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Friday
Jun072013

California Attorney Charged After Vegas Hotel Room Trashed

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department(LAS VEGAS) -- It’s practically a scene from the comedy The Hangover: A nice hotel room gets trashed by the end of the evening.

While the Wolf Pack from the movie was able to escape its worries by the end of the weekend, one California attorney hasn’t received such a happy ending.

“The room appeared to be in total disarray, the furniture was thrown about and what appeared to be glass debris [was] on the floor,” Jose Hernandez, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, told ABC News.

Robert Pearman, 45, has been charged with malicious destruction or injury of property of another after a night at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, and is expected in court in July to answer the charges, according to the criminal complaint and police report.

Pearman, through his attorney, declined comment to ABC News.

According to a criminal complaint, Pearman and five friends were partying in a $3,000, two-story, 5,800-square-foot room on March 30. The two-bedroom suite was equipped with hot tubs facing Las Vegas Boulevard, a massage room in the main foyer, nine-foot ceiling windows, and private check-in.

“Officers were called out to a disturbance in one of the rooms,” Hernandez said. “Upon arrival, officers made contact with the registered guest, Robert Pearman.”

The criminal complaint described “room items broken, and numerous food items were spattered on the carpeting, walls, floors and drapery with lamps, shades and a decorative vase were damaged.”

When confronted by police, according to the criminal complaint, Pearman appeared intoxicated and said, “I take full responsibility for what happened here, we were partying. I did all of this, I am responsible for all these people, let my people go.”

However, police alleged, Pearman refused to pay for the damages. According to the complaint, he “acted highly volatile as he yelled in Encore personnel’s faces, and state[d] that he is practicing attorney, and because [he] is an attorney [he] will, ‘depose Steve Wynn, and make this place Napalm.’”

Because of the amount of damage, Pearman was taken into custody and transported to the Clark County Detention Center. Officials wouldn’t comment on Pearman’s current whereabouts, though ABC News confirmed he is out of jail and back to work as an attorney.

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office said it does not comment on ongoing criminal cases.

A spokeswoman for the Encore Hotel said, “It is not our policy to comment on guests of the resort.”

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun012013

Boy Finds $10,000 in Kansas City Hotel Room

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- A curious 10-year-old boy rummaging through the drawers of his family's Kansas City hotel room came across a stash of $10,000, and he and his father turned it over to police.

It's not clear when -- or if -- they will get the money back.

Tyler Schaefer, 10, and his father Cody were staying at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Kansas City last Saturday when the boy did his usual searching through closets and drawers.

"He's one of those kids that likes to look for stuff," Cody Schaefer told ABC News affiliate KMBC.

Tyler hit the jackpot when he found the cash, but didn't get to keep it for long. His father turned the money over to two policemen who were at the hotel.

The police were just as shocked as the Schaefer family that such a large sum of money was lying in a hotel room. But they were also suspicious that no one has come forward to claim the money.

"Generally if someone was missing $10,000 someone would call back, but no one has called back," Capt. Tye Grant of the Kansas City Police Department told ABC News. "Wouldn't you think if you lost $10,000 you would get it back?"

The manager of the Hilton Airport Hotel refused to comment.

The Schaefers may eventually get the money, but it will be 19 months before they can be sure the money is theirs.

Under Missouri law, the Schaefers must file an affidavit within 10 days stating where and when they found the $10,000. A judge will confirm the value of the money, and send a copy to the clerk of the county commission.

The family must then wait 40 more days and if no one has claimed the money, the Schaefers need to put a notice in a newspaper advertising the unclaimed sum for three weeks in a row.

If the money is still unclaimed six months after the circulation of the last advertisement, then it can go to the Schaefers.

However, there is a one year period in which the owner of the money can come forward and expect reimbursement from the Schaefers.

Cody Schaefer does not seem bothered by the fact that he and his family may not receive the money, nor does he regret the decision to hand the money over to the police.

"We didn't have the money when we got there, so it doesn't change much," Schaefer told KMBC.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar272013

Sea Lion Caught Lounging at California Hotel

ABC News(LA JOLLA, Calif.) -- A sea lion with a taste for luxury, or perhaps just in a state of confusion, made its way out of the Pacific Ocean, up a beach and across a road before finding itself poolside at a California hotel.

The sea lion, a female pup, was first spotted around 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday by the overnight front desk worker at Pantai Inn, an all-suite hotel in La Jolla, Calif., hotel manager Shane Pappas told ABC News.

“I received an email while I was getting ready for work stating that we had a baby sea lion in our courtyard,” Pappas said. “I called and said, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Pappas had reason to be surprised because the hotel is located across the street from the beach, meaning the pup had to slither up a set of stairs to reach the road from the beach, then cross the road and then find its way into the courtyard.  Video captured by the hotel’s surveillance cameras show the pup did, in fact, make that trek.

When Pappas arrived at the hotel, he found the front desk attendant frantically calling officials from SeaWorld in nearby San Diego to come help, and the pup enjoying her poolside perch.

“The sea lion was sleeping on our chair in the courtyard and looking pretty relaxed,” he said.

When a SeaWorld official arrived less than an hour later, he and Pappas scooped her into a net and loaded her into a SeaWorld truck.

The whole rescue, according to Pappas, took less than 25 minutes, but it took that long because of the attention the unusual sight garnered.

“We had to stop for photo ops and the SeaWorld official did a Q&A with the kids staying on the property,” he said.

Now that the sea lion’s 15 minutes of fame have wound down, she will stay under the care of SeaWorld for the next six weeks to ensure she is in good health before being returned to the sea.

“We have a lot of seagulls and an osprey who visits but, outside of that, no, we’ve never had anything like this,” Pappas said.  “It was pretty unique.” 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Hotel Room Locks Picked in Seconds, ABC News Report Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A report by ABC News showing how easy it was to break into certain electronic door locks used by major hotels has prompted the Holiday Inn chain on Monday to announce a drive to "expedite" efforts to fix the locks.

The ABC News report included a visit to the Holiday Inn Express Times Square on 39th Street, where we checked in to a room and demonstrated a major security flaw that allows guest doors to be opened without a hotel-issued key.

The problem centers around a particular model of hotel door lock made by Onity, a company that describes itself as the "Worldwide Leader In Electronic Locks."  However, on one of its most popular models sold to hotels globally, hackers claim to have discovered that the company left a security port uncovered that allows them to open any of the locks with a universal key of sorts.

Nick Percoco of Trustwave, a security consulting firm, visited the Holiday Inn Express along with ABC News and opened a room we had checked into without a key from the hotel.  He did so by plugging a small device hidden in a magic marker into the bottom of our hotel door.

Percoco was not given previous access to our room.  It took less than two seconds to open our door.

"I can go down the entire hallway and unlock every single door," Percoco said.  "I would say millions of people worldwide would be at risk every single day until this problem is fixed."

Percoco said he was doing the demonstration for ABC News because he believes the hotel industry failed to properly respond to the threat after it was first revealed at a hackers conference earlier this summer.

Recently, videos have popped up across the Internet and on YouTube teaching others how to build a homemade device that can hack hotel locks made by Onity.  Percoco says he hopes his company's demonstration prompts the hotels to fix the safety issue.

He also took the device his company built to a nearby Hilton Garden Inn.  Once again, ABC News checked in to a room there and did not give him prior access.  He was able to plug the hacking device into our door lock, and gain access to another room within a matter of seconds.

The manager of the Hilton Garden Inn we visited told us he had never heard of the problem with Onity locks before.

"I'm not aware of it," he said.

However, after seeing video of Percoco easily breaking into a room of his hotel, the hotel manager expressed concern.

"I would be happy to bring this to Hilton's attention because this is a security problem, yes," he said.

Onity did not respond to a request for an interview, but told ABC News in a statement, "…the company is working with its customers to deploy solutions."

Hotel industry consultants have told ABC News there are two options hotels have been given to fix the problem.  One involves the installation of a plug that can be manually fixed to each door lock, blocking the access of hackers but also preventing door locks from being reprogrammed.

The second solution involves replacing a circuitboard inside each door lock, which to date Onity had told hotels they would have to pay for, even while the problem appears to be a product defect.

"Although the hotel industry does not think it is appropriate to incur costs around an Onity solution, each hotel is evaluating its effectiveness," Kathryn Potter told ABC News.  Potter is a spokesperson for the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

However, in response to new pressure from the industry following ABC News' report, Onity's previous hard line with hotels may be softening.

In a statement released Sunday to ABC News, the parent company of the Holiday Inn group of hotels, IHG, told ABC, "Confidential negotiations are underway between Onity and the industry regarding costs for any firmware upgrades required."

IHG also said, "It has been reported that Onity has an installed customer base of about 4 million locks at thousands of hotels worldwide.  Onity has notified the hotel industry that solutions to the problem are available."

IHG told ABC News the Holiday Inn Express in Times Square that we visited has now placed an order with Onity for the products that will help them address the problem at that location.

"The Holiday Inn Express New York City Times Square is awaiting delivery of Onity's solutions for their hotel's locks; and both the hotel's management and IHG have contacted Onity regarding distribution to this specific hotel," the statement said.

Corporatewide, IHG said, "We have advised our hotels to work directly with Onity to monitor, and expedite if possible, delivery of their lock solutions."

A spokesperson for Hilton Worldwide said, "The safety and security of our guests is always our highest priority, and we are working with Onity to investigate and address this issue."

Security experts say it is important for guests who are concerned about safety to increase their use of in room safes, deadbolts and chains.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun062012

Girl Said Bloody Syringe Pricked Her in Hotel Bed

Image Credit: KOMO News(LONDON) -- The Washington state hotel where a girl said she was poked in bed by a bloody syringe said it is conducting an internal investigation before deciding whether to waive the room fees for the girl’s family.

Emily Smith, 9, was pricked in her heel Friday as she climbed into the top bunk at the GuestHouse Inn and Suites in Aberdeen, her mother, Angie Smith, said.

“There were syringes, plastic bag, bloody bandage all underneath the mattress cover. We were really shocked and freaking out,” Smith told ABC News’ Seattle affiliate.

Hotel manager Angel Housden said the family was angry that their room charges had not been waived when they checked out Sunday. She said she does not have the authority to comp room charges and instead passed the information along to the owner, who she said is conducting an internal investigation to determine how the items ended up in the room.

“We not only clean our rooms daily but we also have a head housekeeper who goes in after and checks the work,” Housden told ABC News. “I don’t see how it could have been missed.”

Housden was not on duty at the time of the incident, but said the front desk staff notified her as soon as Smith reported it.

“The guest did not want an ambulance or police there, but I personally called the police and had them arrive [at the hotel] with me,” she said.

The Smith family declined Housden’s offer to move them to a new room and instead just allowed her to change their bedding, she said.

Emily, who was in town for a softball tournament, will have to undergo a year of blood tests before doctors will be able to determine whether she is free of HIV, Hepatitis B or C, her mother said.

Housden said she does not know the status of the owner’s internal investigation.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan092012

Woman Claims Hotel Gave Drunken Man Her Room Key

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York business woman is suing Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, claiming staff at one of their hotels gave her room key to a drunken man who allegedly sexually assaulted her in her bed.

Alison Fournier announced the suit Monday at a news conference with women's rights lawyer Gloria Allred.

According to the suit, Fournier was in her locked room in Hotel Kämp, a hotel operated by Starwood Hotels in Helsinki, Finland, on the night of Jan. 15, 2011, when she was sexually assaulted.

The man, who was "visibly intoxicated," had undressed, slipped into her bed, and proceeded to grope her naked body, the suit says.

Fournier, who is represented by Allred and the New York firm Cuti Hecker Wang LLP, is suing the company for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress for an amount to be determined at trial.

Fournier was traveling to Helinski for work and said that she specifically chose a Starwood hotel because of the company's reputation.

But instead of security, Fournier said she found susceptibility.

According to a release that Allred sent out, a man approached Fournier the night of the incident, expressing a sexual interest in her. According to Allred, Fournier had made it very clear that she was not interested in him and retreated to her room to get away.

That same man, according to the suit, later went to the front desk, said that he was Fournier's husband, and obtained a key from hotel staff to her room.

The staff did not ask him for any identification or proof that he was in fact Fournier's husband, according to the lawsuit. He then proceeded to her room and tried to molest her. She awoke, grabbed a housecoat, and ran screaming from the room.

She said that, because of the incident, she left her career and moved from New York to be closer to her family.

The suit alleges that there is no indication that Starwood has taken any action to investigate the incident at Hotel Kämp or to disassociate itself from the Finnish hotel.

In a statement given to ABC News by Starwoods Hotels and Resorts, Worldwide, the company said it is investigating the incident.

"The safety and security of our guests is our first and foremost priority. It is company-wide policy to ensure proper identification is shown and verified before distributing a key to a registered guest's room," the statement said. "We are taking this allegation seriously and are working with the hotel in question to understand the facts and any breach of security that may have contributed to this very unfortunate event. "

Allred said the case is representative of a bigger problem than a personal assault, because women, particularly businesswoman, have a right to feel safe when traveling and staying at well known hotels.

"Business women have a right to safety and security and especially need that safety and security when traveling abroad," Allred told ABC News. "They are particularly vulnerable when traveling alone. Starwood's negligence, misconduct and reckless disregard for the safety of Ms. Fournier has led to devastating and life changing consequences for her....They need to be fully accountable and make sure that this never happens again."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul012011

Ex-IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn's Accuser Under Fire

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been released without bail. Developing...

(NEW YORK) -- Manhattan District Attorney's investigators have uncovered significant issues with the account of the maid who claimed she was assaulted in a New York City hotel room by the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ABC News has learned.

Discoveries that the Sofitel hotel maid considered financial gain, had questionable relationships with at least one alleged drug dealer and other issues in her past prompted prosecutors to present their findings to the defense and represent a backdrop to a bail modification hearing Friday, according to law enforcement officials and other people familiar with the case.

While prosecutors were initially extremely confident in their case after Strauss-Kahn's May 14 arrest, as soon as they realized it was unraveling, they did what was proper and contacted the defense.  Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Strauss-Kahn and provided details about their findings, ABC confirmed.

It is likely the strict terms of Strauss-Kahn's bail will be relaxed by Judge Michael Obus at Friday's Manhattan State Supreme Court hearing, law enforcement sources said.

The unraveling of the case was first reported Thursday by The New York Times, which noted that the prosecution and defense are engaged in conversations that could result in dismissal of serious charges against Strauss-Kahn.  ABC News subsequently confirmed that information.

The holes in the credibility of the housekeeper led prosecutors to doubt much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances of the case or about herself, ABC News has confirmed.

The Times noted that among the discoveries, "one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering."

Prosecutors from the office of District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., plan to tell the court that there are problems with their case, ABC News has learned.  More details are expected to be presented to the judge, two persons involved in the case acknowledged.

According to The Times, "the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him.  The conversation was recorded."

That man, as The Times reported, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana.  He was among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, into the woman's bank account.

According to The Times, an official told the newspaper that "she told investigators that part of her application for asylum included a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application.  She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

High-Profile Sexual Assault Cases Shed Light on Vulnerable Housekeepers

(Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After alleged sexual assaults by two high-profile international businessmen in New York City in the last couple weeks, many are saying it is time to give more protection to hotel workers, especially vulnerable housekeepers.

"These working women are afraid if they complain about a guest they won't be heard, they will be ingnored, they will be shamed," Lorena Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Housekeeper Equality Initiative, told ABC News.

Former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held under house arrest in Manhattan after a grand jury indicted him on seven charges relating to an alleged sexual assault on a hotel maid at the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan on May 14.

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, 74, a prominent former Egyptian bank chairman, was accused Sunday of allegedly sexually assaulting a housekeeper at the posh Pierre hotel in New York City.

Sources say on Sunday at 6 p.m., Omar called to have tissues delivered to his $1,000-a-night suite. A 44-year-old hotel maid alleges that when she arrived at the room, Omar, wearing pajamas, asked her to leave the tissues on a table. He then allegedly locked the door and tried to kiss and grope her.

The maid said she told Omar, "I am not here for that," at which point he allegedly stopped and asked her for her phone number. After slipping him false digits, the maid said she was able to get away, and immediately reported the incident to supervisors.

Omar was arrested on charges of sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment.

Hotel union officials insist requests of sex, sex for money and even outright assaults can all go underreported because housekeepers, who often come from immigrant backgrounds, are scared to lose their jobs.

"They're put in a very difficult situation," Lopez said. "If they speak out, their job might be on the line -- the guest is always right. They're afraid to speak out and complain to management because they know they might be disciplined and might be found guilty."

Hotels also don't always act promptly to address complaints of sexual assault, she said. In the case of the maid allegedly attacked by Omar, the superintendant to whom she reported the incident only noted it in a log book. It was only after another supervisor saw the entry the next day that police were contacted.

Union officials say hotels should make sure housekeepers work with another person in close proximity, doors are left open during cleaning and maids have the option of wearing long pants instead of dresses.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan102011

Waldorf-Astoria Faces Another Bedbug Lawsuit

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York's famed Waldorf-Astoria has been hit with a third lawsuit, accusing the luxury hotel of not doing enough to prevent bedbugs. Unlike other recent suits, the Maryland guest seeking $10 million in damages claims to have been bitten back in August 2007.

The suit by Svetlana Tendler is the latest in a long string of high-profile cases against hotels from guests who say they've had bad experiences with the pests.

There was the $20 million suit in 2006 against a Catskills resort from a couple who said they got 500 bites while staying at the now-closed Nevele Grande Hotel. A few months later came another multi-million suit from a couple who said they got red, itchy welts from the insects after a five-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London.

Suing for millions of dollars is one thing; winning the case is something else. A successful bedbug lawsuit must show not just that a guest was bitten by the pests, but that hotel management had prior knowledge of the problem and choose to ignore it.

Waldorf-Astoria’s corporate parent, Hilton, would not comment on particular cases because of pending litigation. But a company spokesman said the hotel trains employees in the tell-tale signs of bedbugs. It also has a pest control service on retainer to perform appropriate inspections and treatments, if warranted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Five Found Dead in Florida Hotel

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/WPLG-TV(HIALEAH, Fla.) -- Police are investigating the deaths of five men whose bodies were found Monday afternoon at a Florida hotel.

The victims, described by fire officials as black and under the age of 35, were discovered in adjacent rooms of the Hotel Presidente in Hialeah.

ABC News affiliate WPLG reports that authorities are looking into whether toxic fumes from a car left running beneath the rooms are to blame for the men's deaths.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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