National Roundup

Defense urges lighter sentence for attack plot

CINCINNATI (AP) — Defense attorneys say an Ohio man who plotted to attack the U.S. Capitol has now rejected “radical Islamic propaganda” that influenced him and should get a substantially lighter prison term than the 30-year sentence prosecutors are seeking.

In a 31-page memo filed Tuesday, attorneys for 22-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell say a sentence between 10 and 20 years is more appropriate. They urge the court to not “throw away” a young man they say “can be saved.”

Cornell was accused of plotting to attack during President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. Cornell pleaded guilty to three charges, including attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees.

The FBI arrested him Jan. 14, 2015, in a gun shop parking lot.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith is scheduled to sentence Cornell on Monday.

Police seek pair who stole dump truck, dragged away an ATM

MOSCOW, Pa. (AP) — Police are searching for two people they say stole a dump truck from a housing development then used it to drag an automatic teller machine out of a grocery store in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Police in Covington Township say the men attached a chain to the machine at Bill’s ShopRite grocery shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The theft, captured on surveillance video, shows the men were driving a truck from Thornhurst Country Club Estates. Officials there have confirmed the vehicle is a $70,000 plow and dump truck that was stolen sometime between 1 p.m. Monday and 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The stolen truck has since been recovered, as has part of the ATM.

Police haven’t said how much money was stolen. The men were wearing masks and heavier clothing with hoods.

Former potato chip exec gets prison for fraud

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former executive with a Pennsylvania potato chip and snack food company will spend more than four years in federal prison for defrauding the company out of roughly $1.4 million.

Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin Myers was sentenced to 51 months in prison Tuesday after acknowledging in July that he received $651,000 in kickbacks while purchasing director at Utz Quality foods in Hanover.

Federal prosecutors say Myers received the kickbacks from 45-year-old Jonathan Haas, who owned Haas Packaging and Design when the thefts occurred between January 2010 and August 2014.

Haas pleaded guilty in July to submitting bogus invoices for $1.4 million in shelving and packaging products that were never delivered to Utz, and kicking back some money to Myers.

Haas will be sentenced Jan. 12 before the same federal judge in Harrisburg.

Aaron Hernandez sues over hacked jail phone calls

BOSTON (AP) — Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has sued a company after some of his jailhouse phone calls were apparently listened to by an unknown person.

Hernandez’s lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston charges Dallas-based Securus Technologies Inc. with negligence, breach of contract, and invasion of privacy. It demands that Securus provide an account of how the conversations were accessed, how many were listened to, and who listened.

The calls were hacked in 2014 while Hernandez was in a Boston jail awaiting trial on a murder charge. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He’s currently awaiting trial for allegedly killing two men in Boston in 2012.

SEC: Man hid money to avoid paying $6M fine 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Federal securities officials want a former Portland, Maine, developer to pay a nearly $6 million fine he accepted in a 2010 settlement.

The Portland Press Herald reports the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a motion in September in Philadelphia saying Michael Liberty, of Windermere, Florida, hid money and lied about being unable to pay the remaining $5.4 million.

The SEC alleged Liberty improperly diverted more than $9 million of a $100 million venture capital fund to himself or associates.

Liberty agreed to settle the allegations. A judge cut the fine to $600,000 after Liberty told the SEC his net worth was negative $29 million.

His lawyer counter-filed and says Liberty was telling the truth about his financial condition.

Liberty pleaded guilty Monday in Maine in an illegal campaign contributions case.

Court to hear LGBT-workplace bias appeal

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal court will consider arguments that protections under the 1964 Civil Rights Act should expand to cover LGBT workers.

The full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will rehear Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively’s appeal Wednesday. It vacated a ruling by three of its own judges in July that the landmark workplace-discrimination law doesn’t cover sexual-orientation bias. Hively alleges a college didn’t hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

The three-judge panel did criticize the lack of sexual-orientation workplace protections, but said they must come from Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court.

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate a social conservative to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, making High Court action on the issue uncertain.

New York
Art dealer admits to trafficking rhino horns

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has announced an Asian art dealer from Long Island admitted to charges that he took part in the illegal trafficking of black rhinoceros horns.

Forty-nine-year-old Fengyi Zhou acknowledged while entering his guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday that he purchased up to five uncarved horns that came from black rhinos, an endangered species.

Federal prosecutors say the Syosset man was aware that the horns he purchased were first bought in Texas and unlawfully transported to New York.

Zhou then immediately made a move to sell the horns, which he eventually did for more than $130,000 to an associate who is a Chinese national.

Defense attorney Paul Goldberger says Zhou is a legitimate businessman who just made a bad decision. He’s requesting no jail time for his client.