FindLaw Blotter: April 2011 Archives
FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

April 2011 Archives

Buy a Fake Purse in NYC? Face Jail, $1K Fine

Councilwoman Margaret Chin might just be the newly minted least favorite person of New York's budget fashionistas.

The politician, who oversees New York's Chinatown, has introduced city legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly buy fake designer purses, punishing offenders with a $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail.

Are Mental Hospital Attacks on the Rise?

A 15-year-old female patient on the psychiatric ward at the Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan was sodomized by an 11-year-old patient last month. The young boy has pled guilty and is now awaiting sentencing.

This is a horrifying story, but the fact is that it's not that uncommon--particularly at state facilities that house criminal defendants.

Man Dies From Cops' Taser at Universal Studios

We all thought that it was funny when the "Don't tase me, bro!" video popped on YouTube, but the fact is that the devices can be dangerous, and taser deaths are real.

The death of Florida resident Adam Spencer Johnson last week proves this. The 33-year-old man died after being tased by a group of 5 on- and off-duty police officers.

Pastor Aided Kidnap in Lesbian Custody Fight

The child custody and kidnapping saga involving Lisa Miller, Janet Jenkins, and Timothy Miller (no relation) is an odd one, involving a born-again ex-lesbian, an evangelical pastor, and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Despite the soap opera-esque details, the story proves that religious conviction can't overcome child abduction laws.

First Grader Handcuffed After Easter Egg Tantrum

The New York Police Department's school safety division has a long history of removing disruptive children from campus in handcuffs despite their young age.

Another child met this fate last week, and it turns out that not only is he 7 years old, but he has special needs.

Should this have happened?

Baltimore Parents Jailed Over Truant Kids

Parents who turn a blind eye to their children ditching school are being put behind bars.

A dozen parents of Baltimore school students were sentenced to jail this year because their minor children missed excessive amounts of school, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Man Faked Being Army General for Executive Job

What would possess a person to elaborately fake a stint in the military for a construction job is unclear, but Randall Thomas Keyser of Barboursville, West Virginia thought it was a good idea.

The FBI announced last week that it had arrested Keyser on charges of wire fraud after he faked his military background so that he could get a job.

Do DUI Apps Help Drunk Drivers Avoid Checkpoints?

Though it advertises itself as a means to avoid speeding tickets, PhantomAlert is one of a few smart phone apps that alerts subscribers to the exact locations of DUI checkpoints.

Appalled by the DUI app, U.S. Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg and Mark Udall asked Research in Motion (RIM), Apple and Google to remove it from their online stores last month. Only RIM has complied.

Should Apple and Google remove it, too?

Michigan Cell Phone Fight: Cops Scanning Phones?

It's a generally accepted conclusion that, absent exigent circumstances, police may not search an undetained person's cell phone without a warrant or prior permission.

According to the ACLU, Michigan State Police, armed with cell phone extraction devices, has been violating this principle, illegally culling information from cell phones during traffic stops.

Marijuana Odor in Car Not Enough for Police Action

If you're a marijuana smoking Massachusetts resident, here's some potentially good news:

The Supreme Judicial Court has decided that the smell of marijuana alone is no longer sufficient reasonable suspicion for law enforcement to order you out of a vehicle.

The rest of you? Well, you're probably out of luck.

Man Charged with Raping Woman at Denver Airport

A Portland, Oregon man was charged by Denver prosecutors with one count of sexual assault this week after he allegedly raped a woman in an empty concourse at the Denver International Airport.

The Man, Noel Bertrand, was caught in the act by two airport employees, but the victim claims that at least three other employees witnessed the alleged rape and did nothing.

Tyler Clementi's Roommate Indicted in Suicide

Dharun Ravi has been indicted by a New Jersey grand jury for his involvement in the events that led to Tyler Clementi's suicide.

For those who don't recall, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutger's University, jumped off the George Washington Bridge last fall after Ravi used a hidden webcam to stream video of Clementi during a romantic encounter with a man.

Clementi's suicide was part of a national wave of teen suicides induced by anti-gay bullying.

Why Does Jury Duty Sometimes Take Forever?

There are very few people out there who rejoice when they receive a jury summons.

No matter the case, the number one complaint of prospective jurors is the excruciating amount of time it takes for the judge and attorneys to whittle down the jury pool.

What gives?

Girl, 12, Tries to Rob Store at Gunpoint

It's not every day that a 12-year-old robs a store. Or at least tries to.

But that's just what happened at Country Lake Food Center in Highland, Michigan Friday night, when a young girl pointed a nine millimeter gun at employees and demanded cash.

Duke Lacrosse Accuser Charged With Murder

The woman who falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her was charged Monday with murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend.

Crystal Mangum was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder and two counts of larceny, the AP reports. Before he boyfriend died, she was originally charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Should I Ever Refuse a DUI Sobriety Test?

Even though it's never appropriate to drive under the influence, it's important to understand your legal rights so that you can make informed decisions.

With DUI checkpoints popular nationwide, you may be subject to police scrutiny after a few drinks. At some point, you may even have to decide whether to comply with a breathalyzer request or a field sobriety test.

If this is ever the case, this is what you need to know.

US Border Officials Corrupted by Mexican Cartels?

Congress and the states have placed a renewed emphasis on illegal immigration as of late. However, the drug trade, and its impact on the strength of our southern border, have taken a back seat in the national conversation.

The fact is that the U.S. is not faring much better than its southern neighbors in keeping drugs out of the country. Evidence shows that border corruption is a widespread problem as more and more patrol agents succumb to the monetary bribes of Mexican cartels.

Gluten Free Fraud: Breadmaker Gets 9-Year Sentence

Convicted of 23 counts of fraud for intentionally misleading customers into believing his products were gluten-free, North Carolina breadmaker Paul Evan Seelig is now facing 9 to 11 years behind bars.

Some are criticizing the sentence as excessive, arguing that Seelig basically sold mislabeled bread. However, if you consider the state of criminal battery law, and the number of people who purchased the bread, Paul Evan Seelig may have actually gotten off easy.

What to Do If You're Arrested in a Foreign Country

Foreign travel is often a time to explore, let loose and have a little fun.

It, however, is not a time to break local laws.

Being arrested abroad is serious business for a foreign traveler, so it’s best to avoid the situation completely. But, if you are arrested in a foreign country, here’s what you need to know.

Joseph Massino is First Boss to Rat Out Mafia

In a New York courtroom, Joseph Massino made mafia history by being the first mob boss to ever testify in court against an underling.

Massino's testimony, which he hopes will reduce his time in jail, provided the jury with evidence about the Bonanno crime family, as well as defendant Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano's involvement in the murder of Randolph Pizzolo.

Mom Convicted of Denying Autistic Son Cancer Drugs

Kristen LaBrie was found guilty on Tuesday by a Massachusetts court of attempted murder, permitting serious bodily injury to a disabled person, permitting substantial injury to a child and reckless endangerment of a child.

The crime? She withheld chemotherapy drugs from her 9-year-old autistic son who later died of cancer.

Could Long Island Serial Killer be a Cop?

More bodies potentially connected to the Long Island Serial Killer were found on a stretch of Jones Beach over the weekend, raising the killer's total body count to eight.

But that isn't the most interesting bit of information released by police.

It turns out that New York may have a real-life Dexter on its hands, with some close to the investigation believing that the suspect may be law enforcement.

Cops Still Can't Enforce Arizona's SB 1070

Five months after hearing arguments challenging Arizona's controversial S.B. 1070, the 9th Circuit has affirmed the lower court's injunction prohibiting the enforcement of four of the law's criminal provisions.

Despite this decision, portions of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in mid-April, still raise constitutional questions.

NJ Chaperones Charged with Student Sex on Trip

They may have been hot-shot athletes back in the day, but two Paramus Catholic High School alums-turned-employees are now accused of trying to resurrect the glory days with three teenage students.

Artur Sopel, vice president of operations, and Michael Sumulikoski, a substitute teacher and Paramus Catholic football coach, allegedly had sex with a combined three female students while chaperoning the group on a class trip to Germany.

Jaycee Dugard's Kidnapper Pleads Not Guilty

As late as Tuesday, the media was reporting that Phillip Garrido, who is being charged in the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case, was expected to plead guilty.

In a surprising move yesterday, the confessed kidnapper pled not guilty to his crimes.

Despite the plea, his lawyer still expects him to spend the rest of his life in jail.

Crossing Guard, 73, Beat Up for Breaking up Fight

What do you do when your child, at the age of 6, gets into a schoolyard fight?

It depends. But, at the very least, you don't encourage a rematch, and you certainly don't attack the adult trying to break it up.

Shareka McKinney and Darell Livingston of Lansing, Michigan did just that. And now they're facing charges for assault and battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Professor Shuts Laptop, Arrested for Battery

Krista Bowman is the most infamous student at Valdosta State University.

That's in Georgia, by the way.

Bowman is under fire for pressing charges against assistant professor Frank Rybicki.

He closed her laptop on her fingers while she surfed the web during his class.

Attorney Convicted in ASU Student's Stabbing Death

Well-known Arizona bankruptcy attorney Daniel Gukeisen has been convicted of manslaughter in the stabbing of an Arizona State University student, sources report.

Gukeisen was reportedly not present at court for the verdict, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, according to Alex Morris' blog.

The charges against Daniel Gukeisen, 39, relate to a September 2008 argument that left Garrett Hohn, an Arizona State University student, dead.

Why Barry Bonds Didn't Call a Single Witness

A lot of people were surprised yesterday when Barry Bonds' perjury trial defense team rested its case without calling any witnesses.

There's a lot of speculation as to why this decision was made--I even chimed in over on FindLaw.com's Tarnished Twenty, highlighting potential strategic rationales.

But the fact of the matter is that the Barry Bonds trial is a criminal prosecution, placing the burden of proof on the prosecution. This means that if Barry Bonds' defense team didn't want to call any witnesses, it didn't have to.

Duke Lacrosse Accuser Crystal Mangum Stabs Man?

Crystal Mangum.

She falsely accused Duke lacrosse players of rape, placing a black mark on many people's lives.

She set fire to her ex-boyfriend's clothes, nearly burning down a house filled with children.

And now? She's allegedly stabbed her live-in boyfriend with a kitchen knife. Repeatedly.

9/11 Mastermind Will Have Guantanamo Bay Trial

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.

The move, which is in direct contradiction to the Obama Administration's long-held position on Guantanamo Bay, comes after almost two years of preparation to try him in a civilian court.

It appears as though the administration has decided that a trial must happen regardless of where it occurs.

Woman, 66 with Cancer, Tackles Armed Bank Robber

Despite occurring on April 1st, it was not an April Fool's joke.

Renee Green really was trying to rob a Florida bank on Friday, and sixty-six year-old cancer fighter Helen Dunsford definitely tackled the would-be bank robber, body slamming her to the floor.

Why'd she do it? Only God can kill her now.

New Orleans Cops Sentenced for Katrina Killing

Two New Orleans police officers convicted last year in the killing of a man during the chaos following Hurricane Katrina were sentenced Thursday in federal court.

In the wake of the hurricane, when the public needed the police the most, these officers betrayed that trust and killed a man, the sentencing judge said.

Former Officer David Warren got more than 25 years in prison, and current officer Greg McRae was sentenced to more than 17 years, the AP reports.