Psychic guilty of stealing $138,000 in fraudulent promises

Got enough gold?

New York woman has been found guilty of using her purported psychic powers to swindle two women out of $138,000, officials said…Prosecutors had portrayed Sylvia Mitchell, 39, as promising distraught people she could resolve their problems if they gave her large sums of money for safekeeping and rituals…

Jurors had deliberated for 6 hours over two days before convicting Mitchell on 10 counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. She was acquitted on five other grand larceny counts.

Justice Gregory Carro denied Mitchell bail prior to sentencing, saying he considered her a flight risk…She faces as much as 15 years in prison.

Couldn’t she see that coming?

One witness, Debra Saalfield, said Mitchell had convinced her her problems stemmed from a past life as an Egyptian princess and her over-attachment to money. Saalfield testified Mitchell convinced her to give her $27,000 for safekeeping as an exercise in letting go of money.

Her defense attorney, William Aronwald, had argued during trial that Mitchell had fulfilled her promises, providing the women prayers, meditation and rituals to alleviate their problems. Just because the techniques might not have worked didn’t mean she was guilty of fraud, he said.

Her defense attorney is correct, of course. All she is missing is the appropriate credentials to authorize the same fraud throughout the United States every day of her life.

She has not been accredited by one or another of the guild of churches, religious colleges, chartered to make the same promises for as much money as they can pry from gullible, ignorant people.

Pennsylvania man gets jail time – beat wife for disobedience

Probably not so smiley on the way to jail

A Pennsylvania judge has sentenced a man to prison for beating his wife to discipline her for “disobedience”…Dan Kirby Kopp, 45, of Ephrata, Pa., was convicted Tuesday. Lancaster County Court Judge Dennis Reinaker sentenced Kopp to 1-to-23 months in prison, and to pay a $500 fine for beating his wife…

Investigators said Kopp beat his now-estranged wife in front of their children for failing to call him “sir” in the presence of their children.

Citing court documents, the report said Kopp routinely used a paddle or his hand, took his wife over his knee, and once told his wife he would “cast demons out of her.”

The victim, whose name was not reported, reported the abuse in October 2012, telling police her husband beat her as a “means of disciplining her for disobedience to him for undermining his parenting.”

She showed investigators a cellphone video recording of a September 2012 incident in which he beat her with a paddle for not saying, “Yes, sir.”

Any Good Christian preachers speaking out against this demeaning, woman-hating behavior? Or does forgiveness prevail over helping this poor woman?

Wal-Mart guilty in hazardous waste cases, to pay $82 million

Wal-Mart Stores on Tuesday said it would pay nearly $81.63 million to the federal government as it pleaded guilty to charges that it improperly discarded hazardous waste such as bleach and fertilizer years ago.

The U.S. Department of Justice said that in cases filed by federal prosecutors in California, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at U.S. stores.

The world’s largest retailer also pleaded guilty in Kansas City, Missouri to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers…

Wal-Mart previously agreed in 2010 to pay $27.6 million to the state of California to settle a related lawsuit and agreed in 2012 to pay more than $1.25 million to the state of Missouri…

In one instance, according to an earlier court filing, investigators in April 2002 observed “piles of multicolored unknown fertilizer type substances and torn sacks of ammonium sulfate” at one of the company’s stores in California, after learning a child had been playing on a pile of “yellowish colored powder” near the store’s garden department.

As part of the California plea agreement, Wal-Mart is set to pay a $40 million criminal fine and to pay $20 million to fund community service projects including helping U.S. retailers learn how to properly handle hazardous waste.

As part of the Missouri plea agreement, Wal-Mart is set to pay an $11 million criminal fine and to pay $3 million to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Wal-Mart also plans to pay a $7.628 million civil penalty to the federal government.

The American way of handling corporate crime continues unchanged. You pay a fine, no one does any time, no one at the top of the corporate pecking order is inconvenienced in the slightest.

Italian courts give phony guilty sentence to Berlusconi

An Italian court sentenced ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday to one year in jail over the publication by his family’s newspaper of a transcript of a leaked wiretap connected to a banking scandal in 2006.

Under Italian law, the 76-year-old media billionaire would not have to serve any jail time until the appeals process has been exhausted, and a higher court could overturn the ruling.

However, judicial sources said the charges will expire in mid-September, before an appeal trial can be completed, because of the statute of limitations. So no matter what happens in the appeal, it is unlikely that Berlusconi would serve time in jail.

The verdict came in the midst of a political impasse arising from last week’s election which left no party able to form a government on its own, although Berlusconi’s center-right formation emerged as the second strongest in parliament.

Berlusconi is embroiled in a series of trials, with separate cases over charges of tax fraud and paying for sex with an underage prostitute due to wind up this month…

Berlusconi’s brother Paolo, publisher of the family-owned Il Giornale daily, was sentenced to two years and three months over the same case, which centered on confidential wiretap transcripts related to a bank takeover which appeared in the newspaper.

The court awarded 80,000 euros in damages to Piero Fassino, who was head of the main center-left party at the time of the incident and whose remarks were picked up on the wiretap and published in the newspaper…

Late on Wednesday, Italy’s highest appeals court upheld a ruling clearing Berlusconi of tax fraud in connection with his Mediatrade broadcasting rights firm…

His trial on charges of paying for sex with a juvenile prostitute is expected to wind up in coming days while a separate trial over broadcast rights is expected to conclude toward the end of the month.

The great nation of Italy should walk around with a permanent blush on their collective faces as long as Berlusconi is standing outside prison bars – instead of being on the inside looking out.

France court rules psychiatrist guilty of murder by her patient

A French court has found a psychiatrist guilty of involuntary homicide over a murder by one of her patients…Daniele Canarelli was given a suspended prison sentence of one year, in the first case of its kind in France.

Her patient Joel Gaillard murdered a man in March 2004, 20 days after Gaillard fled a consultation with Canarelli at a hospital in Marseille…

While accepting that there was no such thing as “zero risk” in such cases and that doctors could not predict the actions of their patients, the court found that Canarelli had made several mistakes in Gaillard’s treatment.

In contrast to other medical professionals who have to make quick judgements about their patients, Canarelli had a longer period of time during which she should have realised Gaillard’s treatment was failing, the court found.

The court’s Fabrice Castoldi said Canarelli should either have placed him in a specialised unit for difficult patients or referred him to another team.

Gaillard killed 80-year-old Germain Trabuc with an axe in March 2004 in the town of Gap.

Sorry, but, I am automatically suspicious of courts ruling on science and medicine. Questions of law don’t have to produce answers about justice – and this could be one of those cases. Society – and the voices of those who assign themselves the role of overseer of law and order – demands someone be found guilty of the crime. Since they couldn’t do so to Gaillard, they chose his doctor.

Daniele Canarelli may be guilty of professional mistakes; still, I’m not certain if any doctor is supposed to be omniscient, especially dealing with mental illness. Laying criminal responsibility upon someone not sworn to protect and serve as a copper smells of everything but justice.

Silvio Berlusconi found guilty of tax fraud

An Italian court has sentenced Silvio Berlusconi to four years in jail for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company…

The court also ordered damages provisionally set at €10 million to be paid by Berlusconi and his co-defendants to tax authorities…

A separate trial over accusations that Berlusconi paid for sex with an underage prostitute is currently being heard in Milan. He denies all charges against him.

The four-time prime minister and other Mediaset executives stood accused of inflating the price paid for TV rights via offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi, and skimming off part of the money to create illegal slush funds.

One of the world’s leading examples of just how sleazy and low a politician can get – Berlusconi gets a couple of automatic chances at appeals plus the array of craptastic lawyers he keeps on retainer will do their usual job of delay, diffuse and deny while trying to get sentences overturned and reduced.

Poisonally, I think they should throw away the key.

Catholic bishop failed to stop priest’s upskirt obsession

Bishop Finn in his work clothes

On the surface, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan was just the kind of dynamic new priest that any Roman Catholic bishop would have been happy to put in a parish. He rode a motorcycle, organized summer mission trips to Guatemala and joined Bishop Robert W. Finn and dozens of students on a bus trek to Washington for the “March for Life,” a big annual anti-abortion rally.

But in December 2010, Bishop Finn got some disturbing news: Father Ratigan had just tried to commit suicide by running his motorcycle in a closed garage. The day before, a computer technician had discovered sexually explicit photographs of young girls on Father Ratigan’s laptop, including one of a toddler with her diaper pulled away to expose her genitals.

The decisions that Bishop Finn and his second-in-command in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Msgr. Robert Murphy, made about Father Ratigan over the next five months ultimately led to the conviction of the bishop in circuit court on Thursday on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. It was the first time a Catholic bishop in the United States had been held accountable in criminal court in the nearly three decades since the priest sexual abuse scandals first came to light.

Both Bishop Finn and Monsignor Murphy, as ministers, were required by law to report suspected child abuse to the civil authorities. But they were also required to report under policies that the American bishops put in place 10 years ago at the height of the scandal — policies that now hold the force of canon law…

Finn did neither.

This is an account of how, as recently as 2011, in violation of both church and civil laws, a bishop and church officials failed to stop a priest from pursuing his obsession with taking pornographic photographs of young girls. Eventually it was Monsignor Murphy, not Bishop Finn, who turned in Father Ratigan.

The witnesses never told their stories in court. The verdict was decided by a judge in a bench trial that lasted less than an hour and a half. But the facts of the case are known and even agreed upon by both the prosecution and the defense — summed up in a nine-page stipulation of testimony that contained details about the case that were not public until they were submitted to the judge on Thursday. Many details were also revealed in what is known as the Graves report, an independent investigation commissioned by the diocese last year and conducted by a former United States attorney, Todd P. Graves…

RTFA for the details. Some will be surprised the church hasn’t learned from its disreputable history – and consequences. I am not.

Bishop Finn and the diocese were indicted by a grand jury in October 2011. Monsignor Murphy was given immunity for cooperating with the prosecution. He testified that he turned Father Ratigan in because he had grown concerned that he was truly a pedophile. The monsignor said that when the bishop learned he had turned in Father Ratigan, “It seemed he was angry.”

After Father Ratigan was arrested, Bishop Finn met with his priests. Asked why Father Ratigan was not removed earlier, the bishop replied, according to the testimony, that he had wanted “to save Father Ratigan’s priesthood” and that he had understood that Father Ratigan’s problem was “only pornography.”

“Only pornography” does not separate child pornography. No need to explain the differences in the eyes of the law – or in the understanding of child development, maturity and ability to understand adult situations. Things vary with societies and cultures around the world, some relying more on science, some relying on folk myth and justifying exploitation. A separate discussion.

What is at issue here is church hierarchy treating civil, criminal and canonical law as something to be obeyed only as whim. A view that is centuries out of date.

Former Wall Street banker commits suicide in court after arson guilty verdict – burning down his mansion to collect insurance


Michael Marin, a former Wall Street trader convicted of setting his Phoenix mansion on fire in a desperate ploy to get out of his mortgage put his hands to his mouth — seemingly in shock — and collapsed after the verdict was read Thursday.

He later died, but authorities are wondering if the hand gesture was actually a final, preplanned act to poison himself, according to reports.

About five minutes after learning his fate, a video showed him covering his mouth with his hands and swallowing, according to Fox 10 News in Phoenix…Moments later…he appeared as if he was sobbing, but his body twisted into violent convulsions…Ten minutes later, Marin was put into an ambulance and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead…

…He had fallen into serious debt and could no longer afford the $17,250 monthly mortgage payments. In addition, he stood to gain a $650,000 insurance claim, according to reports…

Fire officials suspected that the early-morning inferno began in more than one place, and found flammable materials laid out around the house, the Arizona Republic reported. No one was hurt at the time, and it was discovered Marin had been living in another, smaller home at the time.

He was charged with arson, and his trial began five weeks ago.

The jury found him guilty. Obviously something Marin suspected was a strong possibility. Courtroom security was up to Arizona legal standards and he was able to bring whatever he used to take his own life — into the courtroom.

Texting-while-driving results in vehicular homicide conviction

Daylife/AP Photo used by ermission

A Massachusetts teen was convicted Wednesday of homicide as a result of texting while driving and will serve one year in prison.

In a landmark case for the state, Aaron Deveau, 18, was found guilty on charges of vehicular homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle in a 2011 crash that fatally injured Donald Bowley, 55, of Danville, New Hampshire, and seriously injured a passenger in Bowley’s car…

Judge Stephen Abany sentenced the teen to two and a half years on the vehicular homicide charge and two years on the texting and causing injury charge. He will serve one year concurrently on both charges and the balance of both charges is suspended for five years. His license will be suspended for 15 years.

“There are no winners today,” Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. “A beloved grandfather is dead. A once active woman can no longer work and is still racked with pain from her injuries and a young man is going to jail. When we get behind the wheel of a car, we are obligated to drive with care. … As we saw in this case, in a split second, many lives are forever changed.”

In the February 20, 2011, accident, prosecutors said, Deveau’s car crossed the center line on a street in Haverhill, which is in northeast Massachusetts near New Hampshire, and hit the vehicle Bowley was driving.

Bowley’s girlfriend, Luz Roman, 59, was in his car with him and suffered serious injuries…

Bowley died March 10, 2011, after he was taken off life support

Some 38 states ban text messaging for all drivers, while 31 prohibit all cell phone use by “novice drivers,” according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

I suppose novice drivers are more at risk for foolish behavior. I spent many years driving more miles than the average American ever covers. Poisonally, I’m scared to death of anyone else with a driver’s license.

The United States is not a nation which places special value on driving as a skill. And it is more than possible and practical. Cripes, we don’t even have sound reasons for half the motor vehicles we buy.

Campaign against election fraud wins first major victory — Indiana Republican Secretary of State found guilty

An Indiana jury convicted embattled Republican Secretary of State Charlie White in the early hours of Saturday on six out of seven felony charges including perjury, theft and voter fraud…

White was indicted last year on seven counts stemming in part from accusations that he lied about his home address while serving on the Fishers Town Council so that he could retain a stipend…Council members are elected to represent a district and must resign if they leave that area.

White had maintained he was living in the basement of his ex-wife’s home within the district he represented. Prosecutors introduced documents they believed told a different story, that he lived outside the district with his fiancee.

Under Indiana law, any public officer convicted of a felony must be removed from office…

The seven-count indictment even contended that White lied on his marriage license application and on an application to vote in a special election…Using his ex-wife’s address allowed White to retain a $1,000-a-month stipend for his council seat and continue to pursue his political ambitions, prosecutors said…

Separately, a Marion County judge in December ruled that White was not eligible to run for secretary of state in 2010 because he was not properly registered at his own address. White has been allowed to stay in office while he appeals that ruling.

The Marion County judge ruled that the Democrat White defeated by more than 340,000 votes in 2010, Vop Osili, should be declared the winner of the election.

No date was set for sentencing.

With the Republican campaign to limit voters in full swing around the country anyone think this will come up as a question in one of the Presidential Primary debates?

Our Republican secretary of state here in New Mexico wasted tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to prove there was a Democrat campaign to register undocumentados to vote. She offered up weekly press releases along the trail of her hunt for fraud offering a database of 80,000 names worthy of “concern”. Eventually producing a couple dozen people registered by mistake – by her own admission. And they never voted.

Here was a real crook – and Indiana Republicans did their best to defend his greedy little fraud.