseeing. State Troopers say Tyshinia Love Brewster, 39, was having an intimate affair with an inmate since 2010 and that she's pregnant with that inmate's child. They say she has been working at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill for more than seven years. Brewster was arrested for rape and official misconduct and is due back in court next month. She is also facing disciplinary charges out of the Inspector General’s Office.
Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013, 6:55 PM - Updated: Wednesday Feb 20, 2013 11:12 PM PT
(By cutting a plea deal with prosecutors, Megan Crafton, 22, avoided having to register as a sex offender. Crafton admitted to police that she had performed oral sex on a 17-year-old student at Shelbyville High School, where she worked as a cheerleading coach.) Shelbyville, Ind. -- A 22-year-old high school cheerleading coach (pictured left) in Shelbyville, Ind., cut a plea deal with prosecutors after admitting she performed oral sex on a 17-year-old male student in her car. Under the terms of the plea deal, Megan Crafton pleaded guilty to dissemination of matter or conducting performance harmful to minors, a felony, but will avoid having to register as a sex offender. Crafton will now be on probation for the next 12 months, and must complete 25 hours of community service. If she successfully completes her probation, Crafton may apply to have the charge against her reduced to a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors had originally charged Crafton with felony child seduction, a more serious offense, after the student, who is a member of the Shelbyville High School basketball team, came forward to police. “The prosecutor’s office was willing to compromise to that level. I can’t speak to their motivations for doing that. I just know they worked well with us,” Crafton’s attorney told media sources. In October, Crafton’s attorney filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that Crafton was not in a position of power over the student. “She’s got her whole life ahead of her, and hopefully, this is just a blip on the radar for her.'"
The age of consent in Indiana is 16 years of age, but state employees are prohibited from having sexual relationships with anyone under the age of 18 whom they oversee. Crafton admitted to police that she had performed oral sex on the student in the parking lot Western Supermarket in Shelbyville. “Even though he wasn’t a cheerleader that she had, he was still in the system as a student, which put her in a position of authority, which made it illegal,” said Lt. Michael Turner with the Shelbyville Police Department.
Posted: 7:14 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 - Updated: 3:38 p.m. PST Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013
Henry County, Ga. -- A Henry County police officer was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated sexual battery, according to the GBI. Henry County police requested the GBI investigate Officer Tim Ferguson last month after learning of allegations made against him, an agency spokesman said. Ferguson was apprehended in the Kroger parking lot at Eagles Landing Parkway and Ga. 155 in Henry County. GBI spokesman John Bankhead said no other information would be released “out of respect for the privacy of the alleged victim.” Ferguson, suspended without pay on Jan. 31, posted $25,000 bond and was released early Wednesday night, according to jail records.
Posted: 5:09 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 | Updated: 3:59 p.m. PST Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013
Cobb County, Ga. -- An arrest for public indecency may cost Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s head football coach his job. Reginald Burnette, who played three years in the NFL for Green Bay and Tampa Bay, was arrested Jan. 29 in an east Cobb subdivision for allegedly exposing himself to an adult female, a misdemeanor, said Cobb County police spokesman Officer Mike Bowman. Mount Vernon responded by placing Burnette on indefinite leave until his case is adjudicated, school spokeswoman Allison Toller said. The school, located in Sandy Springs, educates students in preschool through the 12th grade, according to its website. The alleged incident did not involve Mount Vernon students or any school employees, Toller said. Parents were informed last week in a letter sent by headmaster Brett Jacobsen. Burnette, an All-American at the University of Houston, is out of jail on $1,000 bond.
Posted: Wed. Feb. 6, 2013, 9:28 AM - Updated: Thurs. February 7, 2013, 1:48 AM PST
Hot & Racy Calls!
Tucson, Ariz. -- A female cop who sent sex videos and pictures of herself in uniform to her lower-ranking officer lover has been demoted. Diana Lopez, who was in a relationship with the man at the time, used her personal cell phone to send the sexually explicit content. The public information officer for Tuscon Police Department was demoted from the rank of lieutenant to sergeant after an investigation.
The probe was initially sparked by anonymous letters to her department in August 2012, reports Arizona media sources.
Police said her actions had violated several department regulations, its code of ethics and professional standards. Assistant Chief Kathleen Robinson wrote: "Lopez used extremely poor judgment in sending these images undermining her credibility as a commander. "Her actions have negatively affected not only her reputation, but the reputation and mission of the Tucson Police Department."
Police said Lopez's boyfriend, who has never been identified, showed the content to other officers between May and August 2011. The investigation revealed that 13 people saw the footage, but the racy clips were never uncovered. Lopez also admitted to kissing an individual in a station locker room. Lopez, who is now working in the operations division, is believed to be considering a civil lawsuit against the city. Her attorney said the case brought up “constitutional issues over lawful off-duty behavior and violation of privacy.”
Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 12:16 PM - Updated: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 1:25 AM PST
The Devil's Spawn!
Brooklyn, New York -- Convicted cop killer Ronell Wilson hatched a plan to avoid the death penalty by impregnating a female guard with his evil seed at the federal jail in Brooklyn. Federal agents arrested the guard, Nancy Gonzalez (pictured right) at her Huntington, Long Island, home Tuesday. She is eight months pregnant. Gonzalez, 29, a guard at the Metropolitan Detention Center, was charged with having sexual intercourse with an inmate. She was arraigned Tuesday, February 5th in Brooklyn Federal Court. She faces 15 years in prison if convicted. Their hookups occurred over three weekends during which "the sole purpose was to impregnate her," the complaint states. Gonzalez allegedly serviced Wilson while the other inmates were locked down in their cells. Gonzalez became pregnant in June 2012, the complaint says.
Gonzalez admitted the illicit relationship in a recorded telephone conversation with her boyfriend who is incarcerated in state prison. She stated, "[I] kind of got sucked into his world" and "[I] felt like, well, why not give him (Wilson) a child as far as giving him some kind of hope," court papers state. "I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved, and now I am carrying his child," she said. Gonzalez reportedly told her boyfriend's mother that she is ready to “own up to her part of it but by no means is she going to make someone go on death row,” the complaint states.
During Wilson's (pictured left) 2007 trial for killing the undercover detectives in cold blood, prosecutors introduced a letter he wrote to another inmate, "I just need a baby before this pigz try to take my life. I need to have something behind me." Wilson, 30, who is facing the death penalty for murdering undercover NYPD detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin during a gun buy and bust, was outed by prison snitches, according to a complaint. One informant spotted her moving away from Wilson's cell door while he was standing on the doorway "with his pants down, exposing his genitals." Wilson was moved to solitary confinement in August while agents from the Department of Justice's inspector general's office launched an investigation.
Wilson was sentenced to die by a federal jury but the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the sentence due to prosecutorial error. He still faces life in prison or death by lethal injection when he is resentenced later this year. In November, a hearing was held on Wilson's claim that he is mentally retarded and therefore not eligible for the death penalty. A decision from Judge Nicholas Garaufis is pending. It is unclear how Gonzalez's arrest will affect the mental retardation motion. "If this was done by design, it's not the actions of a person who is mentally retarded," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association. "It's a devious plot to avoid the death penalty." Federal prosecutors are prepared to argue to a new jury that Wilson remains a danger in prison because of his membership in the Bloods gang and his skill at manipulating prison staff. That makes him a high risk to escape or pass messages to associates on the outside.
Posted: February 3, 2013 - Updated: February 5, 2013 10:06 PM PST
Erath County, Texas -- A former Marine has been charged with three counts of murder in the killing of former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle (pictured above-center, left) the most deadly sniper in U.S. history, and another man at an Erath County, Texas, gun range, police said. Kyle and a neighbor of his were shot at a gun range in Glen Rose while helping a former Marine who was recovering from post traumatic stress syndrome, another media source reported. Authorities identified the other man who was killed with Kyle as 35-year-old Chad Littlefield, who Cox said was Kyle's neighbor and friend. The fatal shooting comes after week filled with gun-related incidents, as the national debate heats up on what to do about gun violence. In the past week, a teen who participated in President Obama's inaugural festivities was shot to death in Chicago, a bus driver was fatally shot and a 5-year-old was taken hostage in Alabama, and a Texas prosecutor was gunned down outside a courthouse.
The suspect, identified as Eddie Ray Routh, 25 (pictured above-center, right) was arrested in Lancaster, Texas, after a brief police chase, a Lancaster Police Department dispatcher told media sources. Routh was driving Kyle's truck at the time of his arrest, police said. Investigators told the sources that Routh is a former Marine said to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Kyle, 38, served four tours in Iraq and was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. From 1999 to 2009, Kyle recorded more than 150 sniper kills, the most in U.S. military history. After leaving combat duty, Kyle became chief instructor training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper teams, and he authored the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Doctrine, the first Navy SEAL sniper manual. He left the Navy in 2009.
"American Sniper," which was published last year by William Morrow, became a New York Times best seller. "We are devastated by the news of Chris Kyle's death," William Morrow executive editor Peter Hubbard said in a statement. "It was an incomparable honor to help share Chris's story of service and faith with the world. Chris was a hero as much on the home front as on the battlefield -- a man who dedicated his life in recent years to supporting veterans and donated the proceeds of American Sniper to the families of his fallen friends. He deserves our deepest respect. Our prayers are with his family and the entire military community. He will never be forgotten."
Brandon Webb, a fellow SEAL who knew Kyle from SEAL Team Three then later when Webb was an instructor at the SEAL sniper course, called him a "larger than life Texan" and said he "will go down in history as one of the world's most accomplished military snipers, right next to Carlos Hathcock, and Lyudmila Pavlichenko."
"Chris was very adamant about supporting veterans issues," Webb said. "This was an subject close to his heart, and not many in our community realize how much of his time was spent on veterans' causes. ... Chris will be remembered as a great American Hero, and another friend lost but not forgotten."
Kyle was also an advocate for his fellow service members suffering from PTSD, creating a foundation to help with their treatment. In an interview with an online gun dealer, he discussed the difficulty troops face coming home from combat zones. "All of a sudden you don't have no identity," he said "And you have to learn a whole new way to act." Kyle also helped found a nonprofit that provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans, but the director of the foundation said Kyle and Routh had not met through the organization. "Chris was literally the type of guy if you were a veteran and needed help he'd help you," Travis Cox, the director of FITCO Cares, told a third media source. "And from my understanding that's what happened here. I don't know how he came in contact with this gentleman, but I do know that it was not through the foundation."
Cox said Kyle's wife Taya and their children "lost a dedicated father and husband" and the country has lost a "lifelong patriot and an American hero."
"Chris Kyle was a hero for his courageous efforts protecting our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL during four tours of combat. Moreover, he was a hero for his efforts stateside when he helped develop the FITCO Cares Foundation. What began as a plea for help from Chris looking for in-home fitness equipment for his brothers- and sisters-in-arms struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became an organization that will carry that torch proudly in his honor," Cox said in a statement.
Routh was arraigned Saturday evening on one count of capital murder and two counts of murder. He was brought to the Erath County Jail this morning and was being held there today on a combined $3 million bond, Officer Kyle Roberts said.
Published: Tues. Feb. 5, 2013, 12:53 PM - Updated: Wed. Feb. 6, 2013, 12:27 PM PST
Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was killed when FBI agents stormed his Midland City bunker Monday. Homemade bombs have been found in an Alabama bunker where a demented survivalist held a kidnapped autistic boy captive for nearly a week. It was unclear what Dykes intended to do with the bombs, but authorities had feared he would blow up himself and the boy if the crisis continued. Officials said four armed agents shot and killed the suspect when he fired a shot at them. As soon as the rescue mission of declared a success, FBI bomb technicians entered the bunker and began disarming the explosives.
The boy, who has only been identified as Ethan, celebrated his sixth birthday Tuesday watching Spongebob cartoons in a hospital and being showered with affection by loved ones. Dykes abducted Ethan Jan. 29, pulling the boy off a school bus and fatally shooting the driver. Ethan was rescued Monday after hostage negotiators convinced Dykes to open the door of his bunker so they could deliver supplies he asked for. He was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon after doctors determined Dykes had not physically harmed him.
Posted: February 4, 2013 9:30 PM PST - Updated: February 5, 2013 10:42 PM PST
Midland City, Alabama (WCJB) -- A 5-year-old boy freed Monday after being held captive in an underground bunker for six days is laughing and smiling and playing with his favorite toy dinosaur after being reunited with his family, authorities said. FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Richardson visited Ethan at a hospital, where he was in a private area with heavy security. "He is doing fine," Richardson told reporters at a late-night news conference. "He's laughing, joking, playing, eating." Ethan looks great but will be hospitalized overnight, an uncle told people at a prayer vigil earlier Monday. Ethan suffers from Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit disorder, state Rep. Steve Clouse said during the week. Ethan has siblings, but none of them were on the bus last week.
(pictured left, makeshift aqueduct Law Enforcement officials used to communicate and deliver supplies to Dykes and captive boy) The boy's kidnapper, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes (pictured above-center, left) is dead, but officials offered no details on the raid that freed the boy -- identified only by his first name, Ethan -- and left his abductor fatally shot. Richardson earlier said an FBI team went in to get Ethan after negotiations had broken down with Dykes, who also was "observed holding a gun." Believing the child to be in imminent danger, an FBI team entered the bunker at 3:12 p.m. CT (4:12 p.m. ET) and rescued the boy, Richardson said. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson had no new details about Ethan's rescue, and when asked if the boy saw his abductor, Dykes, killed during the rescue operation, Olson replied, "He's a very special child. He's been through a lot, he's endured a lot." Olson said it became very difficult to deal with and even communicate with Dykes over the past day.
Last Tuesday, police said, Dykes boarded a Dale County school bus and demanded the driver hand over two children. The driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., refused, blocking access to the bus's narrow aisle as at least 21 children escaped out of the back emergency door, authorities said. The gunman killed Poland, then grabbed the kindergärtner before barricading himself and the boy inside a nearby bunker he had built. Neighbors and officials had described Dykes as a survivalist with "anti-government" views. Meanwhile, residents and business owners in Midland City put up blue, red and black ribbons in support of the boy and Poland. Blue and red are the local school colors, and black is in honor of the slain bus driver.
In the ensuing days, officials said little about what was going on in the bunker (artist rendition: pictured above-center, left) or in their strategy, or what -- if anything -- Dykes wanted. "Based on our discussions with Mr. Dykes, he feels like he has a story that's important to him, although it's very complex," Olson said Monday before the hostage situation ended. He didn't elaborate. Dykes told authorities that he had blankets and a heater in the bunker, and authorities have previously said the bunker -- built 4 feet underground -- has electricity. Authorities did not say how they were communicating with Dykes.
(pictured right, a tent covers the entrance to the underground bunker where Dykes holed up with a captive 6-year-old boy) One neighbor said he was outside when he was startled by the sound of an explosion. "I heard a big boom and then ... I believe I heard rifle shots," said Bryon Martin, who owns a home near the bunker where the boy had been held since Tuesday. It was a loud noise that "made me jump off the ground," he said. Authorities wouldn't say whether the blast was set off as a diversionary tactic or whether Dykes had planted explosives around the bunker. Authorities said they were still working on the crime scene and the investigation should continue for several more days. The sheriff's office said the bomb squad was checking the bunker for potential explosive devices.
The FBI had borrowed from the U.S. military high-tech detection equipment similar to the technology used to discover homemade bombs in war zones, three Defense Department officials told media sources. It was unclear whether the equipment, which is not readily available to civilian law enforcement, had been used by the FBI. One of the defense officials said no members of the military were involved in the rescue. They would have been acting a technical advisers, the official said.
The U.S. Navy confirmed Monday that Dykes served in the military from 1964 to 1969. Naval records list him as an aviation maintenance administration man third-class who served with units based in California and Atsugi, Japan. The job entails clerical work related to aircraft and aircraft maintenance, according to the Navy's job description.
Even as the hostage situation continued Monday morning, plenty of police were on hand as schools in neighboring Ozark, Alabama, reopened for the first time since the incident began. Dale County schools remained closed but were to reopen on Tuesday, the district said. In Ozark, school officials decided to begin strictly enforcing a 15-foot safety zone around school buses required by state law. The law prohibits any unauthorized adults, including parents, from approaching within 15 feet of a school bus stop. If an unauthorized adult gets too close, bus drivers are supposed to close bus doors or drive away, if necessary, school officials said.
January 30, 2013, 10:07 PM
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. -- (pictured right, a FBI agents stands at the entrance to Dykes' property where he engaged in a standoff with officials in an underground bunker, holed up with a captive 6-year-old boy) A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 6-year-old hostage kept law officers at bay Wednesday in an all-night, all-day standoff that began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said. SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman's rural property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergärtner’s safe release. The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students. The gunman had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.
The boy's classmates, their parents and other members of this small Bible Belt community gathered in several churches and held a candlelight vigil in the town square Wednesday evening to pray for Poland and for the boy's safety. Some in the square joined together to sing "Amazing Grace."
The gunman, reported to be a 65-year-old retired truck driver, was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun. The standoff along a red dirt road began on Tuesday afternoon, after the gunman boarded a stopped school bus filled with children in the small town of Midland City, population 2,300. Sheriff Wally Olson said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a 6-year-old child. The gunman then took the kindergärtner away. "As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation," said Michael Senn, a church pastor who helped comfort the traumatized children after the attack.
Media sources in the nearby town of Dothan reports that contact has been made with the unidentified child (pictured right, "Ethan," a captive 6-year-old boy) and that the hostage is safe, but still being held captive. Police communicated with the boy through a PVC pipe in the bunker. The suspect was believed to be holed up with the boy at his rural property in an underground bunker of the sort used to take shelter from a tornado. Authorities gave no details on the standoff as it dragged on through the night and into the afternoon Wednesday, and it was unclear if the suspect had made any demands. At one point, authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said. The lawmaker said he did not know what the medicine was for or whether it was urgently needed.
State Rep. Steve Clouse, who met with authorities and visited the boy's family, said the bunker had food and electricity, and the youngster was watching TV. He said law enforcement authorities were communicating with the gunman, but he had no details on how. About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered at the end of a dirt road near where the suspect lived in a small travel trailer. Nearby homes were evacuated after authorities found what was believed to be a bomb on his property.
Mike and Patricia Smith, who live across the street from the suspect and whose two children were on the bus when the shooting happened, said their youngsters had a run-in with him about 10 months ago. "My bulldogs got loose and went over there," Patricia Smith said. "The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back."
"He's very paranoid," her husband said. "He goes around in his yard at night with a flashlight and shotgun."
"Everybody up the hill tried to avoid him," he said.
Patricia Smith said her children told her what happened on the bus: Two other children had just been dropped off and the Smith children were next. The suspect stepped onto the bus and grabbed the door so the driver couldn't close it. The suspect told the driver he wanted two boys, 6 to 8 years old, without saying why. According to Smith, the suspect started down the aisle of the bus and the driver put his arm out to block him. The suspect fired four shots at Charles Albert Poland, the school bus driver (pictured above-center) with a handgun, Smith said. "He did give his life, saving children," Mike Smith said.
Patricia Smith said her daughter, a high school senior, began corralling the other children and headed for the back of the bus while the suspect and the driver were arguing. Later, Smith's son ran inside his house, telling his mother: "The crazy man across the street shot the bus driver and Mr. Poland won't wake up."
Patricia Smith ran over to the bus and saw the driver slumped over in his seat. Her daughter used another child's cellphone to call 911.
Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said the suspect beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later. "He said his only regret was he didn't beat him to death all the way," Wilbur said. She called animal control, who came out and talked to the suspect, but nothing else happened. "If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it's nothing until it's going to be people."
The suspect had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors as they drove by his house weeks ago. Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage the suspect claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.
"Before this happened, I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me," Davis said. "On Monday I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just stared and stared and stared at me."
Posted: Monday, Feb. 04, 2013, 11:51 PM EST - Updated: Wed. Feb. 6, 2013, 02:02 PM PST
Georgetown University is a private research university in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Jesuit and Catholic university in the United States.
Washington. D.C. -- A high-flying law student with aspirations to serve in public office was secretly a drug dealer and addict who raked in more than $100,000 in profits. Georgetown Law student Marc Gersen, 31 (pictured above, center) will now spend the next four years behind bars after his secret double life was exposed. Gersen was arrested in a sting operation at a boutique hotel in December 2011, when police discovered 500 grams of methamphetamine that he was dealing alongside his colleagues.
A federal court in Washington. D.C. heard last week how Gersen managed to operate at law school while also as a functioning drug dealer and addict. He pled guilty to selling vast quantities of methamphetamine and being part of a three man drug ring that operated coast-to-coast, the Washington Post reports. The court heard how, on one side, Gersen, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, was a "socially conscious and brilliant student who was Phi Beta Kappa at Georgetown." But at the same time he was "deeply involved in drug dealing." He has since handed over his profits to the federal government as part of his punishment.
Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 11:51 PM PST
New York City, NY -- A top aide to City Controller John Liu (pictured above, center) told prosecutors she knew it was against the rules to solicit straw donations but did so because she wanted to help her boss’ mayoral campaign. Sharon Lee, Liu’s former press secretary, admitted hitting up family members and friends for illicit contributions and offering to reimburse them. “At the time of the offer, my mental state was to do anything and everything I could (to help the campaign),” Lee said, according to FBI notes from interviews with Lee in 2012. She said Liu had no knowledge of her actions. Lee, who still works for Liu as his labor relations coordinator, has been granted immunity to testify at the upcoming conspiracy trial of former Liu campaign treasurer Jia (Jenny) Hou and a Liu fund-raiser.
Posted: 01/13/2013 01:40:45 PM PST - Updated: 01/13/2013 11:46:33 PM PST
Bell Theft Curve!
LOS ANGELES, CA — Six former officials of the scandal-ridden city of Bell go on trial this week in a massive corruption case that nearly bankrupted the Los Angeles suburb. They have been accused of making millions while hiking taxes and fees for residents in the modest, blue-collar suburb where many live in poverty. Jury selection begins Tuesday and the trial is scheduled to last seven weeks. Key witnesses are expected to be former city employees and officials who discovered the shady dealings and were granted immunity from prosecution for their testimony.
Those set to go on trial Tuesday are former Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former vice mayor Teresa Jacobo and former council members George Mirabal, George Cole, Victor Bello and Luis Artiga. Two major figures in the scam are not part of this trial. Former City Manager Robert Rizzo and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia are scheduled to be tried separately.
The former mayor and vice mayor and four former City Council members are charged with misappropriation of public funds in a 20-count felony complaint. Prosecutors claim they looted the city's treasury in order to pay themselves exorbitant salaries. The complaint says sham commissions were created to enrich the defendants. Prosecutors contend that Rizzo had an annual salary and compensation package worth $1.5 million and masterminded a scheme to loot the city of Bell of more than $6 million. His assistant city manager, Spaccia, was paid $376,288 a year.
A judge who presided at a preliminary hearing for the officials concluded they had shirked their responsibilities and sold out their constituents for financial gain. "These people were elected to be the voice of the people, to be a safeguard," said Superior Court Judge Henry Hall, who ordered them held for trial. "And they basically sold that off." Council members drew salaries of about $100,000 a year, which Hall said was about 20 times more than they were entitled to make. He said the city's Solid Waste and Recycling Authority was never legally created and, in any case, met only one time in 2006 -- to vote its members a pay raise. "It was a sham agency," said the judge.
Defense attorneys had argued that the council members earned their salaries, working full time on the city's behalf, not only attending monthly council meetings but taking part in community projects that benefited low-income people, the aged and numerous others. The six defendants are expected to claim they worked hard for the city and were unaware of Rizzo's financial manipulations.
Testimony at the trial is expected to focus on the creation of sham boards and commissions such as the city's Surplus Property Authority which met a handful of times between 2005 and 2010 and never for more than a minute or two. Hall calculated that resulted in council members being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour for sitting on the authority's board.
Former District Attorney Steve Cooley, who filed the Bell corruption cases, said more than $5.5 million was taken from the city coffers.
After disclosure of the scandal, Bell residents revolted, turning out in the thousands to protest at city council meetings and ultimately staging a successful recall election at which they threw out the entire City Council and elected a slate of new leaders.
Posted: 10:38 pm, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 - Updated: 2:23 pm, Sun. Jan. 13, 2013
Freed to Kill,... Again!
Vallejo, CA -- A Vallejo man accused of murdering his elderly mother three decades after escaping the death sentence he earned by abducting and killing two teenage girls seemed to lay bare his demons Friday in a Fairfield courtroom. "This is the third one," muttered Dennis Fink Stanworth, 70 (pictured above-center) as he sobbed and sat slumped in a wheelchair during his brief arraignment in Solano County Superior Court. "I plead guilty to everything," he said, later adding, "I did everything."
Stanworth made his first court appearance two days after he allegedly called 911 to report he had killed his 90-year-old mother, Nellie Stanworth, at his home in the quiet Hiddenbrooke subdivision. Officers found her decomposed body in the backyard.
The victim lived in a mobile-home park in American Canyon. Her neighbors said "Nellie Belle," as they called her, had been in good health but had been losing her mobility. She had recently suffered a fall that required stitches above one of her eyes, they said. The neighbors said they had not seen her for more than a month, and that Dennis Stanworth - who continued to pick up his mother's mail every day - reported she had died. Records show someone put the home up for sale for $39,000 on Nov. 29, then pulled it off the market two weeks later.
Judge Donna Stashyn refused to accept Stanworth's attempted plea after his attorney stepped in to silence him. Stanworth is scheduled to return to court Friday to face charges that could send him - once again - to Death Row. Deputy District Attorney Karen Jensen said after the arraignment that Nellie Stanworth was killed on or about Nov. 6 at the house, which the defendant shared with his wife and her father. Police have questioned both. "It's unclear at this time what they knew and when they knew it," Jensen said. She declined to comment on possible motives for the killing and said an autopsy conducted Friday might reveal a cause of death. Jensen said her office will decide whether to seek capital punishment at a later date.
Dennis Stanworth is eligible for the death penalty because prosecutors charged him with a special circumstance that is rarely alleged - that he murdered someone after previously being convicted of murder. Dennis Stanworth's wife, who attended the court hearing, and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Oscar Bobrow, declined to comment.
Stanworth was sentenced to death in 1966 for murdering Susan Box, 15, and Caree Collison, 14, both students at De Anza High School in El Sobrante, after he picked them up as they were hitchhiking in Pinole. He drove them to a spot overlooking San Pablo Bay, where he shot Collison in the head when she tried to escape. Then he shot Box and had sex with her body, according to court records. Before the killings, Stanworth kidnapped three young women in El Sobrante and Richmond in separate incidents in 1965 and 1966 and sexually assaulted them, court records show.
While on Death Row, Stanworth wrote to the California Supreme Court, saying he wanted to waive the automatic appeal of his death sentence. "Please be merciful and give me an endless sleep as soon as you can so this pain and suffering that I have will be no more," he said. But five years after his conviction, the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence because of irregularities during jury selection.
He was again sentenced to death after a retrial, but that term was commuted to life in prison in 1974 after the state's capital punishment law was declared unconstitutional. He was paroled in 1990.
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - Updated: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Details from a "Dark Knight"!
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- A Colorado judge says there's enough evidence for James Holmes to face trial on charges that allege he killed 12 people and injured 70 others in a movie theater last summer. Judge William Sylvester said Thursday that prosecutors have established probable cause on more than 160 felony counts. Holmes is due to be arraigned Friday, but his defense attorneys filed papers Thursday saying he's not ready to enter a plea. They are likely to ask for the arraignment to be delayed.
Posted: 7:18 AM EST, Tue Jan. 8, 2013 - Updated: 12:27 AM PST, Tue Jan. 8, 2013
Centennial, Colorado (WCJB) -- A source said 25-year-old James Holmes allegedly went out a rear exit door, propped it open and gathered his weapons. He then returned to the theater and tossed a canister inside before opening fire, the source said. A preliminary hearing that began Monday is designed to show a judge that the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial. A gag order imposed by the judge in the case has limited the flow of information about the attack. The hearing could go on for days. Prosecutors are calling scores of witnesses and outlining their evidence in the case. After the hearing, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester will determine whether there is enough evidence for Holmes to stand trial. If Holmes is ruled incompetent to stand trial, the hearing could provide the best opportunity for victims and the public to understand what happened and why.
Security was tight at the hearing. Spectators had to pass through a metal detector and then were searched again before entering the courtroom. At least nine armed officers stood guard inside, some of them scanning the audience packed with reporters and victims' family members.
While none of the four law enforcement witnesses who testified Monday offered insight into a possible motive for the shooting, some new details emerged. Prosecutors showed surveillance camera video taken inside the theater complex that they said shows Holmes -- dressed in dark trousers, a light-colored shirt with a T-shirt underneath and a ski cap covering his hair -- using a cell phone at a ticket kiosk. Holmes printed out a ticket that had been purchased July 8, they said.
Police Sgt. Gerald Jonsgaard said Holmes stopped the theater door from locking by using a small piece of plastic commonly used to hold tablecloths onto a picnic table. Jonsgaard also said he spotted a shotgun and a large drum magazine that appeared to be jammed on the floor of the theater.
Earlier in Monday's hearing, police Officer Jason Oviatt -- the first officer to encounter Holmes after the rampage ended -- testified that Holmes seemed "very, very relaxed." Holmes, his pupils dilated, sweating and smelly, didn't struggle or even tense his muscles as he was dragged away to be searched. "He seemed very detached from it all," Oviatt testified, describing Holmes as unnaturally calm amid the chaos and carnage.
Oviatt testified Monday that within minutes of the first calls, he responded to the theater and found Holmes standing outside in a helmet and gas mask, his hands atop a white coupe that turned out to belong to him. At first, Oviatt said, he thought Holmes was a police officer, but as he drew within 20 feet, he realized something was terribly wrong. "He was just standing there. All the other officers were running around, trying to get into the theater," Oviatt said. Holmes calmly complied with all Oviatt's orders, the officer testified.
Aurora police Officer Justin Grizzle testified Monday on the opening day of the preliminary hearing for Holmes, who is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges. He testified there was so much blood the theater floor it had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again. This is the scene Grizzle said he encountered moments after entering the theater where, according to authorities, Holmes killed 12 people in a July 20 shooting rampage. The 13-year veteran wiped away tears while describing his efforts to rush badly wounded victims to the hospital in his police cruiser, including shooting victim Ashley Moser and her husband, who wanted Grizzle to turn around and head back to the theater.
"He was shot in the head somewhere. He kept asking where his ... daughter was," Grizzle said. "He opened the door and tried to jump out." Grizzle said he had to drive and hold the man by his shoulder to keep him in the car. The girl the man was seeking, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was shot four times and was among those killed in the shooting at a midnight showing of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises." Veronica's mother, Ashley, faces a long recovery after being paralyzed in her lower half and miscarrying after the shooting.
The scene was still gruesome when Detective Matthew Ingui arrived 12 hours later with other investigators. "We saw the first victim laying on the ground," he said "There's shoes, blood, body tissue and popcorn on the floor." Blood was everywhere, he said. Ingui described how he outlined each of the victims and marked where the bodies were found. Holmes had no visible reaction during the testimony. The detective said investigators found 209 live rounds of .223 ammunition and 15 cartridges of .40-caliber rounds inside the auditorium. A trail of blood led from the theater. The rifle that authorities believe Holmes used in the attack lay on the ground near the building.
Another officer, Aaron Blue, testified later that Holmes matter-of-factly told him, without prompting, about the complex web of explosives that authorities would later find in his Aurora apartment. He told Blue that the devices "wouldn't go off unless we set them off."
The day's testimony concluded with a detective who interviewed people wounded in the attack and the two coroners who conducted the 12 autopsies.
The cameras also captured the aftermath of the shooting as waves of people ran out of doors with theater staff behind counters. One employee even leaped over a counter. It was a scene "straight out of a horror film," said Chris Ramos, who was inside the theater. Screaming moviegoers scrambled to escape from the gunman, who shot at random as he walked up the theater's steps, according to witnesses. There was no video from inside the auditorium where the shootings occurred.
Holmes' attorneys are expected to argue that their client has "diminished capacity," a term that, according to the Colorado Bar Association, relates to a person's ability or inability "to make adequately considered decisions" regarding his or her legal representation because of "mental impairment or for some other reason." Several times, on cross-examination, they have asked witnesses about Holmes' demeanor and what he looked like when police found him.
Holmes was a doctoral student in the neuroscience program at the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado, Denver, in Aurora, until he withdrew a month before being arrested outside the bullet-riddled movie theater. He had been a patient of a University of Colorado psychiatrist, according to a court document filed by his lawyers. His only brush with the law in Colorado appears to have been a 2011 summons for speeding from Aurora police. Holmes did not speak during the hearing. His bushy hair and long beard contrasted with the bright red hair and close-cropped looks he sported during previous appearances.
During portions of the hearing, family members of victims held one another, sobbing. To at least one victim, it doesn't matter if Holmes stands trial. "I obviously don't want him to walk, but as long as he doesn't see the light of day again, it doesn't really much concern me beyond that," said Stephen Barton, who suffered wounds on his face, neck and upper torso in the shooting that night. "To me, I see the trial as being an opportunity to learn more about what happened that night beyond just my own personal recollection."
Death in Tulsa! Reader Pageviews by Country Movie Intermission! We Were Soldiers (2002)
Description: We Were Soldiers is a 2002 war film that dramatizes the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965. The film was directed by Randall Wallace and stars Mel Gibson. It is based on the book We Were Soldiers Once... And Young by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway, both of whom were at the battle.