National Roundup

Florida
Judge in Trayvon Martin death case won’t  step down


SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida judge says he’s staying on the case of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing an unarmed teenager.
In a Wednesday ruling, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester denied a motion by George Zimmerman’s defense attorney to disqualify himself because of disparaging remarks he made during a bond hearing.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, filed the motion after the July 5 bond hearing during which Lester questioned Zimmerman’s honesty and suggested he plotted to leave the country.

Zimmerman is accused of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin in a Sanford neighborhood in February.

Lester referred to Zimmerman with words like “conceal’ and “flee” more than a dozen times in an eight-page order that would let him out on bond while he awaits his second-degree murder trial.

Zimmerman is currently staying in an unknown location.


Louisiana
‘Rude’ BMI sues Slidell bar over music licensing


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Slidell bar accused of playing songs without paying a standard music licensing is being sued for copyright infringement.

The Times-Picayune reports Broadcast Music Inc., a nonprofit composers’ rights organization, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans against Tooloula’s Bar.
Federal law mandates that writers and publishers of music are entitled to be paid for the public performance of their music. Bars and other businesses usually pay an annual fee to groups such as BMI for a blanket license to their songs.

BMI spokesman Ari Surdoval says the organization made 36 phone calls and sent 24 letters to the bar urging it to get itself the appropriate license for live and recorded music.
Tooloula’s owner Ronald Backes described BMI as “very rude people.”


New Mexico
Sentencing set for alleged Ponzi scheme operator


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque real estate executive Doug Vaughan is set to be sentenced next month on charges that he operated a Ponzi scheme.
Vaughan ran an investment scheme in which money put by later investors was used to help pay false profits to earlier ones. Prosecutors say Vaughan swindled 600 investors out of $75 million in at least eight states.

The Albuquerque Journal  reports that sentencing is scheduled Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe.

Vaughan and prosecutors agreed to recommend that the judge sentence him to 10 to 12 years. But the plea agreement states that Vaughan could receive up to 20 years.
Vaughan has been free since pleading guilty last year to mail and wire fraud charges.

Chief Judge Bruce Black will determine the final sentence.


California
Man pleads guilty in illegal China exports scheme


SAN DIEGO (AP) — A man accused of trying to buy sophisticated military equipment to send to China has pleaded guilty to a federal charge in San Diego.

U-T San Diego reports Chi Tong Kuok entered a plea Tuesday to conspiracy to violate export laws. Under a plea deal, he’ll face no more than 46 months in prison.
A previous conviction and eight-year sentence were overturned. A federal appeals court said Kuok should have been allowed to put on a defense that the Chinese government forced him to seek the equipment.

Prosecutors claimed that Kuok tried for several years to obtain GPS, communications and other equipment used by the U.S. military that cannot be exported without a license. The investigation began in 2006 and involved a Carlsbad company. Kuok was arrested in 2009.


Pennsylvania
Woman’s wrongful DUI stop claim set for Oct. trial


PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pennsylvania bar owner’s lawsuit claiming a state trooper had no reason to stop her for suspected drunken driving will go to trial in federal court starting Oct. 22.

Dianne Thompson, of Bradford, says Trooper Matthew Petrof ticketed her in October 2009 for littering and sitting too long at a yellow light after first making her submit to a blood-alcohol test without justification.

Thompson claims Petrof was retaliating for newspaper columns her brothers had written criticizing police, but U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin in Erie has ruled Thompson can’t claim retaliation for things her brothers wrote.

But the judge says a jury can decide whether Petrof violated Thompson’s rights by allegedly stopping her for drunken driving without probable cause and forcing her to submit to a blood test which revealed no alcohol in her system.


Texas
Divorced Amarillo couple indicted in 1987 shooting


AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — A Texas Panhandle grand jury has indicted a divorced couple in the 1987 shooting death of a friend.

Potter County Detention Center records show 63-year-old Rosie Green was being held Wednesday on a murder charge. Bond was set at $10,000.
Investigators say the case involves the shooting death of 23-year-old Arthur Campbell.

The Amarillo Globe-News reports the indictment returned in May was unsealed Monday after authorities arrested Green at her Henderson, Ky., home. Her ex-husband, 77-year-old Horace Green of Amarillo, is also charged with murder. He’s free on $10,000 bond.

Court records indicate Rosie Green was listed as a beneficiary on Campbell’s life insurance policy.

Jail records had no information on attorneys for the Greens. A prosecutor did not immediately return a message Wednesday to provide further details.


Illinois
Paralyzed sex offender shot to death in driveway


CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — Police in suburban Chicago are investigating the shooting death of a paralyzed Chicago Heights man who was a registered sex offender.

Authorities say 42-year-old Kevin Allison was found in his wheelchair in the driveway of his home with a single gunshot wound to the head late Monday.

According to Illinois State Police records, Allison was convicted in 1994 of aggravated criminal sex abuse in Cook County. Court records show he had an extensive criminal record dating back to 1991 and had served jail time for several offenses.

One of his neighbors, Emma Edmond, says Allison was paralyzed from the waist down after a shooting about 15 years ago.

There’s no word of any arrests in his death.

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