Court Digest

Jurors award man nearly $25 million in amputation lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal jurors say a Twin Cities plastic surgeon is entitled to nearly $25 million because an emergency medical provider declined to fly him back to the United States after a ziplining injury in Mexico led to a leg amputation.

Richard Tholen, 67, of Plymouth, argued that New Jersey-based Assist America was liable for damages after they failed to send an air ambulance to Mazatlán in April 2015, after complaining about his treatment for a dislocated knee.

Carla Ferrucci, executive director of the 67-year-old Minnesota Association for Justice, a professional lawyers association, told the Star Tribune she cannot recall a larger award of its kind in Minnesota.

“Minnesota juries don’t hand out verdicts like this,” Ferrucci said. “The facts in this case had to be egregious, especially with the $10 million in punitive damages.”

Attorneys for Assist America did not immediately respond to messages from the newspaper. Defense attorney Robert Romero had told jurors during trial that Tholen was a large guy who was racing others on the zipline and later rejected medical advice to stay in the Mazatlán hospital for another day or two.

Tholen’s attorney, Patrick Arenz, said Tholen would still have his leg if Assist America had “honored his request.”

Man spotted with Pelosi lectern pleads guilty

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Florida man photographed carrying a lectern belonging to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection pleaded guilty Monday for his part in the riot.

Adam Johnson, 36, pleaded guilty in Washington federal court to one count of entering or remaining in any restricted building, according to court records. Sentencing guidelines in the plea agreement call for up to six months in prison for the Parrish man, but a judge will make a final decision at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 25.

A plea agreement recommends that Johnson pay $500 restitution for his share of the damage. Prosecutors have said the riot caused nearly $1.5 million in damage to the U.S. Capitol.

Authorities say Pelosi’s offices were among those breached by the mob objecting to Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory over former Republican President Donald Trump. Five people died in the violence.

A photo that circulated around the world after the violent uprising showed a grinning, waving man identified as Johnson carrying the lectern through the Capitol rotunda with the clearly visible words “Seal of the Speaker United States House of Representatives.” In the photo, Johnson is wearing a knit cap that says “Trump” on it.

A second photo shows Johnson posing with a sign in the Capitol that says “closed to all tours.”

Johnson was quickly identified by acquaintances through social media, according to the FBI. He was arrested two days after the riot.

The wooden lectern, valued at about $1,000, was later recovered undamaged in a hallway on the Senate side of the Capitol, officials said.

Man sentenced to prison in infant son’s death

CURRITUCK, N.C. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to at least five years in prison after pleading guilty in the 2018 death of his 5-month-old son while his family was vacationing in North Carolina, officials said.

At a Nov. 15 hearing in Currituck County Superior Court, Thomas William Imschweiler, 34, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter after entering into an agreement with prosecutors. The plea was first reported by Outer Banks Today.

According to the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, deputies and emergency medical personnel were called to a location in Corolla on July 17, 2018 in response to an infant who was not breathing.

Franklin Thomas Imschweiler was taken to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk for treatment. He died five days later.

On July 20, a felony child abuse warrant was issued for Thomas William Imschweiler. He was taken into custody and brought back to Currituck County.

A grand jury upgraded the charges against Imschweiler to murder on Sept. 17, 2018. According to the indictment, Franklin had suffered serious head injuries sometime between July 14 and 17.

Man pleads guilty to enticing teens to a have sex

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the use of his cellphone and the internet to coerce three underage girls to have sex with him, according to a federal prosecutor’s office.

Anthony Gonzalez, 40, of Aberdeen pleaded guilty on Monday, U.S. Attorney for Maryland Erek L. Barron said in a news release.

In June 2018, Gonzalez contacted a girl who said on a social media application that she was 18 years old but admitted to Gonzalez that she was 16, the news release said. That month, he convinced the teenager to sneak out of a hotel room she was sharing with her father to have sex, the news release said.

Gonzalez met a second victim when she was 13 who declined and blocked him, leading a mutual friend to encourage her to talk to him, according to the news release. A third victim was 15 when Gonzalez met her in 2018. He convinced her to send him sexually explicit images of herself, which she did more than 500 times, prosecutors said.

If the court accepts his plea agreement, Gonzalez faces up to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced in February.

8 police employees accused of pandemic fraud

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eight civilian Philadelphia Police Department employees were indicted on charges of collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance they were not entitled to because they remained employed.

Seven of the employees are dispatchers and one is a clerk.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging them with theft of government funds, wire fraud and mail fraud.

The accused took advantage of a system that was designed to aid people left unemployed because of the pandemic, prosecutors said.

Each allegedly submitted weekly certifications stating that they were not employed and were ready, willing, and able to work each day, prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, those statements were false because each was employed by the police department. Prosecutors said the employees received assistance funds for multiple weeks while also collecting a salary from the city.

“Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds are intended to help Americans who are not working or who have experienced dramatically reduced working hours due to the pandemic, not people who are already gainfully employed,” U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Tuesday said she will suspend them for 30 days with the intent to dismiss them at the end of the 30 days upon completion of arrest procedures.

Man charged with kidnapping and assault

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Tennessee man has been charged in Southern California with kidnapping his 3-year-old son and sexually assaulting his 16-year-old niece after authorities said he drove across the country with the children.

The kids were found safe and Jacob Clare, 35, was arrested last Thursday in Dana Point, California after a resident recognized them from surveillance video released by authorities. The son, Noah Clare, was reported missing in Tennessee and his cousin, Amber Clare, was reported missing from Kentucky.

Clare faces multiple felony charges including kidnapping, unlawful intercourse with a minor and incest, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He faces additional charges in Tennessee. It wasn’t known Monday if he has an attorney.

Noah Clare’s mother called police on Nov. 7 after Jacob Clare, her ex-boyfriend and the boy’s father, didn’t return the child to her home in Gallatin, Tennessee, at the end of a scheduled visitation.

Amber Clare was reported missing by the Beaver Dam Police Department in Ohio County, Kentucky. Authorities believe the teenager went willingly with Clare, according to prosecutors.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported Jacob Clare was driving a silver Subaru Outback, which authorities believe he purchased a week before Noah was reported missing. The Subaru, loaded with clothing and camping gear, was located by license plate readers in Arizona in the days before Clare was arrested.

The car was found abandoned in San Clemente, California on Nov 13.

Man gets jail term for secretly recording teenage sisters

SWANSEA, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man authorities say secretly watched and recorded two teenage sisters in the bathroom of his home has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail and five years of probation, the maximum sentence he could have received, prosecutors said.

Gerald Caron, 66, of Swansea, pleaded guilty last week to possession of child pornography and photographing sexual or intimate parts without consent, according to a statement Monday from the office of Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.

The sisters, aged 18 and 15, had known Caron for many years and he offered to let them live in his home in January 2020 temporarily when they moved out of their family home.

Caron set up a two-way mirror in the home that looked directly into a bathroom used by the sisters, prosecutors said. The older sister discovered the mirror in June 2020 and reported it to police.

Police who checked out the home also found a video camera and a two-way mirror in the older sister’s bedroom.

New Jersey
Man wanted in bat attack that killed daughter, hurt wife

VOORHEES TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Police and federal marshals on Tuesday were searching for a New Jersey man who is accused of fatally beating his adult daughter and injuring his wife with a baseball bat.

Gregory Kelemen, 57, has been the focus of a manhunt since his wife, Sheri, called police to their home early Monday, authorities said.

According to a probable cause statement, Sheri Kelemen told officers she was awakened by her husband. who was beating her with the bat and saying “I can’t take it anymore.” She told officers he kept the bat under their bed.

Their daughter, Katherine Kelemen, 22, was found bloodied and beaten in her bed.

She was taken to Jefferson University Hospital in Stratford suffering from blunt force trauma and was pronounced dead, Camden County prosecutors said.

Her mother was transported to another hospital, where she was in stable condition, authorities said.

Gregory Kelemen was charged with murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.