The Other Half

On January 19th of this year, I set off to California to participate in a hastily-arranged appearance in a UCLA building to talk about saving climate data in the face of possible administrative switchover. I wore a fun hat, stayed in a nice hotel, and saw an old friend from my MUD days for dinner. The appearance was a lot of smart people doing good work and wanting to continue with it.

While there, I was told my father’s heart surgery, which had some complications, was going to require an extended stay and we were running out of relatives and companions to accompany him. I booked a flight for seven hours after I’d arrive back in New York to go to North Carolina and stay with him. My father has means, so I stayed in a good nearby hotel room. I stayed with him for two and a half weeks, booking ten to sixteen hour days to accompany him through a maze of annoyances, indignities, smart doctors, variant nurses ranging from saints to morons, and generally ensure his continuance.

In the middle of this, I had a non-movable requirement to move the manuals out of Maryland and send them to California. Looking through several possibilities, I settled with: Drive five hours to Maryland from North Carolina, do the work across three days, and drive back to North Carolina. The work in Maryland had a number of people helping me, and involved pallet jacks, forklifts, trucks, and crazy amounts of energy drinks. We got almost all of it, with a third batch ready to go. I drove back the five hours to North Carolina and caught up on all my podcasts.

I stayed with my father another week and change, during which I dented my rental car, and hit another hard limit: I was going to fly to Australia. I also, to my utter horror, realized I was coming down with some sort of cold/flu. I did what I could – stabilized my father’s arrangements, went into the hotel room, put on my favorite comedians in a playlist, turned out the lights, drank 4,000mg of Vitamin C, banged down some orange juice, drank Mucinex, and covered myself in 5 blankets. I woke up 15 hours later in a pool of sweat and feeling like I’d crossed the boundary with that disease. I went back to the hospital to assure my dad was OK (he was), and then prepped for getting back to NY, where I discovered almost every flight for the day was booked due to so many cancelled flights the previous day.

After lots of hand-wringing, I was able to book a very late flight from North Carolina to New York, and stayed there for 5 hours before taking a 25 hour two-segment flight through Dubai to Melbourne.

I landed in Melbourne on Monday the 13th of February, happy that my father was stable back in the US, and prepping for my speech and my other commitments in the area.

On Tuesday I had a heart attack.

We know it happened then, or began to happen, because of the symptoms I started to show – shortness of breath, a feeling of fatigue and an edge of pain that covered my upper body like a jacket. I was fucking annoyed – I felt like I was just super tired and needed some energy, and energy drinks and caffiene weren’t doing the trick.

I met with my hosts for the event I’d do that Saturday, and continued working on my speech.

I attended the conference for that week, did a couple interviews, saw some friends, took some nice tours of preservation departments and discussed copyright with very smart lawyers from the US and Australia.

My heart attack continued, blocking off what turned out to be a quarter of my bloodflow to my heart.

This was annoying me but I didn’t know it was, so according to my fitbit I walked 25 miles, walked up 100 flights of stairs, and maintained hours of exercise to snap out of it, across the week.

I did a keynote for the conference. The next day I hosted a wonderful event for seven hours. I asked for a stool because I said I was having trouble standing comfortably. They gave me one. I took rests during it, just so the DJ could get some good time with the crowds. I was praised for my keeping the crowd jumping and giving it great energy. I’d now had been having a heart attack for four days.

That Sunday, I walked around Geelong, a lovely city near Melbourne, and ate an exquisite meal at Igni, a restaurant whose menu basically has one line to tell you you’ll be eating what they think you should have. Their choices were excellent. Multiple times during the meal, I dozed a little, as I was fatigued. When we got to the tram station, I walked back to the apartment to get some rest. Along the way, I fell to the sidewalk and got up after resting.

I slept off more of the growing fatigue and pain.

The next day I had a second exquisite meal of the trip at Vue Le Monde, a meal that lasted from about 8pm to midnight. My partner Rachel loves good meals and this is one of the finest you can have in the city, and I enjoyed it immensely. It would have been a fine last meal. I’d now had been experiencing a heart attack for about a week.

That night, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. The pain was now a complete jacket of annoyance on my body, and there was no way to rest that didn’t feel awful. I decided medical attention was needed.

The next morning, Rachel and I walked 5 blocks to a clinic, found it was closed, and walked further to the RealCare Health Clinic. I was finding it very hard to walk at this point. Dr. Edward Petrov saw me, gave me some therapy for reflux, found it wasn’t reflux, and got concerned, especially as having my heart checked might cost me something significant. He said he had a cardiologist friend who might help, and he called him, and it was agreed we could come right over.

We took a taxi over to Dr. Georg Leitl’s office. He saw me almost immediately.

He was one of those doctors that only needed to take my blood pressure and check my heart with a stethoscope for 30 seconds before looking at me sadly. We went to his office, and he told me I could not possibly get on the plane I was leaving on in 48 hours. He also said I needed to go to Hospital very quickly, and that I had some things wrong with me that needed attention.

He had his assistants measure my heart and take an ultrasound, wrote something on a notepad, put all the papers in an envelope with the words “SONNY PALMER” on them, and drove me personally over in his car to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Taking me up to the cardiology department, he put me in the waiting room of the surgery, talked to the front desk, and left. I waited 5 anxious minutes, and then was bought into a room with two doctors, one of whom turned out to be Dr. Sonny Palmer.

Sonny said Georg thought I needed some help, and I’d be checked within a day. I asked if he’d seen the letter with his name on it. He hadn’t. He went and got it.

He came back and said I was going to be operated on in an hour.

He also explained I had a rather blocked artery in need of surgery. Survival rate was very high. Nerve damage from the operation was very unlikely. I did not enjoy phrases like survival and nerve damage, and I realized what might happen very shortly, and what might have happened for the last week.

I went back to the waiting room, where I tweeted what might have been my possible last tweets, left a message for my boss Alexis on the slack channel, hugged Rachel tearfully, and then went into surgery, or potential oblivion.

Obviously, I did not die. The surgery was done with me awake, and involved making a small hole in my right wrist, where Sonny (while blasting Bon Jovi) went in with a catheter, found the blocked artery, installed a 30mm stent, and gave back the blood to the quarter of my heart that was choked off. I listened to instructions on when to talk or when to hold myself still, and I got to watch my beating heart on a very large monitor as it got back its function.

I felt (and feel) legions better, of course – surgery like this rapidly improves life. Fatigue is gone, pain is gone. It was also explained to me what to call this whole event: a major heart attack. I damaged the heart muscle a little, although that bastard was already strong from years of high blood pressure and I’m very young comparatively, so the chances of recovery to the point of maybe even being healthier than before are pretty good. The hospital, St. Vincents, was wonderful – staff, environment, and even the food (incuding curry and afternoon tea) were a delight. My questions were answered, my needs met, and everyone felt like they wanted to be there.

It’s now been 4 days. I was checked out of the hospital yesterday. My stay in Melbourne was extended two weeks, and my hosts (MuseumNext and ACMI) paid for basically all of the additional AirBNB that I’m staying at. I am not cleared to fly until the two weeks is up, and I am now taking six medications. They make my blood thin, lower my blood pressure, cure my kidney stones/gout, and stabilize my heart. I am primarily resting.

I had lost a lot of weight and I was exercising, but my cholesterol was a lot worse than anyone really figured out. The drugs and lifestyle changes will probably help knock that back, and I’m likely to adhere to them, unlike a lot of people, because I’d already been on a whole “life reboot” kick. The path that follows is, in other words, both pretty clear and going to be taken.

Had I died this week, at the age of 46, I would have left behind a very bright, very distinct and rather varied life story. I’ve been a bunch of things, some positive and negative, and projects I’d started would have lived quite neatly beyond my own timeline. I’d have also left some unfinished business here and there, not to mention a lot of sad folks and some extremely quality-variant eulogies. Thanks to a quirk of the Internet Archive, there’s a little statue of me – maybe it would have gotten some floppy disks piled at its feet.

Regardless, I personally would have been fine on the accomplishment/legacy scale, if not on the first-person/relationships/plans scale. That my Wikipedia entry is going to have a different date on it than February 2017 is both a welcome thing and a moment to reflect.

I now face the Other Half, whatever events and accomplishments and conversations I get to engage in from this moment forward, and that could be anything from a day to 100 years.

Whatever and whenever that will be, the tweet I furiously typed out on cellphone as a desperate last-moment possible-goodbye after nearly a half-century of existence will likely still apply:

“I have had a very fun time. It was enormously enjoyable, I loved it all, and was glad I got to see it.”

 

Source: http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/5139

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Ten Area Men Charged with Federal Dog-Fighting Offenses

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ten Area Men Charged with Federal Dog-Fighting Offenses

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Federal and local law enforcement officers made arrests this morning of area men charged by indictment with conspiracy to sponsor and participate in a dog-fighting venture and related charges. The indictment, returned by the grand jury last week, had remained sealed pending the arrests and initial court appearances. The defendants are making their initial appearances in federal court in Rock Island.

 

Those charged in the conspiracy include the following: Demarlo A. McCoy, 29; Ryan M. Hickman, 42; Andre Keywan Lidell, 40; Algerron Lee Goldsmith, 46; Stantrel Vontrez Knight, 29; Simmeon Terrell Hall, 28; Sherrick Cornelius Houston, 43; Willie Earl Jackson, 34, all of Rock Island, Ill.; and, Terrell Onterial McDuffy, 43, of Davenport, Iowa. In addition, the indictment charges Jaquan Leontae Jones, 27, also of Rock Island, with a single misdemeanor count of knowingly attending a dog fight.

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Hansen, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean M. Cox, Springfield Field Office, and Rock Island Police Chief Jeffrey R. VenHuizen announced the charges today. The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Rock Island Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Don Allegro and Ryan Finlen are prosecuting the case.

 

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring from 2011 through April 14, 2016, to sponsor pit bull-type dogs in fights as well as buying, selling, training, and possessing dogs to participate in such fights. According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly scheduled and conducted dog fights for sport and entertainment and wagered money on fight results.

 

The defendants allegedly discussed and disseminated information, including video recordings of dog fights, to establish the fighting reputations of specific dogs, to maximize the dogs’ values for breeding fighting dogs, and to maximize the defendants’ reputations as fighting-dog trainers and breeders.

 

In a separate, but related matter, the government filed a civil complaint in April 2016, seeking forfeiture of approximately 64 dogs that were seized in the execution of search warrants on April 14, 2016. According to the civil complaint, the dogs were involved in and used to commit or facilitate the alleged dog-fighting venture.

 

To date, pursuant to a court order, 27 of the previously seized dogs have been forfeited to the government. On Jan. 26, 2017, the court granted the government’s motion for default pertaining to 24 additional dogs. Two dogs have been euthanized pursuant to a court order; five were voluntarily surrendered; and three dogs have died. There are three dogs whose claims remain unresolved, including two for which a motion to strike is currently pending.

 

Law enforcement agencies that coordinated and participated in making today’s arrests include: the Rock Island Police Department; FBI; Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office; DEA; Scott County, Iowa Sheriff’s Office; the Quad City Metropolitan Enforcement Team (QCMEG); and the U.S. Marshals Service.

 

Representatives of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) were available today to assist in the event any additional dogs were seized in the execution of the arrest warrants. ASPCA continues to assist in the care of the dogs seized by law enforcement in April 2016, during the execution of search warrants.

 

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; each defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

 

If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty for each offense charged is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as sentencing is determined by the court based on

the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The maximum statutory penalty is up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for each count charged of conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture; sponsoring/exhibiting an animal in an AFV; possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV; and transporting an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV. For the misdemeanor charge of knowingly attending an AFV, the penalty is up to one year in prison. The table below lists the defendants and specific counts charged in the indictment.

 

Defendant Charge
Demarlo A. McCoy, 29

400 block 7th St.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Sponsoring/exhibiting an animal in an AFV (4 counts)

Possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Ryan M. Hickman, 42

500 block 14th Ave.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Andre Keywan Lidell, 40

800 block 15th Ave.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Sponsoring/exhibiting an animal in an AFV (2 counts)

Possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Algerron Lee Goldsmith, 46

1200 block 14th St.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Defendant Charge
Stantrel Vontrez Knight, 29

500 block 6th St.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Sponsoring/exhibiting an animal in an AFV (1 count)

Possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Terrell Onterial McDuffy, 43

1800 block 8th Ave.

Davenport, Iowa

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

 

Simmeon Terrell Hall, 28

800 block 21st St.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Sponsoring/exhibiting an animal in an AFV (3 counts)

Transporting an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Sherrick Cornelius Houston, 43

1600 block 5th St.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Possessing an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an AFV (1 count)

Willie Earl Jackson, 34

1500 block 9th St.

Rock Island, Ill.

Conspiracy to sponsor/exhibit pit bulls in an animal fighting venture (1 count)

Sponsoring/exhibiting an animal in an AFV (1 count)

 

Jaquan Leontae Jones, 27

1000 block 10th Ave.

Rock Island, Ill.

Knowingly attending an animal fighting venture (1 count)

 

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Illinois Man Who Illegally Accessed Email Belonging to More Than 300 People, including Many Celebrities, Sentenced to Federal Prison

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Illinois Man Who Illegally Accessed Email Belonging to More Than 300 People, including Many Celebrities, Sentenced to Federal Prison

          LOS ANGELES – An Illinois man who admitted responsibility for a phishing scheme that gave him illegal access to over 300 Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, has been sentenced to nine months in federal prison.

Edward Majerczyk, 29, of Chicago, was sentenced yesterday in Chicago by United States District Judge Charles P. Kocoras, who said the defendant’s crime was “abhorrent.”

Majerczyk pleaded guilty in September to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, specifically, one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. Majerczyk was charged by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, but the case was transferred to the Northern District of Illinois, where the defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

“This defendant engaged in a computer hacking scheme that not only gave him access to his victims’ computers, it also gave him access to the most personal details of their lives,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This was a deep intrusion into the victims’ privacy and a violation of federal law.”

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, from November 23, 2013 through August 2014, Majerczyk engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims. He sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from security accounts of internet service providers that directed the victims to a website that would collect the victims’ usernames and passwords. After victims responded by entering information at that website, Majerczyk had access to victims’ usernames and passwords. After illegally accessing the iCloud and Gmail accounts, Majerczyk obtained personal information including sensitive and private photographs and videos.

“Mr. Majerczyk manipulated hundreds of victims by tricking them into providing access to their accounts, including high-profile victims whose information was specifically targeted,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The lasting harm this type of intrusion can cause to celebrities and non-celebrities alike cannot be overstated, and this case should serve as a necessary reminder to all of us that it is dangerous to respond to unsolicited e-mails in which our personal information is requested.”

Many of Majerczyk’s victims were members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. By illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Majerczyk accessed at least 300 accounts, and at least 30 accounts belonging to celebrities.

The charge against Majerczyk stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014 known as “Celebgate.” However, investigators have not uncovered any evidence indicating that Majerczyk was responsible for any of the postings of celebrity photographs.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Kocoras ordered Majerczyk to pay $5,700 in restitution to one victim whose photos were published on the Internet. Majerczyk was ordered to begin serving his sentence by February 27.

The case against Majerczyk is the product of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was filed by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan White and Vicki Chou of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section. The sentencing hearing was handled by Chicago-based Assistant United States Attorney Raj Laud.

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Neshoba County Residents Sentenced to Prison for Assault on Choctaw Tribal Lands

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 30, 2017

Neshoba County Residents Sentenced to Prison for Assault on Choctaw Tribal Lands

Jackson, Miss – Robert Lee Jim, age 32 and Jackie Devon Stokes, Jr., age 33, both Choctaw Indians and residents of Neshoba County, were sentenced on January 23, 2017, by Senior U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour, for assault resulting in serious bodily injury, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. The defendants previously pled guilty to the charges.

Robert Lee Jim was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, and Jackie Devon Stokes, Jr. was sentenced to 84 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Both defendants were also ordered to pay a $1500 fine.

The crime took place on April 6, 2011 at a residence in Neshoba County on lands within the confines of the Choctaw Indian Reservation. The victim was brutally attacked and assaulted by both defendants. The victim was treated at University of Mississippi Medical Center.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with the Choctaw Tribal Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abe McGlothin, Jr.

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Gospel Singer Sentenced for $4 Million Money Laundering Conspiracy

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 27, 2017

Gospel Singer Sentenced for $4 Million Money Laundering Conspiracy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Jacqueline Green-Morris, 41, of Woodbridge, was sentenced today to 63 months in prison for her role in a money laundering conspiracy which resulted in a loss of $4.1 million.

Green-Morris pleaded guilty on Aug. 30, 2016. According to court documents, Green-Morris was employed as a Quality Analyst/Training Manager for a federal government contractor based in Virginia. As part of her duties, Green-Morris paid invoices submitted by outside vendors for employee training and testing. In 2012, Green-Morris conspired with Amit Chaudhry, owner of an Ashburn based business, to submit inflated and fraudulent invoices for payment of information technology training and professional certification courses that were never provided. Green-Morris and the co-conspirator also created numerous “shell” companies and opened bank accounts in the names of the “shell” companies to facilitate the movement of the proceeds of the fraudulent payments through PayPal. Green-Morris used additional bank accounts held in the names of various entities she controlled, including Jacquie Green Music LLC and Sweet Lane Entertainment, companies used to facilitate her gospel singing career. The amount of loss in this case was at least $4.1 million and Green-Morris used the proceeds to purchase a home in Woodbridge, travel, gamble and purchase luxury items for herself and others.

Co-conspirator Amit Chaudhry pleaded guilty on Sept. 20, 2016, and is scheduled for sentencing on February 9.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division; Thomas Holloman, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; Joseph W. Cronin, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Christian Schurman, Acting Director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly R. Pedersen and Katherine L. Wong prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-190.

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‘Wife’ of Man Facing Charges of Conspiring with Shooter in San Bernardino Attack Pleads Guilty to Entering into Sham Marriage

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 26, 2017

‘Wife’ of Man Facing Charges of Conspiring with Shooter in San Bernardino Attack Pleads Guilty to Entering into Sham Marriage

          RIVERSIDE, California – Mariyah Chernykh today pleaded guilty to federal immigration fraud charges and admitted entering into a sham marriage with Enrique Marquez Jr., who is facing charges of conspiring with the male shooter in the December 2, 2015 attack in San Bernardino.

Chernykh, 26, of Ontario, pleaded guilty this afternoon before United States District Judge Jesus Bernal to charges of conspiracy, perjury, and false statements.

As a result of her guilty pleas, Chernykh faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Judge Bernal is scheduled to sentence the defendant on November 20, 2017.

Chernykh is the second person to plead guilty in the immigration fraud scheme. On January 10, Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of deceased San Bernardino attacker Syed Rizwan Farook, pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy.

The third defendant in the case – Tatiana Farook, the wife of Syed Raheel Farook – still faces charges contained in a grand jury indictment and is scheduled to go on trial on March 28.

The indictment alleges that, beginning in late 2014 and continuing through February 2016, the three defendants conspired with Marquez to obtain immigration benefits for Chernykh by arranging and carrying out a fraudulent marriage between Chernykh, a Russian citizen, and Marquez, a United States citizen. In court today, Chernykh admitted that she made false statements in immigration documents, that she paid Marquez for his participation in the scheme, and that she made additional material false statements during interviews with FBI special agents.

Marquez was charged in a separate federal indictment with participating in the marriage fraud scheme, as well as plotting with San Bernardino attacker Syed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012 to carry out attacks in the Inland Empire. Marquez is also charged with supplying two firearms that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfin Malik, later used in the San Bernardino attack and during the shootout with law enforcement that ended in the couple’s death. Marquez is scheduled to go on trial before Judge Bernal on September 26.

“Two of the four defendants charged as a result of the investigation into the December 2 San Bernardino terrorist attack have now been convicted,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “These convictions signify important progress in the ongoing investigation and prosecution of all those connected to the attack. Today’s guilty pleas are further proof that law enforcement has doggedly investigated all leads stemming from the tragic attack in San Bernardino as we continue our efforts to bring justice to the community.”

“The criminal activity by the defendants who entered into phony marriages was uncovered following the deadly terror attack that occurred in December 2015 in San Bernardino,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Mariyah Chernykh ultimately admitted to lying to FBI Agents who were urgently seeking answers immediately following the attack to ensure that there were no additional threats to public safety. The defendant’s admission to violating U.S. immigration laws and defrauding the United States government is a welcome step as we continue our investigation of the attack which left 14 dead and several others seriously wounded.”

“Today’s guilty plea and the broader circumstances of this case are a powerful reminder about the serious consequences that can result when people lie or use false information to obtain an immigration benefit,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “Not only do such actions corrupt the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, but they can directly or indirectly put the safety of the American people at risk.”

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Riverside, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the San Bernardino Police Department; the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; and the United States Attorney’s Office.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay H. Robinson, Melanie Sartoris and Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section with substantial assistance from Trial Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section.

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Jamaican National Indicted in Federal Drug Case for Allegedly Supplying Flight Attendant with nearly 60 Pounds of Cocaine

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 27, 2017

Jamaican National Indicted in Federal Drug Case for Allegedly Supplying Flight Attendant with nearly 60 Pounds of Cocaine

          LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury has named a Jamaican man in an indictment that accuses him of supplying a Jet Blue flight attendant with nearly 60 pounds of cocaine that she attempted to smuggle on to a plane at Los Angeles International Airport.

Gaston Brown, 39, of Jamaica, was charged yesterday with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Brown is currently serving a one-year-and-one-day federal prison sentence after being convicted in the Southern District of Florida of illegal re-entry after deportation. A federal judge yesterday issued a writ directing that Brown be brought to Los Angeles for an arraignment, which will likely be in mid-February.

Brown allegedly supplied the narcotics to Marsha Gay Reynolds, a former JetBlue flight attendant, who pleaded guilty last month to federal drug charges and admitted she attempted to bring the narcotics through a security checkpoint at LAX by using her “known crewmember” credentials.

“This case demonstrates law enforcement’s commitment to disrupting dangerous drug trafficking networks,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “After making the large seizure of narcotics at LAX, investigators continued to look into this matter, which resulted in the indictment of a defendant who was trafficking a significant amount of cocaine.”

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

If Brown is convicted of the drug trafficking charges, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum possible sentence of life.

This investigation is being conducted by the Los Angeles International Airport Criminal Enterprise Task Force (LAACETF), an inter-agency task force based at LAX. The Task Force, which includes representatives of the FBI, the DEA, United States Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Los Angeles International Airport Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The LAACETF provides a coordinated law enforcement effort to target airport/airline internal criminal enterprises that use the aviation system to transport large amounts of illicit drugs throughout the United States and various international destinations.

This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Reema M. El-Amamy of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

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Boise Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Sex Trafficking of a Minor

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Boise Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Sex Trafficking of a Minor

BOISE – Michael Wayne Wade, 31, of Boise was sentenced today in United States District Court to 240 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for sex trafficking of a minor, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Wade pleaded guilty on August 16, 2016.

 

According to the plea agreement, agents with the Idaho Department of Probation and Parole arrested Wade for a felony probation violation in July of 2014. A Nokia Lumina cell phone was seized from Wade and examined by a detective with the Boise Police Department. The cell phone contained texts with a minor and images of the minor, including one that was sexually explicit. The detective conducted open-source internet searches on Backpage.com and discovered that the images of the minor on Wade’s phone had been posted in an ad for “escort services” in Boise in July and November of 2014. The postings were made using a Backpage.com account for another individual, J.K.

 

J.K. was arrested by the Boise Police Department in December of 2014, and admitted she worked as a prostitute in Boise, and that Wade was the “boss” who “pimped her.” She admitted Wade asked her to use the minor for a two-girl “date,” which she refused. She admitted posting the minor as an escort on Backpage.com, using the images sent to her by Wade. She further admitted that Wade spoke to her about taking the minor “under her wing,” assisting her in “escorting,” and ensuring that she was “working.” J.K. admitted that she took the minor on at least two “dates” where the minor engaged in commercial sex acts, and that she received money from the minor in exchange for posting the ad and transporting her.

 

The minor was interviewed and admitted that she participated in a prostitution enterprise with J.K. She stated she sent the images of herself to Wade for the purpose of being posted on Backpage.com as an escort. The minor stated that J.K. posted her images on Backpage.com, and drove her on at least two “calls” where she engaged in a commercial sex act when she was sixteen years old.

 

“This defendant callously victimized a minor,” said Olson. “This sentence demonstrates that such conduct will be punished severely, and that the law protects our children from those who seek to exploit and profit from them. This office and its law enforcement partners in Idaho are unwavering in our commitment to seek justice on behalf of vulnerable victims and to hold sex traffickers accountable.”

 

Further investigation by the Boise Police Department and the FBI revealed recorded phone calls and text messages from Wade to J.K. and the minor. The text messages revealed that Wade knew the minor was sixteen years old, that he told her she would be a “star by the time I’m done with you,” encouraged her to “hustle all day,” and told her that J.K. would teach her “the tricks of the trade” and “how to hustle.” Wade also told the minor that she had “mad potential,” could “turn tricks,” and that J.K. would “buy you a room” and “have you get to work this weekend.” Wade then told J.K. that the minor was “all open” and “down to work for the team.”

 

The case was investigated by the Boise Police Department, the FBI, and the Idaho Department of Probation and Parole, and was prosecuted with assistance from the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office. The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.internetking.us/wordpress/2017/01/30/boise-man-sentenced-to-20-years-for-sex-trafficking-of-a-minor-2/

Trump fires acting attorney general for refusing to defend legality of his refugee ban

President Trump fired acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates on Monday, just hours after she announced that the department would not defend his controversial executive order temporarily banning all refugees and travelers from certain countries.

Yates has “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said in a statement. “It is time to get serious about protecting our country.”

Yates is a career prosecutor who served as the Obama administration’s deputy attorney general. Trump had asked her to stay on as acting attorney general pending the confirmation of his pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

The firing came after Yates wrote a letter to Justice Department lawyers in which she said she questioned the lawfulness of Trump’s order and announced that the Justice Department would not defend it in court.

“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts,” Yates wrote.

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” she wrote.

“Consequently, for as long as I am the acting attorney general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

The letter, the defiance of the president’s wishes that it reflected and the subsequent firing created the most public split between the Justice Department and a White House since fall 1973, when President Nixon ordered the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, prompting the department’s two top leaders to resign.

Taken together, the actions heightened the already tense atmosphere surrounding the travel ban, which has sparked protests at airports around the country and several court challenges.

In a tweet Monday evening, the president portrayed Yates’ statement as part of a partisan move against him, saying “the Democrats are delaying my Cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.”

The White House announced that Trump had appointed Dana J. Boente, the top federal prosecutor in northern Virginia, to serve as acting attorney general until Sessions is confirmed. He is a 31-year veteran of the Justice Department, specializing in tax crimes and fraud. In December 2012, he was appointed by former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as the U.S. attorney in New Orleans.

The firing is likely not only to heighten the political tension but also create additional problems. To begin with, Yates’ doubts about the legality and wisdom of Trump’s order are now on the public record and almost certain to be cited by lawyers challenging Trump’s action in future cases.

In addition, Yates was the only person in the department authorized to sign wiretapping warrants in foreign espionage cases involving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Only a person confirmed by the Senate for one of three top Justice Department positions can legally perform that job, Justice Department officials said. Her departure could create a hole in the government’s ability to pursue important national security cases, at least until Sessions is sworn into office. He is likely to be confirmed within a week, but Senate Democrats have been trying to slow the process.

The firing also increased the sense of chaos that already has surrounded the executive order, which Trump signed Friday. The order suspended all refugee resettlements in the U.S for 120 days, and indefinitely for those from Syria. It also banned travel to the U.S. for 90 days by nationals of seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Iran, Iraq,  Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Already the administration has had to reverse position on parts of the order, as immigration officials have struggled to understand what it required.

After initially detaining scores of U.S. permanent residents on Friday and Saturday, in some cases keeping them in custody for many hours, the administration announced Sunday that in the future, green-card holders from the seven countries covered by the travel ban would not be detained except in unusual circumstances.

The administration also announced that dual-nationals, people with British and Iraqi passports, for example, would be exempt from the ban after initially saying they would be covered. That question has created tension with European governments.

The State Department announced Monday that refugees from places other than the seven countries covered by Trump’s ban could still enter the U.S. through Thursday because many were already in transit. About 900 refugees are expected to enter the U.S. this week, the department said in a statement. Earlier, officials had been uncertain about their fate.

In court hearings so far, Justice Department lawyers have struggled to defend the order or answer questions from judges about the legal issues involved.

On a conference call with reporters on Monday, Jordan Wells, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which won a preliminary skirmish in court over the weekend, described the crackdown’s impacts as “topsy-turvy.

Much of the confusion stems from the haste with which the order was prepared. Top White House officials wrote it without the usual consultation with the major agencies that have to carry it out.

Trump tweeted Monday that if the order had been publicized in advance for a week, “the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week.” That was untrue — the process of getting a visa from any of the covered countries already typically takes months.

At the Justice Department, the Office of Legal Counsel, which normally reviews executive orders, was given a brief period to check the text to see if it clearly violated any legal standards. That office determined that the order passed muster.

But, Yates said in her letter, that review was a basic check that did not consider broader issues, such as whether the order was discriminatory or “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

Comments made by administration officials “may bear on the order’s purpose” in ways that would undermine its constitutionality, Yates wrote.

While Yates did not spell out what she meant, a Justice Department official said the comment referred to Trump’s statement in an interview on Friday about giving priority to Christians and a statement by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said that Trump had asked him and other advisers to come up with a way to meet his campaign promise of a “Muslim ban” and “do it legally.”

Yates’ declaration came as opponents filed two new court challenges to the order. In Washington state, Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson, saying the president was “not above the law,” declared that Trump’s order had violated the Constitution by creating a religious test for entry to the country and by denying due process to those seeking visas.

In Virginia, 27 Muslims filed suit in federal court saying the ban amounted to an unconstitutional religious test. The people bringing the case include students from Yemen and Somalia who hold U.S. visas, and a Syrian national who is a legal permanent resident in the process of gaining U.S. citizenship.

The ACLU, which won a key initial challenge against the immigration ban late Saturday, said it also was preparing a broad challenge to the order on constitutional grounds.

The president has wide power over immigration. Federal law says he can “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens” if he finds them to be “detrimental” to the country’s interests. The same law, however, also says that “no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”

Legal experts predict the court fights over the law could be lengthy and complex.

“The strongest case for opponents is that this order is discrimination based upon religion,” said T. Alexander Aleinikoff, a law professor at the New School in New York who worked as a counsel to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“Immigration is an area where courts generally don’t get involved. But I’m sure this could go all the way up high, to the Supreme Court,” Aleinikoff said, adding that “nothing is clear on how this will play out.”

Kevin Lapp, an associate law professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, noted that the usual rules “around discrimination don’t have the same force when it comes to immigration law.”

But, he said, “ this may be the moment where courts draw the line on nationality or religion on immigration, saying things have gone too far.”

Times staff writers Del Quentin Wilber, Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson contributed to this report.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.internetking.us/wordpress/2017/01/30/trump-fires-acting-attorney-general-for-refusing-to-defend-legality-of-his-refugee-ban/

New Orleans Woman Indicted for Conspiracy to Receive and Pay Illegal Health Care Kickbacks

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 27, 2017

New Orleans Woman Indicted for Conspiracy to Receive and Pay Illegal Health Care Kickbacks

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that SAQUENA GRIFFIN, a/k/a “QUEENIE,” age 34, of New Orleans was charged today with conspiracy to pay and receive illegal Medicare kickbacks which resulted in Medicare paying $378,274 to a local home health.

According to the Indictment, GRIFFIN was a recruiter and marketer for Comprehensive Nursing and Home Health Service, Inc. (Comprehensive) on Earhart Blvd., in New Orleans. GRIFFIN is charged with receiving illegal kickbacks to bring Medicare beneficiaries to Comprehensive.

If convicted, GRIFFIN, faces a possible maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Polite reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrice Harris Sullivan is in charge of the prosecution.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.internetking.us/wordpress/2017/01/30/new-orleans-woman-indicted-for-conspiracy-to-receive-and-pay-illegal-health-care-kickbacks-2/

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