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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.


Ex-NFL WR Hurd pleads not guilty to new charges
Criminal Law Updates | 2012/10/08 22:56
Former NFL receiver Sam Hurd pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a new indictment accusing him of trying to obtain cocaine and marijuana while he was out on bond awaiting trial on charges of trying to start a drug ring in the Chicago area.

The indictment filed last month is based on allegations that Hurd asked a cousin, Jesse Tyrone Chavful, to buy drugs. Chavful signed a guilty plea agreement Monday to one count of conspiracy to possess five or more kilograms of cocaine — documents in which Chavful said Hurd contacted him at his T-shirt shop in San Antonio and asked to "get him cocaine and marijuana."

According to the documents, Chavful said he set up a deal to purchase the drugs but was arrested.

Hurd's attorney, Jay Ethington, has said Chavful is lying, but Chavful's attorney, Laura Harper, said her client simply wanted to come clean.

Hurd entered his plea in federal court in Dallas, appearing in an orange jail uniform and standing next to Ethington. He's been in custody since August after failing two drug tests and the Chavful allegations surfaced.


Ohioan to plead guilty to defrauding fellow Amish
Criminal Law Updates | 2012/03/14 16:14
An Ohio man will plead guilty in federal court to defrauding fellow Amish in 29 states out of nearly $17 million as part of a case the man's church had hoped to shield from publicity and outside involvement, the government said Tuesday.

The attorney for Monroe L. Beachy, 77, owner of A&M Investments in Sugarcreek, filed a recent notice informing federal court of his "intention to plead guilty as charged."

U.S. attorney's spokesman Mike Tobin confirmed the pending guilty plea. Beachy declined to comment Thursday, and his attorney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Beachy is accused in an indictment of promising investors safe securities but moving money to riskier investments. According to the indictment, nearly 2,700 people and entities, including an Amish community loan fund, lost about $16.8 million since 2006.

The investments directed by Beachy "were not the 'safe' investments as reported to his clients or investors," the indictment said.

Beachy, bearded with a shock of white hair, is a member of an Amish church near Sugarcreek.

He is charged with one count of mail fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors stopped short of saying whether Beachy had personally profited or just made bad investments but noted he had made a living for years offering investor services to the Amish.


Iowa man pleads not guilty to bestiality charge
Criminal Law Updates | 2012/03/08 11:16
A northern Iowa man who allegedly performed a sex act on a dog has pleaded not guilty to a bestiality charge.

The Globe Gazette says 50-year-old Steven Schindler, of LuVerne, waived his right to a preliminary hearing set for March 15 in Hancock County District Court. He entered a written plea of not guilty. No new court date is set.

The sheriff's department says Schindler, an employee of a farm cooperative in Ottosen, was delivering LP gas to a resident in rural Britt on Feb. 20 when the alleged incident occurred.

If convicted of the aggravated misdemeanor, Schindler faces up to two years in prison, fines and a mandatory mental health evaluation.


Driver acquitted in deadly Megabus crash in NY
Criminal Law Updates | 2012/02/28 15:37
A bus driver was acquitted Tuesday of homicide charges in the deaths of four passengers killed when his double-decker crashed into an overpass in upstate New York.

A judge announced the verdict after a non-jury trial for 60-year-old John Tomaszewski of Yardville, N.J. Tomaszewski would have faced up to four years in state prison on each of four counts of criminally negligent homicide. He sat with his head bowed and showed no reaction as Onondaga County Court Judge Anthony Aloi read the verdict.

"It was a tragic accident and four people lost their lives," Tomaszewski said as he left court. "It's something I'll have to deal with the rest of my life."

There were 29 passengers on the Megabus when the top of the bus hit the railroad bridge in Salina, just outside Syracuse, early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2010.

Tomaszewski was driving from Philadelphia to Toronto with a planned stop at the Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse when he missed an exit from Interstate 81 and ended up on the parkway instead.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Bednarksi said during the trial that Tomaszewski was using a personal GPS device as he tried to find his way to the bus station and passed 13 low-bridge warning signs, some with flashing yellow lights, before the wreck.


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