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5 days ago · by · Comments Off on Felony Charges For Dallas Man Involved in Violent Parking Lot Attack

Felony Charges For Dallas Man Involved in Violent Parking Lot Attack

 

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Texas police have dropped a felony arrest warrant against 24 year old L’Daijohnique Lee, who was threatened with a gun and brutally beaten by 30-year-old Austin Shuffield in a Dallas parking lot on March 21.   Shuffield’s own charges were upgraded after video of the assault went viral.  The attack occurred after what should have been a minor traffic dispute but quickly escalated to violence.

The assault began when Lee’s car was reportedly blocking the exit the parking lot exit behind a barbershop and bar where Shuffield worked serving drinks.  The victim told police that she was driving the wrong way down a street when Shuffield stopped her, got out of his truck and told her to move out of the way because she was blocking the exit to the parking lot.  She said after she moved her car into the parking lot, Shuffield followed her and they got into an argument.  When she tried calling 911, Shuffield slapped her phone out of her hand.

Bystander video shows Shuffield confronting her with a gun in his hand.  When the victim pulled out her phone to call 911, Sheffield slapped it out of her hand.  After he slapped her phone out of her hand she hit him.   Shuffield is then seen savagely punching Lee at least five times while shouting racial slurs before attempting to kick or stomp on her phone that was still on the ground.

Initially Lee was charged with felony criminal mischief for allegedly smashing the windows of Shuffield’s truck after she was assaulted by him but those charges were later dropped.  The assault left Lee with a concussion and cranial swelling.  Shuffield was arrested minutes after the attack and charged with one count of assault and interference with an emergency call.  He was released the next day on the two misdemeanor charges

His charges were upgraded last week after video of the assault circulated on several social media outlets, sparking protests.  His upgraded charges include unlawfully carrying a weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, bodily injury, interfering with an emergency call and public-intoxication misdemeanor charges.  He has since been released from jail.  Shuffield was fired from his job as a bartender at Deep Ellum’s High and Tight Barbershop and his former employer said it was shocking to see such violent behavior from someone who was otherwise a very good employee.

L’Daijohnique Lee’s attorney Lee Merritt said that his client was “pleased” to learn that Shuffield will face more serious charges. “Ms. Lee will fully cooperate with DA John Creuzot who has indicated he would like to interview her directly in order to ensure a thorough presentation to the Grand Jury,” Merrit said in a statement. “We believe that additional details from the DA investigation will warrant hate crime enhancements as well.”

Merritt criticized the Dallas police officer who arrested Shuffield for not filing the felony charges in the first place, and credited the backlash on social media and protests in Deep Ellum with spurring the police department to take action. “Despite reviewing video evidence, independent witness statements, securing a firearm and receiving the victim statement,” Merritt wrote. “However, we are grateful that after significant community backlash and protest more serious charges were perused. The delay however has allowed a dangerous assailant to continue to roam freely among the public and had caused Ms. Lee a great deal of unrest.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Parkland Shooting Survivor Commits Suicide

Parkland Shooting Survivor Commits Suicide

 

 

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On the day Nicholas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School he killed 17 classmates and teachers and wounded 17 others.  Many students escaped with their lives but have emotional wounds that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.  For Sydney Aiello, 19, the grief of losing her classmates and teachers, including close friend Meadow Pollack, weighed heavily on her. A little over a year after the shooting took place, she took her own life on March 17th.  Heather Galvez of the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office said Aiello died from a gunshot wound to the head.  Aiello’s funeral was held Friday and she was buried at Temple Beth El Memorial Gardens in Davie, Fla.  She is survived by her parents, Cara and Joseph, and older brother Nick.

Aiello was a senior and on the high-school campus the day of the mass shooting but was not in the freshman building where the shooting occurred.  Many said she was never the same after the February 14th shooting claimed the lives of her classmates.  After graduating, she enrolled at Florida Atlantic University but her mother, Cara Aiello said she struggled to attend class because she was afraid to be back in a classroom.  She said her daughter was consumed with survivor’s guilt and recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the massacre.  She said Sydney couldn’t shake the devastating trauma of the mass shooting last year and the death of her longtime friend, Meadow Pollack.  She seemed sad in recent days, her mom said, but never asked for help before taking her own life.  Cara Aiello said that she hopes Sydney’s story can help save others who are struggling with their mental health in the aftermath of the shooting.

The horrific circumstances of Meadow Pollack’s death show the unrelenting savagery of shooter Nicolas Cruz that day and would understandably haunt anyone who loved her.  Meadow was shot 4 times in the hallway on the third floor.  She crawled down the hallway to another student, Cara Loughran and covered her to shield her from the bullets.  Cruz pointed his assault rifle at Meadow’s back and shot her four more times.  The bullets pierced through Meadow and into Cara beneath her, killing both students.   Cruz then shot Meadow once in the head.

Pollack’s father, Andrew Pollack, who has become an outspoken activist for more security at schools across the country since his daughter death, retweeted a photo of Sydney Aiello and his daughter posing together in fancy gowns with the heartbreaking caption, “A little more than a year after this photo was taken, both are gone.”  Pollack said his heart goes out to her “poor, poor parents.  It’s terrible what happened. Meadow and Sydney were friends for a long, long time,” he said. “Killing yourself is not the answer.”  Pollack added “If anyone feels like that they have no one that can understand their pain, if there’s any student out there that’s having a hard time, please reach out to me on Twitter. I understand you. You aren’t alone.”

Meadow Pollack’s brother, Hunter, also weighed in on Aiello’s death on Twitter.  “Beautiful Sydney with such a bright future was taken from us way too soon,” he wrote.  Ryan Petty, who also lost his daughter Alaina in the Parkland shooting, stressed the importance of suicide prevention for Stoneman Douglas students.  “It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas.  My advice to parents is to ask questions, don’t wait.”

Cruz, 20, has pled not guilty and his lawyers have said he’ll plead guilty in return for life in prison but prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.  His trial is tentatively scheduled for next year.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Jury Rules Against Bayer in 2nd Roundup Cancer Trial

Jury Rules Against Bayer in 2nd Roundup Cancer Trial

 

 

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A San Francisco jury found that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was a “substantial factor” in the cancer of California resident Edwin Hardeman. Hardeman says he sprayed the widely used herbicide on his property for almost three decades and once got the product directly on his skin. He has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jury will now consider damages owed by Bayer, which owns Monsanto.  The federal case could have implications for thousands of others accusing the company of making them sick.

More than 11,000 people have filed suit against Monsanto Company (now Bayer) alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, alledging that Monsanto covered up the risks. As part of the discovery process, Monsanto has had to turn over millions of pages of its internal records.  More than 760 lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and the cases have been combined for handling as multidistrict litigation (MDL) under Judge Vince Chhabria.

The jury came to this verdict despite the judge barring evidence about Monsanto’s efforts to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer, after it classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.  Monsanto spent millions of dollars on various secretive tactics aimed at discrediting IARC.  Documents show the company discussing using third parties who appeared to be independent of Monsanto to publicly criticize IARC and push Monsanto propaganda points.  Internal Monsanto records show the company’s role in ghostwriting an article that appeared on Forbes’ contributors’ platform, and they show that the company was behind a story published by Reuters in 2017 that falsely claimed an IARC scientist withheld information from IARC that would have changed the classification.

The judge also barred evidence about how Monsanto worked to discredit French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini after publication of his 2012 study findings about rats fed water dosed with Roundup. Internal Monsanto records show a coordinated effort to get the Seralini paper retracted, including an email string between Monsanto employees who apparently were so proud of what they called a “multimedia event that was designed for maximum negative publicity” against Seralini that they designated it as an “achievement” worth recognition.

The judge did allow portions of a 2015 internal Monsanto email to be introduced as evidence.  In the email, company scientist Bill Heydens discusses plans to ghostwrite a series of new scientific papers that will contradict IARC’s classification of glyphosate.   In the email, Heydens remarks on how this plan is similar to the ghostwriting of a scientific paper written and published in 2000 in response to another study that found glyphosate to be unsafe.

Officials with Monsanto owner Bayer AG are feeling the effects of the decision has the company’s share prices dropped even lower. The company’s shares already took a huge hit in August after the jury in the first Roundup cancer trial found that the company’s herbicides caused cancer.  In August 2018, a state jury awarded  former school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson nearly $300 million in damages after Monsanto’s Roundup was found to be responsible for his cancer, though the amount was later reduced to $78 million.  Of course, Monsanto appealed the verdict and Johnson has cross appealed, seeking to reinstate the jury award.

 

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Hollywood Actresses and Wealthy CEOs Indicted in College Admissions Scandal

Hollywood Actresses and Wealthy CEOs Indicted in College Admissions Scandal

 

 

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Hollywood actresses and a slew of chief executives are among 50 wealthy people charged in the largest college cheating scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Those indicted in the investigation, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” allegedly paid bribes of up to $6.5 million to get their children into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said.

At a news conference, Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts said “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy and, I’ll add, there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.” Lelling said “The parents charged in the case are a catalog of wealth and privilege. They include, for example, the CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”

The ringleader of the scam is William Singer, owner of a college counseling service called Key Worldwide Foundation and a company called Edge College & Career Network. Singer allegedly accepted bribes totaling $25 million from parents between 2011 and 2018 “to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools.” Singer, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.
Steven Masera, 69, the accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, was also indicted. Mark Riddell, a private school counselor in Bradenton, Florida, and Masera allegedly worked closely with Singer in the scam, according to the indictment. According to the indictment, Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom, California, another employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, and David Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver, Canada, were also indicted for allegedly working closely with Singer to facilitate the scam.

Singer would allegedly instruct parents to seek extended time for the children to take entrance exams or obtain medical documentation that their child had a learning disability, according to the indictment. The parents were then told to get the location of the test changed to one of two testing centers, one in Houston and another in West Hollywood, California, where test administrators Niki Williams, 44, of Houston and Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, California, helped carry out the scam, the indictment alleges. Riddell, 36, allegedly took ACT and SAT tests for students whose parents had paid bribes to Singer. Singer typically paid Riddell $10,000 for each student’s test.
Singer also allegedly bribed school coaches to give to his clients’ admissions slots reserved for student athletes in sports including crew and soccer. He went as far as to stage fake photos of his student clients engaging in sports they never played, or to digitally place the faces of his clients onto images found online of athletes.

Others charged in the probe include nine coaches at elite schools, two SAT and ACT exam administrators, one exam proctor, a college administrator and 33 parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Robert Zangrillo, 52, of Miami, founder and CEO of the private investment firm Dragon Global; Bill McGlashan, 55, of Mill Valley, California, a businessman and international private equity investor; Gordon Caplan, a New York attorney; and Gregory Abbott, 68, founder and chairman of International Dispensing Corp., a New York food and beverage packaging company, and his wife, Marcia Abbott, 59.
Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, was not indicted, but according to the court document he and Huffman were caught on a recorded conversation with a corroborating witness in the case, allegedly discussing a $15,000 payment to ensure their younger daughter scored high on a college entrance exam. Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to USC to have their two daughters falsely designated as crew recruits, though neither daughter ever participated in the sport.

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Christchurch Mosque Shootings

Christchurch Mosque Shootings

 

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At least 49 people were killed and 48 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.  The attack occurred around lunchtime when the mosques were full of worshipers. Footage of the massacre was streamed live online, and a rambling 87 page manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the shootings unfolded.  Police also neutralized two improvised explosive devices attached to one vehicle near the mosque.

The suspected shooter, Brenton Tarrant, 28, live-streamed 17 minutes of video which included footage of himself inside the first mosque, going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.  In the 6 minutes Tarrant was inside, forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor Mosque.  The live streamed footage also showed the gunman casually talking and laughing as he walked out of the mosque where he shot at people near the area before driving away at high speed, heading for the Linwood Islamic Centre, about 3 miles away.  Another 7 people were killed at the Linwood Mosque, an eighth victim later died in the hospital. Tarrant was apprehended as he fled the Linwood Mosque when two police officers ran his car off the road.

Tarrant has been charged with murder and two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.  None of the men in custody have a criminal history.  Tarrant is an Australian-born former personal trainer who is believed to have been radicalized during his travels abroad. According to the Independent, Tarrant met with right-wing extremists while taking a trip to Europe in 2017, and also traveled to Pakistan and North Korea.  Authorities have said that Tarrant had become obsessed with terrorist attacks committed by radical Islamists in Europe in 2016 and 2017.

According to his manifesto, he started planning a revenge attack about two years prior to the attack and chose his targets three months in advance.  The manifesto expresses several anti-immigrant sentiments including hate speech against migrants, white supremacist rhetoric, and calls for non-European immigrants such as Roma, Indians, Turkish people, Semitic people and others allegedly “invading his land” to be removed.  Tarrant describes himself as an ethno-nationalist and refers to revenge for European civilians who were casualties in Islamic terrorist attacks within Europe as motivation for his attack.  He repeatedly mentions revenge for Ebba Åkerlund, a victim in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack.

Prime Minister Ardern called the incident an “act of extreme and unprecedented violence” and said “this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”  She also described it as a well-planned terrorist attack.  Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel stated that she never thought “anything like this” could happen in New Zealand, saying “everyone is shocked”.  Many other politicians and world leaders have condemned the attacks and world leaders attribute the attack to rising Islamophobia.

Prime Minister Ardern announced: “Our gun laws will change, now is the time… People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that.”  Attorney-General David Parker was later quoted as saying that the government will ban semi-automatic guns but later said the government had not yet committed to anything and that regulations around semi-automatic weapons was “one of the issues” the government would consider.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on R Kelly Arrested Hours After Tense Interview With Gayle King

R Kelly Arrested Hours After Tense Interview With Gayle King

 

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R&B singer R. Kelly’s legal troubles seem far from over with Chicago police charging him with failure to pay more than $161,000 in child support owed to his ex-wife Andrea-for their three children.  The arrest came just two weeks after he was arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault against four women and girls—three of whom were under the age of consent at the time.  Prosecutors say three of Kelly’s victims were underage girls and that Kelly abused them over a span of about a dozen years.  Kelly was once again released from custody after someone paid his bail three days after his arrest.

His second arrest came just hours after an interview with Gayle King where he became visibly upset and was screaming and cursing.  During the interview, which broadcast on ”CBS This Morning,” Kelly again denied the allegations that have followed him for years as well as the more recent allegations that he is holding several young women in what has been described as a sex cult.  The 52 year old singer went from tears to yelling throughout the interview as he claims that the accusations are lies.  During the tense interview, at times, Kelly jumped from his seat, standing over King as he yelled and pounded on his chest.

  1. Kelly: “I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my [bleep] life! Y’all are killing me with this [bleep]! I gave y’all 30 years of my [bleep] career!”

Gayle King: “Robert.”

  1. Kelly: “Thirty years of my career, and y’all are trying to kill me!”

During the interview, when asked about whether he pays child support to his ex-wife, he claimed to only have about $350,000 left in his bank account.

Kelly has faced scrutiny for more than a decade, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record sales over the years.  He is notably known for his music as much as the allegations involving underage girls.  It’s been well-known that Kelly settled four cases involving underage girls before his 2002 indictment.  During the six years it took that case to go to trial, Kelly churned out hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,”  “I Wish” and “Fiesta”.  He was eventually found not guilty and though the allegations were well known, they faded from the publics’ mind as his record sales soared.

Attention to the allegations were reignited in January after the six-part Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” aired.  It featured interviews with seven accusers and former members of his inner circle. They all said Kelly preys on vulnerable women and young girls.  All of the girls were willing involved with him but were underage at the time.  They claim that at the time, they loved him and began their relationships believing they had a special connection but began to realize that he had a sickness.

Gayle King also asked King about the two women that currently live with Kelly, whose parents both claim he has isolated them- abusing and brainwashing their daughters.  Aspiring singer Jocelyn Savage, 23, met Kelly when she was just 17 years old and has been living with Kelly since she was 19.  She broke off contact with her parents soon after she began living with him.  Another aspiring singer, Azriel Clary, 20, also met Kelly when she was 17 years old and she broke off contact soon after moving in with him.  In an interview with Gayle King, Clary and Jocelyn defended R. Kelly saying, that their parents are just after money and that they were happy being his girlfriends and living with him.  R.Kelly was in the room during the interview.rkelly.jpg

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Patriots Owner’s Arrest Spotlights Sex Trafficking Investigation

Patriots Owner’s Arrest Spotlights Sex Trafficking Investigation

 

 

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The billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, was charged with two counts of soliciting sex during a wide ranging sting operation investigating prostitution and human trafficking at day spas in South Florida.  The charges against Mr. Kraft, 77, in Jupiter, Fla., came after the police used video surveillance to observe activity inside several day spas and massage parlors.  Prosecutors say they have video evidence of Kraft engaging in the criminal acts.  While Mr. Kraft lives in Massachusetts, he has owned property in Palm Beach, Fla., for a number of years.  Kraft is accused of patronizing a spa in Jupiter called Orchids of Asia, a small storefront business in a strip mall on two occasions.

All of the sexual encounters that have resulted in charges were videotaped as part of the prostitution investigation.  Investigators had been conducting surveillance of massage parlors in the area for 6 months and have charged nearly 200 people, though only a fraction have been arrested so far.  The police said that the massage parlors and spas had been used for prostitution and that many of the women involved were considered to be victims.  Many of the women involved in the case came to the U.S. from China on temporary visas, and some reportedly had sex with 1,000 men a year.  The investigation involved several law enforcement agencies and resulted in raids and arrests connected to nearly a dozen businesses in the region.  At least one person was charged with human trafficking while others, including several women, are accused of racketeering and money laundering. More than two dozen customers, men ranging in age from their 30s to at least one in his 80s, have been arrested.

Acting on a tip, the police began their investigation of Orchids of Asia by searching online reviews for the business, several of which used a slang term for a sex act that was available to male customers.  After conducting 24-hour video surveillance in November, the police noticed that only male clients had entered.  A Florida Department of Health investigator inspected the business on behalf of the police and noticed several indications that women were living there, including beds, dressers with personal items and a refrigerator containing food and condiments.

One day in January, the police stopped men leaving the spa and the men told police officers that they had taken part in sex acts during their visits. Using that information, the police obtained a search warrant allowing them to monitor and record conduct inside the spa on video.  At 11:30pm on January 17th, the police entered the Orchids of Asia massage parlor under the pretense of investigating the report of a suspicious package.  They evacuated the parlor and set up surveillance cameras to capture what went on inside.  For five days, starting on Jan. 18, the police monitored the video, and they said they had observed more than 20 men receiving manual or oral stimulation during massage sessions.  Police say they did not observe sexual intercourse in any of the instances.

It is extremely difficult for law enforcement to takedown the rings that operate these types of parlors and even more difficult to prove human trafficking charges because of workers’ reluctance to testify, cultural barriers and an international business structure that makes identifying the masterminds next to impossible.  In the last several years, law enforcement has started to view the women in these situations as victims and have cracked down on arresting johns in an effort to eliminate the demand.  In many cases, they refer these women to social services after a parlor is raided.  Many of the women who are working in these establishments are recruited from rural parts of China with promises of legal employment in the US.  Some are fleeing domestic abuse, have little education or their families are heavily in debt.  Agencies in China charge them thousands in travel fees to the US and they agree to work off the debt, eventually being forced into the sex trade with little to no other options for housing or income once in the US.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Five Dead In Aurora, IL Shooting

Five Dead In Aurora, IL Shooting

 

 

 

 

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In Aurora, Illinois, 45-year-old Gary Martin, used a Smith & Wesson handgun, in a 90 minute workplace shooting spree.  Martin killed five of his coworkers and wounded six others, including five police officers before being killed by police gun fire.  Martin had worked at the water valve manufacturer Henry Pratt Co. for 15 years and opened fire on his coworkers during a meeting, after learning of his termination.

Police said Martin, 45, likely brought his handgun to work because he knew he was being fired from his job.  Three of the victims were killed inside the meeting room and two others were killed nearby.  The victims were identified as Clayton Parks, a human resources manager who began working at Henry Pratt in November; Trevor Wehner, 21, a human resources intern on his first day with the company; Russell Beyer, a union chairman who worked at Henry Pratt for more than 20 years; Vicente Juarez, a stock room attendant and fork lift operator who had been with the company since 2006 and Josh Pinkard, a plant manager who had worked with the company for 13 years in Alabama before transferring to Aurora last year.

A sixth employee and five Aurora police officers were also shot and expected to survive.  Responding officers arrived at the shooting scene four minutes after the first 911 calls were placed.  Martin shot and wounded five officers during initial exchanges of gunfire. He then retreated into the 29,000 square foot building, where police found him roughly 90 minutes later. He again fired at officers and was fatally shot.

The five officers shot include a 39-year-old man with 13 years of service, a 52-year-old man with 25 years of service, a 52-year-old man with 24 years of service, a 53-year-old man with 30 years of service     and a 24-year-old man with almost four years of service.  A sixth officer, a 23-year-old man with two years on the job, was treated a knee injury sustained during the incident.

In 1995, Martin was convicted of felony aggravated assault in Mississippi and served less than two years in prison for a violent assault against a former girlfriend that included hitting her with a baseball bat and stabbing her with a knife.  Martin had previously been arrested by Aurora police officers on six different occasions, including for domestic violence and traffic incidents. His last arrest in Aurora was for violating an order of protection in 2008.  Martin was not legally allowed to possess a gun in Illinois because of his prior felony conviction in Mississippi.

However, in 2014, he successfully applied for an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card and bought a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun. When Martin tried to procure a concealed carry license that same year, the Mississippi conviction came up during a background check. Martin was denied a concealed carry license, his FOID card was revoked and he was notified to forfeit his firearm to local law enforcement.  Authorities never confiscated his gun.  His most recent arrest was in 2017 in Oswego, Ill., for disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property.

City officials in Aurora have started a GoFundMe account to help families who lost loved ones in the tragic shooting.  https://www.gofundme.com/f/aurora-strong-community-fund  The GoFundMe has a goal of raising $50,000 to “relieve the extreme financial burdens families are experiencing during this difficult time,” according to the city.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coast Guard Lieutenant Suspected of Planning Terror Plot

Coast Guard Lieutenant Suspected of Planning Terror Plot

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An active-duty Coast Guard lieutenant who was arrested on gun and drug charges, allegedly wanted to conduct a mass killing.  Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, of Silver Spring, Maryland, reportedly had a stockpile of 15 guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Federal investigators uncovered a domestic terror plot to kill high-profile liberal figures including Democratic lawmakers, media personalities and judges.  He was ordered held without bail on drug and gun charges while prosecutors gather evidence to support more serious charges involving what they portrayed as a domestic terror plot.

Hasson’s “hit list” included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, civil rights pioneer Angela Davis, freshman Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, MSNBC host Chris Hayes and Democratic presidential hopefuls Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, among others.  Hasson, a self-described white nationalist, was reportedly inspired by the far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who in 2011 killed 77 people in a bomb attack and a mass shooting.

Court documents say Hasson holds extremist and white supremacist views and allege that he relied on the manifesto of Anders Breivik.  In a draft email obtained by prosecutors, Hasson wrote, “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.” Court documents also revealed he wanted to “establish a white homeland”.  Court records show Hasson also stockpiled steroids and human growth hormone “to increase his ability to conduct attacks,” consistent with the directions in Breivik’s manifesto.

Spokesman for US Coast Guard Headquarters, Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane said in a statement that the arrest was part of an investigation led by the Coast Guard.  “An active duty Coast Guard member, stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, was arrested on illegal weapons and drug charges as a result of an ongoing investigation led by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice. Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time,” Lane said.

Hasson served as an aircraft mechanic in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and was then on active duty with the Army National Guard for approximately two years. He has been in the Coast Guard for more than twenty years and has held his current position since 2016.  Hasson is married with two children, one of whom is in the Marine Corps.  Prosecutors allege that Hasson had been amassing guns and ammunition since 2017 in preparation for his plot to assassinate high-profile Democratic and left-leaning politicians and media figures.

Hasson used work computers to plan the attack during his job as a Coast Guard Lieutenant and studying the manifestos of various mass shooters.  He created a spreadsheet with a list of journalists, Democratic politicians, and socialist figures and organizations.  He also attempted to find out where Democratic politicians and media figures lived.  Federal prosecutors say “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country. He must be detained pending trial” and: “The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life” as well as his charges being the “proverbial tip of the iceberg”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on El Chapo Found Guilty

El Chapo Found Guilty

 

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A New York City federal jury rendered a guilty verdict on all 10 federal criminal counts against notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, after a 3-month trial. The counts include conspiracy to launder drug money, international distribution of drugs, the use of firearms and engaging in a criminal enterprise.  The 61 year old faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for the guilty verdict of leading a continuing criminal enterprise, and a sentence of up to life imprisonment on the remaining drug counts.  He will be sentenced on June 25.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera once headed a criminal enterprise that spanned continents and triggered waves of bloodshed throughout his native Mexico, claiming more than 100,000 lives in drug-related violence.  During the more than 200 hours of testimony at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, 56 witnesses took to the stand with stories of murder, violence, spying, widespread corruption and even one tale of the drug lord escaping arrest in 2014 by climbing naked through a sewer alongside a former lover.   The kingpin is just as notorious for leading the violent cartel as he is for his extensive measures of escaping arrest and daring prison escapes.  Since Guzmán’s capture in 2016 and extradition one year later, he has been kept in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison with little to no human interaction for as many as 23 hours a day.

Over 2½ months, the partially sequestered and anonymous jury sat through testimony from 56 witnesses about unspeakable torture and ghastly murders, corruption at nearly every level of Mexico’s government, narco-mistresses, gold-plated AK-47s and monogrammed, diamond-encrusted pistols.  Fourteen of those witnesses — mostly admitted drug traffickers and cartel associates — cooperated with prosecutors in hopes of reducing their own prison sentences.  There were also surveillance photos, intercepted phone calls and text messages involving Guzmán, as well as evidence showing extravagant firepower and bricks of cocaine that dropped with the force of potato sacks.

The jury deliberated roughly 34 hours over six days before rendering guilty verdicts on all 10 counts.   Jurors did not look at the defendant, who reportedly pocketed nearly $14 billion in cash proceeds as the decades-long head of the Sinaloa cartel.  Under El Chapo, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled narcotics to wholesale distributors in Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York.  Federal prosecutors said they will seek a forfeiture judgment for billions of dollars constituting the cartel’s illegal drug-trafficking proceeds.

One of Guzmán’s lawyers described him as “extremely upbeat” after the verdict, “He’s a fighter, he’s not done yet by far” defense attorney Michael Lambert said.  After jurors left the room, Guzmán waved and smiled at his wife, Emma Coronel, a former beauty queen and courtroom regular who smiled back and touched her hand to her heart.  Another member of the defense team, Jeffrey Lichtman, said they waged a vigorous defense and are disappointed in the jury’s verdict but they plan to file an appeal on a number of issues.

According to experts, his conviction will not diminish the power and reach of the Sinaloa cartel.  According to researchers, the violent crime group has not been affected despite the arrests of some of the cartel’s top leaders and important associates.    El Chapo created an extraodinary criminal organization that operates in more than 40 countries and was designed to carry on even in his absence.  Once El Chapo started running from authorities, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, who lead a faction of the cartel, made sure the cartel still functioned, which he still does to this day.

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