National Roundup

Police: Psychic said girl was possessed, scammed mom of $70K

SOMERSET, Mass. (AP) — A psychic stole more than $70,000 from a client by telling the woman her 10-year-old daughter was possessed by a demon and she needed the money to banish the spirit, police in Massachusetts said.

Tracy Milanovich, 37, of Somerset, is charged with obtaining property by trick, along with larceny and witness intimidation, Somerset police said in a statement Thursday.

Police started investigating Dec. 17 when the alleged victim reported that she was tricked by Milanovich into handing over large sums of cash along with household items, including towels and bedding, to battle the demon.

The allegations date to Nov. 15, when the woman first went to Milanovich’s business, Tracy’s Psychic Palm Reader, for a tarot card reading, police said in their report.

Milanovich was arrested Dec. 27. She was arraigned in Fall River District Court this week and released on personal recognizance.

Denver man charged with making video, call threatening judge

DENVER (AP) — A Denver man faces a felony charge for making threats against a judge in an online video and a phone call, court records said.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office has charged 48-year-old Eric Brandt with retaliation against a judge, KCNC-TV reports.

Brandt made a Dec. 18 call to a Denver County Court judge’s office and said the judge should be killed, according to an arrest affidavit.

Brandt made a threatening YouTube video against a specific judge in response to a 30-day jail sentenced issued to a member of Occupy Denver, an anti-government activist group in which Brandt says he is a member, the affidavit said.

Brandt’s YouTube page is no longer visible online, KCNC-TV reported.

Brandt has made more general threats in the past, advocating for people to “shoot random judges” in a video he posted months ago, court records said.

The district attorney’s office declined to provide further comment beyond the arrest affidavit.

Man gets prison for stealing home deed without signing loan

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man was sentenced to prison for trying to steal a new $219,000 home by snatching and filing a signed deed without signing loan documents.

Stanley Livingston, 45, was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence last month in Polk County court, the Ledger  reported. A jury convicted him in September of grand theft and filing a false document against real property. Livingston, who represented himself, had faced up to 30 years in prison.

In his closing argument at trial, Livingston said he had no intention of stealing the home. He said he believed that the seller, Starlight Homes Florida, already had been paid.

Livingston had contracted to buy a new house in a Haines City subdivision, trial witnesses testified. During a May 2018 meeting to close the sale, he had asked to delay signing the mortgage documents until the end of the meeting. His signature would have committed him to repaying the home loan. At some point, Livingston grabbed the deed, which Starlight Homes officials already had signed, and ran to his truck. A closing agent testified that she ran after Livingston but he quickly drove away.

The deed was filed with the Polk County Clerk of Courts two days after the meeting, according to testimony. He told workers he had paid $1 for the house and property, where he was now living, officials said. Later that day, he went to the subdivision sales office to tell the developer that he now owned the house and to leave him alone. They called police, and Livingston was arrested.

The trial judge voided the deed almost immediately after Livingston’s conviction, returning the home to Starlight Homes Florida.

Judge: Advocacy group must revise lawsuit over dark money

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A conservative advocacy group must show that it or one of its donors is being harmed before continuing with a lawsuit seeking to overturn an executive order by Montana’s governor requiring organizations that receive large state contracts to report political contributions over $2,500, a federal judge ruled.

The Illinois Opportunity Project challenged Gov. Steve Bullock’s executive order, saying it could harm donors and limit potential donors to the group. The organization said it plans to send mailings to thousands of Montana voters before the November 2020 gubernatorial race urging the candidates to overturn the October 2018 executive order and would seek corporate donations in Montana.

If the group did spend money to campaign against the executive order, any corporation that donated more than $2,500 to the Illinois group in the previous two years and who wanted to bid on state of Montana contracts worth more than $25,000 for goods or $50,000 for services would have to disclose those donations.

The Illinois group argued its donors should be able to advocate for issues without fear of disclosure, which would lead to boycotts, protest or harassment. Such disclosures are not required under federal law.

However, the complaint does not allege that any current donor to the Illinois Opportunity Project has previously bid on a Montana contract, but wouldn’t now because of the executive order, U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell wrote in his order Wednesday.

The complaint also does not allege the Illinois group had solicited money from any potential donor who refused to make a donation because of Bullock’s executive order, the judge wrote.
Lovell gave Illinois Opportunity Project until Jan. 21 to file an amended complaint alleging such a donor exists. If donors or potential donors are identified during discovery, Lovell said he could enter a protective order limiting the number of people who learn their names.

If the deadline passes without a filing, Lovell said he would dismiss the case for lack of standing.

“Today’s decision is another chapter in Montana’s proud, successful history of standing up to out-of-state dark money groups that want to buy our elections,” Bullock said in a statement.

Attorney Daniel Suhr with Liberty Justice Center, which represents the Illinois Opportunity Project, said he is reviewing the judge’s order to determine its next steps.

“Privacy is a fundamental constitutional right and every American has the right to support causes they believe in without fear of being outed, shamed, harassed or intimidated,” Suhr said in a statement. “Our next step in this case will be based on protecting that principle.”