Appeals Court Equates Being Black with Supporting Black Lives Matter; Two Accused of Using Drone to Ferry Drugs into Jail; Both of LA County's Juvenile Detentional Halls Found Unacceptable; Retired LA Detective's Body Found Inside a Garage Freezer and other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
Apple scans your photos for child pornography; Melina Abdullah of BLM Sues LAPD for Coming to Her Rescue; Car attempts to ram synagogue goers at outdoor religious festival
October 2, 2021
Courts & Rulings
California court overturns murder convictions, cites racism
A California appeals court on Friday overturned the convictions of three Black men over a double slaying, saying prosecutors dismissed a Black woman from the jury pool for racial reasons. The prosecutor in the Contra Costa County case inappropriately questioned the 25-year-old woman's support of the Black Lives Matter movement and dismissed her for reasons that "were plainly tied to race," said a unanimous ruling by a division of the First Appellate District of California that was reported by the Bay Area News Group.
Criminal trial delays spur lawsuit against San Francisco Superior Court
A new lawsuit seeks to force the San Francisco County Superior Court to reduce a backlog of criminal cases that has caused more than 400 defendants to remain jailed or subject to court oversight after the deadline for a speedy trial has passed. The lawsuit filed by San Francisco Public Defender Manohar Raju and four city taxpayers claims the court is systematically violating defendants' rights by failing to take common sense steps to alleviate a bottleneck brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Courthouse News Service
9th Circuit: Police violated Google users' privacy rights after automated email scan detected child pornography
A federal appeals court found that law enforcement violated a Google user's constitutional rights when it opened email attachments the platform flagged as child pornography through an automated system. The ruling comes as Apple Inc. faced backlash from privacy advocates in August after announcing a feature that scans photos on its devices for child sexual abuse materials.
Ninth Circuit hands LA a reprieve on sweeping homeless orders
Tossing a sweeping court order requiring the city and county of Los Angeles to house homeless people living on the 50-block open air encampment known as Skid Row by October, a Ninth Circuit panel on Thursday found the federal judge in the case lacked the authority to issue such an order.
Courthouse News Service
Court may deny delay of hearing on motion to suppress even if dismissal likely result
A judge may deny a motion to continue a hearing on a suppression motion based on lack of good cause for a delay even if this could mean a granting of the motion, leaving the prosecution unable to proceed, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held yesterday, repudiating a contrary decision from the First District's Div. Five.
Customs & Border Protection ordered to disclose social media surveillance rules
U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot withhold information on its rules for authorizing agents to use fake identities and nongovernment accounts to spy on social media users, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Government lawyers had argued that disclosing the information would reveal sensitive law enforcement techniques that could help criminals elude justice.
Courthouse News Service
California law, U.S. Constitution at center of FOID case before Illinois Supreme Court
The Illinois Supreme Court is being asked to consider the laws of the state of California and the U.S. Constitution in ruling on one man's eligibility to be issued a Firearm Owners Identification card by the Illinois State Police. The high court heard oral arguments Thursday morning in Springfield in Thomas Brown v. the Illinois State Police, a case in which Brown is seeking to have his FOID rights restored so that he can participate in target shooting, hunting and be able to defend himself, according to a court filing.
Capitol News Illinois
Rioter who hit police with a baseball bat loses bid for jail release
Despite the man's claims of abuse in jail and other issues, a federal judge refused Monday to order the release of a 26-year-old who fought police for over two hours during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. According to video evidence, some of which the upstate New York filmed himself, Edward Jacob Lang hit officers with an aluminum baseball bat and protective shields, and kicked an officer that was on the ground.
Courthouse News Service
Capitol rioter ordered to jail after snubbing bail office
A federal judge voiced concern for the Pennsylvania pizzeria owner's livelihood but said he had no choice but to send her to jail Friday after a frazzling hearing where she refused to abide by the conditions of release. "You're a small business owner. I don't want to lock you up. I don't want you to lose your restaurant," U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden said at an in-person court hearing for Pauline Bauer on Friday.
Courthouse News Service
Ninth Circuit gets the message, strikes down contribution limits in key state
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which often upholds campaign finance laws enacted within its jurisdiction, reversed course this summer and invalidated Alaska's limits on individual contributions to candidates and PACs. The Ninth Circuit's decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out an earlier ruling upholding the limits. For decades, Alaska voters and legislators engaged in a tug-of-war over the amount that individuals may contribute to candidates.
Calif. judges can strike PAGA claims when plaintiffs get carried away
Judges can decide claims made under California's Private Attorneys General Act are too broad and throw them out. A Sept. 9 ruling by the state's Second Appellate District allows trial judges to strike plaintiffs' PAGA claims if they decide they won't be manageable at trial. The ruling came in a PAGA lawsuit brought by a Staples store general manager who sought almost $36 million, alleging he and 345 other current and former Staples GMs weren't paid overtime or provided rest and meal periods because they were misclassified as executives.
Judge rules there is sufficient evidence for Paul, Ruben Flores to be tried in Kristin Smart case
The judge presiding over the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores ruled Wednesday morning that there is sufficient evidence to move the case forward to trial. The two men are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. Smart was last seen walking back to the dorms with Paul Flores after attending an off-campus party. While her remains have never been found, Kristin was declared legally dead in 2002.
Los Angeles District Attorney
NBA's Jaxson Hayes - Police union blasts District Attorney ... you put a target on cops' backs
A huge LAPD police union is going scorched earth on the Los Angeles District Attorney after he decided NOT to charge Jaxson Hayes with a felony, following the arrest of the New Orleans Pelicans star in July. "George Gascon's latest criminal's first airball puts a target on the back of every police officer in Los Angeles," the Los Angeles Police Protective League tells TMZ Sports. The LAPPL - which reps over 9,000 cops in L.A. - continued, "Gascon's refusal to prosecute Jaxson Hayes for violently attacking and injuring an officer during his n-word laced tirade is nothing more than a declaration that it's open season to attack cops and it's shameful."
Two women lead the charge to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón (Video)
Tania Owen, a retired LA County deputy sheriff and Desiree Andrade, whose 20-year-old son was killed by gang members, say that Gascón is soft on crime and 'destroying' the counties justice system.
Impassioned effort to recall LA County DA George Gascón fails, falls short on signature gathering
UPDATE: Leaders form new committee, say they'll gather necessary financial resources before starting new signature gathering An impassioned grassroots effort to recall L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón has failed. Leaders of the effort acknowledged on Sept. 16 that they won't have sufficient signatures collected by an October deadline. They also swiftly indicated they plan to restart a new recall effort with new signature gathering.
Long Beach Report
Injustice in the juvenile "justice" system
On his first day in office, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón implemented a blanket "Youth Justice Policy" that prohibits criminal prosecution of 16 or 17-year-olds. The policy ignores individualized facts, like the sophistication or heinousness of the crime. It disregards psychological analysis or the future dangerousness of the individual. It prevents independent judicial review to determine whether the appropriate jurisdiction is criminal or juvenile court.
Antelope Valley Times
Two men charged with hate crime in LA restaurant incident
Two men were charged in an assault on Jewish diners earlier this year outside a Beverly Grove restaurant, the Los Angeles County District Attorney said Tuesday. Xavier Pabon, 30, and Samer Jayylusi, 36, were each charged with two felony counts of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury. The criminal complaint also includes a hate crime allegation.
NBC4/City News Service
2 charged with using drone to fly drugs into California jail
A man living under a stolen identity and a female inmate have been charged with using a drone to smuggle drugs into a Southern California jail, prosecutors said Thursday. The drone is suspected of carrying heroin, methamphetamine, Xanax and muscle relaxers into the Theo Lacy Facility in the city of Orange last Sunday, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Compton murder suspect who was caught by Tik Tok tips going to trial
Two mothers in pain from one murder that's torn apart families and cut short the life of a young woman who dreamed of graduating from college and running her own business. "I hope he remembers my daughter's face every single minute of his life," Susana Salas told Eyewitness News outside court Tuesday. "I hope he rots in jail and never hurts nobody else."
Federal correctional officer charged with making false statements about engaging in unlawful sexual activity with inmate
A correctional officer at the federal jail in downtown Los Angeles was arrested today to face a criminal charge that he lied to investigators about him engaging in sexual activity with an inmate who was under his care and supervision. Abel Concho, 53, of East Los Angeles, is charged with one count of making false statements, according to a federal grand jury indictment returned on Tuesday.
Department of Justice Press Release
Former CHP officer charged with filing 27 false time cards
A former California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing more than $4,000 by submitting false time cards has been charged with more than two dozen felonies, the Orange County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Scott Helberg, a Corona resident who spent 22 years as a CHP officer, is facing 27 felony counts of presenting a false claim, plus an additional felony count of grand theft by an employee, court records show.
Orange County Register
Former California officers indicted for allegedly beating Black teen
Two former Stockton, California officers were indicted by a grand jury in connection with their alleged beating of a Black teenager at the end of a car chase in 2020. The Sept. 1 grand jury indictment against Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua alleges felony assault by a public officer, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and great bodily injury enhancements for both. It was unsealed Friday.
California AG: Woman who ran O.C. call centers indicted on 87 counts in $6M student loan debt scam
A California woman has been arrested on suspicion of masterminding a student loan debt relief scam that bilked thousands of borrowers out of more than $6 million, the state's top prosecutor announced Tuesday. Angela Kathryn Mirabella, 47, ran a network of third-party call centers based in Orange County that employed sales agents who contacted individuals across the country promising to reduce or eliminate their student loan debt, said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to sex charges in new indictment
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty Monday in downtown Los Angeles to sex-related criminal counts involving five women, including a restored charge that had been dismissed by a judge. Weinstein is due back in court Oct. 25. The latest grand jury indictment, handed up Aug. 18, charges Weinstein again with the challenged count of sexual battery by restraint against a woman in May 2010.
City News Service
Man arrested in brutal California attacks, rape on trail
A pilot has been arrested in connection with brutal attacks on women in Southern California where he allegedly choked them into unconsciousness and assaulted them in bushes off of a running trail, prosecutors announced Monday. Robert Yucas, 51, faces life in prison if convicted in the case filed in Orange County. Prosecutors said he raped one victim and tried to sexually assault the other two women in Aliso Viejo, a city about 50 miles (81 kilometers) south of Los Angeles.
Woman swindled $77,000 in housing relief by lying about Camp Fire damage, feds say
A former Paradise woman falsely claimed to be living in a mobile home destroyed by the 2018 Camp Fire to receive $77,000 in federal housing aid, prosecutors say. Deborah Laughlin, 64, pleaded guilty Monday to making false statements to collect Federal Emergency Management Agency relief following the catastrophic blaze, the U.S. Attorney's office for the eastern district of California said in a statement.
With board vote rekindling issue, LAUSD community continues to debate role of school police
Three days into the new school year, on Aug. 18, a Los Angeles Unified teacher reportedly was struck in the face while attempting to break up a fight between two students at Cleveland High School. Two weeks later, the Los Angeles School Police Department reported that staff at Taft High School had recovered 22 Xanax pills and a four-inch blade from a student following a fight. And earlier this month, a 17-year-old student was shot in the leg during a fight outside the Santee Education Complex.
Los Angeles Daily News
Doing no harm
When paramedics arrived at the jail in Westland, Michigan, in December 2017 to find William Marshall convulsing on the floor, they didn't take his vital signs. They didn't transport him to the hospital. They left him there. Less than four hours later, Marshall was dead of a cocaine overdose. Their actions clearly didn't meet the basic standards of care for their profession. But were they criminal?
The Marshall Project
Los Angeles County/City
L.A. County juvenile halls are 'unsuitable for the confinement of youth,' state board finds
Both of Los Angeles County's juvenile halls are unsuitable to house young people, a state agency that monitors such facilities has found. The unanimous vote Thursday by the Board of State and Community Corrections gives the county 60 days to either remediate the violations or remove young people from the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Boyle Heights.
Los Angeles Times
LASD to 'modify' rules for deputies drawing weapons in the field following Inspector General's report
In the same week Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said they'll be expanding the limitations on deputies drawing their AR-15's in the field, some Santa Clarita Valley activists said they still want to see more changes to law enforcement policy. The statements from LASD and local activists stem from a report released by the L.A. County Office of Inspector General last week titled "Review of August 7, 2020, Santa Clarita Incident."
L.A. County sheriff could be cracking down on gang-like deputy groups, county lawyers say
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has broad legal authority to crack down on entrenched, gang-like groups of deputies that have been accused of glorifying violence and whose members have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in legal payouts, according to attorneys for the county. The confidential legal opinion issued last month by the Office of County Counsel knocks down claims by Villanueva that he is limited in what he can do to combat the problem and that an attempt to prohibit deputies from joining the groups would violate their constitutional rights.
Los Angeles Times
L.A. County sheriff's unit accused of targeting Villanueva's political enemies
On paper, the deputies are scattered around the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in various assignments. One is supposed to be working patrol in Lancaster, another in West Hollywood. A third is assigned to a gang crime unit. In reality, though, the group of nine men and women make up a little-known team of investigators formed by Sheriff Alex Villanueva and other top sheriff's officials.
Los Angeles Times
Why the race for L.A. County sheriff is one to watch in the lead-up to 2022
Earlier in September, as California was hitting a fever pitch over the recall election, Eli Vera called reporters to the Hall of Justice in downtown. There, the man who hopes to be the next L.A. County Sheriff held a press conference to announce that his challenge to sitting Sheriff Alex Villanueva was not met with a hearty, "Good luck sir! And may the best man or woman be chosen to serve the citizenry!"
Los Angeles Magazine
Sheriff Candidate Cecil Rhambo endorsed by CA Legislative Black Caucus
California's Legislative Black Caucus has now endorsed Cecil Rhambo, who is, at the moment, the best known of the challengers who are hoping to unseat controversial Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who is running for reelection in 2022. Rhambo, who rose to the rank of Assistant Sheriff before he retired from the LA County Sheriff's department in June 2014. Right now, Rhambo serves as the Chief of Airport Police at LAX.
Board approves Supervisor Barger's motion to expand mental health services in school
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, coauthored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Sept. 16, to explore expanding the Community School Initiative. Supervisor Barger said as students return to school full time, this is a critical time to expand onsite mental health services to ensure youth can thrive both in the classroom and in daily life.
Random Lengths News
Black Lives Matter leader sues over LAPD response to 'swatting' incident
Melina Abdullah, a prominent Los Angeles activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter L.A., has sued the city of L.A. and the Los Angeles Police Department over the department's response to a 911 call last year in which a man falsely claimed to be holding people hostage at Abdullah's home. The August 2020 call, after a summer of contentious protests over police brutality that Abdullah helped organize, led to heavily armed LAPD officers surrounding Abdullah's home until she came outside with her hands in the air while streaming the incident live on Instagram.
Los Angeles Times
A cruel prank, or a BLM publicity stunt?
You may count me among the skeptical. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday on a lawsuit filed by Melina Abdullah, cofounder of the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, against the Los Angeles Police Department. The suit arises from an apparent "swatting" incident that occurred in August 2020, when someone called the LAPD to report he had taken hostages inside Abdullah's Mid-City home. The caller threatened to start killing the hostages if he wasn't paid a million dollars within the hour.
Jack Dunphy/PJ Media
Retired LASD detective found dead in freezer in Riverside, investigation underway
The body of a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective was discovered in a freezer in the garage of a Riverside home. The body of Detective Sergeant Miriam E. Travis, 87, was discovered on Sunday in Riverside after concerned family members called the police after not hearing from her for some time. Police went to the home, located in the 6000 block of New Ridge Drive in the Sycamore Canyon area and spoke with the woman's 64-year-old daughter who also lives there.
Car ramming attack attempted at LA Synagogue Sukkot concert, says security group
A Jewish congregation in Los Angeles was left in shock on Wednesday night after a man reportedly attempted to ram into a crowd of people as they were attending a Sukkot holiday concert. According to Magen Am, a non-profit that provides security to Jewish institutions, the attacker allegedly accelerated down a one-way alley into a crowd of women and children as the concert at LA's Shaarei Tefila synagogue was coming to an end.
LAPD says armed robberies have become an alarming trend
Armed robberies, stretching from Hollywood to Mid-Wilshire, West Los Angeles and the beaches, are part of an alarming trend the Los Angeles Police Department revealed Tuesday. "West Bureau, we have nearly a 23% increase in the number of robberies in that command that involve a firearm," Chief Michael Moore said in a Tuesday Police Commission briefing.
California homicides spiked during pandemic, Berkeley study says
New research released today by the nonpartisan California Policy Lab (CPL) shows that as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted daily lives, crime in California and across the country also changed in dramatic ways. CPL analyzed data on violent and property crime in 2020 as compared to 2019, and compared California to the rest of the U.S.
Public safety advocates Ben Coleman, Jake Lee hang up volunteer hats, blame city politics
Two of WeHo's most visible advocates for public safety turned down an offer by the city to continue their volunteer efforts this week, accusing city leaders of "playing politics" over prioritizing safety. Ben Coleman and Jake Lee, former block co-captains of the Center City Alliance Neighborhood Watch, were contacted via email by Jasmine Duckworth, Community Affairs Coordinator for WeHo, who inquired about their interest in reviving the group.
29-year-old man arrested in Iowa in connection to fatal shooting of couple in Long Beach: Police
A 29-year-old man was arrested in Iowa this week in connection to the fatal shooting of a couple near their Long Beach home earlier this month, officials announced Saturday. Long Beach homicide detectives, working in collaboration with U.S. Marshals in Iowa, arrested Joshua Wells, of Long Beach, on Thursday, near a relative's home in Windsor Heights, Iowa, officials said.
Man shot to death during botched drug deal in Hollywood
A man was shot and killed in a car in a parking lot off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood early Monday morning during a drug deal gone bad. Gunshots were reported at 12:50 a.m. in the 5900 block of Sunset Boulevard, near Gordon Street. Los Angeles police responded to find a man in a parked car with gunshot wounds to his chest. He died at the scene. The victim was not immediately identified.
35-year-old man arrested for possession of machine gun in Woodland Hills
A 35-year-old man was arrested Friday after he was found to be in possession of a machine gun while officers were serving a search warrant at an illegal marijuana grow operation in Woodland Hills, police said. Los Angeles Police Department officers served the search warrant at about 10:10 a.m. at the residence in the 23000 block of Cass Avenue, near Mulholland Drive, police said.
DOJ sues to block JetBlue-American Airlines partnership
The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to block an alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue, criticizing it as a "de facto merger" that reduces competition. The antitrust lawsuit seeks to undo the airlines' partnership to share flights at New York and Boston airports and allow customers to book tickets and earn rewards with either airline.
Divide between LA, first responders becomes a front in battle over vaccine mandates
A legal fight in Los Angeles has exposed a bitter and widening divide between public servants like teachers, police officers and firefighters as COVID-19 vaccine mandates become increasingly common - and first responders push back. Earlier this month, more than 500 Los Angeles firefighters filed a lawsuit against the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
San Jose: Police union, public safety workers resist stricter vaccine mandate as deadline approaches
As a key deadline looms for city employees to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs, a contingent of public-safety workers led by the police union are pushing the city to scale back its mandate or risk losing as many as 140 cops who object to the new rules. The San Jose Police Officers' Association has been urging city labor officials to stick to the current requirement that city workers get vaccinated or be tested weekly, even as the highly infectious delta variant has brought Santa Clara County's COVID-19 case numbers to rates not seen since vaccines became widely available this spring.
Bay Area News Group
Proud Boys rail against most serious charges over Capitol riot
A group of Proud Boys who laid siege to the U.S. Capitol focused on semantics Tuesday at a hearing in which they lobbied for dismissal of the most serious federal charges against them. Following in the footsteps of a similar motion by a group of Oath Keepers in the largest and most complex Capitol riot case, the Proud Boys deny that the gathering of Congress that they obstructed qualifies as an "official proceeding."
Courthouse News Service
Horrible to watch,' White House says of image of border agent whipping at Haitian migrant
Images of a U.S. border agent on horseback appearing to whip a Haitian migrant were "horrible to watch" and unacceptable, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday. "I don't think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate," she said at a press briefing. A Reuters video showed a Border Patrol agent using what the news agency described as a lariat to whip at a Haitian migrant trying to enter the United States from Mexico.
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Federal officer arrested at Capitol rally won't be charged
A federal law enforcement officer was arrested carrying a gun at Saturday's rally at the U.S. Capitol billed to support the suspects charged in January's insurrection but will not be prosecuted. The 27-year-old New Jersey man is an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He was arrested by Capitol Police for illegally possessing a gun on the grounds of the Capitol after people in the crowd reported seeing him with a handgun and notified nearby officers.
University to pay $1.6M to students assaulted by employee
San Jose State University has agreed to pay $1.6 million to 13 female student-athletes whose complaints about being sexually assaulted by an athletic trainer were mishandled by the university, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The payment is part of a settlement between the university, the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, which conducted a Title IX investigation that found the university failed to adequately respond to reports of sexual harassment and assault that started in 2009, exposing additional student-athletes to harm for over a decade.
FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals' loot. Owners say: Where's the proof?
After the FBI seized Joseph Ruiz's life savings during a raid on a safe deposit box business in Beverly Hills, the unemployed chef went to court to retrieve his $57,000. A judge ordered the government to tell Ruiz why it was trying to confiscate the money. It came from drug trafficking, an FBI agent responded in court papers. Ruiz's income was too low for him to have that much money, and his side business selling bongs made from liquor bottles suggested he was an unlicensed pot dealer, the agent wrote.
Los Angeles Times
Attorney General Bonta leads coalition backing commonsense approach to concealed carry laws
California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a coalition of state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending New York's law regulating when individuals may obtain a license to carry firearms in public. The coalition argues that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not provide Americans with an unrestricted right to carry loaded firearms in virtually all public places, but instead, in keeping with centuries of tradition, allows states to enact policies regulating public carry that are tailored to local public safety concerns and needs.
Attorney General Bonta Press Release
California's firefighters keep getting injured while training. And some have died
Even as he lay dying on the side of a Southern California mountain - his lips blue, the color gone from his face - wildland firefighter Yaroslav Katkov wanted to push on. "We're getting to the top. We're finishing," his captain recalled Katkov saying after collapsing atop a ridge during a training hike in hot weather, according to state records. Katkov's speech was garbled. He tried to stand, but couldn't find his footing. His body temperature was reaching dangerous levels. He was suffering from heat illness.
Capital Public Radio
San Diego synagogue shooter avoids death penalty with plea
A 22-year-old former nursing student pleaded guilty to the murder of one person and the attempted murders of 53 others in connection with a 2019 deadly shooting at a Southern California synagogue on the last day of Passover, effectively ending the possibility of facing the death penalty. John T. Earnest entered a similar guilty plea on July 20 on state charges in San Diego Superior Court and agreed then to serve the rest of his life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Deportation officer found guilty of 'structuring' for hiding assets
A deportation officer with the Department of Homeland Security was found guilty today by a jury of "structuring" charges for making cash withdrawals and deposits totaling nearly $100,000, which were designed to circumvent federal reporting requirements and to conceal assets from his then-wife and the state court during divorce proceedings. Vardan Keshishyan, 49, of Glendale, was found guilty of two counts of structuring of currency transactions to evade reporting requirements.
Department of Justice
NorCal prison faces bomb threat, employee shooting: Report
An employee at a High Desert State Prison was placed on leave after he was accused of shooting another prison worker on Sunday. On Monday, a bomb threat was made at the same facility, the Sacramento Bee reported. It wasn't immediately known whether the two incidents were related, Dana Simas, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told the newspaper.
Corrections & Parole
Santa Rosa man convicted of three murders denied parole for 15th time
A man convicted of three North Bay murders in the late 1960s and early '70s has been denied parole by the California Board of Parole Hearings for the 15th time, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office. Johnny Lee Sommerhalder, 78, of Santa Rosa, is serving two concurrent life sentences for two murders in 1968 and one in 1972. He led a deadly criminal rampage as the leader of the infamous Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club.
The Press Democrat
He left prison sick with COVID, fearing ICE would deport him. But the pandemic changed everything
When Chanthon Bun walked out of San Quentin State Prison, he had $200, a devastating case of COVID-19 and a gnawing fear of being deported to an unfamiliar country. Bun's fever rose to 105 degrees that July day in 2020, and he recalled feeling disoriented and delirious after prison officials dropped him off at a transit station in San Rafael. He tried making a collect call to his lawyer from a pay phone. Unable to get through, he boarded a bus to San Francisco.
San Francisco Chronicle
Articles of Interest
George Holliday, man who filmed Rodney King beating, dies from COVID-19
The man who filmed Rodney King's infamous beating at the hands of the LAPD in 1991 has died after reportedly contracting COVID-19. He was 61. George Holliday passed away Sunday while hospitalized with pneumonia in Simi Valley, CA, TMZ reports. Holliday wasn't vaccinated and allegedly spent weeks on a ventilator, according to one of his close friends and his business partner.
Property owner, Smoke Tokes back in court; firefighter captain files lawsuit in 2020 incident
Downtown Los Angeles property owner Steve Sungho Lee and operators of Smoke Tokes, an international distributor of smoking and vaping products, faced criminal charges in L.A. Superior Court on Friday stemming from the May 2020 fire and explosion at 327 Boyd St. just south of Little Tokyo. Lee and Smoke Tokes are among nine defendants, each of them charged with 36 criminal counts ranging from fire code violations to conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public health.
NPR sues to publish court proceedings of Capital Gazette murder trial
National Public Radio filed a federal complaint on September 1 in the District of Maryland against state court judges Glenn L. Klavans and Fred S. Hecker for violation of the First and Fourth amendments. According to the complaint, NPR wishes to protect its constitutional right to publish lawfully obtained recordings from one of the most significant criminal proceedings in Maryland history: the trial of Jarrod Ramos, who murdered five journalists in the offices of the Capital Gazette.
One hiker's peak of desperation
He'd been lost for five days in the White Mountains when he limped to the top of a hill, pointing his toes outward to relieve the pressure on his bloody heels. Ron Bolen hoped to catch sight of a U.S. Forest Service road. That night, when the midsummer sun relented, he planned to make one last attempt at escaping Boundary Peak Wilderness. The 57-year-old assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma had arrived July 13 intending to do a day hike, part of his new hobby of scaling the tallest points in states he visited.
San Francisco Chronicle
COVID-19's death toll in America has topped the 1918 pandemic
The per-capita cost of COVID-19 is not as great as the 1918 pandemic because there are now more than three times as many people in America. But the total number of Americans who have died of COVID-19 has topped the 670,000 who died in the 1918 flu pandemic. Let's add another asterisk to that claim. In 1918, death records were not all-inclusive and almost certainly undercounted mortality rates.
Anaheim mayor says California State Auditor's Office report got it wrong
Our city has emerged from the challenge of our time with economic recovery underway and a bright future ahead. You wouldn't know it from a recent report on California cities that ranked Anaheim alongside El Cerrito and Calexico. The report, by the California State Auditor's Office, generated headlines as intended. But it got it wrong. No one takes fiscal health more seriously than I do. I welcome discussion of Anaheim's budget, pensions and debt.
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