ABC - National News
Subscribe To This Feed

New Jersey State Police(NEW YORK) -- Authorities released a sketch on Tuesday of a man they believe may have information on 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, whose disappearance nearly a month ago from a New Jersey park has left few answers.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae identified the man in the sketch as a "possible witness" to Dulce's disappearance and someone who they want to speak with, according to a press release from her office.

Webb-McRae made a point to note that she is not calling him a suspect or person of interest.

He was allegedly at the park around the time Dulce went missing. A witness recently came forward with his description and told authorities that he was seen with one or two children under the age of 5 years old. It was not immediately clear if one of the children was Dulce.

Webb-McRae did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

Dulce was last seen on Sept. 16 in the afternoon near City Park in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Dulce's mom, Noema Alavez Perez, said on the day her daughter vanished, she was in the car scratching off a lottery ticket while her daughter was playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother, about 30 yards away.

Perez said she could see the park, but not the swings because hills were blocking them. When her son returned to the car, Dulce was nowhere to be found.

Federal, state and local officials have all been involved in the search for the little girl, but there has been no clear indication as to what happened to her.

Webb-McRae asked the man in the sketch, or anyone who recognizes him, to come forward.

He is believed to be between 30 to 35 years old and around 5-foot-7 with a slender build. He was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball-style hat at the time of Dulce's disappearance, according to the prosecutor's office.

Anyone with information on the man or the case is asked to contact Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033 or anonymously text information to TIP411 with the word "Bridgeton."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Kuzma/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of Ohio teenagers have been charged in a deadly log tossing incident that claimed the life of a photography teacher last month.

The 16-year-old boys were arrested and charged with reckless homicide in the death of Victoria Shafer, a 44-year-old teacher in southern Ohio who died after being hit by a falling log on Labor Day, police said over the weekend.

Shafer, a married mother of four, was on a park photo shoot with five high school seniors on Sept. 2 when the 6-foot log struck and killed her at the scene. The log weighed 74 pounds and investigators said it was nearly impossible for it to have fallen 75 feet without human interference.

"Ohio Department of Natural Resources investigators determined early on that the six foot log was pushed or thrown off the cliff," the Hocking County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement Friday. "Investigators spent countless hours following leads over the course of the past month, most of which were dead ends."

Police arrested the teens last week after receiving a tip from a parent who claimed one of the suspects had confessed to her daughter. The teen allegedly sent the girl, who is a classmate, text messages stating he "did something serious at the park" with another boy, according to the statement.

Investigators followed the tip and the suspects eventually confessed to police, the statement said.

"Further investigation by ODNR and the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office led them to the two juveniles in custody, who admitted that they were involved in forcing the log over the cliff," the statement said. "The two juveniles, both from Logan, were initially charged with Reckless Homicide, although this is subject to change as information comes in."

The teens were being held at a juvenile detention center as of Tuesday afternoon. They made their initial appearance in court on Friday when they pleaded not guilty and requested court-appointed council.

Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers had offered up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. The victim's family previously signaled that they would have sympathy for those responsible for Shafer's death.

"They might need counseling. How horrific would that be? It could not have happened naturally. It could not have rolled off," the victim's husband, Fritz Schafer, told Columbus ABC affiliate WSYX-TV last month. "No storm or anything. No wind. It could have been an accident. Even so, somebody knows something."

Cathy Muth, Victoria Schafer's sister, made a similar appeal for information last month and vowed not to seek "vengeance."

"We understand that maybe it was an accident. It was not a malicious act. But just knowing and being able to put that away would be helpful," Muth told WSYX. "We are not out for vengeance. We just want to know what happened, and we want to prevent it from happening again."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Tarrant County Sheriffs Office(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- An 8-year-old boy who witnessed his aunt being fatally shot by a Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who fired through a window of their house told investigators she had retrieved a handgun from her purse and pointed it toward a window when she was killed, according to an arrest warrant issued for the officer.

But police officials said 28-year-old Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson, the victim of the shooting early Saturday, was within her rights to protect herself and her nephew when she heard noises in her backyard and went to the window to investigate.

The arrest warrant for now-former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean, 34, was released on Tuesday, a day after he abruptly resigned from the police force and was charged with murder, stemming from the shooting of Jefferson. Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said Dean quit the force before he had a chance to fire him.

"I realize that no action we take can replace the loss suffered here. I'm deeply sorry for what occurred," Kraus said during a news conference on Tuesday to announce Dean's arrest. "Human life is a precious thing, and should not have been taken from Ms. Jefferson. This incident has eroded the trust that we have built with our community and we must now work even harder to ensure that trust is restored."

The arrest warrant affidavit states that Dean and his partner arrived at Jefferson's home about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and never knocked on the door or identified themselves as police as they entered the backyard of the home and Dean opened fire almost as soon as he saw Jefferson standing at the bedroom window peering out.

After being shot, Jefferson "yelled out in pain, and fell to the ground," according to the affidavit.

A neighbor had earlier called the police department's non-emergency line to ask that a welfare check be conducted on Jefferson's home because he noticed the front door was wide open, the neighbor, James Smith, told ABC affiliate station WFAA-TV in Dallas.

"I called my police department for a welfare check," Smith told WFAA. "No domestic violence, no arguing, nothing that they should have been concerned about as far as them coming with guns drawn to my neighbor’s house."

But on Tuesday, Chief Kraus told reporters that the officers believed they were responding to an "open structure" call, which would have required them to take more tactical precautions, including parking around the corner from the house.

"The information came from the neighbor to the call takers and then while it was relayed to the dispatch it was determined to be an open structure call," Kraus said in response to a question from ABC News. "I can't tell you specifically if it was the dispatcher, but that's something we're looking into."

In the arrest warrant affidavit, Jefferson's young nephew, Zion, told investigators that he and his aunt, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, were playing a video game in a back bedroom of their home when they heard noises outside.

"She took her handgun from her purse," the affidavit reads. "(The nephew) said Jefferson raised her handgun, pointed toward the window, then Jefferson was shot and fell to the ground."

Body camera footage released by the police department shows Dean approaching a rear window of the home with his gun drawn. The officer sees the woman through the window, shouts, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," and fires one shot. Kraus confirmed that Dean never identified himself as police.

"Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence," a statement from the police department reads.

Dean's partner, identified in the warrant as L. Darch, told investigators she never saw Jefferson raise the gun before Dean opened fire.

"Officer Darch said that they went into the backyard and Officer Dean was standing between her and the house and she could only see Jefferson's face through the window when Officer Dean discharged his weapon one time," the arrest warrant affidavit reads.

Dean was arrested by a team of Fort Worth police officers on Monday evening at his lawyer's office, Kraus said. He was booked at the Tarrant County Jail and released on $200,000 bond late Monday night.

Efforts by ABC News to reach Dean and his attorney for comment have not been successful.

The shooting immediately sparked outrage and protests from community members and Jefferson's family.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price issued a public apology on Monday, saying, "there is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing."

While Jefferson's relatives expressed relief that Dean had been arrested and charged with murder, an attorney for the family said Tuesday, "That's not enough."

"We need more than a single arrest. We need appropriate prosecution, an effective verdict and proper sentencing," said attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson's family in pending civil litigation."

Merritt said others in the police department need to be held accountable.

"We need to go further up the stream. It's time that we stop pulling babies out of the river and go further up the stream to see who's putting them in there in the first place," Merritt said referring to department policies and protocols that failed to stop Dean from using ill-advised lethal force.

Calling the circumstances a "pivotal moment for the city," Price said she had ordered the creation of a "third-party panel of national experts to review this department's policies and procedures.

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke announced he will assemble an independent review board for the police department and will begin interviewing candidates for an independent police monitor.

Chief Kraus became overcome with emotion on Tuesday as he described the toll the shooting has taken on the morale of police officers.

"The officers are hurting," said Kraus, appearing to tear up. "I've been out there on patrol and since this occurred ... the officers they come up and hug. It's very emotional because the officers try hard every day to try to make this city better."

"They're out there trying to build these relationships and I likened it to a bunch of ants building an anthill and then somebody comes along with a hose and washes it away and they just have to start from scratch," he said.

He pleaded with citizens of Fort Worth to "please do not let the actions of one officer reflect on the other 1,700."

"There are absolutely no excuses for the incident and the person responsible will be held accountable," he said. "Ms. Jefferson's family and our community will have the last word and the courts will speak on her behalf."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

vmargineanu/iStock(HELENA, Mont.) -- A device found at a Montana elementary school on Tuesday that authorities initially said was an explosive actually turned out to be a plastic bottle covered in tape, police said.

"This information is good news," Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "It's a blessing that it wasn't [an explosive]."

The Tuesday-morning announcement of an improvised explosive device detonating on the playground of the Rossiter Elementary School in Helena sent FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents to the scene. Students were evacuated. No one was injured.

Dutton said Tuesday afternoon that authorities determined nothing ever exploded. The device, believed to have come from a construction site, was a plastic bottle wrapped in black tape that was full of washers, nuts and bolts, and a fluid that wasn't flammable, the sheriff said.

A homeless man, who didn't have malicious intent, thought he was picking up litter and placed the bottle by the school Monday night or early Tuesday, Dutton said.

The sheriff defended authorities' actions and said they "handled it appropriately" by announcing an IED had been found Tuesday morning.

"I am glad our team here, local, state and federal, reacted in such a way," Dutton said.

The sheriff did not elaborate on why authorities initially believed a device detonated.

The sheriff said he does not believe the homeless man will be charged.

Helena District 1 Schools and East Helena Schools were placed on lockdown earlier Tuesday as law enforcement searched the buildings. The schools were later cleared and the lockdowns were lifted.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Newark Police Department(NEWARK, Del.) -- Twenty-six years after a young woman was sexually assaulted in the middle of the night in Delaware, a man unknown to police at the time has been arrested after DNA evidence linked him to the scene.

It was just after 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 4, 1993, when a 22-year-old woman walking near the University of Delaware in Newark was attacked and sexually assaulted, Newark police said at a Tuesday news conference.

A composite sketch was released and witnesses were interviewed, but no suspects were identified, police said.

The man taken into custody this month, Jeffrey King, hadn't been named as a potential suspect at the time, police said.

The case went cold for decades. It was reopened in November 2017.

The sexual assault kit was sent to a private lab where male DNA was identified, police said. That DNA was entered into the law enforcement database CODIS, but there wasn't a match.

The DNA was then sent to the DNA company Parabon Nanolabs, where analysts compared the unknown crime scene sample to "samples in various databases, including a public genealogy website with DNA samples, to provide a list of possible suspects," police said. On genealogy websites, many people upload DNA to connect with relatives and explore family histories.

That list of possible suspects was then narrowed down, said police, and King was one name on that list provided by Parabon.

In August detectives surveilled King and collected a discarded item, which was sent to a lab where it was determined that King's DNA was consistent with that from the 1993 crime, police said.

King, now 54, was 28 years old at the time of the assault, police said. The victim and suspect were strangers, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said.

On Sept. 30, a grand jury indicted King for two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, which is what the charge was called in 1993. That charge has since been changed to rape, police added.

King, of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, turned himself into Newark police on Oct. 10 and has since posted bail, police said. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday. No attorney is listed for him.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television(STOCKTON, Calif.) --  For Falaviena Palefau, being able to buy her 12-year-old daughter new shoes for her birthday was a present for both of them.

Normally, when the date rolled around, Palefau said she'd deflect her daughter's birthday wishes, telling the girl they could ask her grandparents for money or save up for a while to get it.

But this time was different.

The unemployed mom is one of 125 people getting $500 a month -- no strings attached -- in a privately-funded experimental guaranteed income program in Stockton, California, a city of more than 300,000, where 1-in-4 residents lives in poverty.

Guaranteed income programs, which are similar to universal basic income programs such as the one espoused by Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang but limited in scope, are seen as a potential solution to addressing economic inequality and injustice.

"Universal basic income is an income support mechanism typically intended to reach all (or a very large portion of the population) with no (or minimal) conditions," according to a scholarly article on the International Monetary Fund's website.

 The idea is that by giving money to people who need it, they'll be able spend it and improve their lives in the moment in situations that may not be covered by traditional benefit programs.

"Though the existing benefits systems target people’s most essential needs, unconditional cash meets people’s most urgent needs," the discussion paper on the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration says. "Sometimes people require more than food, housing, and medical insurance – they need a new car battery to get to work the next day, or they need cash to pay an unanticipated bill that might otherwise trigger a downward spiral."

For Palefau, 30, her priorities were utility bills and debts she'd accrued. Another was getting her driver's license, something she kept "putting off to the side because there's more important things."

She also noticed that the guaranteed income, dispensed via ATM card halfway through the month, really helped at the end of the month, when her food stamps often ran out and she and her two children might have to visit a local food bank.

"Being able to provide for my kids ... for me, that's a really big deal," Palefau told ABC News.

So were her daughter's shoes.

"She asked to get a pair of shoes that she wanted for some time now," Palefau said, referring to her daughter. "It felt so good to give her the money and go get it."

Stacia Martin-West, an assistant professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, is one of the co-principal investigators involved in the Stockton program. She said most people were using the money for food and bills.

Five months into the program, which began in February, the data showed that food -- about 40% of the total -- was the biggest expenditure. Next was sales and merchandise at 24%, though Martin-West noted that some of that figure probably includes food spending since Walmart is one of the area's largest food stores. Rounding out the top three spending areas was utility bills, at 11%.

 "A lot of folks think that they know how lower- and moderate-income people spend money," Martin-West said, but this data shows that they "make smart and rational decisions like we all do."

Amy Castro Baker, Martin-West's co-principal investigator and an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice, said social researchers have long known that biases against the spending habits of lower income individuals are unjustified.

"People who are living on the margins of the economy tend to be the savviest budgeters because they have to stretch their money the farthest," Castro Baker told ABC News.

Recipients for the Stockton experiment were randomly chosen from a neighborhood where the median income was at or below the city's median of $46,033.

The concept of a universal basic income was thrust into the national conversation during the course of the Democratic primaries as Yang made it a centerpiece of his campaign.

His program -- the Freedom Dividend -- would pay all Americans over the age of 18 $1,000 a month "no questions asked." Yang says the program would be funded by "consolidating some welfare programs and implementing a Value Added Tax of 10 percent" on the production of goods and services. Yang is paying 10 families and three individuals $1,000 per month for a year as part of a case study.

"I think that Andrew has absolutely vaulted this to a much bigger platform than it had before," said Annie Lowrey, a journalist and the author of the book "Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World."

Opponents of UBI or guaranteed income programs often cite cost and efficiency, arguing that those who are not in the lowest subset of earners would not need the subsidy, according to a scholarly article published on the International Monetary Fund’s website.

SEED's website counters that the payments as “a hand up, rather than a hand out.” "SEED seeks to empower its recipients financially and to prove to supporters and skeptics alike that poverty results from a lack of cash, not character," the group's discussion paper says.

Support for universal basic income varies among countries.

A recent Gallup-Northeastern University survey found that 43% of Americans support a universal basic income program, though that pales in comparison to the 75% of Canadian adults and 77% of adults in the United Kingdom who support similar measures. The age group with the highest level of support in the U.S. was respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.

"Gaps in support for UBI among the three countries surveyed may be due to the tradition of more robust social safety nets in the U.K. and Canada than in the U.S.," the survey said.

Lowrey said that while she "would be surprised" if the U.S. ever adopted "a true" UBI, which would mean "giving literally everybody cash unconditionally and permanently," she said that more politicians and economists are discussing "more cash-based policies" to address economic inequalities.

She pointed to proposals like Sen. Kamala Harris' LIFT the Middle Class Act, a tax credit to middle-class and working families, or suggestions to eliminate work requirements tied to the Earned Income Tax Credit as examples of policies that are similar philosophically to guaranteed income.

Lowrey told ABC News it seems "really likely" that "UBI-like" programs will be "part of the policy conversation going forward."

"What you are seeing in Stockton is that this model that seems really radical is in fact quite viable and maybe even reasonable to do," Lowrey said.

Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs said his residents have been extremely supportive of the program.

He added that "every day we get emails, tweets, Instagram messages" from people asking to be included in the program. "It's just heartbreaking."

Tubbs said he's been advising city officials in Chicago and Newark, as part of their respective basic income task forces, and believes programs offering guaranteed income would work elsewhere -- if governments step in to support them.

"Philanthropy can't be policy," he told ABC News, adding that for it to work at scale, "it has to be done at a statewide or national level."

The Stockton program is slated for 18 months, ending in July 2020.

Palefau said she hopes she'll be able to use excess money from future months to make restitution payments in a decade-old incident, and to help her get closer to her goal of either working at, or running her own daycare.

In the meantime, she said she's enjoying being able to buy food and pay bills with less worry.

"It was stressful" before the program started, she said. "It's been a lot of weight off my shoulders."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

wsfurlan/iStock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A 1-year-old girl died after being left inside a hot car for hours on Monday in Florida, marking the fifth hot car death in the Sunshine State this year and the 50th nationwide.

The 1-year-old was found unconscious inside her family's car parked outside their Tampa home on Monday evening. The child's parents called 911 around 6:30 p.m. local time and she was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Investigators learned the little girl had been left inside the car since Monday morning. Temperatures reached above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Tampa that day.

"It appears it was a very busy morning for the family," police spokesman Steve Hegarty told Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS. "They have several other children as well, and in an effort to get everybody where they needed to go, the toddler was left in the back seat."

The child's death remains under investigation. Hegarty said it appears to be accidental and investigators have found no signs of foul play.

"The dad used the vehicle the toddler was in to take people to school and to work, then took a separate car to work and that caused him to forget the child was in the back seat of the car," he told WFTS. "He left and went to work and then came home."

Last year was the worst in history for child hot car deaths in the United States, with a total of 54 fatalities nationwide, according to data collected by KidsAndCars.org, a national nonprofit child safety organization. Now at 50 deaths, this year is getting extremely close to matching that record.

Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org, wants parents to understand that accidentally leaving your child in the car "can happen to anyone."

"As a county we need to understand that you can't educate a brain not to forget," she told ABC News Tuesday, explaining that the "No. 1 indicator [of a hot car incident] is a change in routine."

 KidsAndCars.org is advocating for Congress to pass the Hot Cars Act of 2019 which would require rear occupant alarm technology in all cars so the presence of a child can be detected.

"There's two automakers already that have that type of technology in their vehicle -- it's not like it's a mystery," Fennell said.

"No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle," Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said this summer after the bill was introduced. "The unfortunate reality is that even good, loving and attentive parents can get distracted."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

FILE photo - VisionsbyAtlee/iStock(MOUNT SHASTA, Calif.) -- Four bodies have been recovered after a man allegedly went to a California police station and confessed to killing his family members, authorities said.

The man walked into the lobby of the Mt. Shasta Police Department just after noon Monday and reported that he had committed murder at his home in Roseville, adding that one possible victim was in his car at the police department and others were at his Roseville apartment, said police.

Roseville is about 18 miles outside of Sacramento and Mt. Shasta is about 200 miles north.

Officers found the body of an adult man in the car outside the police station and detained the suspect, 53-year-old Shankar Hangud, police said.

Down in Roseville, officers were sent to an apartment complex where they found three more bodies, said police.

The victims -- two adults and two children -- were members of the Hangud's family, Roseville police Capt. Josh Simon said at a news conference on Tuesday. A motive was not released, Simon said.

The killings appeared to have taken place over a few days, Simon said. Within the last week, Hangud left his Roseville home with one victim and drove to unknown places in Northern California before he ended up in Mt. Shasta, Simon said.

Hangud is charged with four counts of murder, Simon said. Authorities have not named the victims.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ThamKC/iStock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- The Birmingham, Ala., community is pleading for the safe return of a 3-year-old girl, days after she was allegedly abducted.

At a Monday night vigil, Jasmaine Deloach, the head of Angel Arms Operation Exploited and Missing Persons in Birmingham, spoke directly to the unknown person who took Kamille "Cupcake" McKinney.

"She might not even remember who you are, so if you have any heart, please let her go," Deloach said. "She's a little kid that barely probably can even say what color you are."

"I do not want you to harm her," Deloach said. "Don't have any kind of hate in your heart to hurt that child. We're asking and we're begging and we're pleading ... bring this baby home."

Kamille was playing with other children at an outdoor birthday party in Birmingham on Saturday night when she vanished, authorities said. An Amber Alert was issued.

Investigators believe Kamille was picked up by an unknown man in an older, dark-colored Toyota Sequoia with beige trim. The vehicle was found Sunday after police received tips from citizens, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said.

Smith said Monday that police had no information on Kamille's whereabouts but two persons of interest were being questioned. They have not been charged, Smith said Tuesday.

"I just want to thank everybody for being here. Just continue to pray for Cupcake's safe return," the little girl's grandmother, Lekisha Simpson, said at Monday's vigil. "To the public, to everybody, if you see say something, say something. If you know, don't be afraid to say."

 

If you just got another #AmberAlert on your phone and still haven’t been able to put a face to it, here’s 3 year-old Kamille McKinney. Her dad provided these pictures and is begging and pleading that someone come forward to Birmingham Police with any information. @abc3340 pic.twitter.com/DiEPF1mBqc

— Ashley Gooden (@AshleyGoodenTV) October 14, 2019

 

Smith also urged the public to help at a Tuesday news conference. Rewards totaling $6,000 have been offered for information.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to immediately call 911 or Birmingham police at 205-254-1757.

Deloach said if the kidnapper does not want to call police, he or she can call the Angel Arms Operation missing persons group at 205-585-8076.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

FILE photo - eddiesimages/iStock(DUBLIN, Calif.) -- Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the massive "Varsity Blues" college entrance scandal that ensnared her and dozens of parents, reported to a Northern California prison on Tuesday to begin serving a 14-day sentence, according to her representative.

Huffman, 56, reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., about 25 miles southeast of Oakland, according to a statement released to ABC News by her spokesman.

Huffman was sentenced in September by Boston federal court Judge Indira Talwani after the actress pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

"Ms. Huffman is prepared to serve the term of imprisonment Judge Talwani ordered as one part of the punishment she imposed for Ms. Huffman’s actions. She will begin serving the remainder of the sentence Judge Talwani impose -- one year of supervised release, with conditions including 250 hours of community service -- when she is released,” reads thye statement from her representative.

The former Desperate Housewives star was also ordered to pay a fine of $20,000.

She had been given until Oct. 25 to report to prison. Her representative did not explain why Huffman decided to begin serving her sentence now.

Huffman -- who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 2005 film Transamerica -- pleaded guilty on May 13 and acknowledged she paid $15,000 to arrange for a college entrance exam proctor to correct her daughter Sophia's SAT answers and for her daughter to be allowed more time to take the test.

On March 13, a federal indictment was unsealed with charges for 50 people, including Huffman and more than 30 other wealthy parents, in the largest college cheating scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

The indictment alleged the parents paid bribes to William "Rick" Singer, a college-entrance tutor guru whom prosecutors identified as the ringleader of the nationwide scam, to get their children into elite colleges, including Stanford, the University of Southern California, Princeton and Georgetown.

Singer, 59, who prosecutors said collected $25 million in bribes during the years-long scam, pleaded guilty in March to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He's yet to be sentenced.

During her sentencing hearing on Sept. 13, Huffman, through tears, told Talwani that she accepted her punishment "without reservation."

"I broke the law," Huffman said in court. "I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period."

She went on to publicly apologize to her daughter, her husband actor William H. Macy, her family and the educational community.

"And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children," Huffman said.

Before announcing her decision, Talwani said she was not punishing Huffman -- and won’t punish the other parents either -- for a flawed college admissions process. Instead, the judge focused on why there is such a sense of outrage surrounding the case, saying that it is because the system is already so distorted and that Huffman took the step of obtaining one more advantage to put her child ahead of others.

Also indicted was actress Lori Loughlin -- best known as Aunt Becky on the sitcom Full House -- and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, who are fighting charges they paid Singer $500,000 to get their two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella, into USC as recruits for the university's crew team, despite the fact they'd never participated in the sport.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

FILE photo - Erin Donalson/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- The Saddleridge Fire that has burned through thousands of acres in Southern California began near the base of a transmission tower in northern Los Angeles, according to investigators.

Fire officials determined that inferno, which erupted around 9 p.m. Tuesday, originated in a 50-by-70 foot area directly beneath an electrical transmission line, Los Angeles Fire Department Public Information Office Capt. Erik Scott told ABC Los Angeles station KABC.

Investigators are still looking at what caused the fire, Scott said. No evidence of homeless encampments were found in the area.

The tower, which stands behind homes in Sylmar, the northernmost neighborhood in Los Angeles, is operated by SoCal Edison.

In a statement to KABC, the utility company said, "Out of an abundance of caution, we notified the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday, October 11 that our system was impacted near the reported time of the fire."

Although SoCal Edison had shut down some power lines on Thursday and Friday to prevent a fire amid high winds, the transmission line running through Sylmar was not de-energized, according to KABC.

The wildfire, which is 45 percent contained, has blazed through more than 8,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters were able to get a handle on the flames as winds died down and humidity moved up the coast on Monday into Tuesday. All red flag warnings and wind alerts have expired due to the change in weather conditions.

One person has died in the fire, and another person has been injured, according to Cal Fire.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Josie_Desmarais/iStock(ENCINO, Calif.) -- An Uber passenger who got into a physical altercation with another rider was struck and killed by a California highway patrol car after jumping from the Uber and running across a highway.

Authorities received a call around 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning regarding an Uber in distress that had pulled over to the side of the 101 Freeway in Encino, Calif.

The Uber driver, who identified himself only as Randy, described the chaotic scene that took place in his car to ABC News’ Los Angeles station KABC.

“One was in the front seat, one was in the back seat. So the guy in the back seat started escalating by starting, like, choking him. They started like, punching each other. And then I had to stop because of that … it was crazy,” said the driver who identified himself only as Randy.

"I had to stop because it was distracting my driving," Randy continued.

Officers arrived on scene shortly after receiving the call and conducted a traffic break on the westbound side of the freeway, according to KABC.

Then, according to the driver, one of the men jumped out of the car and started running across the lanes of traffic.

It was then that a police car driving down the other side of the highway to respond to the Uber’s distress call struck and killed the man as he ran across the freeway.

“One of the Uber passengers jumped the concrete center divider wall … and collided with a patrol vehicle, so the pedestrian was basically running across traffic lanes. The patrol vehicle collided with that passenger,” said California Highway Police Officer Weston Haver.

The Uber driver said he picked up the two men in West Hollywood and that they did not seem drunk at the time of the argument.

Pictures from the scene of the accident show a heavily damaged patrol car but authorities report that the officer driving the vehicle was uninjured in the accident.

The man who was killed has yet to be indentified but has been described by authorities as a male adult in his 30s. All eastbound lanes on the 101 Freeway were shut down for around 7 hours while authorities conducted their investigation causing major traffic jams and major delays for many motorists.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A storm system will move through the South Tuesday with heavy rain that could cause flash flooding.
 
Already Tuesday morning ahead of the storm, three states -- Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi -- are under Flash Flood Watch.

By Wednesday early morning, this storm system will move into the Southeast with heavy rain and thunderstorms from Atlanta to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Over the next 24 hours, some areas in the south could see 2 to as much as 5 inches of rain with possible flash flooding expected in Mississippi, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana.

By Wednesday late morning into the afternoon, the southern storm system will strengthen and move up the U.S. East Coast and will form into a strong Nor’easter by Wednesday evening with heavy rain for the Northeast and very gusty winds.

Locally more than 3 inches of rain could fall in the Northeast in a short period of time on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Some urban and small stream flash flooding is also possible.

Wednesday night into Thursday morning, very gusty winds are expected along the I-95 corridor and some gusts could be higher than 50 mph and up to nearly 70 mph on Cape Cod.

Airport delays are possible at the major hubs from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Marilyn Nieves/iStock(FORT WORTH, TX.) -- The police officer who fatally shot a Fort Worth, Texas, woman in her home while answering a call for a welfare check has been arrested on murder charges. The charge comes after the officer abruptly resigned on Monday just before he was about to be fired for allegedly violating multiple department policies, the police chief said.

The officer, identified earlier Monday as Aaron Dean, is being held without bond in Tarrant County, according to court records.

"I certainly have not been able to make sense of why she had to lose her life," Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said at a news conference prior to the arrest, in reference to the early Saturday morning killing of Atatiana "Tay" Jefferson. "On behalf of the men and women of the Fort Worth Police Department, I'm so sorry for what occurred."

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the family, released a statement saying the family was "relieved" Dean was arrested.

"The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder," the statement said. "We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing."

Kraus identified the officer who shot Jefferson, 28, as Dean, who was hired by the police force in August 2017 and was commissioned as a licensed peace officer on April 13, 2018.

The police chief said he was scheduled to meet with Dean on Monday morning, but the officer tendered his resignation before they had a chance to meet.

"Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations of several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy, and unprofessional conduct," Kraus said.

But Jefferson's grieving family said Dean should have never been given the option to resign.

"He should have been fired before this," Jefferson's brother, Adarius Carr, told ABC News.

 Jefferson's sister, Ashley Carr, added that while her family welcomed apologies from the police chief and other city officials, including the mayor, she told ABC News, "It's not the end result we're looking for."

"I want justice for my sister," Ashley Carr said. "I want her death not to be in vain."

She said her sister was a pre-med graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, who dropped her career ambitions to return home to Texas to care for their ailing mother. She said Jefferson was also helping their sister, Amber, who recently underwent heart surgery, raise her two young children, including their 8-year-old nephew, Zion, who witnessed her being shot to death.

The family's attorney, civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, said the next development loved ones of Jefferson are hoping for, is that Dean suffer the consequences of his actions.

"The opportunity to resign is a slap in this family's face and it's a slap in the community's face," Merritt said. "He should have never been given that option. And I want us to stop treating this ... like it's a bad apple case. The saying is 'a bad apple spoils the bunch.' But the barrel is rotten from the core."

Kaus said an internal investigation and a criminal investigation of Dean would proceed, and that he has sent a preliminary report of the shooting to the FBI to review Dean's actions for possible civil rights violations.

Kraus said Dean has not been cooperating with the investigation, adding, "He resigned before his opportunity to cooperate."

The chief had said prior to the arrest he was getting frequent updates on the criminal investigation against Dean and anticipated that he would be able to provide the public with a "substantial update" no later than Tuesday.

He also said Dean's separation paperwork would be sent to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the agency in charge of licensing and certifying peace officers, "will reflect that he was dishonorably discharged from the Fort Worth Police Department."

 Kraus made the announcement after Mayor Betsy Price expressed outrage over the shooting and berated the police department for releasing a photo of a handgun found in Jefferson's home, saying, "there is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing."

"The gun is irrelevant. She was in her own home caring for her 8-year old nephew. Atatiana was a victim," the mayor said.

Kraus echoed the mayor, saying the photo of the gun that was released to the public "was a bad thing to do" and was apparently intended to "show what the perceived threat may have been."

He said the gun was found just inside the window where Jefferson, who, according to her family, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was shot.

"I can't imagine most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn't be there and we had access to a firearm, that we wouldn't act very similarly to how she acted," Kraus said.

But Merritt said he interpreted the move as an attempt to "cast aspersions on Tay, to give this officer (Dean) an out."

"This was their attempt to justify the unjustifiable," Merritt told ABC News.

After spending the weekend hearing from outraged community residents, and friends and relatives of Jefferson, Price apologized on behalf of the city of Fort Worth.

"We are all heartbroken today. Atatiana was a beautiful, smart, amazing young woman by all accounts, who was unjustly taken from her family," Price said. "The entire city is in pain. As a mother, grandmother, a sister, an aunt, I can't imagine anything worse and I'm so sorry."

Calling the circumstances a "pivotal moment for the city," the mayor said she had ordered the creation of a "third-party panel of national experts to review this department."

Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke announced he will assemble an independent review board for the police department and will begin interviewing candidates for an independent police monitor.

Prior to receiving news of Dean's resignation, Jefferson's relatives demanded the officer be immediately fired and arrested, and that the federal government take charge of the investigation.

"This man murdered someone. He should be arrested," said Adarius Carr, a member of the U.S. Navy.

"I've served my country for the last 12 years. In that time, I've been trained and taught that there are preplanned responses for everything you do. Everything you're trained about, there's a way to do things. And when you don't do it the way you've been trained or the way you've been taught, you have to answer for that," Carr said. "The Fort Worth PD cannot investigate themselves. The U.S. Navy is not allowed to do it, they should not be as well."

Merritt said the shooting shows that the Fort Worth Police Department is "in need of serious systematic reform."

He said the family is calling on the Department of Justice or the FBI to investigate the killing, adding that the officer should be "vigorously prosecuted."

"We expect this to happen immediately," Merritt said. "This (the shooting) happened Saturday. Why this man is not in handcuffs right now is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community, and it must be addressed."

The shooting unfolded about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday after a neighbor of Jefferson's called the police department's non-emergency line to asked that a welfare check be conducted on Jefferson's home because the lights were on and the back and front doors were open.

Lt. Brandon O'Neil said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that two officers were sent to the home on East Allen Avenue. He said the officers arrived at the house at 2:29 a.m. and parked near Jefferson's home, but not in front of the residence.

O'Neil said the officers walked around the back of the house, and that one of the officers observed a person through the rear window of the home and opened fire.

Chief Kraus added on Monday that the officers never knocked on the door.

Body-camera footage released by the department shows Dean approaching a rear window of the home with his gun drawn. The officer sees the woman through the window, shouts, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," and fires one shot.

"Perceiving a threat, the officer drew his duty weapon and fired one shot striking the person inside the residence," a statement from the police department reads.

Responding officers entered the home, located the shooting victim and began providing emergency care.

Jefferson died at the scene.

O'Neil said Dean never identified himself as a police officer to Jefferson.

"What the officer observed and why he did not announce 'police' will be addressed as the investigation continues," O'Neil said.

 Merritt said that Jefferson and her nephew, Zion, were playing a "Call of Duty" video game when they heard someone in the bushes outside their home and went to a bedroom window to investigate. He said Jefferson stopped her nephew from looking out the window and that she was shot when she peered into the darkness.

"It was less than a second," Merritt said of the shooting. "I had an expert slow it (the body-camera video) down. It was .6 seconds between the command and the shot. There was no time for them to perceive a threat from a weapon. There was no time for her to respond. It was reckless, deadly behavior."

Ashley Carr said her sister never mentioned being afraid of getting killed by police.

"We obeyed laws. We didn't walk in fear because we did what we thought was right," she told ABC News. "Now you could still do what's right, but it's coming with fear, and that's scary."

Adarius Carr said that he hopes people remember his sister for how she lived.

"I want everyone to remember my sister like I remember her: Just a fun-loving, easy-going, hilarious young lady who just wanted to serve and be better, make sure our family was good," he said. "A very beautiful soul, absolutely. My life is upside down without her."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

aicragarual/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Statues of Christopher Columbus were vandalized amid continued calls to change the name of the federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer.

Red paint, along with messages about genocide, were sprayed on landmarks in both San Francisco and Providence, Rhode Island, on Sunday.

A sign that read "Stop celebrating genocide" was placed at the foot of the Columbus statue, located in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence, ABC Providence affiliate WLNE-TV reported. The statue was covered with red paint.

The statue was also vandalized in 2010 and 2017, according to the station.

In San Francisco, a Columbus statue near Coit Tower was also sprayed with red paint. Graffiti at the bottom read, "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers." Supervisors in the city voted to change the holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day in January 2018, ABC San Francisco station KGO-TV reported.

Police said they're investigating the incident, KGO reported.

Columbus statue vandalized: Red paint covered the face of the controversial colonist, while the base of the statue had graffiti that read, "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers." https://t.co/0chyLNKRdh

— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) October 14, 2019

Columbus Day observes the anniversary of the explorer's arrival on what is now the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492. Many Italian Americans honor their heritage on Columbus Day with parades and festivals.

However, in recent years, indigenous people and others have rallied against the holiday, claiming Columbus enslaved and murdered many indigenous people. There is now a growing movement to reclaim the day in honor of indigenous people and their unique cultures and contributions.

At least eight states and 130 cities have legally changed the holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day, including Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order on Oct. 7.

Other states are attempting to find a middle ground. Earlier this year, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt signed legislation recognizing the day as both Native Americans Day and Columbus Day.

Some have replaced Columbus Day with other titles related to the Native American community. Summit City, Ohio, selected "First Peoples Day" and Hawaii switched to "Discoverers Day."

The city council in Washington, D.C., passed emergency legislation last week to rename the federal holiday. For the change to become permanent, it requires congressional approval within 225 days, according to the city council.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments