Tag Archive: mark shuster legal shield


Equifax Massive Data Breach

 

 

 

equifax.jpgA huge security breach at credit reporting company Equifax has exposed sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and addresses, of up to 143 million Americans.  Others in the U.K. and Canada were also impacted, but Equifax hasn’t said how many. The data breach is considered one of the worst ever because of its reach and by the sensitivity of information exposed to the public.

The hackers have accessed sensitive information — including names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 U.S. customers were compromised, in addition to “personal identifying information” on about 182,000 U.S. customers.

Equifax (EFX) is one of three nationwide credit-reporting agencies that track and rate the financial history of consumers. The company gets its data from credit card companies, banks, retailers and lenders.   The data breach is among the worst ever because of the amount of people affected and the sensitive type of information exposed.  The company said it found no evidence that consumers in other countries were affected beyond the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Equifax said the breach happened between mid-May and July 2017.  They discovered the hack on July 29th and promptly engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm which has been conducting a comprehensive forensic review to determine the scope of the intrusion, including the specific data impacted. Equifax also reported the criminal access to law enforcement and continues to work with authorities.

They reported the breach to the public on September 7th.  They said hackers exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files and they are investigating the breach.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also launched a formal investigation into the hack.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into the breach as well.

Equifax said it will send notices in the mail to people whose credit card numbers or dispute records were breached.   They have also established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com  to help consumers find out if they have been impacted.  To find out if you are potentially impacted, you can go the website-click on “Potential Impact,” and enter your last name and last 6 digits of your Social Security number.

The company is also offering a program called TrustedID Premier. It says that includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year.  You must complete the enrollment process by November 21, 2017.  Consumers should be aware that buried in the terms of service of this program, is language that bars those that enroll in the Equifax checker program from participating in any class action lawsuits that may arise from the incident.

The best defense against identity theft and credit fraud is to monitor your credit report frequently to check for any suspicious activity, such as accounts you didn’t open, address changes, or anything else that you don’t recognize.

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Prosecutors have asked the FBI to assist in an investigation into the rough arrest of a Utah nurse after video of her being dragged screaming from a hospital drew widespread condemnation.  Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is overseeing a criminal investigation into officers involved in the handcuffing of nurse Alex Wubbels. He is asking for FBI help in part because his office can’t prosecute possible civil rights violations like wrongful arrest.

The incident happened on July 26 but bodycam footage that was released last week sparked national outcry.  That night, a man named William Gray was taken to the hospital after suffering severe injuries from a car crash.  Gray, a reserve police officer with the police department in Rigby, Idaho-who works as a truck driver, had been injured after being in the fiery head on car crash with a truck that was fleeing from Utah State Highway Patrol.

In the video, Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne is seen squaring off against Utah nurse Alex Wubbels, the charge nurse working the night shift on the burn unit at Utah University Hospital.   Wubbels was following hospital protocol and the law when she calmly refused to allow a blood draw on an unconscious patient without consent or a warrant.   She presented the officers with a printout of hospital policy on drawing blood and said their request did not meet the criteria.

Hospital policy specified police needed either a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient needed to be under arrest, before obtaining a blood sample.  “I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do. That’s all,” Wubbels tells the officers, according to the body camera video.  She put her supervisor on speakerphone who told Payne “You’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.” “No, we’re done,” Payne said. “We’re done. You’re under arrest.”

Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne insisted on drawing the blood, maintaining in his report that he wanted the sample to protect the man rather than prosecute him. He was supported by his supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, who said the nurse could be arrested if she didn’t agree.  The dispute ended with Payne handcuffing Wubbels and dragging her outside while she screamed that she’d done nothing wrong. She was detained for 20 minutes and later released without charge.

Payne, who has worked for the department for over 20 years, and a second unidentified officer were put on full paid administrative leave by Salt Lake City police after the video emerged.  Lt. James Tracy’s actions are also under review.  Payne has also been fired from his part-time job as a paramedic following comments he made on the video about taking transient patients to the hospital as retaliation.

The Rigby Police Department said they hope the incident will be investigated thoroughly and “appropriate action” will be taken.  “The Rigby Police Department would like to thank the nurse involved and hospital staff for standing firm and protecting Officer Gray’s rights as a patient and victim,” “Protecting the rights of others is truly a heroic act.”  “It is important to remember that Officer Gray is the victim in this horrible event, and that at no time was he under any suspicion of wrongdoing,” the statement said, adding that Gray “continues to heal.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help William Gray and his wife with expenses while he recovers at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.  https://www.gofundme.com/BillGray

 

 

Troy Gentry, of country duo Montgomery Gentry, has died at the age of 50, following a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey.  The crash took place around 1pm on Friday September 8th at Flying W Airport where bandmate Eddie Montgomery waited.  Pilot James Evan Robinson, 30, died on the scene and Troy Gentry was taken to nearby Virtua Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.  Montgomery Gentry was scheduled to perform that night at the Flying W Airport & Resort in Medford but the show was immediately cancelled.

Medford police said first responders received news of a helicopter in distress that was returning to the Flying W Airport.  A police statement said “Initial reports were the helicopter was going to attempt to crash land.” “Emergency crews arrived at the airport and shortly thereafter, the helicopter suddenly crashed in a field just south of the airport runway.”  The Federal Aviation Administration has said that the Schweizer 269 helicopter crashed into a wooded area off the Runway 1 at the airport.

Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, described the flight as a “spur of the moment” helicopter ride.  Rayner explained “Not long after takeoff, the pilot announced over the airport frequency – which was being monitored by a number of people – that he was having difficulty controlling engine RPM.”  “A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one.  The helicopter landed short of the runway in low brush, it was substantially damaged and the occupants were fatally injured.”

Friends long before they made it big, the Kentucky-based duo formed in the late ’90s.  They produced a number of country music hits, including “My Town,” “Headlights” and “Hillbilly Shoes.”  They were named duo of the year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association in 2000, and were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009.

The duo’s recent years were marked with loss and struggle. In 2014, Gentry grieved the death of his brother, Keith.  In 2015, Hunter Montgomery, the 19-year-old son of Eddie Montgomery died from an accidental overdose.  Gentry was also by Montgomery’s side as he battled prostate cancer in 2010. A few years later Troy Gentry’s wife, Angie McClure Gentry, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was eventually declared cancer-free in 2015.  Troy Gentry also lost his father Lloyd Gentry on August 13 of this year.  Troy Gentry leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

 

 

 

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Hurricane Irma made its first landfall in the northeast Caribbean early Wednesday after growing into one of the most powerful storms ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean.  The storm is one of three (Irma, Jose and Katia) hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have been in the Atlantic.  Jose, in the open Atlantic far to the southeast of Irma, became a hurricane. Katia, in the Gulf of Mexico, also became a hurricane.

Irma has maintained intensity above 180 mph longer than any storm in Atlantic basin history.  Late Wednesday night, Irma’s core was spinning about 85 miles northwest of San Juan, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.  In the US Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp ordered a 36-hour curfew.

Irma’s core slammed the tiny island of Barbuda before moving over St. Martin and Anguilla and parts of the British Virgin Islands. Its maximum sustained winds of 185 mph were well above the 157 mph threshold of a Category 5 storm.  Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said that the telecommunications system in Barbuda, where 1,800 people live, was wiped out and cell towers were knocked over.  Both of the island’s hotels were demolished, he added.  There is also no way to land airplanes on the islands, Browne said from Antigua, whose 80,000 people comprise most of the two-island nation’s population.

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said Irma destroyed four of the most solid government buildings on the French-administered portion of nearby St. Martin, an island of about 75,000 people.  Puerto Rico and Storm surge is a concern for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Central Bahamas (up to 20 feet), as is heavy rain (up to 20 inches in the Virgin Islands, and up to 20 in parts of Puerto Rico).

Computer models show that on Thursday the storm will move very near or over the Turks and Caicos, with catastrophic damage likely. The storm will also pass just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, bringing hurricane force winds to northern sections of the island, with flooding and mudslides probable.

In the Bahamas, emergency evacuations have been ordered for six southern islands — Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.  “This is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.

It’s too early to tell whether it will make landfall on the US mainland but models show it could hit near  Florida’s east coast by late Sunday, and forecasters warn the core still could hit the Florida peninsula.

Emergency management officials are requiring visitors to the Florida Keys to begin evacuations by sunrise Wednesday due to incoming Hurricane Irma; resident evacuations begin 7 p.m. Wednesday.  Floridians should heed any evacuation order, Gov. Rick Scott said. “A storm surge could cover your house. We can rebuild homes — we cannot rebuild your family,” he said.

 

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Prosecutors have announced charges against a Kansas City man in the shooting deaths of two men.  He is a suspect in three other killings that occurred along or near the Indian Creek Trail, a hiking trail that runs for miles along south Kansas City.  Fredrick Demond Scott, 22, is jailed on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54. Prosecutors said DNA evidence connected him to the victims.

The slayings terrorized the community for months and left many residents that frequented the trails daily, feeling it was too dangerous.  Palmer was killed Aug. 19, 2016, in a wooded area near the Indian Creek trail and his body was dragged into a wooded area near the trails where it was later found.  The other victims are Mike Darby, 61, co-owner of the popular Coach’s Bar & Grill, who was found dead May 18 along Indian Creek Trail; David Lenox, 67, found killed Feb. 27 a few feet from his front door while walking one of his dogs; and Timothy S. Rice, 57, who was found dead April 4 inside a shelter at Minor Park.

In May 2017, the FBI began assisting with the investigation and the policed warned that the killings may be the work of a serial killer because they were all near the trails and the victims were middle-aged, white men.  All of the victims had been shot, four were shot in the head — three in the back of the head. One was shot in the back.  Three of the victims had been walking their dogs when they were killed though no details linking the crimes were released to the public.

Prosecutors said Gibbons was shot in the back of the head as he walked along a south Kansas City street.  Surveillance video showed Scott following Gibbons off a Kansas City bus and down a south Kansas City street on Aug. 13 while drinking from an iced tea bottle. He was later seen running from the scene of Gibbons’ shooting and getting back on the bus.

Gibbons brazen killing in broad day light is what ultimately lead to Scott’s arrest.  Detectives found the iced tea bottle discarded at the scene and traced it back to the nearby convenience store it was sold from.  After reviewing the store’s surveillance footage, they issued Scott’s picture as the suspect in Gibbon’s killing to area law enforcement.  A Kansas City police officer waiting at a stop-light recognized Scott while he sat on a stone wall smoking a cigarette adjacent to the intersection.

The officer called homicide detectives who followed Scott home and the officer picked up his discarded cigarette butt.  When DNA evidence from the cigarette and the iced tea matched, police arrested Scott at his home.  The DNA evidence also linked Scott to a discarded t-shirt left behind at John Palmer’s 2016 killing.   “They didn’t see it coming,” Scott said under his breath while being questioned by detectives.  Scott has admitted to the two killings he has been charged with though police have not established a motive.  Scott repeatedly said he was upset over the death of his brother who was killed in a robbery in 2015 but he did not indicate a motive for the trail slayings.

Scott graduated from Center Alternative School in 2015 at the age of 20.  His mother said she believes that her son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia though he has never been officially diagnosed and has refused to get help.  A municipal citation for harassment documented by the school in January 2014 revealed that Scott threatened to kill himself, shoot up a school and “kill all white people,” according to court records.

 

 

Three people died and 19 were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia after violence erupted between white nationalist protestors and counter-protesters.  The protests began on Friday night, as thousands of neo-Nazis, KKK members and other white nationalists began descending on the city of Charlottesville to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally.

Hundreds bearing torches marched on the University of Virginia campus and surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson on Friday night, chanting “You will not replace us” and “White lives matter.”  Thousands of counter-protestors also descended on Charlottesville over the weekend, including clergy, students, Black Lives Matter activists, and protesters with the anti-fascist movement known as “Antifa.”

On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 white supremacists marched to the public park, recently renamed Emancipation Park, which is home to the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Many were carrying Nazi flags and other white supremacist paraphernalia, wore body armor and carried assault rifles and pistols. They were met by the thousands of anti-racist counterdemonstrators.

Soon after this march, the violence began as fights broke out with little police intervention.  Around 1:45 p.m., as police were attempting to disperse the crowds, 20 year old James Alex Fields, drove his Dodge Charger into a crowd of counter-demonstrators and then peeled away.  Fields, a resident of Maumee, Ohio had been rallying with the white nationalists earlier in the day.

Local paralegal Heather Heyer was killed in the attack, and at least 19 others were injured. Two state troopers, Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, also died Saturday, when their helicopter crashed en route to the scene of the violence.

James Alex Fields, Jr. was initially charged with 1 count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.  Police have now charged him with five additional charges.  The five additional charges include two more counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding.  No bond was set, and he remains in custody.

Fields grew up in Kentucky and recently moved to Ohio, his mother, Samantha Bloom.  She told the Associated Press that she knew he was attending the “Unite The Right” rally this weekend and that he supported President Donald Trump, but said she didn’t know it was a white nationalist rally.  She added that she didn’t “get involved” with her son’s political views.  Neighbors describe him as a quiet teenager who had trouble making friends.  Former class mates , teachers and school officials noticed Fields had “deeply-held, radical” beliefs on Nazism and race.

 

The cholera outbreak in Yemen has become a dire situation as the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the number of cases has reached over 400,000.   U.N. leaders say the outbreak has increased the number of people in need of assistance to nearly 21 million.  Since late April, the total has reached 402,484 suspected cases, 1,880 of them fatal.  Illnesses have been reported in all but 2 of the country’s 23 governorates.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, along with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley, said in a statement that more than 2 years of hostilities have crippled health, water, and sanitation systems, creating ideal conditions for the disease to spread.

“We now call on the international community to redouble its support for the people of Yemen. If we fail to do so, the catastrophe we have seen unfolding before our eyes will not only continue to claim lives but will scar future generations and the country for years to come,” the three said in their statement.

They warned that Yemen is on the brink of famine and 60% of the population doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. They added that nearly 2 million of the country’s children are acutely malnourished, making them susceptible to cholera, which leads to more malnutrition.

The outbreak began last year but a second wave of the waterborne disease has spread even more quickly in the last couple of months.  UNICEF and WHO have attributed the outbreak to malnutrition, collapsing sanitation and clean water systems due to the country’s ongoing conflict.

The impact of the outbreak has been exacerbated by many factors including the collapse of the Yemeni health services, where 30,000  health workers have remained unpaid for 10 months but are still reporting for duty. Less than half of Yemen’s medical centres are still functional.  WHO officials said “We have asked the Yemeni authorities to pay these health workers urgently because, without them, we fear that people who would otherwise have survived may die.”

Local authorities and humanitarian groups have set up more than 1,000 treatment centers and oral rehydration units.  The UN is working with the World Bank on a partnership to support the response needs and maintain the local health system.

Two years of conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels have taken a heavy toll on Yemen, causing widespread internal displacement and leaving millions facing famine.  The collapse of the country’s infrastructure has led to 14.5 million people, including nearly 8 million children,  having no access to clean water and sanitation.

With thousands more cases reported each day the number of cholera cases in Yemen is expected to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year.

 

 

One Baltimore police officer has been suspended and two others placed on desk duty, after newly surfaced body camera video appeared to show one of the officers planting drugs during an arrest last January. In the video, Officer Richard Pinheiro is seen stashing a soup container in a lot strewn with garbage as two of his colleagues look on.

The officer briefly walks out to the street and returns to the site where he removes a plastic bag full of white capsules from the soup container. The officer was apparently unaware of a feature of his camera that stored 30 seconds of extra footage ahead of the moment he activated the device.  The footage was caught on camera in January but not discovered by a public defender until this month.  The public defender forwarded the video to the prosecutors in the case.   After the video’s release, prosecutors dropped heroin possession charges against the man who had been held in jail since January, unable to pay his $50,000 bail.  The prosecution team said that they were appalled by the behavior of the police officer.

Body cameras capture the 30 seconds before an officer actually hits the record button, but without audio. Baltimore police have said they believe the officer was recreating the discovery of drugs for the body cam.  The video has led to an investigation by the BPD’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

Officials have since released more video to back up their claims as they continue to investigate these serious allegations. Footage taken moments before the original video shows the man being arrested and the officers finding marijuana and heroin on his person. They then headed into the alley to continue their search, where they “found” the bag of 25 heroin pills.

Police are investigating if the officer planted the second set of drugs there or if he was recreating the discovery when his body camera was rolling.  “It’s certainly a possibility that we’re looking into, to see if the officers, in fact, replaced drugs that they had already discovered to document the discovery with their body-worn cameras on,” said Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis.

During a press conference, Davis said that they will look at “what happened, crimes committed, policies or procedures violated” and that he’s “convinced we’re going to get to the bottom of it, if evidence was planted and take assertive action if that’s the case.”  “This is a serious allegation of police misconduct,” Davis added. “There’s nothing that deteriorates the trust of any community more than thinking for more than one second that uniformed police officers — and police officers in general — would plant evidence of crimes on citizens.”

Baltimore Police are not new to scandal.  In 2016, the Justice Department found that officers from the Baltimore Police had planted drugs on a suspect on at least one occasion. In the same year, the police were also forced to settle a lawsuit with a man who accused officers of orchestrating a bogus drug bust at his residence.   They also sparked massive backlash for an incident in April 2015 when a young, black man named Freddie Gray died days after suffering a spinal injury while under police custody.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has extended the state of emergency for another three months.  The extension followed weekend ceremonies to commemorate the first anniversary of the failed military coup in which around 250 people, mostly unarmed civilians, were killed.  Anniversary celebrations came a week after the leader of the main opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, ended a nearly 280-mile “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul by holding a rally attended by more than a million people calling for an end to emergency rule and injustice.

President Erdogan vowed to continue the brutal crackdown against activists, journalists, teachers and opposition lawmakers.  He also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in Turkey.  Since emergency rule was imposed on July 20 last year, more than 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 people have been suspended in a crackdown which Erdogan’s opponents say has pushed Turkey on a path to greater authoritarianism.

Speaking at parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the emergency rule had helped created the necessary legal environment to cleanse the state of Gulen’s network. The Turkish government says it is necessary to root out supporters of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is believed to be behind the coup attempt. Gulen has denied any involvement.

Since the failed coup where Turkish military forces tried to overthrow the government, the Turkish government has taken what some say are controversial steps to strengthen its power.   In March, the Jurist Report was published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The report describes a plethora of human rights violations committed by the Turkish government between July 2015 and December 2016.

The same month the report was published, around 330 individuals were put on trial for alleged involvement in an attempted coup.  In November Turkey significantly restricted the activities of NGOs like human rights organizations and children’s groups and arrested opposition party leaders alleging they were connected to terror organizations.  Earlier this month the Turkish Parliament elected seven new members to the country’s 13-member Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) in an overnight vote.

Ten human rights activists, including Amnesty International Turkey director Idil Eser, were in court to face terrorism related charges.  The targeting of human rights defenders and similar earlier crackdowns on lawyers and associations raises the question of who will be left to defend the tens of thousands of people caught up in the post-coup purge.

Former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges for killing 15-year-old African-American student Jordan Edwards.  Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into the moving car that Edwards, his brother and two friends were in as they were driving away from a party on April 29.

Jordan Edwards was shot in the head as he sat in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.  One of the car’s passengers says the officer never even ordered the boys to stop driving before opening fire.

Originally Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said the officer fired his gun after the car drove “aggressively” toward both officers but he later said he misspoke after reviewing the body cam footage.  Oliver was fired for violating several department policies and procedures in the shooting and charged with murder.  He posted his $300,000 bail that evening.  If convicted of murder, he faces up to life in prison.

Jordan’s parents filed a lawsuit shortly after the shooting against the city of Balch Springs, the Balch Springs Police department, and Roy Oliver, the police officer who shot and killed him.  They claim Oliver used excessive force and lacked proper training to be on duty, also alleging Oliver used a racial slur while detaining Jordan’s stepbrother, Vidal Allen, who was driving the car the night of the shooting.

Shortly after the indictment, the Edwards’ family lawyer, Lee Merritt tweeted  “A murder indictment for Roy Oliver is appropriate but the fact is it’s been +40 years since a cop was convicted in TX.” Merritt also made a statement referring to how he felt the officers and the Balch Springs Police Department handled the events following the shooting improperly. Not only did a cop fire a weapon in a car full of unarmed teenagers unnecessarily, he also suggested that the boys were mistreated instead of being offered proper medical attention – as is protocol.  “They were immediately treated as common criminals by other officers; manhandled, intimidated and arrested while their brother lay dying in the front seat,” Merritt added.

Roy Oliver, who had been with the department for six years, is an Army veteran who served in the Middle East.  He was also indicted last month on two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegations that he pulled a gun on a woman and her sister after a road-rage incident two weeks before Jordan’s death. No trial dates have been set.