National Roundup

Lawyer convicted in corruption case over NYPD gun permits

NEW YORK (AP) — An ex-Brooklyn prosecutor has been convicted of bribery and conspiracy in a gun-permit scandal after giving bribes including a diamond-studded watch to a former New York Police Department sergeant.

John Chambers was convicted Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. The 63-year-old faces sentencing Aug. 9.

The conviction came after an ex-NYPD police sergeant testified about lavish gifts he received from Chambers. A lawyer for Chambers said his client was framed by the ex-sergeant.

Defense attorney Roger Stavis says he will appeal the verdict.

Defense lawyers say meals, the watch and tickets to sports events were given as gifts out of friendship rather than as bribes.

A prosecutor said in a closing argument Monday that nobody gets a pass on bribery because the bribe recipient is a friend.

Rhode Island
Lawyer charged with embezzling $1.2M from 10 of his clients

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Warwick lawyer has been charged with embezzling $1.2 million from his clients.

The Rhode Island State Police say 57-year-old Vincent Mitchell was arrested Monday and charged with 10 counts of embezzlement and fraudulent conversion over $100.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court disciplinary counsel’s office says Mitchell voluntarily told the office in August that he had taken $1.2 million from 10 clients for unauthorized personal use. The office says it’s unusual for someone who is not under investigation to contact them to acknowledge wrongdoing.

Mitchell was disbarred in September and the case was turned over to the state police. Mitchell’s law practice centered on estate planning and long-term health care planning.

His attorney, Robert Mann, said Monday he wouldn’t make any statements about the case outside of court.

State high court upholds death sentence for woman’s killer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of fatally shooting a woman in the head with a rifle.

The court’s unanimous ruling Tuesday came in the case of death row inmate Willie Wilks, who is sentenced to die for the 2013 shooting of Ororo Wilkins in Youngstown.

A jury also convicted the 46-year-old Wilks of attempted murder for shooting at two other people who survived.

Wilks denied involvement in the crime and pointed to two witnesses’ descriptions of the shooter having dreadlocks, which Wilks didn’t have.

John Parker, a lawyer representing Wilks, called the ruling disappointing. He said Wilks didn’t receive a fair trial since the jury never heard from witnesses about the person with dreadlocks.

Gang member gets nearly 12 years for racketeering

BALTIMORE (AP) — A judge has sentenced a member of the Black Guerilla Family gang to nearly 12 years in prison for conspiring to participating in racketeering.

U.S. District Judge James Bredar sentenced 23-year-old Norman Handy on Monday. According to his plea agreement, Handy belonged to an offshoot of the gang known as the Greenmount Avenue Regime.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office says Handy admitted to engaging in drug distribution and armed robbery, including a 2013 robbery where he shot a victim in the foot. That victim had been scheduled to testify against Handy but prosecutors say he was later fatally shot by gang member Wesley Brown.

The Black Guerilla Family is a notorious gang known for violence, drug trafficking and witness intimidation both on Baltimore’s streets and in its jails.

Judge tosses lawsuit from imam blocked from flying to U.S.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Utah Muslim leader whose lawyers said he was wrongly placed on a government no-fly list and temporarily blocked from leaving Kenya with his family last year.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson wrote Monday that the lengthy screening process Imam Yussuf Abdi has undergone on flights since the June 2017 trip home from Kenya is inconvenient but not unconstitutional.

His lawyer Gadeir Abbas tells The Salt Lake Tribune that he believes Abdi was allowed to come home because of the case filed shortly after Abdi was blocked from boarding in Kenya June 2017.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah also intervened.

Abdi is a U.S. citizen and imam of Salt Lake City’s Madina Masjid Islamic Center.

Richmond prosecutors will no longer seek cash bail bonds

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The chief prosecutor in Richmond says he will no longer seek cash bail bonds for criminal defendants awaiting trial.

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring told The Richmond Times-Dispatch the current practice of seeking bail bonds is “unfair” and leaves many defendants unable to afford to get out of jail.

Bail bonds are often set for defendants to try to ensure they will show up for trial.

Herring said he’s instructed prosecutors to make an assessment of a defendant’s risk to the community. If they don’t believe the defendant poses a risk, they can recommend to a judge his release without bond, but with pretrial conditions. Prosecutors can still ask judges to hold defendants they believe pose an unacceptable risk.

Jury decides discrimination case for university

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A jury has ruled against a woman who sued the University of Vermont claiming gender discrimination.

Cynthia Ruescher, a former computer specialist, contended in her 2014 lawsuit that managers retaliated following her complaints about wages and treatment.

A judge previously dismissed her complaints about equal pay in 2017, but the gender discrimination charge went to trial last week.

The Burlington Free Press reports a jury decided in favor of the university Friday. The judge dismissed all remaining counts in the case Monday.