National Roundup

Georgia

Police handcuff kindergartner for tantrum

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action.

The girl's family demanded Tuesday that this central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren't treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by being put in a cell at the police station.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School, Macon television station WMAZ-TV reported. Police said the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal.

The school called police. The police report says when an officer tried to calm the child in the principal's office, she resisted and was handcuffed. The girl was charged with simple assault and damage to property.

Police Chief Dray Swicord says the department's policy is to handcuff people in certain situations.

"Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back and there is no age discrimination on that rule," Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord told WMAZ.

The girl's aunt, Candace Ruff, went with the child's mother to pick her up from the police station. She Salecia was by herself in a holding cell and complained about the handcuffs.

"She said they were really tight. She said they really hurt her wrists," Ruff told the Associated Press. "She was so shaken up when we went there to pick her up."

Officials at Creekside Elementary did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

"We would not like to see this happen to another child, because it's horrifying. It's devastating," Ruff said.

Iowa

Judge backs state in black discrimination case

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A judge has ruled that Iowa's state government hiring policies have not discriminated against blacks.

Judge Robert Blink on Tuesday ruled against a class of up to 6,000 black employees and applicants passed over for jobs and promotions with Iowa's executive branch dating back to 2003. He says the state does not have to pay them lost wages or change its policies to track and eliminate disparities among racial groups.

The ruling came after Blink oversaw a monthlong trial last fall in the case, which has been closely watched by civil rights activists. Experts have called the case the largest class-action lawsuit of its kind against an entire state government's civil service system.

7 indicted in toy firm's alleged drug money scheme

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Five people were arrested Monday in a money laundering scheme that allegedly funneled millions of dollars in Colombian and Mexican drug money through an American toy company, federal officials said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the two owners of Industry-based Woody Toys, Jia Hui Zhou and Dan Xin Li, and three company employees were arrested on charges of evading federal reporting requirements for financial transactions.

Two toy dealers from Mexico were arrested earlier on similar charges.

Jose Miguel Yong-Hinojosa was taken into custody Saturday night at Los Angeles International Airport, and Luis Ernesto Flores Rivera was arrested earlier this month in Texas, the agency said in a statement.

Zhou and the two toy dealers are also charged with conspiring to launder money in a scheme that officials said channeled at least $6 million to the California toy company between 2005 and 2011.

Bond was denied for Yong-Hinojosa and set at $150,000 for the two company owners. Bond amounts ranged from $20,000 to $100,000 for the other three men.

The judge set a trial date of June 12 for all six.

Flores Rivera remains in Texas awaiting transfer to California.

The case is the second involving a Los Angeles-area toy company accused of laundering drug profits and comes as countries such as Mexico tighten banking regulations, said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE homeland security investigations in Los Angeles.

The Mexican toy dealers bought U.S. dollars made off drug sales from currency brokers in a "black market peso exchange," officials said. That exchange enabled drug traffickers to get rid of drug dollars and gave the toy dealers a more favorable exchange rate so they could then purchase toys in the United States, authorities said.

The dealers would then send the money to Woody Toys via courier or bank deposits. Authorities said Woody Toys failed to file required paperwork when the company received deposits of more than $10,000 and also intentionally structured bank deposits in smaller increments to avoid having to do so.

If convicted of evading federal reporting requirements, the defendants could face up to five years in prison. The money laundering charge can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The investigation started in November 2010 following a money laundering probe at Los Angeles-area toy wholesaler Angel Toy. That company's two top executives were sentenced earlier this year to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to structure currency transactions.

The probe into Woody Toys -- which features teddy bears and blond-haired dolls on its website -- was carried out by ICE officials, Internal Revenue Service investigators and a Southern California task force headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

No one at the company's offices in Industry would comment for this story.

Nebraska

DUI suspect accused of bribery attempt

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) -- A 29-year-old Beatrice man who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving also is accused of trying to bribe his way out of trouble.

The Beatrice Daily Sun reports that Aaron Lawson was pulled over on Saturday night in Beatrice.

The officer says he suspected Lawson was drunk, but Lawson refused to take any sobriety tests. Court documents say Lawson told the officer he could "hook him up with anything" and later offered the officer $2,000 to let him go without charges.

Lawson faces felony charges of third-offense drunken driving and of bribery.

A public phone listing for Lawson could not be found. Online court records don't list the case yet. Lawson's lawyer from a 2011 case said Tuesday that he knows nothing about the new allegations.

Published: Wed, Apr 18, 2012

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