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Ex-Tesla Employee Indicted for Embezzling $9.3M

Salil Parulekar must have thought he was pretty smart.

He had a management job at Tesla, overseeing the company's relationship with global suppliers. When he saw Tesla was cutting off one supplier, he figured out a way to impersonate another supplier and divert $9.3 million to himself.

At least that's how prosecutors described the scheme in United States of America v. Parulekar. For Parulekar, it means he'll have to figure out how to avoid 20 years in prison and about $2.5 million in fines.

Though federal courts around the country have been more and more accepting of LGBT litigants over the years, the federal appellate court bench has been rather devoid of LGBT representation.

President Trump has nominated an openly gay judge to one of the open seats on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Notably, the nominee, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Bumatay, would be the second ever openly gay federal appellate court judge, and the first for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Walker was not open about it and did not confirm his sexual orientation until after retiring from the bench).

9th Circuit Hears Question Over Guam's Plebiscite

Who are the Chamorros?

The simple answer is: the indigenous people of Guam. But it leads to a more complicated question in a case pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Who should be allowed to vote for the political future of the island? That is a question the appeals court must answer in Davis v. Guam, and it won't be easy.

Canadian Company Must Pay $8.6M to Native Americans in Pollution Case

A Native American group is entitled to $8.6 million from a Canadian company that polluted the Columbia River, a federal appeals court ruled.

In Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court decision against the mining company. The award will repay the cost of investigation and attorney's fees in the case.

Now that the courts have found the company liable, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation will pursue damages. They are dealing with nearly a century of water pollution.

House Committee Advances Bill Reshaping 9th Circuit

As President Trump reshapes the federal courts through judicial appointments, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering even bigger changes.

The House Judiciary Committee has approved three wide-ranging bills, which will now go to the entire legislative body. The measures cover so many subjects that the American Bar Association has asked the lawmakers to slow down.

ABA President Bob Carson said the proposals deserve more time for review. But one bill -- to split the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- has been there before.

Judge Extends Block on Plans for 3D-Printed Guns

A federal judge issued an injunction against publishing plans for 3D-printed guns -- again.

After the U.S. State Department said a company could publish the plans on the internet on Aug. 1, the judge issued a temporary restraining order at the request of 19 states and the District of Columbia. They said the plans could lead to felons and terrorists getting undetectable plastic guns.

Judge Robert Lasnik then extended his emergency order, basically saying he had to protect law-abiding Americans. Apparently the threat was imminent, even though the plans were first released five years ago.

Suit Against Drivers' Union Hits 9th Circuit Roadblock

Seattle was ahead of its time when it gave for-hire drivers the chance to unionize in 2016.

Unfortunately for Uber drivers and others, their lawsuit challenging the city ordinance was also premature. In Clark v. City of Seattle, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said their claims are not ripe.

The for-hire drivers said the ordinance violated the National Labor Relations Act and their First Amendment rights. Not now they don't, according to the appeals court.

Ninth Circuit Smokes EPA for Harmful Pesticide

A federal appeals court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a pesticide once used as a nerve gas that can cause brain disorders.

According to studies presented to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, low doses of chlorpyrifos can cause children to suffer attention deficit disorders, delayed motor development, and lower IQs. A divided panel of the court blasted the government for dragging its feet in protecting consumers.

"The time has come to put a stop to this patent evasion," Judge Jed Rakoff wrote for the majority in League of United American Citizens v. Wheeler.

$232 Million Cryptocurrency 'Crowdsale' Case Proceeds Against Founders

Arthur and Kathleen Brietman say they raised funds for their cryptocurrency startup, but they had no obligation to give contributors any tokens back.

Of course, that was a surprise to the people who sued in four class actions. They say the Brietmans defrauded them and violated securities laws in a $232 million "crowdsale."

A judge says the plaintiffs have a case, and his say-so matters most. The plaintiffs may not get any tokens, but their case raises new questions about whether digital currencies are subject to securities laws.

Ryan Bounds wasn't the first, and won't be the last, of President Trump's controversial picks for the federal courts, especially given his hopes of reshaping the Ninth Circuit. Bounds was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Ninth, however, as his confirmation vote was set to hit the Senate floor, it was announced that the nomination was withdrawn.

Apparently, Republican Senator Tim Scott, who happens to be the only African American Republican in the Senate (and one of only three total), took issue with nominee Bounds's history of racially and ethnically charged (and insensitive) writings. Even Bounds seemed embarrassed by it. Though Scott seemed to exercise extreme decorum in his public statement, commentators didn't need to hear much more to understand that Bounds's nomination was too controversial.