By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for former Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger on Thursday filed a formal appeal of the sweeping 2013 racketeering conviction on charges of committing or ordering 11 murders in the 1970s and 1980s. The U.S. District Court judge who heard his trial committed a "constitutional error" by refusing Bulger's request to argue that he had been granted immunity for his crimes by corrupt Justice Department officials, the attorneys said in court papers. Bulger, 84, is serving a sentence of two life terms plus five years for what a U.S. District Judge called his "unfathomable" crimes while running Boston's "Winter Hill" crime gang. "That ruling constitutionally deprived Mr. Bulger of his right to present an effective defense to the government’s indictments, respond to the issues ... and stripped him of his right to testify about how he was able to avoid prosecution for almost twenty-five years," the lawyers wrote.
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania gun show vendor is seeking probation for shooting a woman while demonstrating a holster.
VENICE, Fla. (AP) — A small plane that crash-landed on a Florida beach, killing two people walking in the water, was not making any engine noise as it descended over groups of people the pilot was trying to avoid, federal investigators said in a report released Thursday.
By Gary Robertson RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - Prosecutors in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, rested their case on Thursday after showing jurors gifts they said were bribes from a businessman. Prosecutors led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber wrapped up on the 14th day of the high-profile trial. McDonnell and his wife are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for promoting a businessman's company. If unsuccessful, lawyers for the McDonnells will likely begin presenting witnesses on Monday.
Police on Thursday arrested two men suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting in New Orleans over the weekend that left two people dead and five wounded, including two toddlers who were shot in the head. The suspected shooter, Blair Taylor, 20, and the man believed to be his accomplice, Jeffery Rivers, 25, were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, police said. Taylor appeared to have targeted one of those killed, Terrence McBride, who was a suspected heroin dealer, police said. The other victim, 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson, was likely not intended as a target, local media reported neighbors as saying.
A New Jersey ex-con was charged with strangling his cousin and her 10-year-old foster daughter after the woman found him taking pornographic pictures of the girl, authorities said Thursday.
By Tom Ramstack FORT MEADE Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. military war crimes tribunal heard arguments on Thursday on whether to order a separate trial for a Saudi man charged with helping organize and finance the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, 46, argues his alleged participation in the attacks was less than his four co-defendants' roles and joint prosecution would violate his rights to a fair trial and to confront his accusers. “We’re seeking an independent assessment of guilt,” Walter Ruiz, Hawsawi’s attorney, said in the pre-trial hearing at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He told Judge Army Colonel James Pohl that prosecutors were lumping Hawsawi’s case with the other defendants as a strategy of seeking “a greater chance of convictions by association.” Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor, argued the defendants should be tried together because they had joined efforts in a conspiracy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS failed to do background checks on some private contractors who handled confidential taxpayer information, exposing more than a million taxpayers to an increased risk of fraud and identity theft, a government investigator said Thursday.
By Shawn Hubler SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - As California lawmakers moved a nearly $7.6 billion water bond to the November ballot, federal meteorologists said on Thursday that the state's ongoing drought has appeared to level off, though conditions remain "extreme" in 80 percent of the state. "Areas of dryness and drought remained unchanged," according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, based at the University of Nebraska, despite epic storms that have intermittently lashed parts of both Northern and Southern California. Torrential rains early this month triggered lethal mudslides and flash floods in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles, and thunderstorms both eased and complicated the work of firefighters battling wildfires this week in Northern California.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona high school teacher who feared she was too inebriated to drive took a cab to work, then continued drinking throughout the day until students alerted administrators that she was cursing and yelling at them, authorities said Thursday.
READING, Pa. (AP) — A mother of seven who was jailed over her children's truancy and then was found dead in her cell died of natural causes, a coroner ruled.
Police in Berks County are investigating a freak accident that killed a tree trimmer.
By Marty Graham SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Federal authorities offering a $5 million reward for a fugitive Mexican drug lord who killed a U.S. anti-narcotics agent in the 1980s have taken the unusual step of plastering his face on billboards in southwestern border states. Rafael Caro Quintero, the former leader of the Guadalajara drug trafficking cartel, disappeared almost a year ago after a Mexican court freed him from a Mexican prison on a technicality. Three months after he vanished, Mexico's Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Caro Quintero. Now billboards have gone up near the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, and Los Angeles, California.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police arrested two suspects Thursday in a drive-by shooting that left a man and a teenage girl dead and seriously injured a mother and her two small children.
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A white construction superintendent must visit the African-American Museum in Philadelphia as part of his sentence for waving a noose at a black man.
By Zachary Fagenson MIAMI (Reuters) - A federal jury acquitted a Miami-area mayor on Thursday on charges that he accepted thousands of dollars from FBI agents during an undercover sting operation. Former Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, 51, was arrested last August and pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and four counts of attempted extortion. "While we are disappointed with the outcome in this case, we respect the jury’s verdict,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. One of his attorneys Ed Shohat framed the investigation, which hinged on the cooperation of a lobbyist-turned-informant and the testimony of the convicted "bag man" in the case, as entrapment.
Philadelphia police are investigating an accident where a SEPTA train struck a woman in Overbrook.
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - The mother of a 6-year-old boy fatally stabbed in the elevator of a New York City public housing complex has filed a $281 million claim against the city, her lawyer said on Thursday. Prince Joshua Avitto was attacked along with a 7-year-old friend at the Boulevard Houses building in Brooklyn on June 1 as they returned from getting ice cream. The claim, filed on Wednesday by Avitto's mother, alleges that the New York City Housing Authority's negligent and reckless management of its property led to her son's death. “The NYCHA and City of New York provided zero security and protection, intentionally failed to install security cameras and surveillance monitoring and eliminated a tenants’ patrol that would have saved his life,” the mother's attorney, Jack Yankowitz, said in a statement.
A Southern California man, who prosecutors say stabbed and strangled his ex-girlfriend to death in 1979, was found guilty of her murder by a Los Angeles jury on Thursday, more than three decades later. Douglas Gordon Bradford, a 62-year-old engineer, was convicted by a jury of seven men and five women after two days of deliberations in the case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. Bradford, who was taken into custody immediately following the verdict, faces 26 years to life in prison when he is sentenced in October. Bradford's former girlfriend, 28-year-old Lynne Knight, was found dead in her apartment in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance on Aug. 29, 1979.
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - A defense lawyer for the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden convicted on terrorism-related charges in New York federal court said on Thursday that his client should serve no more than 15 years in prison. Kuwaiti-born Suleiman Abu Ghaith, 48, faces up to life behind bars after a jury convicted him in March of conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to provide material support for terrorists, and providing such support. The trial, which featured testimony from Abu Ghaith himself, offered an unusual glimpse into bin Laden’s actions in the days following al Qaeda’s attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people. Prosecutors accused Abu Ghaith of serving as an al Qaeda mouthpiece, recording inflammatory videos that the group used in recruiting.