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Member of Winans gospel singing family charged with operating $8M Ponzi scheme
Sep-15-2012 1434 0


A member of the Winans gospel music family has been charged with fraud after authorities uncovered a scam involving more than $8 million and bogus oil bonds.

Michael Winans Jr. plans to plead guilty, defense attorney William Hatchett said Thursday.

Winans knew the Saudi Arabian oil bonds weren't real, but he continued to accept money from more than 1,000 investors in 2007 and 2008, according to a filing this week in Detroit federal court.

He recycled the money among investors, a trait of Ponzi schemes, and also used cash for his personal use, the government said.

Michigan regulators in 2010 said Winans Jr. used connections in Detroit churches to lure investors.

"My client has told me it is his full intention to repay or somehow put these people back to where they were before they became involved," Hatchett said.

Winans is a third-generation member of one of gospel music's first families. He's the grandson of Delores "Mom" Winans and David "Pop" Winans Sr., and son of Michael Winans Sr., a member of The Winans, a quartet of brothers. His uncle, Marvin Winans, gave the eulogy at Whitney Houston's funeral.

"There are no other members of this great family implicated or involved in any fashion," Hatchett said. "This is a very difficult time for this bright and gifted young man. His family stands beside him and they intend to see him through this."

He said Winans likely would make a court appearance within 10 days.

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Tobias Salinger May-26-2016 93 0
An Alabama man died in jail from an untreated ulcer after going a week without food, medical care or even a court appearance, according to a lawsuit.

The son of Phillip David Anderson, 49, filed a federal civil rights suit Monday against Tuscaloosa County over Anderson’s February 2015 death. The father of four and U.S. Army veteran went into custody at Tuscaloosa County Jail because of a missed 2013 child support hearing and never came back, David Schoen, the attorney representing his family, told the Daily News.

Anderson’s family burst into tears when Schoen read them the text of the lawsuit at his mother’s senior center last week, Schoen said.

“It was a classic case of powerless people in Alabama. They don’t know where to turn,” Schoen said. “They said the one thing they want to make sure of is that this never happens again.”

Anderson’s youngest child was 23 at the time of his arrest and he has never missed any child support payments, Schoen said. He vomited after the first meal he ate at the jail Feb. 8 and couldn’t eat anything else for the next seven days while ailing from a “readily apparent, extraordinarily distended abdomen,” according to the lawsuit against the county, Sheriff Ron Abernathy and jail officials.

Anderson’s first and only treatment happened in the hospital where he was pronounced dead seven days later from an untreated perforated duodenal ulcer, the court documents said.

Anderson was a father of four and U.S. Army veteran. He was 49 years old and working in painting and construction at the time of his death. (Couresty Anderson Family)

“For a full week in February, 2015, while Mr. Anderson was held at the Tuscaloosa County Jail for missing a child support hearing he did not even know he had missed, these defendants deliberately, malevolently, intentionally, and with reckless disregard for his obvious and serious medical infirmities, stood idly by and watched Mr. Anderson die, slowly, day by day, screaming over and over again as he lay writhing in excruciating pain,” according to the lawsuit.

Representatives for the sheriff’s office didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Robert Spence, an attorney representing the county, wrote in an email, “As the complaint indicates, Mr. Anderson had multiple health problems.” He declined further comment on the pending litigation.

The lawsuit alleges Anderson gave jail officials a list of his daily required medications yet never received any of them. Jail staff instead informed him inmates had to pay $25 to see a doctor and accused him of faking his health problems, according to the court documents.

Anderson lost consciousness Feb. 15, and his eyes appeared to go back in his head, the lawsuit said. A jail nurse ordered other inmates to lie Anderson face down on a bathroom floor where there was a visible pool of urine while the nurse called for help, according to the documents.

The family's lawyer said Anderson's relatives broke into tears as he read them the lawsuit.
Anderson's mother, Willie Mahan Anderson, poses in a T-shirt with her son's Army photo on it. The family's lawyer said Anderson's relatives broke into tears as he read them the lawsuit. (Courtesy)

Anderson’s family rushed to the jail. Staff had assured them he was fine all week after they checked in on reports about his condition from other inmates, the lawsuit said. They watched him as he was rolled out of the facility on a stretcher.

“They see him taken out, unconscious, still handcuffed, no shirt on, no shoes on, and it’s the middle of February,” Schoen said. “How do you have a prisoner in your jail who hasn’t eaten for seven days and you’re not aware of it? Every inmate was aware of it.”

The son of Anderson’s pressing the lawsuit, Phillip Fikes, told NBC News his father had been doing painting and construction work at the time of his death. Anderson was “a real joyful person to be around” and his family celebrated what would have been his 50th birthday this past August even as they wondered why the jail staff had not attended to him, Fikes said.

“I just feel like they didn't care,” said Fikes, 31. “I hope and pray no one else has to go through what we went through."
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Laura Bult May-25-2016 145 0
Three high school football players are facing charges that they sexually assaulted a mentally disabled teammate with a coat hanger following months of harassment in a racially charged trial that’s rocking a tiny Idaho town.

Last fall, three star football players lured the special needs student with an offer of a hug inside the Dietrich High School locker room, but instead proceeded to thrust a coat hanger into the boy’s rectum while one of the assailants kicked the object several times, according to the criminal complaint.

John R.K. Howard, 18, a transfer student from Texas, and Tanner Ward, 17, are being tried as adults due to the seriousness of the crime and could face up to life in prison, according to MagicValley.com. A third, 16-year-old defendant, who is not named, is being charged as a juvenile.

A witness testified that Ward initiated the heartless attack and that Howard was the one who kicked the coat hanger five or six times while it was jammed inside the boy’s rectum, causing painful injuries that required hospital treatment.

“I screamed,” the 18-year-old boy, who is not being named because he’s a victim of sexual assault, testified for the first time last month. “I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt,” he said, adding that he remembered his attackers laughing throughout the assault, MagicValley.com reported.


? 17-year-old Tanner Ward, a student at Dietrich High School in Idaho, is one of three students accused of sexually assaulting a boy with a coat hanger and has been charged with forcible penetration.
17-year-old Tanner Ward, a student at Dietrich High School in Idaho, is one of three students accused of sexually assaulting a boy with a coat hanger and has been charged with forcible penetration. (KMVT)

The victim — a black learning-disabled teenager who was adopted by white parents in the small predominantly white town with a population of 338 — was the target of racist taunting and abuse in the months leading up to the savage attack, according to a $10 million lawsuit his family filed against Dietrich High School earlier this month.

Howard, who is portrayed in court documents as the ringleader in the merciless harassment, is accused of forcing the black boy to sing a Ku Klux Klan song called “Notorious KKK” (set to the tune of Notorious B.I.G. “Can’t You See”) he learned in Texas and encouraged other football players to join in on the vicious bullying.

The boy “was taunted and called racist names by other members of the team which names include ‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and n---r,” the suit alleges.

Other abuse described in the shocking suit includes when football players stripped the boy naked on a bus ride home from an out-of-town football game and took photos of him with their cellphones.

Dietrich High School in Idaho is the target of a $10 million lawsuit by the victim's family, which says coaches and school staff did nothing to stop months of harrassment that led to the attack.
Dietrich High School in Idaho is the target of a $10 million lawsuit by the victim's family, which says coaches and school staff did nothing to stop months of harrassment that led to the attack. (Google)

The lawsuit also names 11 employees as defendants allegedly did nothing to protect the boy, who was vulnerable due to “mental disorders including learning disabilities,” from the racist attacks, and even promoted the violence.

The suit claims that the Dietrich football coaches encouraged other players to fight the boy, including one incident in which a much larger player knocked the boy, who was forced to wear boxing gloves, unconscious as the students shouted “catcalls, taunts and racial epithets,” according to the suit.

The bullying culminated in the vicious Oct. 23, 2015 coat hanger attack. The following day, the boy and his parents reported the sexual assault to police.

Howard has a preliminary hearing set for June 10 and has not entered a plea. Ward's trial is scheduled to begin on September 26.
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May-24-2016 118 0
A Mississippi man whose daughter died after he left her in a hot car was released from jail without bail Tuesday, with the possibility that the second-degree murder charge against him could be reduced.

Grenada Municipal Judge Rusty Harlow ordered the release of 25-year-old Joshua Blunt on his own recognizance after city prosecutor Jennifer Adams requested the move and a friend and a police detective testified he wasn't a flight risk.

Harlow wept as he emerged from the Grenada County jail a few minutes later, embraced by relatives and friends who had offered vocal support during the brief court hearing.

Adams told Harlow that Grenada officials want to reduce the charges against Blunt from second degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison, to culpable negligence, a felony punishable by up to a year in prison.

However, Harlow said he wanted to hear from Grenada County District Attorney Doug Evans, who prosecutes felonies in the county, before making that decision.

Blunt's lawyer, Carlos Moore, has said he will fight that lower-grade felony charge.

Janette Fennell, founder and president of the Kansas-based KidsAndCars.Org, said that between 1990 and 2015, charges were brought in 45.5 percent of cases involving the deaths of children in hot cars in the U.S.

The group's figures show there were 706 cases of children dying in hot cars for those 25 years, although some cases involved multiple deaths.

The district attorney was present for the hearing but didn't participate. Evans later told The Associated Press that the correct procedure would be for city officials to drop the original murder charge and enter a new culpable negligence charge. Then he said the district attorney could decide whether to present it to the grand jury.

Evans said he's seen some information from the investigation, but couldn't comment on whether he believed Blunt knew the child was in the car.

Shania Caradine, Blunt's daughter, died Thursday after she was left in her father's car outside the 333 Restaurant in Grenada. Blunt's lawyer says she was there for about four hours. The lawyer said Blunt and a co-worker found the infant in the car, took Shania inside the restaurant and put cool towels on her to await an ambulance that took her to the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada. Grenada County Deputy Coroner Jo Morman said physicians at the hospital tried unsuccessfully for hours to revive the baby.

She was the second Mississippi child to die from heatstroke in a vehicle within two weeks. No charges have been brought against a parent in the other case.

Supporters and family members erupted in claps and cheers in the courtroom after Harlow ordered Blunt's release, with one person shouting, "Oh yes!"

John Archer who said he's Blunt's brother-in-law, said he and his wife, Patricia Archer, helped raise him.

"We think it was fair because he's working two jobs and he's never been in trouble. "He's just trying to support his family. It's just an accident."

Archer said Blunt was called in to work Thursday on a day he had been scheduled to be off. Archer speculated that the change in routine distracted Blunt from dropping off his daughter at the home of Shanice Caradine's mother.

Shanice Caradine is the child's mother and Blunt's girlfriend.

Among supporters present Tuesday was Allyson Worsham, who owns the 333 Restaurant. She called Blunt a good worker who had been "so proud" when his daughter was born.

"This has been a horrible tragedy," said Worsham said. She thanked a jail guard for watching Blunt, saying he had voiced thoughts of suicide after his daughter's death.

"Shanice sent a message to me that she loves him and that she and Shania forgive him," Worsham said.
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CBS News May-24-2016 104 0
A Florida city official died in a suspicious single-vehicle crash a day before he was scheduled to surrender in a criminal corruption case.

Authorities say 43-year-old Opa-locka city commissioner Terence Pinder died Tuesday after the city-owned vehicle he was driving crashed into a tree. The tree was located in an undeveloped part of Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport, far from any major road. Police say they are investigating whether the crash was deliberate.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office confirmed Pinder had planned to surrender Wednesday to face bribery and other corruption charges. An arrest warrant says Pinder accepted thousands of dollars to help a businessman establish a recycling transfer station.

The death is the latest blow to Opa-locka, which is under a broader FBI corruption investigation and struggling with its finances.
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AP May-23-2016 84 0
Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.

Prosecutors had declined to charge Cosby over Andrea Constand's complaint in 2005, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public.

In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Constand at his home. The two knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team.

The following exchanges between Cosby and Constand lawyer Dolores Troiani took place in 2005 and 2006. They are excerpted for brevity and to delete legal squabbling and repetition.

___

ON CONSTAND:

Q. When did you first develop a romantic interest in Andrea?

A. Probably the first time I saw her (at Temple's arena).

___

On the night in question:

Q: Can you tell me ... what you recall of the night in which you gave the pills to Andrea?

A: Andrea came to the house. I called her. ... We talked about Temple University. We talked about her position. And then I went upstairs and I got three pills. I brought them down. They are the equivalent of one and a half. The reason why I gave them and offered them to Andrea, which she took after examining them, was because she was talking about stress.

___

Cosby describes a several-minute sexual encounter that followed.

Q: So, you're not telling us that you verbally asked her for permission?

A: I didn't say it verbally, I said. The action is my hand on her midriff, which is skin. I'm not lifting any clothing up. This is, I don't remember fully what it is, but it's there and I can feel. I got her skin and it's just above the hand and it's just above where you can go under the pants.

Q: Then what happens?

A: I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.

___

Troiani asks Cosby about a phone call a year later between Cosby and Constand's mother, Gianni Constand, who told him something was wrong with her daughter, who was also on the line.

Q: What was the thing that you did not want to talk about?

A: I didn't want to talk about, "What did you give her?"

Q: Why?

A: Because we're over the telephone and I'm not sending anything (the pill bottle) over the mail and I'm not giving away anything.

Q: Why didn't you simply tell her ... that you had given her daughter an over-the-counter drug called Benadryl?

A: I'm not going to argue with somebody's mother who is accusing me of something. And then when I apologize she says to me, "That's all I wanted to know, Bill." ... And I'm apologizing because I'm thinking this is a dirty old man with a young girl. I apologized. I said to the mother it was digital penetration.

___

Q: When she sat here and cried (Constand, during her deposition), how did you feel?

A: I think Andrea is a liar and I know she's a liar because I was there.

___

ON QUAALUDES:

Cosby testified that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He said he was given seven prescriptions for the now-banned sedative, ostensibly for a sore back.

Q: Why didn't you ever take the quaaludes?

A: Because I used them.

Q: For what?

A: The same as a person would say, "Have a drink."

Q: You gave them to other people?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you believe at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs?

A: Yes.

Q: How did (the doctor) know that you didn't plan to use (them)?

A: What was happening at that time was that, that was, quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.

Q: When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?

A. Yes.

___

Cosby acknowledges having a sexual relationship with accuser Therese (Picking) Serignese starting around 1976, when she was 19. Serignese, who has gone public with her accusations, has said the first time she met Cosby at a Las Vegas hotel in 1976, he gave her quaaludes and a glass of water before they had sex.

Q: Did you give her quaaludes?

A: Yes.

Q: What effect did the quaaludes have on her?

A: She became in those days what was called high.

Q: She said that she believes she was not in the position to consent to intercourse after you gave her the drug. Do you believe that is correct?

A: I don't know. ... How many years ago are we talking about? 197(6)? ... I meet Ms. Picking in Las Vegas. She meets me backstage. I give her quaaludes. We then have sex.

___

Q: Why didn't you ever take them yourself?

A: I get sleepy.

Q: How would you know that if you never took them?

A: Quaaludes happen to be a depressant. I have had surgery and while being given pills that block the nervous system, in particular the areas of muscle, the back, I found that I get sleepy and I want to stay awake.

Q: Is that why you don't drink alcohol?

A: Exactly.
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Baltimore Sun May-23-2016 91 0
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Monday acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The judgment, following a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely-watched case. Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero's role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.

Nero leaned forward after the verdict was read, and wiped his eyes. He hugged his attorneys.

Billy Murphy, the attorney for the Gray family, commended Williams for not bowing to public pressure.

Williams "stood tall and did what he believed was just" while "very careful" to make clear findings specific to Nero case," Murphy said. "He had a job to do and he did it."

Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December.

Nero, a former New Jersey volunteer firefighter who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, is one of three officers who were on bike patrol when they chased and arrested Gray in West Baltimore.

Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of a Baltimore police van, prosecutors say. He died a week later, touching off citywide protests. On the day of his funeral on April 27, rioting, looting and arson broke out, leading the mayor to institute a weeklong nightly curfew and the governor to call in the National Guard.

Nero's trial lasted six days, with the prosecution calling 14 witnesses and the defense calling seven before closing statements last Thursday.

Nero's attorneys had sought to minimize his role in the arrest, saying that he had limited contact with Gray. They also argued that Nero followed his training.

Following the verdict, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for "citizens to be patient."

"This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion."

She noted the city is "prepared to respond" to any disturbance in the city. "We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city," she said.

T.J. Smith, the police department's chief spokesman, said Nero will remain working in an administrative capacity while the police department's internal investigation continues.

"The internal investigation is being handled by other police departments. The internal investigation will not be completed until all of the criminal cases against the other five officers are completed because they will likely be witnesses in each case," Smith said in a statement.

State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, the winner of last month's Democratic primary for mayor, said she's been in touch with activists and believes the public understands the lengthy nature of criminal proceedings against multiple officers charged in Gray's arrest and death.

"We ask the people of Baltimore to let justice take its course," Pugh said. "We trust our State's Attorney's Office is doing its best job. We ask the citizens of Baltimore to remain calm as we continue to move forward to justice for everybody."

She said she believes the city has improved policing since Gray's death last year from injuries sustained in police custody.

"We've learned a lot of lessons," she said. "We've learned how we reform some police practices."

DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist who unsuccessfully ran for mayor this year, said "the Nero verdict is a reminder that we must continue to push for policies and laws related to the police department that explicitly call for the preservation of life and that have clear lines of accountability.

"I am reminded that this is one of six trials as we seek accountability for the death of Freddie Gray," McKesson added.

The next trial in the case will be that of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, the driver of the van used to transport Gray. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).
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May-21-2016 186 0
The Howard High School of Technology community in Wilmington is in mourning again, and grief counselors are back.

Thursday afternoon, 9th grader Brandon Wingo was shot in the head and killed, just a few blocks away.

Wingo, 15, died at the hospital.

He was a student at the same high school where another teen died after a fight in the bathroom.

Amy Joyner-Francis died April 21 after investigators say three girls assaulted her.

One teen is charged with criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors say they will seek to have her tried as an adult.

The other two charged with third degree misdemeanor conspiracy will be going to trial June 15.

Thursday, principal Stanley Spoor left a message on the school’s website that reads, “All of the Howard community is pained by the loss of this young man and we all grieve his death. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.”

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CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN May-21-2016 146 0
Getting the story is always priority No. 1, but a Phoenix TV reporter seems to have forgotten about No. 2 until it was too late.

Jonathan Lowe, a reporter for KPHO, was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly defecating on a front lawn near the subject of his story’s home.

The 33-year-old was seen by a neighbor as he picked up papers from the street before leaning against the wall of a house and relieving himself, according to a Goodyear police report obtained by his station.

An officer tasked with the job of tracking Lowe down said the suspect admitted to using the yard as an impromptu latrine.

“I know what you want to talk to me about. I’ve been feeling very sick and I’ve been stuck in this van all day,” he said, according to the report.

“Those people who called on me just wanted to start problems.”

The woman who made the call about Lowe heeding nature’s call said that he could have used her bathroom if he had knocked on her door.

Lowe was arrested for public defecation, and now faces a fine of $2,500 or six months in jail for the misdemeanor, according to the Phoenix New Times.

KPHO news director Dan Wilson told the Times Wednesday that Lowe was still employed, though the channel’s Thursday night write-up of their colleague’s legal troubles called him a “former KPHO/KTVK reporter.”

The journalist’s bio page on the station’s site is no longer active, while a list of his articles shows the story he was covering during his bathroom breakdown.

Lowe's final piece for his station was an article about the case of Patrick Zane Thompson.

The 58-year-old former Arizona State football player and restaurant owner is accused of “sacrificing” his family’s poodle in a BBQ smoker after becoming upset about his daughter’s t-shirt.
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joseph stepansky May-21-2016 147 0
Jocelyn Carr did everything she could to keep her son protected from the violence of the streets, even making him pledge to join the Army.

But Friday, the distraught Bronx mother mopped 17-year-old Ackeem Davis’ blood inside their apartment — the result, police sources said, of roughhousing between friends that ended with a fatal bullet to her son’s chest.

“I could understand if he got shot out in the street, but they shot him right here in his bed,” the 42-year-old mail carrier told the Daily News.

Gone in a muzzle flash were her plans for Davis’ 18th birthday next week, his high school graduation next month and his enlistment in the Army this summer — a commitment he made at her request.

“We made the deal because I didn’t want him to be out on the street and killed in the street,” Carr told The News. “But he got killed right at home.”

Carr was left instead to plan a funeral for the teen killed while hanging out with a group of friends in his bedroom as she was working Thursday afternoon.

More than 24 hours after the fatal shooting, cops charged 19-year-old Steafon Lewis (photo inset) with manslaughter and possession of a firearm.

Sources said an eyewitness told detectives Davis and Lewis had been playfully wrestling on the bed when Lewis picked up a gun on the dresser around 5 p.m. and shot his friend once.

Davis staggered into the apartment hallway, then collapsed in front of his brother’s horrified girlfriend. “He couldn’t speak,” said Starr White, 18. “All of this blood was just coming out of his mouth. He just came out here and dropped.”

The victim’s 13-year-old sister was also in the apartment when the fatal shot was fired.

His mother received a frantic call at work, but her son was dead by the time she reached Jacobi Medical Center.

A spot of blood remained visible beneath the family fridge Friday as Carr spoke of her son’s lost future. She was left with agonizing questions — none of her son’s friends let her know what happened.

Some of the kids bolted, while others carried Davis into the hallway.

One of the other youths must have brought the gun into the Pelham Parkway Houses in Allerton because her son didn’t own one, she said.

“If anybody knows anything at all, just let us know,” said Carr. “Nobody’s saying. I need to know what happened, how he died . . . I need to know why I no longer have my child. My son’s not coming back here.”

Family and friends created an impromptu memorial outside the building at 810 Astor Ave., with candles spelling out the letter K twice for his nickname “Keem Krazy.”

“Everybody knows my son, because he’s a comedian,” said Carr. “He makes everybody laugh.”

Friday night Lewis, in glasses and flowered pants, was led from the 49th Precinct stationhouse by three detectives. The beefy teen, in handcuffs and ankle shackles, remained silent.
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