Authorities in Tennessee, Kentucky look for escaped inmates

PARIS, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities searched Saturday for two Tennessee inmates who escaped prison, kidnapped a Kentucky highway department employee and stole a resident’s truck, officials said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Robert Brown and Christopher Osteen escaped Friday morning from Northwest Correctional Complex in Lake County, Tennessee. The state police agency said the inmates were considered armed and dangerous.

Brown is serving an 18-year sentence for aggravated rape and Osteen is serving an eight-year sentence for burglary, authorities said.

Later Friday, an employee of the highway department in Fulton County, Kentucky, was kidnapped from a boat ramp on the Mississippi River, the sheriff’s office in Henry County, Tennessee, reported on its Facebook page.

The employee and his department truck were later found in Henry County, the sheriff’s office said.

Early Saturday, deputies found a Henry County resident who had been tied up in his home by the inmates. The sheriff’s office said inmates stole the resident’s red 2009 Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pickup truck, which has not been found.

Law enforcement agencies were searching for the inmates on Saturday. The Kentucky State Police advised residents in the far western part of the state to check on their loved ones and report any suspicious activity after the inmates committed burglaries and thefts in the area.

Brandon Bernard executed after Supreme Court denies request for a delay

(CNN) — Brandon Bernard was executed by the federal government on Thursday at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Bernard, 40, was one of five gang members convicted in Texas of killing Stacie and Todd Bagley — who were youth ministers — in 1999. The gunman, Christopher Vialva, was executed in September, while the other co-defendants were given lesser sentences.

Bernard was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. He was the youngest person in the United States to receive a death sentence in nearly 70 years for a crime committed when he was an adolescent.

Bernard said he had been waiting for his chance to apologize to the family of the Bagleys and his own family for the pain he caused.

“I’m sorry … I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t,” Bernard said to the family of the Bagleys during his three-minute last words. “That’s the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.”

The Bagley family thanked Trump and the federal government for carrying out the sentence in their statements.

“I pray that Brandon has accepted Christ as his Savior, because if he has, Todd and Stacie will welcome him into Heaven with love and forgiveness,” Charles Woodard wrote on behalf of the Bagley family.

“It has been a very difficult to wait 21 years for the sentence that was imposed by the judge and jury on those who cruelly participated in the destruction of our children, to be finally completed,” Georgia A. Bagley, Todd’s mother,wrote. “This senseless act of unnecessary evil was premeditated and had many opportunities to be stopped at any time during a 9-hour period. This was torture, as they pleaded for their lives from the trunk of their own car.”

Georgia Bagley spoke to reporters within 30 minutes of the execution and became emotional when she spoke about Bernard’s and Vialva’s apologies.

“The apology and remorse … helped very much heal my heart,” she said, beginning to cry and recompose herself. “I can very much say: I forgive them.”

Bernard’s execution was scheduled this fall by the government. It was the ninth execution since Attorney General William Barr announced restarting federal executions after a 17-year hiatus — a decision that has been fraught with controversy, especially during the global pandemic, and could be halted under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

However, that may be too late for the five federal death row inmates scheduled to die before Inauguration Day, January 20.

A high-profile case

Bernard’s case has been in the spotlight for months, grabbing headlines and the attention of both politicians and celebrities who wanted the execution to be stopped.

Kim Kardashian West called for Trump to grant a commutation for Bernard; Rep. Ayana Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, brought awareness to legislation she introduced last year to end the death penalty at the federal level; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson called on the President to commute the sentences of and pardon all the inmates scheduled for execution; and 23 elected and former prosecutors filed an amicus brief on Wednesday in support of Bernard’s appeal due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

After a lower court judge denied Bernard’s motion to stay the execution on Wednesday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency motion and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also denied the appeal on Thursday, according to court documents.

Attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr joined Bernard’s legal team late on Thursday and had filed a petition with the Supreme Court requesting to delay the execution for two weeks so they could get up to speed on Bernard’s case. The attorneys’ most recent and notable client was President Donald Trump during his impeachment hearings earlier this year.

The Supreme Court denied the petition, with three justices issuing public dissents.

“Brandon’s execution is a stain on America’s criminal justice system. But I pray that even in his death, Brandon will advance his commitment to helping others by moving us closer to a time when this country does not pointlessly and maliciously kill young Black men who pose no threat to anyone,” Bernard’s attorney Robert Owens said in a statement.

The court’s decision left Trump as Bernard’s last hope. The President did not act.

Trump was made aware of the case — and of the calls by celebrities and activists to commute Bernard’s sentence — over the past several days, according to a person familiar with the matter, but he was not swayed to intervene. The person said Trump was unmoved because of the violent nature of the crime. Trump has backed Barr in his push to complete federal executions before his term ends next month.

Owens had sought to have a hearing about newly discovered evidence that was not presented at Bernard’s 2000 trial. Owens argued in Bernard’s appeal that, during a resentencing hearing in 2018 for another co-defendant, it was revealed that the trial prosecutors had withheld evidence that diminished Bernard’s role in the crime.

Prosecutors argued on Wednesday in court documents opposing Bernard’s appellate motion that “the jury heard ample evidence indicating that Bernard did not have a leadership role in the gang — and was not even a full-fledged member.”

“Procedural barriers have prevented him (Bernard) from obtaining a hearing on the merits of his claim. … By denying a stay of execution to Brandon Bernard, the court will allow the government to evade responsibility for hiding critical evidence that would have changed the outcome of Brandon’s sentencing,” Owens said in a news release issued on Wednesday.

Five of the sentencing jurors came forward saying that if they had been aware of the undisclosed information, they would not have agreed to sentence Bernard to death, Owens said.

Executions may pose risk of spreading Covid-19

No state has held an execution since July, and several state executions have been postponed for Covid-related reasons, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Yet the federal government is slated to have executed a total of 13 federal death row inmates before Inauguration Day.

Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center Robert Dunham told CNN in a previous interview that executions are possible super spreader events because of the amount of people involved.

“The decision to move forward with all these super spreader events in the midst of a pandemic that has already killed a quarter of a million Americans is historically unprecedented,” Dunham said.

A federal judge in Indiana denied a motion for a preliminary injunction earlier this week to halt the five upcoming executions because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus throughout the Terre Haute federal prison. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Indiana Terre Haute Division by attorneys for two non-death row inmates who are concerned that their high-risk clients are susceptible to catching the coronavirus.

According to Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s order denying the preliminary injunction, up to 125 people enter the facility for an execution, including nearly 40 out-of-state Bureau of Prisons employees who are part of the execution team.

Since Orlando Hall was put to death on November 19, six members of the execution team as well as more than a dozen other Terre Haute prison staffers have contracted the virus, according to a motion filed on Wednesday on behalf of the non-death row inmates.

“Another inmate from FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) Terre Haute (where plaintiffs are housed) died from COVID-19 this week, one or more additional inmates appear to have recently died from USP Terre Haute, and the number of positive inmate cases at FCC (Federal Correctional Center) Terre Haute now stands at 326 as of December 8, up from 264 on Dec 7 and 202 on Dec 4,” according to the motion.

Attorneys for the Justice Department argued in court documents on Wednesday that the plaintiffs are attempting to re-argue their denied motion for preliminary injunction that states prison staffers, specifically those involved with the executions, can spread the virus to different sections of the facility.

Interactions between the execution team and Federal Correctional Center Terre Haute staffers are “extremely limited, and members of the execution team generally do not even enter the FCI or interact with inmates there. Plaintiffs do not interact with inmates on death row or with anyone in the execution facility,” according to the Justice Department’s opposition to continuing with proceedings for the lawsuit.

The five inmates scheduled to die are all housed at the Indiana federal prison. Alfred Bourgeois is the next inmate scheduled to be executed on Friday. Bourgeois was sentenced to death for the torture and murder of his 2-year-old daughter.

This story has been updated with further developments on Thursday night.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Sucker-punch suspect arrested for attack on actor Rick Moranis on Upper West Side

By ELIZABETH KEOGH, NY Daily News

The man who allegedly sucker-punched “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” star Rick Moranis was arrested Saturday, police said.

Marquis Ventura, 35, was collared about 3:30 p.m.by transit officers who recognized his face from wanted pictures and video released after the bizarre Oct. 1 attack.

Ventura was hit with second-degree assault and was awaiting arraignment.

Marquis Ventura is escorted by NYPD Detectives from the 20th Precinct. Ventura, 35, was collared about 3:30 p.m.by transit officers who recognized his face from wanted pictures and video released after the bizarre Oct. 1 attack. (Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

Moranis, 67, was walking south on Central Park West near W. 70th St. around 7:30 a.m. when a man dressed in a black “I Love New York” hoodie with a backpack slung over his shoulders punched him with a closed fist, police sources said at the time.

He went to a nearby hospital to be treated for pain in his right hip, head and back, and then to the 20th Precinct stationhouse on the Upper West Side to report the confrontation, authorities said.

“Rick Moranis was assaulted on the Upper West Side yesterday,” his agent Troy Bailey told the Daily News after the attack. “He is fine but grateful for everyone’s thoughts and well wishes.”

Rick Moranis, 67, was walking south on Central Park West near W. 70th St. around 7:30 a.m. Oct. 1 when a man dressed in a black “I Love New York” hoodie with a backpack slung over his shoulders punched him with a closed fist.

Rick Moranis, 67, was walking south on Central Park West near W. 70th St. around 7:30 a.m. Oct. 1 when a man dressed in a black “I Love New York” hoodie with a backpack slung over his shoulders punched him with a closed fist. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

The NYPD’s new Community Affairs Rapid Response Team, which visited Moranis afterward, told media outlets the actor had just one request.

“He just wants us to catch the bad guy all this to go away,” Det. Kaz Daughtry said at the time.

New Hampshire woman posed as prosecutor, dismissed her own charges: cops

By KATE FELDMAN, NY Daily News

A New Hampshire woman accused of drug possession and stalking brazenly pretended to be a prosecutor and dropped her own charges, according to police.

Lisa Landon, a 33-year-old woman from Littleton, allegedly used the court system’s electronic system late last year to file documents that would drop charges in three separate cases, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported Tuesday.

A state forensic examiner, who was scheduled to interview Landon, noticed in the system that the charges had been dropped and raised questions up the food chain with Hillsborough County prosecutors.

“It quickly became evident to the State that the document, as well as other documents in the file, had been filed fraudulently,” Superior Court Judge David Anderson wrote in a ruling, according to the Union Leader.

Lisa Landon was charged with false personation and falsifying physical evidence.

Landon also allegedly falsified documents to waive filing fees in a lawsuit she had filed and to halt guardianship proceedings for her child.

It’s unclear how Landon was able to gain access to the system.

Landon has been charged with one charge of false personation and six charges of falsifying physical evidence, as well as the already standing charges she tried to dismiss.

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-prosecutor-landon-charges-dropped-20201028-n6fiovb5anfhbi5shpisxquzta-story.html

“He wasn’t on anybody’s radar”: Police arrest man in Green Bay’s oldest cold case

By Sarah Thomsen and WBAY news staff

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Green Bay Police have made an arrest in the city’s oldest cold case murder investigation.

Lisa Holstead was found dead in August of 1986. She was 22-years-old. Investigators say Lisa had been murdered.

On Thursday, police announced the arrest of Lou Archie Griffin, 65 [corrected age], on a charge of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide. He’s being held in the Brown County Jail.

“Recent developments in the case and physical evidence were used by investigators to link Mr. Griffin to this homicide,” police say.

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We do not yet know a possible motive. Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith says there’s no known connection between Griffin and Holstead.

“I don’t know of any connection. It wasn’t dating, relationship or friends or anything like that, as far as I know,” says Smith.

On Aug. 12, 1986, Lisa Holstead left a family gathering with her boyfriend. Witnesses say they saw Lisa get out of her boyfriend’s car in the area of Mason and Taylor Streets. That was about 2:30 a.m.

Lisa’s body was located in a marsh in what is now the Ken Euers Nature Park area. She had been strangled.

At the time, police were hesitant to say that Holstead was sexually assaulted before her death, but today we’re learning it’s DNA from that which led investigators to Griffin, a man who wasn’t considered a suspect for decades.

“He wasn’t on anybody’s radar back in 1986 when this homicide occurred,” Chief Smith said.

Police investigate the murder of Lisa Holstead. August, 1986.(WBAY)

Her murder went unsolved for 34 years.

Investigators are still mum on exactly how Griffin was developed as a suspect recently, but they say once he was they discovered he lived within a few miles of the area where Holstead was last seen alive.

Smith says Detective David Graf worked for a year to uncover evidence leading to the arrest of Griffin on Oct. 28.

Police traced Griffin’s current address to Racine, where last month a Racine County drug unit officer conducted surveillance on Griffin, spotting him smoking and drinking outside.

The complaint says he watched Griffin “throw away beer cans (in) a dumpster… and smoke a cigarette … then throw it on the ground.”

Three weeks ago, crime lab analysts matched DNA from Griffin’s cigarette and beer cans to the DNA found on Holstead’s body.

Griffin was arrested outside his home in Racine without incident.

Prosecutors say Griffin denies killing Holstead but admits being “high on cocaine… drinking (alcohol) that night” and was familiar with the area, having driven near it after work. Prosecutors say Griffin eventually told police he might have had sex with Holstead and “remembered seeing her on the news.”

“This is one of those cases that was always there, that people would always bring up, that we would continue to pull the books out and take a look at. Witnesses were re-interviewed. People were re-interrogated. Evidence was reviewed. Until Det. Graf was able to put everything together and make some real progress on it, it was just one of those cases that was there nagging at us. We want this case to be closed,” says Smith.

“Det. Graf worked in conjunction with the FBI, with the State of Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Racine County Sheriff’s Department. And together, this team really did a great job putting all the evidence together and making that arrest yesterday morning,” he said.

Griffin does have a criminal history, according to online court records. He’s served jail time for cases of disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon and battery. Police say these charges did not require the collection of DNA.

A news conference is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2. Action 2 News will be there and have coverage.

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Chief Smith said, “All the technology behind how we made this arrest, that’s going to have to come out on Monday or as the case progresses. Our detectives, the investigators, and the district attorney have asked us not to expand on any part of the case or talk any more about the case. Just the basic facts today, and we’ll have more for everybody on Monday.”

Smith says generations of detectives have worked on this case. They worked with them during the investigation and hope they’ll be able to attend Monday’s news conference.

“There’s a certain amount of satisfaction you get when you can finally close the books on a case like this. However, we’re still very sad because Ms. Holstead lost her life. Her family was without their loved one. Her child was without his mother all these years. So we do get satisfaction solving these cases, but it’s still a sad day because we’re reminded of what was taken away from Lisa Holstead in 1986,” says Smith.

“It’s a huge deal for us, huge deal for our community,” the police chief said. “Hope it sends a message that even if you get away for something for a while here in G.B., eventually you’ll be brought to justice.”

https://www.wbay.com/2020/10/29/arrest-made-in-green-bays-oldest-cold-case-murder-investigation/

Derek Chauvin, ex-officer in George Floyd case, has 3rd-degree murder charge dismissed

The former police officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes still faces the more serious charge of second-degree murder.

The former police officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes still faces the more serious charge of second-degree murder.

David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

A Minnesota judge on Thursday dropped a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the case of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in May.

Chauvin, who was shown in video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about eight minutes, still faces the greater charge of second-degree murder, in addition to a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill also let stand all other charges against Chauvin’s co-defendants.

Cahill ruled that while third-degree murder is applicable when a defendant’s actions could have harmed “others,” prosecutors are accusing Chauvin in the death of just one victim, Floyd.

“The language of the third-degree murder statute explicitly requires the act causing the ‘death of another’ must be eminently dangerous ‘to others,'” Cahill wrote.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is handing the case, downplayed the dismissal.

“The court has sustained eight out of nine charges against the defendants in the murder of George Floyd, including the most serious charges against all four defendants,” Ellison said in a statement.

“This means that all four defendants will stand trial for murder and manslaughter, both in the second degree. This is an important, positive step forward in the path toward justice for George Floyd, his family, our community, and Minnesota. We look forward to presenting the prosecution’s case to a jury in Hennepin County.”

Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor who is a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, said losing a lesser included charge is at least a small setback for the state. Any jurors who might feel uncomfortable convicting Chauvin of second-degree murder now have one fewer avenue to convict him of a serious offense.

“They wouldn’t have charged it if they didn’t want it going in front of a jury,” Osler said. “You always want to give options to a jury.”

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric J. Nelson, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

The judge let stand all charges against three other former Minneapolis officers in the case, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, who are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s death sparked protests around the country and the world against police brutality and systemic racism.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/derek-chauvin-ex-officer-george-floyd-case-gets-3rd-degree-n1244273?fbclid=IwAR00hOWbgTHJsdKe2NKRzgKQEREaX-UYYOlctOUFfL_cpKti4nlf79Epbd4

Appeals court rules Ghislaine Maxwell’s 2016 deposition transcript will be unsealed

(CNN) — Jeffery Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, has lost a court battle to keep a 2016 deposition sealed.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday denied the effort of Maxwell’s attorneys to reverse the decision of a lower court that ordered the transcript to be made public.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s request to be moved to the general prison population denied by judge.

“(T)he District Court correctly held that the deposition materials are judicial documents to which the presumption of public access attaches and did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Maxwell’s meritless arguments that her interests superseded the presumption of access,” the appellate court panel wrote.

Maxwell, 58, was charged by federal prosecutors in early July for allegedly helping recruit, groom and ultimately sexually abuse minors as young as 14 as part of a years-long criminal enterprise with Jeffrey Epstein. She pleaded not guilty and was ordered jailed pending trial. She also is charged with two counts of perjury.

The deposition Maxwell’s legal team is fighting to keep sealed is connected to a 2015 defamation case brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claimed Epstein sexually abused her while she was a minor and that Maxwell aided in the abuse. The civil case was settled in 2017.

Judge delays the unsealing of a deposition from Jeffrey Epstein alleged former accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell”

Maxwell denied knowing if Epstein had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sex in the deposition.

CNN reached out to an attorney for Maxwell on Monday but didn’t receive a reply to its request for comment.

In a ruling in July, US District Judge Loretta Preska said that the public’s right to have access to the information carried heavier weight than the “annoyance or embarrassment” to Maxwell.

“In the context of this case, especially its allegations of sex trafficking of young girls, the court finds any minor embarrassment or annoyance resulting from Ms. Maxwell’s mostly non-testimony … is far outweighed by the presumption of public access,” she said.

However, in that ruling Preska did say that some information will remain sealed. Several medical records included in the court filings will remain sealed, and the multiple anonymous women — “Jane Does” who accused Epstein of abuse but have not publicly spoken out — will continue to have their identities redacted in the documents, she said.

Epstein, 66, was in a lone cell in the special housing unit of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York when he was found dead in August 2019.

Epstein was awaiting trial on federal charges accusing him of operating a sex trafficking ring from 2002 to 2005 at his Manhattan mansion and his Palm Beach estate. As part of the ring, he allegedly paid girls as young as 14 for sex. He’d pleaded not guilty to the charges.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/19/us/ghislaine-maxwell-deposition-transcript-ruling/index.html

Security guard to be charged with murder in fatal shooting at Denver protests, officials say

By Hannah Knowles,, The Washington Post

The private security guard suspected of fatally shooting a man at the scene of tense protests in Denver last weekend will be charged with second-degree murder, the local district attorney announced Thursday.

Matthew Dolloff, 30 — who did not have a license to work as a guard in Denver, authorities say — faces a mandatory prison sentence of 16 to 48 years if convicted, according to the Denver district attorney’s office. He is accused of shooting 49-year-old Lee Keltner, who went to a rally downtown to show support for law enforcement, according to Keltner’s family.

The violence played out Saturday during a clash among demonstrators: Right-wing “patriots” and left-wing counterprotesters affiliating themselves with Black Lives Matter and antifa. But most people were dispersing when a shot rang out, authorities said, and police quickly sought to tamp down rumors about those involved, saying Sunday that investigators were “unaware of whether the suspect is personally affiliated with any political organization.”

Local outlet 9News says it contracted Dolloff through the firm Pinkerton to accompany a staffer at Saturday’s protests. 9News says it told Pinkerton that the security guards protecting its employees should not be armed, adding to questions about Dolloff’s qualifications and the contract that brought him to Denver’s civic center.

An attorney for Dolloff’s family did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. The lawyer, Doug Richards, previously told 9News and other news organizations that Dolloff acted in self-defense and put himself between Keltner and the employee he was tasked with protecting.

Dolloff and an unnamed person were drawn into an “altercation” with Keltner while he argued with another person, according to an arrest affidavit. Keltner eventually turned his attention toward Dolloff and struck him in the head, the affidavit says. Dolloff shot once as Keltner deployed pepper spray, it states, citing video and photos from city cameras and multiple witnesses.

Video posted by 9News captures Keltner approaching the camera after a tense standoff with a man who at one point yells, “Mace me!”

“Get the cameras out of here,” someone can be heard saying after Keltner approaches. There is a struggle, and the video ends. It resumes shortly after the shooting.

“That guy was gonna get me,” a person says off-camera, before identifying someone as their security guard. The person adds later: “That guy just saved my … life.”

Keltner was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, officials said. The medical examiner ruled Keltner’s death a homicide. He was a Navy veteran who owned a hat-making business, his family told the local news.

“He wasn’t a part of any group,” Keltner’s son, Johnathon Keltner, told the Denver Post. “He was there to rally for the police department and he’d been down there before rallying for the police department.”

The district attorney says it will file its case against Dolloff on Monday.

Dolloff’s qualifications to work as a guard have come into question — as has who should be held responsible for any lapses.

Local authorities say there is no record of Dolloff ever holding or applying for the security guard license required in Denver, one of three Colorado cities that mandates such a license.

The city attorney’s office has said Dolloff, Pinkerton, 9News and “any other entity that hired and deployed Dolloff in an unlicensed security guard capacity” could face civil or criminal repercussions for Dolloff’s lack of Denver credentials.

“Licensed security guard employers that hire unlicensed security guards could face disciplinary actions against their licenses ranging from a fine, to suspension, to revocation,” the Denver City Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Businesses could also face criminal charges for permitting or directing an unlicensed person to perform security services.”

Private security guards in Denver also need special permission to carry firearms on the job or work in plainclothes and must clearly display their government-issued identification card if they do have firearms. In photos and video, Dolloff appears to have been in plainclothes at the protests and does not appear to have clear identification.

No staff accompanied by Dolloff on Saturday were “aware that he was armed,” 9News said in a statement attributed to management.

It said Thursday that it is no longer using Pinkerton for security.

Pinkerton said earlier this week in a statement that Dolloff was a “contractor agent from a long standing industry vendor,” which Pinkerton did not name. The firm did not respond Thursday to further questions.

“We take loss of life in any situation very seriously and our hearts go out to those impacted by this situation,” Pinkerton said in its statement.

Asked who would qualify as Dolloff’s employer, Denver Department of Excise and Licenses spokesman Eric Escudero said, “Who was the employer of this individual is currently a critical part of Denver’s administrative investigation into this case.”

Dolloff’s identity outside his work as a security guard has also drawn scrutiny following claims that he was affiliated with a group at Saturday’s demonstrations.

A Facebook account bearing Dolloff’s name and photos resembling him is vocally liberal, posting at times critically about the president and alleged abuses by law enforcement. One nearly decade-old photo is from an Occupy Denver demonstration, according to the caption.

But Brian Loma, a Denver resident and liberal activist who has been filming demonstrations in Colorado for months, said he does not recognize Dolloff and would know if he was a regular protester. Loma says he is a member of Occupy Denver, among other groups.

“This man was not part of a protest community that was out actively all summer on a regular and consistent basis,” Loma said.

Loma says he showed up Saturday to document as a journalist. He recalled feeling some trepidation last week as the opposing protests approached.

“I hope nobody dies,” he remembers saying.

www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/15/matthew-dolloff-charged-murder/

Ex-Mexico army chief arrested in L.A. on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering

Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos served as Mexico’s secretary of defense from 2012 to 2018.

LA Times/Associated Press

MEXICO CITY —  Former Mexican Defense Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who led the country’s armed forces for six years under then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been arrested on drug trafficking and money laundering charges at Los Angeles International Airport, U.S. and Mexican sources confirmed Thursday.

Two people with knowledge of the arrest said Cienfuegos was taken into custody on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warrant. One of the people said the warrant was for drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The DEA declined to comment Thursday night.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard did not say on what charges Cienfuegos was detained. He wrote on his Twitter account that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau had informed him of the general’s arrest and that Cienfuegos had a right to receive consular assistance.

A senior Mexican official who cannot be quoted because he wasn’t authorized to give details of the case said officials are waiting to be told the specific charges.

The official said Cienfuegos was arrested when he arrived at the Los Angeles airport with his family. His family members were released, and he was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Cienfuegos served from 2012 to 2018 as secretary of defense. He is the highest-ranking former Cabinet official arrested since the top Mexican security official Genaro Garcia Luna was taken into custody in Texas in 2019. Garcia Luna, who served under then-President Felipe Calderón, has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges.

Cienfuegos is 72 and has retired from active duty. Mexico’s Defense Secretariat had no immediate reaction to the arrest.

Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of international operations, said that when he was in Mexico in 2012 he heard corruption allegations about Cienfuegos.

“There were always allegations of corruption, nothing we could sink our teeth into. That was kind of unheard of because Mexico has always put the military on a pedestal,” said Vigil, author of the book “The Land of Enchantment Cartel.”

“The corruption is just coming to roost, because individuals who were once untouchable are now getting arrested,” Vigil said. “If they cooperate [with U.S. prosecutors], there are others who are going to be falling.” He said U.S. officials “usually don’t want to trade down, they usually trade up,” seeking evidence against equal or higher-ranking officials.

“It’s really a precarious situation for Mexico to have two Cabinet-level officials arrested in the U.S.,” he said.

Whatever the charges, it will be a tough blow for Mexico, where the army and navy are some of the few remaining respected public institutions.

Though President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to go after corruption and lawbreaking under past administrations, he has also relied more heavily on the army — and charged it with more tasks, ranging from building infrastructure projects to distributing medical supplies — than any Mexican leader in recent history.

Under Cienfuegos, the Mexican army was accused of frequent human rights abuses, but that was true of both his predecessors and his successor in the post.

The worst scandal in Cienfuegos’ tenure involved the 2014 army killings of suspects in a grain warehouse.

The June 2014 massacre involved soldiers who killed 22 suspects at the warehouse in the town of Tlatlaya. Though some died in an initial shootout with the army patrol — in which one soldier was wounded — a human rights investigation later found that at least eight and perhaps as many as a dozen suspects were executed after they surrendered.

www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-10-15/mexicos-ex-defense-secretary-arrested-in-los-angeles

Grandfather pleads guilty in death of toddler who fell from cruise ship in Puerto Rico

By Rebekah Riess and Nicole Chavez, CNN

(CNN) — The grandfather charged in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter who fell from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship last year pleaded guilty, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Salvatore “Sam” Anello was playing with his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, on July 2019 near an open window on the 11th floor while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico.

Grandfather cries as he recounts toddler falling to her death from a cruise ship.

He was charged with negligent homicide months after the incident and initially pleaded not guilty.

CNN has reached out to Anello’s attorney for comment.

Michael Winkleman, an attorney representing Chloe’s family, but who does not represent Anello in his criminal case, said Anello changed his plea to guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors.

“This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family, but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows,” he said Thursday in a statement to CNN.

Judge Gisela Alfonso Fernandez accepted Anello’s guilty plea, according to the Puerto Rico Department of Justice. A sentencing hearing has been set for December 10.

The details of the toddler’s death have been disputed since the accident. Port Authority officials said Anello sat the girl in the window and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death.

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A wrongful death lawsuit filed against the ship’s operator, Royal Caribbean Cruises, on behalf of the family, says Anello was supervising Chloe when she wandered to a floor-to-ceiling wall of windows.

She asked to be lifted up to bang on the glass, the suit said, so Anello held her up and she leaned forward. She then slipped through his hands and through the open pane, falling 150 feet onto the San Juan Pier, according to the suit.

The family claims that the glass panes on the deck can be slid open by any passenger, and the walls didn’t contain warnings that the panes could open. Anello told CBS News last year that he wouldn’t have placed the toddler near the window if he had known it was open.

www.cnn.com/2020/10/15/us/grandfather-toddler-cruise-ship-death/index.html