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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Prediction Warns It Hasn’t Gone Away

Covid 19 Prediction Warns It Hasn’t Gone Away

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With more than 2.06 million cases, America has the world’s largest COVID-19 confirmed cases to date. It’s also first when it comes to the total number of deaths, with more than 117,000 people having died of COVID-19 complications. Nearly 7.5 million people have had confirmed infections worldwide and over 420,000 people died.  As US states are opening up their economies, Harvard Global Health Institute director Dr. Ashish Jha predicts that the US will cross 200,000 deaths sometime in September.  Jha explained his estimates only take into account the next few months, but COVID-19 will obviously not disappear after that.

“The pandemic won’t be over in September so I’m really worried about where we’re going to be in the weeks and months ahead.  We’re really the only major country in the world that opened back up without really getting our cases as down low as we really needed to,” Jha noted, adding that the US is the only advanced country in the world not to have a proper contact tracing system setup. People should continue to maintain social distancing and wear masks, Jha advised. They should also “put pressure” on the government to advance testing and contact tracing programs.

“But even if we assume that it’s going to be flat all summer, that nothing is going to get worse, we’re going to stay flat all summer — even if we pick that low number, 800 a day — that’s 25,000 a month,” Jha pointed out. “In three and a half months, we’re going to add another 87- 88,000 people, and we will hit 200,000 sometime in September.”  Jha said anyone who still thinks the summer will bring a dramatic decrease in cases is “engaging in wishful thinking.” Coronavirus cases and associated hospitalizations may be falling in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, he said, but cases are surging in Arizona, Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas. The Harvard professor of public health said he is not trying to scare people into staying home by raising concerns about the number of deaths he’s predicting.

In Brazil, the coronavirus death toll has topped 43,000 with the total number of confirmed cases at over 850,000. It now has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the world behind the United States.  According to the health ministry, the COVID-19 mortality rate in Brazil is five% and nearly 388,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Brazil.

China reported its highest number of daily infections in months, raising concern over a second wave of the outbreak. In Beijing, authorities have reimposed lockdown measures after a new cluster of cases emerged last week.  The cluster, the capital’s first locally transmitted cases in nearly two months, raised mainland China’s total number to 83,132. Almost 4,700 people have died in China, where the pandemic originated in December.

The World Health Organization says the pandemic is accelerating in Africa, with the most affected countries being South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.  In Yemen, medical authorities warn deaths linked to the pandemic could exceed war-related fatalities in the port city of Aden.  The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and practice these actions to help prevent the spread of this illness.

Covid 19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so the recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the world’s economy reopens are:  Keep 6 feet of social distance between yourself and others; wear a mask or cloth covering when around others-especially when in situations where you can’t maintain the 6 feet of social distancing; clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; avoid close contact with people who are sick; disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly and stay home if you are feeling any symptoms.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Experts Warn of Spikes In Covid 19 Cases 2 to 3 Weeks From Reopening

Experts Warn of Spikes In Covid 19 Cases 2 to 3 Weeks From Reopening

 

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In just a few months, Covid 19 has spread across the globe and left in its wake a trail of social paralysis, economic ruin and even death.  While states across the US issued stay at home orders to slow their healthcare systems from being overrun, other states like New York, weren’t so lucky.  As some U.S. states start to lift pandemic-related restrictions on businesses and public spaces, there is a fear that infections will resurge in those places — and that if that happens, the virus won’t stay put.

Crystal Watson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said “I do believe we are going to see additional surges of cases from this epidemic that will not be contained within a state.  Neighboring states and perhaps states across the country and countries across the world are going to have cases imported from those outbreaks.”  Experts say the problem is that diagnostic testing remains so limited that a second surge of cases could silently build. The nationwide goal of conducting 2 million tests a week is below what most experts say is needed to adequately track the virus and that plan won’t be in place until at least the end of May.

No one knows how quickly and how expansively the spread of the virus will pick up as states roll back restrictions, and governors are generally outlining gradual changes.  The incubation period of 2 to 14 days coupled with the turn-around time of test results in some areas taking a few days, means we just have to wait and see if reopened states will experience a surge in cases.  More than half the states have relaxed restrictions but experts say it will be at least two to three weeks before we see an increase in the number of infections because it takes time for individuals to infect others and for them to display symptoms.

Public health experts warned of the possibility of spikes before states made the decision to reopen. Even as their predictions prove true in some states, others are still moving forward with plans to reopen. Proponents of relaxing social distancing restrictions also point out that spikes in positive cases are to be expected with expanded testing.

In Georgia, gyms, salons, and restaurants are operating with limits. In Colorado, retail stores can have curbside pickup and elective surgeries are back on. And starting tomorrow, malls, theaters, and restaurants in Texas can open with 25% occupancy. These and other states have plans for further easing of distancing policies as long as case counts don’t spike.  If these states do see spikes they may have to roll back the restrictions as needed.

 

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on France Extends Stay At Home Orders to May 11

France Extends Stay At Home Orders to May 11

 

 

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France extended its coronavirus lockdown another four weeks until May 11. President Emmanuel Macron announced the extension in a televised address.  France has reported over 140,000 cases and over 17,000 coronavirus deaths.  From May 11 onward, he said, quarantine will be “gradually” lifted, starting with nurseries, K-12 schools, and some shops.

Macron’s address was his third since March 17, when the government ordered 67 million French people to stay home, allowing them out just once a day to exercise, buy food or medicine, or seek medical care.  In the sobering televised address, Macron was apologetic, admitting he thought they were ready for the crisis but they clearly were not.  He acknowledged state failures in rolling out testing and supporting healthcare workers, and admitted that he didn’t have all the answers.  Macron said they have faced up to that and have had to make very difficult decisions that required them to adapt constantly as fragmentary information continued to change.  “This moment, let’s be honest, has revealed cracks, shortages. Like every country in the world, we have lacked gloves, hand gel, we haven’t been able to give out as many masks as we wanted to our health professionals.”

France has seen progress with slowing the spread but Macron urged that that is no reason to lift the order.  “I fully understand the effort I’m asking from you,” Macron told the nation, adding that the current rules were working.  “When will we be able to return to a normal life? I would love to be able to answer you. But to be frank, I have to humbly tell you we don’t have definitive answers,” he said.

“Over the next four weeks, the rules must be respected,” he explained.  Macron said the four-week extension will give France the ability to test anyone presenting COVID-19 symptoms, which will allow for better containment of the virus.  He said that by May 11, France would be able to test every citizen presenting COVID-19 symptoms which is why the orders have to be extended.

He offered a rough timeline for how the country may reopen, starting with schools and shops in May and ending with restaurants, hotels, cafés and cinemas in July.  International arrivals from non-European countries will remain prohibited until further notice.  “We’ll end up winning,” Macron said. “But we’ll need to live with the virus for a few months.”

After a steady increase in cases until the first week of April, the number of patients in French hospitals’ intensive care units has started to decline, prompting health authorities to call a plateau in the epidemic.  French hospitals are just about coping, while nursing homes are still overwhelmed.  Some of that pressure has been eased by a massive effort to transfer patients by plane, helicopter or even high-speed train from hospitals in the east and Paris to the west.

 

 

 

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on 24 Dead As Tornadoes Rip Through Nashville

24 Dead As Tornadoes Rip Through Nashville

 

 

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Powerful tornadoes ripped through Tennessee, killing at least 24 people and injuring at least 85 more in the Nashville area.  Emergency crews in Putnam County, Tennessee, where 18 of the deaths occurred-combed through shattered homes and collapsed buildings, searching for victims more than 36 hours after at least two tornadoes touched down in the middle part of the state.  A state of emergency was declared in Tennessee as a result of the damage. 

Damage was sustained in at least four counties in the path of the storms. Officials said that one long-track tornado produced damage that peaked at EF3 strength along a 50-mile-long corridor from Nashville east to near Gordonsville.  Among the victims in Putnam County are children aged 2 to 13 years old, and several of the deceased are related to each other.  Four families lost multiple people. Besides the victims in Putnam County, a total of four people were killed in Wilson County, two in Davidson County, which is home to Nashville, and one in Benton County.

More than 73,000 homes and businesses were without power in four counties, the state emergency agency said. Nashville Electric said that four substations and 15 primary distribution lines were damaged. Overturned tractor-trailers blocked stretches of Interstate 24 near Antioch and Interstate 40 near Mt. Juliet after the storm.  Dozens of buildings collapsed as the winds reached at least 155 mph — EF-3 tornado level — in Mount Juliet and Donelson.

The damage stretched far beyond Nashville and across several counties. Tornadoes were reported several times along a 145-mile stretch, including in the small city of Camden just after 11 p.m. CT; in Nashville after midnight; and in the Cookeville area in Putnam County shortly before 2 a.m., the National Weather Service said.  The tornado touched down near Highway 70 near Baxter and traveled to just before Willow Avenue in Cookeville, Porter said. The hardest hit areas include Charleton Square, Plunk Whitson, Echo Valley, Prosperity Point, North Mcbroom Chapel, and Double Springs Utility District.  

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Coronavirus Cases In The US

Coronavirus Cases In The US

 

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The World Health Organization is warning the number of cases of COVID-19 caused by coronavirus is approaching 100,000 worldwide, with more than 3,100 deaths due to the illness. Most of the deaths and infections have occurred in China, where health officials reported 139 new cases and 31 new deaths recently.  

South Korea confirmed 438 new cases, making their total number of confirmed cases over 5,700.  Italy has over 3,000 confirmed cases and more than 100 deaths have been reported. Officials have closed down schools in Italy, South Korea, Japan, France, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere, with nearly 300 million children kept home from school worldwide. 

In the United States, there are now more than 300 confirmed cases and the death toll has reached 11 — with 10 of the deaths occurring in Washington state. California recorded its first coronavirus death: an elderly man who traveled on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco and traveled to Mexico in February. Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered the ship quarantined off the coast of California and is airlifting tests for passengers and crew. Governor Newsom made the announcement as he formally declared a state of emergency across California.

The CDC issued new guidance for clinicians on screening patients for novel coronavirus and assessing their risk for infection. The agency also started shipping its coronavirus assay to labs across the U.S. and in other countries.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 states in the US have reported confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. Washington State has the highest number of cases with 70 confirmed illnesses and 10 associated deaths. California has 60 positive cases and 1 death. 

Of the confirmed cases in California, 42 of them are linked to repatriation or international travel. Cases are rising rapidly in New York, where there are 22 confirmed cases across the state with an additional 24 testing results pending, and 122 individuals under investigation.  In response to the rise in cases, the US Senate passed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the outbreak. This came just a day after the bill was approved by the House of Representatives. More than $3 billion is expected to be put into research and development of treatments, vaccines, and testing.

 

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Bills Passed To Boost Safety After 2018 Deadly Crash

Bills Passed To Boost Safety After 2018 Deadly Crash

 

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State lawmakers have passed several bills designed to boost safety requirements for stretch-limo operators, after a deadly crash in upstate New York involving one of the vehicles killed 20 people.  Family members of the victims of the 2018 crash flanked officials during Tuesday’s press conference in Albany and cheered the 10 proposals supported by leaders of the state Senate, Assembly and Gov. Cuomo.

The crash occurred in Schoharie at the junction of New York state routes 30 and 30A  on the afternoon of October 6th 2018. The passengers were traveling to a surprise birthday party in a retrofitted 2001 Ford Excursion.  Among them were four sisters and two recently married couples.  All 18 people inside the vehicle, including the driver, and 2 bystanders in a nearby parking lot were killed.

The investigation of the accident revealed pre-existing problems with the limousine, the driver and the limousine company, Prestige Limousine Services. As a result of failing two inspections due to deficient brakes, which a repair shop allegedly falsified having repaired, and other issues, the state had ordered the vehicle out of service. Inspectors had placed an “inservicable” sticker across the windshield which was removed before the fatal trip.  The vehicle was only certified for 10 seats, but had 18 installed. The driver also lacked the required endorsement to his license for carrying 15 or more passengers at a time.

After the New York State Police determined that the operator, Nauman Hussain, was aware of these issues yet continued to rent the vehicle, he was arrested on a charge of criminally negligent homicide and later indicted on 20 counts each of that charge and 2nd degree manslaughter.  His trial is scheduled for March 2020.

“This has been a difficult journey for all the collective families that said, as everybody knows, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” said an emotional Kevin Cushing, who lost his 31-year-old son, Patrick Cushing, in the October 2018 crash in Schoharie County.  “We can’t change the past but we can make a difference in the future,” Cushing said.

One of the key pieces of legislation requires all new stretch limos to have seat belts starting in 2021 and retrofitted vehicles by 2023.  Multiple reports following the accident found that seat belts could have saved the lives of at least some of the passengers.  Other changes include a bill mandating that riders in taxis, liveries and limos — in both the front and back seats —wear safety belts.  This would apply to Uber, too.  Additional bills set new requirements for drug and alcohol testing of hired drivers, criminal and financial penalties for illegal U-turns and a commercial GPS system. Another bill will implement a study on other safety measures, such as escape hatches.

 

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on Supreme Court Clears Way for Newtown Lawsuit

Supreme Court Clears Way for Newtown Lawsuit

 

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The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by gun manufacturer Remington Arms, that argued it should be shielded by a 2005 federal law preventing most lawsuits against firearms manufacturers when their products are used in crimes.  The decision has cleared the way for survivors and the families of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to pursue their lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used to kill 26 people.

The families are arguing that Remington violated Connecticut law when it marketed the Bushmaster rifle for assaults against human beings. The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case allows the lawsuit filed in Connecticut state court by a survivor and relatives of nine victims who died at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012, to go forward.  The lawsuit says the Madison, North Carolina-based company should never have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to the public.

Gunman Adam Lanza used it to kill 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 along with six educators, after killing his mother at the home they shared.  The rifle used in the killings was legally owned by his mother.  The lawsuit also alleges Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games. Lanza was 20 years old when he committed the mass shooting.  Only two of the victims who were shot by Lanza—both teachers—survived the attack.  Lanza killed himself as police arrived at the school.

The case is being watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and gun manufacturers across the country, as it has the potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent the federal law and sue the makers of firearm.  The National Rifle Association, 10 mainly Republican-led states and 22 Republicans in Congress were among those urging the court to jump into the case and end the lawsuit against Remington.

The Connecticut Supreme Court had earlier ruled 4-3 that the lawsuit could proceed for now, citing an exemption in the federal law. The decision overturned a ruling by a trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The federal law has been criticized by gun control advocates as being too favorable to gun-makers. It has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun-makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002.

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on Father of Atatiana Jefferson on Dies

Father of Atatiana Jefferson on Dies

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The father of Atatiana Jefferson has died, less than one month after a police officer killed his 28-year-old daughter by shooting through the bedroom window of her own home.  Atatiana’s father, Marquis Jefferson, 59,  died after suffering a heart attack. The family spokesman said, “I can only sum it up as a broken heart.” Atatiana was his only child and she was killed exactly one month ago, on October 12, by police officer Aaron Dean.  The spokesman, Bruce Carter, said Jefferson had been under a lot of stress since his daughter was killed and was also battling Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which makes breathing difficult.

Jefferson had been embroiled in a family dispute involving his daughter’s funeral and burial arrangements, which were controlled by her aunt, Bonita Body. He argued that as the surviving parent of Atatiana, he should have control of her burial, and was granted a temporary restraining order to postpone the funeral. The service eventually took place on October 24.  “He was battling to be a part of her life to the end,” Bruce Carter, the family’s spokesperson, said. “I think it just got the best of him.”

Lee Merritt, attorney for Atatiana Jefferson’s family, said in a statement they were saddened to learn the news about Marquis Jefferson and “of course” the loss his daughter factored into his death.  “Her death rocked the nation but no one felt it more than the people that were directly tied to her in life,” Merritt said. “Those people haven’t had a chance to grieve like normal families. They have been thrust into a very public, very emotional, very draining fight for justice.”

On October 12, at around 2:30 a.m., Dean had arrived at Atatiana’s Forth Worth residence with another officer in response to a non-emergency “wellness check” called in by a neighbor who noticed Atatiana had left her front door open.  Atatiana was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she heard noises outside of her home.  According to her nephew, she took her handgun from her purse and pointed it “toward the window” just before getting shot by Dean.  The two men did not identify themselves as police when they approached the window where Atatiana stood.

Body camera footage showed Dean looked inside a window using a flashlight, spotted someone inside standing near a window and said, “Put your hands up — show me your hands.” He shot seconds later.  At no point did he identify himself as an officer and he did not appear to have knocked on the door.  Dean resigned from the police department shortly afterward, and was arrested and charged for Atatiana’s murder. He is currently out on a $200,000 bond.

Dean completed police training at the Fort Worth Police Academy in March 2018 and at the time of the shooting, had been with the department for 18 months. Prior to the shooting, the only entry in his Fort Worth police personnel file was about a traffic collision.  Dean’s training records from his first year on the job note concerns from supervisors which included that he had “tunnel vision” and “needs improvement on communicating with the public and fellow officers.” Dean’s most recent performance evaluation was made in spring 2019, where he received high marks from a supervisor.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on GM Strike Ends

GM Strike Ends

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After a 40-day strike, a new four-year deal between the United Auto Workers and General Motors was approved.  The contract was supported by 57% of the labor union. It includes an $11,000 bonus per member, annual raises and more affordable healthcare. General Motors still plans to close three factories in the United States.

The United Auto Workers union emerged with substantial wage increases of 3 percent in the second and fourth years and 4 percent lump sum payments in the first and third years, similar to what the union obtained in 2015.  Even larger gains are in store for those in a category called “in progression,” the lower scale of a two-tier wage system negotiated in 2007 when the Detroit automakers were financially reeling.

Workers hired after that date, about a third of the overall work force, started at about half the pay of veteran employees and had no prospect of reaching the top wage, currently $31 an hour. Over the course of the new contract, the disparity will be phased out, and those with four years’ experience will rise along with more senior workers to the new top level of $32 an hour.  In addition to pay increases, G.M. workers will get bonuses of $11,000 for ratifying the contract. They will continue to pay 3 percent of their cost of health care, well below the percentage that G.M.’s salaried workers contribute.

There were also rewards for temporary workers, about 7 percent of G.M.’s union work force, who will have a path to permanent employment after three years. About 900 of them will become full employees in January, the union said, and 2,000 more by 2021.

It also won commitments to new G.M. investments in United States factories.  As part of the new contract, the company pledged to invest $7.7 billion in its United States plants, and another $1.3 billion in ventures with partners, providing a measure of job security. G.M. will put $3 billion toward overhauling the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which had been scheduled to close in January. Three-quarters of the 700 workers there voted in favor of the contract.

At the same time, the agreement allows G.M. to close three idled factories permanently, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, eliminating excess manufacturing capacity at a time when auto sales are slowing. It also puts the company in a more stable position if the economy goes into a recession.  The closing of the Lordstown plant was one of the main sticking points for some workers voting against the contract. “We did everything that G.M. ever asked of us at times of concessions,” said Bill Goodchild, a member of Local 1112 in Lordstown. “We feel we deserve a product.”

About 48,000 United Auto workers walked off the job over one month ago, making it the longest national strike at GM by United Auto Workers in nearly 50 years.  The contract finally ends a strike that many estimate has cost GM $1.75 billion in losses.  “We delivered a contract that recognizes our employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company,” G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said in a statement.

 

 

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Felicity Huffman Sentenced In College Admissions Scandal

Felicity Huffman Sentenced In College Admissions Scandal

 

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U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced actress Felicity Huffman to two weeks in prison for paying $15,000 to get her daughter into college by having someone correct her answers on the SATs.  Huffman also received a $30,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.  She had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Her lawyers asked for no jail time, one year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.  Her sentence likely means other parents who’ve pleaded guilty in the nation’s college admissions scandal will spend time behind bars. It could also mean that others who made significantly larger payments will end up with more lenient prison terms than prosecutors say are fair.

During Huffman’s sentence she told the courtroom she was deeply ashamed.  Judge Indira Talwani said, “Ultimately, you knew it was fraud, it was not an impulsive act.  Trying to be a good mother doesn’t excuse this.”  Talwani added that the sentence she handed down was “the right sentence here,” but also told Huffman “You can rebuild your life after this,” the judge said. “You’ve paid your dues.”  Huffman will report to prison in six weeks, on October 25. Where she’ll serve her sentence has not been announced and will ultimately be decided by the Bureau of Prisons.

Fifty-two people have been charged as part of the college admissions bribery scandal known as “Varsity Blues.”   Of the 52 people charged in the scandal, 35 are parents.  Fifteen, including Huffman, have pleaded guilty in deals with prosecutors, while 19, including actress Lori Loughlin, have pleaded not guilty and are preparing for trial.  Rick Singer, the mastermind of the nationwide college admissions scandal, was paid to have cheat on their children’s SAT or ACT while others paid substantially more to get their children falsely tagged as athletic recruits as a way into prestigious schools.  Huffman is the first parent to be sentenced and prosecutors sought one month prison time for Huffman.  Prosecutors are pushing for longer sentences for other defendants — more than three years in some cases.

The next parent to be sentenced in Boston federal court is Devin Sloane, CEO of Los Angeles-based waterTALENT.  He pleaded guilty to paying $250,000 to Singer’s sham nonprofit to falsely designate his son as a water polo player to gain acceptance into the University of Southern California. Prosecutors are seeking one year in prison for Sloane.  Sloane’s hearing is scheduling for September 24th.  Two days later, Stephen Semprevivo, a former executive at Cydcor, also based in Los Angeles, will be sentenced. He pleaded guilty to paying $400,000 to Singer to get his son admitted into Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit.  Prosecutors have asked that Semprevio receive 15 months in prison.

Both upcoming cases will reveal whether the judge treats the recruiting scheme the same as the testing scam, and whether she comes down harder on parents who paid more to Singer.   Longer sentences could be in store for parents who participated in the recruitment scheme because it had a more “direct effect” on the admissions process than test tampering. Such parents, including Loughlin, accused of paying $500,000 to Singer, have argued they made “legitimate donations” to Singer’s nonprofit, which they said had a history of donating to colleges.

Prosecutors have argued parents who paid more money to Singer should receive longer prison terms.  An order by the judge released hours before Huffman’s sentencing could cap sentences at six months for parents regardless of their how much they paid.  Judge Talwani ruled against the government’s request to sentence defendants under the federal commercial bribery statute, which allows more severe sentences depending on the amount of money paid. Instead, all sentences will be based on fraud statute guidelines, which recommend six months or less in prison for the offense.

 

 

 

 

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