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FBI investigating whether others were involved in the death of Heather Mack's mother
Mar-15-2017 222 0


The FBI is actively investigating whether "additional people" were involved in a conspiracy by Heather Mack and her then-boyfriend to murder Mack's mother during a luxury vacation in Bali, a court filing made public Friday revealed.

The disclosure came in a search warrant seeking to extract information from Mack's iPhone, which was confiscated after her arrest in Bali in 2014 but remained locked because she refused to give investigators her password, court records show.

The phone had remained in the custody of Indonesian authorities until December, when it was turned over to the FBI in Jakarta and later brought to Chicago.

Mack, 21, and her ex-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 23, were convicted by an Indonesian jury in 2015 of killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack and stuffing her body into a suitcase at a Bali resort hotel. Both are serving prison sentences — 10 years for Mack and 18 years for Schaefer.

Federal prosecutors had asked that the search warrant remain sealed, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez denied the request on Thursday.

Despite the couple's conviction, the warrant makes clear that the investigation into the murder continues — in part "to determine whether additional people may have been aware of and involved in the conspiracy."

The warrant's 29-page affidavit, filed under seal on Jan. 4, sought to have the phone analyzed by an FBI forensic specialist to extract text messages, call records, photographs and at least one "Facetime" chat Mack had with Schaefer during their trip to Bali, records show. If the specialist was unable to unlock the phone, prosecutors planned to serve Apple with a search warrant request for access to the device, the warrant said.

The warrant was filed as part of the case against Robert Bibbs, a cousin of Schaefer's who pleaded guilty in Chicago in December to helping plan the murder in exchange for $50,000 of Mack's expected inheritance money.

The confirmation of an ongoing federal investigation comes a year and a half after the Chicago Tribune first revealed that U.S. authorities had flown Indonesian law enforcement officials to Chicago at least twice in 2015 to answer questions about the murder.

Besides the murder itself, the victim's family has long questioned whether the daughter's $1.56 million trust fund might have been accessed to illegally bribe Indonesian officials during the criminal proceedings, the Tribune has reported.

The FBI, which has an office in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, was involved in the murder investigation from the onset. Besides ensuring that the victim's body was flown back to the United States, federal agents assisted Bali police with technical support related to texts and emails on phones that belonged to the victim and Schaefer, records show.

After Mack and Schaefer were charged, a Cook County judge overseeing the trust fund case allowed about $150,000 to be wired in increments to the daughter's overseas criminal attorney. But after she had been found guilty, the judge balked at a demand for another $200,000 in one lump sum to pay for legal costs related to the appeal.

Lawyers have since been trying to hammer out a settlement with Mack in the trust matter, but their efforts have been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, an unusual custody battle is playing out involving the daughter born to Mack and Schaefer while the two were awaiting trial. The girl, Stella, is next in line for the money.

Under Indonesian custom, she has been allowed to stay with her mother behind bars until her 2nd birthday on St. Patrick's Day. The girl's paternal grandmother has petitioned to become her legal guardian, but a Cook County judge refused the emergency request last week.


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Amanda Coyne May-25-2017 126 0
Four teachers from Gwinnett County schools have two things in common: They all passed background checks to get their jobs, and they’re all charged with sexually assaulting students.

Allegations in police reports and warrants include molestation, groping, rape and a two-and-a-half year sexual relationship. The alleged abuse occurred over a period of more than two years, but all four arrests were made this month.


The teachers arrested this month are:

• Michael “Mikey” Henderson, a former math teacher and assistant football coach at Parkview High School. Henderson has been accused of a two-and-a-half year sexual relationship with a female student. The student is now 18 and was in Henderson’s class. A school clerk is also being investigated in connection with this case.

• Villie Jones, a former band director at South Gwinnett High School. Jones has been accused of raping a student multiple times and having sexual relationships with multiple other students.

• Ronnie Jackson, a former physical education teacher and track coach at Meadowcreek High School. Jackson is accused of groping and kissing a female student’s genitals.

• Derren Evans, a former assistant football coach and long-term substitute teacher at Providence Christian Academy. Evans is accused of groping and forcibly kissing a student on multiple occasions and asking her for nude photos on Snapchat.

Jackson is free on $22,200 bond. Evans, Jones and Henderson are being held without bond.

The four teachers, three of whom taught at Gwinnett County public schools, and one who taught at private Providence Christian Academy, are a small minority of the district’s and schools’ faculty. Gwinnett County Public Schools employs 12,000 teachers and Providence Christian Academy, a K-12 school in Lilburn, employs 79.

All four men went through extensive background checks to get their jobs. Nothing in any of those background checks arose suspicion or concern, Gwinnett County Public Schools and Providence Christian Academy said.

The teachers also underwent training that addressed inappropriate relationships between students and teachers, as well as sexual harassment, assault and abuse.
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CBS May-25-2017 83 0
A middle school is under fire for its reaction to a violent brawl between a teacher and a staff member inside a classroom that was caught on video by a student.

CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports the fight broke out on May 19 at Stone Mountain Middle School, northeast of downtown Atlanta. WGCL obtained video of the dramatic incident, which shows two women punching each other and pulling each other's hair while students scream for them to stop.

WGCL reports one woman is a teacher and the other is a teaching assistant.

"From what I think I know the teachers were arguing about a teacher, a male teacher, and they started arguing and it went on for about three to five minutes," one student told WGCL.
Teachers fight in a classroom in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in a video captured by a student on May 19, 2017. CloseWGCL-TV
The fight was eventually broken up by another adult. Students told WGCL that officials came into the classroom after the incident and forced them to delete any evidence of the brawl on their cell phones.

"Nobody apologized. They just came in and were like, 'Who videotaped this?' and stuff like that," one student said. "I think they were trying to push it under the rug so nobody would know about it and the school's reputation wouldn't be messed up."

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) told WGCL it was not aware of school officials examining students' phones. After WGCL sent the video to DCSD's communications director, the district issued a statement saying the staff members involved in the fight would be disciplined.

"Those staff members that participated in the conduct have been removed from the learning environment," the statement read. "Following our process, DCSD will act swiftly and decisively to hold those employees accountable for their actions."

"Safety and security procedures are in place to help maintain a safe campus," Hinton wrote. "Anyone who creates an unsafe learning environment for our students receive swift disciplinary actions."

Julia Berry, whose daughter was in the classroom at the time of the fight, told WGCL she wants the teacher and the assistant fired.

Berry said failure to fire those responsible would send a message that "it's OK to fight if you can't deal with a problem. This is how you deal with it -- you punch the teacher in the face."
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AP May-25-2017 102 0
The family of Alton Sterling is demanding the immediate firing of the two officers involved in the man's death.

In a letter Wednesday to Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., attorneys contend the officers violated the police department's policy regarding de-escalation.

"It specifically cites information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice during a meeting in early May that Officer Blane Salamoni put his gun to Sterling's head and, using an expletive, threatened to shoot him.

"Not only is this a direct violation of BRPD's policy regarding de-escalation, but also a violation of multiple police procedures and policies recognized nationwide. More importantly, Officer Salamoni's actions directly escalated the entire interaction with Mr. Sterling, having placed in Mr. Sterling's mind that he was going to be killed no matter what he did, even if he complied," attorneys representing Sterling's children said.

Sterling, 37, struggled with the officers before Salamoni shot him six times outside a convenience store last July. He was selling homemade CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart when police were called to the store to investigate a report of a man with a gun.

The letter suggests that the department has known about Salamoni's alleged behavior since the night of the incident "and did not take any action to terminate his employment for putting a gun to Mr. Sterling's head, simply because his hands were not flat on the hood and he was asking why he was being confronted."

Broome, in a statement late Wednesday, said she has consistently sought "an expedited resolution to the investigation into Mr. Sterling's death" and called "for disciplinary actions against" the officers.

"I have advised (Dabadie) of my concerns regarding the employment status of these officers. I believe they should be removed from paid administrative leave and disciplined consistent with the severity of their actions. In Officer Salamoni's case, this warrants termination," the mayor said.

Dabadie did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officers involved in the deadly encounter. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has begun his own investigation into the shooting.

Landry's investigation "is not related to whether or not Officer Salamoni keeps his job and is fit to be a member of the BRPD, that decision was made by Officer Salamoni himself when he put a loaded department firearm to Mr. Sterling's head without justification and with reckless disregard," the attorneys said.
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Jose A. DelReal May-25-2017 73 0
n an interview released Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said that a "certain mindset" contributes to people living in poverty, pointing to habits and a "state of mind" that children take from their parents at a young age.

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there," he said during an interview on SiriusXM Radio with Armstrong Williams, a longtime friend.

"And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back down to the bottom," Carson said.

The retired neurosurgeon, who ran for president during the 2016 GOP primary, regularly speaks about his experience growing up in poverty and his road to the top of the medical field. Before entering the political fray, Carson was best known as a motivational speaker. His story was turned into a Lifetime movie and made him a role model for young people of color. But his conservative politics and denunciations of government assistance have eroded that image as he became a right-wing icon.

Carson said during the interview that "the wrong mindset" is the product of negative parenting habits and exposure.

"There's also a poverty of spirit. You develop a certain mindset," he said.

Carson made the comments during a town hall recorded Tuesday which will air in full on SiriusXM Wednesday night. Sirius released clips of the interview to news organizations to promote the show.

The secretary said that he believes that government can provide a "helping hand" to people looking to climb out of poverty. But he warned against programs that are "sustaining them in a position of poverty. That's not helpful."

"I think the majority of people don’t have that defeatist attitude, but they sometimes just don’t see the way, and that’s where government can come in and be very helpful," he said. "It can provide the ladder of opportunity, it can provide the mechanism that will demonstrate to them what can be done."

The Trump administration's 2018 budget blueprint, unveiled Tuesday, would cut more than $6 billion from HUD's budget. The cuts would end popular grants that facilitate first-time home ownership and revitalize economically distressed communities, including the Community Development Block Grant. The budget would also cut billions of dollars in funding for public housing support, gutting dollars used to fund big-ticket repairs at public housing developments around the country.

Carson has spoken at length in the past about personal responsibility and its intersection with poverty, bemoaning systemic dependence on public assistance.

On the campaign trail, Carson repeatedly pushed back against accusations that he wanted to end social safety net programs; he stressed, instead, that he believed government assistance was not always given to people who truly needed it.

"I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people," he said in the 2015 speech announcing his candidacy. "And we’re not doing people a favor when we pat them on the head and say, 'There, there, you poor little thing, we’re going to take care of all your needs. You don't have to worry about anything.' You know who else says stuff like that? Socialists."

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FOX 4 May-24-2017 99 0
A jury couldn’t agree on a verdict in the trial of a Fort Worth police officer who shot a man who was holding a barbecue fork.

Jurors on Wednesday sent two notes to the judge saying they were deadlocked with five people reaching one verdict and seven reaching the other. They couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict and the judge was forced to declare a mistrial.

Officer Courtney Johnson was on trial for aggravated assault for shooting and wounding Craigory Adams in June of 2015. Dashcam video shows him responding to a call of a prowler with a knife. The knife turned out to be a barbecue fork.
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The Freddie Gray case lives on with the Baltimore Police Department’s decision to bring internal charges against five of the six officers involved in the case, with at least three of them also facing termination.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the police van in which Gray sustained fatal injuries, along with Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, could all be fired as a result of the internal disciplinary action.

Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, who made the initial arrest of Gray, face up to five days’ suspension without pay. Officer William Porter is currently not facing any disciplinary action in the case.

Investigators from the Montgomery and Howard County police departments finished reviewing the case earlier this month and handed in a report indicating the results of the investigation to city police May 12. However, as the Sun reports, that report has not been released.

The BPD asked the Montgomery and Howard departments to conduct the investigation to avoid any conflict of interest.

The five officers facing punishment were informed of the charges Friday, according to the Sun. Michael E. Davey, an attorney who deals with internal-affairs cases for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said that they are charged with “violations of policy and procedure.”

The officers can choose to accept the recommended punishment or contest the charges before an internal disciplinary panel or “trial board.” Those trial boards are open to the public under a new state law, the report notes.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis imposes the discipline and will ultimately have the final say, the Sun reports.

Gray was arrested April 12, 2015, and died a week after of a severe spinal injury that an autopsy ruled he sustained while riding in the back of a police van without being properly restrained with a seat belt.

Prosecutors charged the six officers in the case with charges varying from misconduct to manslaughter to second-degree murder, and all officers pleaded not guilty.

Porter went to trial in December 2015, but that trial ended in a hung jury, resulting in a mistrial. Nero, Rice and Goodson were all acquitted in bench trials last year. Prosecutors subsequently decided to drop the remaining criminal cases.

What the internal disciplinary action means, however, is that investigators concluded that officers did break department rules in the case.
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carrie wells May-22-2017 190 0
Authorities are investigating whether the stabbing death of a black college student who was visiting the University of Maryland during graduation weekend was a hate crime.

The chief of the university police said Sunday the suspect, a white University of Maryland student, is a member of a racist Facebook group. An FBI official said the federal agency will assist with the investigation.

The victim, identified by police Sunday as Richard Collins III, was due to graduate from Bowie State University this week. The Calvert County man had completed ROTC in college and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army on Thursday, according to school officials and a family spokesman. He was 23.

Police have charged Sean Christoper Urbanski, 22, of Severna Park with first-degree murder in the attack. He was being held without bail. His family did not respond Sunday to a request for comment, and online court records did not list an attorney.

In this new digital age, it’s easy to assume change is limited to only technology, but it encompasses society and demographics as well—basically the very nature of work itself.

"We are looking forward to the quickest investigation as possible," he said. "Hate has no place in America. Hate has no place on a college campus where young minds are coming together to try to change the world."

The Rev. Darryl L. Godlock, serving as a spokesman for the Collins family, said the young man had obtained his airborne certification. Collins wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a military veteran, Godlock said.

"He wanted to make his parents proud of him so he went into the military to serve his country," Godlock said. "It was a great opportunity for him to advance forward and make the most out of his career."

Godlock said Collins was close to his family.

"This was not a thug," Godlock said. "This was a very caring individual. He was highly intelligent and he was at the peak of his career. He loved his family, he loved people that he came in contact with, and more importantly he loved his God."

Collins was a vibrant, funny and outgoing student whose ambition rubbed off on his friends, said Vidal Adams, a fellow Bowie State student and friend. Collins talked about wanting to travel the world and go skydiving and surfing, he said.

"He wanted to be a general of the United States Army, that was his ultimate goal," said Adams, a senior criminal justice major. "He was the definition of a leader. I can't really say the same about a lot of people."

Collins was waiting with two other students for an Uber ride outside the Montgomery Hall dormitory on Regents Drive near U.S. 1 at about 3 a.m. Saturday when he was attacked.

The stabbing was captured by a surveillance camera, police said. They called it unprovoked.

Witnesses said the suspect was intoxicated and incoherent at the time of the attack, police said. Police have said the victim and suspect did not know each other.

Officers called to the scene found Collins wounded on the sidewalk, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Urbanski was arrested at the scene, police said. Officers recovered a folding knife, police said.

Collins' friends told police they heard the suspect scream as he approached them.

The suspect said "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," police wrote in charging documents. Collins said "no," police wrote. The suspect continued to approach, and stabbed him once in the chest.

Police said initially there was no indication that race played a role. But University Police Chief David Mitchell said information about the Facebook group was brought to their attention on Sunday.

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AP May-19-2017 192 0
A judge confirmed Prince's six siblings to be his rightful heirs in a ruling released Friday, bringing them a big step closer to collecting their shares of the music legend's multimillion-dollar estate.
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide formally declared that Prince died without a will and that his heirs are his sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings — Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson.

The siblings will still have to wait to inherit their shares of Prince's estate, which court filings suggest has an estimated value of about $200 million, though taxes are expected to consume about half of that.

More than 45 people came forward in the wake of Prince's death, claiming to be his wife, children, siblings or other relatives. Some, including a Colorado prison inmate who said he was Prince's son, were ruled out through DNA testing. Others, such as a woman and girl who claimed to be Prince's niece and grandniece, had their claims rejected as a matter of law.

Some of those people filed legal appeals, and Eide said that if appellate courts send any of the rejected claimants back to him, he will consider them. And until the appeals are resolved, Eide said the siblings won't be able to collect anything without his approval.

Eide previously signaled that the six siblings would likely be named Prince's heirs, but he also had said he wouldn't make the declaration until appeals had been decided. Lawyers for the siblings didn't want to wait, though, saying further delays would increase costs to the estate and impede its efficient administration. The siblings' attorneys didn't immediately reply to phone calls seeking comment Friday.

Attorneys for rejected claimants had urged Eide to wait for appeals to be resolved before naming the heirs. Andrew Stoltmann, a lawyer for the woman and girl who say they are Prince's niece and grand-niece, said Friday that he hadn't seen the new ruling but would examine it and determine whether to appeal it.

Prince died April 21, 2016, of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Since his death, Prince's Paisley Park studio complex and home has been turned into a museum and concert venue. His estate has also struck deals to make his albums available by streaming, and next month plans to release a remastered "Purple Rain" album as well as two albums of unreleased music and two concert films. The values of those deals and revenue generated from Paisley Park tours have not been disclosed.
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MEGAN CERULLO May-18-2017 173 0
A 6-year-old Mississippi boy was kidnapped and found shot to death in the back seat of a Toyota Camry Thursday, police said.

Kingston Frazier was sitting in the back of the car when it was stolen from a grocery store parking lot.

“We had everyone on the lookout for this particular vehicle. It was discovered abandoned on the side of the road in Madison County,” police said.

Kingston’s mother, Ebony Archie, left the car running with her son sleeping inside, while she went grocery shopping, the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department said. Two men pulled up to Archie’s car, jumped inside, and sped away with her car and her son, local media outlets reported.

Suspects Dwan Wakefield and DeAllen Washington are in custody.
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