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Thursday
Sep152011

Casey Anthony Owes Florida Nearly $100,000

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony was ordered Thursday to pay nearly $100,000 for costs incurred by police and searchers during the five months in 2008 that investigators searched for her daughter, Caylee.

On July 5 Anthony was acquitted of murdering her daughter but found guilty of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.

Casey Anthony claimed her daughter had been kidnapped by a babysitter, prompting a massive search for the girl and her alleged kidnapper.

On the first day of her murder trial, Casey Anthony’s lawyer said the girl was never kidnapped, but had drowned in the family pool.

Florida authorities originally asked Anthony to reimburse them for $500,000, but Judge Belvin Perry signed an order that was released Thursday requiring Casey Anthony to repay $97,676.98.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement footed the biggest part of the bill, spending more than $61,000 investigating Caylee’s disappearance.

The Orange County Sheriff spent nearly $26,000 and the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation claims expenses greater than $10,000.

The 25-year-old, who is broke and unemployed,  may be required to pay even more money to the sheriff’s department when the Ninth Judicial Court receives additional documentation from the Orange County Sheriff’s office later this month.

During a Sept. 2 hearing the State Attorney’s office requested reimbursement as well, but because Anthony was acquitted of first-degree murder and child abuse they will not receive compensation for the cost of prosecuting those charges.

Six-figure lawsuits from Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, the woman who shared a name with the fictional nanny Anthony claimed abducted Caylee, and EquuSearch, the volunteer search organization that hunted for Caylee, also loom on the horizon.

Casey Anthony is currently on probation for check fraud and has not been seen publicly since her acquittal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Robbie Romero: Teen Claims to Be Missing Santa Fe Boy

Robbie Romero was last seen on his way to a friend's home in the Bellemah area of Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 7, 2000. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- A teenager has told police in Santa Fe, N.M., that he is Robbie Romero, a boy who vanished more than 10 years ago at the age of seven.

Police spoke with the 18-year-old Wednesday night following a confidential phone call alerting them that someone was claiming to be Romero, according to detective Lt. Luis Carlos.

The teen told police he was indeed Robbie Romero and agreed to give a swab of his saliva for DNA testing.

Robbie Romero disappeared in June of 2000 as he was walking home from a friend's house. The case was treated as a missing person case and a homicide case, though a body was never found.

Police said that the man they spoke with Wednesday told them certain details that were significant before deciding he didn't want to talk anymore and walking away.

Carlos said that police do have some identification documents that match the man they spoke with, though Carlos would not say if those documents identify him as Robbie Romero.

"I'm going to have to remain stoic on that because I don't want to give the family a sense of hope or not. We can't speculate. We are cops and we have to know the facts first," Carlos said.

ABC News affililate KOAT reports that the man told police had been living in a neighboring state but had been in Santa Fe for years. He has not been questioned about who took him, according to the report.

Police contacted the mother of the missing boy, Evelyn Romero, and told her of the events. Carlos said she was reserved and did not want to get her hopes up at the news. Police have also heard reports that the man has met with Evelyn Romero, who was unsure whether or not it was her son.

Police are monitoring the current whereabouts of the man in case the DNA test comes back positive, in which case they will consider the case closed. The DNA testing was sent to multiple labs in Santa Fe to expedite the typically month-long testing process, police said.

Romero's older brother, Ronnie, was long held as a person of interest in the case, though he was never charged. He died of a heroin overdose in prison on unrelated charges in 2009.

In addition to Ronnie Romero's death, Robbie's father Rudy has also died since Robbie disappeared. Evelyn Romero has publicly criticized the Santa Fe police department for their mishandling of the case and their accusations of Ronnie.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Monroe Beachy, 'Amish Bernie Madoff,' Indicted in $16.8M Fraud Scheme

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(SUGARCREEK, Ohio) -- Monroe Beachy, a 77-year-old Amish man accused of running a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme, was charged with mail fraud Thursday after allegedly defrauding thousands of people out of $16.8 million over two decades.

Beachy allegedly told investors his Ohio business in Sugarcreek, A&M Investments, would invest in mortgage-backed security Ginnie Mae Bond Funds, but he put investors' money in government bond funds, individual stocks and mutual funds instead.

Thursday's grand jury indictment accuses Beachy of mailing "false monthly and quarterly investment statements to A&M investors" in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere.

"As a result of Monroe L. Beachy's fraudulent conduct, approximately 2,698 people and entities, including but not limited to the Amish Helping Fund, sustained a combined loss in excess of approximately $16.8 million," the indictment stated.

When reached by phone, Beachy claimed he didn't know anything about the indictment.

"Several people have called but I don't know what's going on," he said.

Beachy also said he doesn't have a lawyer and doesn't know if he will hire one.

Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said Beachy "will be allowed to turn himself in."

He may be in court as early as next week and could face up to 20 years in prison.

Media headlines have compared Beachy to Bernie Madoff, the investment advisor who choreographed a $50 billion Ponzi scheme since the early '90s, because of the long period in which they both falsified positive returns to investors.

Beachy raised at least $33 million, according to an S.E.C. complaint filed in February.

As part of the S.E.C. investigation, Beachy filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2010 with a court in the Northern District of Ohio. Court documents indicated he has less than $18 million of investors' money left.

In an unusual twist, according to a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings filed by members of the Amish community, about 2,550, or 94 percent, of creditors were in favor of dismissal.

Daniel Miller, 55, of Sugarcreek, Ohio, was one of 2,600 creditors in 29 states, mostly from the Amish community, who invested money with Beachy.

"I think the Amish can do a lot better job for the creditors than what the government can do," Miller told ABC News in February. "Instead of the bankruptcy attorneys handling everything and dragging into the court system, they will take it and distribute it to the creditors involved. It makes more sense to me."

Beachy also filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy proceedings.

Miller said it is common for members of the Amish community to pool their money together, as they did with Beachy, and try to settle disputes among themselves. He said Beachy did not pocket the collected money, and instead lived a simple lifestyle, even with a horse and buggy.

Tim Warren, associate regional director in the Chicago office of the S.E.C., conceded that Beachy was not living an extravagant lifestyle, unlike other fraudulent financial managers.

"I think this case is unique because he was not pocketing investor money like other cases," said Warren. "Here, he wasn't."

Miller said he drives a car but still adheres to the principles of the Amish community of simplicity and generosity towards others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Susan Powell Search: No Human Remains Found After All, Officials Say

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah) -- No actual human remains have been found in the search for missing Utah woman Susan Powell, though police cadaver dogs did pick up scents at a desert location, police reportedly said, clarifying earlier claims that they had found remains.

Earlier, police said remains near Topaz Mountain in Juab County, Utah, were recent and were found in what they told Powell's father amounted to a "shallow grave."

West Valley City, Utah, Police Sgt. Mike Powell, no relation to Susan Powell, added that an anthropologist even examined the remains to ensure that they were not bones "of antiquity" that had been buried in the desert for decades.

But Thursday evening, authorities said they found no actual body parts where the cadaver dogs picked up scents. Police did not fully explain why they earlier said they had found remains.

Powell disappeared in December 2009 while her husband allegedly took their two children camping in middle of the night during a snowstorm and rainstorm. The campsite where he told police he took them is about 30 miles away from where officials reported the remains discovered.

The sergeant would not call the remains "bones," and said that whatever police found may not have been visible to the human eye. The alleged remains were found by cadaver dogs on Wednesday.

Two fresh cadaver dogs will be brought in to go over the patch of ground where the remains were found, and then a medical examiner was likely to be called to begin the process of identifying them, Sgt. Powell said.

Police are continuing their search throughout the desert around the base of Mount Topaz.

Susan Powell's husband Josh Powell, 35, released a statement after officials claimed to discover remains that read, "With very little information available to the public, we can only hope that additional information is released quickly to minimize heartache to those of us who love Susan. In the meantime, we continue to hope for Susan's safe return."

The husband is the only person whom the police have identified as a person of interest in his wife's disappearance.

Josh Powell said he has never been to the area where the remains may have been found. The area is a popular place where people go to hunt for gems and stones.

Throughout the nearly two-year ordeal, Josh Powell has continued to proclaim his innocence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Elisa Baker to Serve At Least 14 Years in Prison for Zahra's Murder

Catawba County Sheriff's Office(HICKORY, N.C.) -- Elisa Baker will serve at least 14 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to second-degree murder of her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Zahra Baker.

As a part of her plea agreement, Baker admitted to killing Zahra as well as attempting to inhibit the investigation by planting a fake ransom note at the family’s home in October of 2010.

The biological parents of Zahra Baker begged Elisa Baker, the stepmother who pleaded guilty to killing and dismembering the disabled North Carolina girl, to tell them the location of the rest of Zahra's remains.

Elisa Baker, 43, was sentenced Thursday to between 14 and 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. She was charged with 10-year-old Zahra's murder in February. She also pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice, bigamy, obtaining property under false pretenses and identity theft.

Zahra Baker had a short, brutal life. She lost a leg and much of her hearing in two bouts with bone cancer, and relatives and friends say she was abused and frequently bruised by her stepmother.
She was reported missing on Oct. 9, 2010. Her prosthetic leg was found Oct. 27, 2010. Portions of her dismembered remains were later found, but her skull, her hands, one leg and an arm are still missing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Motorcyclist Pulled from Under Car Cried Over Bike

ABC News (MURRAY, Utah) -- Brandon Wright, the biker who was pulled from beneath a car lifted by bystanders, told a news conference Thursday that he was glad to be alive but that he cried over his mangled bike.

The scene of students and construction workers rushing over to lift the BMW Monday while flames shot out of the burning motorcycle jammed under the car's front fender captured the country's attention. Wright's unconscious body was dragged from under the vehicle.

Wright, 21, held a news conference at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, Thursday thanking his rescuers, who he called heroes.

Wright suffered injuries to his right leg and burns on his left leg, but no damage to his head despite his lack of a helmet. Doctors said a head injury would make it harder for him to survive.

His eye was visibly swollen and blood shot during the press conference. He thanked his family, and said his mother and girlfriend had not left his hospital room since the accident.

A habitual adventure-seeker, Wright said he would not give up motorcycle riding, but would be more careful, including wearing a helmet. He even intended to promote motorycycle safety.

Wright said it "wasn't a particularly good bike," but it had been his first bike, hanging on to it even as he bought and sold other motorcycles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Question Remains: Who Financed the 9/11 Attacks?

Robert Giroux/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 and six months after the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, questions still remain regarding who funded the attacks that led to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

The latest legal pursuit is that of an insurance syndicate of British insurer Lloyd's, which says the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its banks and various charities should be financially responsible for the $215 million it paid in insurance settlements to 9/11 victims' families.

William Doyle's family is one of the families determined to find those who funded the attacks on 9/11. Doyle's son, Joseph, was killed in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

William Doyle says that there are "concrete facts" showing the majority of the hijackers' funding originated from Saudi Arabia. He said the government helped "shield" some of that evidence when the joint congressional committee investigating the attacks published a report in December 2002 and redacted about 28 pages.

Doyle and others believe names of Saudi financiers and companies have been removed.

Former Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, former co-chair of the congressional committee, has called on the government to reopen its 9/11 investigation.

Craig Unger, journalist and author of House of Bush, House of Saud, said there is widespread reason to believe prominent Saudis were funding terrorists through Islamic charities. However, the United States-Saudi relationship is "duplicitous from both sides of the fence," in part because Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil producer and exporter.

Despite unanimous dismissals of Lloyd's nine defendants in cases in New York, the insurer's suit, filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania on Sept. 8, claims "al Qaeda would not have possessed the capacity to conceive, plan and execute the September 11th attacks" without the funding.

Sean Carter, an attorney with law firm Cozen O'Connor, whose client is the Lloyd's syndicate, said the lawsuit seeks recovery for amounts that were paid to settle claims brought against airlines and security companies related to Sept. 11.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit lists nine defendants, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Red Crescent Society, which is associated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Civil Penalty Against Colgan Air

PRNewsFoto/Pinnacle Airlines Corp.(WASHINGTON) -- The FAA has fined Colgan Air nearly $2 million because the airline allegedly never properly trained flight attendants on how to operate the cabin fire extinguisher system.

Colgan Air, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Airlines, of Manassas, Va., allegedly allowed their flight attendants to work on 172 passenger flights without the proper training.

There are 84 newly-hired flight attendants who worked between Nov. 3 and Nov. 9 of 2009 after the FAA told Colgan that they had not completed the required training. After FAA inspection, they allege that the flight attendants were trained with fire extinguishers used on the Saab 340s, but not on the Q400s, which operate differently.

Colgan has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA's letter to respond.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Sgt. Dakota Meyer to Receive Medal of Honor; Grabs Beer with Obama

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- At a White House ceremony Thursday, Sgt. Dakota Meyer will become the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meyer becomes the 10th recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor in those conflicts; all but two have been presented posthumously.  Army soldiers Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta and Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry are the only other living recipients of the award.

The former Marine sergeant insists he is not a hero for repeatedly rushing into heavy enemy fire in an attempt to rescue four missing U.S. servicemembers pinned down in an intense hours-long ambush in eastern Afghanistan.

On Sept. 8, 2009,  Meyer was one of 13 American military trainers embedded with a unit of 80 Afghan soldiers headed for a routine meeting with local elders in the village of Ganjgal, located in a valley along the border with Pakistan.

Four trainers at the front of the U.S.-Afghan force were immediately trapped by the heavy enemy fire believed to be coming from as many as 150 Taliban fighters.

Positioned in a rear position when the ambush began, Meyer and other members of his unit used a Humvee to rush into the kill zone to try and rescue the four trapped at the head of their column.

Using the Humvee, Meyer rescued 12 Afghan soldiers in his first three attempts to reach the four trapped trainers.  He finally broke through to their position on the fourth attempt only to find they had been killed in the fighting.  Meyer then retrieved their remains.

In an interview with ABC’s Bob Woodruff airing Thursday night on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, Meyer says that if he was faced with the same situation again, “I would do it a hundred times” though he would change only one thing: ”I wish I could have kept them alive.”

He insists he is not a hero, but was only doing “what Marines do…I’m the furthest thing from a hero,” he says, “if this is what it feels like to be a hero you can have it.”  He adds, “What gives me the right to be standing here today and not their kids?  I feel like I failed them and I failed their families.”

Meyer wonders if the outcome might have been different if ”I had just done it on the first time on my instinct, maybe I could of got in there, made a difference, but like I said, you can ‘what if it’ to the max.”

Leading up to Thursday's ceremony, Meyer sat down with President Obama Wednesday for a beer outside the Oval Office.  During a call with the president’s staff in preparation for the ceremony, Meyer asked if he could have a beer with the president.  When Obama heard about the request, he invited Meyer to stop by.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Another FAA Partial Shutdown to Come? Senate in Stalemate

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The current funding for the Federal Aviation Administration expires this Friday, threatening to put 80,000 people out of work by Saturday, unless Congress sends a bill to President Obama.

But as of now, the bill does not have a way forward in the Senate with both sides pointing fingers at the other party, one Republican Senator standing in the way of anything moving forward, and the Senate majority leader all-but calling that Republican Senator a “dictator” for holding up the bill.

The House of Representatives passed a joint bill Tuesday to continue temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal highway, transit and highway safety programs.  Now in the Senate, the bill is being objected to by one Republican: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is upset over the funding that states must invest in surface transportation as part of the Highway bill, which is tied to the FAA bill.

But to make matters more confusing and head-shaking, the Senate’s $6.9 billion package to fund FEMA is also being dragged into this debate because of the Senate floor procedure.  The Senate on Tuesday passed a cloture motion to proceed on the disaster aid bill, meaning procedurally the FEMA bill must be passed first.  This basically puts a hold on the FAA/highway bill until FEMA is fully passed.  But, some Republicans, including Coburn have concerns over the FEMA bill, too.

As of now, unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were to set aside the FEMA bill and call up the FAA bill, which he likely will not do, the FAA bill is being held up, forced to be addressed second.  The FAA bill though has a deadline of Friday evening, when funds will run out.

Wednesday on the Senate floor, without naming names but clearly targeting Coburn, Reid likened his actions to a dictator in threatening to hold up the bill.

“We’re told this is going to be held up by the Republicans,” Reid bemoaned.  “The Senator says he doesn’t want to vote.  He just wants to hold the bill up.  He said if we put in what we got from the house and stuck his provision in that, I think he would be happy.  I guess anyone would, madam president.  It’s a pretty good way to legislate around here, be a dictator and say either take this or leave it that.”

Coburn is concerned about the programs designed to increase bike lanes and green space on the roads -- which is part of the transportation bill -- and wants the funds taken out.  The senator wants states to be able to opt out of the transportation enhancement mandate, and to have that change written into the bill.

Reid warned that if the FAA funding expires on Friday there will be about 80,000 people out of work by Saturday: 4,000 out of work for the FAA and about 70,000 who are working on airport construction jobs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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