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Friday, November 30, 2012

Lois Ann Goodman Case: Murder Case Against Tennis Referee Accused of Bludgeoning Husband to Death Dismissed

NEW YORK - Citing insufficient evidence, Los Angeles prosecutors have suddenly dropped a murder case against professional tennis referee Lois Goodman in the death of her husband.

A judge dismissed the case Friday without prejudice, meaning it could be brought back.

Goodman, 70, was accused of bludgeoning her 80-year-old husband Alan to death with a coffee cup in April.

Authorities initially believed he fell down stairs at home while his wife was away, but later decided it was homicide after a mortuary reported suspicious injuries.

“The story of him falling down the stairs, although it may have occurred, it didn’t fit the evidence at scene,” said the LAPD’s Dave Storaker.

People who live next to the couple’s apartment in California said police knocked on their doors the night of Alan Goodman’s death.

“They asked about arguing, fighting,” Karen Clave said.

Members of the LAPD, working with NYPD officers, made the arrest in August outside the Sheraton Hotel on 7th Avenue in Midtown just before 8 a.m.

Goodman who was in New York to be a line judge in the US Open, was led out of a police precinct in the afternoon wearing her referee gear.

In September, her daughter spoke out in her defense.

“It’s insane. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s something that just can’t happen and it is and we can’t make two cents of it,” Alison Rogers said.

Rogers said her mother was a loving wife not capable of killing her husband of 50 years.

“They never fought. It was a great relationship,” Rogers said.

Rogers told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez she questions the timing of the Big Apple bust.

“She’s been in contact with police. They did not call her, tell her to come in. They waited until she went to New York, maybe to make two headlines,” Rogers said.

Lois Goodman spent two weeks behind bars, before being released on bail. She joined her daughters at a memorial to grieve her long time love. Rogers said reports of her mother was having an affair are untrue.

“She doesn’t know what happened. As far as I’m concerned she’s physically and emotionally not capable of doing something,” Rogers said.

The family sold a car, took out loans and maxed out credit cards to fund her defense.

Judy Gross turns up the heat to get her husband freed from Cuban jail

Almost three years after her husband was arrested and jailed in Cuba, Judy Gross still talks to Americans who haven’t heard his story. Now she is speaking more openly than in the past, hoping to make her husband’s case as well-known as those of other Americans who won freedom after being jailed overseas.

Alan Gross, a Maryland native and 63-year-old father of two, was working as a U.S. government subcontractor in Cuba when he was arrested nearly three years ago.

He was there setting up Internet access for Cuba’s Jewish community, and a U.S. official said this week he is in prison for no reason. But Cuban officials say he hid the fact he was working for the U.S. government and also illegally brought sophisticated communication equipment into the country. He was sentenced in 2011 to 15 years in prison for crimes against the state.

Judy Gross said her husband’s imprisonment hasn’t generated the interest level given to other jailed Americans. That includes three hikers jailed in Iran and two American journalists held in North Korea and later freed during a visit by former President Bill Clinton. Like Gross, all were arrested in 2009.

Alan Gross’ story is better known in Cuba and Latin America, but his wife said it has gotten somewhat lost in the U.S., possibly overshadowed by the presidential race and economy. Weekly rallies urging his freedom outside the Cuban Interests Section, Cuba’s presence in Washington, draw just a handful of dedicated supporters.

“I’m constantly educating people,” Gross told The Associated Press on Thursday night at her home in Washington.

Gross has had some high-profile attention, but it hasn’t brought him home. Former president Jimmy Carter met him during a 2011 visit to the country and discussed his case with Cuban officials. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited Cuba several months later and hoped to secure Gross’ release. But Gross stayed put.

Part of the reason Gross’ case isn’t better-known has to do with strategy. For two years after he was arrested, Judy Gross and her then-lawyer tried working quietly through diplomatic channels. They talked to reporters, but appearances were limited.

Earlier this year, Gross changed lawyers and began more publicly agitating for her husband’s release. In September, for example, 44 senators signed a letter to Cuba’s president calling for his release. A new lawyer, Jared Genser, wrote a letter to the United Nations’ anti-torture expert complaining about Gross’ medical care. On Friday, Gross spoke about her husband’s case to a room full of approximately three dozen journalists at The National Press Club in Washington.

“The quiet, diplomatic way wasn’t working,” Gross said during Thursday’s interview.

Gross also recently filed a $60 million lawsuit against the U.S. government and the Maryland-based government contractor her husband was working for at the time of his arrest.

The company, Development Alternatives Inc., was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government agency that provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide in support of U.S. foreign policy. USAID spends millions of dollars on programs to promote democracy and political change in Cuba.

Cuba sees USAID’s programs as a threat to its sovereignty, and Gross, who was on his fifth trip to the country for USAID when he was arrested, acknowledged in company reports that his work was “very risky business.”

Judy Gross said her husband should never have been sent to Cuba, and she believes it’s the government’s duty to bring him home as it would bring a soldier home from battle. She called on President Barack Obama to help. Right now, she said, her husband feels “totally deserted by his government.”

Cuba expressed willingness to talk with U.S. officials about the case as recently as this week, according to a letter from the government obtained by the AP. But the letter also suggested Cuba won’t release Gross without a similar gesture by the U.S. The letter again raised the case of the so-called “Cuban Five,” a group of men convicted of participating in a Cuban spy ring. But U.S. officials have said Gross’ case is far different and have rejected the idea.

For her part, Judy Gross said it’s not important to her what kind of deal is reached.

“Bring him home,” she said. “I don’t care how they do it.”


Four Orthodox Jewish men arrested for court pix of sex accuser

These alleged intimidators must think they’re judge and jury.

Four Orthodox Jewish men were hauled out of a Brooklyn courtroom and arrested yesterday after they allegedly used gangland tactics to intimidate a teen as she bravely testified about her alleged sexual abuse at the hands of a prominent Hasidic leader.

The sex-abuse trial of Nechemya Weberman was thrown into an uproar when the accused child molester’s supporters surreptitiously snapped iPhone pictures of the 17-year-old on the stand.

The four were nabbed after one of the images of the girl was posted to a Twitter account.   Weberman, 54, is accused of sexually abusing the girl over three years — starting when she was 12 — after her parents sent her to him for counseling.

A day earlier, the alleged victim was left trembling after Weberman allegedly glared at her through a glass door to the courthouse conference room where she sat during a break in her testimony.

Yesterday, the judge lashed into the four men — all members of the insular Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism in Williamsburg, of which Weberman is a leader — for outing the young woman as she testified about alleged sex abuse that prosecutors say Weberman made her endure during what were supposed to be counseling sessions.

“You know about the Torah, you know about rabbinical courts. This is a civil court!” Supreme Court Justice John Ingram thundered to the four men after they were caught.

“Your phones will be held for possible criminal prosecution. You may wish to avail yourself of counsel.”

Lemon Juice, 30, Joseph Fried, 23, Yona Weisman, 23, and Abraham Zupnick, 23, were walked in handcuffs from Brooklyn Supreme Court to the Brooklyn DA’s Office for questioning.

They were facing criminal contempt charges that could carry up to a year in prison, a source said.

“I didn’t take a picture,” Weisman protested weakly.

“They’re on Weberman’s side. All they want to do is give her hell,” fumed Sori Schlafrig, 18, a friend of the girl. “I think they should rot in jail.”

After the men were removed, Ingram ordered all spectators to surrender their phones at the courtroom door, adding that photos were also taken of Weberman and a defense attorney.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with you people! Turn off your phones!” Ingram railed.

“Now we have to take all their phones, just like in a gang trial,” said a law-enforcement source. “It’s the same thing you have with the Bloods or the Crips.”

Earlier in the trial, the girl testified that her father lost his business and her nieces were forced to leave their school after she came forward.

Yesterday, white paper was taped over the glass partition through which Weberman glared.

In June, four ultra-Orthodox men also were charged with trying to force the teen to drop the case.      


BDE: Yisrael Monk Body Found

Searches for renowned cantor Yisrael Monk ended Friday with the discovery of his body near the upper Galilee town of Tzfat.

Monk, of the Makor Baruch neighborhood in Jerusalem, had been missing since Sunday night. Hundreds of volunteers looked for him in Jerusalem and in northern Israel.

His body was found under a bridge in the Tzfat area. Police believe that he slipped and fell while walking along the road.

Last Saturday Monk took part in a Sabbath event in Beit El, in the Binyamin region, where he was awarded for his skills.

His funeral will be held at 2 p.m. and will go from the Shamgar funeral home to the Har Hamenuchot cemetery.   Boruch Dayan Emmes.....

Panel defers probe of congressman’s links to rabbi

WASHINGTON  — The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that Rep. Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent, is under investigation for possible campaign finance violations, but said it is deferring the inquiry because of a separate Justice Department probe.

The New York Republican may have violated campaign finance laws by soliciting and accepting prohibited contributions, actions that may have caused false information to be included in campaign finance reports, the committee said.

One focus of the investigation is whether the congressman improperly sought assistance from a foreign national — an Israeli rabbi — by soliciting contributions in exchange for offering to use his official position to assist the person in obtaining a green card, according to a committee statement.

William McGinley, Grimm’s lawyer, said, “Today’s announcement by the House Ethics Committee comes as no surprise. We appreciate the committee’s decision to defer consideration of this matter while we continue to work with the Department of Justice to favorably resolve the false allegations against Congressman Grimm.

“Any fair and objective review of all of the facts in this matter will conclude that Congressman Grimm engaged in no wrongdoing. We are confident that the Department of Justice and the Ethics Committee will reach that result.”

The independent House Office of Congressional Ethics had recommended dismissal of the case because it could not establish with sufficient certainty that a violation occurred after Grimm became a congressman.
However, ethics committee Chairman Jo Bonner, R-Ala., and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California said the panel previously has investigated conduct that occurred during an initial campaign for the House. The Office of Congressional Ethics is run by a board that does not include members of Congress, and can only make recommendations to the ethics committee — which has five members from each party.

“Based on this precedent, notwithstanding OCE’s view . . . the committee unanimously voted to continue to assert jurisdiction over matters relating to a successful campaign for election to the House of Representatives,” the Bonner-Sanchez statement said.

The committee said the Justice Department sought the delay in the House effort — as it often does — when conducting a parallel investigation. Following precedent, the ethics panel voted to place its investigation on hold.

Grimm, whose district covers Brooklyn and Staten Island, was first elected in 2010 with 51 percent of the vote. He was re-elected this year with 53 percent.

It has been previously reported that the FBI was probing money donated to Grimm’s 2010 campaign by followers of an Israeli rabbi. Agents last summer arrested an Israeli businessman with links to the adult entertainment industry who had helped Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from the rabbi’s followers in New York.

Some donors have said they broke campaign finance law by donating more money than allowed, or by funneling donations from foreigners who aren’t legally allowed to give to US candidates.

Grimm repeatedly has denied knowledge of any improper donations or any other illegal activity.

Stevie Wonder won't perform for IDF

Legendary singer Stevie Wonder, recipient of 25 Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, has canceled his performance at the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala on Thursday, December 6.

Representatives of the performer cited a recommendation from the United Nations to withdraw his participation given Wonder’s involvement with the organization.
FIDF National Director and CEO, Major-General (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, said in response: “We regret the fact that Stevie Wonder has decided to cancel his performance at an important community event of the FIDF, an American organization supporting the educational, cultural, and wellbeing needs of Israel’s soldiers, their families, and the families of fallen soldiers.

"FIDF is a non-political organization that provides much-needed humanitarian support regardless of religion, political affiliation, or military activity.”

The gala, chaired by FIDF National Board member and major supporter, Haim Saban, and his wife Cheryl, will be attended by over 1,200 FIDF supporters and dignitaries from the United States and Israel, who will gather to promote FIDF wellbeing and educational programs benefiting Israel’s soldiers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and maid who accused him of attempted rape reportedly settle lawsuit

NEW YORK — Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid who accused him of trying to rape her have reached an agreement to settle her lawsuit against him, a person familiar with the case said Thursday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private negotiation. The details of the deal were unknown.

Strauss-Kahn lawyer William Taylor wouldn't comment Thursday. Lawyers for the housekeeper didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages.

The person said Bronx Supreme Court Judge Douglas McKeon facilitated the agreement, which hasn't been signed.

The deal would end a legal saga that forced Strauss-Kahn's resignation as head of the IMF and ended his French presidential ambitions last year. Prosecutors dropped related criminal charges.

The housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, said Strauss-Kahn attacked her when she arrived to clean his upscale Manhattan hotel suite in May 2011. He said their encounter was consensual and called the lawsuit defamatory.

Strauss-Kahn, 63, initially argued that he had diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. A judge turned down that claim in May.

Strauss-Kahn said Diallo, who's from Guinea, had sullied his reputation with a "malicious and wanton false accusation." And when prosecutors dropped criminal charges against him, they said they had developed concerns about her credibility. But she said she told the truth about their encounter.

The charges against Strauss-Kahn seemed to open a floodgate of further sex-crime accusations in France, some going back years, against a man who had been seen as a randy charmer. He has acknowledged some "libertine" behavior but denied doing anything criminal or violent.

In August, a separate case against Strauss-Kahn that centered on allegations of rape in a Washington, D.C., hotel was dropped after prosecutors said the accuser, an escort, changed her account to say no rape was involved in the encounter when Strauss-Kahn headed the IMF.

Diallo's lawyers had long emphasized that a grand jury found there was enough evidence to indict Strauss-Kahn, and they said prosecutors cravenly discredited Diallo to extricate themselves from a daunting, high-profile case. The attorneys portrayed the lawsuit as her way of getting justice in another court.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said he dropped the case in August 2011 because he ultimately wasn't sure what transpired between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Diallo has done.

The New York Times first reported the agreement.

Nechemya Weberman Case: DA To Charge 4 Orthodox Men Caught Taking Pix Of Victim On Stand

Photo Credit:DNAinfo/Ben fractenberg

BROOKLYN — The sensational trial of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and counselor accused of sexually abusing a pre-teen girl was thrown into chaos today when four men seated in the court were arrested for secretly taking pictures of the victim and emailing them to friends and associates, New York has learned.

The courtroom drama erupted early Thursday afternoon when a 17-year-old woman took the stand to resume her gripping testimony against defendant Nechemya Weberman, 54, who she said sexually abused her repeatedly when she was 12 years old.

Court officers suddenly spotted men in the audience snapping pictures on their cellphones of her.

The officers privately alerted Supreme Court Judge John Ingram, who asked the jurors to leave the room and allowed the guards to ask everyone in court to hand over their cellphones and other electronic gadgets.

Images of the victim were found on phones of four Hasidic men, who were immediately arrested and charged with judicial contempt, a misdemeanor, sources said. It's illegal to take photos in a courtroom without permission.

The men — identified as Joseph Fried, Yona Weisman, Abraham Zupnick and Lemon Juice — face up to a year in jail if they are convicted.

“Court officers observed audience members taking pictures with cell phone,” according to a court report. “Some of them may already have been uploaded to the Internet.”

A courtroom photo of the victim was posted online Thursday via Twitpic by at least one Twitter user, who sources said is a Weberman supporter and whose identity is being withheld to protect the victim.

An 18-year-old woman who knows the victim and was in the courtroom said she did not notice the photos being taken but she was upset to hear what had happened.

"It's extremely disrespectful, especially in her community," the woman said. "It's hard enough for her to stand in front of Weberman."

The extraordinary development came the day after Weberman reportedly stood outside a conference room in Brooklyn Supreme Court where the victim was preparing to go on the stand, in an apparent attempt to intimidate her.

The explosive sexual abuse trial has sparked a controversial struggle within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community over whether members of the community should take any allegations of sexual abuse to outside law enforcement.

Critics allege that the refusal to go to law enforcement has allowed pedophiles and sexual abusers to flourish inside the tight-knit sect and escape punishment while their victims and their families are intimidated into silence.

Read more: DNAinfo

Michigan teacher is suspended for playing song about being gay

SOUTH LYON, Mich. - A South Lyon performing arts teacher hit a low note with school officials. She was suspended without pay for playing a song about being gay during class.

It was like any other day at South Lyon's Centennial Middle School. Inside Ms. Johnson's eighth grade performing arts class. Last Wednesday, a student asked if he could play a song.

"I asked him a few questions about the song. If it was violent, if there was any profanity, and he said no. And I said this sounds like a great song to go ahead and use for the class," said Susan Johnson.

The song is called "Same Love" written in support of same sex marriage. Underground rapper Ben Maclemore tackles the dangers of hate and stereotypes by showing the struggle of a homosexual man from birth to death. As Johnson listened to the song, she said she thought to herself this was something her students could learn from.

"This is one of the things in my school that we're trying to practice and we're trying to instill in our students is tolerance to diversity," she explained.

However, another student in class didn't agree with the lyrics, went to the office and complained. Before the school day ended, Johnson claims the principal and assistant superintendent told her she was suspended indefinitely without pay.

"I don't think that it was really even thought through," she said. "I was paralyzed. I really didn't understand why I was being suspended."

Assistant Superintendent Melissa Baker didn't care to elaborate.

"No one is going to have a comment for you. We don't go on camera here in South Lyon," she said.

"I'm very disappointed in the bias, the bigotry that I feel that they're really hiding behind," said Johnson.

During a closed door meeting, Johnson found out she would be suspended a total of three days, not paid for two.

Baker gave Johnson paperwork to explain why. The district claims the song had controversial content -- homosexuality, religion, politics views and a sexual slur. It also says she should have asked permission to play the song.

"I really love my kids and I never want to hurt them, but I also know that there's a lot of bullying and there's a lot of gay bashing and racial issues going on in our country and I want the kids to feel comfortable in my class no matter who they are," Johnson said.

Johnson told us the ACLU and Affirmation, the LGBT support group, are both getting involved. Johnson may be headed back to work on Thursday, but it seems this is far from over.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto to be Indicted

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto and his wife Devora are expected to be indicted soon on charges of bribery and money laundering, as an investigation that began last month appears to be in its final stages.

According to Israeli news sources CH. 2 and Globes , Rabbi Pinto reportedly attempted to bribe Brigadier General Ephraim Bracha, chief of the Police Investigation Division, who was investigating Pinto on suspicion of money laundering. Pinto allegedly offered the senior police official $200,000 in exchange for information regarding the police probe into his affairs.

Rabbi Pinto, a well known kabbalist, and his wife were both placed under house arrest in October and Mrs. Pinto attempted to commit suicide several days later.
As the investigation continued to develop, investigators arranged a meeting last week between Rabbi Pinto and Brigadier General Bracha, which according to witnesses, escalated into a heated and very vocal debate and only seemed to have strengthened the case against Rabbi Pinto.

According to Amir Dan, Rabbi Pinto’s communications advisor, Rabbi Pinto himself called for the meeting with Brigadier General Bracha in order to prove that the allegations being made against him are baseless.

האדמו"ר מסאטמר ביקש להקדים בואו - דלתא איירליינס תשנה את לוח הטיסות שלה

חברת התעופה דלתא איירליינס תשנה את לוח הטיסות שלה, במיוחד עבור פמליית האדמו"ר מסאטמר המגיע לישראל בעוד כחודשיים. מחצר החסידות נמסר היום (ה) כי החברה האמריקאית איחרה במספר שעות את הטיסה היוצאת מארה"ב לישראל, בשל הימנעותם של חסידי סאטמר מלהשתמש בשירותי חברת אל על שנתפסת בעיניהם "כאחד מסמליה של המדינה הציונית".

בעוד כחודשיים אמור להגיע ארצה האדמו"ר רבי זלמן לייב טייטלבוים מסאטמר. האדמו"ר, המתגורר בויליאמסבורג שבניו יורק, עלה על כסא האדמו"רות עם פטירת אביו, האדמו"ר רבי משה טייטלבוים, לפני כשש שנים. עם פטירתו של אביו התפצלה החסידות הענקית לשתיים, כאשר שני בניו של האדמו"ר, רבי אהרן ורבי זלמן לייב, החלו לנהל חצרות חסידיות מתחרות. עם זאת, הבן הצעיר, רבי זלמן לייב, נחשב לקיצוני מבין השניים לפחות בכל הנוגע ליחס למדינה הציונית בה רואה האידיאולוגיה הסטמרית "אם כל חטאת".   משך השנים שחלפו מאז התמנה לאדמו"ר לא ביקר האדמו"ר רבי זלמן בארץ, זאת לעומת אחיו הבכור שביקר בתקופה זו קרוב לעשר פעמים בארץ, אולם בעוד כחודשיים אמורה להינשא נכדתו ולכבוד החתונה עומד האדמו"ר להגיע לראשונה לישראל. החתונה אמורה להיערך בט"ו בשבט בעיר בית שמש, במבנה ענק שכבר הולך ומוקם במיוחד לצורך החתונה ואשר אמור לאכלס את עשרות אלפי החסידים שיטלו חלק בשמחה. יחד עם האדמו"ר מגיעה ארצה פמליה שכוללת כשלושת אלפי חסידים מארה"ב, ועוד כאלפיים חסידים מאירופה, ביניהם אילי הון נודעים שקשורים לחסידות שנחשבת לאמידה במיוחד.

החסידים דאגו מראש להזמין מקומות בטיסת דלתא איירליינס, שכן חסידי סאטמר "מתנזרים", כהגדרתם משירותיה של אל על, הנתפסת בעיניהם כאחד מסמליה הבולטים של מדינת ישראל.   אך עם ההכרזה על הבחירות בארץ השתבשו התוכניות. מתברר, כי בעקבות הודעת רה"מ על הקדמת הבחירות החליט האדמו"ר להקדים את בואו לארץ ביום אחד, וזאת על מנת שיוכל להשתתף ולשאת דברים בכנס המסורתי שאותו מארגן "בד"ץ העדה החרדית", הגוף המייצג את הזרמים האנטי ציונים בקהילה החרדית, ואשר נחשב לאירוע המרכזי של אוהדי שיטת ה"אסור להשתתף בבחירות הטמאות". הקדמת הנסיעה והשתתפותו של האדמו"ר בכנס אמנם מעצימה את הכנס, אך היא שיבשה את תוכנית הטיסות שכאמור כבר הוזמנו.

אולם עם כסף, כידוע, אפשר לפתור כל בעיה. לעובי הקורה נכנס משה לנדאו, עסקן סאטמרי רב קשרים, שהסדיר את השינוי בכל 3,000 הכרטיסים שהוזמנו, והם נדחו לשעה מאוחרת יותר וזאת כאשר לוח הטיסות שונה והטיסה התאחרה ונדחתה לחצות הלילה. בנוסף, דאגה החברה להעביר נוסעים לטיסות אחרות, כשכך התאפשר לפנות את מחלקת העסקים בטיסה שהועמדה כולה עבור פמליית האדמו"ר.

הופעתו של האדמו"ר מסאטמר בארץ מסעירה את הציבור החרדי, שגם אם רובו אינו דוגל בשיטה הסאטמרית אך הוא אינו מתעלם מקיומו. במפלגות החרדיות מוטרדים מהעובדה שהאדמו"ר מגיע לארץ לפני הבחירות, כאשר בכך הוא מדרבן המונים שלא ליטול חלק בבחירות, מה שישפיע קרוב לודאי על אחוז ההשתתפות של הציבור החרדי בבחירות שעד כה עמד על קרוב ל-90%; אחת ממטרות המסע המתוקשר של האדמו"ר היא תמיכה במוסדות המתנזרים מתקציבי המדינה", נאמר בהודעת חצר החסידות לכלי התקשורת.

האדמו"ר, כמסורת קודמיו, מביא עמו מיליוני דולרים שאותם הוא מחלק למוסדות שכל ייחודם הוא בכך שהם אינם נהנים מתקציבי המדינה הציונית. יחד עם זאת, בציבור החרדי מתייחסים לנסיעה במבט שונה", נאמר עוד בהודעה.

בכיר בציבור החרדי אמר ל-TheMarker כי "צחוק הגורל הוא שדווקא הסאטמרים שמתנגדים למדינה מזרימים לה מיליונים, ובהיקף שעובר את ההשקעות בארץ של כל החסידיות גם יחד. עובדה", הוא אמר, "שדווקא המאבק בין שני הפלגים הסאטמרים, הביא לכך שכל חסידות דואגת להקים מבני מגורים לאברכים ומוסדות בישראל, כאשר עד כה מסתכם היקף ההשקעה של הסאטמרים בארץ בעשרות מיליונים של דולרים".

ואם לא די בכך, הוסיף, "רק החתונה בבית שמש בה מושקעים מיליונים, שלא לדבר על 5,000 האורחים שמגיעים לארץ במיוחד לכבוד החתונה, מכניסה לארץ מטבע זר בהיקף אדיר. כך שדיבורים לחוד ומעשים לחוד".

בין האורחים שיגיעו עם האדמו"ר ניתן למצוא מיליונרים ואילי הון ידועים, שכל אחד מהם העביר בשנים האחרונות תרומות בהיקף של עשרות מיליוני דולרים. ביניהם: מרדכי קאהן ממונטריאול, בערל ווייס מלוס אנג'לס, אברהם משה מלון ממנהטן, אברהם וולפסון, אליעזר קסטנבוים, יחזקאל ברוך, האחים פרישווסר, האחים יאקובוביץ', האחים וויינשטוק בעלי מפעל הבשר הענק "מייל מארט".

San Francisco: Jewish Community Center evacuated after bomb threat

A bomb threat called in to the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon prompted the evacuation of the building in the city's Presidio Heights neighborhood, police and a center spokesman said.

The call was received at about 2:15 p.m. at the front desk of the building at 3200 California St., center spokesman Nathaniel Bergson-Michelson said.

The building was evacuated and surrounding sidewalks were closed but no streets were closed, police Sgt. Mike Andraychak said.

The building was deemed safe and the evacuation was lifted at 4:35 p.m., Bergson-Michelson said.  

Photo snapped by tourist shows NYPD officer giving winter boots to barefoot homeless man

A New York police officer's spontaneous act of kindness has captured the praise of hundreds of thousands of people across the internet.

A tourist from Arizona captured a heartwarming photo of Lawrence Deprimo kneeling down to give a barefoot homeless man a pair of winter boots on a cold night earlier this month.

The NYPD posted the photo on its Facebook page, an effort to show the softer side of the nation's largest police force.

Nearly 300,000 people have 'liked' the photo online. Another 65,000 people have shared it.

Officer Deprimo said he was patrolling Times Square in the heart of Manhattan when he came across the man, who was huddled next to a storefront with nothing on his feet, the New York Times reports.

'It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,' the officer told the Times. 'I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.'

Officer Deprimo said he talked to the homeless man and found out his shoe size: 12.

He watched the man stand up and walk slowly, painfully, down the cold pavement of the sidewalk on the balls of his feet.

The 25-year-old officer went into a nearby Sketcher's store and found a $100 pair of winter boots that he believed would keep the man warm through the winter.

The clerk, moved to the story, gave the officer his employee discount - 25 percent off.

Officer Deprimo said he keeps the $75 receipt as a reminder that 'sometimes people have it worse.'

Deprimo, who lives on Long Island with his parents, joined the force in 2010.

The photo was taken by Jennifer Foster, a 911 dispatcher from from Pinal County, Arizona, who was in New York for Thanksgiving.

When she got home, she emailed the photo to the NYPD, which posted it to the department's Facebook page.

She said she took the picture because the scene reminded her of her own father, a 32-year veteran of the Phoenix police department. She remembers as a child watching him give food to a homeless man.

'He squatted down, just like this officer,' she told the Times.

Shocking video catches Oklahoma police officer using TASER on woman in handcuffs

MCALESTER — A woman is suing the city of McAlester after a city police officer used his Taser on her while she was handcuffed inside the Pittsburg County jail.

Nakina Williams, who filed the lawsuit in federal court last week, is seeking more than $2 million in punitive damages, court records show. The entire incident was captured on video surveillance cameras at the jail.

The city of McAlester, officer Sterling Taylor-Santino and Police Chief Jim Lyles are named as defendants in the suit, which alleges that Williams' civil rights were violated during the June 24 incident.

Taylor-Santino, 33, also has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the Taser incident. The officer, who remains on the police force, has pleaded not guilty in Pittsburg County District Court.

According to the lawsuit, the officer used excessive force as he dealt with the handcuffed Williams, who is less than 5 feet tall.

The suit also claims that Taylor-Santino, who initially was not aware the incident had been videotaped, lied on a report he filed in connection with the Taser episode.

“In his ‘use of force report,' (Taylor-Santino) sought to cover up and/or conceal his actions … by omitting that (Williams) was handcuffed when she was shot with the Taser,” the suit alleges. “As a result he was found to have acted ‘within policy' by police department officials.”

Williams' lawsuit also draws attention to the officer's “violent work history.”

“During his law enforcement career, (Taylor-Santino) has been involved with and instigated a disproportionate number of violent conflicts with suspects compared to other law enforcement officers in Pittsburg County,” the suit alleges. “Some of these resulted in allegations of excessive force being made by the suspects.”

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Taylor-Santino said he had no comment about the federal lawsuit filed by Williams or the June 24 incident, referring all questions to his attorney.

Taylor-Santino did confirm that he is still a member of the McAlester Police Department, and Lyles said last month the officer would remain on restricted duty pending the resolution of his criminal case.

Phone messages left with McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak and Lyles were not returned Tuesday.   Jeremy Beaver, a local attorney representing Williams in her civil case, said the criminal charges filed against Taylor-Santino should bode well for his client's case in federal court.

“It just reaffirmed our position that she's a victim of a crime,” Beaver said. “We felt that from the beginning, so when they filed the charges, yes, that just confirmed what we've thought all along.”

Video of incident

The June 24 incident was captured on video and shows Taylor-Santino pressing a Taser against the woman's chest before discharging the weapon.

The video shows the officer stunning Williams at point-blank range, within 40 seconds of her entering the booking area.

Court records allege Williams, 27, was arrested after being drunk in public the night before and that she was being combative with officers before arriving at the Pittsburg County jail.

Williams has a lengthy history of trouble with the law in Pittsburg and Okmulgee counties, including arrests on possession of controlled substances, failure to provide adequate care for her children and public intoxication complaints.

After a brief argument — during which time Williams allegedly spit on the officer — the footage shows Taylor-Santino walking up to the woman and pressing the Taser against her left breast, nearly causing her to fall over.

A bolt of bluish-white light glows for an instant when the officer fires the Taser.

And while Williams never falls to the ground, her lawyer claims the more serious injuries occurred after the Taser was used. He said McAlester police officers violated the department's policy when they removed the Taser's barbs in the jail.

“They sat her down on a bench and yanked them out ... they were embedded in her upper-left breast, if you can imagine,” Beaver said. “They were supposed to take her to the hospital to remove those.”

Taylor-Santino was suspended two weeks without pay for using his Taser on Williams, police said.

Williams recently received a three-year suspended sentence for her actions in June, records show.

Taylor-Santino is due back in court Dec. 14 for a preliminary hearing conference.

NYPD: Lindsay Lohan arrested on assault charge

The NYPD arrested actress Lindsay Lohan at a nightclub in Manhattan after she punched another female patron early Thursday morning, according to police.

Lohan allegedly struck the woman in the face with her hand at about 4 a.m. at Club Avenue on 10th Ave. after words were exchanged, sources tell Fox 5 News.

Lohan told the woman "give me my space" as she sat in a booth. A short time later fists started to fly, sources said.

The woman had visible bruising on her face. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor.

The victim did not require medical attention.

Lohan is facing a misdemeanor assault charge.

Her publicist did not immediately return a call for comment to the Associated Press.

The actress- wearing a black coat over her head- was escorted out of the precinct at about 7:30 a.m. She was issued a desk appearance ticket.

The incident is the latest in a long string of run-ins with the law for the Long Island native.

On September 21, Lohan, 26, was arrested on a charge of leaving an accident scene after a restaurant worker said her Porsche hit him and hurt his knee as she turned from a Manhattan street into an alley by the Dream Hotel. Police said no alcohol was involved.

Lohan was released with an appearance ticket.

Prosecutors decided not to move forward on the allegations about the incident.

About a week after the episode near the Dream Hotel, Lohan told authorities a man grabbed her in a New York hotel room in an argument over cellphone photos. The man was initially arrested, but the arrest was voided hours later when the charge could not be substantiated, law enforcement officials said.

Last month, police were called to Lohan's childhood home in the New York suburbs after getting a report that she and her mother were fighting. Investigators found nothing criminal happened, Nassau County police said.

The 'Liz and Dick' actress is on informal probation for taking a necklace last year without permission from a jewelry store in Venice, Calif.; she spent 35 days on house arrest in that case.

Israeli to be extradited to Bosnia on genocide charges

Aleksandar Cvetkoiv

For the first time, Israel is to extradite an Israeli citizen wanted for genocide. The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Aleksandar Cvetković is to be extradited to Bosnia, where he was allegedly involved in a massacre in 1995.

The Supreme Court rejected Cvetković's appeal of a similar ruling made by the Jerusalem District Court in August.

Cvetković is suspected of taking part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in eastern Bosnia, in which more than 1,000 Muslims were murdered at the Branjevo Farm in July 1995, according to the Bosnian extradition documents.

According to the information received from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cvetković took an active part in the killings and was among the eight soldiers who served as a firing squad.

The extradition request, approved by the Supreme Court, included the testimonies of three men who confessed to have taken part in the massacre and who testified to Cvetković's active role in the atrocities.

A few years after the events, Cvetković married a Jewish woman and in 2006 the two immigrated to Israel with their children. He was granted Israeli citizenship for being married to a Jew and without the authorities having any knowledge of his actions.

Gal Levertov, director of the International Department at the Prosecutor's Office, said that according to testimonies, "For ten hours, he and the rest of his unit murdered hundreds of citizens, group after group that were taken off the bus, as Aleksandar and his peers – as hard evidence indicates – shot at the backs of those people, who were buried in a mass grave."

The Justice Ministry is expected to approve the extradition, after which Cvetković will be tried in the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If convicted, Cvetković will face a lengthy prison sentence.

This is the first time that an Israeli is extradited for accusations of genocide. According to Levertov, Cvetković will not be facing capital punishment, which made the extradition possible, as Israel does not extradite defendants who might face execution.

Bolivia - Prosecutor: Jacob Ostreicher's Probe Still Open

LA PAZ, Bolivia  — The Bolivian prosecutor overseeing the case of a jailed New York businessman allegedly robbed and extorted by a ring of corrupt government officials says the American remains the subject of a money-laundering investigation.

Prosecutor Carlos Robles told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his office is still awaiting a Swiss government report on whether funds that a Swiss partner invested in the American's rice-growing venture in Bolivia were clean.

Jailed American Jacob Ostreicher and defense lawyer Yimy Montano dispute that. Montano says the report arrived last month but a high-ranking government official prevented it from being entered as evidence. Ostreicher says that official was the ringleader of the alleged corruption ring arrested this week.

Ostreicher has been jailed for 18 months without charge and insists he is innocent.

Nechemya Weberman, Through A Glass Door

Court officers had to move an accused molester back into a courtroom in Brooklyn Supreme Court Wednesday after he appeared to menacingly stare at his teenage accuser through a glass door.

The 17-year-old girl was having a moment of peace in an interview room during recess in the trial of Nechemya Weberman, whom she has accused of sexually abusing her four times a week for three years starting from the time she was 12.

But when the beautiful teenager looked up, she saw Weberman, staring at her through the glass long enough to set the officers scrambling.

George Farkas, a member of Weberman’s defense team, was quick to call the menacing allegation “pure unadulterated bulls---.”

But Rabbi Yakov Horowitz told the Daily News, “I was there. I saw it.”

She was having none of it, heading calmly back to the witness stand in her Ugg boots and chic outfit, looking nothing like the covered-up daughter of the Satmar sect she once was. Now it was her turn to stare Weberman down, as she coolly answered lawyer Michael Farkas’ questions about a boyfriend she dared to have, known in court as Mr. S.

Farkas asked about her parents’ opposition to her romance.

What the jury didn’t hear was that the girl’s father, at Weberman’s suggestion, set up a video camera that recorded her lovemaking, and that the boyfriend was busted on statutory rape charges, later dropped. Weberman’s defense is that this girl, then 15, concocted her entire accusation in revenge for his betrayal.

It is difficult to imagine a girl more trapped in a free country. Weberman, 54 and a fellow member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, was not only her father’s business partner, he was her unlicensed therapist. Yeshiva officials sent her to him when she dared to wear sheer tights to school and write poetry. He insisted on seeing her four times a week, when the alleged abuse, including oral sex, took place.

There were no Satmars there to support the girl, but the court was filled with Lubavitcher and other Orthodox Jews.

“We are an insular community — with us it’s not six degrees of separation, it’s two or three,” said Ezra Max, a teacher. “So for children or young adults who’ve been abused, it’s an additional challenge for them to come forward.”

“I just think she’s so brave,” said a girl who identified herself as the best friend of the witness. “I’m just so proud of her.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NYPD officer gets prison for stealing guns

NEW YORK  - A former New York City police officer is going to prison. He admitted to stealing guns from police lockers and selling them to drug dealers to pay for his addiction to the painkiller oxycodone.

The Manhattan district attorney's office said Wednesday that Nicholas Mina was sentenced to 15 1/2 years in prison.

Authorities said Mina sold four stolen NYPD-issued guns to a drug ring. He made a plea deal in October.

Mina, his suspected dealer, and three accomplices were arrested in July.

He was an officer nearly five years and worked in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood.

NYPD Sergeant arrested on aggravated harassment charges

NYPD sergeant was arrested last night in the Gramercy area of Manhattan, authorities said.

John Randazzo, who works for the 115th precinct in Queens, was busted on aggravated harassment charges at 5:50 p.m., police said

The victim alleges that the 44-year-old sergeant made a series of harassing phone calls as well as sent her several text messages, police said.

The nature of the calls and texts is unknown.

This was the second NYPD sergeant arrested yesterday. Besemah Rogers, 42, was busted on assault charges after getting into a fight while boarding a charter bus on the Lower East Side.

The battle over kosher Jerusalem

Five Jerusalem restaurants are taking the city’s chief rabbinate to court after being fined between NIS 1,000 and NIS 2,000 for calling themselves kosher without formal certification from the rabbinate.

“This is harassment and revenge of the rabbinate against us without any reason or legal basis,” said Shai Gini, a co-owner of the Italian dairy restaurant Topolino in Mahane Yehuda, which was fined NIS 2,000, but does not call itself kosher in any of its materials or in the restaurant itself.

The five restaurants — Topolino, Rehavia’s Carousela cafe, HaSalon Shabazi in Nachlaot, Indian restaurant Ichikidana and the recently opened Adon Cohen in Talpiot — are being represented by attorney Aviad HaCohen, a lawyer for The Jerusalemite Movement social action organization, which is footing the bill for the lawsuit. The organization has been fighting the rabbinate with events called “Mash(g)iah Lo Ba,” (The kosher supervisor isn’t coming) in its effort to find a practical alternative to the rabbinate’s monopoly over kosher certification.

The rabbinate did not respond to calls, but according to Omri Sheinfeld, spokesman for The Jerusalemite Movement, the rabbinate was basing its fines on the references made to the restaurants’ kosher status on the Internet.

“The restaurants have a strong case because the law is written very simplistically, which makes it very open,” explained Sheinfeld. “The very first paragraph of the law states that if the restaurant doesn’t have a sign calling itself kosher, that’s okay. That simplifies the argument to be made in court.”

According to Sheinfeld, the organization had been waiting to see how the rabbinate would respond after their Friday protest several weeks earlier. It was a risky move for the rabbinate to slap fines on the restaurants, mused Sheinfeld, because if the rabbinate loses the case, it could change the entire face of the kosher certification industry.   “The rabbinate is very biased about how it decides to enforce the law,” said Sheinfeld. “In the haredi neighbohroods, there are quite a few restaurants that don’t have Jerusalem rabbinate certification. They have more stringent certifications, but they’re supposed to have Jerusalem rabbinate in addition to all the rest. It’s a double standard.”

The Chief Rabbinate’s office did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but Yechiel Spira, an Orthodox Jerusalemite who writes the Jerusalem Kosher News blog in an effort to warn locals and visitors about various nonkosher foods and restaurants masquerading as kosher, said just because certain restaurants don’t hang up their Jerusalem rabbinate certification doesn’t mean they don’t have it. In certain neighborhoods, the clientele seeks particular kinds of higher kosher certification, whether Badatz, Mehadrin, or that of a community rabbi.

“Hanging out the Jerusalem rabbinate certification won’t add to their business,” said Spira. “They may have it and be operating legally or may not, and then they will fall prey to the same issues.”

There are problems with the current rabbinate certification system, acknowledged Spira. The system that worked when it was first set up during the establishment of the state doesn’t work now, he said.

“Israel is a much different place today and the rabbinate system has failed to maintain itself as an organ of supervision,” said Spira, referring to the rabbinate’s mashgihim, or kosher supervisors. “People are getting paid and not doing what they’re paid to do, but you can’t destroy the entire system.”
The rabbinate, said Sheinfeld, believes the case has to do with their kosher supervisors, who aren’t seen as sympathetic characters. For the Jerusalemites organization, however, the decision has been to declare war and ultimately change the law.

“The ones paying the price are these restaurants, they’re the pioneers,” said Sheinfeld. “But it will become a national issue and will continue to be. Our lawyer says it will go all the way to the Supreme Court because each side has a legitimate side to appeal.”

No court date has been set yet.

“This is happening now because people are not doing what they’re getting paid to do,” said Spira, referring to the kosher inspectors. “I don’t think this is going away.”