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The rent's on me, Powerball winner Pedro Quezada tells his Passaic, N.J., neighbors
Mar-31-2013 400 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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Larry Mcshane Apr-20-2014 48 0
Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, the middleweight contender-turned-murder suspect-turned-cause célèbre when his triple homicide conviction was exposed as a sham, died Sunday. He was 76.

Carter — wrongly jailed for nearly two decades — lost a battle with prostate cancer that dropped the former fighter’s weight to a mere 90 pounds.

He died early Sunday morning in Toronto, according to his longtime friend John Artis, who had been caring for him and was wrongly convicted of the same crime.

The indefatigable Carter was twice wrongfully convicted in the 1966 killings of two customers and a bartender inside the Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson, N.J.

It wasn’t until 19 years later that a federal judge overturned his second conviction, ruling the prosecution’s behavior was “as heinous as the crimes for which (Carter was) tried and convicted.”

Carter’s struggle for justice inspired Bob Dylan’s hit single “Hurricane” and a movie of the same name with Denzel Washington, earning him an Oscar nomination in the title role.

Prior to his arrest for the slayings, the New Jersey-born fighter appeared poised for a shot at the middleweight championship.

He was given a title belt by the World Boxing Commission in 1993, acknowledging his lost opportunity and longshot legal triumph.

Carter’s world went topsy-turvy at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 1966, when two gun-toting black men burst into the Paterson tavern and killed three white victims.

A fourth could not identify Carter and his pal Artis as the shooters after cops stopped the two men inside the boxer’s white Cadillac within hours of the shooting.

Carter maintained that racist local cops, jealous of his high-rolling lifestyle and exasperated by his arrogance, wrongly targeted him for the killings.

He and Artis were arrested for triple homicide five months later based on the sketchy testimony of two petty crooks — one named Arthur Bello.

Both were sentenced to life in prison.
In 1974, Carter’s autobiography “The Sixteenth Round” — written in prison on an old typewriter — was published. The tale attracted the attention and support of Dylan, Muhammad Ali and Coretta Scott King.

Dylan’s lyrics summed up the case:

“Here comes the story of the Hurricane/The man the authorities came to blame/for something that he never done/Put in a prison cell but one time he coulda been/The champion of the world.”

The prosecution witnesses recanted and the convictions were overturned in 1976, with a new trial ordered. And then, incredibly, a second jury convicted Carter and Artis of the killings.

Bello recanted his previous recanting, with cops pressuring him to testify the killings were racially motivated — revenge for the slaying of a black bar owner earlier the same night.

A broken Carter returned to his cell, resigned to his death behind bars. It wasn’t until reading a 1980 letter from a Toronto teen that Carter decided to climb back into the legal ring.

The second wave of support produced new proof of coerced witnesses, forged documents and suppressed evidence. Canadian supporters of Carter spent nearly $1 million on his appeal.

In November 1985, the convictions were overturned by a judge who ruled Carter and Artis were found guilty based on “racism rather than reason.”

Carter’s life was difficult almost from birth. The Clifton, N.J., dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He wound up in reform school at age 11 after stabbing a would-be pedophile trying to molest him.

Carter managed to escape and join the Army, but was arrested after returning to Paterson from Europe. After three years in prison, he fought his first professional bout in 1961.

His nom de ring came from Carter’s relentless style, a full-on assault right from the opening bell.

Carter became an advocate for the wrongly incarcerated and wrote a February column for the Daily News urging a new hearing for Brooklynite David McCallum — jailed for the last 28 years.

While Carter was fighting his last battle with cancer, among those coming to visit was his old co-defendant Artis.


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Judge Joe Brown has filed an appeal of his contempt charge and has asked a criminal court judge to delay proceedings against him until another court makes a decision on that appeal.

Brown's attorneys have filed an appeal of the case. At the same time, they filed a simultaneous motion late Thursday afternoon to stay all criminal proceedings with the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk's office.

On March 24, 2014, Brown was arrested and charged with contempt of juvenile court after challenging a magistrate during court proceedings.

As of right now, there is a hearing scheduled in criminal court for 11 a.m. on May 2.

But Brown's attorneys say the criminal court should not hear any part of this case until after his appeal is ruled upon.

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ap Apr-19-2014 113 0
It may be a few years before the first daughters head to college, but Michelle Obama is already brainstorming a dorm room checklist while encouraging high school students to dream big about their education beyond graduation.

The first lady told a group of students Thursday that a high school diploma is not enough in today's global economy.

"No longer is high school the bar. That is not enough," Mrs. Obama told the crowd. "You have got to go to college or get some kind of professional training."

Before her remarks, the first lady toured a Howard University residence hall with high school juniors and seniors from her hometown of Chicago. "How do you get a single room," Mrs. Obama asked the tour guide, as the students chuckled. He replied: "There is a slight price difference."

The campus visit is a part of Mrs. Obama's push to promote higher education, especially President Barack Obama's "North Star" goal. By 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

After the tour, the first lady led a discussion moderated by rapper and TV host Bow Wow in a university cafeteria, the Punch Out. Mrs. Obama shared her own college experience and said she wanted to support the high school students because "this transition-- for some of you-- may be a little scary."

"The only reason I saw a dorm was because I visited my brother once when he was in college," she said. "That was the only exposure."

Mrs. Obama added that she had applied to Howard, "one of the finest universities in the country," along with Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she was considering higher education. She went on to attend Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

"We have to have a hunger for education like we had when our parents and grandparents were fighting for us to have a right to come to these schools and get the education," she said. "So now it's up to you all to take that baton and do the very best you can with it."

The high school students will also attend classes with their hosts and meet with university officials as part of their four-day visit.

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Apr-19-2014 95 0
Even though he's being held in California, retired NFL star Darren Sharper was denied bail Thursday by a judge in Phoenix, Arizona, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's office said.

Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl player, faces five counts of drugging and raping three women in Scottsdale, Arizona, in November.

Sharper has been in jail in Los Angeles since February 27 facing similar charges. Thursday's ruling in Arizona makes it more likely that Sharper will be denied bail in the California case as well.

Sharper, 38, was being held on $1 million bail connected with charges of drugging and raping two women in the Los Angeles area, but Judge Renee Korn removed the bail and ordered him to remain in jail in March when an Arizona grand jury indicted him.

The alleged rapes in California occurred in January and last October, authorities said.

Sharper is due in a Los Angeles courtroom on Friday.

Authorities have said Sharper is under investigation in three other states -- Louisiana, Nevada and Florida -- in cases of alleged sexual assault. So far, he has been charged only in California and Arizona, and he maintains his innocence in those cases.

New Orleans police have issued an arrest warrant for Sharper but he has not been extradited to Louisiana to face charges.

The application for the arrest warrant says New Orleans detectives interviewed two women who said they were raped on September 23. The two accusers told police they were so impaired they don't recall "the entirety of the sexual intercourse," and that they never agreed to have sex.

Shaper's attorneys have said that he had consensual sex with the women.

Sharper played for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints from 1997 through the 2010 season. The five-time Pro Bowl player intercepted 63 passes in his career, tying for seventh all-time. He is tied for second all-time in interceptions returned for touchdowns with 11, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

He was recently fired as an NFL Network analyst.

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Apr-19-2014 148 0
Authorities say a Wyoming college student who jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony ate more than the recommended serving of a marijuana cookie.

Police reports released Thursday said 19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi consumed a little more than one cookie that his friend purchased from a pot shop.

The reports say a clerk told his friends to cut it into six pieces and eat one piece at a time. The friends did so, but it's unclear from the reports whether Pongi heard the advice.

The reports say a clerk told his friends to cut the pot-stuffed cookie into six pieces and eat one piece at a time.

Pongi's friends told investigators he began speaking erratically in French and pulling things off walls. Authorities say he then jumped to his death.

An autopsy report from the March 11 incident lists marijuana intoxication as a significant contributing factor in the death.


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Apr-19-2014 138 0
A young boy kidnapped from his Atlanta home sang a gospel song for nearly three hours until the suspect kicked him out of the car.

The man used cash to lure little Willie Myrick close enough for him to grab and shove into his car the night of March 31. The boy, now 10 years old, repeated the song "Every Praise" during the hellish ride.

The tune sent the suspect into a cursing fit and he stopped the car near East Point.

"He opened the door and threw me out," Myrick told a television station in Atlanta, WXIA-TV. "He told me not to tell anyone."

The suspect is described as a man in his mid- to late-20s with dreadlocks. He was driving a gray Honda Civic. A $10,000 reward is being offered for his arrest.
Atlanta Police

A $10,000 reward is being offered for the suspect's arrest.

Myrick did the opposite and told the world what happened.

The song Myrick chanted over and over again belongs to Hezekiah Walker, a Grammy-award winning gospel singer. When the artist learned of the alleged kidnapping, he hopped on a plane from New York City to Atlanta.

"I just want to hug him and tell him I love him," Walker told WXIA-TV.

The singer met with Myrick and his friends, family and whole congregation at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in southwest Atlanta on the boy's 10th birthday. They all sang the life-saving song together as tears rolled down Myrick's cheeks.

The meeting was also attended by organizers of a coalition on the hunt for the suspect, who is still on the loose. The group of churches, civic organizations and businesses handed out flyers with a sketch of the perp.

The meeting was a celebration, but also a town hall meeting and warning to parents and children of the dangers still roaming the streets.

"Our concern is not just the city of Atlanta boundaries," organizer Michael Langford told WSB-TV earlier this week. "It's the society in general. It's metro Atlanta. We've seen a number of attacks."

Langford is worried about a repeated spree of missing and murdered children cases that happened in Atlanta in 1979 and 1980, he said.

"We want to say to folk, if you harm our children, not only will the police be looking for you, the community will be on your trail, too," Langford added.

A $10,000 reward is being offered on the arrest of man, described as a male suspect in his mid- to late-20s with dreadlocks. He was driving a gray four-door Honda Civic with no interior carpeting and an exposed metal floor.


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Deborah Hastings / Apr-18-2014 153 0
Texas inmate with the critical thinking ability of a first-grader has been waiting some 34 years for a new trial. And now he'll wait some more.

In a recent ruling, a judge decided that Jerry Hartfield's constitutional right to a speedy trial had not been violated — despite being imprisoned since 1980 on a murder conviction that had been overturned — because, in essence, Hartfield did not ask for a new trial.

Judge Craig Estlinbaum found the state had been negligent in failing to retry the 56-year-old man, and that his ability to adequately defend himself had diminished over time, but he ultimately ruled Hartfield was responsible for his own incarceration because he failed to seek a new trial.

The decision is the latest in a series of confusing and baffling proceedings that have kept the Bay City man behind bars since his 1976 conviction for robbing and killing a bus station worker in 1976.

Hartfield, whose IQ has been estimated at 51, claims he is innocent and that police used a false confession against him. He was sentenced to death, but his conviction was overturned in 1980 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal, which ruled a juror had been improperly dismissed for voicing concerns about capital punishment.

Prosecutors twice tried to persuade the court to reconsider that ruling, but failed.

Mr. Hartfield should have had a new trial. But he didn't get one.

And then things began to legally fall apart for Hartfield.

Then-Gov. Mark White, at the urging of prison officials, commuted Hartfield's sentence from death to life imprisonment in 1983. Whether he had been informed that Hartfield's conviction had been overturned is not known, according to Hartfield's current attorney, Jeffrey Newberry of the Texas Innocence Project.

What is now known, however, is that the governor's commutation was issued in error, Newberry said.

"He couldn't commute the sentence because there was nothing left to commute," Newberry told the Daily News Friday. "Mr. Hartfield should have had a new trial. But he didn't get one."

He didn't get one because he had no legal counsel after his trial.

"So he just sat there," Newberry said.

Fast-forward to 2006, when a fellow inmate told Hartfield that he should have received a new trial after his conviction was overturned.

"Someone helped him write documents on his own saying 'Hey, I never got my new trial,''' Newberry said. Eventually, his handwritten legal filings resulted in him receiving a court-appointed attorney while he fought to be released.

Over the next eight years, his case bounced from federal court to state courts. Meanwhile, the murder weapon, a pick-axe, has been lost and witnesses have died.

In a jailhouse interview last year, Hartfield said he was not angry about what happened to him.

He became a Christian behind bars, he said. “Being a God-fearing person, he doesn’t allow me to be bitter,” Hartfield said. “He allows me to be forgiving.” Newberry said he is appealing last week's most recent ruling in Hartfield's case.

He disputes Judge Estlinbaum assertion that no evidence was submitted of Hartfield's mental incapacity. He also disputes the logic of the decision, saying the judge essentially ruled "Mr. Hartfield's right to a speedy trial had not been violated … because the fact that he waited (to request a new trial) was an indication that he didn't want a new trial," Newberry said.

Separate proceedings to retry the criminal case are also underway, the attorney said. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for next month.


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Apr-18-2014 91 0
More than a half-dozen African-American pastors and about 70 supporters gathered outside City Hall Thursday to protest what they described as a lack of diversity in Mayor de Blasio’s top appointments.

“This is an insult to us,” said the Rev. Dennis Dillon, pastor of the Brooklyn Christian Center, unveiling a study that claimed only 10% of de Blasio’s high-level appointees are black.

“The mayor made promises; we gave him our votes. . . . There is probably some regret with all of us. We want to believe his heart is in the right place; his actions are obviously all wrong.”

The mayor made promises; we gave him our votes.

However, the study had flaws.

For example, it counted officials who were appointed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and had left office.

And it included in its count holdover commissioners heading agencies where de Blasio has yet to make his own appointments.

A Daily News tally found that 24% of the deputy mayors and agency commissioners appointed by de Blasio are African-American.

A study cited by Dillon, which claimed only 10% of de Blasio’s high-level appointees are black, counted officials who were appointed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and had left office.

“Mayor de Blasio has kept his promise to build an effective administration that looks like New York City,” said spokeswoman Marti Adams.

“By any measure, Mayor de Blasio’s appointments have made this, by far, the most diverse administration that the city has seen in decades.”


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TMZ Apr-17-2014 126 0
Mike Epps may have gotten a real life fright at the after party of “Haunted House 2” on Wednesday night.

According to TMZ, the actor was accused of punching a woman in the face at the party, held at Lucky Strike in Downtown L.A.

The gossip site reports that LAPD sources said a woman filed a report after claiming that the 43-year-old comedian punched her in the face.

The police, TMZ reports, saw no sign of injury on the woman and Epps denied assaulting her. She supposedly claimed to have been previously romantically entangled with him.

Epps, according to the site’s sources, insists that the woman was a fan who became hostile after he asked her for privacy.

The police, TMZ reports, are referring the case to the domestic violence division.

A representative for Epps did not immediately respond to the Daily News’ request for comment.


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