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Archive for November 5th, 2015

Baltimore Warrior Says Black America Has ‘Accepted Defeat’ While Facing ‘Insane Levels’ of Street Violence

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

As national homicide rates climb, this group believes they have at least part of the answer.

By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave this reporter a blank stare in response to a question. To be asked whether she is familiar with the Baltimore-based group called 300 Men March was apparently baffling to her.
She explained, “That’s like asking me if I’ve heard of the Baltimore Orioles. I’m from Baltimore. I get it.”

As indicated by the Mayor’s response, this group of men, known for their patrolling the Baltimore streets as a display of positive force and responsible manhood amidst an often violent backdrop, have made quite a name for themselves. But as police violence against African-Americans has dominated the media air space, the support needed to help those doing the work against street violence appears stagnant – despite rising homicide rates across the country.

“You certainly get a whole lot of activity from people when it comes to police brutality – every time something goes on with the police and the Black man,” says the group’s founder and president, Munir Bahar, in a recent interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “But, yet, there’s not enough support and involvement on a day-to-day basis of men of color especially, but all men around the country with regards to community violence.”

The surge in national homicide statistics has been well-documented by local and national media:

This week, a heart-breaking national news story focuses on the Chicago police investigation of the multiple shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. The boy, killed Nov. 2, while walking through an alley near his grandmother’s house, is believed to have been the target in a feud involving one or more of his relatives.

The indiscriminate killings of Black people – including babies, children, teens and adults – is a scenario that has become all too common, says Bahar.

At this writing, in Baltimore, the count has long surpassed 235 – well more than last year’s total of 211; in Chicago, it’s now more than 300, 20 percent up from the 244 all of last year. It’s the same story in cities across the country. For example, in Washington, DC, homicides are up 36 percent; New Orleans, up 19 percent; St. Louis, up 60 percent; and Detroit, up 50 percent since last year.

And despite a season of decline during the past decade, the numbers have continued to mount for years. In fact, since 1975, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation first began keeping homicide statistics, the combined national numbers of street homicide deaths surpass a half million. That’s enough to populate several entire cities.

As the protests and outrage over the killings of Black men and women by police officers continue around the country, this one group of Black men – 300 Men March – have decided that African-American street violence against each other is what they are called to fight. Winning the respect of their peers, they have proven to be a different kind of warrior.

To make that point nationally, Bahar, in August, led about 50 men in a march all the way from Baltimore, 35 miles South to Washington, DC.

“We wanted to take this straight to our capital, straight to the door steps of our President under the banner of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative,” said Bahar, 35. “We announced ourselves as that group of men that have been active, that are still active, and pledge ourselves to continue to be active until we end this genocide in the country of young Black men.”

But, of course, it’s not that simple. Though he hopes to establish 300 men strong over the next five years, Bahar says they currently have about 60 faithful participants.
“We have a large amount of Black men who are literally sitting aside watching our race be destroyed from the inside. Guys who would rather go to happy hour at an all White party or a cocktail party or a whatever party than to spend that time mentoring some young people in this city,” he says.

Bahar’s nearly 12-year-old non-profit organization, COR Health Institute, which birthed the 300 vision two years ago, mentors young men in fitness, martial arts, and health programs. On the streets, the 300 Men March is symbolic of the small group of warriors in the movie, 300, who “went up against an army that everybody thought they would lose,” Bahar describes. “There was pessimism from day one. And that’s kind of what we’re dealing with the murder rate and these murders that are not only happening in Baltimore but across most urban Black cities across America. We have this sky rocketing, this insane level of violence and I feel – to be honest and I’m out there every day – I feel that a lot of people have given up. I feel that a lot of people in the Black community especially, have just accepted this. A lot of Black people have accepted defeat.”

But, the 300 men have inspired many, including Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
“I can say that level of engagement, that grass roots level is helpful because 300 Men movement speaks directly to these men that are victims of men that are perpetrators,” she said. “And really trying to speak to their hearts to let them know that there’s something different out there; and that the community needs them to stand up as men; not as violent offenders.”

Bahar says his vision is to expand nationally and to help other groups with the same goals. But resources are limited.

“There are a lot of people from Baltimore to Chicago to Los Angeles who are addressing community violence. We want to rally those individuals. We want to rally and show our support and encouragement to everybody who’s fighting the genocide of young Black men in this country,” he says.

Gaining a national reputation, the group has won the attention of the National Bankers Association and its president, Michael Grant, a key supporter who has helped to raise funds for their mission.

“So, you got this young leader, and a visionary leader who has stepped out here and who is totally committed to this cause. And he struggles to get attention from people who can help him financially. He struggles to get the support that he needs. And the question is why. Why would the Black community, especially the Black middle class and those who have resources; why would they not enthusiastically embrace this type of leadership?” Grant questions. “We’re going to leave all this on the shoulders of young people without giving them financial support and moral support or even going sometimes to march with them?”

Other community leaders have also expressed support.

Civil rights activist the Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple, says some of his male members are a part of the group, which he describes as “redefining what Black male imaging looks like…For Black men to stand and let their voices be heard, this is so significant when we’ve had more than 237 homicides in Baltimore and they are overwhelming majority Black males.”

Though the 300 group may feel isolated, anti-street violence activity appears back on the rise. For example, the National Week of Non-violence, sponsored annually by the Washington, D.C.-based Black Women for Positive Change in mid-October, drew support from mayors, legislators and activists around the nation; including Ben Crump, the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, who is now president of the National Bar Association.

But the battle is up hill, says Bahar. Despite the rising death tolls, he doesn’t appear discouraged.

“I’m not worried about measuring my success,” he says. “This is a movement. Dr. King, when they were building their movement, they were not worried about measuring their success. They were just doing something that God inspired them to do. And when you ‘re moving with the Spirit of God, you don’t have to evaluate that.”

 

Members and supporters of the 300 Men March recently take to the streets to send a message in Baltimore and beyond. Leader, Munir Bahar, is determined to stop what he calls a ‘genocide’ of  young Black men as national homicide rates continue to rise. PHOTO: Courtesy/300 Men March

Bahar Munir, president/founder of 300 Men March, talks to reporters after marching from Baltimore to Washington, DC. He believes Black America has accepted defeat when it comes to the national homicide rate. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

Bahar Munir leads a group representing the 300 Men March in a recent trek from Baltimore to Washington, DC. The goal was to send a signal from the heart of the nation’s capital that responsible men are working to lower the homicide rate in Baltimore and beyond. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire


This police tape in the 5500 block of Baltimore’s Reisterstown Road, is an all too familiar scene across America. This photo was taken Oct. 3, the morning after five people were shot on this block. One died. PHOTO: Hazel Trice Edney/Trice Edney News Wire

Nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee of Chicago is among America’s latest homicide victims. According to reports, he was shot multiple times Nov. 2 while passing through an alley near his grandmother’s house. Police were still investigating the homicide this week.

 

Rigged: Racial Bias in Jury Selection

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

By Marc H. Morial, President and CEO
National Urban League

“Illegal and unconstitutional jury selection procedures cast doubt on the integrity of the hole judicial process. They create the appearance of bias in the decision of individual cases, and they increase the risk of actual bias as well.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Peters v. Kiff (1972)

During the Reconstruction Era, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The act guaranteed all citizens, particularly African Americans, equal treatment and access to public accommodations, public transportation and protected their right to serve on juries. This week—140 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1875—the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Georgia death penalty case that serves as an intolerable reminder that people of color continue to be unlawfully excluded from jury service because of their race.

In 1987, Timothy Foster, an African American, was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in the murder of an elderly white woman. Foster, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime, is seeking a new trial on the basis of racial discrimination by the prosecution, who he claims deliberately singled out and purged all prospective Black jurors. Coincidentally, Foster’s death sentence came only a year after the Supreme Court had ruled in Batson v. Kentucky that excluding potential jurors based on race was unconstitutional and violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The clear message of Batson v. Kentucky to not exclude jurors based on race failed to police the behavior of prosecutors in Timothy Foster’s case. And Foster’s case is a textbook example of racial discrimination that is often so hard to prove. In this rare instance of well-documented misconduct, prosecutors used a variety of methods to single out and remove potential Black jurors. After getting access to the prosecution’s jury selection notes in 2006, Foster’s lawyer found “an arsenal of smoking guns in this case,” including prosecutors highlighting the names of potential Black jurors, circling the word “black” on questionnaires, and taking note of Black jurors as “B#1” or “B#2.”

Despite the efforts of our federal government and the Supreme Court to address and eliminate racial discrimination in the jury selection process, the practice continues to run rampant, and unchecked, throughout our criminal justice system—a system where more than half of the people on death row are people of color. African Americans make up 42 percent of that number, while they make up only 12 percent of the United States population.

Deliberately excluding people of color from juries only serves to undermine our confidence in the credibility of our nation’s criminal justice system. How can we believe justice is being served if the system is so blatantly rigged? And studies have shown that diversity makes for a better jury. In comparison to all-white juries, racially diverse juries are said to take longer to deliberate, they consider a wider variety of perspectives when deciding and make fewer factual errors. We cannot allow our constitutional right to be judged by a jury of our peers to be abused based on a prosecutor’s implicit or explicit racial bias—lives are at stake.

If we are going to effectively address prosecutorial misconduct, there must be real enforcement of rulings like Batson v. Kentucky to prevent the exclusion of jurors based on their race. Along with enforcement, there must be punishment. Right now, prosecutors are not taken to task when racial bias rears its ugly head during jury selection. With enforcement and monitoring, we can discover the patterns and punish the offenders. Foster’s case has pulled back the curtain on an ugly and unlawful practice that we must remedy if we want a criminal justice system we can believe in.

Fortunately, we are decades past the all-white juries of the Jim Crow era, but we have a long way to go if we are committed to bring justice into our jury pools for all our nation’s citizens.

Moving Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Bait-and-Switch Scheme

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

BOSTON—The owner of a South Florida moving company pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a scheme that defrauded over $112,000 from 52 victims.

 
Louis Massaro, 34, of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Pompano Beach, Fla. pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and failure to return household goods. U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for Feb. 9, 2016.

 
Massaro owned and operated Moving and Storage Inc., which did business as Neighbors Moving and Storage (NM&S). Although Massaro advertised as a mover of household goods, he operated NM&S as a broker of such services—taking jobs that would later be passed on to other carriers without disclosing that fact to the clients. One of the companies to which Massaro passed on contracts was an interstate carrier of household goods based in Massachusetts.

 
From approximately August 2010 to October 2012, Massaro and his co-conspirators operated a “bait-and-switch” operation in which Massaro, through NM&S, would provide low-ball estimates for moving household goods and falsely tell customers that upon payment of a deposit and a “binding” fee, the price would be guaranteed.

 

 

Customers that contracted with NM&S were never told that the actual move would be completed by another carrier.

 
After customers made the initial payments, Massaro and his co-conspirators (the actual carrier) would obtain additional money from them in several ways. For example, once the 7-day cancellation period had passed, employees of NM&S would call the customers for a so-called “Quality Assurance Check.” While discussing the items to be moved, NM&S employees, under Massaro’s direction, would indicate that there were more items being moved than originally quoted and raise the quoted price. Customers were forced to elect between cancelling the contract and losing their deposit fees, and paying the higher amount.

 
Once Massaro’s co-conspirators arrived to conduct the move, the drivers would inform customers that there was more weight to be moved than was included in the binding quote, even in those instances where the price had already been increased during the “Quality Assurance Check.” At that point, the price of the move would increase by thousands of dollars—sometimes even doubling or tripling from the quoted estimate, and drivers were directed not to deliver any goods unless and until all money was collected. When a customer refused to pay the inflated price, they were informed that their household goods would be placed in storage, that they would have to pay before their goods would be delivered, and that they would be billed an additional amount of money for storage fees and re-delivery, or, alternatively, that their goods would be sold at auction. As a result of Massaro’s criminal scheme, victims lost $112,650 over the 26-month period.

 
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of money laundering provides a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The charge of failure to return household goods provides a sentence of no greater than two years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and one year of supervised release. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; Theodore L. Doherty, III, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; and Cheryl Garcia, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, New York Regional Office, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 03, 2015
  • District of Massachusetts (617) 748-3100

Clifford Law Obtains $8.25 Million Verdict This Afternoon in Medical Malpractice Case Against Chicago Hospital

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Bradley M. Cosgrove, partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, this afternoon obtained an $8.25 million verdict against a Chicago hospital on behalf of a family who lost their father and husband due to negligence following a total knee replacement surgery.

Adam Szwarek, Sr., was a patient at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago from December 8 – 10 of 2009.  Following the surgery, he suffered a heart attack that caused hypoxia, anemia, confusion and disorientation, which was alleged to have gone untreated by medical personnel including the hospital residents.  It led to shock and an inadequate blood flow to his vital organs, including his heart.  Szwarek, 68, died two days later at the hospital from a massive myocardial infarction.

“The death of Mr. Szwarek was avoidable had medical personnel ordered simple, cheap, available and non-invasive tests in response to his signs of heart attack” Cosgrove said following the verdict.  “If the medical personnel had simply acted reasonably, Mr. Szwarek would be alive today for his wife and his son.  This never should have happened to this wonderful family.”

The five-man-seven-woman jury came back in two hours and 20 minutes following a 10-day trial before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Suriano at the Daley Center.  The case was brought by Szwarek’s estate.  The jury award $3.25 million for grief and sorrow, and $5 million for loss of society to the widow and his adult son.

Marta M. Kowalczyk, associate at the firm, assisted at trial.  Kowalczyk has now assisted in verdicts totaling more than $15 million. Cosgrove has had a string of successful verdicts and settlements since joining Clifford Law Offices two years ago totaling more than $70 million. Last year he was listed as one of the Top 40 Attorneys Under 40 years of age by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.
______________
For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner Pamela S. Menaker at 847-721-0909.
www.CliffordLaw.com
Case No.: 11 L 13030
Attorneys for defendant Presence Saint Joseph Hospital:
John N. Seibel and Myriah Conaughty
Cassiday Schade LLP
20 N. Wacker Dr., Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60606
312-641-3100

Family Makes Urgent Attempts to Demand Release of Father of Two Scheduled to be Deported This Friday

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

 

Chicago Immigration Authorities Deny All Appeals, Ignore Community Support in Case of Manuel Roman

 

CHICAGO, IL– Manuel Roman has been in immigrant detention for the last year. His wife and two daughters have been forced to endure immense psychological and economic difficulties due to his detention. However, with community support, they have done everything possible to fight for Manuel’s release including asking Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who is currently reviewing the case, to intervene. Despite the fact that Manuel Roman is not a priority for deportation, the local ICE office has denied Manuel’s stay of removal and he is set to be deported this Friday.

A Press conference will be held this Friday by local immigrants, advocates, and supporters of Manuel Roman to demand that ICE follow their guidelines and immediately release him.

The press conference will he held November, 05, 2015, 11:00 A.M., at the Chicago Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, 101 W. Congress Parkway, in Chicago.

In a letter wrote from detention, he penned:

I have been detained at Dodge County Detention center since November of 2014 and since then my wife and  two daughters have suffered. My oldest daughter has been going see a psychologist because she has been distressed since I was detained. It hurts me a lot to know that Martha is struggling by herself with our two daughters. Knowing that my family is suffering hurts me a lot…I was the only economic provider for my family before getting detained and without my income my family has suffered.

I…ask that you listen to my story and consider that the 10 year-old conviction [which does not make him priority for deportation] does not define who I am, does not reflect the dedication I have to my family or to my community. I hope you can help to give me a chance to stay in this country and continue to love, provide, and support my two daughters and wife.

ICE has negligently and deliberately put Manuel Ramon into removal proceedings, today we demand that ICE follow their own guidelines and release Manuel Roman so that he may be reunited with his family. We will continue to stand alongside Manuel’s family and make every attempt to achieve his release, #Fight4Families!

Investigation Reveals Arbitrary Process of Voting Rights Restoration

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Disenfranchisement News: The Sentencing Project

Florida

Jeb Bush approved only one-fifth of the 385K applications for civil rights submitted while governor

In Florida, the only way for many people with a felony conviction to regain their civil rights is to petition the governor for clemency. Mother Jones recently analyzed more than 1,000 pages of clemency hearing transcripts to assess how Jeb Bush—now a Republican presidential candidate—oversaw the process during his tenure as governor, from 1999-2007. According to Mother Jones, Bush seemed to rely on “an entrenched set of personal values” to determine whether an applicant’s rights should be restored, including how much time had elapsed since imprisonment, how sufficiently the applicant displayed remorse, whether or not they had a good driving record, and how long the person had been sober. Despite these criteria, regaining the right to vote often came down to luck. “It reminds me of the serfs entering the castle and asking for assistance from the king. And depending upon how they feel that day, you might get it—or not,” says Ion Sancho, longtime supervisor of elections in Leon County, which includes Tallahassee.

In 2002, black state legislators successfully sued the state for failing to provide people with felony convictions with the paperwork needed to apply for restoration, forcing the administration to review an additional 155,000 applications. To manage the additional applicants, Bush simplified the application process and allowed certain people with low-level convictions to have their rights automatically restored. Despite this effort to streamline the process, Bush ultimately approved just one-fifth of the 385,522 applications for civil rights submitted during his time in office.

Iowa

Judge upholds state ban on voting with a felony conviction

Judge Arthur Gamble recently upheld a state law that bans people with felony convictions from voting, as well as an executive order that requires people with a felony conviction to petition the governor in order to have their rights restored. The ruling came down in the case of Kelli Jo Griffin, who thought her voting rights had been restored after she completed her probation for a non-violent drug offense. She was charged with voter fraud, but a jury last year found her not guilty. Griffin and the ACLU of Iowa challenged the state’s disenfranchisement laws after the Iowa Supreme Court questioned whether all felonies necessarily constitute an “infamous crime”—which the Iowa Constitution states would disqualify a person from voting. In Gamble’s dismissal of Griffin’s lawsuit, he noted that the court should identify which felony convictions should lead to exclusion from voting. Griffin plans to appeal the case to the Iowa Supreme Court.

National

Rep. Jeffries proposes bill to restore voting rights in federal elections

In a recent interview on NewsOne, U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) discussed his proposed bill to restore voting rights in federal elections to people who have completed their prison sentence. “As the nation moves towards criminal justice reform, reducing mandatory minimums and improving opportunities for people to reenter society, we have to look at the holistic individual in terms of their participation and their reentry. Part of that is regaining their franchise as it relates to someone’s ability to vote, to participate, to have their voices heard,” says Rep. Jeffries. He also highlighted the problem of prison gerrymandering, where states count incarcerated individuals as residents of the counties in which they are imprisoned—all while denying incarcerated individuals the right to vote. According to Rep. Jeffries, incarcerated individuals are being “used” in the population count to bolster funds for the predominately white rural counties in which most prisons are located, even though many individuals leaving prison return to urban inner city communities.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on felony disenfranchisement: “Let them vote.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch called for voting rights restoration for people with felony convictions at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Legislative Conference. “The ultimate participation in the American experiment called Democracy is of course the right to vote.  That is why the Department of Justice continues to call for all states to revisit the issue of felon disenfranchisement – let them vote.  Let them vote,” said Attorney General Lynch.

International

New Zealand High Court rules against blanket ban on prison voting

In New Zealand, the High Court has recently ruled that the 2010 Electoral Amendment Act, which bans all people from voting in prison, is inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights. Justice Paul Heath ruled that the law had “arbitrary consequences” in that a person imprisoned for just a few months could not vote if incarcerated on Election Day, while a person imprisoned for a few years between election cycles is still eligible to vote. The High Court’s ruling does not automatically invalidate the bill. Parliament would still have to pass legislation to lift the blanket ban on voting in prison. According to New Zealand law professor Andrew Geddis, this was the first time the High Court declared a law inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, which acted as an “official notice” to Parliament that they had passed a “bad law.”

Madigan, FTC & States Announce Nationwide Crackdown Against Abusive Debt Collectors

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
                                                                                            

30 New Actions Targeting Illegal Practices Such as Phony Debt Collection & Threats of Arrest & Wage Garnishment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined with the Federal Trade Commission and other law enforcement authorities around the country to announce the first coordinated federal-state enforcement initiative targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. This nationwide crackdown encompasses 30 new law enforcement actions by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities against collectors who use illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls and false threats of litigation, arrest and wage garnishment. The cases announced today bring to 115 the total number of actions taken so far this year by the more than 70 law enforcement partners in the Operation Collection Protection initiative.

Some of these actions allege that collectors knowingly attempted to collect so-called phantom debts – phony debts that consumers do not actually owe. The illegal practices targeted by authorities also include the failure of some collectors to give consumers legally required disclosures and notices, or to follow state and local licensing requirements.

“My office receives thousands of calls and complaints each year from consumers who are victims of illegal debt collection tactics,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Through our partnership with the FTC and states across the country, we are putting scam operations out of business and protecting consumers from abusive practices by legitimate creditors.”

“Being in debt is stressful enough for many Americans without also being subjected to intimidation and false threats,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said. “Debtors have certain rights and rogue collectors that step outside the law will face the consequences of illegal behavior.”

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman added, “Illegal and abusive tactics by debt collectors are a nationwide problem that requires a nationwide response. By working together in this new federal-state collaboration, we are joining our forces to stop these abusive practices and protect the public.”

As part of the initiative, Madigan and FTC announced a settlement in a lawsuit against a married couple who ran a phantom debt collection scheme based in Aurora, Illinois. As part of the settlement, the couple has agreed to a $6.4 million judgment, and a ban on working in any debt collection business.

In April 2015, Madigan and the FTC charged K.I.P. LLC and Charles and Chantelle Dickey with threatening and intimidating consumers to pay payday loan debts they either did not owe, or did not owe to the defendants. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division subsequently halted the operation and froze the defendants’ assets pending litigation.

According to the complaint, the defendants used a host of business names to target consumers who obtained or applied for payday or other short-term loans. Claiming those loans were delinquent, they threatened to garnish consumers’ wages, suspend or revoke their driver’s licenses, have them arrested or imprisoned, or sue those who did not pay. Many consumers paid, even though they may not have owed the debts, because they believed the defendants would follow through on their threats or because they simply wanted to end the harassment.

The settlement also prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting financial products and services, profiting from customers’ personal information, and failing to dispose of such information properly. It imposes a $6,403,781 judgment, including proceeds from the sale of a car and the turnover of any assets held by third parties.

The FTC announced additional new enforcement actions against debt collectors engaged in allegedly illegal practices. The FTC has asked federal courts to halt three abusive debt collection operations. One of the complaints has been filed under seal, and so the Commission cannot yet disclose details of that case. Two other operations have agreed to settle Commission charges:

BAM Financial: The FTC has alleged that the defendants extracted payments from consumers through intimidation, lies and other unlawful tactics. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants bought consumer debts and collected payment on their own behalf by threatening consumers with lawsuits, wage garnishment and arrest, and by impersonating attorneys or process servers. They also unlawfully disclosed debts to, or harassed, third parties, failed to identify themselves as debt collectors, and failed to notify consumers of their right to receive verification of the purported debts.

In one instance, the defendants falsely told a consumer’s 84 year-old mother they had a warrant for her daughter’s arrest, and later told the consumer they represented a bounty hunter and would have the sheriff serve her with process. The defendants falsely told another consumer that she would not be allowed to see her children, and that they would garnish her wages and report her to the Internal Revenue Service if she did not pay.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a temporary restraining order against the BAM Financial defendants on October 21, 2015, halting their operations.

Delaware Solutions: In a joint action by the FTC and the Attorney General of the State of New York, the Delaware Solutions defendants are charged with attempting to collect on debts they knew were bogus. The defendants bought payday loans supposedly owed to a company that repeatedly told them to stop collection efforts because the debts were invalid, and ignored consumers’ evidence that they had never authorized a payday loan.

According to the complaint, the defendants also failed to identify themselves to consumers as debt collectors, falsely portrayed themselves as process servers or attorneys, and falsely threatened arrest or litigation. The defendants also unlawfully disclosed consumers’ debts to third parties in an attempt to embarrass the consumers into paying them.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York issued a temporary restraining order against the Delaware Solutions defendants on October 6, 2015, halting their operations. This is the seventh case against an abusive Buffalo debt collection enterprise that the FTC has filed in the last two years, four of which were filed jointly with the New York Attorney General’s office.

National Check Registry: The operators of a debt collection scheme agreed to a ban on participating in any debt collection business to settle charges brought by the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office in June 2014 that the defendants used lies and false threats to collect millions of dollars from consumers.

The settlement order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting material facts about any financial-related product or service, including lending, credit repair, debt relief, and mortgage assistance relief services, and profiting from customers’ personal information. One of the defendants, Joseph Bella, will pay $112,000 and surrender certain bank accounts, two cars and two boats.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed stipulated final order was 5-0. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York entered the order on October 16, 2015.

The orders involving K.I.P. LLC and National Check Registry impose millions of dollars in judgments, include strong injunctive relief and monitoring provisions, and ban the defendants from working in the debt collection industry for life. With the new settlements, the FTC has now secured final judgments in seven cases so far in 2015, placing 33 defendants under strict federal court orders, securing over $88 million in judgments, and banning 24 defendants from working in debt collection.

 

Bernie Sanders: This is Unconscionable in America – Sign the Petition in Support of Justice is Not for Sale Act

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders:

Today in America, shamefully, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. The United States is home to 4.4 percent of the world’s population, and 22 percent of its prisoners.

A big reason for this is because companies that profit from prisons have spent millions of dollars lobbying for laws that needlessly keep people behind bars for far too long.

It is our job, in my view, to recreate our criminal justice system. And I believe that we cannot do that as long as corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration.

Today this situation has gotten so out of hand that our prisoners are no longer people — they have simply become ​sources of profit as laborers who work for pennies an hour on behalf of major corporations. Keeping human beings in jail for long periods of time must no longer be an acceptable business model. Our focus should be on treating people with dignity and ensuring they have the resources they need to get back on their feet when they get out. I am glad that President Obama last week ordered the release of nearly 6,000 nonviolent offenders from federal prison, but there is much more to do.

I have recently introduced legislation that will put an end to for-profit prisons. My bill will bar federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private companies who manage prisons, jails, or detention facilities. And it will require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to improve their monitoring of detention facilities and eliminate private detention centers within 2 years.

Now I want to know if you’re willing to fight with me on this issue.

Sign my petition in support of my Justice is Not for Sale Act and say you’ve had enough of millionaires and billionaires profiting by keeping more and more Americans behind bars.

The private-for-profit prison racket is a $70 billion industry, and with so much money at stake, it’s not surprising they’ve corrupted our political process.

The industry has contributed millions of dollars to candidates in pursuit of laws that increase incarceration of nonviolent offenders — a practice that disproportionately impacts people of color in the United States. We must stop the practice of governments guaranteeing prison occupancy as part of deals with private corporations that incentivize states to keep prison cells filled. And we must stop the practice of private companies charging exorbitant rates for prisoners to contact their families by phone — sometimes up to several dollars per minute to talk with loved ones, and charging outrageous service fees to prisoners trying to access their money upon release. That kind of exploitation takes an already difficult family dynamic between husbands, wives, parents and children and strains it even further.

It is wrong to profit from the imprisonment of human beings and the suffering of their families and friends. It’s time to end this morally repugnant process, and along with it, the era of mass incarceration.

But my legislation goes even further. It also takes steps to reduce our bloated inmate population by reinstating the federal parole system so that officials can individually assess each prisoner’s risk and chance for rehabilitation. It ends the immigrant detention quota, which requires officials to hold a minimum of 34,000 people captive at any given time. And it would end the detention of immigrant families, many of whom are currently held in privately-owned facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania.

If we act, not only can we prevent thousands of lives from being destroyed, but we can save billions of taxpayer dollars.

Join me today.

Sign my petition in support of my Justice is Not for Sale Act and say you’ve had enough of millionaires and billionaires profiting by keeping more and more Americans behind bars.

This legislation enjoys a broad coalition of support on both sides of the aisle. And if we stand together and continue to bring attention to this issue, we can put a stop to the abomination of private prisons profiting from human suffering.

Thank you for standing with me.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Four Columbus Gang Members Plead Guilty to Murder

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

COLUMBUS, OH—Four Columbus men pleaded guilty to murder in connection to a racketeering case involving the organized criminal enterprise known as the Short North Posse.

 
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Don Sorrano, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs, announced the pleas entered into today before U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.

Joseph Hill, 31, Christopher V. Wharton, 25, Troy A. Patterson, 24, and Ishmael Bowers, 33, each pleaded guilty to one count of murder in aid of racketeering. Hill also pleaded guilty to a second count of murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Wharton also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Each of the defendants faces a potential maximum sentence of life in prison.
The four were charged by a superseding indictment in October 2014. Twenty individuals total were indicted in the racketeering case with charges that included murders, attempted murders, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion and robbery.

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the two-year long investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, Columbus Police, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott’s Office, and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s Office. Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx, Licking County Prosecutor Kenneth Oswalt, Muskingum County Prosecutor D. Michael Haddox, Ross County Prosecutor Matthew S. Schmidt, law enforcement leaders from those counties, and officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys David DeVillers, Kevin Kelley and Brian Martinez, as well as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Lowe with Franklin County Prosecutor O’Brien’s Office, who are prosecuting the case.

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 04, 2015
  • Southern District of Ohio (937) 225-2910

School Security and Standards Task Force Holding Public Hearings Across State

Posted by Admin On November - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Public feedback will help guide the task force’s recommendations for minimum school security standards

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The School Security and Standards Task Force is asking community members to share their input on school safety issues during a series of public hearings to help guide its recommendations to the General Assembly, the Governor, and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

Public Act 98-695 created the task force within ISBE to research school security in the state and to draft minimum standards for schools to use to provide a safer learning environment for the children of Illinois. Per law, the task force must “receive reports and testimony from individuals, school district superintendents, principals, teachers, security experts, architects, engineers, and the law enforcement community” as part of its work. 

Public Act 99-65 extended the task force’s deadline to Jan. 1, 2016, to submit recommendations for changes to the current law to the General Assembly and the Governor. The task force must submit recommendations for model security plan policies to ISBE on or before July 1, 2016.

For more information about the task force, visit www.isbe.net/SSSTF/default.htm.

The public hearings will take place at the following times and locations:

·         Nov. 10 6 p.m. Lisle – Universal Technical Institute, 2611 Corporate West Drive

·         Nov. 126 p.m.Springfield – Illinois Association of School Boards office, 2921 Baker Drive

·         Dec. 2 –  6 p.m.Carterville – John A. Logan College, Building H, Room 127

Those who are unable to attend the hearings may send their thoughts and recommendations to schoolsafety@isbe.net.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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