A federal jury convicted a Lehigh Valley couple of defrauding the the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Yujie Ding, 53, and Yuliya Zotova, 41, are both from Center Valley, about 20 minutes south of Allentown. Ding is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Lehigh. About a year ago, Ding was first charged with wire fraud and accused of stealing $300,000 from NASA.
His wife, Zotova, was also charged. A grand jury indictment was unsealed in February. Read more »
The Courier-Post made an open records request recently, asking for the text messages that got nine corrections officers dismissed at the Camden County Jail. After some wrangling in court, the newspaper finally got the messages. Yikes.
As Jim Walsh details in a report today, the texts are incredibly racist. The n-word flows freely. One officer sent a text message saying a black Philadelphia Eagle “should be tied to a bumper and dragged.” One officer, during a conversation about New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio for some reason, said “Don’t forget his wife is a colored.” Texts called the African-American warden of the jail, David Owens, “HNIC.” That doesn’t stand for Hockey Night in Canada. Read more »
In a lawsuit filed today in Philadelphia, adult actress Danica Dillon alleges that she “felt as if she were being raped” by Josh Duggar after a March appearance at a Center City strip club.
Philly attorney Marc J. Frumer filed suit today on behalf of Dillon, who has starred in such films as This Ain’t Avatar XXX, among many other titles. Dillion first told her story to In Touch Weekly in August.
Josh, the oldest of the Duggar children, starred with his parents and siblings on the TLC TV show 19 Kids and Counting from its debut in 2008. The show was canceled this May after In Touch obtained a police report in which Josh’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, said Josh had confessed to molesting five underage girls when he was a young teenager. He later said he “acted inexcusably, for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”
He was later revealed to have a paid Ashley Madison account after that website’s database was breached, and subsequently went to rehab.
The lawsuit alleges that Duggar first met Dillon during one of her performances at The Gold Club, off 15th Street in Center City, in early March. “He walked into the Gold Club like a normal patron and said he’d been a fan for a long time and has watched my career grow — he even said from before my boob job until recently — and that he loved watching my very first scene on [an adult website],” Dillon told In Touch earlier this year. “Then it got creepy.” The suit says Duggar paid $600 for lap dances at the Gold Club. Read more »
Kathleen Kane and Frank Fina. (Kane: Matt Rourke/Associated Press; Fina: Jason Minick/Associated Press)
A group of former prosecutors involved in the Pennsylvania porngate scandal have sued Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane, Philadelphia Media Network — as well as one of its newspapers, the Daily News — and Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Chris Brennan in federal court.
The prosecutors, who include Frank Fina, say Kane retaliated against them for “exposing” her alleged lawbreaking. They accuse her of leaking grand jury information and defaming several of the plaintiffs by accusing them on CNN of viewing child pornography, among other things.
“Upon assuming office,” the lawsuit reads, “Defendant Kane has misused the power of her office, and its publicly funded resources, for the purpose of silencing her critics through a pattern of intimidation, attempted blackmail, and vindictive retaliation against those persons who have lawfully exposed Defendant Kane’s falsehoods, unlawful activities, and violations of her oath of office.”
The plaintiffs are Frank Noonan, Rick Sheetz, Randy Feathers, Fina and Marc Costanzo. Noonan was the Pennsylvania AG’s chief of criminal investigations and, later, state police commissioner. Sheetz was a career prosecutor who worked under Tom Corbett. Feathers was a longtime narcotics investigator who most recently was a member of the state’s parole board. Read more »
Kathleen Kane will face trial on charges she perjured herself before a grand jury last year, a judge ruled today.
At a preliminary hearing today, Montgomery County Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar ruled charges of perjury, false swearing and obstruction could move forward. Those charges, which include felony perjury, stem from an investigation into grand jury leaks — and are in addition to previous leak-related charges in which Kane had already been ordered to face trial.
In this particular case, prosecutors allege Kane lied before a grand jury when testifying about the leak of material from a separate grand jury in 2009. Read more »
A Salvation Army Thrift store is demolished in the aftermath of a building collapse, Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Philadelphia. On Wednesday, the building under demolition collapsed onto a neighboring thrift store, killing six people and injuring 14, including one who was pulled from the debris nearly 13 hours later.
This post has been updated to include quotes from District Attorney Seth Williams, Nancy Winkler and Jay Bryan, and Robert J. Mongeluzzi.
The Common Pleas Court jury considering the case of Griffin Campell — the contractor hired to demolish the building next to the Salvation Army thrift store on 22nd and Market — may have agreed, at least in part, with what his defense attorneys contended: that he was more of a pawn than a bad actor when it came to the building collapse in June 2013.
Campbell was on trial for six counts of third-degree murder, but has been convicted of six counts of involuntary manslaughter instead, according to media reports, which means he will not go to prison for life. The jury also convicted Campbell on 13 counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, one count of Causing a Catastrophe and one count of Aggravated Assault, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. He will be sentenced in January. Read more »
Two of the people connected to the brutal assault against two gay men in Center City just accepted plea deals where they won’t serve any jail time. Instead, they’re going to be on probation, suffer exile from Center City during this period, and have to volunteer at an LGBT organization.
The idea is that mercy and dialogue is better than prison. That idea isn’t just spiritually sound: It’s also endorsed by the victims of the crime.
To be perfectly frank, the sentence doesn’t satisfy my personal desire to see the homophobes in physical or emotional pain. That’s OK, though. Resentment is a crummy fuel to run society’s engine. And, I guess we don’t torture people anymore.
It’s hard to stomach, though. I mean, I’ve been punched for being gay before, too. And, I’ve dealt with casual homophobia on Philly streets my entire life. I want it to stop. But, it’s never going to stop. Bigotry and ignorance can only be mitigated with free speech and dialogue – not eradicated by stomping “enlightened” boots on people’s faces. Read more »
Former Penn doctor Steven W. Johnson has been sentenced to a year and one day in prison for stealing from a federal government project that funded ovarian cancer research.
Johnson, 50, pleaded guilty in April. The Elkins Park resident was a Penn School of Medicine employee from 1998 to 2010. As part of his research, Johnson would have to validate presumptive oligonucleotide primers, which are used to identify gene expression patterns. (Yes, the oldest trick in the book, using your experience as a oligonucleotide primer researcher to defraud the federal government. No wonder he was caught.) Read more »
The man who grabbed Carlesha Freeland-Gaither off a Germantown street won’t be getting out anytime soon.
Delvin Barnes, 37, pleaded guilty today to kidnapping Freeland-Gaither on November 4, 2014. His jury trial was scheduled to start next week; Barnes faces 35 years in prison.
Barnes grabbed Freeland-Gaither of the 100 block of W. Coulter Street. A surveillance camera captured her struggling with the kidnapper, who pulled her into a van. Federal prosecutors said she hit Barnes with a hammer once he got her into the car, but Barnes threatened to kill her if she continued to fight.
He drove to Maryland, where police caught up with him after three days. Freeland-Gaither identified Barnes as the culprit. Read more »
A Commonwealth Court panel ruled today that state workers may delete emails in their inboxes at their discretion. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, joined with other news organizations, had sued the state in an attempt to have emails stored for up to two years. The three-person panel, led by President Judge Dan Pellegrini, dismissed the case.
The suit centered on the state’s Right to Know law, signed into law in 2008. The Gazette’s attorneys argued the policy that allowed state workers to delete emails violated the spirit of the law. If a state employee deletes an email from the inbox, it is permanently deleted in five days from the state server.
“Simply, the RTKL [Right to Know Law] governs whether records currently in existence must be disclosed,” the panel wrote in its decision. “Because [the law] provides that nothing in the RTKL affects that policy, PG Publishing has failed to allege facts demonstrating a violation of the RTKL.” Read more »