National Roundup

Illinois
Judge refuses to toss conviction in $100B lien case

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has affirmed the conviction of a woman who filed $100 billion in bogus liens against judges, a prosecutor and other law enforcers in Chicago to avenge her brother’s drug conviction.

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reports that the judge found Cherron Phillips had missed deadlines to challenge her conviction and seven-year prison sentence. But the judge says he wouldn’t have overturned the conviction even if she had filed the papers on time.

As a self-described “sovereign citizen,” Phillips didn’t recognize government authority over her.

The judge, Michael Reagan, is a judge based in southern Illinois. He handled the Chicago case to douse any perception that local judges couldn’t be fair to Phillips.

Texas
Guilty pleas in scheme to sell rare turtles

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — Investigators say three men have pleaded guilty in Texas in a scheme to sell dozens of rare alligator snapping turtles.

Experts say the reptiles are the largest freshwater turtles in the world, weighing up to 200 pounds and living as long as a century.

Authorities say the turtles were caught during Texas fishing trips and hauled to Louisiana. Both states have wildlife laws meant to protect the rare turtles.

Prosecutors announced Tuesday that two Louisiana men — Travis Joseph Leger and Rickey Paul Simon, both of Sulphur — and Jason Gene Leckelt of Wilburton, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally traffic the turtles. They face up to five years in prison.

Federal agents recovered about 30 of the alligators from ponds in Sulphur. Investigators believe the turtles could have brought up to $1,000 apiece.

Georgia
Drill sergeants suspended in Army sex assault investigation

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — An Army spokesman says “multiple” drill sergeants at a Georgia post have been suspended as the military investigates allegations that trainees were victims of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct.

Fort Benning spokesman Ben Garrett said Wednesday that Army criminal investigators were notified immediately of the allegations at the post in Columbus. Fort Benning conducts basic training and is home to the Army’s infantry and armor schools. About 17,000 trainees are stationed there.

Garrett said “multiple drill sergeants” were suspended pending the investigation’s outcome. He would not release the precise number. Garrett said no one has been charged.

An Army news release said the investigation began when a female trainee accused a drill sergeant of sexual assault. Her complaint revealed further allegations of “sexual misconduct” between trainees and drill sergeants.

New York
Court upholds insider trading conviction of money manager

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of an Ivy League-educated ex-portfolio manager convicted of enabling his firm to make over a quarter-billion dollars through insider trading.
The court noted Wednesday that a doctor who gave confidential drug trial information to Boca Raton, Florida, resident Mathew Martoma received substantial financial benefit in return.

Martoma’s lawyers asked the appeals court to reverse his 2014 conviction. Martoma is serving a nine-year prison sentence after his conviction on securities fraud and conspiracy charges in what prosecutors described as the most lucrative insider trading scheme of all time. He’s scheduled to be released from a Miami lockup in 2021.

New Jersey
Police: Woman’s Tinder date steals dog while she housesits

LEONIA, N.J. (AP) — Police in New Jersey say a woman’s Tinder date stole a family dog while she was housesitting.

Authorities say the theft happened Sunday night in Leonia. The 18-year-old called 911 after she realized the family’s white Maltese, Maggie, was missing.

Investigators say the man who the woman invited over brought another man with him. Police say the dog disappeared after the pair visited the home. Investigators say a laptop and Amazon package were also stolen while the woman was distracted.

No arrests have been made.

New York
Cops: Gun used in boy’s fatal shooting was stolen last year

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) —€” Authorities say a handgun used by a 9-year-old New York boy to kill his younger brother was stolen from a firefighter who was later fired for his link to a fatal hit-and-run accident.

The Post-Standard reports that police say former firefighter Edward “Ted” Ackerman reported last August that a 9mm Glock had been stolen from his unlocked pickup.

He was fired in April after being charged with tampering with evidence when an Onondaga County district attorney’s investigator was charged in a man’s hit-and-run death.

Police say the stolen gun was the same one that a boy fired inside his Syracuse family’s home early Monday, killing his 8-year-old brother, Shaleek Carrears.

Authorities don’t believe the shooting was intentional. Prosecutors are considering charges against the boys’ father for possessing the gun.

Nebraska
Bank robbery charges filed against ‘AK-47 bandit’ suspect

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Robbery charges have been filed in Nebraska against a man suspected of being the “AK-47 bandit,” who investigators believe robbed banks in five states.

Court records show 39-year-old Richard Gathercole was indicted Tuesday for an August 2014 bank robbery in Nebraska City, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Omaha. His attorney didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press.

FBI officials have been looking for years for the man they believe robbed banks in California, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and Washington state typically while carrying an AK-47 rifle.

Gathercole, of Montana, was arrested June 20 near Lexington, Nebraska, after a sheriff’s deputy spotted a pickup truck that Kansas authorities had reported stolen by a man who fired at a state trooper.

Gathercole also faces weapons charges.

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