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The rent's on me, Powerball winner Pedro Quezada tells his Passaic, N.J., neighbors
Mar-31-2013 464 0


Powerball winner Pedro Quezada is hosting a rent party — for his entire block.

A close friend of the newly minted megamillionaire said Quezada promised to temporarily cover the housing costs for residents in the Passaic, N.J., neighborhood that housed his bodega.

“He said he’s going to pay the rent for everybody here on this block for at least a month or two months,” the friend said Saturday outside Quezada’s Apple Deli Grocery. “He’s such a good guy.”

Word of Quezada’s magnanimous gesture left several of his neighbors stunned.

“God bless him, and thank you,” crowed Richard Delgado, 45, after learning of the pledge.

John Koblarz’s eyes lit up when he heard Quezada had offered to cover his neighbors’ rents.

But then the 78-year-old landlord came to his senses.

“Oh, he can't afford to pay mine,” Koblarz said. “Mine is $20,000. I own the building!”

Neighbors were stunned over Quezada's kind gesture. Above, Pedro hoists his $338 million check.

Quezada, whose generosity is now the stuff of legend, was nowhere to be found Saturday, five days after he claimed the $338 million Powerball jackpot. But the Dominican immigrant was still the talk of the neighborhood.

Residents said the hardworking Quezada, 45, is considered a local hero.

“He’s somebody who needs it, not like the people who had millions already and won it,” said Delgado.
Cheech Rivera, 57, said he hardly ever saw Quezada or his wife because they were always too busy working to attend summer block parties.

“They struggled. They are always constantly working,” said Rivera. “They don’t really have time to get together with us.”

Piles of mail were stacked outside Quezada’s home, including a letter from a Morgan Stanley adviser with a handwritten note on the envelope.

“I want to help you,” it read.

Quezada put his bodega up for sale just two days after scoring the fourth-largest Powerball payout in history. The freshly retired Quezada opted for a lump-sum payout that will provide a $152 million payday.

And he’s already taken care of the $29,000 he owed in child support, according to his friend.

Officials in Passaic County said Saturday that a child-support warrant was stayed until 1:30 p.m. on Monday, when Quezada is due to appear in court.

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AP Oct-21-2014 80 0
The Django Unchained actress who claimed racial profiling by police last month has been charged with lewd conduct, according to TMZ, which broke the story initially.

Daniele Watts and her boyfriend Brian James Lucas were each reportedly charged with lewd conduct, a misdemeanor conduct charge that could result in six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.

The couple were stopped after eyewitnesses called the Los Angeles Police Department complaining of a couple having sex in public during daylight. They claimed they were apprehended because Watts is black and Lucas is white, garnering national news attention until a recording of the incident was leaked to TMZ.

The City Attorney's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Oct-21-2014 116 0
The National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair will host its 10th annual celebration in honor of empowering aspiring black lawyers.

The free event will be held Friday and Saturday in the Houston Marriott Westchase. Late registration begins today and ends Wednesday.

The conference brings together aspiring lawyers, parents, supporters, friends, law students, judges, and law school representatives to help students begin their law school career with “insider” information and encouragement on their journey to become successful attorneys.

The conference provides participants with access to over 100 law schools that participate in the law fair. Other events include workshops and panel discussions pertaining to law school, networking and mentorship opportunities, professional business image and etiquette training, town hall meetings, law school admissions test (LSAT) preparation clinics, and diagnostic LSAT administrations.

State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa Tatum will speak as a panelist during a Saturday workshop on legal careers. The panel discussion will focus on what law firm partners do, how they got to where they are, and their advice for meeting upcoming challenges.

Tatum will be joined by moderator Erica Edwards-O’Neal, director of diversity and inclusion and senior director of career services of the Touro Law Center (Central Islip, New York); Tiffany Bingham Briscoe, partner in Vorys (Houston); Jonathan Cox, partner in The Cox Pradia Law Firm P.L.L.C. (Houston); Daniella Landers, partner in Sutherland (Houston); Demetra Liggins, partner in Thompson & Knight LLP (Houston); Patricia Rosier, managing partner in the Law Office of Rosier & Associates (Upper Marlboro, Maryland); Daryl K. Washington, partner in the Law Offices of Daryl K. Washington, P.C., Attorneys and Counselors at Law (Dallas); and Marlene C. Williams, partner in Jackson Walker L.L.P. (Houston).

General admission is free and everyone is welcome. For more information on how to register or a complete schedule of events, visit blackprelawconference.org.

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Oct-20-2014 263 0
According to TV Newser, CNN has withdrawn its support for NABJ’s 2015 Convention & Career Fair. The organization was told last week by NABJ president Bob Butler. It’s being reported Butler has publicly expressed his concern regarding CNN’s hiring and employee retention practices of black journalists.

“I understand the company has a right to make personnel decisions,” Butler says. “There were not that many African American managers at CNN in the first place. These layoffs have hurt our members tremendously. I am severely disappointed that CNN has ended our partnership.”

Darius Walker, who was CNN’s New York Bureau Chief/VP, is an NABJ member and was among one of the managers cut by the network.

The National Association of Black Journalists will hold its 40th Annual Convention & Career Fair from August 5-9, 2015 in Minneapolis.

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Oct-20-2014 226 0
After years of alleged police brutality, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed plans Monday to investigate the Baltimore Police Department..

At the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore, the Department of Justice announced initial details about collaborative-reform initiative to curb police brutality in the city. Officials at the announcement included U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and Ronald L. Davis, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice.

Davis said he has known Batts for years and is confident he will be a full partner in the coming review.

"We will be able to make the Baltimore Police Department even better and stronger than it is today," Davis said in a statement. "The collaborative reform initiative we embark on today is just that — a collaboration — and everything this partnership entails will be done in an open and transparent fashion."

While Batts and Rawlings-Blake said they started talking weeks ago about the federal program, they unveiled the request on Oct. 4 — five days after The Baltimore Sun published results of an investigation showing that residents have suffered broken bones and battered faces during arrests.

The Sun found that the city has paid $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements in 102 civil suits since 2011, and nearly all of the people involved in incidents leading to those lawsuits were cleared of criminal charges. Some officers were involved in multiple lawsuits.

"When law enforcement misconduct is uncovered, the U.S. Department of Justice has a variety of tools available to respond," Davis said. "Responses to misconduct in law enforcement organizations fall along a continuum of intervention."

The federal review will examine training standards, the way police interact with residents and how the department tracks complaints against officers. Investigators look for troubling patterns. Within weeks, a team of policing experts could be in Baltimore, talking to residents, community leaders and officers.

Some city leaders, like Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, prefer a wider probe of the Baltimore Police Department.

The Department of Justice says it developed the collaborative reform in 2011 as an independent and objective way to transform a law enforcement agency through an analysis of policies, practices, training, tactics and accountability methods around key issues facing law enforcement today.

The coming review in Baltimore is similar to ongoing probes in Philadelphia and Spokane, Wash., that are focusing on police shootings and other issues.

The goal is to help change the ways that law enforcement agencies build community partnerships and enhance transparency; transform agencies through decision making and policies; and institutionalize reforms with integrated accountability measures, officials say.

The reform was first utilized in Las Vegas in the aftermath of officer-involved shootings. Prosecutors cleared officers of wrongdoing in most cases.

The Department of Justice finished its review in November 2012 and a 155-page report in May 2014 that focused on the use of deadly force, including an analysis of policies, training, tactics and documentation. Investigators interviewed more than 100 people, including residents, officers, prosecutors and police union officials.

Among its 75 findings, the federal government listed 16 shortcomings in use-of-force policies and procedures, and recommended reforms.

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AP Oct-20-2014 218 0
The brutal militant group Boko Haram has reportedly agreed to release the more than 200 Nigerians schoolgirls it abducted six months ago.

The mass kidnapping in April shocked the world and led to a social media campaign built around the slogan #BringBackOurGirls.

An international manhunt failed to track down the missing girls, and they had largely fallen out of the spotlight in recent months.

But the Nigerian military announced Friday that as part of a ceasefire deal, Boko Haram has agreed to free the girls.

"They've assured us they have the girls and they will release them," Nigeria's chief of defense staff, Alex Badeh, was quoted as saying. "I am cautiously optimistic."

"We are monitoring the news with huge expectations,” the Bring Back Our Girls campaign tweeted.

The deal was first reported by BBC News.

The girls were snatched April 15 in a carefully-orchestrated overnight assault on the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School.

Members of the Al Qaeda-trained terror group claimed to be soldiers on a rescue mission.

But the Islamic militants, after herding the frightened girls outside, forced them into the backs of pickup trucks and tore off into the darkness.

Some 275 girls were believed to be taken — some as young as 9.

The brazen abduction gained heightened attention when Boko Haram leader released a video days later promising to sell of the girls as slaves.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will sell them off and marry them off," Abubakar Shekau threatened.

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AP Oct-20-2014 278 0
The bodies of three more women were found at two locations in Gary, Ind., Sunday night, authorities said early Monday morning.

The Lake County coroner's office determined that all three women were murdered: one from strangulation, the others from unspecified injuries.

This brings the total number of dead bodies found in northwestern Indiana this weekend to seven, the office said.

“It is possible that the investigation will lead to more victims,” Doughty said at a press conference midday Monday.

Doughty said Vann had been soliciting prostitutes through Backpage.com, a classified ads website, so he could murder them.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the suspect had been convicted of sex crimes in Texas and moved to Gary from Austin in 2004.

Authorities say he cooperated with investigators and helped lead police to the other women after he was arrested in the murder of Afrika Hardy, 19.

Her body was found at a Motel 6 in nearby Hammond about 9:30 p.m. Friday.

"A friend of the deceased called us and she was concerned when she didn't respond to her calling," Hammond police Lt. Rich Hoyda told The Associated Press. "We were sent there and found that person dead."

Police took Vann into custody after executing a warrant for a home and vehicle in Gary Saturday afternoon.

During questioning, he told investigators the locations of three bodies that were found late Saturday and early Sunday, according to police.

Family members identified the second victim as Anith Jones, 35, the office said.

The shocking news has horrified the city of Gary and surrounding communities.

A man confessed to killing at least one of the women who was found dead this weekend, police said.

The police departments of Hammond and Gary are seeking murder charges.

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Terence Cullen Oct-19-2014 330 0
A brutal Brooklyn baby-sitter savagely beat a helpless 3-year-old girl to death Saturday after she accidentally went to the bathroom in her pants, police sources said.

Cops found the dying girl after a 911 caller reported bloodcurdling screams echoing from the apartment in a city homeless shelter at 38 Cooper St. shortly before 4 p.m., cops said.

Defenseless little Jeida Torres, 3, died at Wyckoff Hospital after her mother’s enraged boyfriend “punched and choked” the tiny child — who suffered injuries to her head and body, sources said.

“She either pooped her pants or peed on herself, and he got agitated,” a source said.

Suspect Kelsey Smith, who fled the scene and left the mortally injured child behind with her battered big brother, has a rap sheet with with 14 prior arrests dating to 2008, cop sources said.

Jeida’s 5-year-old brother, Andrew, was also beaten black and blue by Smith, 20, although a police source said the boy’s injuries were possibly inflicted before Saturday.

Neighbor Marilyn Cruz said the afternoon killing capped two solid weeks of fighting and violence inside the apartment.

The dead girl’s mother, Kimberly Torres, and grandfather wept inconsolably outside the building after hearing the heartbreaking news about the beloved child.

Smith was busted just across the Queens border after the NYPD received a tip on the fugitive’s whereabouts. Cop sources said he tried to slash himself in a failed suicide try.

Smith, who also went by the first name “Shawn,” had multiple collars for robbery and grand larceny, along with a gang assault charge and a bust this year for criminal mischief.

No charges had been filed early Sunday in the fatal beating of the innocent toddler in the second-floor Bushwick apartment.

Torres — who arrived at the location 30 minutes after the 911 call — told police she left Smith alone with her two kids when she went to work Saturday.

The dead girl’s grandfather broke down completely after he learned of little Jeida’s fate, and his daughter sobbed relentlessly before police brought her to the hospital.

“He was crying,” said neighbor Keith Best, 43, who lives across the street. “He just lost his mind.”

Battered Andrew Torres, who was placed in a police car for the trip to Wyckoff, was in stable condition with visible bruises to his face and upper body.

“Papa! Papa!” the terrified boy shouted at his grandfather, who had just come downstairs from the apartment where his granddaughter’s body was found.
The little girl was already motionless when EMTs rushed her outside in a desperate if vain effort to save her life.

“I saw the paramedics run out with little girl wrapped in a blanket,” said Best. “Her hands were just hanging out ... just limp.”

Neighbor Cruz claimed she called the police about the continuing ruckus in the home — only to get no response.

The NYPD, the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Homeless Services were all investigating.

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Oct-18-2014 295 0
The cop who fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown — setting off a wave of protests in Ferguson, Mo.— told investigators he feared for his life when he pulled the trigger, it was reported Friday.

Officer Darren Wilson told federal officials that Brown, who was 18, had shoved him into his SUV and grabbed for his gun, according to The New York Times.

The weapon went off twice in Wilson’s SUV as the men grappled Aug. 9, FBI forensics show.

Wilson, 28, has told investigators Brown punched and scratched him, The Times said, citing unnamed government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation.

The teen’s blood was found on the gun, Wilson’s uniform and in the SUV.

Wilson testified for four hours before a St. Louis County grand jury last month.

He has yet to explain why he shot Brown six times outside the SUV.

Wilson’s version also contradicted what several eyewitnesses said about the incident.

Several people who saw the altercation weren’t clear if Brown was trying to get away from Wilson or fighting to push him back in the SUV.

But the young man with Brown, Dorian Johnson, has said Wilson instigated the violence.

Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest, witnesses say.

Johnson hid behind a parked car as Brown lay dying in the street.

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Meg Wagner Oct-18-2014 287 0
Six Philadelphia men forged, cheated and lied their way into collecting a dead woman's house and car, police said.

The woman's neighbor, his lawyer, two funeral directors, a real estate agent and a car salesman invented an elaborate scheme to take the heirless woman's personal property. They were slammed with a slew of theft and conspiracy charges Thursday after a tipster caught on to their cruel plot and alerted police.

All six men are either in police custody or expected to surrender, District Attorney Seth Williams told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The plot started in 2010 when 79-year-old Dorothy Kennedy died.

The woman's husband died two year earlier, and the couple left no heirs. By law, the state would collect their well-manicured rowhouse and 2005 Buick LeSabre.

But her neighbor Romanoff Quarles had another plan.

The 43-year-old asked his lawyer, 56-yearold Andrew Kaufman, how he could get his hands on the house.

Together, they crafted a plan to make Quarles the administrator of the estate.

They needed to prove that Quarles cared for Kennedy before she died — so they marked up old calendars with false appointments to make it look like Quarles ran errands for the woman long before her death.

But Kaufman wasn't sure if the falsified date books would be enough.

To make Quarles seem invested in the woman's care, he needed to oversee Kennedy's burial, too, Kaufman said.

So the two enlisted the help of two funeral directors, Marvin Kimble and Antoine Turay.

They first approached 57-year-old Kimble, but he no longer owner his funeral home, so he couldn't forge the documents.

Instead, Kimble sent them to Turay Memorial Chapel's owner.

Turay and Quarles collected Kennedy's body from the morgue and buried her in a pauper's grave. Turay drafted a $7,000 bill for the funeral — even though it only cost $1,400.

Quarles used the bill and his calendars in court to take over Kennedy's estate.

With his goal in sight, Quarles brought in a real estate agent and a car salesman to finalize his plot.

Broker Vincent Marciano organized a fake sale of the house, and let Quarles take over in 2012. Damion Rivers used his family's car business to give Quarles the title to the LeSabre.

It's not clear who tipped off police, but cops finally busted the four-year plot Thursday.

All six men face conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property, forgery and perjury charges.

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