Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Amid Crime Wave, CA Panel Recommends Dumping 3-Strikes Penalty; Walmart Sued Over Hazardous Waste; LAPD Academy Gun Store Sells Stolen Weapons; and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

Employer faces lawsuit over employee spouse's Covid death; Sports celebrities involved in Covid relief fraud; Drone carrying cell phones crashes inside prison; Sniper kills tourist on hiking trail

 

January 3, 2022

Facebook

Man who fraudulently obtained and sold family versions of Tom Brady's 2016 Superbowl Championship rings faces trial

Courts & Rulings

The Supreme Court found a Sonoma County man's arrest illegal. A state appeals court upheld his conviction anyway

Six months ago, a North Bay man who was pursued into his garage by police scored a rare defense victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, which limited officers' authority to enter a suspect's home without a warrant. That meant the entry into Arthur Lange's garage was illegal - but because the officer couldn't have known that in advance, Lange's drunken-driving conviction was valid, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

San Francisco Chronicle

Drawing blood sample from suspect who was unconscious was permissible

There was no Fourth Amendment violation where blood was drawn, in the absence of a search warrant, from an unconscious man, about to go into surgery, who was suspected of causing a fatal accident while driving in a drunken state, the Court of Appeal for this district has held. Justice John Shepard Wiley Jr. of Div. Eight wrote the opinion upholding a judgment of conviction of Alberic Roland Nault for second degree murder. Nault had four prior convictions for drunk driving.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Justices reverse $2.7 million 'failure to warn' judgment

A $2.7 million wrongful death judgment against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, based on a jury's view that the murder/rape of a woman by her grandson was primarily the fault of two parole agents for failing to warn the woman of his dangerousness, must fall, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday. It held, in an opinion by Justice Elana Duarte, that San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Barbara A. Kronlund erred in allowing a jury to decide if the agents had formed a special relationship with the woman, giving rise to such a duty.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Man's conviction, death sentence upheld for Pomona killing

The California Supreme Court today upheld a Long Beach man's conviction and death sentence for murdering a man shortly after a drug deal at a home in Pomona. William Lee Wright Jr., now 52, was convicted in 2002 of murdering Philip Curtis and trying to kill two other men on March 21, 2000, at the Pomona house, to which he returned about an hour after buying $50 of rock cocaine, according to the ruling by the state's highest court.

City News Service

Court split on Amazon's seller liability could be moot

Last month, in Wallace v. Amazon.com LLC, New York's Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department, covering Manhattan, affirmed the dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit brought against e-commerce giant Amazon by an individual whose electric bike fell apart while he was riding it. The bike, the suit alleged, was purchased from Amazon's marketplace of third-party sellers, and improperly assembled by one of Amazon's services contractors.

Law360

Sale of small amounts of marijuana not deportable crime

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined yesterday, in a 2-1 decision, that a woman is not subject to deportation based on a conviction for the possession of less than two pounds of marijuana for the purpose of sale and another conviction for offering to transport less than two pounds of marijuana for sale. Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority. Judge Marsha S. Berzon authored a concurring opinion and Judge Daniel P. Collins dissented.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Axon says new circuit split allows high court review of FTC

Police body camera maker Axon Enterprise Inc. says it finally has the circuit split needed to justify Supreme Court review of its constitutional challenge to the Federal Trade Commission's structure and authority, telling the justices a recent Fifth Circuit decision "removes the only possible objection" to review.

Law360

Ninth Circuit vacates convictions premised on improper fraud theory

In a recent decision, United States v. Yates, 16 F.4th 256 (9th Cir. 2021), the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions of two bank executives for bank fraud on the grounds that the prosecutors argued an improper fraud theory to the jury. On appeal, the Court held that the executives' withholding of "accurate information" from the bank's directors was insufficient to create a property interest necessary for upholding a conviction.

Reuters

First Amendment action filed against clerks in California's Central Valley

After years of petitioning for timely access, Courthouse News filed a First Amendment action Friday against court clerks in Merced, Stanislaus, Yolo, Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties. "Since time beyond memory, the press has reviewed new civil complaints when they crossed the intake counter in American courts," said the complaint filed in federal court in Fresno.

Courthouse News Service

California judge rules against Biden administration in pension law fight, freeing up grants

A federal judge has cleared the way for California public transit agencies to receive billions in federal grants, ruling against the Biden administration in a legal fight over a state pension law. The U.S. Labor Department determined in October that California hampered the collective bargaining rights of its public transit employees eight years ago, when the state passed a law that trimmed pension benefits for newly hired civil servants.

Sacramento Bee

Appeals court revives Muslim family's case over airport searches

The D.C. Circuit gave a Muslim family a second chance Tuesday in their lawsuit claiming they were wrongly placed on the federal terrorist watch list and subjected to unconstitutional searches on a religious trip. Mohammed Jibril, a U.S. citizen of Jordanian national origin, his wife Aida and five children were ready to take a flight as part of a their regular, religious-based trips to Jordan back in 2018. But when they got to the airport they experienced something new: after an hour-long wait, their boarding passes were marked with "SSSS."

Courthouse News Service

City Council's public hearing was not mandated 'remedy'

The opportunity to protest the proposed reestablishment of business improvement districts, orally or in writing in connection with the Los Angeles City Council's public hearing did not constitute a remedy that had to be exhausted as a prerequisite to mounting a court challenge to assessments by those districts, the California Supreme Court held yesterday.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Elon Musk loses another round with Tesla critic

A California appeals court ruled Tesla founder Elon Musk's public statements that a critic of his company "harassed" and "almost killed" Tesla employees are not protected by state free speech laws. The court ruled in favor of Randeep Hothi, the man behind the Twitter account @skabooshka where he expressed skepticism about Tesla's autonomous driving claims.

Courthouse News Service

Employer must face worker's lawsuit over husband's COVID death -California court

A California candymaker must face a lawsuit by an employee who says she caught COVID-19 at work and gave it to her husband, resulting in his death, a state appeals court held on Tuesday, upholding what appeared to be the first ruling allowing a worker's lawsuit against an employer over a family member's COVID death.

Reuters

10th Circ. hands insurers another win in virus coverage suits

The Tenth Circuit followed the trend of other federal appeals courts Tuesday when it upheld a Tokio Marine unit's win in a policyholder's Oklahoma federal lawsuit seeking to recover business interruption losses caused by government shutdown orders intended to stop the spread of COVID-19. A federal appeals court said government shutdown orders due to COVID-19 did not cause Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma Inc. to suffer direct physical loss in order to obtain insurance coverage.

Law360

1st 'Varsity Blues' convictions withstand challenge

The first convictions in the "Varsity Blues" college admissions case will stand after a Massachusetts federal judge on Monday denied a casino magnate's and hedge fund founder's bids for acquittal or retrial. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said former Wynn Resorts president Gamal Abdelaziz and private equity executive John Wilson "underwhelmed" the court with arguments that were previously rejected or otherwise "without merit" as they sought reprieve from convictions on fraud conspiracy, plus a tax charge Wilson faced.

Law360

Los Angeles District Attorney

DDA is critical of Los Angeles District Attorney (Video)

NBC4's Conan Nolan talks with Eric Siddall, the vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles County about how their boss - Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon - is handling the recent spike in crime.

LA ADDA/NBC4

Azusa Police Union says one of LA's top prosecutors threatened officer after arrest

The union that represents police officers in Azusa said Wednesday a top official at the LA County District Attorney's Office threatened to retaliate for an arrest, by saying he would put the arresting officer's name on the County's so-called "Brady List" of dishonest cops. "It absolutely is an abuse of power," Azusa Police Officers Association president CJ Wilkins told NBC4.

NBC4

Juveniles can avoid jail for robbery, burglary, arson under new policies by DA Gascon

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is expanding a program allowing juveniles to potentially avoid prosecution for a host of violent crimes, including robbery, burglary, arson, sexual battery and assault without the use of a firearm. Details of the Restorative Enhanced Diversion for Youth program are outlined in an internal memo from Chief Deputy District Attorney Sharon L. Woo to Juvenile Division prosecutors and obtained by the Southern California News Group.

Orange County Register

Los Angeles DA Gascon defends policy reforms, fends off critics

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon marked the end of his first year in office by defending his criminal justice reform efforts at a news conference and saying he is not responsible for rising homicides and the recent rash of smash-and-grab robberies. Gascon, flanked by more than a dozen district attorneys from other states, addressed the media, saying the so-called "tough-on-crime approach failed."

ABC7

Los Angeles DA Gascon launches controversial 'diversion' program for youth criminals

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon announced the launch of a new diversion program for juvenile criminals. The "Restorative Enhanced Diversion for Youth Pathway" aims to move young people from incarceration into rehabilitation, a move that Deputy DA Jonathan Hatami called "a slap on the wrist" for some felonies. The qualifying felonies include burglary, assault without firearms or extensive injuries, vehicle theft, robbery, grand theft person, sexual battery and arson, FOX LA reported.

Fox News

LA 'restorative justice' programs set to give violent juvenile felons a pass

Kiddie criminals in Los Angeles accused of serious crimes are set to get a pass under new rules from District Attorney George Gascon. The Los Angeles County District Attorney will expand its "restorative justice" diversion programs for youths to include those facing charges like burglary, arson, robber and even sexual battery, among other crimes, according to a leaked memo from the DA's office.

New York Post

LA detectives fill role of prosecutor as murder victims' families abandoned

When Shaun McCarthy became a detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, he never envisioned doing the job of a prosecutor, fighting to keep his best friend's shooter behind bars at a parole hearing. But that's exactly what happened when McCarthy recently fended off the release of an inmate who shot off-duty Deputy Carlos Ponce in the head at a flower shop in 1998.

Washington Examiner

Will Gascón's 'policy considerations' turn a murderer into a millionaire?

In 1997 defendant Kenji Howard was convicted of murder of Arkett Mejia, attempted murder of Travon Johnson and two others, and shooting at an occupied vehicle. Recently, the conviction was overturned because of "new" evidence, essentially a statement by his co-defendant who has nothing to lose. On December 2, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office announced that they would not retry the defendant because of policy considerations and resource constraints.

LA ADDA

Help wanted: a prosecutor, not a professional politician

For the last year, District Attorney George Gascon has pursued two related goals. First, send as few people to prison or jail as possible. Also first, let as many people out of jail or prison as quickly as possible. When you view his first year in office through this lens, everything suddenly makes sense: his staffing picks; his permissive sentencing directives; his let-'em-out-now, ask-questions-later approach to re-sentencing and post-conviction litigation; his reckless bail policies; his refusal to send prosecutors to parole hearings; and his callous arrogance toward victims and their loved ones.

Santa Monica Observer

Protester struck by DA Gascon's SUV in Bay Area accepts $46K settlement

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has awarded $46,000 to a man struck by an SUV driven by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascòn during a 2018 protest outside the top prosecutor's former Bay Area home. The supervisors unanimously approved the settlement last week for Victor Picazo, a San Francisco activist who sued Gascòn for alleged negligence, assault, battery, infliction of emotional distress and violation of free speech and assembly.

Orange County Register

Prosecutors

California sues Walmart over disposal of hazardous waste

Retail giant Walmart illegally dumps more than 1 million batteries, aerosol cans of insect killer and other products, toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste, latex paints and other hazardous waste into California landfills each year, state prosecutors alleged Monday in a lawsuit that the company labeled "unjustified." "As we shop the brightly packed aisles there are products that will never make it into the cart - returned, damaged or pulled from the shelves for a variety of reasons," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

AP

New Jersey man charged with fraudulently obtaining and selling three Tom Brady Super Bowl rings, one of which sold for $337,000

Federal prosecutors today filed fraud charges against a New Jersey man who allegedly posed as a former player for the New England Patriots, which allowed him to purchase family versions of the team's 2016 Super Bowl championship ring - supposedly as gifts to relatives of quarterback Tom Brady - one of which was sold at auction for more than $337,000.

Department of Justice Press Release

Los Angeles suspect in the deaths of model and her friend pictured with one victim at party

David Pearce, the 37-year-old suspect in the deaths of two women last month, was pictured with one of the alleged victims at an East Los Angeles warehouse party on Nov. 13, just hours before her unconscious body was dropped off at an area hospital, FOX 11 Los Angeles reports. Hilda Marcela Cabrales-Arzola, a 26-year-old interior designer from Mexico, died about two weeks later after she was declared brain-dead.

Fox News

Ex-Olympian accused of illegally securing millions in Covid aid, investing it in Ted Bundy movie

A former Olympic speedskater was accused of illegally obtaining millions in coronavirus relief money and investing part of it in a movie about serial killer Ted Bundy, federal authorities said Thursday. Allison Baver, 41, was charged with eight counts of making a false statement to a bank and one count of money laundering, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah said in a news release.

NBC News

Former USC football player charged in COVID-19 unemployment benefits fraud scheme

A former University of Southern California football player was arrested Monday on federal charges alleging he orchestrated a scheme that fraudulently sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-related unemployment benefits. Abdul-Malik McClain, 22, who currently attends and plays at Jackson State in Mississippi, surrendered to federal law enforcement officials in Los Angeles.

Fox11

Policy/Legal

Panel recommends ending California's 'three strikes' law and life-without-parole sentences

California's groundbreaking "three strikes" law and the state's life-without-parole sentences for thousands of convicted murderers have done little for public safety while driving up the prison population - particularly people of color - as well as taxpayer costs, according to a panel established to review state criminal laws.

San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area ransackings is a reminder that Proposition 47 isn't working

An estimated mob of 80 individuals ransacked a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek's outdoor shopping mall, located east of San Francisco on Nov. 20. Two employees were assaulted by participants, and videos display masked people streaming out of stores with bags and boxes, jumping into their cars. That week, similar incidents had occurred in cities throughout the Bay Area, such as San Francisco, San Jose and Hayward.

New University

With crime in California out of control, is Newsom now the law and order governor?

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced he will seek more than $300 million in state funding over three years to in an effort to provide more support to law enforcement efforts to combat retail theft. This is in response to a massive crime wave taking place across the state: smash-and-grabs, large group robberies, and every imaginable retail establishment from malls to high-end boutiques experiencing untold theft.

California Globe

California tries a new approach for domestic violence survivors who are afraid to call the police

The last time Liz Zambrano's ex-husband tried to hurt her, she knew she somehow had to find a path to safety. While Zambrano's ex threw household objects at her and her two sons - a computer, then an iron - the threesome fled to the bathroom, and locked themselves inside. Then Zambrano dialed 911. She was terrified to call the police, but her fear that her husband would hurt her children outweighed everything.

Witness LA

Rescue California tells Gov. Gavin Newsom to call special legislative session over crime wave

Rescue California held a recent press conference calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to call a special session of the California Legislature to address the crime wave and smash-and-grabs taking place across the state. As the Globe has reported, Proposition 47, passed in 2014 ridiculously titled the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," reclassified shoplifting as a misdemeanor for theft amounts under $950, and allows criminals to commit theft multiple times a day, is at the root of this crime wave.

California Globe

Smash & Grab

High-profile L.A. crimes spark rush for bullet-proof cars, Rolex replicas and safe rooms

Private security contractors report that a recent string of high-profile retail robberies and home burglaries in upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods has caused a dramatic uptick in requests for their services and prompted many of their wealthy clients to change their routines out of a mix of caution and fear.

Hollywood Reporter

Smash-and-grab robberies take financial, emotional toll on businesses across LA County

As if recovering from the mammoth jolt of the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't tough enough, the holidays for retailers have been further complicated by a wave of violent smash-and-grab robberies. The crimes have alarmed retailers and consumers during the peak shopping season and sent law enforcement and elected officials for solutions and the money to fund them.

East Bay Times

Recent rise in store thefts related to Prop. 47, police chief says

After three women were arrested for allegedly robbing a Fresno Ulta store Wednesday night - some local leaders say the rise in this sort of crime has a lot to do with Proposition 47, which made property crimes valued less than $950 a misdemeanor. The three women: Sandoria Van Horn, Keishia Battle, and Tiffany Jackson walked into the Ulta Beauty store at Fresno's Fashion Fair mall, packed their bags full of high-end perfume. and walked out.

KSEE

DA steps up effort to stop smash-and-grab robberies

A string of smash-and-grab retail thefts reported throughout California is raising alarms for local businesses and law enforcement officials. Now, San Diego County's district attorney is stepping in a bid to stop thieves from stealing in San Diego. Disturbing surveillance video from Tuesday shows two men using a hammer to break a display case at a kiosk at Westfield Plaza Bonita in National City and snatching jewelry from the case.

Fox5 San Diego

Here's how to curb smash-and-grab thefts

One of the most basic obligations of government is to provide for the safety of the public. It's time to stop sugar-coating the facts. Our communities are becoming more dangerous, violent and unstable. More bluntly, they are becoming lawless. One example is the organized looting of retail stores, from San Francisco to Monterey to Rodeo Drive. It is as prevalent in neighborhood drug stores as it is in upscale department stores.

Ceres Courier

Gov. Gavin Newsom turns on criminals with $300M smash-and-grab proposal

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to flip from reformer to crime-fighter. The Democrat, who positioned himself for years as a criminal justice advocate, aims to spend $300 million to combat smash-and-grab robberies after a spate of brazen attacks on retailers across the state. "The rules are the rules, the laws are the laws, and we just want people to be held to account," Newsom said Friday as he announced his pricey plan to crack down on the criminal rings that he said are organizing the terrifying thefts.

New York Post

Los Angeles County/City

Los Angeles women police officers launch new website

The Los Angeles Women Police Officers and Associates (LAWPOA) announced the launch of its new website, http://www.lawpoa.org, as part of its mission to strengthen, unite and raise the profile of women in law enforcement. "The refreshed website aligns well with our vision to advance the representation and experiences of women in law enforcement," said LAPD Commander Ruby Flores, President of LAWPOA. "The new website offers a clean, modern design and easy navigation with helpful tools and resources."

Los Angeles Patch

L.A. accuses LAPD academy gun store of negligence, breach of contract as scandal widens

The city of Los Angeles has accused the operator of a gun store located within the Los Angeles Police Academy of negligence in its operations and breach of contract, the latest twists in a widening scandal involving stolen firearms landing in the hands of LAPD officers. The claims, made in multiple court cases in the last week, mark the first time since the broader scandal broke last year that the city has taken direct aim at the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, a nonprofit organization and gun store with which the city has maintained a relationship for more than 85 years.

Los Angeles Times

Who will be the next mayor of Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is a huge city, and its challenges - climate change, homelessness, the pandemic - are increasingly existential. Yet more than a dozen people are fighting for the chance to try to solve them as the next mayor. Recently, we explored how increasing frustration over the extent of these problems is already shaping the race. Today we will introduce you to some of the candidates.

Heromag

FBI: Huizar refused to ease suspicions of corruption at Las Vegas casino

Jose Huizar was allegedly escorted out of a Las Vegas casino while he was a Los Angeles city councilman after he was identified by employees as an elected official and "politically exposed person" and refused to certify the source of his gambling money, according to documents filed by federal prosecutors on Monday, Dec. 20. The new papers were lodged in Los Angeles federal court in opposition to Huizar's bid to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant.

City News Service

80% of LA employees fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (Video)

The city of Los Angeles says more than 80% of its employees are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and it appears only a small fraction of the workforce has refused to either get the shot, or ask for an exemption. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021.

NBC4

Consumer

There's an urgent new warning for Walmart and Amazon shoppers

Despite being two of the most frequented retailers among shoppers, Walmart and Amazon often get hit with a number of complaints. In July, a customer survey conducted by the food-based news outlet Mashed found that shoppers think that Walmart has the worst-quality produce out of eight different grocery stores in the U.S. And just a week ago, a complaint was filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Amazon, alleging that the retailer was misleading customers by failing to clearly disclose paid advertisements on its website.

BestLife

Crime/Public Safety

After hours-long standoff, man arrested in alleged shooting of Covina neighbor who confronted him: police

Authorities have captured a man who allegedly shot and killed one person in a group of neighbors who had confronted him after seeing him steal from a vehicle in Covina late Tuesday night, police said. Officers responded to reports of a theft in progress from a vehicle in the 1100 block of North Charter around 11 p.m., and arrived to find a a homicide victim, the Covina Police Department said in a news release.

KTLA

Arrest in suspected street racing crash that claimed life of probation officer (Video)

Rick Montanez reports from Fontana where the family of Mariesha Collins is mourning after the juvenile probation officer, who was out purchasing gift cards for children whose parents are incarcerated, was struck and killed in a suspected street racing incident. Police have made an arrest in the case.

CBS LA

2 arrested, 5 outstanding in smash-and-grab burglary: Simi Valley Police Department

The Simi Valley Police Department has arrested two people and is looking for five others after an early-morning smash-and-grab burglary, police said. The burglary was reported at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday at Metro PCS and a neighboring business, Core Health, in the 2800 block of East Cochran Street, police said in a release. The front doors of both businesses were smashed, and while searching the nearby area, police found Lancaster resident Byron Moore, 21, and Los Angeles resident Kayla Dixson, 22, police said.

KTLA

Family seeks justice after photographer hiking in L.A. park was killed by suspected sniper in random shooting

Newlywed Corina Solorzano couldn't wait to celebrate her first Christmas and New Year's with her husband, photographer Jason Cortez. Now she is a young widow grieving the senseless murder of her husband, a Virginia tourist who was shot and killed by a suspected sniper while hiking on a popular trail in a Los Angeles park on Sept. 10.

People

'This is disorder': California residents blame politicians' policies for dramatic rise in crime

Shoplifting has been a growing problem across America for some time, and now experts say these brazen smash-and-grab robberies are being organized on social media and present a new kind of challenge from high-end stores to corner pharmacies. Los Angeles has been especially hard hit, seeing more than 20,000 property crimes per month this year. And it's not just organized retail theft. A map shows vehicle break-ins over just three days in December.

CBN News

California/National

Chicago mayor who pushed $80M defund of cops now pleads for feds to save city

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot - who last year proposed cutting $80 million from her city's police budget - publicly pleaded with the feds on Monday to bolster the ranks of her city's cops amid a surge in shootings and homicides. Lightfoot called on US Attorney General Merrick Garland to send agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the Windy City for a six-month crackdown on illegal guns.

New York Post

Breed's plan to shut down Tenderloin drug markets is progressive

San Francisco Mayor London Breed surprised some of her supporters by announcing a citywide anti-crime push and supplemental funding for the police. Her commitments include shutting down the open-air drug market in the Tenderloin. Some progressives will be outraged at this proposal, but they ought to welcome it as a sensible harm reduction measure. Of all forms of drug dealing, open-air markets are the most harmful.

San Francisco Chronicle

The town with the highest rate of property crimes in every state

California: Emeryville

2020 property crimes per 100K people: 11,753.7 (California: 2,138.9)

Total property crimes: 1,449 (California: 842,054)

Total larceny-thefts: 1,117 (California: 528,202)

Total burglaries: 161 (California: 145,529)

Total vehicle thefts: 171 (California: 168,323)

Population: 11,899

24/7 Wall St

Kim Foxx's office 'failed' in handling Jussie Smollett case

The initial handling of allegations that former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett staged a fake attack in Chicago was a "major failure" by the local prosecutor's office, according to a damning investigative report released Monday. The 60-page report by special prosecutor Dan Webb, who was appointed to review the case, detailed several instances when Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and others in her office made false statements in 2019 when they first prosecuted Smollett and then abruptly dropped the charges weeks later.

New York Post

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon carjacked and robbed in South Philly after touring FDR Park

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked and robbed in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon shortly after finishing a meeting at FDR Park, her office and police officials confirmed. She was not injured. Scanlon and other elected officials met to discuss constituent concerns around ongoing development plans for FDR Park.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Illinois Senate majority leader and husband carjacked in western suburb

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford and her husband were carjacked Tuesday night in west suburban Broadview with masked gunmen stealing her 2018 Mercedes SUV, police said. Lightford and her husband Eric McKennie were unharmed, according to a statement from Thomas Mills, chief of the Broadview Police Department. At about 9:45 p.m., three masked gunmen driving a Dodge Durango SUV stole Lightford's vehicle in the 2000 block of South 20th Avenue, Mills said.

Chicago Sun-Times

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

California deputy accused of tossing urine test proving woman innocent gets prison

A former California sheriff's deputy convicted of tossing a woman's urine test after it turned up negative for drugs will serve a year in jail, authorities said. Richard Charles Barrios III, 29, pleaded guilty in November to destroying physical matter, the Ventura County District Attorney's Office said in a news release. After a year in prison, Barrios will serve two years of probation, a judge ruled Wednesday, Dec. 15.

Sacramento Bee

California man gets 3 years over threats to lawmakers, journalists who said Trump lost

A California man who threatened dozens of people, including politicians, journalists and their families, who said that then-President Donald Trump lost the November election has been sentenced to three years, prosecutors said. Robert Lemke, 36, of Bay Point in the San Francisco Bay Area, was sentenced Monday by a federal judge, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said.

NBC News

Corrections & Parole

Convicted killer serving life dies in California prison

A California prisoner serving a life sentence for murder died Friday after he was found injured in a cell he shared with another convicted killer, authorities said. Abraham Morales, 37, was found unresponsive in the Kern Valley State Prison cell he shared with Charles Ramirez, 44, prison officials said. He was pronounced dead within the hour. The death is being investigated as a homicide and Ramirez was removed from the scene, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.

AP

Drone carrying packages of cellphones flies into maximum security prison in California

A drone carrying packages with cellphones flew over a lethal electrified fence and crashed inside a California prison over the summer, a Bakersfield NBC news affiliate reported. Citing recently filed court documents, KGET-TV reported that Kern Valley State Prison staffers saw the drone crash inside one of the prison yards on Aug. 30.

Fresno Bee

District Attorney urges Governor to reverse the Parole Board's granting parole to Jason Adam Greenwell for the brutal 2010 murder of Dystiny Myers

District Attorney Dan Dow writes letter to Governor Newsom urging him to exercise his authority to review and reverse a parole board's decision last month to grant convicted murderer Jason Greenwell parole despite objections. On November 18, 2021, a two-person panel of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Parole Board granted parole to Jason Adam Greenwell.

County of San Luis Obispo District Attorney

Articles of Interest

Covington Catholic graduate Nicholas Sandmann reaches settlement in lawsuit against NBC

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against NBC by Covington Catholic graduate Nick Sandmann. Sandmann announced the settlement in a tweet, saying the terms of the agreement are confidential. This is Sandmann's third settlement with a major news outlet following media coverage of a viral video featuring him at the Lincoln Memorial in January 2019.

Cincinnati Enquirer

Britney Spears felt trapped. Her business manager benefited.

In early 2008, a small-time Tennessee company with big-time aspirations made a loan to Britney Spears's father, who for years had struggled financially. Less than a month later - after consulting with the owner of the company, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group - James P. Spears had his daughter placed into a conservatorship, a legal arrangement typically reserved for people unable to care for themselves or work. He would wield vast power over her life and finances.

New York Times

New details of govt. plan to track down, arrest 4 of El Chapo's sons

While Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is in a U.S. prison, four of his children are either under indictment or under investigation by federal agents in Chicago. They are known as Los Chapitos, the four most-trusted sons of the world's most notorious drug kingpin. Federal drug investigators in Chicago consider El Chapo's sons in charge of the Sinaloa cartel, the multibillion-dollar criminal empire once run by their father, the investigative team at our sister station WLS reported.

ABC7

Here's what data the FBI can get from WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal, Telegram, and more

Not every secure messaging app is as safe as it would like us to think. And some are safer than others. A recently disclosed FBI training document shows how much access to the content of encrypted messages from secure messaging services US law enforcement can gain and what they can learn about your usage of the apps. The infographic shows details about iMessage, Line, Signal, Telegram, Threema, Viber, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Wickr.

Malwarebytes Labs

The flaws within Prop. 47

I remember the day outside a mall when an approaching woman with a proposition caused me to raise my flag of caution. Not that she appeared threatening, but rather, it was a response developed in Philadelphia where the types of "propositions" offered usually promised experiences much different than I thought was promised by signing a proposition for an inclusion on a voting ballot.

Santa Barbara News-Press

Experts: Newsom fired warning shot at Supreme Court with anti-gun pledge

Following a contentious Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights and only hours before the Sunday morning talk shows, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched a doozy of a trial balloon into the social media stratosphere this month. In just four sentences penned to the press and Twitter late on a Saturday, Newsom engaged a pair of familiar enemies in the state of Texas and the gun lobby, as well an apparent new foe in the Supreme Court.

Courthouse News Service

The Extortion Economy Podcast: Exploring the secret world of ransomware

Ransomware is proliferating across the country, disabling computer systems and harming critical infrastructure - hospitals, city governments, schools, even an oil pipeline. The technology that enables ransomware may be new, but extortion and ransom are not. So why is this happening now? And can it be stopped? In this five-part series from MIT Technology Review and ProPublica hosted by Meg Marco, a former ProPublica senior editor, we look at the money, people and technology behind the explosion of ransomware that is delivering hundreds of millions of dollars to cybercriminals around the world.

Facebook

US Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, proponent of defund-the-police, was carjacked by teens in Philadelphia

ProPublica

Pensions

'Outrageous' pension double-dipping triggers criminal investigation into California cops

A California Public Employees' Retirement System audit says three police chiefs and a police commander in a small community just outside of San Francisco defrauded the giant pension system for a decade, collecting retirement benefits while working full-time jobs. The alleged fraud detailed by CalPERS includes two chiefs working in the Broadmoor police district after receiving disability payouts, covering-up full-time work in order to collect retirement benefits and in one of the chief's cases, returning to active duty, then becoming an annuitant again, to enhance benefits.

The Tribune

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