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Lawyer: US citizen charged in UN case to plead guilty
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/03/18 05:13
A defense lawyer says a U.S. citizen charged in the United Nations bribery case will plead guilty Wednesday to charges.

Attorney Brian Bieber said Monday that Francis Lorenzo will plead guilty to three charges. Lorenzo is a suspended ambassador from the Dominican Republic who was arrested in the fall.

The plea comes in a case that resulted in the arrest of a former president of the U.N. General Assembly and a billionaire Chinese businessman.

Bieber says Lorenzo will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Bieber says his client decided to plead guilty after reviewing the government's evidence. He says it led him to "accept responsibility for his role in the criminal conspiracies committed by him and his co-defendants."



South African court hears case against president
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/02/08 20:53
The chant "Pay back the money" filtered into South Africa's highest court on Tuesday, as judges heard a case in which President Jacob Zuma is accused of violating the constitution in a scandal over state spending on his private home.
 
Inside court, lawyers argued before 11 judges over whether the president broke the law by failing to follow a 2014 recommendation from the state watchdog agency that he pay back some of the more than $20 million in security upgrades to his rural home.

Outside, several thousand opposition party supporters demonstrated against what they described as corruption by the head of state, shouting that he should return state money used to improve his private home.

Zuma's office, on Feb. 3, said he was willing to reimburse some money, an about-turn to his previous position that he did nothing wrong. His critics said he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of a court hearing and a repeat of last year's heckling during his State of the Nation address, to be held on Thursday.



Court revives victim lawsuit in mistaken shooting
Criminal Law Updates | 2014/05/05 23:17
The Supreme Court has reinstated the lawsuit filed by a former major league baseball player's son who was shot on the porch of his family home by a Houston-area police officer.

The justices on Monday ordered a lower court to reconsider the case of Robert Tolan, son of former major leaguer Bobby Tolan. The son was shot in the chest after police mistakenly believed he was armed and had stolen a vehicle.

A Houston-area jury acquitted Bellaire police Sgt. Jeffrey Cotton of criminal charges in the shooting, which happened on New Year's Eve in 2008. A federal appeals court dismissed Tolan's civil lawsuit claiming that Cotton used excessive force.

The high court said the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acted too hastily.


Lawsuit says California mortgage money mishandled
Criminal Law Updates | 2014/03/17 21:57
Three community assistance organizations sued  Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials on Friday, alleging the state improperly diverted nearly $370 million that was intended to help homeowners struggling with foreclosures.

The lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court says the money was siphoned off to the state's general fund as California wrestled with a massive budget deficit and has never been repaid. The money was part of the $25 billion settlement between major banks and nearly every state in 2012, with California receiving the largest share.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said in a statement that the administration is confident that its budget actions are legally sound.

The suit was filed by attorney Neil Barofsky, who previously was inspector general for the federal bank bailout. The suit alleges the money is needed to help affected homeowners "weather the economic storm that continues to sweep so many families out of their homes."

"As a result of these diversions, large numbers of homeowners who are eligible for loan modifications or other relief have been left stranded, and countless fiscally imperiled California homeowners remain unaware of the full scope of their rights," the lawsuit states.

Barofsky filed the suit on behalf of three California-based community organizations that the suit says have helped thousands of homeowners: National Asian American Coalition, COR Community Development Corporation and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.


Driver pleads guilty in deadly bus stop crash
Criminal Law Updates | 2014/03/10 22:32
A driver who plowed into a Riverside bus stop, killing a woman and a 7-year-old girl, has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

The Press-Enterprise reports 46-year-old Joe Williams was ordered Thursday to serve six months in custody of the Sheriff's Department, but his sentence could include a work-release program in lieu of jail time.

Williams was indicted after prosecutors told a grand jury that he had a history of blackouts seizures and should not have been driving.

Authorities say Williams, a parking enforcement agent, blacked out at a red light on Dec. 28.

When motorists behind him honked their horns, Williams accelerated, veered up onto the shoulder of the road and crashed into a bus bench.

Twenty-eight-year-old Melissa Bernal and 7-year-old Aniya Mitchell were killed.


Appeals court allows capital retrial of Wolfe
Criminal Law Updates | 2013/05/22 20:25
A federal appeals court will allow a capital murder case to proceed against an accused drug kingpin from northern Virginia.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond overturned a federal judge in Norfolk who had ordered a halt to the prosecution of Justin Wolfe and his immediate release.

That judge said misconduct by prosecutors in Prince William County made it impossible for Wolfe to get a fair trial.

But a majority on the appellate court disagreed. The judges ruled that a new trial can be done fairly. A dissenting judge said the misconduct was so bad that freeing Wolfe was the only proper outcome.

Wolfe was sent to death row in 2002 for a drug-related murder, but his original conviction and sentence were overturned.


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