Archive for the ‘criminal’ Category
The Dangerous Culture of Male Entitlement and Sexual Hostility Hiding within America’s National Parks and Forests.
On an early Friday morning in late June 2006, Cheyenne Szydlo, a 33-year-old Arizona wildlife biologist with fiery red hair, drove to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to meet the river guide who would be taking her along the 280 miles of the Colorado River that coursed a mile below. She was excited. Everyone in her field wanted to work at the Grand Canyon, and after several years of unsuccessful applications, Szydlo had recently been offered a seasonal position in one of the National Park Service’s science divisions. She’d quit another job in order to accept, certain her chance wouldn’t come again.
The Grand Canyon is a mecca of biological diversity, home to species that grow nowhere else on earth. But after a dam was built upstream 60 years ago, changes in the Colorado’s flow have enabled the rise of invasive species and displaced numerous forms of wildlife. Szydlo’s task was to hunt for the Southwestern willow flycatcher, a tiny endangered songbird that historically had nested on the river but hadn’t been seen in three years. Her supervisor believed the bird was locally extinct, but Szydlo was determined to find it. The June expedition—a nine-day journey through the canyon on a 20-foot motorboat operated by a boatman named Dave Loeffler—would be her last chance that summer. When Szydlo asked a coworker what Loeffler was like, the reply was cryptic: “You’ll see.”……
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Inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility — where two killers broke out last week — looked for the “weakest links” among the staff in an effort to exploit them for preferential treatment and more, two sources familiar with that prison told NBC News.
A corrections department employee says the manipulation — called “grooming” — has become more of an issue than prison workers wanted to admit. And a former Clinton guard said any employee who showed compassion could become a target.
“It’s a long slow process, that unfortunately sometimes succeeds,” the corrections employee said of the situation at Clinton.
“Thankfully (it’s usually) only for minor things — extra recreation time, newspapers, food. Pretty innocuous stuff, but sometimes it doesn’t end there.”
Related: New York Prison Break Exposes Art of Inmate Con Games
Officials think grooming was taken to the extreme in recent months when inmate Richard Matt established a relationship with Joyce Mitchell, who works in the tailor shop at the lockup.
She had planned to be the getaway driver for Matt and fellow inmate David Sweat after they cut through the steel walls of their cell and crawled through a pipe — but then got cold feet and backed out, sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
Image: Joyce Mitchell
Joyce Mitchell via Facebook
The corrections source said that prison employees sometimes give up too much personal information about themselves — which is the first ingredient in a “recipe for disaster.”
“The right inmate can use that information … make them feel good, make them feel wanted and make them feel attractive when they don’t get the same from those closest to them,” the source said.
Once a staffer breaks the rules for an inmate, they are “owned,” the ex-guard said. If they don’t give in to escalating demands, the prisoner threatens to “rat them out” to authorities, putting their job and even their freedom in jeopardy.
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Will Joyce Mitchell be charged? Jeanine Pirro weighs in
“Inmates have time to study everybody, and figure out what tactic will work best with a certain individual,” Anthony Gangi, who trains corrections officers to protect against inmate manipulation and hosts an internet radio show called “Tier Talk,” told NBC News Thursday.
“They find a game that fits specifically for that person.”
After two mistrials, a jury Wednesday convicted a Los Angeles man of premeditated murder for throwing his 4-year-old daughter off a Pacific Ocean cliff to avoid paying child support.
Cameron Brown, 53, claimed the girl, Lauren Sarene Key, had tripped as she played at Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes in November 2000, plunging 120 feet to her death. But the prosecution showed that her injuries did not indicate an accidental fall.
Two previous juries, in 2006 and 2009, deadlocked on whether to convict the former airline baggage handler of manslaughter or murder.
Brown, who has been in jail since his 2003 arrest, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. The girl’s mother, Sarah Key-Marer, cried.
But when the judge asked about a date for sentencing, Brown blurted out, “Judge, I’m innocent, I have no comment.”
Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum told jurors Brown wanted Key-Marer to get an abortion and he tried to get the British national deported. He had been paying $1,000 in monthly child support.
“The primary reason for killing Lauren … was to get back at Sarah, for revenge,” he said in his closing statement, according to City News Service.
Defense attorney Aron Laub painted his client as simply a bad father and suggested Brown be convicted only of manslaughter.
“This father, who had this duty to hold her hand or hold her … didn’t do it,” Laub said. “Honestly, I have a hard time seeing a not guilty … I am looking for what is justice.”
Contributing: Associated Press
RICHMOND – Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, has thanked his colleagues in the General Assembly for passing legislation to create Virginia’s first stand-alone law against sex trafficking.
If signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the legislation would establish a clear definition of commercial sex trafficking and make it a Class 5 felony. Sex trafficking of minors – youths under 18 – would be a Class 3 felony. And in cases involving minors, prosecutors would not have to show that the trafficker used force, fraud or coercion.
The House and Senate unanimously approved two identical bills on the subject – SB 1188 and HB 1964 – in the final days of the legislative session, which ended Friday.
“I am very pleased that my General Assembly colleagues passed this critical public safety legislation,” said Obenshain, who sponsored SB 1188. The bill incorporates aspects of SB 710, filed by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke.
Obenshain singled out Republican Dels. Tim Hugo of Fairfax, Rob Bell of Albemarle and Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah for their work on the House companion bill.
“It’s easy to think of sex trafficking as something that happens elsewhere, something that’s someone else’s responsibility – but it’s our responsibility to enhance our efforts to keep the most vulnerable among us safe.”
Obenshain said sex trafficking is the second fastest growing crime in the country. It is not just confined to remote corners of the globe but also occurring in urban, suburban and rural parts of Virginia, he said.
“Children are being recruited into prostitution by gangs and traffickers in schools, neighborhoods, malls and online. The fact that the average age at which a child enters into prostitution is 13 should serve as a wake-up call,” Obenshain added.
“Sex trafficking is a global calamity, but here in Virginia, we need to do everything within our power to end this terror and offer victims a chance at a new and better life.”
Don Lemon’s special, “The Cosby Show: A Legend Under Fire,” airs on CNN tonight at 9 ET.
(CNN) — It’s as if the other Bill Cosby never existed.
You remember the other Bill Cosby. For a long time, he was the only Bill Cosby.
He was a groundbreaking comedian, famed for his shaggy-dog storytelling on routines such as “Noah” and “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With.” He worked clean, even when other comedians went blue.
He was “television’s Jackie Robinson,” the first African-American to star in a dramatic role on TV, and he earned three Emmys for his work on “I Spy,” the series on which he broke the barrier.
Cosby accuser: ‘I want him to suffer’
He was a promoter of education and values through “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” (“if you’re not careful, you may learn something”) and his philanthropy. He was an amusing, trusted pitchman, known for Jell-O and Coca-Cola commercials. He was a beloved TV father, the patriarch of “The Cosby Show.”
He was wealthy; he was generous; he was admired.
Who is Bill Cosby now?
In recent weeks, the news has provided a steady drip-drip-drip of rape accusations against the 77-year-old comedian. At least 20 women have spoken out to various media outlets, accusing Cosby of sexual misconduct. Many of the accusations date back decades.
Bill Cosby facing litany of allegations
Cosby has lost concert bookings and had a proposed NBC show scuttled and a concert movie premiere postponed. TV Land yanked the “Cosby Show” reruns from its lineup. He’s cut ties with his beloved Temple University, where he served on the board. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was defaced. Even the Navy revoked an honorary title granted Cosby in 2011.
It should be noted that Cosby has never faced a judge or jury, let alone been convicted, over the allegations. His camp has repeatedly and vigorously denied them.
It defies common sense that “so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years,” said Cosby’s attorney, Martin D. Singer, in a written statement sent to CNN.
But it’s clear that many people have already tried Cosby in their minds.
“The court of public opinion has cost him all of his projects,” said Michael Bilello, who heads Centurion Strategies, a PR and crisis-management shop. “His inactions, his mishandling of PR, his legal maneuvering — those are characteristics you do not want to display, especially when you’re accused of rape.”
The suddenness of Cosby’s tumble reminds Bilello of the downfall of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. For 50 years, Paterno was venerated as “Joe Pa,” a figure of such rectitude and honor that the college built a monument to him. Then, as the sexual abuse charges against his former assistant Jerry Sandusky accumulated, Paterno was accused of a cover-up and fired. He died two months later. His statue was later removed from campus.
“Cosby’s looking at the same sentence,” Bilello said. “He’s looking at this overshadowing everything he’s done simply because there is guilt by assumption.”
‘This story keeps just getting told’
Cosby is far from the first celebrity to be lowered, fairly or unfairly, from his pedestal.
In the 1920s, silent film star Fatty Arbuckle — one of the most influential comedians of his day, a mentor to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton — was accused of rape and manslaughter in the case of an actress, Virginia Rappe, who had attended a party for Arbuckle.
The case was tried three times. The first two trials ended in hung juries. Arbuckle, then 35, was acquitted in the third — the jury even gave him a written apology — but the damage was done: His reputation was shattered, his films were temporarily banned, and he had to take a pseudonym to find work. He died while attempting a comeback in the early ’30s.
More recently, there is the case of Michael Jackson. In 2003, the singer was accused of child molestation, conspiracy and alcohol charges. Eighteen months later, a jury exonerated him. However, despite the court’s decision, allegations of sexual abuse followed Jackson right up to his death in 2009.
What makes the Cosby situation even more challenging is that there has been no day in court, says Syracuse popular culture professor Robert Thompson.
“There was a trial (in Michael Jackson’s case). Evidence was presented; process was gone through,” he said. “Here, this story keeps just getting told, and it keeps getting told with very little new information.”
In addition, Cosby is more than an entertainer, Thompson observes. He’s also been an educator and a moralist, using his fame to promote schooling and propriety.
In that respect, says Thompson, the fall of Cosby can be compared to that of evangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, who were brought down by scandals in the late 1980s. Swaggart was defrocked by his denomination; Bakker was convicted of fraud and served time. Though both resumed ministries, neither has the power or following they did 30 years ago.
‘What do you say?’
However, those events all predated the social media age, which has kept Cosby’s situation on the front page when it conceivably could have vanished down the memory hole. A handful of accusers first went public almost 10 years ago, in 2005, after Cosby was named by a Temple University staffer, Andrea Constand, in a civil suit.
But it was a viral video by comedian Hannibal Buress that brought the Cosby story out of the shadows, and it was an attempt at creating memes — proposed by Cosby’s own Twitter account — that made it widespread.
It’s shaken up many who normally would be defending a man who they greatly respect. In fact, with a handful of exceptions — notably Jill Scott and Ben Vereen — Cosby has received little support among entertainers, though many of them are reserving judgment.
“I don’t know what to say. What do you say? I hope it’s not true. That’s all you can say. I really do,” Chris Rock told New York magazine. “I grew up on Cosby. I love Cosby, and I just hope it’s not true. It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin (Williams), we lost Joan (Rivers), and we kind of lost Cosby.”
Cedric the Entertainer agreed. In an “Entertainment Tonight” interview on the red carpet for Rock’s movie “Top Five,” he expressed both admiration and sadness.
“We all grew up on him, and we know and respect him, not just as a comedian but for the things that he’s done outside of comedy, with the colleges and giving back (to the community) and spending his money where his mouth is,” he said. “But if the allegations have any truth to them, you want the truth to come out. You want justification for all the people. That’s all you can really say. It’s an unfortunate scenario.”
Jerry Seinfeld was brief.
“It’s sad and incomprehensible,” he said.
At least one comedy celebrity has become notably anti-Cosby. Judd Apatow, the writer and director of such films as “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” attacked Cosby on his Twitter feed.
“I have numerous personal connections to this situation and the victims. I think he is a coward and clearly a sociopath,” Apatow wrote November 26.
It’s shaken up some journalists too, prompting many to offer mea culpas for not asking Cosby about the allegations.
Author Mark Whitaker, a former CNN managing editor who wrote a recent biography of Cosby, apologized for not including the accusations in his book. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote a long piece grappling with Cosby’s conservatism in 2008, recently wrote that he should have included more than “a brief and limp mention” of the allegations. And The New York Times’ David Carr wrote that he should have asked Cosby about the accusations when interviewing him for an in-flight magazine.
Carr believes there’s no repairing the damage to Cosby’s reputation.
“For decades, entertainers have been able to maintain custody of their image, regardless of their conduct,” he concluded. “Those days are history. It doesn’t really matter now what the courts or the press do or decide. When enough evidence and pushback rears into view, a new apparatus takes over, one that is viral, relentless and not going to forgive or forget.”
‘He has to engage the public’
Is there any way for Cosby to restore his name?
Except for a short exchange with a South Florida publication, he has been silent on the matter — literally so, in the case of a response to NPR’s Scott Simon.
Bilello believes that Cosby is beyond the standard media apology tour, usually capped by a visit to Oprah Winfrey’s couch. Cosby has been hurt by social media, he says, and only social media will save him.
“If he wants to have his final chapter written the way he wants to be recalled, he has to engage the public,” he said. “Perhaps something social media-based, an open forum for maybe two hours, taking all questions — and having a moderator who’s not a celebrity.” A Reddit AMA, say, or a live chat.
On the other hand, 15 Minutes Public Relations’ Howard Bragman says Cosby should just stay quiet.
“He should shut the f*** up!” Bragman told TheWrap. “He should have his lawyers shut the f*** up and his PR people shut the f*** up.”
Cosby does run the risk of becoming a sad punchline, says Thompson. He’s seen it happen. When he shows “Roots” in his television history classes, his students burst out laughing when O.J. Simpson enters the picture.
“The entire mode of the show can’t proceed,” he said. “O.J. completely trumps everything else that’s been happening in the episode.”
Either way, says Thompson, Cosby is already fading into history. His college students know the comedian as “a grumpy guy” more familiar from parodies than from his actual work. After all, Dr. Cliff Huxtable, the fatherly Cosby of “The Cosby Show,” left the air in 1992 — more than two decades ago.
“Talk to a 20-year-old (about Cosby), and they think, ‘Oh, that’s really creepy, that old guy was hitting on women,’ but they don’t feel about Cliff Huxtable the way people a little older do,” he says.
Cosby doesn’t have to do anything, of course. For civil claims, the statute of limitations has expired for many of the claims about him, though it varies from state to state, observes Cornell law professor Cynthia G. Bowman. The statute of limitations also varies widely for criminal claims, she adds, but it would be “extremely difficult to reconstruct events,” never mind prove anything so many decades later.
Cosby also remains one of America’s wealthiest entertainers. He can return quietly to private life and enjoy the rest of his days in seclusion, if that’s what he desires. He has about two dozen concert appearances still scheduled, but after a May date in Atlanta, there’s nothing on his calendar.
Still, without a final word, Cosby goes from perceived hero to Greek-level tragedy. His circumstance brings to mind “The Natural’s” Roy Hobbs, the exalted fictional baseball star who, in Bernard Malamud’s novel, is left in ruins.
As the book ends, Hobbs buys a newspaper and reads of his demise.
“And there was also a statement by the baseball commissioner. ‘If this alleged report is true, that is the last of Roy Hobbs in organized baseball. He will be excluded from the game and all his records forever destroyed.’
“Roy handed the paper back to the kid.
” ‘Say it ain’t true, Roy.’
“When Roy looked into the boy’s eyes he wanted to say it wasn’t but couldn’t, and he lifted his hands to his face and wept many bitter tears.”
WILKES-BARRE — A former family court lawyer in Lackawanna County was sentenced Wednesday morning in federal court in Wilkes-Barre.
Danielle Ross was sentenced to 12 months in prison and must pay restitution of about $63,000.
In December 2013, she pleaded guilty to attempted tax evasion.
The former family court lawyer from Lackawanna County who pleaded guilty to federal tax charges will now spend a year behind bars.
She was greeted at federal court in Wilkes-Barre by protesters.
Danielle Ross of Jermyn was a guardian ad litem – an attorney for family court – in Lackawanna County until last year. That’s when federal prosecutors filed tax charges against her.
She’s now going to prison and owes tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes.
Ross was hounded by protesters as she entered federal court.
According to court papers, Ross paid taxes on her base income as a Lackawanna County family court lawyer but did not pay taxes on the $202,000 she earned from extra billing hours.
As a family court lawyer, Ross was appointed to represent the best interest of children in custody cases.
At one point there was an investigation into possible corruption within Lackawanna County family court.
“What about the invasion of the lives that she’s impacted and destroyed during her conduct that she was in control of small children?” asked Joann Bender Hunting of Scranton.
Ross only faced the federal tax charges. In court she told a judge she’s ashamed and regrets what she’s done.
Her lawyer says she’s studying to get her doctorate which will be on hold while she’s in prison.
“It is more than we were looking for, very disappointed. We thought the circumstances were appropriate for a much lesser sentence. I disagree but obviously respect Judge Caputo’s decision,” said David Solfanelli, attorney for Danielle Ross.
Ross is suspended from practicing law, but in court she and her attorney made it clear she wants to work as a lawyer again someday.
Despite the protesters, some people in court agree she should go back to work.
“I was hoping for home confinement today. Maybe they’ll do a motion for reconsideration because I think she’s really done a lot for conflict and divorce cases that have to do with child custody issues,” said Lee Morgan of Scranton.
Ross is free on bail.
She has until May 12 to surrender.