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The rent's on me, Powerball winner Pedro Quezada tells his Passaic, N.J., neighbors
Mar-31-2013 465 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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As of Tuesday night, Dallas nurse Amber Vinson no longer has the Ebola virus in her body, according to a statement from her family.

She is steadily regaining her strength and her spirits are high.

"Amber and our family are ecstatic to receive this latest report on her condition," said Vinson's mom, Debra Berry. "We all know that further treatment will be necessary as Amber continues to regain strength, but these latest developments have truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home."

Her family and friends were stung by suggestions that Vinson, who volunteered to care for Thomas Eric Duncan – the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. – had been reckless in flying to Cleveland over the Columbus Day holiday for a weekend of wedding planning.

Vinson had checked with the CDC before flying, according to NBC News.

"She's infected for doing something so selfless. We should be applauding her courage," Vinson's friend Emilia Sykes tells PEOPLE.

Vinson's colleague Nina Pham was just four years out of nursing school and knew little about Ebola beyond what she had studied in class and read about in the 1994 bestseller The Hot Zone when patient Duncan was brought to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where she worked.

But, with her reputation for compassionate caring, she was tapped to care for Duncan, 42, a Liberian national who had unwittingly brought the virus to the U.S. when he arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20.

"It wasn't just her job," Pham's former classmate at Texas Christian University, Lacey Mabry, tells PEOPLE. "It was her calling to help this person." Duncan died Oct. 8.

Now, Pham is fighting for her life in a special isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, after contracting the virus herself. In news that is sure to cheer her family, the NIH said Oct. 21 that her condition had been upgraded to good from fair.

Meanwhile, Pham's church, Our Lady of Fatima in Fort Worth, Texas, is planning a fundraiser to help the family. Nina's mom, Diana, "asks that we continue to pray."

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A 33-year-old Georgia man thought he’d found love online and moved to Kentucky to be with her, according to police.

But it wasn’t exactly true love for the Walton County man. Cornelius Jefferson’s new girlfriend wasn’t who she claimed to be online, police said. Jefferson allegedly assaulted the woman around 4:20 Tuesday morning, according to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department in Kentucky.

“The argument was allegedly because the male subject didn’t think she was like she was on the Internet,” the sheriff’s department posted on its Facebook page. “He allegedly choked her with both hands around the neck and threw food on her and left the scene on foot with two suitcases.”

Deputies located Jefferson walking nearby and he was arrested, according to police. He was charged with fourth-degree assault.

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Ferguson Police Officer Darren WIlson's account of the confrontation in which Michael Brown was fatally shot has reportedly been leaked, with an independent medical examiner's report backing up his version of events.

Brown had marijuana in his system and was shot at close range in the hand, backing up claims by a police officer that that there was a violent struggle between the Ferguson, Mo. teen and the cop, an independent medical examiner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The report supports Wilson's account, given after he shot and killed the 18-year-old on Aug. 9. Witnesses claimed the teen was surrendering when the cop fired. Police maintained Wilson only used his gun after Brown tried to take it – a life-and-death fight inside a police SUV.

A source familiar with Wilson’s version of events, as told to investigators, said the 'incredibly strong' teen punched Wilson and then pressed the barrel of the cop’s gun against the officer’s hip and fought for control of the trigger, the Post-Dispatch said.

Once Wilson finally had the gun, he fired. But Brown’s hand blocked the mechanism, according to the St. Louis newspaper.

Wilson eventually got two shots off, striking Brown in the hand. He ran off, then regrouped and charged the officer; setting up the final fatal confrontation, according to Wilson’s leaked statement.

Separately, St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham – not part of the official investigation – reviewed the autopsy report on Tuesday and told the Post-Dispatch its finding “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.”

A forensic pathologist in San Francisco, Dr. Judy Melinek, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.”

Brown’s blood was found on Wilson’s gun, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Melinek also said Brown was facing the officer, not running away, when he was shot twice in the head, twice more in the chest and once in the upper right arm, according to the Post-Dispatch.

A St. Louis County grand jury will decide if Wilson will be charged in the shooting.

The shooting stirred three months of unrest in the St. Louis area and gave rise to a popular chant among protesters: “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Turns out, that may not be true at all.

The report supports the account given by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown.

Wilson’s account of the messy shooting was revealed for the first time Tuesday by the Post-Dispatch, which alleges the officer stopped the teen on a Ferguson street after realizing he matched a radio alert of a robbery suspect.

That runs counter to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s assertion in August that the stop had nothing to do with the heist.

Video showed Brown stealing a $48.99 box of cigars from a convenience store in a strong arm robbery.

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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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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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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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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 252 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 330 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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