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A 36-year-old Florida woman used a romance scam to defraud a Holocaust survivor of his $2.8 million life savings, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. She also faked emails pretending to be from TD Bank and faked invoices to give to the victim’s bank to explain the large transfers, the indictment says. It stopped in October 2021 when the man told his son he'd given his life savings to the woman but was promised he'd be repaid and the son said he'd been scammed, according to the indictment. Stergo spent the money on a home, a condo, a boat, trips, cars and Rolex watches, prosecutors said. People lost more than $1 billion in romance scams across the U.S. in 2021, the FBI said in February.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is in the initial phases of an investigation into Southwest Airlines' travel meltdown, and the agency will look at whether executives overscheduled flights, a spokesperson said. The Department of Transportation is “probing whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice,” the agency spokesperson said. Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening. “DOT will leverage the full extent of its investigative and enforcement power to ensure consumers are protected and this process will continue to evolve as the Department learns more,” the department spokesperson said Wednesday. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the cancellations unacceptable and said his department would look at its scheduling system.
A second hiker has disappeared on California’s Mount Baldy, the same mountain where actor Julian Sands vanished on Jan. 13, officials said Monday. Jin Chung, 75, failed to return from a hike and meet two others as planned Sunday, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. Helicopters and drones with infrared devices were used to try to find Sands over the weekend; high winds prevented aircraft from being used Monday, the sheriff’s department said. He was supposed to return and meet them at 2 p.m., the sheriff’s department said. His family, in a statement released by the sheriff's department, thanked the searchers who are looking for him.
Police shot and killed an attacker in a gun battle after he shot a person inside an Indiana Walmart on Thursday, an Evansville police spokesperson said. The victim, who was shot at the Walmart in Evansville in southern Indiana just before 10 p.m., was alive when officers arrived. Walmart said it would be supporting its employees in the wake of the shooting, and it thanked first responders. Police said the call about a shooting at the store came in at 9:59 p.m. local time (10:59 p.m. Evansville is a city of around 117,000 in southern Indiana, near the border with Kentucky.
A sailor was rescued by the Colombia’s navy after what he said was a 24-day ordeal in which he only had a bottle of ketchup and some seasoning to eat. Elvis Francois, 47, a national of Dominica, said in a video released by the navy that he spent 24 days with no sight of land before his rescue in the Caribbean Sea. Colombian Navy press office via APHe had written “help” on the hull of the boat, which was spotted by air, the navy said. In video released by the Navy and distributed by news services The Associated Press and Reuters, Francois tells medical staff he is doing OK.“Twenty-four days, no land. Francois said in the video he tried to go back to port, but couldn't, and he tried to call friends but lost service.
Last week’s massive flight disruption that grounded thousands of planes was caused after “contract personnel unintentionally deleted files,” the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday. On Jan. 11, the FAA halted all departures nationwide after an outage to the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system. The FAA said in a statement that the files were deleted by accident as the contractors were "working to correct synchronization between the live primary database and a backup database." The NOTAM system sends pilots vital information they need to fly. On Jan. 11, the FAA sent out a tweet at 7:20 a.m. ordering the airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m.
A Texas woman who was reported missing this month and whose empty car was later found in a remote area has been found dead, officials said Thursday. Friends of Kelley reported her missing on Jan. 11 after not having heard from her for several days, the sheriff's office has said. The sheriff’s office has said Ferguson is also known as Kevin Brown, and online jail records list Ferguson as being married. The sheriff's office said the case was an ongoing homicide investigation. On Thursday, the Tarrant County medical examiner's office positively identified the remains found in Grand Prairie, the sheriff's office said.
The man who fatally shot 13-year-old Karon Blake early Saturday, in a case that has outraged some in the community, is a Washington, D.C., employee, the mayor said Wednesday. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that the person who shot Karon is a district government employee who is not involved in public safety. Karon Blake. She said the person is on administrative leave, which is standard whenever a city employee is accused or criminally charged. The man who shot him is Black and has a concealed-carry license and a registered firearm, Contee said.
An Italian man who authorities say used a sophisticated scheme to steal unpublished works of authors pleaded guilty Friday, prosecutors said. Filippo Bernardini, who worked for Simon & Schuster UK, stole more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts between August 2016 and January 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a statement. Among those tricked was a Pulitzer Prize recipient, who sent Bernardini a copy of their unpublished manuscript, according to an indictment. “Filippo Bernardini used his insider knowledge of the publishing industry to create a scheme that stole precious works from authors and menaced the publishing industry,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. A representative for Simon & Schuster said at the time that they were "shocked and horrified" to learn of the allegations, and they were grateful to the FBI for investigating the case.
Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say the homes or businesses of four local and state politicians have been shot at since early December. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina speaks with the media about the recent shootings at the homes and businesses of local elected officials. In the three cases that involved homes, the shootings involved eight to 12 rounds, police said. Eight shots were fired at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa on Dec. 4. Most of the shootings happened in Albuquerque, which is in Bernalillo County.
The longtime partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the Jan. 6 riot, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against former President Donald Trump and two men involved in assaulting Sicknick. Sicknick, 42, died a day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. The lawsuit, filed by Sicknick’s partner, Sandra Garza, cites comments from the medical examiner that “all that transpired” on Jan. 6 “played a role in his condition.”Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Jan. 6, 2021, was the day that Congress was meeting to formally count the electoral votes affirming that Trump lost the election. Capitol Police has said that despite the natural causes ruling, "Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol."
The postponed Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game will not be made up following the terrifying collapse of safety Damar Hamlin, the league said Thursday. Now at 12-3, Buffalo trails 13-3 Kansas City for the AFC’s top spot, which carries a first-round playoff bye. If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties, Buffalo vs. Kansas City would be at a neutral site. And if Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins, a Buffalo or Cincinnati vs. Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site. Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest, but his brain function appeared to be in good condition, the Buffalo Bills said Thursday, following days of uncertainty and worry.
The Cincinnati Reds show their support for Damar Hamlin outside of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame on January 4, 2023, in Cincinnati, OH. "Damar Hamlin FaceTimed into our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches. It remains unclear what exactly caused Hamlin's cardiac arrest. The league acknowledged that canceling the game "creates potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios" and said NFL clubs will consider a resolution at a special league meeting Friday. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in Thursday's statement that it has been "a very difficult week" and that the league is focused on Hamlin's recovery.
Two Colorado funeral home operators who sold body parts or bodies in a scheme a prosecutor called “horrific” were sentenced to prison Tuesday, officials said. They operated Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, a city of around 20,000 in western Colorado, and stole and sold body parts or bodies from 2010 to 2018, prosecutors said. The bodies or body parts of hundreds of people were stolen, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Prosecutors said that in addition to stealing bodies and body parts, they sold remains of those who had infectious diseases but falsely certified them as disease-free. When entire bodies were sold, cremated remains were returned to families that weren’t those of their loved ones.
Southwest Airlines, which canceled thousands of flights last week and infuriated passengers, said Tuesday it was making "solid progress" on processing refunds even as another problem caused more travel woes. The reports of delays Tuesday came just days after the airline said it resumed normal operations following the holiday travel chaos. The flight-tracking website FlightAware showed 138 Southwest cancellations — or 3% — and around 1,560 delays Tuesday. There were 24 Southwest cancellations and 115 delays for Wednesday, according to the website. Southwest canceled thousands of flights, stranding passengers and their luggage and leading to what has been called a meltdown that enraged travelers.
A California man intentionally drove a Tesla off a 250-foot cliff in an attempt to kill himself and his family, officials said Tuesday. The driver and his wife and children survived and were rescued Monday at Devil's Slide in San Mateo County, the California Highway Patrol said. Four people were rescued after a Tesla plunged over a cliff in Calif., on Monday. Brian Pottenger, incident commander for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said that witnesses called 911 after the crash around 10:50 a.m. The car was traveling south on State Route 1 when it went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide, south of the Tom Lantos Tunnels, and landed near the water’s edge, the fire department said.
Southwest canceled more than 2,800 flights Monday — the day after Christmas — and around 2,600 Tuesday, according to tracking website FlightAware. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said Southwest had not adequately prepared flights for the storm. Travelers wait in line near the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Nashville International Airport, in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday. Buttigieg said Southwest has pledged to take care of impacted customers, and that the Transportation Department will be holding the airline accountable for that. Another 2,478 Southwest flights scheduled for Wednesday have also been cancelled, according to FlightAware.
Authorities in Washington state were asking for surveillance or other video Tuesday as they investigate what has been called deliberate damage to power substations. The vandalism at four substations south and southeast of Tacoma on Christmas Day left more than 14,000 customers without power, officials said. The sheriff’s department has said a reason for the burglaries and vandalism incidents, one of which caused a fire, was unknown. Sheriff's department spokesman Sgt. The sheriff’s department asked Tuesday on social media that anyone with surveillance video at their home or business review the video.
On the busy day-after-Christmas travel day, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,700 flights, frustrating passengers across the country. Overall, around 3,900 flights were canceled within, into or out of the U.S. on Monday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. Southwest had 2,893 flights canceled at one point Monday, or 70% of its schedule, according to the site. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday combined, over 8,200 flights into, out of or within the U.S. were canceled, according to FlightAware. The issue with Southwest flights also caught the attention of the Transportation Department, which called the airline's performance unacceptable.
He urged people from areas where conditions had improved not to travel to Buffalo to rescue family and friends. More than 20,000 of those customers were in Buffalo, Poloncarz said. “This will go down in history as the most devastating storm in Buffalo’s long, storied history of having battled many battles, many major storms,” she said on Sunday. At least 35 people have died in weather-related incidents across the United States, according to an NBC count of reports from officials. “We’ve had other storms, the storms just four weeks ago that dumped 7 feet of snow on the southtowns.
The co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX and the former CEO of Sam Bankman-Fried's hedge fund, Alameda Research, have pleaded guilty to fraud, a federal prosecutor in New York said Wednesday. The SEC complaint alleges that Wang "created FTX’s software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds," and that Ellison used those funds for Alameda's trading. The SEC complaint alleges a complex scheme to trick both investors and customers into believing that FTX had strict and advance risk mitigation. "From the inception of FTX, Defendants and Bankman-Fried diverted FTX customer funds to Alameda, and continued to do so until FTX’s collapse in November 2022," the SEC complaint reads. “If you participated in misconduct at FTX or Alameda, now is the time to get ahead of it,” he said.
Indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried on Tuesday agreed to be extradited from the Bahamas to the United States, according to a Bahamian court official. The paperwork has been filed with the court, and Bankman-Fried will fly to the U.S. on Wednesday, said Doan Cleare, acting Commissioner of Corrections, Bahamas Department of Correctional Services. Bankman-Fried, 30, is accused of misappropriating billions of dollars deposited in FTX, a huge cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed in November. At one time FTX was reportedly valued at $32 billion and seen as the face of the industry. Once he’s back in the U.S., Bankman-Fried can request that he be released on a bail.
Two people were arrested at a New York City Council member's apartment building Monday after opponents of a drag reading event targeted it with messages the politician called “pure hate, unmasked,” officials said. A group had targeted the public reading event geared toward neurodiverse children at a library in Chelsea on Saturday, NBC New York reported. Our resolve is strengthened.”Earlier Monday, the hallways inside the building that houses Bottcher’s council district office were also vandalized, police said. Right-wing figures and influencers have targeted drag events, sometimes with incendiary rhetoric about “groomers." Bottcher, who was elected to represent District 3 in 2021 and took office in January, said after Saturday's event that reading helps children grow, and he thanked the drag reading event organizers.
LOS ANGELES — The man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle onstage in Los Angeles pleaded no contest and was sentenced to jail Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office confirmed. Isaiah Lee, 24, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of battery and entering a restricted area during a live event, and he was sentenced to 270 days in jail, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office said. Lee was accused of tackling Chappelle while he was onstage at the famous Hollywood Bowl during a performance on May 3. The weapon will be destroyed, according to the City Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes misdemeanor criminal cases. A no contest plea means a defendant doesn't admit guilt, but it results in a conviction.
A tornado touched down south of Shreveport, damaging several homes and knocking down trees and power lines, according to the sheriff's office. The National Weather Service in Fort Worth said there may have been 12 tornadoes, which will be confirmed by storm surveys. The severe weather in Texas occurred as a major winter storm was also pummeling Louisiana, with more than 10 million people under winter weather warnings or advisories across the Rockies and the northern Plains states. High winds toppled big-rig trucks Tuesday morning in Parker and Wise counties in Texas, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center. George Frey / AFP - Getty ImagesWestbound Interstate 70 was closed near the Kansas-Colorado border because of fear of dangerous winter weather, officials in both states said.
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