National Roundup

New York
Ex-NY Senate leader, son found guilty of extortion

NEW YORK (AP) - Former New York Senate leader Dean Skelos and his son were convicted Friday of charges the once-powerful Republican used his clout to extort about $300,000 income and other benefits for the son in a bribery scheme that unraveled when investigators began recording their phone calls.

The trial of Skelos, 67, and his 33-year-old son, Adam, was the second closely watched public corruption case in recent weeks to cast a harsh light on politics-as-usual in Albany. In the first, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on Nov. 30 of bribery.

The government had accused the elder Skelos of strong-arming three companies with a stake in state legislation - a major real estate developer, an environmental technology company and a medical malpractice insurer - into giving work to a son prosecutors portrayed as an underachieving only child whose sense of entitlement knew no bounds.

The defense had argued that the tapes and other evidence showed only that Dean Skelos was looking out for his son like any loving father, and that overzealous prosecutors were overreaching.

Sentencing for Dean and Adam Skelos is March 3.

North Carolina
Man jailed after authorities say he stabbed dog

SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) - Authorities in North Carolina say a man is accused of stabbing a puppy multiple times with a hunting knife.

Local media outlets say the Rowan County Sheriff's Office charged 22-year-old Phillip John Shoemaker with felony animal cruelty.

According to the sheriff's office, a neighbor said she saw someone hold down a dog with their knee and stab the dog in the stomach Thursday. The neighbor said they yelled at the person to stop, but the person then stabbed the dog in the neck. When confronted, the person is accused of saying the dog's owner gave him permission to "do away with the dog" after it bit him.

Shoemaker is jailed under a $5,000 bond. He is scheduled for court Dec. 14. Online records don't say whether Shoemaker has an attorney .

California
Man arrested for video of gun pointed at police

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Sacramento, California, police have arrested a man accused of posting a video online showing him pointing a handgun at police.

The Sacramento Bee reports police say they found the video of the 20-year-old Marco Romero on Instagram Saturday. They say the video includes derogatory comments about police.

Police searched his house and found firearms, including the handgun they believe was used.

Police have arrested Romero on a felony gun charge. He remains in jail in lieu of $250,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Prosecutors did not immediately return a call Friday about whether he has an attorney.

New Hampshire
Publisher to drop suit against Salinger's family

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A publisher that sued J.D. Salinger's widow and son, saying they interfered with efforts to sell three stories written by "The Catcher in the Rye" author, wants to drop the lawsuit.

Tennessee-based Devault-Graves Agency LLC, which specializes in reprinting old works, published the short stories in the United States last year. Written in the 1940s, they first appeared in magazines.

When Devault-Graves sought to publish them internationally, Colleen and Matthew Salinger objected, saying that would violate foreign copyright laws. Devault-Graves sued in March, accusing the Salingers of hindering its business relationships.

Friday's dismissal notice, subject to a judge's review, was filed in federal court in Concord. Lawyers for Memphis-based Devault-Graves and the Salingers didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

Salinger died in 2010 at age 91 in Cornish, New Hampshire.

Pennsylvania
Police: Woman stole nearly $14K from bingo

CRESSON, Pa. (AP) - Police say a woman entrusted with the money from a central Pennsylvania church bingo that benefits the school her four children attend instead stole nearly $14,000 of it.

WJAC-TV report 40-year-old Lori Chislow, of Gallitzin, was charged months after she told a priest what she stole. Police say that prompted St. Francis Xavier Church in Cresson to perform an audit which uncovered even more missing money than Chislow acknowledged, or about $13,600.

Adding insult to injury, the bingo benefits All Saints Catholic School, where Chislow got discounted tuition for her kids for working the bingo.

Chislow faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 19 on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

Court records don't list an attorney for her. She didn't return messages left on her home phone and Facebook page.

Tennessee
Lawmaker urged lenient sentence in child porn case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A top Republican in the state House wrote to a federal judge to call for a lenient sentence for a former youth pastor convicted of child porn possession.

House Majority Whip Jeremy Durham of Franklin wrote the letter in March, about three months after a grand jury declined to indict him on prescription fraud charges sought by prosecutors.

Joseph Todd Neill was ultimately sentenced to more than three years in prison by U.S. District Judge U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice in Chattanooga. Police found the child porn images while investigating Neill's sexual relationship with a 16-year-old congregant at North Fork Baptist Church in Shelbyville.

Durham's character reference written on state House letterhead was cited by the defendant's lawyer in seeking a lower sentence. The lawmaker urged the judge to consider Neill's "entire life and the good he has done for society when rendering punishment on the ill-conceived act."

Durham on Friday declined to answer questions about how he knew Neill and why he wrote the letter. He said in a text message that media coverage was "just another witch hunt."

Durham in the letter said that he would not have become a lawyer and lawmaker if he hadn't been granted a second chance after he made a "grave error" as a student at the University of Tennessee that could have led to criminal prosecution.

Durham was arrested by University of Tennessee police in 2003 on charges of vandalism, theft, and aggravated burglary. The lawmaker in his 2012 election campaign criticized his opponent for bringing up what he called "college shenanigans."

Published: Mon, Dec 14, 2015

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