National Roundup

Louisiana
Cop gets life in prison after rape conviction

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans police officer convicted of raping a girl has been sentenced to life in prison.

Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier sentenced 41-year-old Michael Thomassie on Tuesday to serve life behind bars without the possibility of probation or parole, The Times-Picayune reported. A jury found him guilty of aggravated rape Aug. 20.

Thomassie was accused of raping the 7-year-old daughter of his then-girlfriend in 2003. The victim was in second grade at the time.

Prosecutors Laura Rodrigue and Tiffany Tucker told the jury four months ago that the victim’s mother was a substance abuser who relied on Thomassie financially.

Judge Flemings-Davillier denied motions by defense attorney Pat Fanning seeking a post-conviction acquittal and order for a new trial. Fanning later filed a motion to withdraw as Thomassie’s attorney. He said his client was now indigent and would be represented by the Louisiana Appellate Project to appeal his conviction.

Thomassie decided not to testify in his own defense.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said he was taking immediate steps to remove Thomassie from their ranks. “There is no place in this department for officers who choose to commit acts of violence,” he said.

Police spokesman Tyler Gamble told the newspaper that efforts to fire Thomassie from the force have begun.

Thomassie was a 13-year-veteran of the police department. He was placed on administrative reassignment in July 2014 when the Public Integrity Bureau and Child Abuse Unit launched a joint investigation into the rape allegations.

New York
Brothers charged in Waldorf Astoria wedding gunfire

NEW YORK (AP) — A man whose gun accidentally went off at a wedding at Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria this summer has been indicted on weapons charges.

The New York Times says court papers show Vladimir Gotlibovsky and his brother, Felix, were arraigned Tuesday on criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence charges.

Vladimir Gotlibovsky was additionally charged with misdemeanor assault. His attorney says he’ll contest the charges. He was licensed to carry the gun.

Felix Gotlibovsky is accused of taking the gun from his brother and then hiding it in Vladimir’s house. His attorney says the trial will show nothing criminal was done.

A woman was grazed in the head when the bullet ricocheted off the hotel lobby’s floor. A man and two hotel workers also were injured from shrapnel.

New York
Ex-basketball star sentenced on gun charges

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A former NBA player is heading to prison after being convicted of federal drug and gun charges.

A judge sentenced Arthur “Art” Long on Tuesday to nearly seven years behind bars. The 43-year-old was convicted of operating his home as a hub for dealing marijuana and ecstasy. Prosecutors said he also had two firearms.

Long was a star player at East High School in Rochester, New York, and also at the University of Cincinnati. He was arrested in 2013 after police searched his vehicle and his home in the Rochester suburb of Chili (CHY’-leye).

Investigators found ecstasy, marijuana, an AK-47 and a stolen .45-caliber handgun, along with drug-packaging materials.

Long played for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Seattle SuperSonics, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors between 2000 and 2003.

New Jersey
‘Cleaner in beer left ex-cop severely injured

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A retired New Jersey police officer is suing an Atlantic City restaurant, alleging a draft beer he ordered three years ago contained a corrosive cleaner that severely injured him.

Fifty-three-year-old Richard Washart says one swing of the beer at McCormick and Schmick’s in Harrah’s Atlantic City led him to immediately feel a searing pain and vomit blood. The lawsuit says he was hospitalized for a week and the liquid had burned away part of his stomach lining.

Washart said a doctor said he had ingested a lye-like substance.

His lawyer claims managers at the restaurant said beer distributor Kramer Beverage cleaned the beer lines. The company is named in the lawsuit. Its CEO says they weren’t there the day Washart was injured.
The restaurant didn’t return calls for comment.

Minnesota
TV reporter on site when bank robbed again

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — An Iowa television station was doing a live update on a Minnesota bank robbery when police say the suspect returned to rob it a second time.
KIMT-TV of Mason City, Iowa, was outside Sterling State Bank in Rochester on Tuesday when a bank employee ran out and pointed out the robbery suspect.
Reporter Adam Sallet broke away from the report, saying: “I have to go. I have to call 911.”
The Post-Bulletin reports that police spotted the suspect’s vehicle on U.S. Highway 52. Minnesota State Patrol says the 36-year-old Rochester man was pulled over south of Minneapolis and arrested.
Police Capt. John Sherwin says the man is suspected of robbing the bank two days in a row. In both robberies, the suspect presented a note and escaped with money.

Maryland
Judge sets date for hearing in new ‘Serial’ case

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland judge has set dates for a hearing in the case of Adnan Syed, whose conviction in his ex-girlfriend’s death was explored in a popular podcast.

A hearing for post-conviction proceedings in the case was scheduled Tuesday for Feb. 5 and Feb. 8 after a judge agreed last month to reopen the case.

Syed was convicted of murder in 2000 of killing Hae Min Lee and sentenced to life in prison. Last year, the “Serial” podcast examined the case, questioning whether Syed got a fair trial and drawing millions of listeners.

At the hearing, Syed’s attorneys are expected to introduce a potential alibi witness’ testimony and evidence that questions the reliability of cellphone tower data. Prosecutors used the data to link Syed to the park where Lee’s body was found.
 

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