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Member of Winans gospel singing family charged with operating $8M Ponzi scheme
Sep-15-2012 1389 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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AP Feb-13-2016 79 0
A former prosecutor who used false testimony and withheld evidence to send a now-exonerated man to death row in Texas has lost an appeal to overturn his disbarment.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Board of Disciplinary Appeals on Monday upheld the decision of the State Bar of Texas to disbar Charles Sebesta. The board’s decision is final.

The Texas State Bar revoked the Burleson County district attorney’s law license in June, finding he had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct in the case of Anthony Graves. Sebesta appealed the ruling.

Graves was convicted in the 1992 slayings of six people in South Texas and was sentenced to death in 1994. He spent 18 years in prison, including 12 on death row, and came close to execution twice.

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction in 2010.

Graves filed a complaint against Sebesta in January 2014, asking the bar to hold the prosecutor accountable for withholding critical evidence.

The Board of Disciplinary Appeals called Sebesta’s conduct in the Graves case “egregious.”

The bar ruled in 2007 that there wasn’t any cause to disbar Sebesta in the case, and his lawyers argued last month that the agency couldn’t change its response to a new complaint Graves filed.

But a lawyer for the board said anyone who has been wrongfully convicted has up to four years after their release to seek discipline against prosecutors who elicit false testimony or withhold evidence, under a 2013 law.

“The bar stepped in to say that’s not the way our criminal justice system should work,” Graves said. “This is a good day for justice.”

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Meg Wagner Feb-13-2016 346 0
Florida cops are hunting for the gunman who killed a university football player and wounded two other students when a fight broke out at a packed college party early Saturday.

Lamont Postell Jr. — a 23-year-old who also goes by “Cornbread” — fled after he opened fire at Indigo Lakes Golf Club in Daytona Beach, where more than 200 Bethune-Cookman University students were attending a clubhouse soirée, Daytona Police Chief Mike Chitwood said at a Saturday press conference.

Bethune-Cookman linebacker Don'Kevious Johnson, 23, was fatally shot after a mid-party argument with Postell, according to a police report.

Two other students — Justine Cunningham and Tre Jamal Williams, who are both 21 — were seriously wounded in the shooting. Postell is not a student at the historically black university.

Police said Johnson, Postell and several of their friends started arguing around 1 a.m. during the party, hosted at a golf clubhouse next to an apartment complex that houses many college students. When the fight turned physical, Johnson started to walk away — but Postell pulled out a gun, witnesses told police.

“(The witness) stated he heard as well as saw ‘Cornbread’ cock/load his handgun as Johnson walked away,” the police report read.

Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene, and the two wounded victims were rushed to a local hospital.

Cunningham, who was shot in the head, was listed in critical condition Saturday. Williams, who was shot in the back, is stable, WKMG reported.

Postell is wanted on first degree murder charges and two counts of attempted murder.

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Laura Bult Feb-13-2016 71 0
A New Jersey Department of Corrections teacher was fired and arrested after authorities found out she had sex with a convicted murderer more than 20 times behind bars — and got pregnant twice.

Chong-Hwa Chang was arrested on Jan. 31 and charged with sexual assault after the Department of Corrections caught on to her sordid affair with inmate Rashid Walker, 35, at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, where she taught.

Chang, 42, had taught basic adult education for nine years at the maximum security facility but Walker was not one of her students, prosecutors told The Trentonian.

Chang was swiftly fired from the DOC after her arrest.

After prosecutors were tipped off to the illicit relationship, they obtained a warrant and searched Chang’s Delran, New Jersey home, where they found a journal detailing their behind bars sexual exploits.

Chang also wrote in the journal that she had gotten pregnant twice by Walker — one pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and the other was aborted, The Trentonian reported.

Mercer County prosecutors learned that Chang had become close with Walker’s family, even giving his relatives gifts and attending a family wedding.

The pair’s in-prison romps were consensual, but because Chang was in a supervisory role at the prison, the prosecutors are bringing the sexual assault charges.

Hot-for-teacher Walker was convicted in 2004 for fatally shooting 23-year-old Javid Patel, a coin laundry manager, after he robbed him at gunpoint in Passaic, New Jersey.

He is serving a 60-year sentence for the crime.

Chang was born in Korea but it is a naturalized citizen and received a master’s degree from Rutger’s University.

She has two children from a different relationship and no previous criminal record.

A judge reduced Chang's bail from $75,000 to $50,000 at a hearing on Thursday.

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dan good Feb-11-2016 95 0
A white police officer in Mississippi claims racial discrimination cost him his job after he gunned down a black man who had tried to run away from him, according to a lawsuit.

Canyon Boykin's lawsuit against the City of Columbus, filed this week in U.S. District Court, alleges he was only fired following the Oct. 16 shooting because "he is white and the deceased was black."

The lawsuit reveals the officer's perspectives into the shooting, an incident that remains perplexing four months later.

Boykin, a three-year member of the Columbus police department, was part of the department's special operations group, which is tasked with patrolling high-crime areas.

On the night of the shooting, Boykin and two other officers, Johnny Branch and Yolanda Young, were driving through one of the group's assigned areas with Boykin's then-fiancée — now his wife — riding along. The officers noticed a vehicle without a tag light and gave chase, "under the rigorous enforcement policy that had been mandated" in the city, according to the lawsuit.

The female driver began slowing down.

As the car slowed, a male passenger — Ricky Ball, 26 — jumped from the vehicle and ran.

Boykin ran after Ball. The officer caught up with the man, and shot him in the back with a stun-gun, according to the lawsuit.

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Feb-11-2016 94 0
Texas A&M University is conducting an investigation after a group of students visiting campus from an inner-city Dallas high school were harassed Tuesday with racial slurs and a demand to "go back where you came from."

About 60 juniors from Uplift Hampton Preparatory were visiting the campus, according to state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, when two black students were approached by a white woman wearing Confederate flag earrings. West said the woman showed the students her earrings and asked them what they thought about them. Then a group of "white male and female students" began taunting the students "using the most well-known racial slur that's directed toward African Americans," said West, whose district includes the Uplift Hampton Preparatory campus.

West wasn't present when the incident occurred, but he said he was briefed on it later by A&M System Chancellor John Sharp.

A&M staffers who were accompanying the students on the tour called campus police. No one was charged; the responding officer told people at the scene that the harassers were expressing their First Amendment rights, according to West. University officials are now reviewing the incident, West said.

Soon after, A&M President Michael Young sent out a campus-wide e-mail saying he was outraged by the event.

"I deeply regret the pain and hurt feelings this incident caused these young students. Be assured that we take such allegations very seriously," Young wrote.

Young said that administrators and students from A&M met with the high school students and told them that the vast majority of students at A&M would welcome them to campus.

"This troubling incident will be thoroughly investigated to the fullest extent possible and appropriate action will be taken," the e-mail said.

West, meanwhile, called for the A&M students involved in the taunting to be "strongly disciplined, if not expelled."

"I call on Texas A&M officials to drive their decision to a destination which says that the halls of higher education are open to any student who is willing to rise to the challenge of earning a college degree," he said.

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Yanan Wang Feb-11-2016 76 0
Fifteen months after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer, the city has filed a claim against his estate for the cost of his ambulance ride to the hospital.

The creditor’s claim, filed in Cuyahoga County Probate Court on Wednesday, states that Tamir’s estate is overdue on a $500 payment for “emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense.”

The attached invoice notes requests $450 for “ambulance advance life support” and $50 for mileage.

Tamir was fatally shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann at an outdoor recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014. Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, were responding to a call about a man with a gun. They pulled up in front of Tamir seconds before Loehmann stepped out of the police car and opened fire.

The officers said Tamir appeared to be reaching into his waistband for a gun in the moments leading up to his being shot. In fact, the weapon was a toy.

“The Rice family is disturbed by the city’s behavior,” Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the family, wrote in an email to The Washington Post about the creditor’s claim. “The callousness, insensitivity, and poor judgment required for the city to send a bill — its own police officers having slain 12-year-old Tamir — is breathtaking.”

He said the act “added insult to homicide.”

Jonathan Abady, the family’s lead counsel on a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, said in a phone interview with The Post that the claim is “mystifying.”

“This is obviously a deliberate, considered action by the city of Cleveland; it required a formal court filing,” he said.

A grand jury’s decision not to indict the officers last December prompted protesters to call for a federal investigation into the shooting and for the resignation of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty.

In his announcement, McGinty said enhanced surveillance video made it “undisputably clear” that Tamir was reaching for something “indistinguishable” from a real gun.

The case fueled ongoing controversy about police shootings and racial profiling: Tamir died days before unrest erupted in response to the non-indictment of officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in New York, two unarmed African American men.

Tamir’s family alleges in the suit that Officers Loehmann and Garmback did not attempt to resuscitate or administer first aid to the boy after he was wounded. Instead, the suit claims, they tackled and handcuffed Tamir’s distraught 14-year-old sister and placed her in the back of the police cruiser.

Tamir succumbed to his injuries in the hospital the next day.

The police officers maintained in signed statements that Tamir appeared to be much older than his age. McGinty was criticized for releasing these statements and other pieces of evidence to the press, which family members viewed the move as a show of support for the officers.

“Prosecutor McGinty deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son, and acting like the police officers’ defense attorney,” Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement following the grand jury decision.

The city’s creditor’s claim asks the family to pay the $500 ambulance fee by March 11.

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Nicole Hensley Feb-10-2016 121 0
David Joseph, a 17-year-old high school student shot and killed by a Texas police officer, was unarmed and naked when a cop gunned him down in an Austin suburb.

The shooting death boggled his friends, family and local civil rights activists who learned David was both unarmed and nude when Officer Geoffrey Freeman encountered the former football player in a residential street 10 miles north of the city’s downtown.

The teen’s family was notified of the his death Tuesday afternoon, who later demanded an investigation into what led to David's death at 9 a.m. Monday.

“We are shocked and saddened,” wrote David's family, issuing their only public statement Tuesday. “He was taken from us in an unexpected and violent way and (we) are struggling to understand how our child was stolen from us by the police.”

David, a senior at John B. Connally High School, “had a life full of possibilities in front of him,” his family wrote.

He would have graduated this spring He dreamed of going to college this fall. He loved music, played soccer and football. He was a varsity offensive linebacker with the Connally Cougars.

His classmates recalled their fallen friend as intelligent and funny.

“I don’t understand why he was naked and they felt the need to shoot him,” his friend, Samone Morales, 19, told KXAN-TV. "He could have been Tased maybe, something other than being shot. He didn’t deserve to be shot.”

A criminal and internal investigation will probe Freeman’s encounter with the teen, who was found naked in a street near the 12000 block of Nature’s Bend.

Freeman, a 10-year veteran of the Austin Police Department, had just spoken to residents claiming the black teen had chased a man around a nearby apartment complex.

The officer’s dash cam captured the initial encounter with the doomed teen, but it failed to record the moment he allegedly charged at Freeman after ignoring repeated commands to stop. Instead of using a Taser, the officer, who is also black, opened fire, killing David.
“We can tell you today, Mr. Joseph was not armed,” Assistant Austin Police Chief Brian Manley revealed at a press conference Tuesday.

Manley would not comment on Joseph's mental health. An autopsy and toxicology report will determine whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

“We do value the sanctity of all life here at the department — both our officers and the communities,” Manley added.

Manley expressed his condolences to Joseph’s family, whose only public statement said, “David should not have been taken away from us.”

“No family should have to suffer like we are today,” Joseph’s relatives said.

The Travis County District Attorney will be present its findings to a grand jury.


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Nicole Hensley Feb-10-2016 160 0
An uncle cried “I love my nephew” after a gun he owned was mistakenly used to kill a 13-year-old boy at a Florida home.

The shooter was a teen relative who brandished the firearm he found in a bathroom. He mistakenly opened fire after losing his balance on a hoverboard at around 1 p.m. Sunday.

The stray bullet struck Lavardo Fisher in the neck while he was hanging out with his brother and two cousins, according to WKMG-TV.

It’s unclear which relative, two of whom were 18-years-old, pulled the trigger.

Fisher was critically wounded, but he later died at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a case of kids goofing off and playing with guns, not knowing what can happen,” said Tony Snelling, a neighbor who heard the gunshot.

The victim’s uncle, Walter Morame, 35, was not home at the time of the shooting, but he was handcuffed by Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies outside his home for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

News of the shooting devastated the victim’s father, who rushed to the home to be with his son.

“I saw him running down the street,” Snellings told the TV station. “He was pretty messed up about it.”

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Meg Wagner Feb-09-2016 99 0
A Black Lives Matter activist killed himself on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse, authorities said.

MarShawn McCarrel's family said his emotionally draining work may well have taken a toll on him. The 23-yearold shot himself in front of the Columbus building Monday night, Lt. Craig Cvetan of the State Highway Patrol told the Columbus Dispatch.

“My demons won today. I'm sorry,” the activist, who recently attended the NAACP Image Awards, posted on his Facebook page about 3 p.m., just hours before his body was found near the Statehouse.

His last tweet read: “Let the record show that I pissed on the state house before I left.”

No one witnessed the shooting, Cvetan said. McCarrel was pronounced dead at the scene.

His mother Leatha Wellington and twin brother MarQuan McCarrel later told the Dispatch he put his causes before himself.

They suspect the never-ending and disturbing nature of his activist and charity work left him mentally and physically exhausted in a way they didn't realize, they said.

"He impacted so many people, touched so many lives," Wellington said.

"He was just so creative," said McCarrel. "He just wanted to serve people."

McCarrel, who had recently worked with Black Lives Matter, helped organize protests in Ohio after a Missouri cop shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in 2014.

He also founded youth mentorship program Pursuing Our Dreams, which launched Feed the Streets, a project to help Ohio's homeless.

He attended the NAACP’s Image Awards on Friday, Pursuing Our Dreams wrote on its Facebook.

The 23-year-old community organizer was named one of Radio One’s Hometown Champions, an award for community activists and volunteers, earlier this year and earned a trip to the California awards show. He took his mom to the Friday night ceremony.

"He is selfless and will give his last in order to make sure others don't go without,” read a nomination page for the Hometown Champions Award. “MarShawn has come so far in life and has inspired so many people to help others”

McCarrel was homeless for three months after he graduated from high school — an experience that inspired him to help others, according to his nomination.

“When MarShawn got back on his feet, he felt the need to give back because so many people helped him when he was down,” it read. “MarShawn stresses the importance of having conversations with the people we feed because they'll get hungry in 2 hours but a good conversation will carry them over for a lifetime.”

“All everyone needs is love,” he told 614 Columbus in 2014, referring to his work with the Feed the Streets. “That’s a human being. That’s a pulse. We’re feeding everyone, we’re sending the message — today I got you; tomorrow, I could be right there.”



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