Gascon Asks Only for Probation for Man Who Hired Hitman to Torture and Kill Ex-wife; Psychedlic Drugs May be Decriminalized; State Wants to Sue Cities with High Homelessness and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

Gig Economy Prop 22 lawsuit denied; Online small claims court launches; How billions in pandemic aid was garnered by swindlers

 

February 24, 2021

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LA City Council presses the police department on the extraordinary increase in homicides this year - over 300. Perhaps they should ask themselves the question after defunding and demeaning the police...

ADDA Lawsuit

Association of Deputy District Attorneys on LA DA Gascón's reforms (Audio)

Last month, we spoke with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón about his various criminal justice reforms which were meant to address incarceration and racial inequity. Today, we follow that conversation with Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County. Plus, we'll contextualize with our criminal justice correspondent Frank Stoltze.

KPCC

Judge issues injunction blocking several directives from L.A. County's new controversial D.A.

A Los Angeles judge issued a preliminary injunction against new, controversial L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón this week, temporarily blocking several of his reforms to preserve the status quo pending final resolution upon a trial. The Los Angeles Times reported, "Gascón was barred from implementing a significant part of his sprawling criminal justice reform platform Monday, after a judge ruled his plan to end the use of sentencing enhancements in thousands of criminal cases violates California law."


The Daily Wire

How to make the 'three-strikes' fight between Gascón and prosecutors more constructive

During the now-ended impeachment trial at the national level, there was another battle in the courts on our local level between L.A. District Attorney George Gascón and L.A. prosecutors. The fallout from this fight should well inform Angelenos about the state of criminal justice and how to accurately fight for it. To give some background, Gascón was elected last year to the biggest prosecutorial office in the country as a backlash against the incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey, who was derided by activists for failing to prosecute police shootings.

The Los Angeles Loyolan

Progressive Los Angeles district attorney facing roadblocks

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office is the largest in the nation. So, when George Gascón, a progressive former district attorney of San Francisco, was elected this November to run it, advocates for criminal justice reform rejoiced. Gascón acted right away, delivering a raft of new policies. His prosecutors could no longer seek the death penalty, try juveniles as adults, attend parole hearings or file most sentencing enhancements that increase punishments.

KPBS

Courts & Rulings

Bloody stabbing murders of two innocent victims at Pacoima, South LA house parties: High Court rejects appeal

The California Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a San Fernando Valley man convicted of the stabbing deaths of two men at house parties in Pacoima and South Los Angeles within a nearly five-week period. On Wednesday, the state's highest court denied the defense's petition seeking its review of the case of Jesse Alexander Cardoza of Arleta, who was convicted in January 2019 of first-degree murder for the Oct. 29, 2016, killing of Victor Garcia, 22, and second-degree murder for the Sept. 24, 2016, slaying of Martin Kennedy, 18.


MyNewsLA

California Supreme Court declines Prop 22 appeal from disgruntled Uber drivers

California's Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of November's Prop 22 ballot - which exempted gig workers from a key California labor law. The lawsuit, filed by a number of rideshare drivers and the Service Employees International Union, alleged that Prop 22 violates the state's constitution and makes it harder for the legislature to create and enforce a compensation system for gig workers.

Cities Today

Judge says expert report detailing alleged racist police behavior should be released to the public

A federal judge on Wednesday ended a bitter legal dispute over court records between Prince George's County and a group of Black and Hispanic police officers, ruling that an expert report detailing allegations of racism within the police department must be unsealed and made available to the public. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang chastised the county for trying to shield the information and said there is a compelling public interest in releasing the records because of the nature of the allegations facing the department in the lawsuit.

Washington Post

Court upholds child trafficking, rape, torture convictions against Bay Area man

A California appeals court upheld human trafficking, rape, and torture convictions against an East Bay man who was sentenced to more than a century and a half in prison, court records show. In its 39-page opinion, released late last month, the First District Appellate Court rejected arguments by the attorney for 38-year-old Albert Rich that prosecutors had made an improper statement and prejudiced the jury against Rich during his 2018 trial.

Bay Area News Group

U.S. Supreme Court allows extradition to Japan of alleged Ghosn accomplices

Rejecting an emergency appeal, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has cleared the way for the extradition to Japan of two Americans accused of helping former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flee. Breyer's order, which followed similar rulings by lower courts, was issued without comment. The appeal went to Breyer as the justice overseeing the northeast region where the Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor, live.

The Japan Times

California court rules Twitter can ban users, rejects appeal by writer banned for 'hateful' tweets about transgender women

A California appeals court ruled that Twitter had the right to ban a Canadian writer for her "hateful" tweets about transgender women, court records show. The 42-page published opinion by the First District Appellate Court, issued late last month, upholds the dismissal of a 2019 lawsuit by Meghan Murphy, a writer, journalist and founder of the Canadian-based website Feminist Current.

Times-Herald

Threat to contact State Bar for help wasn't 'extortion'

Threatening to enlist the aid of the State Bar in recouping an over-payment of attorney fees is not extortion, Div. Four of the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday in an opinion reversing an order denying an anti-SLAPP motion. The opinion by Justice Thomas L. Willhite Jr., which was not certified for publication, orders the granting of a special motion to strike, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §425.16, brought by intellectual property attorney Tommy Songfong Wang and his City of Industry law firm.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Alabama halts execution after Supreme Court requires pastor

An Alabama inmate won a reprieve late Thursday from a scheduled lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court said the state must allow his personal pastor in the death chamber. The lethal injection of Willie B. Smith III was called off by Alabama after justices maintained an injunction issued by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying he could not be executed without his pastor present in chamber.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

California defends bar exam facial-recognition tech; pants-on-fire lawyer arrested

After receiving a Feb. 10 demand letter to remove facial recognition technology from the remote bar exam on the basis it could create an unlawful disparate impact for women and people of color, the State Bar of California issued a response Tuesday. The state bar wrote that the communication was short on specifics.

ABA Journal

COVID-19 & Justice System

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor announces new free online dispute resolution services for small claims litigants beginning next week

Effective February 24, 2021, the Court, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) and the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR), will launch a free online dispute resolution program for Small Claims litigants, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor announced today. The new Los Angeles Online Dispute Resolution (LA-ODR) program will require Small Claims litigants to attempt to settle their disputes online before appearing in Court.

Los Angeles Superior Court News Release

Is it safe to go to court during COVID pandemic?

While we've been asked to stay home and stay safe, LA Superior Court is asking us to do just the opposite. Trials have been underway for months now, and residents are being called for jury duty. But is it safe to go? The I-Team uncovered some data you might find alarming. Elizabeth Hernandez's landlord is trying to evict her, unlawfully, her lawyers argue. But still, she's required to go to court next month to defend herself. She's nervous, not just about the outcome, but her safety.

NBC4

Some LA courts are holding in-person sessions. COVID is attending too

Despite massive restrictions on businesses and restaurants for fear of spreading COVID, Los Angeles Superior Court is still holding some in-person sessions for evictions and traffic trials. Just last month, three LA County Superior Court staff members died of the virus. Hundreds of court employees and several judges have tested positive, putting scores of other court attendees at potential risk of infection.

KCRW

Public defenders plead for COVID-19 vaccination priority as criminal trials resume

As courthouses across Southern California begin to resume jury trials to tackle a backlog of criminal cases, public defenders are pushing state and county health officials to move them up the priority list for coronavirus vaccines. Since December, public defenders in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Clara and San Luis Obispo counties, among others, have banded together and sent letters to Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency, pleading to be included on the same priority tier as jail inmates for COVID-19 inoculation.

San Bernardino Sun

LA District Attorney

Gascón's office won't seek death penalty for man charged in officer's killing

Over the objection of the two prosecutors assigned to the case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office dropped its bid Thursday to seek the death penalty for an admitted gang member accused of killing a family member in East Los Angeles and then opening fire on two Whittier police officers, killing one and wounding the other.

City News Service

Family of man murdered in Pacoima say justice system is failing them "horribly"

The parents of a young man killed in Pacoima last year, in what police described as an attempted robbery, are saying justice reform efforts by the new Los Angeles County District Attorney could lead to a potentially more lenient sentence for the alleged murderer of their son. Anthony "Little Tony" Lopez II was shot around 10 p.m. on Jan.13, 2020, after a confrontation between him and two male suspects at the corner of Bromont Street and Fielding Avenue in Pacoima.

The San Fernando Valley Sun

Orange County DA seeks to wrestle away cold-case murder from DA George Gascón in LA

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has filed a brief seeking to take over the prosecution from Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón of a violent predator charged with the 1981 kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old Anaheim Hills boy. Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson, 59, of Sandpoint, Idaho, remains in jail in connection with the slaying of Jeffrey Vargo, but Gascon's newly imposed directives have forced prosecutors in his office to move to dismiss special circumstances and enhancements.

Orange County Register

Posing as a 'progressive,' Gascón, in reality, advocates retrogression

Los Angeles County's controversial new district attorney, George Gascón, is advancing his so-called "reforms" in accordance with a notion that the criminal justice system exists for the purpose of bringing about rehabilitation. His nine "special directives" issued right after he took office on Dec. 7 and his various utterances before and since then reflect a lack of regard for the other traditionally recognized purposes - retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Inmate threatens to harm officer in attempt to take advantage of DA's directives

Audio provided to CBS Los Angeles by a source reveals how a California prisoner with a long criminal history is trying to game the system in an attempt to get his sentenced reduced by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's office. In the voicemail, Daniel Avila threatened to attack a police officer during a prison transfer in an attempt to get back into court to request that his previous sentence enhancements be revoked.

CBS LA

L.A. D.A. Gascón seeks to hire former Rodney King prosecutor to oversee police misconduct cases

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has asked the Board of Supervisors to allow him to appoint a special prosecutor to supervise investigations into allegations of police misconduct and misuse of force. Gascón sent a letter to the Supervisors earlier this week requesting the appointment of attorney Lawrence S. Middleton, a former federal prosecutor perhaps best known for his role in convicting two LAPD officers of violating the civil rights of Rodney King, a year after a local jury acquitted the officers of using excessive force.

NBC4

Man accused of hiring hitman for ex-wife faces likely probation-only sentence after DA decision

A Los Angeles woman whose ex-husband is accused of hiring a hitman to either kill or permanently injure her is speaking out against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon for allegedly undercharging the case. According to investigators, Khosrow Gharib didn't know the hitman he hired to attack his estranged wife, Bahar Danesh, was actually an undercover Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer, KTTV reported.

The Police Tribune

A mother's emotional message to LA District Attorney George Gascón

It's the outcome Jessica Corde prayed would never happen. One of the men convicted in the killing of her son Marquis Leblanc has been granted parole. "When do I get to go up for parole? My son don't get parole, he's locked in that casket forever. He don't get paroled," says Corde. The murder happened on April 17, 2009. LeBlanc attended a party in Pomona. Corde says, "He was asking multiple Latino girls to dance and of course, the Latino men were offended. They walked up to him and pointed to one's neck and said, '(Racial slur), do you know where you're at?"

Fox11

Marquis LeBlanc's mother got no support at a parole hearing for his son's murderer. Her son was black. That's from a progressive DA.

Marquis LeBlanc may not have been a saint, but murder is murder. On the night of April 17, 2009, he attended a house party in Pomona, east of Los Angeles. The majority of the guests were Mexican. LeBlanc was black. After trying to dance with several of the girls at the party, he was confronted by a man attending the party.

Chris Hamilton's Stuff

L.A. prosecutors try to drop special enhancements for accused cop killers, judges reject requests

Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Thursday that they will not seek the death penalty for a man who is awaiting a retrial for the June 1983 killing of a Los Angeles police officer in Lake View Terrace, with a judge subsequently rejecting a bid by the District Attorney's Office to dismiss allegations that could carry a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

Police Magazine

LA County DA Gascón cuts ties with DA group, complains board is White, as association rips 'publicity stunt'

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has cut ties with the California District Attorneys Association, saying the group's all-White board indicates the group has failed to keep pace with changing times. But a leader of the association is accusing Gascón of a "publicity stunt" and said he hasn't been a member of the group for several years.

Fox News

D.A. reviewing charges in Jan. 11 Sand Canyon shooting

Prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office are reviewing the case for a midday shooting in a gated Sand Canyon neighborhood involving a retired Sheriff's Department official and a man suspected of crashing his way into the upscale east side enclave. The case has been presented to the D.A. regarding the Jan. 11 incident and, in the case presented, charges were recommended for the person shot and not the shooter, according to Lt. Charles Calderaro with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau.

The Signal

Prosecutors

OC DA Todd Spitzer blasts LA County's George Gascon after special circumstances dismissed in murder case against sexual predator Kenneth Rasmuson

Orange County's District Attorney Todd Spitzer filed a special circumstance murder charge Tuesday against Kenneth Rasmuson, a sexual predator who has been accused in the deaths of two 6-year-old boys in the 1980s. Rasmuson had already been charged in the 1981 murder and sexual assault of Jeffrey Vargo, who was kidnapped from his Anaheim Hills neighborhood, and whose body was found in Pomona.

CBS LA

Prosecutor asks Newsom to rescind parole to murderer accused of threatening to kill his family post-conviction

A Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney has written a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, asking him to reverse the Parole Board's decision to grant parole to a murderer who allegedly threatened to kill him and his family after he prosecuted his case and sent him to prison in 2002. William Bradford, a successful defense engineer, murdered his ex-wife, Barbara Joan Bradford, at their Torrance home in 1988 following an ugly divorce.

Fox11

Additional suspect charged in human trafficking investigation by LBPD

A 29-year-old La Puente man was arrested Feb. 13 in a human trafficking investigation, accused of paying a 15-year-old girl to perform a sex act. John Ward Herrera was taken into custody about 12:30 p.m. on suspicion of lewd act with a child, prostitution and oral copulation with a minor, according to the Long Beach Police Department.

City News Service

City targeting Pacoima home linked with multiple shootings, Feuer says

As the city of Los Angeles sees an alarming rise in violent crime, officials are targeting certain homes and areas that seem to contributing disproportionately to the problem. In January the city saw a 40% increase in homicides compared to January 2020 - and a 119% increase compared to January 2019. The Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program targets properties that appear to be a source of gun violence, drug sales and gang activity, City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a Skype interview with Eyewitness News.

ABC7

Aryan Brotherhood member 'Two Scoops' plotted to murder Sacramento prison officer, feds claim

In court filings Wednesday, federal prosecutors accused an incarcerated alleged Aryan Brotherhood member of plotting to murder a corrections officer, a scheme they say was thwarted when guards searched his cell and found a shank. The allegation comes two weeks after the inmate, 46-year-old Brant "Two Scoops" Daniel, submitted court filings accusing staff at California State Prison, Sacramento of plotting to murder him and of illegally interfering with his case in other ways.

Bay Area News Group

3 North Korean military hackers indicted in wide-ranging scheme to commit cyberattacks and financial crimes across the globe

A federal indictment unsealed today charges three North Korean computer programmers with participating in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to conduct a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies, to create and deploy multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and to develop and fraudulently market a blockchain platform.

Department of Justice News Release

Policy/Legal Issues

California Focus: Who should justice serve?

It's a fundamental question these days among California's leading district attorneys: Should the justice system serve criminals or their victims? This question never arose seriously before now. Criminals, especially repeat offenders, were bottom priorities when it came to whom district attorneys aimed to help. That matched the sentiments of California voters, who over generations passed one initiative after another toughening laws on the death penalty, the three-strikes-and-you're-out law that targets criminals who keep preying on others and threw out a law that banned cash bail.

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Nixing prison time for certain crimes among proposed changes to Calif. Penal Code

California's Committee on Revision of the Penal Code (CRPC) released its first annual report last week. The proposal included 10 recommendations that would significantly reform California's criminal justice system - if they are adapted into law. Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), the chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, praised CRPC's inaugural recommendations that, he says, "represent broad consensus among a wide array" of stakeholders, including law enforcement, crime victims, civil rights leaders, and individuals directly impacted by the legal system.

California Black Media

New California bill would decriminalize psychedelics, expunge criminal records

California could be on the verge of becoming the latest state to decriminalize psychedelics for personal and therapeutic use, building on a growing movement across the country to rethink the so-called war on drugs. The bill, introduced Thursday by state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, would decriminalize substances such as psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, ketamine, DMT and mescaline.

NBC News

Facing and fixing LB's crime stat data gaps

On January 12, 2021, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia delivered a "State of the City" message that never once acknowledged increases in serious 2020 LB crimes. The City's website tab to City press releases doesn't mention LB's 2020 crime stats because there was no city release on LB's 2020 crime stats. A less conspicuous release appears on LBPD's webpage. It doesn't quote Garcia, a deliberate omission protecting him from Google searches on the topic.

LBReport.com

California could sue cities plagued by homelessness in new proposal

Upset with the slow pace of progress being made in California cities, lawmakers are proposing a new tactic in the state's endless fight to reduce homelessness: litigation. Under a bill introduced Wednesday, a "homeless inspector general" would have the authority to sue cities unable or unwilling to get people off the street.

Courthouse News Service

LA school board unanimously votes to remove officers from campuses, approves Black student investment

The Los Angeles school board voted unanimously Tuesday to replace school police officers on campuses with staff trained in de-escalation strategies and conflict resolution and approve a $36.5 million Black Student Achievement Plan. The board voted to cut 133 school police positions - 70 sworn employees, 62 non-sworn employees and one support staff member.

NBC4

LAPD sought Ring camera footage of crime during summer protests, riling privacy advocates

LAPD sought Ring camera footage of crime during summer protests, riling privacy advocates. LAPD detectives investigating crimes that occurred during last summer's George Floyd protests sought out video footage from private residents who own Amazon Ring cameras, according to partially redacted police emails obtained through a public records request.

Head Topics

Los Angeles County/City

L.A. County sheriff searches offices of LA Metro, oversight board member in criminal probe

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives this week searched the headquarters of L.A. Metro and the offices of a nonprofit run by a civilian oversight commissioner critical of the department's leadership, sheriff's officials announced Friday. Detectives served warrants for unspecified records at both locations on Thursday, Feb. 18, but a spokesperson declined to provide details about the nature of the probe. "The search warrant was signed by a judge, and partially sealed, in connection to an ongoing criminal investigation," said Deputy Eric Ortiz, a member of the sheriff's information bureau, in an email.

Read more from Pasadena Star-News

LA sues Nevada-based Polymer80 over hundreds of 'ghost gun' kits sold to Californians

The city of Los Angeles is suing Polymer80, believed to be one of the largest sellers of "ghost gun" kits and parts. Video Transcript: - Well, the LA City attorney is going after a Nevada-based company he says is contributing to the growing problem of ghost guns flooding the streets of LA. MIKE FEUER: Polymer80 has made it easy for anyone, including a felon, to easily obtain these components that could be made into weapons that are posing a major public safety threat.

CBS LA

LA County Supervisors call for report on "trauma informed" violence prevention strategies

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion focused on addressing gun violence in those areas of the county "hit the hardest," so that communities "can start healing through evidence-based strategies and solutions." "Unfortunately, our communities are now being hit with another layer of trauma," Supervisor Hilda Solis wrote in her motion, "resulting from gun and gang-related violence and homicides that have increased between 20 to 48% in LA County according to several sources."

Witness LA

Inside the L.A.P.D.'s experiment in trust-based policing

When Captain Emada Tingirides and Sergeant Christian Zuniga arrive at Nickerson Gardens, a public housing development in Watts, a Hispanic family carries a bleeding toddler to them. A stray dog bit the child in the cheek. As Zuniga comforts the little girl, Tingirides chats up the shy older daughter and gives the mother a phone number for a free family counselor.

Reasons to be Cheerful

LAPD Chief Michel Moore responds to mock George Floyd valentine scandal (Video)

LAPD said it's trying to determine where it came from and who shared or liked the image. Eric Leonard reports Feb. 16, 2021.

NBC4

LA motorists to report minor traffic collisions online instead of calling police

Drivers and passengers who suffer minor injuries during collisions in the city of Los Angeles must now fill out incident reports online rather than call 911 or a non-emergency number as the Los Angeles Police Department frees up officers to deal with more pressing calls and concerns, authorities said Thursday, Feb. 18.

Torrance Daily Breeze

Public Safety/Crime

300+ homicides: Council presses LAPD on 'dramatic' rise in violent crime

With violent crime rising in Los Angeles, the City Council directed the police department on Wednesday to report back with a plan to address the increase. "Violent crime increased dramatically in the city over 2020 from the previous year, with a significant upsurge in shootings and homicides as well as other types of violent crime," the motion introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz reads. "For the first time since 2009, there were over 300 homicides in the city, and gun crimes are at levels not seen in years."

City News Service

Man beaten to death on West Hollywood street, suspects at large

Authorities believe a man who was found dead on a West Hollywood street early Friday morning was likely the victim of a violent assault. At around 12:30 a.m. Friday, Los Angeles police officers who were on patrol in the area were flagged down to the victim in the 8500 block of Melrose Avenue. The victim, a man in his 50s, died at the scene, according to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He was not identified.

CBS LA

How billions in pandemic aid was swindled by con artists and crime syndicates

When investigators raided a strip mall store in Garden Grove, California, in December, they found a line of customers snaking around the parking lot and huge stacks of cash inside the store. Orange County prosecutors say Nguyen Social Services was charging up to $700 a pop to file false unemployment claims for people who did not qualify to receive Covid-19 relief money.

NBC News

SF supervisor says lack of tourists has criminals now targeting residents

A San Francisco neighborhood is shaken after a close call with a would-be theft was captured on surveillance cameras appearing to case vehicles outside a home in Bernal Heights. "You can basically see him in the video with the flashlight, you know, going in, looking at the different inside cars and trying to kind of open the door and break into them," said Ben Couillard.

KTVU

25 Cities where crime is soaring

There were 1.2 million violent crimes - murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults - committed in the United States in 2019, according to the most recent available FBI data. The 2019 national crime rate of 367 incidents for every 100,000 Americans is almost exactly in line with where it was five years ago. A handful of major metropolitan areas have not followed the national trend, however. Dozens of U.S. cities are reporting violent crime rates over 20% higher than they were five years ago.

24/7 Wall St.

Rolling back criminal justice reforms won't make us safer

Rolling back criminal justice reform would be a tragically misguided response to acts of violence against Asian-Americans in the Bay Area. And it would do nothing to make our communities safer. We are Asian-American attorneys - born, raised and living in the South Bay - practicing criminal defense law in Santa Clara County. We are no strangers to racism and xenophobia. So we were saddened to hear of recent crimes against members of our communities.

The Mercury News

Consumer

Data leaks affect more than 3 billion accounts

Data breaches are something we have come to learn to live with. But, there's one being called the 'mother of all data breaches.' We get numb to data leak news, but this one touches 3.2 billion email and password combinations. It's called COMB, "Compilation of Many Breaches," because it's not one breach but many combined then posted on the dark web in a tidy bundle for scammers to scoop up.

Fox5 Atlanta

Experts warn against buying loose lithium ion batteries that cause fire hazard

A powerful lithium ion battery that experts say should not be sold individually because of the dangers of explosion and injuries is being sold directly to unsuspecting customers, an NBC News investigation has found. NBC News investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen shared on TODAY Monday that she found thousands of results for 18650 batteries on Amazon and Walmart.com despite a new warning from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to "not use loose 18650 lithium ion cells" because they can cause "serious injury or death ... and are not intended for individual sale to consumers."

Today

Fake out: Spotting counterfeit speed parts

Copycat products have been a fact of life in the performance parts industry for decades. And for a long time, makers of these knockoffs ranged from above-board to sleazy yet legal. There was an ethical line in the sand that even the shady manufacturers just didn't cross: pretending the fake parts were the genuine articles, taking advantage of a brand's reputation for quality to sell a cheaply made clone.

Grassroots Motorsports

Fake Amazon reviews 'being sold in bulk' online

Fake reviews for products sold on Amazon's Marketplace are being sold online "in bulk", according to Which? The consumer group found 10 websites selling fake reviews from £5 each and incentivising positive reviews in exchange for payment or free products. It suggested the firm was facing an "uphill struggle" against a "widespread fake reviews industry". An Amazon spokesman said: "We remove fake reviews and take action against anyone involved in abuse."

BBC News

California/National

California plans to close troubled youth prisons after 80 years. But what comes next?

Eighty years after California created separate incarceration facilities to spare teenagers from being locked up alongside adults, the state has pledged to begin the shutdown of its long-troubled and frequently violent youth prisons. The planned dismantling of the Division of Juvenile Justice, or DJJ, comes after years of scandal and mistreatment of young offenders, which spurred multiple reform efforts and more than a decade of state court oversight that ended in 2016.

Los Angeles Times

Juveniles part of a huge increase in carjackings across the country

On a sunny January afternoon, Amy Blumenthal drove to her Chicago home after picking up groceries. She turned off a street and into an alley, backed her car into her garage and started unloading the bags. "All of a sudden, I heard something and looked up and there was a boy with a COVID mask on holding a gun just inches from my face," Blumenthal says.

NPR

Washington man arrested for carjacking 20 minutes after being released from jail

A Washington man walked out of jail and almost immediately found himself back behind bars. Marcus Goodman, 31, was arrested around 1 a.m. Sunday after allegedly carjacking a 16-year-old girl, according to the Spokane Police Department. Police received a call around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the Browne's Addition neighborhood of Spokane and spoke to the teenage girl, who said a man told her he had a gun, then stole her car.

New York Daily News

Calls for more cops on NYC subway grow louder following A train carnage

The outcry for more cops on city subways reached a fever pitch Saturday in the wake of a killer's rampage on the A line. And the NYPD appeared to be listening, announcing at least 500 more officers would be on patrol underground by Monday. Shell-shocked riders and angry officials pulled no punches in demanding safer subways, as a massive manhunt got underway for a lone madman believed to be responsible for fatally stabbing two homeless people and slashing two others in a 14-hour span Friday and Saturday.

New York Post

Asian American communities being targeted by hate crime, unprovoked attacks during pandemic

Asian American communities across the country are seeing more unprovoked and violent attacks during the pandemic. A man was arrested for a series of random attacks on Asian Americans in the Chinatown neighborhood in Oakland, California, including the attack of a 91-year-old elderly man that was captured on surveillance video. Authorities said the elderly man was shoved to the ground by 28-year-old Yahya Muslim. Muslim is facing charges of assault and great bodily injury.

Fox11

LA newswoman accused of scheming with ex-con to defraud women

A Los Angeles TV reporter is raising a child with a serial womanizing con-artist, giving him a home, a luxury car and even money from her own foundation. Wendy Burch, 52, a former anchor with KTLA who worked briefly at Fox 5 in New York, went public with her infertility struggles and the conception of her son using an egg donor and sperm from her then-fiance, Bruce Taylor. She also appeared on "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

New York Post

Police data: Burglaries in S.F.'s Richmond District up 370% from 2020

San Francisco's Richmond District has reported a 370% spike in burglaries this year compared to 2020, according to city data. The number of burglaries reported stood at 108 as of Feb. 7 according to a report from the San Francisco Police Department's Richmond Station. That's up from 23 reported at the same time last year. San Francisco police define burglaries as an unlawful entry into a home or business to commit a felony or a theft. The department defines "attempted forcible entry," "forcible entry" and "unlawful entry," where no force is used, as different types of crimes.

San Francisco Chronicle

Executioners sanitized accounts of deaths in federal cases

Executioners who put 13 inmates to death in the last months of the Trump administration likened the process of dying by lethal injection to falling asleep and called gurneys "beds" and final breaths "snores." But those tranquil accounts are at odds with reports by The Associated Press and other media witnesses of how prisoners' stomachs rolled, shook and shuddered as the pentobarbital took effect inside the U.S. penitentiary death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. The AP witnessed every execution.

AP

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

Former Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford pleads not guilty in corruption case

Former Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford pleaded on Tuesday not guilty to five felony counts. The 67-year-old is accused of illegally receiving more than $60,000 a year from consultants through shell companies, and failing to disclose the income. He was charged in June 2017 with one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and conflict of interest and three counts of perjury by declaration.

CBS LA

Judge cuts prison sentence for notorious Bay Area convict Max Wade

Max Wade, who was convicted in a teenage crime spree that included a murder attempt, could be free as soon as 2025 under a Marin County court ruling. The ruling "ends the nearly decade-long court saga surrounding Max's case," said Wade's attorney, Charles Dresow. "This resentencing does not free Max from punishment," Dresow said, "rather it gives him a chance to earn an earlier release through rehabilitation and good behavior."

Marin Independent Journal

Corrections & Parole

Six months after filing grievance, local SEIU 1000 reps say Pelican Bay State Prison is plagued by nursing shortages, lack of communication with management

Six months after it filed a grievance demanding better safeguards against COVID-19 for its members, local SEIU 1000 representatives say there's still a lack of communication between upper management and medical and administrative staff at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Wild Rivers Outpost

70-year-old murderer, child molester denied early release

A 70-year-old convicted child molestor and murderer serving a life term in California state prison following a child sexual abuse conviction from 1994 in Tuolumne County was denied an early release Friday during a parole suitability hearing. Eric Richard Eleson was convicted of three counts of the felony lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 in the county and received a sentence of 85-years-to-life in prison, the county District Attorney's Office said in a news release on Wednesday.

The Union Democrat

Audit: California prison wardens don't give robust attention to grievances despite being given $10M

California's Office of the Inspector General on Tuesday criticized the wardens throughout the state for not paying enough heed to grievances filed by incarcerated people despite being awarded nearly $10 million for just that issue. Some of the complaints that were not referred to the unit include allegations of excessive force, discrimination, harassment, discourteous treatment and sexual misconduct.

KTVU

Prisoner dies after apparent fight at California prison

A convicted killer has died after an apparent fight in his cell at a Southern California prison. State corrections officials say 44-year-old Henry Reyes died Monday at a hospital, two days after he was found bleeding and unconscious in his cell at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe. His cellmate was restrained and placed in segregated housing pending an investigation. The death is being considered a homicide.

AP

Articles of Interest

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is barred from Instagram over false coronavirus claims

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is now blocked from Instagram after he repeatedly undercut trust in vaccines. Kennedy has also spread conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, accusing him of profiteering off vaccines and attempting to take control of the world's food supply. "We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told NPR on Thursday.

NPR

Amazon sues New York attorney general to preempt COVID-19 lawsuit

Amazon.com Inc on Friday sued New York's attorney general to stop the state from filing its own lawsuit over the online retailer's early response to COVID-19, including its firing of activist Christian Smalls. In a complaint in Brooklyn federal court, Amazon accused Attorney General Letitia James of overstepping her bounds by threatening to sue unless it met several demands including surrendering some profit and slowing down operations.

Reuters

Your tax return could be flagged by the IRS. Here's when it may happen

This tax season may end up being even less fun for many filers. On top of figuring out how Covid relief might affect their return, those complications could result in more taxpayers making mistakes and hearing from the IRS, experts say. And depending on the specifics, it could mean a smaller refund or a larger amount due than anticipated.

CNBC

Springsteen was set up

I've never been a Bruce Springsteen fan. I don't own any of his albums or CDs and attended one of his concerts at Giants Stadium in the mid-80′s, mostly to see what the attraction was. I don't much care for his lefty politics, either, but he, like everyone else, has a right to hold them and express them. My music major is 50s and 60s doo-wop (the finest stuff ever put on vinyl) with a minor in country as performed by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

NJ.com

Bill to change California liquor laws could benefit bars, restaurants

Outdoor dining parklets and the shared spaces program could continue long after the pandemic. This will mainly impact how restaurants and bars are able to serve alcohol outdoors which is very limited under pre-pandemic alcohol rules. A bill proposed by Senator Scott Wiener looks to reform state liquor laws and create more flexibility for the state's bars, restaurants, and music venues.

KRON

Pension

To plug a pension gap, this city rented its streets. To itself.

The City of Tucson, Ariz., decided last year to pay rent on five golf courses and a zoo - to itself. In California, West Covina agreed to pay rent on its own streets. And in Flagstaff, Ariz., a new lease agreement covers libraries, fire stations and even City Hall. They are risky financial arrangements born of desperation, adopted to fulfill ballooning pension payments that the cities can no longer afford.

New York Times

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A mural at LA Metro headquarters, where the LA Sheriff served a search warrant for an undisclosed criminal investigation

 

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