The Million Dollar Speeding Ticket

A midnight traffic stop by the Gulf County Sheriff’s office in Florida netted nearly $500,000 in cash and about another $500,000 worth of drugs this week. The seized drugs consisted of more that 34,000 oxycodone pills, along with quantities of heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

The traffic stop occurred just before midnight when a 29-year-old man who was driving a blue Kia van was clocked traveling at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone. Aside from speeding, the driver had a brake light that wasn’t functioning. When deputies tried to make a traffic stop, the van turned north on Route 71. It then veered into the southbound lanes of traffic and onto the shoulder where it stopped. That’s when the driver of the van jumped out and ran into a nearby woods. Deputies followed and apprehended the man after a short chase. Nobody was injured.

According to the Panama City News Herald, when deputies returned to the van, they discovered a loaded 9 mm pistol along with ammunition within reach of the driver. A further search of the van turned up the cash, 34 plastic bags with about 1,000 oxycodone pills in each one, 25.5 grams of crack cocaine, 7.8 grams of “black tar” heroin and 2 pounds 9 ounces of marijuana. The street value of the drugs was estimated to be at $540,000.

A sheriff’s department spokesman has said the forfeiture process on the cash and van has already been started. He didn’t indicate what the funds might be used for. The driver of the Kia van has been charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, trafficking in oxycodone, possession of heroin, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and multiple traffic offenses. He is being held on a $374,000 bond. Deputies were congratulated by the Gulf County Sheriff on the stop and seizure. Investigators aren’t sure of either the origin or destination of the drugs. They’re looking into a supply chain. The drug bust could be the largest in Gulf County history.

Gulf County continues to suffer after Hurricane Michael. Nearly a half million dollars would be a windfall for a small county that was devastated by the hurricane. Many residents continue to live in homes that have yet to be fully repaired since Michael.

Selfie Saves Man From 99 Years in Prison

A man in Texas who was looking at a 99 year prison sentence on a crime that he never committed says a selfie picture proved his innocence. In September of 2017, law enforcement showed up where the man worked to arrest him on a charge of burglary coupled with the intent to commit other crimes. “I had no idea of why this was happening,” he said. He was taken into custody to the Williamson County Jail. Bail was set at $150,000, and that’s where he sat until his family posted the bail.

The New York Post reports that the man later learned that his accuser was a former girlfriend from high school who went to the police with a false report of being a victim of a crime. She told police that the man illegally gained entry into her home in Temple and carved an X into her chest with a box cutter. She subsequently changed her story and admitted to police in Temple that she had a stormy relationship with the man several years ago. At the time of the alleged crime, the man was actually 65 miles from Temple in Austin with his mother.

Fortunately, the man took a photo of himself and his family that same evening. He then posted it on social media. His mother remarked that the accuser said that the attack happened on the day when she knew 100 percent where her son was at. Regardless of having a solid alibi, the man was charged anyway. Both police and legal experts question the propriety of the arrest. Ordinarily, the police will interview a person of interest before charging him or her with a crime. A former Austin police chief remarked that “You may not get any more information than you had, but it gives you an opportunity for the suspect to react, respond, deny.”

It took nine months for the prosecution to dismiss the charges against the man. His attorney said “Most of the time, we deal with gray matters. It’s not normally black or white, but this is one of those cases where I could definitely prove he did not commit this offense.” The woman was not charged for making false a false report to police.

Twelve New Yorkers To Decide Fate Of El Chapo

After years of being on the run from law enforcement, having a worldwide search for his whereabouts, and escaping from prison, Joaquin Guzman, best known as alleged drug lord “El Chapo,” will finally be put on trial for charges of drug trafficking. On Wednesday, 12 New York residents were chosen as jurors for the trial, which is expected to begin next week.

With the courthouse in Brooklyn under heavy security, a jury consisting of seven women and five men were seated after being questioned by prosecutors and lawyers for Guzman. Although all said they had heard of Guzman, each also stated they could be impartial during testimony and in reaching a verdict.

The trial, which many legal experts say may last as long as four months, will be held in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, and will start the Tuesday after Veteran’s Day, when lawyers for both sides will present their opening statements. As the alleged head of the Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa, Guzman supposedly guided the cartel into becoming one of the world’s most prolific and dangerous drug organizations in the world.

Guzman’s nickname “El Chapo,” which in English translates to “Shorty,” has nevertheless been a difficult opponent for law enforcement agencies. After having been imprisoned twice in Mexico, he escaped both times, eluding authorities for a long period of time. However, after being recaptured, he was extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017.

While there have been few details leaked about the trial, Guzman’s lawyers have dropped hints their defense will center on Guzman having a far lesser role with the cartel than has been alleged by prosecutors. If convicted of the crimes for which he is charged, Guzman could face life in prison.

Due to the trial being high-profile, various precautions will be taken with regards to security. One of the most important involves the jurors, whose identities will be kept anonymous. In addition, they will be escorted to and from the courthouse by heavily-armed federal marshals. However, even with the strong security presence, some potential jurors were excused from duty, after expressing fears about serving on the jury for this case. This was not surprising to prosecutors, since it is alleged that Guzman has a reputation for attempting to intimidate witnesses, and that in some cases has ordered people murdered. Additional details on this upcoming trial can be found at Your text to link….

Synagogue Shooter To Be Charged With Hate Crime

In what has been described as the deadliest assault against the Jewish population in United States history, the man alleged to have killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday is expected to have federal hate crime charges levied against him. According to federal and other law enforcement officials, 46 year-old Robert Bowers is expected to face as many as 29 criminal counts, including using a firearm in the commission of a murder, and also obstructing other’s rights to freely exercise their religious beliefs, which is deemed a hate crime.

IN a report by CNN, the shooting, which lasted for nearly 20 minutes, ended when Mr. Bowers was confronted by police officers and SWAT team members as he was preparing to exit the Tree of Life Synagogue. Retreating inside and barricading himself in a nearby room, he chose to surrender to officers after a brief standoff. Wounded himself from gunfire, Mr. Bowers was taken into custody and transported to a nearby hospital, where he is currently listed in stable condition.

In addition to the federal charges, Mr. Bowers is also expected to face various state charges, which will include numerous counts of aggravated assault, criminal homicide, and ethnic intimidation. Although he had no previous criminal history and was not on any law enforcement watch lists, Mr. Bowers allegedly had social media accounts where he posted anti-Semitic information. According to officials, an account created in January on the social media site Gab was done so under the name of Mr. Bowers, and in recent weeks has had multiple postings stating hatred of the Jewish population.

After evacuating the apartment building where Mr. Bowers lived, police initially searched his apartment using a robotic bomb-detecting device, as well as police dogs. Once they determined it was safe to enter, they discovered he has 21 guns registered to him, all of which they believe were purchased legally.

Until this attack occurred, the deadliest assault on the U.S. Jewish population took place in Seattle in 1985, when a gunman killed four members of a family he believed to be Jewish, an assumption which was later proven to be incorrect. Along with this incident, in 2014 a white supremacist in Kansas City, MO gunned down three people near a Jewish Community Center.

Because this is a developing story, more details are expected to be released in the days to follow. To learn more about this incident, visit Your text to link….

Border Agent Could Face Civil Liability For Shooting Mexican Teenager Across Border

A United States Border Patrol agent that was acquitted by a criminal court in the shooting death of a Mexican teenager learned that he was not exempt from facing civil litigation in the matter. The shooting took place while the teenager and agent were on opposite sides of the U.S.- Mexican border in Arizona.

The ruling originated from the 9th United State Circuit Court of Appeals and the dissenting judge in the 2-1 decision expressed his belief that his colleagues were ignoring all legal precedent with the decision.

The decision has paved the way for the legal allowance of Araceli Rodriguez, to file for civil damages against Border Patrol agent Lonnie Schwartz in response to the 2012 shooting of her son Jose Rodriquez.

The boy was reportedly walking along the street in Nogales, Mexico when Schwartz, while working in an official capacity with the U.S. Border Patrol, fired at Rodriquez while standing on an embankment located on the U.S. side of the border. Rodriquez was shot ten times and died as a result of the injuries.

Schwartz said his actions were in self-defense from a group of individuals that hurled rocks at him from the Mexican side of the border. Araceli Rodriquez maintains that her son was walking peacefully along his way when he was killed.

Schwartz was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder by a federal court in Tuscon, Arizona that was also unable to come to an agreement on lesser included charges of manslaughter. The case is set for retrial on October 23.

A lower court judge rejected a claim by Schwartz in the civil proceedings that he should be extended the status of qualified immunity and ruled that Rodriquez could seek civil redress for the loss of her son through the violation of his constitutional rights.

Judge Andrew Kleinfeld penned the majority decision and expressed that it was ‘inconceivable’ that any officer would take the action that Schwartz took against Rodriquez. He went on to say that Schwartz was on American soil when he fired his gun and that he is, therefore, subject to the laws of the United States. Judge Kleinfeld ended by characterizing the action taken by Schwartz as “shocking.”

A lawyer acting on behalf of Schwartz, Sean Chapman, did not provide the media with a comment. The Justice Department, who had also advised Schwartz on this matter, also gave no response to any requests for comments.

Source: https://www.newsweek.com/border-patrol-agent-who-killed-teenager-cross-border-shooting-must-face-1062983

Men Accused of Ending the Life of a Missing Woodland Teen Pleads not Guilty

Three men that were accused of killing two woodland teenagers that disappeared in the year 2016 pleaded not guilty before the court. On Friday, the three men were arraigned in Yolo Superior court. Jonathan Froste 21 years and Chandale Shannon 21 years were earlier arrested this month and were charged with murder. Jonathan’s elder brother David Froste whose aged 27 years was much older in prison serving a sentence of an unrelated case. On Friday, David Froste was charged with murder after the hearing. During the trial, all the three gentlemen pleaded not guilty. There was a fourth defendant that was aged 18 years. His name was Jesus Campos. Jesus had previously been arraigned in a juvenile court.

The four men were accused of killing Elijah Moore and Enrique Rios. The two teenagers were students at Cesar Chavez Community School that is based in Woodland. Moore was 17 years while Rios was just 16 years. The two were reported to have disappeared few weeks apart. Yolo County Sherriff’s partnered with Woodland authorities and the FBI to investigate the disappearance of these two teenagers. Elijah’s mother, Alicia Moore, revealed that the not-guilty pleas that were said by the three men were ridiculous and never made sense at all. Alicia went on to say that the men seemed arrogant about the issue. They were cocky and never took the issue as severe as it would have been.

Alicia continued to say that they appeared as if they had something that they were hiding. She added that what they were hiding had seemed to be so powerful and that it was going to free them. Alicia started getting emotional, saying that they ended the life of her baby and another baby. It was so evil of them and that the law was going to serve them right. After the suspects pleaded not guilty, the three attorneys representing the three parties spent most of the time arguing on when the preliminary hearing will take place. David Froste’s public defender, Martha Sequeira, suggested that the hearing takes place after ten court days.

Martha Sequeira revealed that the allegations against David Froste were not new to her. She continued to say that Froste was so eager and ready to proceed with the hearing. The other two private attorneys representing the rest of the defendants reported that they were issued with more than 500 pages of possible evidence from the prosecution a night before. They were pleading to be given more time so that they could go through the book and prepare for the next hearing.

Bill Cosby Casts Aside his Defense Team in Sentencing Preparation

Just last week, it was uncertain what influenced Cosby to make alterations to his legal team. His judgment for sexual assault against Andrea Constand is set for September. Tom Mesereau, head of his legal team is a high profile lawyer who successfully defended Michael Jackson. Despite this achievement, he was unable to do the same for Cosby. Consequentially, seven weeks later after conviction of sexual assault, Cosby lets his team go. The confirmation was met on Thursday by Cosby’s publicist in a mail. The mail highlighted that the entire legal defense team for the former TV star has been replaced. No further explanation was given by Cosby as to why the action was taken.

Joseph P. Green is Cosby’s new attorney. This report was given by Mr. Wyatt. He is based in West Chester and deals with personal injury cases and criminal defense. Attempts of getting any comment from Green in a phone call were not fruitful. Mr. Tom on the other hand just wished good luck on Bill Cosby and his new defense team. Mr. Tom gave no further additional information. In April, Cosby was convicted with three counts of sexual indecency. The 80-year-old is looking at 30 years behind bars for these accusations. His first trial was in 2017. However, the jury could not come to a final judgment. In April, during the rehearing, he was found guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand. This incident on the former Templer University basketball official happened outside his home in Philadelphia. Brian J. McMonagle was the head of his defense team at the first trial at Philadelphia. He also did not comment when Cosby changed his legal team afterward.

This action was met with a lot of criticism from a lawyer of the same locality, William J. Brennan. He said that McMonagle was able to instill vital questions on the court that they were unable to give a judgment. “If he had a brain in his head, he would go back to McMonagle,” commented Brennan. During the filing of an appeal, it is customary for the accused to hire new lawyers. Philadelphia- area defense attorneys support this claim. Mr. Mesereau announced in April that it was only after the sentencing that a legal appeal would be filed. It was, however, unclear to Alan Tauber why Cosby changed Mr. Mesereau’s team. Ms. Constand faced accusations of lying at the first trial to get a payout.

Read More: https://wreg.com/2018/06/15/bill-cosby-replaces-his-defense-team/

Drug Lord “La Barbie” Sentenced to Nearly 50 Years

An American citizen who was born in the United States was extradited from Mexico and sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison on drug and money laundering charges by a federal judge in Atlanta. Edgar Valdez Villarreal was known as “La Barbie” due to his light complexion and light eyes. He was also fined a staggering $192 million. Prosecutors remarked that $192 million was a conservative estimate of the value of the cocaine that was transported to the United States by Villarreal. He would then ship payment for the cocaine back to Mexico. Villarreal had pled guilty early in 2016 to conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to distribute the drug and conspiracy to launder money. Each charge carried a minimum 10 year prison sentence. Presently 44-years-old, the man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

The former linebacker for his high school football team in Laredo, Texas, viciously ascended the ranks to get the top of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug organizations. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, he started out by trafficking large shipments of marijuana between New Orleans and Memphis. He then developed a network through which he regularly delivered 150 to 180 kilos of cocaine to different cities on tractor-trailers.

“La Barbie’s” organization later began using speedboats to carry cocaine out of Colombia and other countries in South America into Mexico where it would later be transported to the United States. CNN reports that he worked his way up the organization as a hitman during a turf war for smuggling routes in and around Laredo. Upon his arrest, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized 100 kilos of cocaine and $4 million.

The man had been in custody in the United States since 2016, but he didn’t enter a plea until the middle of 2018. His family members, including his sister who is a Texas state prosecutor, pled with the presiding judge for a lesser sentence

“La Barbie’s” lawyer maintained that his client deserved credit for telling authorities 10 years ago that Mexican drug organizations had learned the identities of undercover law enforcement agents in the area. He argued that the information probably saved the lives of the agents. In response, the judge argued that even after “La Barbie” disclosed that information, he continued to deliver large shipments of cocaine to the United States. He remarked, “I’ve never seen a case like this.”

Remember About Those Cams During a Traffic Stop

If you’re the subject of a traffic stop, you don’t want to tell the officer what to do or how to address you, and you certainly don’t want to tell that officer to “shut the f**k up,” especially with dashboard and body cameras running. Port Authority Commissioner Caren Turner did just that to a Tenafly, New Jersey Police officer, and now she’s a former commissioner. All of that was over an alleged expired registration on a vehicle that he daughter wasn’t even driving. She was a passenger.

Turner purportedly arrived at the scene of the traffic stop to give her daughter a ride, but she apparently intended to use whatever influence she thought that she had over the stop. When the detaining officer asked her if she was at the scene to give her daughter a ride, she denied that. She stated that she was there as a “concerned citizen and friend of the mayor and been in Tenafly for 20 years.” Since the traffic stop had no connection with her other than her adult daughter passenger, the officer told her that she didn’t need to know the circumstances surrounding it. That’s when the officer referred to Turner as “miss.” She snarled back with “No, don’t call me miss. I’m commissioner. Thank you.” When the officer finished his work on the stop, he told Turner that she could take her daughter and her friend away. She snapped, “You may shut the f**k up and not tell me when I can take my kid and friends who are Ph.D. students from MIT and Yale. You may tell me nothing.”

Caren Turner resigned from her position as a Port Authority Commissioner the next day. It’s likely that it wasn’t a voluntary resignation either. Getting out of your car, being belligerent and swearing at a police officer during a simple traffic stop isn’t going to do anything at all to get you or anybody else out of a ticket, especially when it’s all recorded on a dash cam or body cam. The former Port Authority Commissioner Miss Turner is living proof of the possible ripple effect.

Akron Civil Case Moving Forward

Stories in the news of examples of police brutality and other serious situations are becoming increasingly commonplace. In many situations, some of these stories and up resulting in lawsuits that take place as a form of punishment and compensation for those that feel they were wronged. This past week, a new lawsuit emerged related to an unfortunate situation that took place in Akron, OH (http://fox8.com/2018/05/10/family-of-akron-teen-who-died-in-police-custody-files-civil-lawsuit-against-police-department/).

In August of 2017, Xavier McMullen was arrested with several of his friends and placed in the backseat of a squad car. During the initial arrest, the police officers completed a quick check to make sure that McMullen and his friends did not have any weapons on them. Unfortunately, they did not check hard enough and he actually had a gun in his back pocket. When he was placed in the backseat of the car, he was placed in a certain position that accidentally discharged the weapon. McMullen ended up getting hit in a very serious spot and died shortly after being shot.

At the time of the incident, McMullen was only 17 years old and his family is now looking to file a civil lawsuit against the city of Akron and the police department. The lawsuit was filed in the Summit County Common Pleas Court by a local attorney and is expected to start moving forward very quickly. The situation at the time was heavily covered by the press due to the unusual nature of the situation. While McMullen was shot by his own weapon, there are a variety of odd situations with the case that could make it a very interesting court case.

The primary part of the lawsuit claims that the police officers did not properly search McMullen during the arrest. This then directly led to the gunshot wound and ultimate death of the teen. Another odd thing about the situation was that one of the cameras for the vehicles was not working, which caused the police to lose some very important tape footage that could have been great evidence for the case.

At this point, the police department is not answering any questions about the situation or the case. The police officer that was on the scene was disciplined for not searching the teen properly, but was not fired over the situation. He is also not likely to face criminal charges due to the situation as its not clear that there was any intent.

 

 

Cosby Verdict Could Lead to Significant Civil Damages

After his conviction for sexual assault in a Pennsylvania court, famed entertainer Bill Cosby faces many years in jail. But this may not be the only punishment he will face. Experts believe that the conviction could lead to many civil lawsuits, in which women he both assaulted and defamed could sue him for significant sums of money.

On Thursday, a jury convicted Cosby — who is now 80 years old — of assaulting Andrea Constand more than a decade ago. He faces 10 years imprisonment for each count of indecent aggravated assault, though the sentences could be given concurrently.

So far, around 60 women have accused the former star of the hit series “The Cosby Show” of assaulting them, often with aid of drugs. Though only Constand’s accusation resulted in criminal proceedings because the others were beyond the statue of limitations. Cosby has continually denied any wrongdoing.

At the moment, it is believed that around 10 women have filed civil claims against Cosby, in both California and Massachusetts. These lawsuits alone could result in millions of dollars in damages. Attorneys representing Cosby in these suits have not commented about them. But Gloria Allred, who is a famous defense lawyer representing one of Cosby’s alleged victims, says that — if the lawsuit goes to trial — she will definitely introduce Cosby’s conviction as evidence. She says that she believes that his conviction will certainly sway a jury in her client’s favor.

In civil suits, attorneys representing the women will only have to demonstrate a preponderance of evidence to support their claims, which requires a far lower threshold of belief than what is required to convict someone in a criminal court, in which a jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of someone’s guilt.

Lynne Abraham, who was once a district attorney and who is now working in private practice for a firm called Archer, believes that the conviction could lead other women to accuse Cosby, because it will give these women courage to believe that they will prevail in court.

Douglas Wigdor, who is a lawyer who represents plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits, says that judges do not always allow evidence of past behavior as evidence in these suits. He says that there must be a clear pattern of such behavior. In Cosby’s trial, 5 other women testified against the actor, saying that he drugged and assaulted them as well.

 

Plea Agreement Entered for Woman With Gun in Body Cavity

A 27-year-old Missouri woman has entered a plea of guilty to charges of possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm in McLean County, IL. Her plea agreement requires truthful testimony from her against her acquaintance with whom she was arrested. The woman faces up to 10 years in prison on the gun charge and up to 15 years in prison on the controlled substance charge. The controlled substance was heroin. It’s likely that she will receive a significantly reduced sentence if she testifies in accordance with her plea agreement. The man has been charged with unlawful possession of heroin with intent to deliver and possession of ecstacy.

The woman and a 29-year-old man were arrested after a traffic stop for traveling at 90 mph at 5:00 a.m. on Interstate Highway 55. Police reported that a search of the vehicle uncovered heroin and ecstacy. The woman was transported to the McLean County Jail to be booked and processed. Arrestees are also subject to a strip search. In the woman’s case, the strip search revealed a loaded Kimber .380 handgun hidden inside of the woman’s vagina. The Daily Mail reports that enforcement personnel said that the weapon had a fully loaded magazine and “a bullet in the chamber ready to fire.” An unloaded Kimber .380 is 5.6 inches long and weighs 13 ounces. A criminal history check shows that the woman has been arrested in the past for theft passing bad checks and resisting arrest.

There’s a reason for criminal suspects being strip searched. That’s because this has happened before. A 19-year-old woman was found to have a loaded .22 revolver concealed in her vagina upon being strip searched after being taken into custody in Kingsport, TN. That handgun was four inches in length. An Oklahoma woman who was strip searched after being taken into custody on a drug arrest was found to have a loaded .22 revolver hidden in her vagina.

Allegedly Drunk Man Runs Himself Over With His Own Car

A DUI charge can come in a wide variety of ways. Even weaving within your own lane is a sufficient basis for a traffic stop in some states. Then, there are the atypical ways of catching a DUI. Those might be falling asleep at a red light, riding a horse on a freeway on your birthday like one Florida man did. Another Florida man was charged with DUI after operating a riding lawn mower on a roadway. He was driving back home after getting more beer. Being hit by your own vehicle can give new meaning to not being in control of your vehicle though. That’s what happened to a young man in Virginia.

He was pulled over on a routine traffic stop for an equipment violation. He did pull over, but when he did so, he exited his car and began running. In his haste, the driver apparently failed to put the car in park when he stopped. He ran around the front driver’s side of the car and was hit by his rolling car. The man quickly got back onto his feet and continued running. He was caught after a short foot chase. All of this was recorded on the dash cam of a Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department squad car.

The driver is now charged with felony hit-and-run, a third DUI charge, possession of marijuana and operating a vehicle with illegally tinted windows. The tinted windows were the likely basis of the traffic stop. Felony hit-and-run in Virginia is categorized as a class 5 felony. It’s punishable by up to 10 years in prison with a six month minimum jail term. A third DUI within five years is also punishable as a class 5 felony. That third DUI within five to 10 years is a class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in prison with a 90 day minimum jail sentence.

“Smallville” Actress Allision Mack Arrested on Sex Cult Allegations

Allison Mack and self-help specialist Keith Raniere were arrested last week. Each of them was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. Mack is widely known from her role as Chloe, who is Clark Kent’s close friend in the hugely successful television series “Smallville.” If convicted, both face up to 15 years in prison.

Raniere is alleged to be the leader of a sex cult, and Mack has been held out by authorities as a recruiter of unsuspecting women for him and his group called NXIVM Both of them have entered pleas of not guilty. Authorities further allege that Mack told women she was recruiting that they were entering into a female mentorship program. As reported by ABC News, federal prosecutors stated that “Mack and other … masters recruited … slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses the NXIVM curriculum taught were common in women.”

In court, one of the prosecutors remarked that “under the guise of female empowerment” the actress “the actress starved women until they fit her co-defendant’s sexual ideal.” A prosecutor went on to say that Mack then made the women who she recruited engage in sexual behavior with Raniere. He then paid the actress in return.

Raniere was arrested in Mexico where NXIVM is also located. He’s presently in Brooklyn and being held without bail. It’s unknown whether anybody else has been or will be charged. Kristen Kreuk was a co-star of Mack’s in “Smallville.” She confirmed that in the past, she was involved in a self-help group involving Mack and Raniere. She stated that she took a course with “Executive Success Programs/NXIVM” to overcome shyness, but left the program about five years ago. She related that when with the group, she never experienced any “nefarious activity”. She was “horrified and disgusted” about the accusations.

Raniere’s lawyer also denied the allegations against his client. In defense of Raniere, he stated that no influence or pressure caused anybody to do anything against their will.

Supreme Court Denies Blagojevich’s Appeal

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to shorten his jail sentence. Blagojevich is currently serving 14 years in federal prison relating to a wide-ranging corruption scandal from his time in office. He was famously convicted of soliciting bribes in exchange for filing the empty Senate seat of Barack Obama after he was elected president in the fall of 2008.

The court’s ruling leaves in place a lower court decision that rejected Blagojevich’s request for a reduced sentence based on the fact that some of the counts in his original conviction back in 2011 have been invalidated. He also claimed that he deserved a reduced sentence because of his good behavior since being incarcerated in prison.

The former governor, who is now 61 years old, was also convicted of extortion and wire fraud in addition to soliciting bribes. He was in office from January 2003 to January 2009. It was during the latter date that the Illinois legislature removed him from office. He then began serving his sentence in 2012.

The charges against Blagojevich, who was also once a contestant on Donald Trump’s reality show “Celebrity Apprentice,” and who is a member of the Democratic Party, went beyond filling Obama’s vacant senate seat. Prosecutors additionally accused Blagojevich of soliciting campaign funds in exchange for raising reimbursement rates relating to pediatric health care in the state, and for supporting legislation that would have benefited local horse racing interests.

In 2015, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago invalidated 5 of the 18 original counts against Blagojevich. They also ordered new sentencing for the former governor. But James Zagel, who is a U.S. district judge, eventually gave Blagojevich the same 14-year sentence that he had first received. Later on in 2017, the same 7th Circuit Court rejected an appeal from Blagojevich and his legsl reprentatives, who maintained that Zagel had abused his discretion when he imposed on Blagojevich the same exact sentence that he had originally received.