Saturday, January 21, 2012

American Idol Tent Girl Amy Brumfield’s Long Boozy Criminal Record

After Wednesday night’s American Idol premiere, contestant Amy Brumfield shocked us all by revealing that her and her boyfriend were living in the woods, in a tent. If you missed the show you can read our recap here!

Amy (24) impressed the judges with Alicia Keys’ Superwoman, and got her gold ticket to Los Angeles.

Now it has been revealed Amy has a very long criminal record, revealing her serious struggles with alcohol. She has been arrested 6 times in the past 7 years. One of these times was on August 22, 2010 after publicly urinating on herself in the lobby of a Baskin Robbins. Just over a week before that, police officers arrested her for being intoxicated in front of a Tennessee restaurant. There were also a few underage drinking arrests, and one for staying at a property after her lease had ended. She has served her probation. Thanks to TMZ for the Amy Brumfield mug shots.

But this story could have a happy ending, judging by her audition on American Idol. This girl is talented and seems motivated to make a new start for herself.

Now the whole tent-living situation makes a bit more sense. But should American Idol fans judge Amy for her past problems? Doesn’t everyone deserve a second (or eighth) chance? I think yes, if you want it bad enough and make and effort to clean up your act. Remember Chris Rene in The X Factor USA. Thankfully, Amy seems motivated and ready to make a new life for herself.  Only time will tell how far she goes and what she does with her golden ticket.

‘Criminal Club’ Charged in $62 Million Trading Scheme on Dell

Seven men, including fund managers and analysts, were charged by the U.S. with forming a “criminal club” of friends and co-workers who reaped almost $62 million from insider trading in Dell Inc. shares.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleged that the scheme included one trade that earned a $53 million illegal windfall for Level Global Investors LP co-founder Anthony Chiasson and his fund. The insider-trading ring, which involved five different hedge funds and investment firms, is the largest identified by the U.S. to date to involve a single stock, federal authorities said.

Chiasson, Todd Newman, a portfolio manager formerly at Diamondback Capital Management LLC, Jon Horvath, a hedge fund analyst in New York, and Danny Kuo, a fund manager for Whittier Trust Co. in South Pasadena, California, were taken into federal custody yesterday, said Janice Fedarcyk, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office.

The charges “paint a stunning portrait of organized corruption on a grand scale,” Bharara said yesterday at a news conference. “It describes a circle of friends who essentially formed a criminal club, whose purpose was profit and whose members regularly bartered lucrative inside information. It was a club where everyone scratched everyone else’s back.”

Galleon Group Scale

The U.S. said the illegal profits earned as a result of the scheme were almost of the same “magnitude of fraud we proved in the Galleon Group insider trading scheme,” Bharara said.

A five-year insider-trading probe by Bharara’s office and the FBI has resulted in charges against 63 people, Fedarcyk said. More than 50 have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trial since 2009, including Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam.

Rajaratnam, was found guilty in May and is serving 11 years in prison, the longest ever for insider trading. He made $72 million from his illicit tips, evidence showed. Several other technology company employees and fund managers have been convicted of receiving nonpublic information as a result of the probe.

At yesterday’s press conference, Bharara displayed a flowchart placing Sandeep Goyal, a former Dell employee, at the center of the ring. According to the U.S., an unnamed person in the Dell investor-relations department passed secret earnings information to Goyal, who passed it on to Jesse Tortora of Diamondback.

Circle of Friends

Tortora, Horvath, Kuo and Spyridon “Sam” Adondakis, a Level Global analyst, were friends who shared inside information on public technology companies, including Dell, prosecutors said. The ring traded the information in 2008 and 2009, according to the U.S.

Tortora passed the inside information on Dell to Newman before the computer maker announced its first- and second- quarter 2008 earnings, according to the U.S. Newman made $3.8 million in illegal profits for his hedge fund from trading on the information, according to the U.S. Tortora also passed tips to Kuo, Horvath and Adondakis.

Adondakis passed the Dell information to his colleague Chiasson and others at Level Global, according to the charging documents. They allegedly traded on the tips for $57 million in illegal profits.

Adondakis, Tortora and Goyal pleaded guilty last year to securities fraud and conspiracy charges that were unsealed yesterday, Bharara said. They are cooperating with the government’s investigation, he said.

‘More Disturbing’

Robert Khuzami, the head of enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed a related suit yesterday against the defendants, said the cases describe actions “far more disturbing” than insider trading committed by someone who obtains one illegal tip.

The actions by the SEC and prosecutors “lay bare an organized network of analysts and fund managers who set up and used a corrupt network to obtain inside information,” Khuzami said. “These cases, along with Galleon and expert networking cases, reflect systemic dishonesty and exposes a deeply-embedded level of corruption.”

Horvath, 42, is an analyst at Connecticut-based hedge fund Sigma Capital Management LLC, said a person with knowledge of the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak because the information wasn’t public. He was arrested by the FBI yesterday at his home in Manhattan, the U.S. said, and released on a $750,000 bond after a court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott in New York.

‘Honesty and Integrity’

“Throughout a more than 10-year career as a respected investment analyst, Jon Horvath has conducted himself with honesty and integrity,” Horvath’s lawyer, Steven Peikin, said after court. “He has done nothing wrong,’” and the charges against him “will be shown to be meritless,” Peikin said.

Chiasson, 38, used inside information to win for his Level Global fund what the U.S. said was a single “enormous bet” of $53 million on Dell earnings, prosecutors claimed.

“This is the largest single trade ever charged in the Southern District in an insider-trading case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Leibowitz said yesterday at a bail hearing, referring to the federal jurisdiction that includes Wall Street.

Greg Morvillo, Chiasson’s lawyer, argued that Leibowitz was attributing to his client trades made by others at Level Global.

Chiasson’s Bail

Chiasson, who turned himself in to U.S. authorities yesterday morning, was released on $2.5 million bond to be secured by $1.25 million in cash or property and three co- signers. Morvillo said in court that his client is innocent of the charges.

“He will be here to defend these charges, whether it’s tomorrow, next month or next year,” Morvillo told Cott.

Newman, 47, was released on a $3 million bond after appearing in U.S. District Court in Boston yesterday.

Kuo, 36, who was arrested yesterday in California, was released on $300,000 bond after appearing in federal court in Los Angeles.

Newman of Needham, Massachusetts, Chiasson of New York, Horvath of New York and Kuo of San Marino, California, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud. They face as long as 25 years in prison if found guilty, prosecutors said.

Goyal is a former junior technology analyst at Neuberger Berman, said Alexander Samuelson, a company spokesman. Goyal left the firm this month. Goyal, who didn’t trade on the information, was paid about $175,000, by Tortora through an intermediary, for the tips, Bharara said. Goyal worked for Dell at its corporate headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, from 2003 until the summer of 2006, prosecutors said.

Justine Harris, a lawyer for Adondakis; Jessica Margolis, who represents Goyal; Alfred Pavlis, who represents Newman; and Ralph Caccia, who represents Tortora, didn’t return phone messages seeking comment yesterday.

FBI Searches

In November 2010, FBI agents from New York and Boston executed search warrants at the offices of Level Global and Diamondback, hedge funds founded by former employees of SAC Capital Advisors LP.

Level Global told clients last February that it was shutting down -- eight years after David Ganek and Chiasson founded the hedge fund -- because of the U.S. probe.

Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for New York-based Level Global, didn’t return a call seeking comment on the arrests.

Diamondback, in a letter to investors yesterday, said it has cooperated with U.S. authorities. It said Newman left the firm after the 2010 search and Tortora resigned in April 2010.

Civil Complaint

The SEC’s civil insider-trading complaint was filed in Manhattan federal court against all seven men, Diamondback Capital and Level Global. In addition to the alleged Dell insider trades, the SEC claims members of the ring traded on inside information about chipmaker Nvidia Corp. Level Global made at least $15.6 million in illegal profits on its Nvidia trades, the agency claimed.

Peter Neiman, of Wilmer Hale, a lawyer for Diamondback Capital, declined to comment on the SEC lawsuit. MaryJeanette Dee, a lawyer for Level Global, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message left at her office seeking comment on the suit.

During the trial last year of James Fleishman, a former executive at Primary Global Research LLC, witnesses testified that he helped employees of technology companies pass nonpublic information to his expert-networking firm’s fund manager clients. Fleishman was convicted of conspiracy charges related to insider trading.

One witness, Mark Anthony Longoria, a former Advanced Micro Devices Inc. employee, described how he passed secret tips and other information about his company to fund managers, including Adondakis.

Primary Global

Bob Nguyen, a former Primary Global analyst who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the U.S., testified at Fleishman’s trial that Tortora was a client of Fleishman’s who got nonpublic information about technology companies through the Mountain View, California-based research firm.

Daniel Devore, a former global supply manager of Dell, pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the U.S. insider-trading investigation.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Newman, 12-00124, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The civil case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Adondakis, 12-00409, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--With assistance from Saijel Kishan, Katherine Burton and Edmund Lee in New York, Janelle Lawrence in Boston and Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles. Editors: Andrew Dunn, Peter Blumberg.

Case of West Memphis 3 by no means closed

It plays out like an episode of Criminal Minds or CSI. But unlike those shows, the police and prosecutors in this case didn't possess state-ofthe-art forensic tools. Nor, for that matter, did they possess the cerebral powers of their fictional TV counterparts.

The case in question is that of the West Memphis 3, a trio of teens convicted of the grisly murders of three eight-year-old boys in the redneck community of West Memphis, Arkansas, back in 1993. Based on hearsay and barely a scintilla of evidence, authorities were quick to come down on the three teens, largely because the community wanted immediate satisfaction and the suspects were essentially deemed white trash.

Mercifully, folks around the U.S. and, later, the world, soon got wind of a potential and monstrous miscarriage of justice and decided to act - especially since one of the teens was sentenced to die, while the other two were given life sentences. Soon celebrities came on board.

But what really set events going was an HBO documentary called Paradise Lost. There was no resolution in that doc, just a lot of doubt raised. Same, too, for a sequel.

But there is resolution of sorts in Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, the conclusion to the trilogy, which airs tonight at 10 p.m. on HBO Canada.

This last two-hour instalment - which debuted to rave reviews at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival - is absolutely chilling and riveting. It was only through the unrelenting investigation by a group of concerned citizens, lawyers, and major-crime analysts that some form of justice did prevail and the three wrongly accused were set free from prison after 18 years.

But the doc offers a frightening reminder that, in a rush to judgment, anyone can be railroaded - which is not the happy conclusion we usually get from our brainiac investigators on TV.

There were next to no leads when the naked and hog-tied bodies of the three murdered eight-year-olds were found in a wooded area outside West Memphis. A $25,000 reward was offered and, a month later, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley - teenagers known as The West Memphis 3 - were arrested.

The lead police investigator was so certain they had apprehended the right guys that he boasted that, on "a 0 to 10 scale, it was an 11," relating to their guilt.

For what it's worth, the three teens claimed they were innocent and had never run into the three murdered kids. But Misskelley, who had originally told the police he was at a wrestling match miles away at the time of the murders, later confessed to witnessing the crime after intense questioning. Misskelley, sadly, is also mentally challenged and prone to uttering falsehoods under incessant grilling.

That confession turned out to be rather shaky, so the investigators went looking elsewhere for incriminating material and soon they thought they had found it.

Yup, despite the fact there was no physical evidence that the three teens were at the scene of the crime, the major clue the police and prosecutors uncovered was that Echols, a Johnny Depp-look-alike who favoured Goth clothing and heavymetal music, was part of a Satanic cult. This, naturally, led to the conclusion that he and fellow devil-worshippers killed the kids as part of a sadistic ritual. The alleged cult expert providing all this insight got a bogus mail-order PhD degree - from a university advertising on the back of a book of matches - and had no formal training in the field.

No matter - this was enough to convince a jury that the teens were guilty and that Echols should be put to death by lethal injection.

But the alarm bells were sounded. Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and even Johnny Depp - able to empathize with look-alike Echols about people jumping to conclusions based on a person's looks and clothing - all jumped aboard. A West Memphis 3 Support Fund was set up.

Real forensic investigators and FBI profilers joined the group and would tell all who would listen that the authorities had the wrong people.

In fact, the experts pointed out that there was more compelling evidence - a strand of hair at the crime scene - possibly incriminating a stepfather of one of the murdered kids. It turned out that the man was prone to violence, had a criminal record and was the last person seen with the three boys.

Regardless, several appeals were turned down. But in a last-ditch plea to the Arkansas Supreme Court, lawyers for the West Memphis 3 were able to present new evidence. And a deal was struck in which the three were released by claiming innocence though pleading to a watered-down guilty plea - largely, to get out of jail immediately. This also saved the state more embarrassment and a possible hefty lawsuit.

The three are still fighting to clear their names and, with the help of high-powered backers, are hoping to find the real murderer.

Kudos to directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for keeping the case going all these years, and for reminding us once again that fact can be a lot more frightening than fiction.

Report faults professor, UCLA in death of lab assistant

LOS ANGELES  -- Ever since Sheri Sangji  was fatally burned in a December 2008 lab fire, UCLA  officials have cast it as a tragic accident, saying the 23-year-old staff research assistant was a seasoned chemist who was trained in the experiment that went awry.

But Sangji  was neither experienced nor well trained - if trained at all - in the safe handling of air-sensitive chemicals that burst into flame, ignited her clothing and spread severe burns over nearly half her body, according to a report on a Cal/OSHA criminal investigation obtained by The Los Angeles  Times.

The 95-page report adds new detail to the circumstances surrounding Sangji's  death and provides insight into the basis for felony charges filed last month against University of California  at Los Angeles  chemistry professor Patrick Harran  and the UC Board of Regents.  Based on labor code violations, the charges are thought to be the first stemming from an academic lab accident in the United States.

University officials have blasted the charges as "unwarranted," "outrageous" and "appalling" and say they contradict an earlier Cal/OSHA investigation that resulted in nearly $32,000 in Cal/OSHA fines but no findings of intentional, or "willful," violations.

The findings of the subsequent criminal probe, conducted by a different investigator, were far harsher.

The report states that UCLA,  by repeatedly failing to address previous safety lapses, had "wholly neglected its legal obligations" to provide a safe environment in campus labs and that Harran  was personally responsible.

"Dr. Harran  simply disregarded the open and obvious dangers presented in this case and permitted Victim Sangji  to work in a manner that knowingly caused her to be exposed to a serious and foreseeable risk of serious injury or death," the report by senior special investigator Brian Baudendistel states.

If Harran  had trained his research assistant properly and assured that she wore clothing appropriate for the work, "Sanji's death would have been prevented," it said.

Harran's  attorney, Thomas O'Brien,  disputed those conclusions.

"Dr. Harran  remains devastated by this tragic accident," he said. "There are numerous misstatements in that report, but I will refer you to the UC regents for any comments."

Harran  and the Board of Regents are to be arraigned Feb. 2 in Los Angeles  Superior Court  on three counts each of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards. Harran  faces up to four-and-a-half years in prison if convicted; the regents could be fined up to $4.5 million.

Kevin Reed,  UCLA  vice chancellor for legal affairs, said he "vehemently" disagreed with the findings. He said Sangji  was well trained, had previously performed the experiment safely and successfully, and chose not to use available protective gear.

"It was not as if UCLA  found a newbie who didn't know what she was doing and put her in a lab with no regard to the consequences; there is just no evidence to support that," he said. "We didn't just pluck her off the streets and put her in a chemistry lab. She was a trained chemist."

Sangji,  who graduated in 2008 from Pomona College  in Claremont, Calif., with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, had worked in Harran's  organic chemistry lab for less than three months when the accident occurred.

She was transferring about 1.8 ounces of t-butyl lithium from one sealed container to another when a plastic syringe came apart in her hands, spewing a chemical compound that ignites when exposed to air. The synthetic sweater she wore caught fire and melted onto her skin. She died 18 days later.

Sanji had not used pyrophorics in her undergraduate work or during a brief stint at an Azusa, Calif., pharmaceutical company just before she took the UCLA  job, according to the Cal/OSHA investigative report, which was completed in December 2009 but not previously made public. Nor had she been properly trained in their handling by a senior researcher, as Harran  said, according to the report.

When interviewed by Cal/OSHA, the researcher said he might have given Sangji  some "general guidance" on the procedure but could not recall any formal training. The report also said the researcher's own methods were "contrary" to the chemical manufacturer's instructions and generally accepted lab standards.

"Despite Dr. Harran's  assertions to the contrary, it is clear that Victim Sangji  was not properly trained, if at all, in the procedures necessary for the safe handling and transfer of t-Butyllithium," the report noted.

Since Sangji's  death, UCLA  has instituted more rigorous lab inspections, issued more fire-resistant lab coats, enhanced training in the use of air-sensitive chemicals and established a Center for Lab Safety. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ann Coulter: Who wouldn't enjoy firing these people?

To comprehend why the political class reacted as if Romney had just praised Hitler, you must understand that his critics live in a world in which no one can ever be fired — a world known as "the government."
Romney's statement about being able to fire people was an arrow directed straight to the heart of Obamacare. Talking about insurance providers, he said:

Analysts: Better policing behind cut in crime

WASHINGTON - The latest FBI figures show there's a lot less violent crime across the country this year, a trend experts attribute to a larger investment in crime prevention by government and law enforcement.
The 6.5 percent drop in violent crime continues a five-year decline that shows the numbers of murders, rapes and robberies steadily falling.

A Comprehensive Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) System Requires Action

Abstract: A robust, comprehensive, and integrated suspicious activity reporting (SAR) system, linking the unique observations of law enforcement personnel from around the nation, is a necessary component of a 21st-century policing strategy predicated on the increasing role of state and local law enforcement in the battle against domestic radicalization and homegrown terror.

35-mile parole buffer doesn’t apply to victim’s next of kin

When a prisoner is paroled after serving time for a violent crime, California law allows the crime victim or a witness to ask the state for a buffer zone requiring the parolee to live at least 35 miles away. Prison officials invoked that law in 2010 to bar Terrance David from moving in with his ailing mother in Burbank, 26 miles away from the sister of a woman who was killed when David, while driving under the influence of PCP, slammed into her car in 1986.

How the British justice system makes criminals of children

Are children fully responsible for the consequences of their action? How much of the criminal justice system that we put them through does a child actually understand?
While even very young children may know the difference between right and wrong (my three-year-old child knew he was wrong when he bit another child), their capacity to judge consequences is limited.

New James O'Keefe Hoax Video Purports to Detail Fraudulent Cases of 'Voter Fraud' in New Hampshire

Long ago discredited, federally convicted criminal, Rightwing con-artist, pretend journalist, and accomplished liar James O'Keefe is pimping another secretly-taped and selectively-edited video sure to be a sensation on Fox "News" and at other Republican propaganda venues. It purports to show several voters showing up at polling places during New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday and giving the names of recently deceased voters to poll workers before procuring ballots to vote under those names.

Mystery writer Parker to sign 'Jaguar' in Scottsdale

Mystery writer T. Jefferson Parker has come a long way since his days as a reporter in the early '80s, stealing typing paper off his desk to write fiction on the weekends.
Over the span of 18 books, the New York Times-bestselling novelist has won two Edgar Awards for best novel from the Mystery Writers of America and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best mystery.

Is African head of International Criminal Court a sham?

UNITED NATIONS - Gambian jurist Fatou B. Bensouda was recently elected chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. She told reporters at a UN press conference in New York that “being an African had nothing to do with her mandate as prosecutor” of the court.

UCLA Professor and UC System Face Felony Charges In Connection With 2008 Fatal Lab Fire

A UCLA chemistry professor and the University of California are facing criminal charges in connection with a laboratory fire that killed a worker Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji three years ago. Sangji, 23, was transferring a highly-flammable chemical from one container to another when her syringe broke, exposing the chemical to the air. It erupted in flames, igniting her sweater and giving her burns so severe that she died 18 days later.