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FBI investigating whether others were involved in the death of Heather Mack's mother
Mar-15-2017 221 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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CBS News Apr-28-2017 146 0
The search for a missing Illinois toddler came to a tragic end overnight, when her body was found inside a Joliet Township home, reports CBS Chicago.

According to the station, 16-month-old Semaj Crosby was reported missing on Tuesday evening, about three hours after staff from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services visited her home on an allegation of neglect.

Semaj's family reportedly said they were working on a car outside their home and Semaj was playing with other children in the yard, but wandered off. Police and volunteers launched an extensive search for the girl, but suspended the search late Wednesday due to the rain.

According to the Will County Sheriff's Office, around 11 p.m. on Wednesday the sheriff's office and FBI obtained permission to enter the family's home, with the help of an attorney the family obtained, and found Semaj's body inside.

The little girl was pronounced dead, and an autopsy was scheduled for later Thursday to determine how she died. Officials say they're investigating the case as a suspicious death.

In an email to CBS Chicago, a DCFS spokesperson said they had seen Semaj and her mother's two other children the day she was reported missing and "there were no obvious hazards or safety concerns at that time."

 "We have had prior contact with this family including four unfounded investigations for neglect and two prior pending investigation for neglect opened in March 2017," DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa said in the email. "DCFS has been working with the family, offering services since September 2016."

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Christina Carrega Apr-28-2017 161 0
A Brooklyn teen captured on video leading the brutal assault of a classmate was sentenced to four years in prison Friday after she ruined a second chance given by a judge to avoid time behind bars.

Aniah Ferguson sat back in her seat in Brooklyn Supreme Court and refused to get up after Justice Dineen Riviezzo sentenced her to upstate time for her role as the ringleader in a gang assault inside a Flatbush Ave. McDonalds in March 2015.

"Don't fight, just get up and walk," said one of the seven male and female court officers who surrounded Ferguson.

Before the judge determined Ferguson's sentencing, her attorney Nancy Ginsburg, with a shaky voice, pleaded her client's case.

Ginsburg noted that Ferguson was a misguided youth who needs proper mental health care and was mischaracterized by the media and prosecutors.

Ferguson, 18, who wore an orange jumpsuit with a cast on her left arm and hand, briefly gazed at Ginsburg with tears in her eyes.
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Meghan Holohan Apr-28-2017 265 0
In early April, Eric and Lee Broadway were enjoying coffee and each other's company on their porch. They had some rare alone time because their four children were out of town. But, that calm was disrupted for Eric when he needed to work for a few hours; Lee remained home and relaxed. When Broadway was on his way back, he called and his wife shared some worrisome news.

"She said 'I have the worst headache of my life," Broadway, 43, told TODAY. "She lost feeling in her left leg and she fell."

Broadway had high blood pressure, but she took medication to treat it. Her family felt shocked when she died of a ruptured aneurysm.

Broadway encouraged Lee, 41, to stay on the phone while he drove home. When he arrived, they headed to the emergency room at the local hospital. After a CT scan, the doctors knew she needed specialized neurological care and they flew her to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In the chaos, Broadway never learned what caused Lee's symptoms until he asked a passing nurse who informed him that Lee had a broken blood vessel in her brain.

Still feeling uncertain, Broadway Googled "broken blood vessel" and learned that Lee likely suffered from an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weakening of the blood vessels in the brain, which balloon out and sometimes look like berries. They sound scary, but doctors agree that with monitoring and lifestyle changes they can be managed.

While the transfer to the hospital went well, Lee's condition didn't improve.
"Lee is in serious pain. All she is doing is begging for them to take away her pain. It is hard to hear her screaming for help," Broadway said.

But a nurse practitioner reassured Broadway. Lee's aneurysm only ranked two out of five, which was good news. He felt confident enough about his wife's health that he went home to sleep while his in-laws stayed at the hospital.

The next day, April 2, doctors used a catheter to examine Lee's brain. After the procedure, a doctor gave Broadway and his in-laws a thumbs-up and explained they inserted a coil into Lee's brain. Neurosurgeons often use coils to treat aneurysms said Dr. Vineeta Singh, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, who did not treat Lee.

But hours passed and Lee had not come out of recovery. The family started worrying when the doctors invited them to the conference room. The doctors told them that there were complications and "there is nothing we can do for Lee."

"I lost it. I ran out of the room," said Broadway.

The coil popped out of place and Lee experienced complications. She was brain dead and died on April 3.

"It was a huge surprise," said Broadway. "For some reason for her to bleed out, it is unexplainable."
While experiencing crippling headaches can be a sign of an aneurysm, doctors say ruptured aneurysms are exceedingly rare.

"There is a less than one percent chance of an aneurysm rupturing," said Dr. Mark Bain, a neurosurgeon at Cleveland Clinic, who did not treat Lee.

But when they rupture, people certainly can tell.

"If your aneurysm is rupturing you will know. It is usually the worst headache and a sudden pop. Most people fall to the ground and vomit," he said. "It is different than any other headache that you have had."

People who smoke, use cocaine or have high blood pressure are at higher risk of aneurysms, but doctors remain uncertain why they occur. Lee had high blood pressure, said Broadway, but she took medication for it and was healthy enough that her family doctor felt shocked by her passing.
He's not the only one. Broadway still grapples with Lee's loss, but he's trying to be strong.
"I don't have time to be down, I have to be there for my kids," he said.

Broadway had known Lee since middle school. They were best friends and he fixed her up with his friends. But when she was a senior in high school, he realized that his feelings for Lee were more than friendship.

"I remember writing her this letter and just spilling my guts to her," Broadway said. "I thought 'How is she going to respond to this?'"

Lee responded by sharing his feelings and they started dating. A year later, she had their first child, Adair, when Lee was 18, and Broadway, 19. Six years later, she had their second daughter Averi, and Broadway felt content.

"I thought we were done. Lee wanted a son because the first two were girls," Broadway said.

Then they had Alex, now 10, and finally a boy Adrien, now 8 years old.
Lee devoted her life to her children.

"She just appreciated everything about being a mom from doing homework to field trips with them and (being) in the classroom," Broadway said. "She based her life around it."

The family has received support from people around the world and that helps Broadway and his children feel comforted.

"It's just mind-blowing to see," he said.

Broadway said he'll miss having adventures, and even down times, with Lee, and hopes that others who hear her story remember to love their friends and family.

"I hope people just learn to love your love(d) ones every minute of every day and not to take it for granted. Lee and I both took things for granted and it is me just wishing I could say one last thing to her and do one last thing for her," he said.
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Fox News Apr-28-2017 102 0
A stunning verdict was returned in the corruption trial for Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. He and his co-defendant were found not guilty on most counts and a mistrial was declared on the remaining counts.

Jurors returned to the courtroom around 11 a.m. Friday after more than a week of deliberation. 
Price was found not guilty on the biggest charge of bribery and six other conspiracy and mail fraud charges. But the jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the tax fraud and tax underpayment charges.

Judge Barbara Lynn declared a mistrial on those four counts. It will be up to the government to decide whether or not to retry him.

“I’m on my way to work. I’m trying to get to work. Can I get to work?” Price said as he walked out of the courtroom. When asked how he feels about the verdict he said, “We’re okay.”
Price was accused of accepting nearly $1 million in bribes over the course of a decade in the form of money, cars, and land. In exchange, the government argued he got deals for companies doing business for Dallas County.

The defense argued the payments Price received were loan repayments.

“The jury’s verdict is entirely consistent with the evidence. Thank you all so much and I’m very sorry at this time I can’t comment further,” said Shirley Baccus-Lobel, Price's lead attorney.
This is a tremendous defeat for the federal government, which spent several years investigating the longest-serving Dallas County commissioner and collecting millions of documents as evidence.

“First, I want to thank the dedicated women and men of the jury for their extraordinary service during this long and difficult process,” John Parker, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “I will be convening with the prosecution team over the next several days regarding where we go from here, consistent with the court's timeline.”

Co-defendant Daphney Fain’s was also found not guilty on all counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and lying to the government.
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Harold Gater Apr-26-2017 375 0
A Hinds County Sheriff's Department deputy has filed a lawsuit against singer R. Kelly for allegedly having an affair with his wife.

According to reports by WAPT and WLBT, Deputy Kenny Bryant filed the lawsuit against Kelly on April 21 in Hinds County Circuit Court. The lawsuit claims that Bryant's wife, Asia Childress, had a romantic relationship with Kelly prior to their July 15, 2012 wedding. Bryant says he was told that the relationship was at an end. Bryant said the relationship with Kelly rekindled when his wife attended a Kelly concert in October 2012.

Bryant said his wife convinced him to move to Atlanta for her career. Bryant said he quit his job and moved, but believes her underlying motive was to continue the affair with Kelly, according to the lawsuit.

Bryant was unable to find adequate employment in Atlanta, which hurt him financially, the lawsuit states.

Bryant said in the lawsuit that he tried to keep his marriage together, but “could not prevail against R. Kelly’s continued sexual overtures to Childress.”
Childress has filed for divorce.
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SYDNEY EMBER Apr-26-2017 97 0
Troubles at Fox News compounded yet again on Tuesday, with the emergence of new allegations of racial discrimination at the company coming less than a week after the ouster of the network’s star Bill O’Reilly.

Eleven current and former Fox News employees filed a class-action lawsuit in New York against the network, accusing it of “abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination.”

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, expands a complaint filed at the end of March by Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, two black women who worked in the Fox News payroll department. In particular, the suit contends that Judith Slater, the company’s longtime comptroller, engaged in racist behavior and made racist remarks and that senior executives ignored her actions. A third Fox News employee, Monica Douglas, joined the lawsuit earlier this month. Fox News fired Ms. Slater in February.

“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne M. Christensen, said in a statement, referring to Fox News’s parent company. “We sincerely hope the filing of this race class action wakes 21st Century Fox from its slumbers and inspires the company to take a conciliatory and appropriate approach to remedy its wrongs.”

Another former Fox News employee, Adasa Blanco, filed a separate racial discrimination lawsuit on Tuesday against Fox News, Ms. Slater and Dianne Brandi, the top lawyer at Fox News, in federal court in the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuits contend that Fox News employees repeatedly complained about racial discrimination to current network executives but that no action was taken and that the inappropriate behavior continued.

In a statement, Catherine M. Foti, a lawyer for Ms. Slater, called the lawsuits “meritless and frivolous.”

”All claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false,” she said.

Representatives for 21st Century Fox and Fox News did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the class-action lawsuit — which names Ms. Slater, Ms. Brandi, Fox News and 21st Century Fox as defendants — the 11 current and former employees said that Ms. Brandi and Denise Collins, a human resources executive at Fox News, were aware of complaints about Ms. Slater’s racist behavior but told black employees that “nothing could be done because Slater knew too much about senior executives,” including Roger E. Ailes, the company’s former chief executive; Mark Kranz, the chief financial officer; and Mr. O’Reilly.

According to the class-action suit, Ms. Douglas complained in November 2014 to Ms. Brandi about Ms. Slater’s behavior. Another former Fox News employee, Wasim Rafick, who worked in the company’s payroll department from 2003 to 2016, complained about Ms. Slater’s behavior to Ms. Brandi and Ms. Collins in 2015 and in 2016.

The lawsuit filed by Ms. Blanco contends that she informed Ms. Brandi about Ms. Slater’s conduct as early as September 2008.

Among the plaintiffs are Kelly Wright, a current Fox News anchor and former co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend,” who said Mr. O’Reilly refused to allow him on his show to discuss racial conciliation and instead suggested he should call Mr. Ailes and Bill Shine, one of the network’s presidents, and “offer to sing the national anthem at the Fox News Town Halls,” according to the suit. The suit also contends that Ms. Slater demanded that minority employees arm-wrestle white female supervisors for her own “entertainment and amusement.”

Ms. Slater also mocked how black employees pronounced words like “ask” and “mother” and asked some black employees, “Who is going to Africa?” after President Trump’s travel ban, according to the suit.

Fox News has been reeling since the ouster of Mr. Ailes last summer amid a sexual harassment scandal. A New York Times investigation published this month revealed that five women had received a total of roughly $13 million to settle complaints about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by Mr. O’Reilly. The network then faced an exodus by advertisers from Mr. O’Reilly’s show. Protests and denunciations by women’s rights groups followed before Mr. O’Reilly’s ouster.

On Monday, Fox News introduced a new prime-time lineup, and other cable news networks are hoping to take advantage of the upheaval to cut into Fox News’s ratings lead.

Julie Roginsky, an on-air contributor at Fox News, also filed a sexual harassment lawsuit this month against the network, Mr. Ailes and Mr. Shine. Ms. Roginsky said she had faced retaliation for refusing sexual advances from Mr. Ailes.

Also on Tuesday, Rupert Murdoch, the head of 21st Century Fox, sent a memo to Fox News employees extolling the network’s ratings from Monday night, its first night with a reconfigured prime-time lineup without Mr. O’Reilly.

“I know the last few weeks have been tough for everyone here, but our passion for news and commitment to our viewers continue to lead us through,” Mr. Murdoch wrote. “Congratulations and thank you for all your hard work.”

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Sam Hananel, Associated Press Apr-25-2017 97 0
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Houston man shot in the back by police during a traffic stop, prompting Justice Sonia Sotomayor to complain of a "disturbing trend" in how the high court deals with cases alleging police misconduct.

In a dissent, Sotomayor said the justices "have not hesitated" to reverse lower courts that rule against police officers in cases that involve claims of excessive force. But she said the court "rarely" intervenes when lower courts "wrongly" find that police are immune from charges of misconduct.

Her dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drew a response from Justice Samuel Alito, who insisted the court applies "uniform standards" when deciding to review all such cases.
Sotomayor has criticized the court before for siding with police in excessive force cases. In a 2015 dissent, she said the court was sanctioning a "'shoot first, think later' approach to policing" when it sided with a Texas state trooper who fatally shot a man fleeing from police.

Her latest comments come as law enforcement agencies face increasing scrutiny over officer-involved shootings or use of deadly force incidents. The high court heard arguments last month in a Los Angeles case where sheriff's deputies mistakenly shot a couple during their search for a wanted man.
The case on Monday began in 2010 when police said Ricardo Salazar-Limon resisted arrest during a stop for suspected drunken driving. Salazar-Limon walked away after a brief struggle and was ordered to stop. The officer said he saw Salazar-Limon turn and reach toward his waistband, and then shot him in the lower back. The injury left him partially paralyzed.

Salazar-Limon alleged the officer fired either immediately or just seconds before he turned around. He filed a claim of excessive force against the officer and the city of Houston.
A federal judge sided with the officer without sending the case to a jury. The judge said Salazar-Limon did not deny reaching for his waistband.

Sotomayor said the case should have been tried before a jury because there were still too many facts in dispute.

"Only Thompson and Salazar-Limon know what happened on that overpass on October 29, 2010," Sotomayor said. "It is possible that Salazar-Limon did something that Thompson reasonably found threatening; it is also possible that Thompson shot an unarmed man in the back without justification. What is clear is that our legal system does not entrust the resolution of this dispute to a judge faced with competing affidavits."

Sotomayor noted five similar cases in the past few years in which the justices reversed lower courts that refused to find police immune from charges of misconduct. She also pointed to newspaper stories noting "the increasing frequency of incidents in which unarmed men allegedly reach for empty waistbands when facing armed officers."

"That these cases are increasingly common makes it even more important for lower courts — confronted with such inconsistencies — to let the jury exercise its role as the arbiter of credibility disputes," she said.

Alito said the lower courts acted "responsibly and attempted faithfully to apply the correct legal rule to what is at best a marginal set of facts."

"The dissent has not identified a single case in which we failed to grant a similar petition filed by an alleged victim of unconstitutional police misconduct," he said in comments joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.
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Esha Ray Apr-24-2017 208 0
The anguished dad of one of the Queens fire victims broke down Monday at the scene of the deadly blaze, where fire officials said they found no working smoke detectors.

Glen Edwards’ 17-year-old daughter, Melody, was visiting her friend Jada Foxworth at the Queens Village home that went up in flames Sunday afternoon.

“When I got the news I was at church,” said Edwards, 62. “I never answered the call. I don’t take my phone to church. When I leave the church I see the missed calls. It hurts. It’s so much.

“I heard it on TV. I never knew she died at the time. Her mother said, ‘Call me again. Glen you hear what happened to Melody? I said, What?’ She died in the fire in Queens. The one I was watching on TV.”

“I want to know what happened,” Edwards said. “I lost my baby. That was a gift for me, that girl.”

Killed in the blaze along with Melody was Destiny Dones, 20, her sister Jada Foxworth, 16, Jada’s cousin Rawshawn Matthews, 10, and her two-year-old cousin Chayce Lipford.

At a news conference Monday, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said firefighters did not find any smoke detectors in the home.

Nigro, however, downplayed reports that a car fire led to the blaze.

“As of now, we have not found any smoke detectors,” he said.

Nigro also confirmed that the 911 call did not come from the home.

“Perhaps because the fire traveled so quickly, the people inside were not able to (get out),” he said. “The first call we got came from a passing motorist.”

Gordon said he spotted a 45-year-old man he knew as Eugene caught on a second-floor roof with flames closing in behind him. He said he didn’t hear any fire alarms.

Gordon said he and someone else ran to one side of the house and saw that windows were cracking because of the intense heat.

“I took a pole and broke a window and the smoke and fire hit us strong,” he said.

“Another gentleman stumbled out of the house from a side door and started yelling, ‘The kids, the kids!’ He was delirious. He asked the other gentleman who jumped off the roof, ‘Where are the kids?’ Eugene was so out of it, he was foaming from the mouth, he couldn't even talk. We had to coax him to jump.”

Meanwhile, Foxworth’s friend Natasha Khan, 15, said she attends the Young Women’s Leadership School with her. Sobbing uncontrollably, Kahn said, “It’s so hard. I didn’t expect this. It’s devastating.
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Laura Dimon Apr-24-2017 223 0
A 22-year-old Queens woman succumbed to her injuries a day after a drunken cop rear-ended her car in a serious accident, officials said Monday.

Vanessa Raghubar was driving on the Van Wyck Expressway near Rockaway Blvd. Sunday at about 4 a.m. when off-duty NYPD Officer Neville Smith, 32, drunkenly crashed his 2010 Mercedes-Benz into her, cops said. The collision sent Raghubar's 2004 Honda into a tree and a light pole, critically injuring her and her two passengers.

EMS rushed her to Jamaica Hospital along with her passengers Maria Raghubar, 21, and Justin Harricharran, 20, officials said. Vanessa Raghubar died at Jamaica Hospital on Monday.

The collision sent Raghubar's 2004 Honda into a tree and a light pole, critically injuring her and her two passengers.

Smith, a detective in the 48th Precinct who's been on the force since July 2011, was charged Sunday with vehicular assault, assault, driving while intoxicated and refusal to take a Breathalyzer test.
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