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Recently in Crime in the News Category

Michael Cohen, the man who claims he covered up the president's "dirty deeds," was sentenced to three years in prison this morning for his role in funneling hush money to two Donald Trump mistresses in the run-up to the 2016 election. The former lawyer and "fixer," also received a two-month sentence for lying to Congress regarding Trump's business dealings in Russia, which he will be able to serve concurrently.

This is big news, of course, but the questions naturally turn to: What does Trump think, and how will this affect the presidency?

First-Degree Murder Charge for Man Who Drove Into Charlottesville Crowd

A jury found James Alex Fields Jr. guilty of first degree murder, as well as aggravated malicious wounding, hit and run, and leaving the scene of an accident, for driving his car into a sea of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017. The incident left Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist, dead, and around three dozen others injured.

Sextortion scams come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the victims are teens, sometimes women. Sometimes the perpetrators are hackers, other times its pedophiles. And then you have a couple hundred South Carolina prison inmates targeting over 400 active military personnel and fleecing them of half a million dollars.

So how did the scam work?

On September 6, an off-duty Dallas police officer entered Botham Jean's apartment and shot and killed him. That now-former officer, Amber Guyger, was originally charged with manslaughter in the shooting, but a Texas grand jury delivered an indictment last week charging Guyger with murder.

The shift in charges could signal a change in evidence available to prosecutors, and will definitely mean a different level proof in Guyger's criminal trial and more severe penalties, should she be convicted.

So ... remember that heartwarming tale of the homeless vet who spent his last $20 to buy a woman gas? And how she and her boyfriend repaid that kindness by publicizing his generosity and started a GoFundMe campaign to buy the man a home and car? And how the story went viral and thousands of touched strangers poured almost half a million dollars into that account, only to have the homeless vet accuse the couple of siphoning off money to fund their own lavish lifestyle?

Yeah well that was all fake -- from the very beginning. And now all three are in police custody, facing a decade behind bars.

The number of hate crimes reported in 2016 was already the most in the past five years. That trend sadly continued into 2017, with the FBI reporting a surge in hate crimes unseen since the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Especially troubling was the spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes, coupled with several incidents (like the murder of Heather Heyer during a white supremacist rally) that the FBI failed to classify as hate crimes.

The report brings up a lot of questions about hate crimes in general. Here are some of those, along with some answers:

Texas Serial Package Thief Arrested Before Holiday Season

It's the holiday season, and you know what that means? Package theft will be on the rise. Officers in Williamson County, Texas have been on the lookout for one prolific thief, active since mid October. Last week, they caught the culprit. Surprised? Don't be! According the Sheriff Chody and his Twitter account, "Williamson County doesn't play around." Evidently, the apprehended culprit stole packages containing both personal property and weapons.

Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini were stabbed multiple times in a home in Farmington, New Hampshire in January 2017 and their bodies laid under a tarp in the backyard. Among the possible evidence police gathered from the home was an Amazon Echo smart speaker device in the kitchen. Prosecutors believe the device may have been activated during one of the murders.

On Friday, an Amazon spokesperson told the AP it won't release customer information "without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us." But that order looks like it will be coming. Judge Steven Houran ordered Amazon to release any recordings from the Echo, along with any associated data, like which phones might have been paired to the smart speaker device.

Mail-Bombing Spree Suspect Indicted on 30 Counts

Cesar Sayoc, the person accused of sending pipe bombs to foes of President Trump, has been indicted on 30 federal counts associated with using the U.S. Mail to send weapons of mass destruction, and threatening interstate commerce. The indictment claims Sayoc mailed 16 bombs to various addresses throughout the country, listing in detail five of the bomb mailings to intended recipients Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Robert DeNiro, James Clapper, and George Soros.

According to the indictment, Sayoc must forfeit all of his assets. The 26 page indictment also lists Sayoc's pseudonyms, including Cesar Randazzo, Cesar Altieri, and Cesar Altieri Randazzo. If convicted, Sayoc faces life in prison.

Jury Picked for El Chapo's Drug Trial

The jury has been seated for El Chapo's long awaited drug trafficking and conspiracy trial, set to begin next week in a Brooklyn federal court room. During the summer, over a thousand people received questionnaires, kicking off the beginning of jury selection. The week began with a field of 74 potential jurors, and in two days, the final twelve were chosen. And so it begins!