Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#AA of a series)

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
Blogger, with occasional chief.

Blogger, with occasional chief.

This reminds me that I owe you guys a longer post on the Citizen’s Police Academy: thoughts on the academy itself, and the aftermath. I’ve had that stewing for a while now, but various things have gotten in the way.

Memo from the sentencing desk.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Remember Christopher Correa, the St. Louis Cardinals “director of baseball development” who plead guilty to hacking the Houston Astros player database? (Previously.)

46 months in prison. $279,038 in restitution.

In other news, Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca was supposed to be sentenced yesterday. The former sheriff, as you may recall, plead guilty to lying to federal investigators. He had agreed to take a plea, and the prosecution, in turn, had agreed to seek a sentence somewhere between probation and a maximum of six months in prison.

Yesterday, the judge in the case threw out the plea agreement.

Six months in prison for the man who ran the Sheriff’s Department “would not address the gross abuse of the public’s trust … including the need to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” Anderson said.

Baca must now choose among several unappealing options. He could go ahead with the sentencing and accept whatever punishment Anderson has in mind. He could withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial, taking his chances with whatever charges the government might decide to bring. He could negotiate a new deal with federal prosecutors for a longer sentence that the judge would find more acceptable.

Former sheriff Baca has also been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease, which may be one reason why the prosecution was so willing to agree to a relatively light sentence; if his condition gets worse, he may not be competent to participate in his defense, which could result in any trial being delayed.

Easier for a teenager…

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Mike the Musicologist and I found ourselves at a Barnes and Noble the other day. (Criterion Collection 50% off sale through August 1st. You’re welcome.)

For various reasons, we were flipping through the new Dana Loesch book, Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run a Country You’ve Never Been To. The jacket contains this rather pithy line:

Coastals think they understand firearms because they watched a TV movie about Columbine. Fly- overs get a deer rifle for their thirteenth birthday.

Both of us got a chuckle out of that, since we couldn’t think of anyone we knew who got a deer rifle for their thirteenth birthday. (I think I was 13 when I got my .22, but it was for Christmas. And for my readers who are not people of the gun, a .22 is way underpowered for deer. I want to say my sister’s boys were 16 and 14 when they got a deer rifle, but I’m not sure that technically qualifies as “theirs” as much as it is “Dad paid for it and loaned it to them so they could go on a youth hunting trip.”)

Anyway, I thought of that when I read this Statesman story:

Dylan Owens got his first gun when he was 12. It was a .30-30 deer rifle that cost $200, and his father taught him to shoot it. He said all the sights were “canted,” meaning the piece used to aim at targets was bent out of alignment.

Mr. Owens is now a deputy with the Bastrop County Sheriff’s office. And he just won a gold medal in the precision/sniper rifle category at the 2016 Texas Police Games.

Owens said he drove to San Angelo on a Tuesday after work, with his Mark 12 special-purpose rifle and no air conditioning. He slept about two hours the night before his competition, when he went in and shot at 1-inch laser points on a human silhouette, in a timed, 20-shot course aimed at precision. He was positioned 100 to 200 meters from his targets.
On a regular day at his ranch in La Grange, he can hit from 600 meters.
Owens also took home a third place prize in patrol rifle, a five-hour course where he ran from bay to bay shooting enemy targets and avoiding friendly fire.

Cool story. Cool guy. I’d love to meet him somewhere with air conditioning and buy him a couple/three frosty beverages of his choice.

From the police blotter.

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

This story has everything: fire, an explosion, strippers (“Willow” and “Breonna”), and a potato.

A 19-year-old Connecticut woman was arrested Tuesday on charges of second-degree arson, third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief for allegedly setting fire to two businesses in September.

The resulting blast was so powerful it knocked Martin through the door, prompting Garguilo to describe it “just like in the movies,” the Courant reported. They fled, only to circle back and watch the fire.

Yes, I’m going to make you click through to the WP if you want to find out how the potato came into play. Hint: Martin is the stripper, Garguilo is the boyfriend (she’s 19, he’s 28: isn’t love grand?) and neither one is terribly bright.

A small update.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

I have previously written about the strange case of Carolyn Barnes, the local lawyer who was accused of shooting at a census worker, sent to the state mental hospital (where she continued to represent at least one client), was later ruled competent to stand trial, tried, convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and sentenced to three years in prison.

Ms. Barnes is out of prison now (she got credit for time served before the trial), but was appealing her conviction.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals has turned down her appeal.

Questions. We’ve got questions.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Prompted by various things, including recent events and other people’s travels:

  1. Why did the FBI feel compelled to announce they’ve abandoned the search for D.B. Cooper?
    Is it possible they’re playing a long game here?
    “Olly olly oxen free. Come out, D.B. Cooper!”
    “Hi, I’m Dan Cooper.”
    “Hi, Dan. You’re under arrest.”
    “Hey, wait! That’s not fair! You called ‘olly olly oxen free’! No takebacks, you cheater!”
    (I would ask why they were still pursuing him after 45 years – I thought the statute of limitations would have run out long ago – but, per Wikipedia (I know, I know) there’s a John Doe indictment in absentia against Mr. Cooper.)
  2. More of a rhetorical question: I didn’t know there was a Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I don’t think I did, anyway: if I ever went, I was very young. I’ll have to make a point of going next time I’m up Cleveland way. (And it is my turn.)
  3. Speaking of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, why is Balto, the famous Alaskan sled dog who took the diptheria serum to Nome, in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History?
    (I know what the more or less “official” answer is: Balto died in what’s now the Cleveland Zoo. And why was Balto in Cleveland in the first place? Because the children of Cleveland and the Plain Dealer collected pennies to purchase Balto and the other dogs, because they were allegedly badly treated after being sold to a “dime museum”. It just seems odd. If George Kimble had been a resident of Houston, or a graduate of UT, would Balto be in Texas now?)
  4. Have I linked to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History before?
  5. Why doesn’t the CMNH want to return Balto to Alaska? I kind of get the idea that Alaska may have forfeited rights to Balto, given the way that he was supposedly treated. But I’m not sure I blame the state, or Balto’s first owner, for what they did. Also, it was a long time ago in another country: wouldn’t it be nice to give Balto back?
  6. Another rhetorical question: I was unaware of the Balto/Togo controversy. It wasn’t covered in the children’s book I read about the serum run when I was a lad. (In case you were wondering: Togo’s skin is in Alaska, while his skeleton is at Yale.)
  7. What’s Balto’s Bacon Number? The Oracle says 3. But I’m not convinced: if you were voiced by Kevin Bacon in an animated movie based on your life, shouldn’t that lower your Bacon number?
  8. There were three Balto movies?
  9. What was the name of that children’s book about the serum run, anyway? I know it was non-fiction, and I swear it had a blueish cover, but I can’t remember the name. I’d kind of like to find a copy.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#32 in a series)

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

There were rumors last week that this was coming: I wanted to wait until they became reality, but somehow I missed the report on Friday.

Corrine Brown, the House rep from the 5th District of Florida, was indicted (along with Ronnie Simmons, her chief of staff) on federal charges of mail and wire fraud.

The 24-count indictment unsealed Friday accuses the two of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, theft of government property, filing false tax returns, concealing material facts on required financial disclosure forms and obstruction. It focuses on the charity One Door for Education, the subject of a January Times-Union report and a series of stories since.

The fact that Rep. Brown is a Democrat is never specifically mentioned, though (starting with paragraph 13) there are references to her prominent supporters in the Democratic Party.

The indictment says more than $200,000 raised for One Door was spent at events that Brown hosted or were held in her honor. The indictment mentions money spent on a luxury box for a Beyonce concert and a box for a game between the Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Cheeez louise, woman. You scammed money to see a Jaguars game?

I might have considered letting this get past me, since I missed the Friday reports, but this woman apparently has an ego the size of a small planet.

Item #1:

Friends,
Last week was very rough.
Two black men were needlessly gunned down by police; 5 Dallas police officers were slain by a demented man, and on Friday I had to appear in federal court.

Item #2 (by way of Ace of Spades and Mike the Musicologist):

“These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of [shooter Omar Mateen], and we ended up with 50 people dead,” Brown said. Mateen was shot and killed by police at the scene of the Orlando nightclub attack, bringing the total death toll to 50.
Brown’s lawyer echoed those sentiments.
“Perhaps had it chosen to devote its resources more thoughtfully, 50 innocent people would be alive today,” Elizabeth White said, according to First Coast News.

For the record, it appears Rep. Brown has historically received a grade of “F” fron the NRA.

Dallas.

Friday, July 8th, 2016

I went to bed pretty early last night (after a frustrating attempt to deal with Wells Fargo) and didn’t find out what was going on until 5 AM this morning. (Great and good friend of the blog RoadRich texted and emailed us, but we were sound asleep when things started breaking.)

I really haven’t even had a chance to look at the news yet, and don’t have any profound thoughts. But I wanted to get something up. Consider this an open thread for discussion and updates.

Dallas Morning News coverage.

Please keep in mind:

In a semi-related vein, this is an interesting thread from Reason’s “Hit and Run”. Part of my answer to this is: the author is asking this question less than 24 hours after the incident took place. All the facts were not in, and probably still are not in even now. Why should the NRA (or any other organization) be making public statements until we have all the facts?

Edited to add: Been tied up. Apologies. The reports I’m seeing now pretty much all state that the dead gunman was killed by a breaching charge attached to a police robot. The temptation is great to make Asimov jokes, but the situation is too serious, so I’ll just link to this Statesman article which quotes the “executive director of a nationally recognized police active-shooter training facility in San Marcos” as stating it was “unprecedented but perfectly legal.”

And an update.

Monday, June 27th, 2016

(Previously on WCD.)

Paul Tanaka was sentenced today.

Five years in federal prison.

Somebody bring me some water…

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Noted for the record (though I don’t think I ever did a full-blown “you’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena” on this one):

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously overturned former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell’s public corruption conviction and made it harder to prosecute public officials for alleged wrongdoing.

…Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described the former governor’s actions as “tawdry” in announcing the decision from the bench.

“tawdry”. A great word. And much like “gargantuan”, the opportunity rarely comes up to use it in a sentence.

110 years ago yesterday…

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Missed it by that much.

On June 25, 1906, Harry Kendall Thaw, professional heir and nutcase, walked up to noted architect Stanford White on the roof of Madison Square Garden (during the opening night of something called “Mam’zelle Champagne”) and shot White in the head.

NYT coverage 1. NYT coverage 2.

When I call Thaw a “nutcase”. I mean that quite literally: historical evidence seems to show that he had a long history of mental problems, and that his enormously wealthy family spent a a great deal of money covering for him. Indeed, the Thaw trial is an early (though not the first) example of the interaction between great wealth and criminal justice.

It is also claimed that Thaw’s family spent a lot of money smearing White. Specifically, Thaw’s supposed motivation for the murder was that White had “ruined” Evelyn Nesbit when she was 16. Ms. Nesbit later went on to become Thaw’s wife: she supposedly told Thaw all about her affair with White, which drove Thaw crazier than he allegedly already was…

The end result was that Thaw went through two trials. The jury hung in the first one, and found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the second one. Thaw was sent to the Matteawan asylum for several years. In 1913, he walked out of the asylum and escaped into Quebec. He was eventually extradited back to the US, where he received a new sanity hearing, was found “not guilty and no longer insane”, and was released. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested and confined again for beating a 19 year old boy. He was released in 1924 and died in 1947. Thaw obit from the NYT.

Evelyn Nesbit died in “relative obscurity” in 1967. NYT obit.

I actually had hopes and plans for doing a much longer and better post on this, but they didn’t pan out. I’ve had trouble laying my hands on the source material I wanted to find. (And I still haven’t been able to find out what gun Thaw used, alas.)

So I’m going to be a little lazy and point to:

The website for the American Experience documentary “Murder of the Century”. It does not have the film available for streaming, but it does have the transcript and background material.

The Thaw trials from Douglas Linder’s “Famous Trials” website. This is actually a website that I keep forgetting about, even though it has been around since 1995, so I’m glad to be able to bookmark it here. Professor Linder has spent the past 21 years documenting everything from the trial of Socrates through Thomas More, Aaron Burr, our old pal Big Bill Haywood, and all the way up to George Zimmerman. This isn’t the be-all end-all website for most of these trials, but it serves as a good jumping-off point if you want to do more research.

(If those NYT links don’t work for you, would you please send an email or leave a comment? I think they should work, but I’m not 100% sure.)

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.