National Roundup

North Carolina
Jury awards $3.41M to woman sexually abused by father

RALEIGH — A Wake County jury has awarded $3.41 million to a 23-year-old woman for sexual abuse she endured for nearly a decade.

Ian Richardson of Vann Attorneys and Daniel Barker of Barker Richardson, both in Raleigh, report that their client, Moriah Taylor, was repeatedly sexually abused by her father, David Taylor, from the time she was 8 years old until she reported the abuse to her bishop when she was 17. Her mother, Toby Taylor, knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it, Richardson said.

Ordinarily, Lawyers Weekly does not divulge the names of victims of sexual abuse. But Richardson said that his client “wanted to shine a bright line on what happened, as she felt like when she was a child this was improperly swept under the rug by numerous people, including her mother.”

“I think, at least for our client, there was something powerful about facing this situation head-on,” Richardson said.

Court records show that David Taylor was convicted of attempted sexual battery in 2015, and Richardson said that David admitted to sexually abusing Moriah approximately five times, though Moriah claims she was abused “more times than she can count.”

The suit alleged negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress by Toby Taylor. Richardson said that Toby admitted to knowing that when Moriah and some of her sisters (David and Toby have 11 children together, Richardson said) were younger, David would call them into his home office “to inspect their breasts.”

“Toby told [Child Protective Services] that she knew something was going on, but couldn’t put her finger on it,” Richardson said.

Richardson said that David served just a few days in jail after pleading guilty to the offenses, time meted out only after he violated probation by attempting to contact Moriah.

“Therefore, we asked a civil jury to hold both he and Toby Taylor accountable for what happened and impose a punishment consistent with the nature of the abuse,” Richardson said.

David and Toby represented themselves at trial. After a three-day trial, the jury deliberated about four hours, Richardson said, before finding them liable on Aug. 19 and awarding Moriah $1,185,800 in actual damages and $2,225,000 in punitive damages.

Nevertheless, Richardson said he considers it only “halftime” in the case, since David and Toby claim that they are too poor to pay the judgment.

“But we have evidence that they own cryptocurrency and substantial precious metals,” Richardson said. “So now we’re going to go focus on collecting.”

Court: L.A. can’t seize homeless people’s bulky property

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld an injunction preventing the city of Los Angeles from taking and destroying bulky items left by homeless people on public property.

The 2-1 ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the city ordinance violated the 4th Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable government seizure of their property, “even when that property is stored in public areas,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Judge Michelle T. Friedland, writing for the majority, said past court decisions have made it clear that the government may not destroy unabandoned personal property left in parks and on sidewalks and streets. “The city is free to draft a lawful version” of the ordinance, she wrote.

The LA ordinance reviewed by the court allowed for the removal of most items too large to fit into a 60-gallon container, the common size of household trash bins picked by the city. City workers were not permitted to seize fully constructed tents, bicycles, walkers, crutches or wheelchairs, the Times said.

A group of homeless individuals and advocacy organizations brought the lawsuit after the City Council adopted the ordinance in 2016.

City officials didn’t immediately comment. The city can appeal the ruling to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit.

Cryptocurrency promoter pleads guilty in $2 billion fraud

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty last week to participating in what prosecutors called a “textbook Ponzi scheme” that defrauded cryptocurrency investors worldwide of more than $2 billion.

Prosecutors said Glenn Arcaro, 44, sat atop the North American branch of the pyramid investment scheme BitConnect, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Arcaro, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitted in his plea agreement to earning “no less than $24 million from the BitConnect fraud conspiracy,” the newspaper said.

As part of his plea, Arcaro must pay back that money to investors. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 15.

“The BitConnect scheme is believed to be the largest cryptocurrency fraud ever charged criminally,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Arcaro’s plea came the same day that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint against BitConnect, the Union-Tribune said.

According to prosecutors, Arcaro and his co-conspirators claimed that BitConnect used a proprietary technology that was able to generate huge profits by using investors’ money to trade on the volatility of cryptocurrency exchange markets.

“In truth, BitConnect operated a textbook Ponzi scheme by paying earlier BitConnect investors with money from later investors,” prosecutors said.

Man gets life sentence for killing 3 people

CRESTVIEW, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his mother, step-father and the new boyfriend of his former fiancée.

Jacob Langston was sentenced Wednesday in Okaloosa County court, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported. He pleaded guilty in June to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of felony animal cruelty.

Elbert Merrick, who was dating Langston’s former fiancée, went to the home of Langston’s parents, Shanna and Kevin McGrath, to retrieve some of the young woman’s belongings in January 2016, officials said. Merrick and Langston got into an argument that ended with Langston shooting the other man.

Shanna McGrath managed to call 911 before being shot. A gunfight ensued between Langston and Kevin McGrath that led to the older man being killed. Langston also shot two of his family’s dogs, killing one and severely injuring the other.