Archive for June, 2009

Deputies Killed after Subduing Suspect with Stun Gun

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Niceville, FL—A sudden confrontation with a man accused of beating his wife turned deadly for two Florida law enforcement officers on Sunday morning.

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies Burt Lopez and Warren “Skip” York had gone to a shooting range to arrest a man, Joshua Cartwright, on domestic abuse charges, after she had been hospitalized for her injuries. Despite Lopez’s reputation as being a good mediator in domestic cases, with the ability to defuse angry participants, Cartwright became enraged. The deputies fired a stun gun at him, but Cartwright nonetheless sat up and began firing at them, hitting both in areas not protected by their bulletproof vests.

Cartwright then tried to flee the scene, resulting a chase through a neighboring county. Officers set up a roadblock, which punctured his tires and stopped his truck, but Cartwright exited the vehicle and began shooting. The deputies at the roadblock fired back, killing the suspect.

Cartwright, a National Guard soldier, was interested in weapons training and militia activity. He was employed as a bouncer at a bar, and sometimes threatened customers with a sharp flashlight attachment.

Neighbors attested to the frequency of domestic disputes between Cartwright and his wife, and he had been arrested for domestic battery in November. Charges in that case were pending at the time of his death.

Over 300 sheriff’s office employees gathered on Sunday night to pray for their slain colleagues and hear an explanation of the incident. The department has already been rocked by death and scandal among its employees; the previous sheriff was arrested by the FBI on corruption charges earlier this year. Sheriff Charles Morris and his former office manager, Teresa Adams, were indicted last week on counts of theft, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Another deputy in the department, Anthony Forgione, was killed last July after being shot by a suicidal man.

York and Lopes was former Air Force members who had joined the sheriff’s office after retiring from the military. The interim sheriff, Ed Spooner, said that the two had no reason to believe that Cartwright would become violent upon his arrest.

“This went from zero to 100 in a matter of minutes,” said Spooner. “In three minutes it turned from a passive discussion to a shooting, it was one heck of a mess.”
Niceville, FL—A sudden confrontation with a man accused of beating his wife turned deadly for two Florida law enforcement officers on Sunday morning.

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies Burt Lopez and Warren “Skip” York had gone to a shooting range to arrest a man, Joshua Cartwright, on domestic abuse charges, after she had been hospitalized for her injuries. Despite Lopez’s reputation as being a good mediator in domestic cases, with the ability to defuse angry participants, Cartwright became enraged. The deputies fired a stun gun at him, but Cartwright nonetheless sat up and began firing at them, hitting both in areas not protected by their bulletproof vests.

Cartwright then tried to flee the scene, resulting a chase through a neighboring county. Officers set up a roadblock, which punctured his tires and stopped his truck, but Cartwright exited the vehicle and began shooting. The deputies at the roadblock fired back, killing the suspect.

Cartwright, a National Guard soldier, was interested in weapons training and militia activity. He was employed as a bouncer at a bar, and sometimes threatened customers with a sharp flashlight attachment.

Neighbors attested to the frequency of domestic disputes between Cartwright and his wife, and he had been arrested for domestic battery in November. Charges in that case were pending at the time of his death.

Over 300 sheriff’s office employees gathered on Sunday night to pray for their slain colleagues and hear an explanation of the incident. The department has already been rocked by death and scandal among its employees; the previous sheriff was arrested by the FBI on corruption charges earlier this year. Sheriff Charles Morris and his former office manager, Teresa Adams, were indicted last week on counts of theft, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Another deputy in the department, Anthony Forgione, was killed last July after being shot by a suicidal man.

York and Lopes was former Air Force members who had joined the sheriff’s office after retiring from the military. The interim sheriff, Ed Spooner, said that the two had no reason to believe that Cartwright would become violent upon his arrest.

“This went from zero to 100 in a matter of minutes,” said Spooner. “In three minutes it turned from a passive discussion to a shooting, it was one heck of a mess.”

Former Orange Co. Sheriff Sentenced in Witness Tampering Case

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Santa Ana, CA—The former head of the nation’s fifth-largest sheriff’s department has been sentenced following a courtroom drama that has played out since October 2007.

Michael Carona, who was indicted on public corruption charges stemming from alleged money-laundering, conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering, received 5 ½ years in prison on only one count of witness tampering. A jury dropped the remainder of the charges in January, finding Carona guilty of only a single count.

Prosecutors charged that Carona had asked multimillionaire businessman Don Haidl to launder campaign contributions he had received, totaling at least $30,000. He then gave Haidl a post in the sheriff’s department, as well as authority over a reserve deputy program. This program allowed Haidl to assign law enforcement badges to his friends and family. Haidl eventually became a government informant, and was later named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the grand jury indictment against Carona.

Haidl wore a wire in order to secretly record conversations with Carona, who peppered his speech with profanity, racial slurs, sexual comments and references to his longtime mistress.

The mistress, along with Carona’s wife, was also indicted, although charges against both were later dropped.

The former sheriff’s trial, which lasted for 10 weeks, featured over five dozen witnesses and captured the attention of the Orange County public. Yet the jury rejected the government’s main thrust of accusations. A former assistant sheriff who had also been Carona’s one-time campaign manager, and who had been named as a co-conspirator along with Haidl, reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors and was one of the prosecution’s witnesses during the trial.

During a recent hearing to determine sentencing, Carona thanked U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford for giving him the opportunity to fight against the charges which had been brought against him. Guilford then sentenced Carona to 5 ½ years, one year less than the 6 ½ year sentence that had previously been recommended by probation officials.

The former sheriff will also serve two years of probation after his release, in addition to paying a fine of $125,000.

Carona’s attorneys said that they would appeal.

World Immigration Alerts Against Mexico’s Swine Flu

Monday, June 29th, 2009

On Sunday, Taiwan ordered all of its airports to secure immigration checks from those who entered from North America. This is due to the possible influx of the swine flu, a new flu that has killed 80 people and affected various more thus far.

“Visitors from Mexico and the United States including homecoming Taiwanese nationals found to have fever and flu symptoms will be sent to special hospitals for isolation, pending virus inspections,” said the spokesman of the Department of Health, Shih Wen-yi.

The tightening on immigration checks was a response to the World Health Organization’s announcement that the flu is capable of becoming a pandemic.

Shih said that the precautions include thermal testing for all those who enter in order to determine if they have a fever or not, in addition to an oral testimony as to whether they have any flu-like symptoms.

The United States has declared a public health emergency. China and Thailand joined Russia in banning meat imports from Mexico and the five U.S. states where 20 swine flu cases have been confirmed.

Jose Angel Cordova, Mexican Health Minister, confirmed the number of suspected swine flu deaths at 103. In Mexico City, Mexico’s capital, residents wore blue face masks and collected food and water, anticipating a long lock-down. Mexico City has closed schools and museums, and President Felipe Calderon has given authorization to secretary of health to isolate patients and inspect travelers in its quest to stem the epidemic.

The World Health Organization says that the swine flu is normally transmitted from animals to humans, but warned that the human-to-human transmission means the strain could be virulent very quickly. The WHO called for all nations to “intensify surveillance.”

The number of suspected cases has been at 1,324, but is now up to 1,614, declared Mexico’s health minister on national television.

The only confirmed cases outside of Mexico are six in Canada and 20 in the United States.

Spain screened all passengers arriving off flights from Mexico and tested eight as possible swine flu cases. Two patients in Scotland are also under observation after returning from Mexico.

The swine flu is less deadly than the avian flu, because it only affects the respiratory system. The symptoms include fever, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea. Cooked pork will not transmit the virus to the consumer.

Mom Charged with Half-naked Tot Child Endangerment

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Philadelphia, PA–In the East Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, a SEPTA bus quickly stopped when it found an unusual sight early Sunday morning.

A toddler, without shoes or socks, and wearing only a pair of inside-out pajama pants, was waddling into a busy intersection of Chew Avenue and Montana street. Many witnesses were relieved when the baby was made safe, and police began a two-hour hunt to find who the parents were.

The toddler’s mother, Tonya Robinson, was found sitting on the stoop of her home approximately one block from where her son was found. She said that she had not seen the boy since 6:30 a.m., four hours earlier from when investigators found her, but had also not reported him missing.

Malik had multiple bruises and scars and was taken by police to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in order to be checked. Robinson was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and further charges are expected to come, after the medical exam is finished.

Lt. Al Rossi of the Special Victims Unit said “It’s atrocious. A 3-year-old kid walking around alone in the city could have been killed. God was with him.”

Bettia Prince was on her way home from dropping her children off at school when she saw the child walking into a store. Apparently contractors who were doing renovations escorted the child out around 8:20am and just left him on the sidewalk with no other adult in sight.

“They just left him there on the sidewalk by himself; I couldn’t believe it,” Prince said.

That is when she got out of her car in order to take the child, but Malik was walking into the street, directly in front of SEPTA bus. “The driver had to stomp on his brakes real quick,” said Prince.

Prince took the boy to a daycare nearby where he was fed and clothed, apologizing that Prince had to leave because of liability and security reasons.

Prince waited for officers at Emlen School and then accompanied them as they took Malik door-to-door, asking if anyone could provide information on the child’s identity.

When they approached his house, the mother had little comment and asked for her boy back. Police instead arrested her and her boyfriend because Robinson had a bloodied shirt and swollen lip. They charged him with domestic-abuse offenses.

Prince, who is 7 months pregnant and a foster mother, is supposed to be on bed rest.

“This is definitely not what the doctor ordered,” she laughed. “But I don’t want to do what his mother did and just let him go. I want to stay with him and make sure he’s OK.”

Ambrose praised Prince, saying, “This is really a community responsibility.”

Supreme Court Hears English-Language Case

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Federal law mandates that schools take the necessary measures to ensure that all children attending school in America, no matter what their primary language, are proficient enough in English to receive a competitive education.

The law, enacted in 1974, includes as provision to sue in order to enforce that mandate, and the case of several students in an Arizona town has gone to the Supreme Court.

In the heavily-Hispanic town of Nogales, which is on the Mexican border, most children speak Spanish at home. Many are not proficient enough in English to keep up with their classmates in subjects across the board, including social studies, science, mathematics and of course reading.

Several parents sued the state of Arizona, claiming that they did not abide by the federal mandate. In 2000, a federal judge ruled in their favor, saying that the state had not hired enough qualified teachers or put into place enough effective programs in order to teach English to the Spanish-speaking students. The state had been spending less than $150 per student to ensure proficiency, found the judge. Some teachers themselves were not proficient in English.

The state has begun to implement changes, including building more schools, increasing the teacher-to-student ratio, and allocating additional funds for the English language programs.

Yet a federal appeals court has ruled that the state’s spending increase and curriculum improvements have not been sufficient. At that point, the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate, both Republicans, hired their own lawyers in order to appeal. In an unexpected move, the Supreme Court then agreed to hear the case.

The state’s superintendent of education, who is also a Republican, agrees with the House and Senate speakers that it should be left up to the taxpayers to determine how much state money should be spent on the English-education initiatives. He’s asking the Supreme Court to rule that the state of Arizona, not the federal government, should have jurisdiction over the matter.

Lawyers for the children said that Arizona had failed to allow the children an equal opportunity to participate and succeed in school, and that this constitutes a failure to comply with federal law.

“What the state needs to do is to is … to ensure that these students have an equal opportunity to participate in the educational system,” said the families’ attorney, Sri Srinivasan.

Charges Dropped Against Former Reagan Budget Director

Friday, June 26th, 2009

New York—The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan announced late last week that it would be dropping all charges against David Stockman, the former Reagan-administration official who had been accused of fraud.

Stockman, who had been Reagan’s budget director from 1981 to 1985, later was named chief executive at Collins & Aikman, a Southfield, MI-based auto parts and accessories manufacturer. He became a member of that company’s board in 2000, then was CEO from 2003 to 2005. During that time, prosecutors had alleged, Stockman was manipulating company earning reports in order to mask its financial difficulties.

The company went bankrupt in 2005, and was one of the first of several bankruptcies which sparked a firestorm of trouble in the auto parts industry. The company manufactured automotive carpets, interior fabrics, acoustical materials, and convertible tops.

As the company’s CEO, Stockman had been charged with conspiracy to commit security fraud, to make false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to falsify books and records, to lie to the auditors, to commit wire fraud, to commit bank fraud and to obstruct justice.

The 62-year-old was arrested in 2007, but released on $1 million bail. At that time, he told reporters that he had lost $13 million in the bankruptcy himself, and that he had done “absolutely nothing wrong.”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan claimed that a “renewed assessment of the evidence,” as well as information learned after Stockman’s indictment, helped them decide to drop the charges against Stockman and three others who were involved in the case.

During his time with the Reagan administration, Stockman was a bit of a controversial figure. He predicted huge budget deficits, as well as speaking out against Reagan’s across-the-board tax cuts, calling those a “Trojan horse” meant to lower taxes on the rich.

Elkan Abramowitz, Stockman’s lawyer, expressed gratitude that the case had been reviewed by prosecutors. “We were confident at some point that David Stockman would be vindicated because we knew form the beginning he had committed no crime,” said Abramowitz.

“He’s been devoting all his efforts to proving his innocence,” the attorney continued. “He has, and I’m extremely gratified that the government agrees.”

Stockman had no comment as to what his future plans were.

FDA Allows Over-the-Counter Morning-After Pill for 17-year-olds

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

WASHINGTON—The “morning-after pill,” which was once offered over-the-counter only to those women who were 18 and older, is now available to 17-year-olds.

A federal court ordered on March 23 that the Plan B emergency contraception pill be made available to those 17 and older.

Previously, the pill was available those younger than 18 with a prescription, but can now be purchased over-the-counter.

The United States District Judge Edward Korman also asked for consideration to make the pill available without a prescription to all women, regardless of age, saying that the expertise involved with making this decision should be left up to the FDA, who has more knowledge concerning the pill.

Korman also reprimanded the FDA for not staying true to its own procedures on the pill’s over-the-counter status, pointing out the “unusual involvement of the White House in the Plan B decision-making process.”

The judge wrote that the plaintiffs in the case presented “unrebutted evidence of the FDA’s lack of good faith” toward making Plan B over-the-counter instead of a prescription drug.

“This lack of good faith is evidenced by, among other things, (1) repeated and unreasonable delays, pressure emanating from the White House, and the obvious connection between the confirmation process of two FDA commissioners and the timing of the FDA’s decisions; and (2) significant departures from the FDA’s normal procedures and policies … as compared to the review of other switch applications in the past 10 years,” Korman wrote.

Plan B was once a prescription drug for all who requested, but in August of 2006, the FDA approved the sale without a prescription to those 18 and older.

The agency said in Wednesday’s statement, “in accordance with the court’s order, and consistent with the scientific findings since 2005 by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the FDA sent a letter to the manufacturer of Plan B that the company may, upon submission and approval of an appropriate application, market Plan B without a prescription to women 17 years of age and older.”

Those opposed equate Plan B to an abortion. Others concerns are about health issues.

“Plan B is a high dose of birth control pills. … The FDA violated its standards when it made the high-dose Plan B available nonprescription to adults. But now the FDA is making the drug available to minors without parental consent,” the Concerned Women for America, a Washington-based conservative Christian group, said Wednesday.

Former Columbian Drug Kingpin Apologizes During Sentencing

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

NEW YORK—At his sentencing Wednesday, during which he learned he would spend more than 31 years in prison, a former drug lord apologized to the people of America for harming them with cocaine.

Diego Murillo was one of Columbia’s most notorious drug lords, who allegedly committed hundreds of murders either directly or indirectly. He was charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

Murillo claims that he was only trying to protect his people from the threat of Communism, and that the drug money his trafficking generated was the best way to do that. “I was the only way to counteract the vigorous advance of the Communist guerrillas,” he said to the judge, speaking through an interpreter.

The 48-year-old oversaw a virtual army of drug smugglers and other heavily armed criminals, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Snyder, adding that Murillo’s underlings amounted to a terrorist group “just like al-Qaida.”

An attorney for Murillo claimed that despite his early induction into the crime world, and his participation in the Medellin underworld of drug trafficking and land theft, he later became an advocate for peace. Said Margaret M. Shalley, Murillo used the money earned from his work as a drug kingpin to fund the construction of schools and education programs. He also helped those who had worked for him find legitimate employment.

Murillo, who portrayed himself as a benefactor and freedom fighter, was nevertheless the inspector general of an organization called the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia. The United States had named this group as a terrorist organization, and Snyder claimed during the trial that Murillo supervised the importation of “numerous metric tons” of cocaine during his career.

Snyder testified that a witness for the government had overhead Murillo bragging that he would prevent himself from being tried in the U.S. by becoming active in the peace process.

Reporters Without Borders, the international journalists’ association, named Murillo as the number six “predator” of journalists, a worse designation than those held even by Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe or Kim Jong Il of North Korea.

Murillo was sentenced to 31 years and three months by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, and ordered to pay $4 million in fines.

Said Murillo during his courtroom apology, “There is no political, moral or personal justification for continuing with this illegal activity that ends the life of so many people.”

German Trial Begins in Alleged Anti-U.S.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

DUESSELDORF, Germany—A plot to attack German and United States interests in central Germany has four men on trial Wednesday. Authorities had discovered and stopped the plan in 2007, before any of the attacks could be carried out.

German prosecutors asserted that the suspects had planned car bomb attacks on various locations such as nightclubs, airports, and pubs. Target cities included Stuttgart, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Munich and Ramstein—the location of a large United States military air base.

The suspects intended to kill large numbers of Americans in the attacks, which were to occur before an October 2007 vote by the German parliament on whether or not maintain the German troops in Afghanistan.

All four suspects are either 30 or younger. Two are German and two are Turkish; they face charges that include membership in a terrorist organization, in addition to conspiracy to commit murder.

The named head of the group, Fritz Gelowicz, was arrested by authorities, along with Daniel Schneider and Adem Yilmaz, at a cottage they were renting in central Germany. These arrests too place on September 4, 2007. A fourth man, Attila Selek, who was captured in Turkey in November 2007 and later taken to Germany to face charges.

All four suspects are accused of being members of an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan—the radical Islamic Jihad Union.

The group orchestrated the bombings at United States and Israeli embassies in July 2004. The members, who have been trained by al-Qaeda instructors, have been linked to notorious al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

During Schneider’s arrest, he was able to steal the officer’s handgun and fire a shot, although no one was injured in the incident. Schneider now faces an additional charge of attempted murder, which carries a possible sentence of imprisonment for life.

The Duesseldorf state court is expecting the scheduled trial to last at least until the end of August.

12-year-old Toddler Killer Remains in Custody

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

HOUSTON, Texas—A 12-year-old accused of killing a 10-month-old toddler will remain in custody, announced a judge in a juvenile court hearing on Wednesday.

Supporters were very quick to speak out on the boy’s behalf at the two-hour hearing.

“Even though we can’t bring a child back, we can at least get the facts to where another child can be saved,” said the boy’s attorney, Ronald Gray.

Deandre Washington, the 10-month-old toddler, suffered fatal injuries last month, which authorities report were because of being slammed onto the floor by the 12-year-old. He was left in charge of approximately five children that day.

Tawanna Scott, the boy’s mother, said on Tuesday that her son is not a violent child. He does have ADHD and is on medication because of it. He had once been suspended but apparently has taken care of his nine younger siblings various times.

Tawanna Scott’s claim was contradicted at Wednesday’s hearing. The reality is that the child has been suspended from school four times, including the day when the incident occurred. The records from school reported that on the day of the toddler’s death, her son had been sent home for fighting.

“If he had been suspended from school and now he’s home caring for children, we would have to look at whether the mother had some part in it,” said Estella Olguin with Children’s Protective Services.

People who are aware of the family situation say that the accused lost his father in 2007. Johnny Jerimiah, a friend on the family’s side, said that the father had been murdered on a Metro bus.

Mr. Jerimiah said that they will stand beside the innocent 12-year-old.