SEARCH

Wednesday
Sep182019

Iowa mother wants to press charges after video shows her son with special needs being beaten up

Drew Bloksberg/iStock(MUSCASTINE, Iowa) -- An Iowa mother is looking to press charges after her son with special needs was beaten up in the hallway of his high school.

Vicky Zhan is working with school resource officers at Muscatine High School to press assault charges after video of the altercation on Monday circulated throughout the school, she told Moline, Ill., ABC affiliate WQAD.

Zhan identified the boy who is punched repeatedly in the head as her son, Coby. She told WQAD he has special needs.

"You don't do that to a handicapped child. My child is handicapped," Zahn said. "He didn't even have the chance to defend himself yesterday ... at all."

The principal of the school sent out a letter to parents following the incident, saying, "when an aggressive act occurs, we intervene as quickly as possible.”

The boy who can be seen throwing punches in the video has not been identified, but Principal Terry Hogenson said, per protocol, they interview all involved in an altercation and involve police if necessary.

"No act of aggression is dismissed or accepted within the school setting,” Hogenson said.

Muscatine police did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment to say whether or not they had been contacted by the district.

It was not immediately clear what led to the fight, but Zahn said it doesn’t matter.

"I mean if they did [say] words, let's say they did, that's not a reason to do that to him,” she said.

"He was walking down the hall, going to his first hour class," she added. "This kid came running up behind him ... I guess he hit him. My son said, 'Dude!' And next thing you know it's pow pow."

Coby suffered a minor hematoma, a collection of blood that pools outside the blood vessels, and is recovering, according to Zahn. He returned to the school on Tuesday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep182019

Flash flooding strikes Texas, while Hurricane Humberto moves away from US

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Imelda made landfall Tuesday in Freeport, Texas, as a minimal tropical storm with winds of 40 mph.

No longer a tropical storm as of Wednesday, the system is just a heavy rainmaker -- call it remnants of Imelda.

The highest rainfall total so far was in Turkey Creek, Texas, just southeast of Houston, where a whopping 9.16” already fell.

Some outer bands of Imelda brought storms to Baton Rough, Louisiana, where gusty winds up to 70 mph flipped small planes at the airport.

On Wednesday morning, a flash flood watch continues for Texas and Louisiana, including the areas of Houston, Galveston and Lake Charles.

This remnant low will continue moving slowly north and bring more heavy rain to Houston, then north to Lufkin and into western Louisiana. Locally, an additional 6-10” of rain is possible.

Flash flooding is the biggest threat over the next 48 hours.

Hurricane Humberto is now a major hurricane with Category 3 winds of 115 mph as it continues to move away from the United States. However high surf will continue for the entire East Coast.

The tallest waves will be in the Carolinas, where waves could be as high as 11 feet.

Humberto is forecast to pass to the north of Bermuda Wednesday evening, bringing gusty winds and heavy rain. Just in case, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for the Bermuda for Wednesday evening.

Finally, a newly formed tropical depression in the middle of the tropical Atlantic Ocean has become Tropical Storm Jerry.

It's forecast to move northwest just to the north of Caribbean islands as it becomes a Category 1 hurricane by Friday.

The National Hurricane Center says there is no threat to land from this storm.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep182019

Officer seen striking 17-year-old student on video charged with battery

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept.(INDIANAPOLIS) -- An Indiana police officer who can be seen striking a 17-year-old student in the face on video has been charged in the incident and accused of lying about what went down, officials said.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Robert Lawson was charged Monday with battery after allegedly hitting the teenager “without a legitimate concern for self-defense” during the altercation at Shortridge High School on Aug. 29, according to the office of prosecutor Terry Curry.

Lawson is also facing additional charges of obstruction of justice, perjury, false informing and official misconduct after making false statements in official documentation, the office said in a press release.

In his initial sworn statements, Lawson allegedly said he threw an "open hand palm strike" because he feared the student was going to hit him.

Video evidence contradicts Lawson and shows him striking the teenager with "a closed fist and continuing to use force including a knee strike to the juvenile's abdomen or chest area," according to the prosecutor's office.

Lawson had also allegedly said that the student had "both fists balled up."

The incident began after officers were called to the Indianapolis high school to respond to a large fight in the hallway.

The 17-year-old had allegedly been involved in the fight and was being escorted off the property when his aunt, Danielle Pointer, arrived.

In the video of the incident that circulated online -- and has been shared more than 4,000 times -- Pointer can be heard yelling at the officers.

At one point, Lawson yells, "You wanna go to jail? You wanna go to jail?" prompting Pointer to respond with, "For what? Protecting my child?" according to the video and charging documents.

Shortly after that, the teenager steps up to Lawson and Lawson strikes him in the face.

The officer claimed the teenager had "both fists balled up," but the prosecutor's office said video showed that the boy's left and right hand were open and by his side when he approached the officer.

Lawson also said another officer witnessed the teenager "swing his fist" at Lawson. However, that officer later said in official statements she did not observe that.

Lawson turned himself in Monday. Calls to Pointer and Lawson were not returned.

John Kautzman, Lawson's lawyer, said in a statement to Indianapolis ABC affiliate WRTV, "We look forward to a full and fair review of ALL the evidence in this case, including the officer's observations, perceptions and training as it relates to the entirety of this encounter."

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said Lawson was placed on suspension without pay following the charges against him. Chief Bryan Roach is recommending he be terminated, according to a statement from the department.

The Indianapolis Public Schools released a statement saying they "are supportive" of the charges and will continue to monitor the situation.

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson put out an emotional statement the day after the incident.

"As a black woman and a mother of black children, it isn't possible to watch the video of the incident that occurred yesterday at Shortridge without immediately thinking about the other incidents in our country that occur between white police officers and black people, especially males," Johnson wrote on Facebook. "Often I am left feeling a number of emotions -- devastation often chief among them."

The teenager who Lawson struck was not taken into custody and no charges were filed against him, officials said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep182019

Sheriff plotted to kill deputy over recording of 'racially insensitive' comments: DA

Granville County(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday after allegedly discussing killing a former deputy who he believed possessed an audio recording of him using "racially insensitive language."

A grand jury indicted Wilkins on two felony counts of obstruction of justice for advising and failing to arrest a man with whom he had allegedly discussed details of a murder plot against deputy Joshua Freeman.

The plot was never carried out, and the supposed racially insensitive recording has not been found.

A joint investigation was carried out by the FBI and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation along with Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.

"I thought it was important for there to be some effort to get to what would motivate individuals involved in being recorded in this conversation to discuss plans to kill someone else," Freeman told Durham ABC station WTVD-TV. "That became the subject of this investigation and yesterday the Grand Jury of Granville County returned indictments against the sheriff arising out of this recording for obstruction of justice."

In a call from August 2014, Brindell was told by the unnamed person when and where he planned to carry out the killing, and Wilkens allegedly offered the man advice on how to get away with the murder.

"The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing," Wilkins allegedly said, according to the indictment.

It’s unclear what "racially insensitive" language Brindell believed was on the tape that he was so fearful would be released. His office is also facing a second investigation from the district attorney over "accounting practices and controlled substance interdiction efforts."

Wilkins was released on $20,000 bond Monday after appearing before a Granville County judge. He is technically not barred from continuing to serve as sheriff while the case is ongoing, according to Freeman.

His first court date isn't until Oct. 9, though, so the Granville County Board of Commissioners could vote to remove him from office.

He was ordered to surrender his passport and have no contact with the people involved in the case as part of the conditions of his release.

"It is something the public has a right to have diligently reviewed," Freeman said. "No one is above the law."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep182019

Colorado school training kindergartners to high schoolers to respond to an active shooter

ABC News(DENVER) -- Amelia Guana is 5 years old.

She believes in superheroes, but she also wonders about “a bad guy coming” to her school.

“That’s why we have lock out,” said the girl, wearing an orange flower headband.

In a classroom filled with smiling and giggling children, art work on the walls and brightly colored chairs, a new reality unfolded recently for Amelia and the kindergarteners of Pinnacle Charter School outside Denver -- a drill to help them deal with the specter of an active shooter.

Told to hide and be "quiet as a mouse," peek like a turtle to check if the coast is clear and follow their teachers like ducklings, the training had overtones of storytime. But at its core is a frightening reality.

"It's scary to think that there's never a safe place," said Cynthia Enriquez, whose son, Joshua Ruiz, a sixth grader at the school, also underwent the training. "You can't even go to the grocery store or send your kids to school or go to the movies without having to worry about, 'What if?'"

From kindergartners to high school seniors, all of the roughly 2,000 students at Pinnacle Charter School began this school year with a program teaching how to react in an active shooter scenario.

Active shooter drills are a growing and controversial part of the education system in the United States with an estimated 67 percent of districts conducting active shooter exercises, according to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). While many say the drills are necessary to confront the reality of the mass shooter era, others question their effectiveness and say that they stoke fear and create the potential for psychological damage unnecessarily.

'Unfortunately it's come to this'

The program, run by TAC*ONE Consulting, aims to give children the confidence that they'll need to make smart decisions quickly in stressful situations. Staff members at Pinnacle were trained, too.

The age-specific active shooter curriculum, with levels of intensity tailored to each grade level, was held in school the last week of August. Students were aware of the drills before they happened.

Joshua said he and his classmates practiced evacuating and barricading, as well as self-defense training and how to incapacitate a gunman if necessary.

"Shootings scare me the most 'cause school is where I'm at, like, 24/7," Joshua said. "So it's like, what if that were to happen at our school? But that's why we're doing this training so we know and can prepare ourselves."

"I had mixed feelings about the training. It's sad and it shouldn't be something our children should have to think about," his mom told ABC News. "It's taking away from their innocence."

Enriquez said she worries every day about her son's safety.

"Unfortunately it's come to this," she said. "Before school was a safe place, and that's where we were most secure about our children being all day. But now that, you know, the shootings and just the world being an ugly place, I think it's really important for them to have this, you know, knowledge on how to react."

Spate of mass shootings


Despite concerns the drills could shatter their innocence or stir up anxiety, kindergartners and elementary schoolers were included because the training is expected to build on itself over the years, said Chad Miller, Pinnacle Charter School's CEO.

For the youngest kids, instructors gingerly start the discussion by asking generally about how to stay safe in schools. Kindergartners are taught how to find a good hiding spot and listen to their teachers to evacuate safely.

"We start with a very open discussion," Joe Deedon, a former sheriff's deputy and SWAT team member who founded TAC*ONE, told ABC News. "We let them lead the conversation and it blows parents' minds, it blows teachers' minds... how much they truly know about the topic, even though we try to shelter them."

Miller says the kindergartners are spared from more detailed talk that might disturb them.

“We're not going to talk about people dying and active shooters and those types of things," he said. "It's a danger. And we need to all be on the same page and acting as a team so that we can keep each other safe."

Joshua said he watches the news with his mom because "you need to know what's going on... especially kids."

But knowledge doesn't always feel powerful. Joshua was scared to go to the movies for years after the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 his mom said.

"It makes me angry that I always have to think about this," Joshua said, "because every time I hear the [intercom] announcements [in class] it's like, 'What is it gonna say?' My stomach has a weird feeling 'cause you never know."

Mass shootings on the rise

The active shooter trend appears to be on the rise nationwide, according to FBI data, and six in 10 people are worried about a mass shooting in their community, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Of the 27 active shooter incidents in the country last year, four were at a high school and one was at a middle school. Those five school shootings left a total of 29 people killed and 52 hurt, according to the FBI.

There were 20 shootings each in 2014-2016 and 30 in 2017. But the number of casualties (killed and wounded) skyrocketed in 2017, according to FBI data, from 214 the year before to 729 that year. In 2017, a gunman opened fire on the Vegas strip, killing 58 and wounding 489.

Colorado is no stranger to school shootings.

In April 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, gunning down 12 of their fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves.

This May, one teenager was shot dead at STEM School Highlands Ranch, a Denver area charter school.

One of the impacts of the mass shooting era has been on emergency drills in schools.

About 95 percent of schools had lockdown drills in the 2015-16 school year and 92 percent had written shooting or active shooter plans in place, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But a lower percentage -- about two-thirds -- conducted active shooter drills per the GAO. As of the March 2016 report, nine states required districts to conduct active shooter drills.

"While our survey did not ask why certain drills were required more than others, Education officials told us that as part of emergency management planning, schools need to assess the likelihood of active shooter incidents, which present a smaller risk than other emergencies," the GAO report said.

The active shooter drills have sparked some criticism. For instance, in Indiana, "terrified" teachers were shot with pellets during a shooting simulation earlier this year.

A 2015 paper in the Children's Legal Rights Journal notes that legislation prescribing drills is "vague" and that "this discretion has led to a number of problems with heightened simulations that are often terrifying to the students, especially when those simulation drills are carried out without any advance notice from the school district."

James Alan Fox, The Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University, said that while he supports students talking through active shooter scenarios, drills are "overboard."

He says on average 30 students are killed each year commuting to school, like in pedestrian or bike or school bus crashes -- but bike helmets are not required in all states.

“Excessive security and overuse of active shooter drills can incite fear as opposed to alleviate it,” he told ABC News. “I don’t believe that it serves a good purpose to have kids repeatedly go through drills, even things like barricading doors and crouching in the dark, it’s just very scary for kids.”

But he does support drills for teachers. He made the comparison to airlines -- when passengers get on a plane many don’t pay attention to the flight attendant’s safety announcement.

“We all assume that the crew has been trained and if something bad happens they will get on the PA and they’ll tell us what to do,” he said.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes and critics often cite, school shootings are exceedingly rare with school-associated homicides "consistently" accounting for less than 2% of youth homicides, according to a study of incidents from 1994-2018. Of the school-associated homicides during that period, 90 percent only involved one victim, the CDC said in its report.

While the rate of single-victim homicides have stayed largely the same during that time period, multiple-victim homicides, the cases that tend to make headlines, have increased "significantly" from June 2009 to the 2017-18 school year, the CDC said.

Despite the rarity of school shootings, "they are devastating for families, schools, and entire communities," the CDC said and the number remains "unacceptably high."

Time for a change

Miller, Pinnacle Charter School's CEO, said after the STEM shooting he knew it was time for a change in preparedness. Kids regularly practice fire and tornado drills, Miller said, yet he feels an active shooter may be a more likely threat in schools today.

Pinnacle Charter School used to conduct mock lockdowns in the same manner many other schools do across the country, Miller said, but he realized that those drills -- led by teachers -- left students scared and anxious.

"It just made sense to bring in that empowerment piece to this," Miller said -- because if children are facing an active shooter, they must be decision makers, too.

Deedon said from his experience most schools' lockdown drills only teach students how to do just that -- lock down in a room. He said the problem with offering just one option is if locking down doesn't stop the threat, students tend to freeze.

"Whatever they do within the 15, 20 seconds of an event is gonna be extremely critical," Deedon said.

Instead of adding to students' stress, Deedon said, "Our training's gonna build empowerment and give them the confidence to make good decisions under pressure.”

Even kindergarten

As Pinnacle Charter School kindergartners sat on the floor of their bright-colored classroom, Deedon folded himself onto a kid-sized chair, leading them in a discussion on hiding spots and evacuations.

"It's very low stress, obviously," Deedon said. "They can still work together, and that's the biggest thing."

“We have been discussing how when bad things happen, that it doesn’t happen to everybody,” said Samantha Davis, Amelia Guana's mom. “I don’t like having to have them go through it, but with the world now I’d rather them learn at this age, ‘cause as they get older it’ll be easier for them."

“I think it’s a really good thing for them to start learning," she added. "It makes me feel more at ease knowing that they know what to do.”

Amelia’s kindergarten teacher, Tara Martin, has been at Pinnacle for eight years. She says the training has made her and her kids as safe as possible, but says she has seen how the threat of a school shooting weighs on young minds.

“It was right after we had a lockdown at our school and they asked if they were going to die,” Martin said. “It makes me want to cry I it. It gets you right in the heart, and you know just thinking that a 5-year-old can picture themselves have been in a situation where they're going to die or somebody's going to kill them is very traumatizing to you.”

'Zero anxiety, zero fear'

Meanwhile, older students were taught how to barricade themselves in classrooms and how to fight back.

In one fifth grade class, students were taught to work together to quickly pile desks against the door, in the hope the makeshift barricade would convince a gunman to move on.

“We teach them to identify the most realistic object that they could quickly move,” Deedon said. “We tell the kids, ‘hey it's not Hollywood, we're not trying to make this door bulletproof.’ All I want is 6 feet of stuff high and 25 feet deep, that weighs 800 pounds.”

They also learned a "calculated evacuation" to avoid "running blindly in the halls" in a panic, Deedon said -- the same way police officers are taught to move through a building without backup.

These skills can be applied beyond the school walls, Deedon stressed -- students can use what they're learning if faced with a shooting in a mall or movie theater.

The high schoolers' training also included examining decisions made by students during the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed.

"They can run that scenario through in their own mind and understand how they would react," said Miller. "Could this type of training helped in that situation? I don't know. But I hope it would have."

During the new training Miller said he saw a change on his students' faces -- "zero anxiety, zero fear."

"I think now you see a bunch of empowered kids walking around," he said. "They're engaged, they understand why they're doing this."

Though some may find the training extreme for children, to Miller, it may be lifesaving.

"Are we gonna bury our head in the sand and hope for the best?," he asked. "Or are we gonna give our kids the training so they're empowered, whether it's here or outside of here, that they can hopefully save their lives."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep182019

Grizzly bear attacks three hunters in separate incidents in Montana

AntonioGuillem/iStock(DILLON, Mont.) -- Wildlife officials in Montana are trying to determine whether the same grizzly bear is responsible for attacking three different people in two separate incidents.

The first attack occurred south of Cottonwood Creek at the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Dillon around 7:30 a.m. Monday, when the bear charged at two adult hunters, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Both men were injured but were able to drive the bear away and seek medical treatment at a hospital nearby.

The second attack on Monday happened around 6:30 p.m. in the same area, when two hunters were heading north toward Cottonwood Creek, wildlife officials said. One of the hunters was injured before they were able to drive the bear away and get medical attention.

The victims' injuries ranged from moderate to severe, according to the department.

While both attacks involved a single bear, it's unclear whether the same bear is responsible, officials said. Additional details of the attacks were not immediately available.

The department has asked hunters to leave the area and closed Cottonwood Road.

It also reminded those who visit the forest to remain cautious and aware of their surroundings, and to carry spray, travel in groups and stay away from animal carcasses to avoid encountering a bear.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep182019

Police responding to dispute fatally shoot man who lunges at them with samurai sword

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- Police officers responding to a disturbance at a home on Long Island, New York, fatally shot a man who lunged at them with a samurai sword, according to authorities.

Officers arriving Friday night at the home in Oceanside found a 36-year-old man in an altercation with his father, reported ABC station WABC-TV.

Police said the father was forced to called 911 after the son threatened the family.

"Two of our police officers arrived here, responded inside the residence," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told WABC. "The son was very distraught. He had knives in his hand, he then dropped those knives and picked up a samurai sword."

"The officers instructed him to drop it, they said it several times," Ryder said. "He then lunged at the officers and the officers fired shots."

A neighbor told WABC that the family had tried for years to help the son's emotional issues.

"The father is just decimated. It's terrible," neighbor Brian McShane told WABC. "Tragedy all around, really, for the family. Good people. And really just a disturbed boy."

McShane said the son had been "acting erratic the past couple of days. He went to attack his sister and then everything went to hell."

Ryder said that after the shooting, the officers performed CPR on the son and rushed him to the hospital, but they couldn't save his life.

"The dad was very supportive, understood and actually said the officers did everything they could," Ryder said.

The two responding officers were hospitalized for trauma, WABC reported.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Sep172019

Teen charged for threatening to 'shoot 400 people for fun,' police say

smolaw11/iStock(MCALESTER, Okla.) -- Police arrested an Oklahoma teenager with a semi-automatic rifle this week after she allegedly threatened to target her former high school and "shoot 400 people for fun."

Alexis Wilson, 18, was arrested at her home on Monday after allegedly telling coworkers at a pizza restaurant in McAlester, Oklahoma, about 90 miles south of Tulsa, that she purchased a new AK-47 and had the urge to shoot people, according to police.

The coworkers reported Wilson's comments after she left, claiming she had showed them videos and images of her firing the rifle and noted that "there were so many people" at McAlester High School, where she previously attended, that she would like to shoot, according to an incident report.

Officers with the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office said they found the rifle in Wilson's bedroom, as well as a 12-gauge shotgun, six high-capacity magazines and rounds of ammunition. She was charged with a felony for making a terrorist threat against the school.

"This is probably everybody's biggest fear in the United States right now -- a school shooting," Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris told ABC News in an interview Tuesday. "Lots of people don't want to acknowledge that this, an active shooter or school violence, is probably the biggest threat in America right now."

He said he was proud of his deputies for acting fast on the claims because all threats of this nature must be taken seriously in today's climate.

"There's no time to sit around and wait on it. I don't want one of my schools in my county shot up. I don't want anybody hurt," he said. "So when I got the information, I spoke with my deputies and I told them not to go home until they had it resolved and taken care of."

Officials at McAlester High School said Wilson dropped out during her freshman year and had previously been suspended for bringing a knife to school and having a swastika symbol on her belongings, investigators said.

Wilson told police that she had recently completed a program at a camp for troubled youth and tried to enroll back into McAlester High School, but they didn't allow her to, according to the incident report.

Investigators said she seemed "very upset" about not being allowed to return to school, but she denied being mad about it. She said she was previously angry about being bullied by other students, but not anymore.

"Alexis also then stated to me that she used to be suicidal and border line homicidal to the people of Mcalester School because she was bullied," one of the arresting officers wrote in the incident report. "I asked Alexis if she had thought about hurting anyone at the school and she stated not recently but she has in the past."

Wilson was being held on $250,000 bond at the Pittsburg County Jail as of late Tuesday. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Monday and is scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 27.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Sep172019

'It's a public health crisis and it ends today': New York bans flavored e-cigarettes

danchooalex/iStock(ALBANY, New York) -- New York state has banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing national concern about the safety of the products.

The ban went into effect after being approved by the state's Public Health and Health Planning Council Tuesday afternoon.

New York is the first state to enact such a ban, although Michigan lawmakers have approved a similar ban but are working out details.

This comes days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an emergency executive order banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

"It is undeniable that vaping companies are deliberately using flavors like bubblegum, Captain Crunch and cotton candy to get young people hooked on e-cigarettes -- it's a public health crisis and it ends today," Cuomo said in a statement issued after the panel's decision.



"New York is not waiting for the federal government to act, and by banning flavored e-cigarettes we are safeguarding the public health and helping prevent countless young people from forming costly, unhealthy and potentially deadly life-long habits," he added.

The governor made his intentions known earlier, calling for people to stop smoking e-cigarettes until more is known about their ingredients after a number of hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks.

At a news conference earlier this month, Cuomo said "common sense" would suggest that "if you don't know what you are smoking, don't smoke it, and right now we don't know."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Sep172019

Another parent arrested as part of Varsity Blues college admissions scandal 

LPETTET/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Another parent has been arrested in connection to the so-called "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal, this time for allegedly spending $400,000 to get her son a spot at the University of California-Los Angeles.

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that a Chinese woman based in Canada named Xiaoning Sui has been arrested in Spain in connection to her alleged efforts to get her son into UCLA.

Sui, 48, faces one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. She is being detained in Spain but the Department of Justice notes that authorities plan to extradite her to Boston.

The indictment, which was unsealed on Tuesday in federal court, details how Sui allegedly agreed to pay the college admissions scandal's alleged ringleader Rick Singer $400,000 to have her son be pitched as a soccer recruit to UCLA to gain admission to the school.

An alleged co-conspirator named Laura Janke reportedly made a fake soccer profile for Sui's son, who is not named in the Department of Justice news release and whose age is also not shared.

Janke is cooperating with the government's investigation and previously plead guilty, the release states.

Sui allegedly made two payments to Singer's fake charitable organization, the first for $100,000 in October 2018 and the second for $300,000 in November 2018, after her son had been admitted by UCLA and awarded a 25% scholarship, the Department of Justice release states.

This new arrest comes days after one of the highest profile suspects in the scandal was sentenced.

Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison, ordered to pay a $30,000 fine, and complete 250 hours of community service for paying $15,000 to have someone rig her daughter's SAT score.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







ABC News Radio