Columbia Student Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges, Gets 6 Months

Harrison DavidOn August 30, 2011, Harrison David, a 21-year-old student at Columbia University, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation for drug possession and sales.

David and four other students were charged after a five-month investigation police called “Operation Ivy League.” The operation was carried out at Columbia’s Manhattan campus. Undercover officers purchased $11,000 worth of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and Altoids laced with LSD. Most of the transactions took place in frat house bedrooms and common areas.

David pleaded guilty to his drug charges. The other four students involved refused to take their plea deals. The will return to court in October to fight their charges. The drug ring also led police to the suppliers of the students. Their criminal charges are still pending.

David has been suspended from Columbia and will most likely be expelled after his guilty plea. He will begin his sentence at Rikers Island, where he’s expected to serve three and a half months pending good behavior. The Judge counted the two weeks David was in jail following his arrest as time served. His father refused to bail him out after the arrest, hoping to teach him a lesson.

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[Video] – DWI Do’s

Back in June we premiered our first video – “DWI Don’ts” – an entertaining look at what not to do if pulled over for DUI. Now we bring you the sequel, “DWI Do’s.” This is a companion video that explains how to act and what to say if pulled over for drunk driving. Watch it below, or on youtube.

DWI Do’s
by: appelmanlawfirm

Read more about what to do if pulled over for DWI.

9 Arrested in Chicago Prostitution Ring

chicago prostitution ringOn Wednesday August 24, 9 people were charged in a “major” Chicago prostitution ring.

The ring recruited women, some as young as 12-years-old, from Chicago, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and forced them to perform sex acts for money. The girls were forced to work long hours on a daily basis and had to give all the money they earned to their pimps. If they resisted, the women were beaten, branded with tattoos, and thrown into car trunks. This sounds remarkably similar to the Minnesota Somali Prostitution Ring that was busted earlier this year.

The bust is the result of an 18 month long undercover police sting called “Operation Little Girl Lost.” The operation consisted of numerous phone tappings that caught incriminating conversations on tape.

“Gang members are not just selling drugs any longer. They’re selling children and young women for sex right here in our own backyard,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “These offenders first prey on their vulnerabilities such as poverty, homelessness or addiction and then force them into a violent and demeaning cycle of violence.”

The meetings were mostly arranged via the internet, where most prostitution soliciting has moved in recent years. The girls were then taken to homes and hotels and forced into prostitution. They also provided the women with marijuana and ecstacy.

The 9 arrested, 8 men and 1 woman, have been charged with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor and human trafficking. Almost all of them have ties to Chicago gangs. They face bail of $400,000 to $1 million. No word yet on potential penalties.

Read our Prostitution blog series for more information on prostitution laws and consequences.

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Physical Control: How to get a DWI without Driving

physical controlEveryone knows that it is a crime to drive or operate a motor vehicle when under the influence of alcohol. Minnesota DWI law states that you may not get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

The law also states however, that no driver may be in “physical control” of a motor vehicle, and this is what tends to be the source of confusion. Sure, people are aware that if they drive after consuming alcohol they can be facing serious legal ramifications, but the same rules apply even if you are not actually driving at the time of incident. The term “physical control” is much more comprehensive than the terms “drive” or “operate” and it is crucial to understand exactly what physical control encompasses.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has defined the term “physical control” in the broadest way possible.

Because the issue of physical control is case sensitive, courts will always take into account a number of factors surrounding the incident including:

  • Proximity of the accused to the car
  • Whether or not the accused was a passenger
  • The ownership of the car
  • Whether or not the car was operable at the time of the offense

The public policy of strictly preventing drunk driving must be weighed against the driver’s intent. The law is meant to encourage impaired persons in every circumstance to give control of their vehicle to an unimpaired driver.

Take for instance a situation where you are asleep in your car after a night of drinking, with your keys in the vehicle’s console. If a police officer were to pull up next to you, you could be arrested and charged with a DWI even though you were in no way “operating” the vehicle. The logic behind this is that without much difficulty, you would be able to start your vehicle and potentially become a source of danger to yourself, others, or property.

It is imperative to understand Minnesota DWI law in its entirety to realize the risk associated with driving under the influence.

Canadian Police Complete Investigation of Bruins’ Chara

Chara HitMontreal police have completed their investigation of Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara for his brutal hit on the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty last March.

The incident occurred during a regular season game between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. The hit left Chara with a concussion and a cracked vertebra, and sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He is expected to make a full recovery and be back on the ice next season.

Montreal called for an investigation shortly after the hit when it was revealed that the NHL would not suspend Chara for his actions. The police investigation has been completed and passed onto prosecutors, who will decide whether or not to prosecute Chara.

In order to successfully charge Chara with assault in this case, the prosecution would have to prove that he had intent to cause Pacioretty harm and/or injury with the hit. This could be a tricky case to make.

Police interviewed Chara about the incident after he and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.

Check out video of Chara’s hit.

Do you think the police investigation of Chara was warranted? Should he be charged with assault? Sound off in the comments section.

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Father and Son Arrested in Palin Stalking Case

Palin stalkingTwo Pennsylvanian men were arrested on Thursday for stalking Sarah Palin, her family, and attorneys.

Craig Christy, 47, and his 19-year-old son, Shawn, were arrested by the FBI in Allentown, Pa. They are currently being held and will soon be sent to Alaska to face charges. The pair has allegedly been harassing members of Palin’s family, as well as her lawyers and employees at the law firm.

“There’s a level of obsession here that elevates the conduct from merely creepy to truly threatening,” said Assistant US Attorney, John Gallagher.

Karen Christy, wife and mother to the accused men, claims that the Palins have been persecuting her family for years. She says that Sarah Palin and her daughter Willow sent Shawn sexually explicit text messages in 2009, and that authorities haven’t taken action because of the Palin family’s political status. Ms. Palin denies these claims.

The situation peaked when Shawn and Craig made numerous phone calls to Palin’s attorney trying to locate the original copy of a letter threatening Willow Palin that was submitted as evidence against Shawn.

“We’re obsessed because we’re just trying to get the truth out there, and we’re just trying to defend ourselves in the only way we can,” Karen Christy said.

Sarah Palin was the 2008 vice presidential candidate, and is a possible presidential candidate for the 2012 election.

Is this case perhaps politically motivated?

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Casey Anthony’s Attorney Investigated by State Bar

Jose Baez, Casey AnthonyJose Baez, the defense attorney who successfully defended Casey Anthony’s murder trial, is now under investigation by the Florida State Bar for unethical practices.

The problem stems from a mix up in the sentencing for Casey’s 2010 check fraud conviction. Judge Belvin Perry Jr. recently ordered Anthony back to Florida to serve probation. Baez argues that Anthony already served her probation while in jail during her murder trial. Perry’s original sentencing order does state that Anthony’s probation could be served in jail, but Perry claims this to be a clerical error.

Baez and his team of defense attorneys have admitted to knowing about the clerical error, but say that it was not their responsibility to inform the court. Judge Perry thinks otherwise.

“The failure to abide by that order and the failure to notify the court of a known scrivener’s error in the order may be a violation of an attorney’s duty of candor,” said Perry. “No attorney should conduct himself or herself in a way that impedes an order of the court. Our system of justice should never be in the position of rewarding someone who willfully hides the ball.”

Perry has again ordered Anthony to return for her probation. In response, Baez has filed an emergency petition asking the court to overturn the Perry’s order and requesting that he be denied further jurisdiction in this case.

“This falls in a very gray area,” says MN Defense Attorney, Stacy Kaye. “It seems Baez didn’t take affirmative steps to hide this from the court, rather he simply didn’t mention it. This action is not commendable, but not necessarily wrong either. However, the fact that this case has so much media attention may result in harsher than usual sanctions for Baez and his defense team.”

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New Study Proves Addiction is a Brain Disease

Addiction DefinitionIn a groundbreaking study, scientists have proved that addiction is a chronic brain disorder, not just a behavior issue as previously contended.

This revelation leads to a new definition of addiction based on the brain disfunction. The discovery comes from a four year study by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) involving over 80 scientists.

“Addiction isn’t just a social problem or a moral problem or a criminal problem. It’s a brain problem whose behaviors manifest in all these other areas,” said Dr. Michael Miller, past president of ASAM. “Many behaviors driven by addiction are real problems and sometimes criminal acts. But the disease is about brains, not drugs. It’s about underlying neurology, not outward actions.”

The new research defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease that must be treated throughout a person’s lifetime, similar to diabetes. Addiction also affects reward circuitry in the brain, altering judgment and impulse control and leading addicts illogically pursuing rewards such as alcohol and drugs for their actions.

Experts have debated for decades over whether addicts possess a choice in their behaviors. This new study proves that addiction is not a choice.

Addicts do, however, have the choice to pursue treatment. Addiction is not a disease that can be cured by taking a pill. In light of this study, it is essential that attention be focused on helping addicts find treatment options. Throwing addicts in prison for their behavior is simply not a logical or productive option.

What’s your reaction to this?

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Drunk Man Arrested for Urinating on 11-year-old Girl on JetBlue Flight

jetblueAn 18-year-old man is charged with indecent exposure after urinating on an 11-year-old girl during a JetBlue flight from Oregon to New York last Tuesday.

During the 5 ½ hour red eye flight, the accused, Robert Vietze, stumbled down the aisle to go to the bathroom. He could not get to the restroom quick enough, and began urinating on a sleeping 11-year-old girl five seats down from his own.

The girl’s father returned from the bathroom and caught Vietze peeing on his daughter. He flew into a fit of rage and attacked Vietze. Flight attendants had to separate the two passengers and move Vietze to the back of the plane.

“I woke up to this man yelling and literally looking like he was about to punch this kid in the face,” said another passenger.

Vietze claimed to have consumed eight drinks. It is not known whether or not he was served on the flight.

“I was drunk, and I did not realize I was pissing on her leg,” Vietze said.

When the plane landed, Vietze was taken into police custody for indecent exposure. He was released soon after when the Eastern District of New York decided not to prosecute.

On the same flight, another passenger experienced extreme chest pains and vomiting. There was no doctor on board, so flight attendants did their best to comfort the man until touchdown.

“Nothing surprises me anymore!” says flight attendant blogger, The Flying Pinto. “The most bizarre, gross, rude behavior I have ever witnessed has been on flights. Flight attendants can’t be all places at all times, so we have to do our best to be situationally aware. It is difficult to make people behave at 30,000 feet, so we do the best we can with the resources we have.”

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Former IRS Agent Uses Badge to Recruit Prostitutes

IRS prostitutionAn ex-IRS man in Reno, NV is suspected of using his badge to lure women into illegal prostitution.

Reno Police believe that former IRS agent, Kemp Shiffer, recruited a young woman into a prostitution ring after police recently targeted an online escort service. While carrying out their investigation, police learned that Shiffer picked up an 18-year-year old female in Eureka, California and brought her back to Reno where he allegedly coerced her into prostitution. He was arrested yesterday.

Shiffer, 58, retired from the Internal Revenue Service roughly 10 years ago after accusations that he was using his badge for prostitution. No charges were filed in that case.

Prior to his retirement, Shiffer was the lead investigator on the Joe Conforte case. Conforte was a fugitive brothel owner who fled to Brazil after Shiffer issued several indictments against him.

In 2006, Shiffer and two other men applied for a brothel license, but were turned down. At least two other women were victims of Shiffer’s prostitution efforts, but police believe his operation may have been going on for the past 10 years.

“Unfortunately for Mr. Shiffer, his problems are looking to get a lot more serious than just the Reno police,” says Avery Appelman. “Although the kidnapping portion of the offense is only a state crime, trafficking women for prostitution and impersonating a federal officer will most likely be kicked up to the feds, bringing exponentially harsher sentences.”

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