Tag Archive: hi4e.com


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A Kansas City, KS toddler who was abducted while sleeping in the back seat of a car has been found safe.  On July 12th, 2017, a man left his girlfriend’s car running while he went inside a Kansas City gas station to get her three-year-old daughter a drink. The little girl remained in the backseat, asleep.  Police say that’s when Tyler Letzig, 28, and Karri Reich, 29, took the car with the girl inside.

Police cordoned off the Valero gas station at 7th and Riverview and quickly released surveillance of the two suspects to the media.  The video shows the suspects — a man in a green T-shirt and a woman in a blue one-piece short set — enter the gas station separately on more than one occasion and later converse near a gas pump.

The woman re-enters the store while the car with the child pulls up beside an older model white utility van the suspects allegedly drove.  The man in green can be seen on video canvassing a silver 2016 Ford Focus as the driver exits the vehicle.  The driver of the Ford enters the store, and the woman in the blue short set exits. The woman briefly speaks with the male suspect then jumps in the Ford and drives away.

Within an hour of the abduction, investigators say the boyfriend’s cell phone pinged several miles away in Leavenworth County. Officers from the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, Wyandotte County sheriff’s deputies, troopers from the Kansas Highway Patrol, and federal agents all aided in the search.  When the pinging stopped in the area of Interstate 70 and 206th Street, police requested help from other law enforcement agencies with an aircraft but none were immediately available.

The little girl, 3 year old Amaya Vestor was found safe near the abandoned vehicle around 8pm in a rural area of Tonganoxie after a local television station’s helicopter spotted the stolen car in Leavenworth County.  Responding to the initial reports of a child abduction and stolen vehicle, SkyTracker headed to Leavenworth County to track down the location from the cell phone ping.  SkyTracker pilot Captain Gregg Bourdon and photographer James Moore scanned the area and noticed an abandoned, silver vehicle matching the description of the car stolen.  A quick call back to the station to update the newsroom, and 41 Action News Assignment Editor Steve Kaut alerted law enforcement.

A sheriff deputy came right under the helicopter and made his way down the road until he could see the child get out of the car.   SkyTracker captured the reunion from 2,000 feet in the air.  The male suspect, Tyler Letzig-reportedly was apprehended Thursday by authorities in Leavenworth County. The female suspect, Karri Reich-is still on the run.  Tyler Letzig and Karri Anne Reich were each charged Friday with one count of kidnapping, child endangerment and theft.

Update:  Karri Reich turned herself in and was booked into the Wyandotte County Jail Tuesday morning.

 

 

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The bodies of four young Pennsylvania men who went missing last week have been found.  Hours after finding a fourth body buried in a farm here, authorities charged two men with multiple counts of homicide in what authorities said were marijuana deals that turned murderous.  Cosmo Dinardo and his cousin Sean Kratz, both 20, were denied bail in preliminary arraignments.  Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub announced that the bodies of the young men who went missing last week had been found buried on a farm owned by Dinardo’s parents in Solebury Township.

The victims were identified as 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, Mark Sturgis, 22, Tom Meo, 21, who disappeared together and Jimi Tar Patrick, 19.  The defense attorney for Cosmo NiNardo, 20, said his client admitted to killing the four in three separate shootings, and told authorities the location of the bodies.  DiNardo is ready to plead guilty to four counts of first-degree murder in order to take the death penalty off the table.

Jimi Patrick was the first to go missing and days later- the three other men disappeared.  Investigators had focused their search on a property a few miles from the Delaware River, a farm owned by the parents of Cosmo Dinardo, the man who has been identified as a “person of interest” in the case.

Dinardo was initially charged with trying to sell Meo’s car, a 1996 Nissan Maxima and was being held in jail on $5 million cash bail after being deemed a flight risk.  Dinardo confessed his involvement in the disappearances, implicated Kratz, and gave information about the location of the fourth victim, police say.  Dinardo has a history of unspecified mental illness, and he was previously involuntarily committed to a mental health institution after firing a shotgun, authorities said.

In the arrest affidavit Dinardo told police that on July 5 he agreed to sell four pounds of marijuana for $8,000 to Jimi Patrick.  Dinardo picked Patrick up at his home and drove him to the farm but Patrick only had $800, the affidavit states. Dinardo then offered to sell Patrick a shotgun for that amount.  Dinardo took Patrick to a remote part of the property and gave him a shotgun. Dinardo then shot and killed Patrick with a .22 caliber rifle and buried his body six feet deep using a backhoe.

Two days later, Dinardo said he and Kratz, decided to rob Dean Finocchiaro during a drug deal. Dinardo told police he gave Kratz his mother’s Smith and Wesson .357 handgun for the robbery.  They met at Finocchiaro’s home and went to the farm.  Dinardo told police, Kratz shot Finocchiaro near a barn and the put his remains in a metal tank.   Kratz’s account of the killing describes Dinardo as the shooter.

Dinardo had a deal in place that same night to sell marijuana to Thomas Meo.  Dinardo met Meo and his friend Mark Sturgis and the two followed him to his farm where Kratz was waiting.  Dinardo and Kratz described Dinardo shooting Meo in the back and shooting at Sturgis as he tried to flee. According to the police affidavit, Dinardo said after he ran out of ammunition, he drove a backhoe over Meo’s body. Afterwards, they put the bodies in the metal tank, poured gasoline inside and set it on fire.  They returned the next day to bury the tank 12 feet deep using a backhoe.

 

 

 

 

 

16 servicemen killed.jpgSixteen service members were killed after a military transport plane that was being used on a training flight crashed in Mississippi, prompting an urgent rescue effort in one of the South’s most rural regions, the authorities said.  A Marine Corps spokeswoman at the Pentagon, Capt. Sarah Burns, said that one of the service’s KC-130 aircraft had “experienced a mishap.” The Marines use KC-130s for aerial refueling.

The cause of the crash, in an unincorporated part of Leflore County, was not immediately clear.  The plane crashed along County Road 547, a dirt road that connects acres of farmland between Itta Bena and Moorhead.  Military aircraft are a common sight in the skies of rural Mississippi.  Witnesses described the plane as disintegrating in the air as it neared the ground, leaving a debris field about five miles in diameter.  Many speculate that the plane experienced an explosion mid-air because of the large debris field.

The air tanker was based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, and was on its way from a Marine installation at Cherry Point, North Carolina, to a naval air field at El Centro, California, when it went down, officials said.  The planes final destination was Yuma, AZ.  The plane vanished from air traffic control radar somewhere over Mississippi before the crash that killed all fifteen marines and a navy corpsman on board.

Six of the Marines and the sailor were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, N.C.. Nine were based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., home of a Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron.  The service members were identified as Cpl. Dan Baldassare, 20; Staff Sgt. Robert Cox; 28, Capt. Sean Elliott; 30, Maj. Caine Goyette; 41, Gunnery Sgt. Mark Hopkins; 34, Sgt. Chad Jenson,; 25, Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson; 46, Sgt. Julian Kevianne; 31, Staff Sgt. William Joseph Kundrat; 33, Sgt. Talon Leach; 27, Sgt. Owen Lennon,; 26, Sgt. Joseph Murray; 26, Cpl. Collin Schaaff;  22, Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman; 26, Staff Sgt. Joshua Snowden; 31 and Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ryan Lohrey, 30.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bloom around 4pm  and then the plane began spinning down to the ground.  Eyewitnesses recall hearing ammunition exploding after the crash.  The Marine Corps acknowledged that ammunition was on board the flight without specifying what kind. Due to the presence of the ammunition, restrictions were placed on who could initially approach the scene of the crash, officials said.

The force of the crash nearly flattened the plane and witnesses said there were bodies across a highway, more than a mile from the crash site.  Firefighters tried to put out the fire but withdrew after an explosion forced them back. The fierce blaze produced black smoke visible for miles across the flat region and continued to burn after dusk, more than four hours later.  The fire department used about 9,000 gallons of foam to extinguish the blaze.

Marine Corps officials are being aided in their investigation by a number of different agencies, including the Mississippi Management Association, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

 

 

Popular craft chain store Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay a $3 million fine and return thousands of artifacts smuggled from Iraq.  Hobby Lobby’s owners are conservative Christians who plan to open a Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., this fall.

Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby spent over $1.5 million in December 2010 to purchase more than 5,000 Iraqi artifacts from a dealer based in the United Arab Emirates. The sales violated a ban on the sale of Iraqi cultural artifacts in place since 2004.

According to the complaint, Hobby Lobby began collecting a range of historically significant manuscripts and other antiquities in 2009. The following July, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green traveled with a consultant to the United Arab Emirates, where they inspected a large cache of cuneiform tablets and other artifacts.

Two Israeli antiquities dealers and one from the United Arab Emirates attended the July 2010 inspection with Hobby Lobby’s president and consultant. At the meeting, the complaint says, the artifacts were displayed informally, “spread on the floor, arranged in layers on a coffee table, and packed loosely in cardboard boxes, in many instances with little or no protective material between them.”

The dealers claimed the items were from the family collection of a third dealer who was not present, according to the complaint. They later sent Hobby Lobby a provenance statement — a guarantee of authenticity — indicating that the artifacts were legally acquired in the 1960s from local markets.

After returning to the United States, the complaint says, Hobby Lobby’s president and in-house lawyer spoke with an expert on cultural property law who warned them that antiquities from ancient Iraq may have been looted from archaeological sites. In a memo, the expert told them that any items of Iraqi origin that were not properly declared could be seized by customs officials.  Hobby Lobby proceeded with the sale despite the numerous “red flags”, buying hundreds of cuneiform tablets and thousands of other artifacts.  According to a civil complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the deal was “was fraught with red flags” and was consistent with a “clandestine” operation.  According to the complaint, Hobby Lobby got conflicting information about where the artifacts had been stored and never met or communicated with the dealer selling them. When it came time to pay, the company wired money to seven separate bank accounts.

A dealer based in the United Arab Emirates shipped packages containing the artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City. Five shipments that were intercepted by federal customs officials bore shipping labels that falsely declared that the artifacts’ country of origin was Turkey.  In September 2011, a package containing about 1,000 clay bullae, an ancient form of inscribed identification, was received by Hobby Lobby from an Israeli dealer and accompanied by a false declaration stating that its country of origin was Israel. The packages bore shipping labels that described their contents as “ceramic tiles,” the complaint said.

 

 

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A senior cardinal and top adviser to Pope Francis will return to Australia to face charges of sexual assault. Cardinal George Pell is the third-highest-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church.  Pell was charged in his native Australia with multiple counts of sexual assault from years ago.

The charges against Pell were announced in Melbourne by Victoria State Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton.  Pell was ordered to appear in court July 26 to face multiple counts of “historical sexual assault offenses”.  Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell, but he gave no other details.

It is unclear what the criminal charges against Pell involve, but two men, now in their 40s, have said that Pell touched them inappropriately at a swimming pool in the late 1970s, when Pell was a senior priest in Melbourne.

In 2014, the Vatican admitted nearly 850 priests have been dismissed and more than 2,500 have been disciplined in a sprawling sexual abuse scandal dating back decades.  Cardinal Pell said Pope Francis granted him a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself.  The 76-year-old Pell — the highest-ranking Vatican official ever implicated in the scandal and has forcefully denied the accusations.

In a statement read to the press, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Vatican respected Australia’s justice system but recalled that the cardinal had “openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable” acts of sexual abuse against minors.  He noted Pell’s cooperation with Australia’s Royal Commission investigation of sex abuse and that as a bishop in Australia, he worked to protect children and compensate victims.

Pell’s actions as archbishop came under scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children. The Royal Commission revealed that 7 percent of priests were accused of sexually abusing children in the past several decades.

Last year, Pell testified to the commission that the church had made “enormous mistakes” in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. He vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

It was unclear if Pell would face a church trial stemming from the accusations. The Vatican has clear guidelines about initiating a canonical investigation if there is a semblance of truth to sex abuse accusations against a cleric. In the case of a cardinal, it would fall to Francis himself to judge. Penalties for a guilty verdict in a church trial include defrocking.

 

 

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A Tennessee man accused of planning to attack a Muslim community in New York has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Chattanooga’s U.S. District Court convicted Christian minister Robert Doggart, a 65-year-old former engineer at the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The FBI began investigating Doggart in February 2015, when agents became aware of a threatening Facebook post by Doggart in which he wrote that Islamberg needed to be “utterly destroyed.”  After an investigation that included wiretaps Doggart was arrested on April 10 by federal marshals and charged with solicitation, intentionally defacing, damaging or destroying religious property and interstate communication of threats, court documents show.

FBI agents discovered Doggart was stockpiling weapons and plotting to travel to upstate New York to kill Muslims using explosives, an M-4 assault rifle and a machete. According to a federal investigation, Doggart saw himself as a religious “warrior” and wanted to kill Muslims to show his commitment to his Christian god.

The investigation showed that he spoke with numerous individuals across the country to plan an attack.  Doggart also traveled to South Carolina, where he met with individuals from an unidentified militia group.

Prosecutors said Doggart made threats against Islamberg near Hancock, N.Y., in phone conversations with supporters in South Carolina and Texas. Jurors listened to many phone calls in which Doggart talked about burning down Islamberg’s mosque with explosives and shooting anyone who opposed his team with assault rifles.

Defense attorneys countered that Doggart exaggerated a number of facts, never had a consistent plan in place, was goaded by a confidential informant into carrying out the attack and only wanted to conduct peaceful recon on Islamberg. Defense attorney Jonathan Turner told jurors in his closing arguments that Doggart was convinced Islamberg’s residents wanted to carry out a terror attack on New York City, in part because of Fox News broadcasts.

Since his arrest in April 2015, Doggart has spent most of the time out on bond until his recent conviction.  After that verdict, Doggart’s defense attorneys had asked Judge Collier to let him stay on house arrest before his May 31 sentencing hearing, citing medical problems.  Collier denied the request saying Doggart appeared obsessed with the community of Islamberg and should stay in custody until sentencing.

 

Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial has ended in a mistrial after jurors remained deadlocked on all counts after 52 hours of deliberation.  Cosby faced three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Andrea Constand has accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004.  Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee.

Constand is one of about 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades.  It’s the only criminal case stemming from dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies.  She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.

Cosby did not take the stand, but his lawyers have maintained the physical contact was mutual and raised questions as to why Constand kept in phone contact with Cosby after the alleged incident.  They also questioned why she did not report it for a year. Prosecutors declined to charge Cosby in 2004 but reopened the case after the scandal erupted two and a half years ago.

The jurors were chosen in the Pittsburgh area and bussed in to Philadelphia for the trial.  After six days of testimony, the jury of seven men and five women began deliberations.  They were soon deadlocked but continued to deliberate, reviewing reams of testimony.  After 52 hours of deliberations, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill accepted a defense motion for a mistrial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele immediately announced that he plans to retry the case and ordered that Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail he posted when he was first charged.  Steele later told reporters that there “was no pause or hesitation” in deciding to retry the case and that “we had a significant amount of evidence … now we have to prove (the case) beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Prosecutors will retry him on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a charge that carries 10 years in prison.

Outside the courthouse, lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, said that “round two may be just around the corner, and this time, justice may prevail.”  She commended her client Kelly Johnson, the only other accuser allowed to testify at the trial, and thanked all the accusers who have spoken out.  Several of Cosby’s accusers have been attending the trial.

 

cosby trial.jpgBill Cosby’s sexual assault trial has ended in a mistrial after jurors remained deadlocked on all counts after 52 hours of deliberation.  Cosby faced three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Andrea Constand has accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004.  Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee.

Constand is one of about 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades.  It’s the only criminal case stemming from dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies.  She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.

Cosby did not take the stand, but his lawyers have maintained the physical contact was mutual and raised questions as to why Constand kept in phone contact with Cosby after the alleged incident.  They also questioned why she did not report it for a year. Prosecutors declined to charge Cosby in 2004 but reopened the case after the scandal erupted two and a half years ago.

The jurors were chosen in the Pittsburgh area and bussed in to Philadelphia for the trial.  After six days of testimony, the jury of seven men and five women began deliberations.  They were soon deadlocked but continued to deliberate, reviewing reams of testimony.  After 52 hours of deliberations, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill accepted a defense motion for a mistrial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele immediately announced that he plans to retry the case and ordered that Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail he posted when he was first charged.  Steele later told reporters that there “was no pause or hesitation” in deciding to retry the case and that “we had a significant amount of evidence … now we have to prove (the case) beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Prosecutors will retry him on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a charge that carries 10 years in prison.

Outside the courthouse, lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, said that “round two may be just around the corner, and this time, justice may prevail.”  She commended her client Kelly Johnson, the only other accuser allowed to testify at the trial, and thanked all the accusers who have spoken out.  Several of Cosby’s accusers have been attending the trial.

 

As part of the “extreme vetting” promised on the campaign trail, the Trump administration has issued a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.  The administration calls the questions “voluntary” but the new form says applicants who don’t provide the information might see their visas delayed or denied.

Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.  Officials will request the additional information if they determine that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.

The questionnaire also asks those who have traveled outside their country of residence to provide details for each trip, including locations visited, date visited, source of funds and length of stay.  It also asks for the names and birth dates of any living or deceased siblings, children or spouses (current & previous).

The State Department has stated that the tighter vetting would apply to visa applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”

The new questions were approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups.  Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.

Immigration lawyers and advocates say the request for 15 years of detailed biographical information, as well as the expectation that applicants remember all their social media handles, is likely to catch applicants who make innocent mistakes or do not remember all the information requested.  The Office of Management and Budget granted emergency approval for the new questions for six months, rather than the usual three years.

A proposal to request “social media identifiers” for travelers using the visa waiver program was put forward by US Customs and Border Protection last year and went into effect for for some visa waiver travelers in December 2016.  The new questionnaire applies specifically to visa applicants not using the visa waiver program.

 

 

 

 

In Montana, tech millionaire Greg Gianforte won a special election for the state’s sole congressional seat just one day after he was charged with assaulting a reporter.   Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor and repeatedly punched him, after Jacobs tried to ask about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the House health care bill.

More than $6 million was spent by outside groups in Montana’s special election with 90% of the money favoring Gianforte.  He won just over 50 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic challenger Rob Quist, who received 44 percent.  Gianforte addressed the incident during his victory speech “Last night, I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back. And I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did. And for that, I’m sorry.”

Immediately after the violent altercation, the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, quickly relayed the incident on social media.  “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs tweeted.  Jacobs  went to a local hospital for an X-ray on his elbow and Gianforte left the event.

Jacobs’ account of the incident was corroborated by Fox News Alicia Acuna, who was in the room to interview Gianforte at the time of the violent attack. Acuna stated that after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and slammed him to the ground before punching him repeatedly.  “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies,” Acuna wrote in her account of the attack.

The sheriff’s office released a statement saying it was investigating allegations of assault involving Greg Gianforte but held press conference hours later as news of the assault spread.   Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon released a statement that conflicted with witness accounts “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office,” Scanlon said in the statement, “the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.  Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

In audio released of the incident, Jacobs asks Gianforte a question about the latest CBO scoring of the Affordable Health Care Act.  “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said.  A struggle can be heard on the recording as Gianforte continues “ The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”  “Yes! You just broke my glasses, you just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs can be heard saying as Gianforte repeatedly yells at him to “Get the hell out of here.”

Earlier on the day of the assault, Jacobs had published a story in the Guardian about financial ties between Gianforte and Russian companies under U.S. sanctions.  There is no word on whether his report in the Guardian was a motive in the assault.