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Friday, May 31, 2013

NY - Texting While Driving Violations to Cost Drivers More Points

NEW YORK — New York motorists are about to see the penalty for texting while driving increase from three points to five points against their driving record, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

That would make it harsher than the penalty for driving up to 20mph over the speed limit.

Cuomo said at Manhattan news conference Friday that he is also proposing legislation that would impose tougher sanctions against probationary and junior drivers for texting. Under the proposal, violators' licenses would be suspended for 60 days after their first conviction.

"We want the message to be very clear to young drivers: Don't do it and don't think about doing it," Cuomo said.

The penalties apply to any kind of cellphone activity while driving.

Cuomo said that as the father of three teenage daughters he knows how much young people love their phones, and he worries that they may overestimate their own driving skills.

"The inexperience plus the distraction can be a deadly combination. And that's what we want to stop," Cuomo said.

Ben Lieberman, whose 19-year-old son was killed in a car crash in which the driver was using a cellphone, joined Cuomo at the news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and said drivers "need to worry about the lives that are in their hands and not the cellphone in their hands."

State police will begin stepped-up enforcement of the laws against texting while driving on Saturday, Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said.

Cuomo said the number of cellphone-related car crashes in New York state increased by 143 percent between 2005 and 2011.

He said he spends a lot of time in a car and he sees New Yorkers texting while driving every day.

"It's amazing how chronic and how prevalent it is," Cuomo said.

Alexis Wright, Zumba instructor gets 10 months in jail for prostitution

ALFRED, Maine - A high-profile prostitution scandal featuring sex videos, adultery, exhibitionism and more than 100 clients drew to a close Friday when Alexis Wright, a Zumba fitness instructor who turned her Maine studio into a brothel, was sentenced to 10 months in jail.
Wright was sentenced under a plea agreement on 20 counts including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception.

Justice Nancy Mills extended wishes for success after the sentence was imposed.

"Based on what you have to say and what I know about you from your attorney, I know that you will succeed when you're released and that you will prevail. I wish you success," Mills said.

Wright's attorney said the defendant had a difficult childhood, witnessing domestic violence and suffering sexual abuse, before she met Mark Strong, her eventual business partner. She said Strong used her background to manipulate her.

Addressing the judge through tears, Wright said she felt relief when police raided her business on Feb. 12, 2012, because she wanted out. She said she intends to work when she's released to help other women in similar situations.

"In my eyes I'm free. I free from this. And I have an incredible amount of strength that I knew was in me somewhere. Now that I have the strength I want to encourage others to come forward. I want them to know that there's at least one person out there who'll believe their story, no matter how crazy it seems," she told the judge.

"It's my intention to stand up for what is right. When I'm out, I'm going to pursue helping people fight through situations that are similar to mine. I'm optimistic that something good will come out of this."

Afterward, she was led from court to begin serving her sentence.

The 30-year-old Wright was accused of conspiring with an insurance business owner to run a prostitution business in which she videotaped clients without their knowledge and kept detailed records over an 18-month period indicating she made $150,000 tax-free. She also collected more than $40,000 in public assistance.

The scandal in the seaside town of Kennebunk, known for its sea captain's mansions, beaches and New England charm, became a sensation following reports that Wright had at least 150 clients, some of them prominent. So far, those who have been charged include a former mayor, a high school hockey coach, a minister, a lawyer and a firefighter.

Wright was originally charged with 106 counts. All the counts in the plea agreement were misdemeanors, including three counts relating to welfare and tax fraud that were reduced from felonies.

Under the agreement, prosecutors will seek restitution of $57,280.54. Prosecutors say Wright cooperated with prosecutors and spared the state an expensive trial.

Her business partner, Strong, 57, of Thomaston, was convicted of 13 counts related to promotion of prostitution and was sentenced to 20 days in jail. The married father of two, who has acknowledged having an affair with Wright, was originally charged with 59 counts.

It came as little surprise that Wright opted to avoid standing trial by pleading guilty because evidence against her was overwhelming in Strong's trial, with jurors watching a video of her engaging in sex with a client who left $250, which she pocketed.

Prosecutors say paid sex happened in her studio, apartment and an office, where tenants complained about moaning and groaning.

Electronic evidence was plentiful because the two kept in touch via text, email and Skype, which Wright used to send a live video stream of sex acts to Strong. Videos also showed them speaking openly of ledgers, payments and scheduling.

Evidence unsealed after the trial indicated electronic exchanges in which Wright talked about the business goals: nine clients a week, 45 clients a month. They also openly discussed scheduling, insurance payments, her sexy outfits and clients' preferences. She even appeared to seek advice from Strong after encountering an unhappy client.

Business was running smoothly before it came to an abrupt end.

"I feel like this is going to be a good week," Wright wrote to Strong two days before the arrival of detectives with search warrants on Feb. 14, 2012.

Houston, TX - Texas Motel Fire Kills 4 Firefighters

Houston, TX - A fire that engulfed a Houston motel has killed four firefighters, and three people are missing.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Jessica Michan, says four firefighters have been kiled, while four others suffered chest pains or leg injuries. She also says three people are missing.

The blaze broke out just after noon Friday at a restaurant and club at the Southwest Inn on U.S. 59, one of Houston’s most heavily traveled expressways. 

Flames spread to the motel and were shooting from the roof before firefighters extinguished the blaze about two hours later.

The fire’s cause hasn’t been released. Phone messages with the fire department weren’t immediately returned.

Temperatures in the low 90s and high humidity hampered firefighting efforts. Smoke from the fire snarled traffic.

N.J. - Pilot Killed, Student Critically Injured After Small Plane Crashes

NEW JERSEY  - The pilot of a small plane is dead and the passenger is seriously injured when their aircraft crashed onto train tracks next to the former General Motors factory in Linden, N.J.

The two seat diamond airplane crashed nose first and then broke apart in the area of S. Stiles Road. The aircraft is a Diamond DV-20 Katana aircraft with two people on board.

58-year-old pilot, Craig MacCallum of Montclair, NJ, who was instructing a young male student pilot, died in the crash according to Linden police.

Airport officials say immediately after takeoff from Linden airport around 1:10 pm, the plane had trouble and it was barely able to clear the area's buildings. The plane apparently made a turn back towards the airport and called a mayday.

"They were unable to gain altitude. Shortly thereafter, they announced a mayday on the radio. The staff observed the aircraft flying very low and immediately called 911," said Paul Dudley, Linden Airport Manager.

Officials say MacCallum was from the Best in Flight Company based in Linden who tried to make an emergency landing on the site of the old GM plant, which is a large open space. 

"I'm sure he probably went to try to land in the field and, unfortunately, there was debris and he ran out of field," said Dudley. 

The plane crashed on top of an unused railroad track. Officials say both men are in serious condition and that the older pilot was in more badly hurt than his student.

One of the people was initially trapped in the plane and was extricated by emergency crews.

The FAA is currently on scene and the National Transportation and Safety Board has been called. Fox 5 has learned heat may have played a role since very hot air thinner less lift, 93 degrees at time of crash.

Netanyahu to spend another $350 million so every Israeli has gas mask

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking Thursday at a meeting concluding this week’s Home Front drill, instructed government ministries to equip all of Israel’s residents with gas mask kits. The exercise, called “Turning Point 7,” tested the country’s readiness for chemical and conventional rocket attacks.

Only 58% percent of Israelis have gas masks, and it is estimated that it will take NIS 1.3 billion (some $350 million) to cover the rest of the population. In addition, it will cost NIS 300 million (some $80 million) annually to maintain the kits.
Demand for gas masks has risen by 30 percent over the past two weeks, as Israelis have become increasingly skittish over the prospect of war breaking out in the north. The rise comes in the wake of two aerial bombings near Damascus earlier this month, reportedly carried out by Israel. An Israeli analyst said Thursday that Syrian-Israeli tensions are now “incendiary.”

Up until two weeks ago, the rate of demand for gas masks was a steady 2,000 kits per day, said Israel Postal Company spokeswoman Maya Avishai. Over the past two weeks the rate climbed by 30%, reaching a new high of 4,730 on Sunday.

All told, Israel Postal has thus far distributed a total of 4,800,000 gas masks and kits, said Avishai.
Facing the threat of thousands of enemy rockets, Israel’s home front is more vulnerable than ever, Netanyahu added at the meeting.

“We are deep in the era of missiles that are aimed at civilian population areas,” Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Emergency Economy Committee. “We must prepare defensively and offensively for the new era of warfare. The state of Israel is the most threatened state in the world. Around us are tens of thousands of missiles and rockets that could hit our home front.”

Netanyahu said that November’s Operation Pillar of Defense, during which Hamas terrorists fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza at Israeli civilian areas, was a small example of the change in the nature of the threats Israel faces.

In addition to training the military and emergency services, the three-day exercise also sought to prepare the civilian population. Air-raid sirens sounded twice, drilling the civilian population in finding shelter at home, work and school.

The prime minister explained that maintaining high public morale was a key element of national security.

“Defensive preparations, first of all, mean preparing the spirit of the nation to be steadfast in order to allow the military to strike the enemy that wants to destroy us,” Netanyahu said. “It is important to maintain functional continuity in the home front that is under fire. The Israeli home front is more accessible to the enemy than it has been.

“Defense demands many resources and this requires a change in our national priorities, including legislative changes,” Netanyahu added in an apparent reference to ongoing political turmoil surrounding a universal draft law that would induct ultra-Orthodox youth into the army.

“It is the responsibility of government ministries to work together and see to it that the vital enterprises under their purview continue to operate even in emergencies in order to create functional continuity in time of emergency,” said Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan.

The Emergency Economy Committee, led by Erdan, is composed of the director-generals of all government ministries, as well as representatives of other business and industry organizations. The committee is tasked with evaluating and ensuring the functional continuity of the economy and government ministries in times of emergency.

L.A. - Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger: The Jewish Community Should Deal With Molesters Just Like Murderers

Los Angeles, CA - The recent guilty plea of an Orthodox Rabbi to molestation charges in New Jersey as well as the District Attorney’s expressed hope that this case will encourage other parents of abused children from the Orthodox community to come forward to report crimes, beg the questions that have bothered me for years : Why is there such a reticence on the part of Orthodox Jews to put these perpetrators behind bars?

Why are threats of retribution aimed at the victims and their families if they report these crimes, when logic dictates that our wrath should be aimed at the abuser and not at the abused?

I recently read an article in the L.A. Times about Phil Jackson’s new book, and what he says in it about Kobe Bryant. Jackson writes that he harbored a deep underlying hatred for Bryant the year that he was accused of sexual assault, because Jackson’s daughter was a victim of a similar assault years earlier. That episode, therefore, hit Jackson close to home. 

It struck me clearly that the mere fact that Jackson had a daughter wasn’t enough to affect him deeply. The basic feelings of empathy and compassion that dictate revulsion at the mere mention of such a heinous crime were apparently beyond even beyond Phil Jackson’s capabilities.

I am not here to criticize Jackson, but could it be that we the chosen people, are mired in the same place? Do we hear the words “abuse” and “molestation”, shake our heads and move on?

Do we, Heaven forbid have to feel the pain personally before we react the way a parent of a victim would? Let me make a suggestion: let us rename these people “murderers” instead of molesters. From a religious point of view , that is exactly what they are. Killing one’s souls, in Jewish law, is at least as destructive as killing one physically.

In addition when a Rabbi or other religious authority figure invades a child’s world with abuse, he shatters the positive association with Torah that so significantly contributes to the child’s spirituality. 

When we compound the tragedy with intimation and cover-up, we bear the guilt of both pushing the knife into the hearts of the victims, and becoming accessories to the future murders of innocent neshamos.

I am not being overly dramatic. Listen to the mental health professionals and hear how much of a struggle it is to rebuild theses victims’ self- esteem and trust. Can a Jew come to love Torah when its representative has so ravaged his inner peace and self-worth?

The Torah commands us not to stand by idly as our fellow Jew’s blood is being spilled. 

This Halacha clearly encompasses more than actual blood: one’s mental and spiritual health are within its purview as well. 

Factoring in the intimacy issues that abuse raises later in life, the damaged caused is incalculable. Arguably, there is no greater single threat to a chid’s emerging Ruchnius than suffering the pain of sexual abuse.

So let’s stop focusing on the sterling reputations of perpetrators and their family members, who inevitably rally to the molesters side. Let’s stop nonsensically pretending that we are turning innocent people over to the KGB or the Gestapo. Let’s stop listening to the empty promises that it won’t happen again. Instead, let’s start looking into these children’s hearts and let us cry at the agony that we see.

Let’s look honestly at the fact that today as an Orthodox community we cannot manage our own house, and cannot promise that there will be no more victims. We don’t have the power. We don’t have the authority. And sadly, I fear that we don’t have the empathy.

Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger is a prominent Charedi Rabbi and noted speaker. Rabbi Stulberger has been the Dean of Valley Torah High School for 27 years. Serves as the President of the Yeshiva Principals council of LA and has served on the Halachic Advisory Board of Aleinu Jewish Family Services for over a decade.

Israel denies citizenship under Law of Return for British pedophile

Jerusalem - An man who fled Great Britain after pleading not guilty to seven counts of sexual assault on multiple children has joined a very short list of people denied Israeli citizenship under the obscure “Law of Return.”

The is reporting that Todros Grynhaus, 48, a former teacher from Salford, left Britain using a fake passport, only to be arrested in Jerusalem in February.

Invoking the rarely used Law of Return, which contains an exemption allowing the Israeli government to deny citizenship to a person deemed a danger to the public welfare, Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar rejected Grynhaus’ application for citizenship earlier this week.

Only two other men have ever been denied citizenship under the Law of Return.

Legendary American mobster Meyer Lansky was returned to the U.S. in 1970 for tax evasion, and American activist Victor Vancier, a devotee of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and the Kach party, was deported in 1994.

An attorney for Grynhaus said he plans to appeal the minister’s decision to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Ultra-Orthodox youth set to make history by being first haredi to enlist to IAF flying academy

In the midst of the political turmoil surrounding the universal draft bill, an 18-year-old ultra-Orthodox youth is set to make history by being the first haredi to enlist in the IAF's hugely prestigious flying school.

Becoming a flight pilot is a childhood dream for Y., whose father heads a Chabad center, and expected his son to follow the family tradition and devote himself wholesale to the study of Torah. "I'm proud to enlist in the IDF in order to protect the Jewish people in the most meaningful way possible," Y. told family members one month before the imminent draft.

"Of course the study of Torah is a supreme value, yet I'm out to show that being an observant Jew is not in contradiction with serving in the IDF's elite units. One can contribute in this manner too." Y.'s family was supportive of his choice.

"We don't mean to encourage all haredi youths to enlist in the army, god forbid," the teenager's father  told Yedioth Ahronoth. "We believe that just as the IDF protects Israel and it is a great honor to serve in it, the study of Torah protects the Jews as well.

"We need both soldiers and Torah students to protect Israel. From the moment that Y. decided to not continue his studies at the yeshiva we extend all possible support so that he makes it throughout the course, including maintaining his faith."

The IDF's three-year flying course is considered extraordinary in difficulty, and only a small proportion of applicants complete it.

Y. is a graduate of the first year of the Torah Leadership Academy, a special preparatory institution designed to facilitate integration within the military for haredi youths. "We are trailblazers," he told Yedioth Ahronoth a year ago. "The experiment is working. There is no other institution in Israel that provides these options to able haredi youths who don't fit in at the yeshiva, yet want to live with dignity."

Meanwhile, Y. is spending the weeks before enlistment by poring over holy books.

Menachem Mendel Levy, Pleaded Not Guilty For Sexually Assaulting A Young Girl

A naive young girl who did not know what the word “rape” meant because of her sheltered religious upbringing was sexually abused by the “monster of her living nightmare”, a court heard this week.

At a retrial following an initial hearing in October, the now-adult woman claimed she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped by Menachem Mendel Levy, 41, when she was aged between 14 and 21.
Mr Levy has pleaded not guilty.

Mr David Markham, prosecuting, said the girl had described, “two men called Mendy Levy”. On one level, he was a family friend, who helped her with her homework. On another, he was a monster.

He said the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was naïve and did not understand what was happening to her.

“She lacked the knowledge, vocabulary and worldliness of girls outside her community,” he added. “This is not a case of a woman scorned.”

He described the abuse as “a nuanced and subtle overpowering of a child by an adult”.

Mr Levy, a married father of six, claimed the sexual contact was part of an extramarital affair and took place when the girl was over the age of 16.

He said: “It was obvious she was consenting because of what she was doing.” He added: “She wanted it, she encouraged it.”

The retrial was ordered after the original jury failed to reach a verdict. Since the first trial, the young woman has claimed there were earlier sexual assaults when she was as young as 13.

Tania Griffiths, defending, said that by changing her testimony, the alleged victim had been “caught red-handed in a lie”, having previously said that an indecent assault when she 14 was a “one off”.

Summing up, Judge James Patrick told the jury: “A person who has undergone sexual assault or rape has experienced trauma — everyone has their own way of reacting.”

Murder suspect extradited to Israel from Kazakhstan

Three years after escaping to Russia, Dmitry Krynin, a 35-year-old suspected of murdering Leonid Yarimich in February 2010, was extradited to Israel from Kazakhstan.

Krynin managed to flee Israel before the body was found in his Ashdod apartment and was only recently arrested in Kazakhstan with the aid of local authorities, Interpol and the Russian police.

The suspect will be brought on Saturday evening for a remand hearing in Kiryat Gat's Magistrate's Court.

The body of the murdered Yarimich, 25, was found by his la
ndlord, showing marks of severe violence and lying in a large puddle of blood. The police immediately started canvassing the area, but by the time Krynin was named a suspect he had already left the country.

Following his escape, the Prosecutor's Office's international department filed an international warrant for his arrest, which led to his identification in Kazakhstan.

With the aid of Russian and European authorities, Israel filed an extradition request with Kazakhstan, following which Krynin was returned to Israel on Friday and arrested in Ben Gurion International Airport by the police.

Another suspect in the murder, who also escaped Israel, is yet to be found.

Ramapo, NY - FBI Probe Into Ramapo Runs Deeper Than Originally Reported

Ramapo, NY - Two weeks after federal investigators spent more than seven hours seizing electronic and paper records inside the Ramapo Town Hall, a federal grand jury has now issued subpoenas demanding records from the agent involved in bond sales for the Boulder’s baseball stadium, along with those from town auditors and Provident Bank. reports that, according to officials, the federal investigation appears to be zeroing in on Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence to see if he “overstated assets” with regard to the bonds and their refinancing.

A 157-page report released by the feds shows the investigation runs much deeper than initially reported, with the feds seizing records and town bank deposits dating all the way back to 2009.

Former Legislator Bruce Levine said that the report is “clearly” looking into what statements were made about the “fiscal condition” of the town by town officials on security filings.

Yanira Maldonado Freed From Mexican Jail

The Arizona mother detained in Mexico for more than a week on drug charges has been released and returned to the U.S. after a video showed she boarded a bus with no packages that could have contained 12 pounds of marijuana, as police had alleged.

Yanira Maldonado, 42, walked out of the jail late Thursday night local time, and thanked well-wishers and Mexican officials. Maldonado told one jail official in Spanish, "Thank you for everything and the quality of person you are."

"Is this it?" Maldonado asked officials moments after being released. "Thank you. God bless you," she added before leaving.

Maldonado met with reporters briefly and said, "Many thanks to everyone, especially my God who let me go free, my family, my children, who with their help, I was able to survive this test," she said.

Maldonado was met with a hug from her husband Gary, who brought her to a waiting car. The couple hugged again in the car before leaving. Maldonado was taken to Nogales, Ariz., where she spoke again to reporters about her ordeal.

"I love Mexico. My family is still there. So Mexico... it's not Mexico's fault. It's a few people who you know did this to me," she said.

Hours before her release, court officials reviewed surveillance footage that showed Maldonado and her husband boarding a bus in Mexico on May 22. Maldonado was carrying a black, medium-sized purse and two bottles of water. Her husband was carrying blankets. Maldonado was detained by authorities after Mexican soldiers said they discovered 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus at a check point in Hermosillo, Mexico.

The surveillance video, which has not been released to the public, was reviewed by ABC News Thursday.

The family's lawyer in Nogales, Mexico, told reporters the surveillance video showed she did not bring 12 pounds of marijuana onto the bus.

"The evidence was very clear that she never [had] contact with the drug," Jose Francisco Benitez Paz said minutes after Maldonado was released.

Earlier this week, Mexican officials provided local media with photos that they said were of the packages Maldonado was accused of smuggling. Each was about 5 inches high and 20 inches wide. Maldonado's lawyer said the packets of drugs were attached to the seat bottoms with metal hooks, calling that a task that would have been impossible for a passenger boarding normally to do.

The soldiers who detained Maldonado did not appear in court to make their case against her. The judge presiding over the case was expected to make a decision about Maldonado's fate later today, but the family received word late Thursday night that she would be released early.

Maldonado maintained her innocence throughout her detainment and her family believes she was framed. Maldonado was being held at a jail in Nogales while authorities decided her fate.

"I was in shock. I'm like this is not real. This is not happening. I don't know. I thought maybe this was a set-up or a joke or something. I was just waiting for it to end but I realized that it's real, that I'm being detained," Maldonado told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV Wednesday in a jail-house interview.

At the check point, the soldiers who accused her of trafficking drugs took her into custody. Her husband was released after initially being suspected of smuggling.

Maldonado said a Mexican official told her she had to plead guilty despite her insistence that she was innocent.

"She's like, 'I'm here to help. I'm here to put criminals behind bars,' and I thought, "Thank God. I'm innocent.' So, I thought that she was here to help me and she didn't," Maldonado said Wednesday.

The family said an attorney in Mexico told them they could bribe the judge. Gary Maldonado frantically had family wire him $5,000 for the bribe. He says, although the money was offered, it was not accepted.

Yanira Maldonado, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, is a mother of seven and a devout Mormon.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

2 US diplomats shot outside Venezuelan strip club

Two officials from the US Embassy suffered gunshot wounds early Tuesday during an altercation at a strip club in Venezuela's crime-ridden capital, police and US State Department officials said. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The circumstances of the shooting were unclear, with conflicting reports over whether it happened inside or outside the Antonella 2012 nightclub.

Police said the two US officials were shot following a brawl inside the club, which is in the basement of a shopping center in the upper-middle-class Chacao neighborhood. A woman who works at the club said the two men got into a fight with each other.

The club's Twitter account features racy photos of nude or scantily clad women pole dancing, posing inside cages or reclining on beds. The text under one photo invites visitors to come and watch the club's "sexy show."
"Apparently it was a fight originating in a nightspot where these people were attacked and shots were fired at them and they suffered gunshot wounds," police spokesman Douglas Rico told TV channel Globovision at the health clinic where the victims were taken. He said one was shot in the leg and abdomen and the other was shot in the abdomen.

A police official identified one of the victims as military attache Roberto Ezequiel Rosas. She said he was shot in the right leg during an argument outside the night club in Chacao, which is east of the city center.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information publicly, said she had no information on suspects.

Deisy Ron, who identified herself as the club's artistic director, told The Associated Press that she wasn't at work when the shooting happened, but said employees she supervises told her that the men got into an argument and started throwing punches inside the club.

"They were fighting with each other," she said. "One of them pulled out a gun and shot the other in the stomach and the leg."

Ron said she didn't know how the other man was injured or how he managed to bring a firearm inside the club, which has metal detectors at the entrance.

In Washington, State Department spokesman William Ostick confirmed that "two members of the US Embassy in Caracas were injured during an incident early this morning."

"Medical staff inform us that their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening," Ostick said. "Embassy security and health unit personnel are at the hospital and have been in touch with the two individuals and their families."

Patrick Ventrell, another State Department spokesman, told reporters that the incident happened in "some sort of social spot or somewhere outside of the embassy grounds."

"I am not sure if it was a restaurant, or a nightclub, or what the actual establishment was, but that is why we are in touch with embassy personnel," he said.

An Associated Press reporter who went to the scene saw no obvious signs of a shooting, though plain-clothes police officers were investigating the area outside the club.

A Spanish sign saying "gun-free zone" and with a pistol crossed out was posted next to the entrance. Another sign said the club doesn't allow entry to couples, unaccompanied women or anyone under 30 years old.

Crime is a serious problem for Venezuela, which has one of the world's highest homicide rates.

Venezuela's government expelled two US military attaches in March for allegedly talking to members of the country's armed forces. Washington responded by ejecting two Venezuelan diplomats.

FBI ran child porn distribution site to lure pedophiles

The FBI ran a child porn distribution service out of Nebraska in an attempt to catch more than 5,000 pedophiles, according to a report.

Federal agents raided the porn distribution operation in November, following a lengthy investigation. But instead of shutting it down, the FBI kept the site operating from November 16 until December 2nd, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.

By the time the site was closed, it had more than 5,600 users and at least 10,000 photos of children being displayed, raped or otherwise sexually abused. The Intelligencer said no charges have been publicly linked to the sting but at least one Washington home has been searched as a result of the investigation.

Aiding in the distribution of child porn appears to be a new strategy in the FBI's war on pedophiles. Federal agents have previously posed as distributors or customers on forums or chat rooms to identify people sharing sick images.

“Web site A”, as the Nebraska site was named in a search warrant affidavit, was essentially a bulletin board where people could advertise and share child porn.

The FBI has declined to comment and it is not known how many images were shared while it was in charge of the site.

“This remains an ongoing investigation, and local court rules and Department of Justice policy prohibit me from providing more information at this time,” FBI Omaha Division spokeswoman Sandy Breault told the Intelligencer.

“As in any given matter, if charges are filed, they will eventually become a matter of public record.”

The investigation was revealed in statements made by a Seattle-based FBI agent in a Washington court. The agent said the only way to identify users of the site was to keep it operating.

Moscow - Father Of Man FBI Shot Claims His Son Was Executed

Moscow - The father of a Chechen immigrant killed in Florida while being interrogated by the FBI about his ties to a Boston Marathon bombings suspect said Thursday that the U.S. agents killed his son “execution-style.”

At news conference in Moscow, Abdul-Baki Todashev showed journalists 16 photographs that he said were of his son, Ibragim, in a Florida morgue. He said his son had six gunshot wounds to his torso and one to the back of his head and the pictures were taken by his son’s friend, Khusen Taramov.

It was not immediately possible to authenticate the photographs.

The FBI says 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter Ibragim Todashev was killed last week during a violent confrontation in his Orlando home while an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers questioned him about his ties to slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as well as about a 2011 triple slaying in Massachusetts.

Three law enforcement officials said initially that Todashev had lunged at the FBI agent with a knife, although two of them later said it was no longer clear what had happened.

Greg Comcowich, a spokesman for the Boston FBI, declined to comment Thursday on the elder Todashev’s claim that his son was unarmed.

Abdul-Baki Todashev said the photos were emailed to him by Taramov, who apparently was at the morgue to identify the body. The father said Taramov was part of the Muslim community holding the body for the family until they could retrieve it.

The father said Taramov told him that U.S. agents interrogated him on the street while five officials interrogated Todashev in his Florida house for eight hours on May 22, the night he was shot. He said his son was “100 percent unarmed.”

Todashev’s father said his son moved to the U.S. in 2008 on a study exchange program and met Tsarnaev at a boxing gym in Boston in 2011, about a year before he moved to Orlando. He said the two were “not particularly close friends.”

Prior to last month’s bombings, Todashev underwent an operation for a sports injury and was on crutches, making it physically impossible for him to have been involved in the bombings, his father said. 

He added that Todashev had recently received a green card and was planning to return to Chechnya for the summer last Friday, two days after he was killed.

The father said he and his brother were interviewed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Thursday as they sought a visa to take his son’s body back to Chechnya.

FBI agents interrogated the younger Todashev twice before the night he was shot, his father said. Todashev told him that he thought Tsarnaev had been set up to take blame for the bombings.

“I’d only seen and heard things like that in the movies — they shoot somebody and then a shot in the head to make sure,” Todashev said.

“These just aren’t FBI agents, they’re bandits,” he added.

Feds seize $1 BILLION worth of cocaine in Memorial Day weekend superbust

Two speedboats on their way to deliver huge shipments of drugs to the United States were stopped short by U.S. Customs patrols this past Memorial Day weekend, and their combined cargo came to an astounding 13,000 pounds of cocaine.

That’s about $1 billion worth, if you’re keeping track.

The first interception came on Friday when an airborne Jacksonville, Florida-based Customs and Border Protection crew spotted a speedboat north of the Galapagos Islands, west of the country of Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean.

Crewmen on the 30-foot boat began to throw the goods overboard once they’d been spotted and officials and began ‘washing the boat to eliminate traces of cocaine,’ according to an official release.

A customs helicopter was called to intercept the vessel and shots were fired, disabling the boat and its passengers, who were taken into custody.

Around 7,000 pounds of cocaine were on the boat, worth about $500 million.

Then, on Saturday, another boat was spotted, this time on the Caribbean side near the border of Panama and Columbia.

The driver attempted to hide the three-engine boat, weaving in and around shoals at the shore.

To intercept, the Corpus Christie, Texas-based Customs and Border Protection officers contacted the Panamanian authorities, who apprehended the boat and its crew.

The second boat was carrying 1,000 bundles of cocaine weighing around 6,000 pounds.
Estimates put the worth of the May 25 haul at $445 million.

Both sightings were made by crews flying so-called CBP P3 aircraft, a Lockheed manufactured long-range tracker plane.

‘These disruptions are indicative of how successful a counter-narcotic asset the CBP P-3 program is,’ said Tom Salter, CBP Director of National Air Security Operations in Corpus Christi. ‘It’s the right asset to support the Joint Interagency Task Force – South in its efforts to disrupt the transport of illegal narcotics to the U.S.’

According to the release, the airborne fleet seized or disrupted more than 117,765 pounds of cocaine, valued at over $8.8 billion, in fiscal year 2012.

The aircraft patrol a 42 million square mile area of the Western Caribbean and Easter Pacific in search of drugs in transit toward U.S. shores.

Bensonhurst, NY - Silver Alert: 98-Year-Old Brooklyn Jewish Man Missing

NEW YORK  -Police are searching for clues and information about the the disappearance of a 98-year-old Brooklyn man.

The NYPD has issued a Silver Alert for Chaim Las, who vanished from his home on 81st Street and Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst Thursday at about 6 a.m.

Las has dementia and a heart condition, police said.

He was seen wearing a white baseball hat emblazoned with the word "Northfolk," a green sweater, brown pants, black socks, brown sandals. He was walking with a cane, police said.

The NYPD describes Las as white, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

If you have any information about Las, please call either 911, or Detective Kevin Frein at 718-236-2502, or Detective Borough Brooklyn South at 718-287-3239.

Rabbi Leib Glanz Gets Out Of Prison

Russia to Transfer 500 Seforim To Chabad-Run LIbrary From ‘Schneerson Library’

Russia’s Interfax news agency reports:

Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Center for Tolerance will receive its first 500 books from the
Schneerson library in June, the public relations chief of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR), Boruch /Gorin, said.

“I think that before the end of the year all the 4,500 books will be handed over,” Gorin told the Interfax-Religion.

Currently books in the Schneerson collection, which is stored at the Russian State Library, are being inventoried and scanned before being moved to the Jewish Museum. Between 500 and 700 books would be scanned monthly, Gorin said.

When the 4,500 book end up at the museum, experts will get down to studying books that may be part of the Schneerson collection but have not yet been identified as such. This work was likely to start next year, Gorin said.

He added that books that have not been confirmed as belonging to the collection but have indications of this might be as numerous as those that have been confirmed as part of it and might run into thousands.

Recently, the Schneerson library issue was raised at a meeting of the presidential council on ethnic relations. President Vladimir Putin rued out the possibility of the library being handed over to the U.S. Chabad-Lubavitch community and proposed keeping it at Moscow’s Jewish Museum, where the council meeting was being held.

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said the library might be handed over to the museum before the end of 2013.

The Schneerson library is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts put together by rabbis of the Chabad Jewish community in the late 18th century in Belarus.

Part of the collection, amassed by Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, was nationalized by Bolsheviks in 1918 and ended up at the Russian State Library. The other part was taken out of the Soviet Union by Schneerson, who emigrated in the 1930s.

About 25,000 pages of manuscripts got into the hands of the Nazis, and were later seized by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.

Lubavitchers have sought the restitution of the Schneerson collection since the late 1980s. According to some reports, then Russian president Boris Yeltsin promised to James Baker, secretary of state in the George Bush Sr. administration, that the holy documents would be returned to the chassidim.

On August 6, 2010, a federal judge in Washington, Royce Lamberth, ruled that the Hasids proved the legitimacy of their claims to the ancient Jewish books and manuscripts, which, in his definition, are kept at the Russian State Library and the Russian Military Archive illegally.

The Russian Foreign Ministry challenged the judgment.

On January 17, 2013, a federal court in Washington imposed a daily fine of $50,000 on Russia for failing to comply with the 2010 ruling. The court ignored the points of the U.S. Justice Department that measures of this kind would not be conducive to the settlement of the dispute over the library and run against U.S. interests.

Tragedy in Bnei Brak: Lifeless Body of Chernobyl Yeshiva Talmid Discovered in his Bed

When his roommates were unsuccessful is waking him, they realized something was wrong and called EMS.

Shimon Ettinger of Hatzalah Gush Dan reports that when they arrived it was clear the niftar was dead for a number of hours prior to their arrival and therefore there was no point in beginning CPR.

The physician on the scene made the final determination that there was nothing to be done for the niftar, who was pronounced dead on the scene. The niftar is a resident of chutz l’aretz. Family members are in Eretz Yisrael for the chasenah.

Zaka was summoned and is involved with preventing an autopsy.


טרגדיה בבני-ברק: משה שרף ז"ל, תלמיד ישיבת טשרנוביל, כבן 20, נמצא לפני הצהרים במיטתו, כשהוא ללא רוח חיים.

המנוח ז"ל, תושב אנטוורפן שבבלגיה הלומד בישיבה הממוקמת ברחוב חבקוק, יצא אמש עם אביו אהרן לסידורים אחרונים, לקראת חתונת אחיו הבכור, שאמורה להתקיים הערב באולמי התמר בבני ברק. הוא שב לישיבה בשעה 2:00 - והלך לישון.

בבוקר ניסה חברו לחדר להעירו, אולם ללא הצלחה - והמשיך לדרכו. סמוך לשעה 11:00 עלה המשגיח בישיבה אל החדר כדי להעירו. כשנכנס, הבחין כי משהו אינו כשורה - והזעיק את כוחות ההצלה.

לאנשי כוחות ההצלה שהגיעו לזירה לא נותר אלא לקבוע את מותו.

"האב אהרן שרף, חובש 'הצלה' באנטוורפן, הגיע אל הישיבה כדי לחפש את בנו, וראה את כוחות ההצלה במקום", מספר אחד הנוכחים. "הוא שאל: מה קרה? - כשאמרו לו שבנו אינו חש בטוב, הוא לא עצר בעצמו והתפרץ אל החדר. הוא אמר שהוא חובש ולא צריך להסתיר ממנו דבר".

בני המשפחה, חסידי פשאווערסק, קבעו את מועד החתונה של בנם הבכור, לפני שהאדמו"ר מפשאוורעסק קבע את מועד חתונת בנו - להערב. "בסוף האדמור קבע את תאריך החתונה לאותו יום", מספר ידיד המשפחה. "בני המשפחה רצו לדחות את החתונה שלהם, אך האדמו"ר קבע שלא דוחים חתונות".

זאבי טפר, חובש 'איחוד הצלה', סיפר: "מדובר במקרה מצער מאוד. הבחור הוא אח של חתן שאמור להתחתן הערב. כשהגעתי למקום, לצערי לא נותר אלא להמתין לרופא לקביעת מוות. הרקע נבדק. צוות זק"א הוזעק לטפל בגופתו. בני המשפחה שנמצאים כעת בארץ עקב שמחת החתונה שהייתה צפוייה להערב הגיעו למקום, לאחר שעודכנו".

שמעון אטינגר, חובש ב'הצלה גוש דן', מספר: "כשהגענו למקום מצאנו את הבחור, כבן 20, ללא רוח חיים. הוא נפטר כבר כמה שעות לפני כן, ולא היה עבור מה להתחיל בפעולות החייאה".

בהתייעצות שקיים האדמו"ר מפאשווערסק עם הגר"ש וואזנר כיצד לנהוג, הורה הגר"ש לדחות את מועד החתונה עד לאחר 'השבעה'.

המשטרה שיחררה את גופתו לקבורה, זאת לאחר שקצין שהגיע לזירה דרש לפנות את הגופה למכון לרפואה משפטית לבדיקה חיצונית. רכז המחלקה המשפטית של זק"א, מיכאל גוטוויין, ביטל את ההחלטה בתיאום עם ממ"ר דן אלברט אוחיון.

ההלוויה תצא בשעה 14.30 מישיבת טשרנוביל בבי-ברק, ובשעה 16.00 משמגר להר המנוחות

Norway - ADL Slam 'Deeply Offensive' Circumcision Cartoon

Norway - The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday called a cartoon depicting the Jewish ritual circumcision appearing in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, “deeply offensive and appalling.”

In a statement sent to the press, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote that the cartoon was an “appalling distortion of a core Jewish ritual.”

The cartoon, published in Tuesday’s paper, shows a child being cut to pieces, while his mother stands beside him holding a blood-drenched spanner. The mother tells two police officers: “Abuse? No, it’s tradition, an important part of our beliefs.” To which the officers answer “Beliefs? Oh, that’s alright.”

The lobby organization called on the editors of Dagbladet to issue an official apology and for other government and societal leaders in Norway to speak out against the cartoon.

Yanira Maldonado Says Drug Smuggling Charges in Mexico a 'Nightmare'

An Arizona mother of seven choked back tears while trying to make sense of how she went from sitting on a bus in Mexico to a jail cell, accused of smuggling drugs, and now at the mercy of the country's justice system.

Yanira Maldonado said the events of the past week have been a "nightmare," but is holding out hope that she will soon be released because she has "nothing to hide."

Maldonado, 42, denies that she was trying to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat May 22 as she and her husband, Gary, were heading back to the United States after attending a funeral.

Her family says she was falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned in the border town of Nogales, Mexico.

"It was horrible," Maldonado told ABC News Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV Wednesday in a jail-house interview.

"I was in shock. I'm like this is not real. This is not happening. I don't know. I thought maybe this was a set-up or a joke or something. I was just waiting for it to end but I realized that it's real, that I'm being detained."

At the check point, the soldiers who accused her of trafficking drugs took her into custody. Her husband was released after initially being suspected of smuggling.

Maldonado said a Mexican official told her she had to plead guilty despite her insistence that she was innocent.
"She's like, 'I'm here to help. I'm here to put criminals behind bars,' and I thought, "Thank God. I'm innocent.' So, I thought that she was here to help me and she didn't," Maldonado, a devout Mormon, said.

It's not the first time family members say they were let down by officials in Mexico in the past week. The family said an attorney in Mexico told them they could bribe the judge. Gary Maldonado frantically had family wire him $5,000 for the bribe. He says, however, that although the money was offered, it was not accepted.

Yanira Maldonado, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, has no criminal history. Hearings are set to resume Friday and the judge could decide whether the case goes to trial.

If convicted, Maldonado could spend at least 10 years in one of Mexico's notoriously violent jails. But she remains confident the truth will prevail.

"I'm going to be free. I'm going to be free. I'm not guilty. I don't have nothing to hide," she said.

Meanwhile, in court Wednesday, Maldonado's lawyer argued that soldiers had presented inconsistent testimony about two packages of marijuana they said had recovered, with some saying both were found under his client's seat and others saying they were found under two separate seats.

Mexican officials provided local media with photos that they said were of the packages Maldonado is accused of smuggling. Each was about 5 inches high and 20 inches wide. Maldonado's lawyer said the packets of drugs were attached to the seat bottoms with metal hooks, calling that a task that would have been impossible for a passenger boarding normally to do.

Maldonado's lawyer has requested a list of the bus passengers and video of the passengers boarding to show she was not in possession of drugs.

The soldiers who detained Maldonado have yet to appear in court to make their case against her.

Until a judge makes a decision about Maldonado's future, she is spending her time at a holding facility in the border town of Nogales, helping her fellow inmates.

"This other inmate doesn't know how to read, and I was reading for her and she likes it. And this other girl, she wants me to come back to teach but I told her that I cannot teach," she told KNXV.

The mother of seven finds comfort in the two things she holds most dear to her heart: family and faith.

Maldonado's daughter recently visited her in jail and the meeting was emotional for both.

"She couldn't even talk. She's crying and I'm like, 'Mija [my daughter], everything is going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine,'" Maldonado said. "I told my son, no matter what happens you need to go to church on Sundays. You need to do what is right and heavenly father will bless us. This is going to be ... something good is going to come from this"


Former Yeshiva Rabbi Convicted of Shooting Student

The Jerusalem District Court convicted Menachem Edri, former Ben Ish Chai Yeshiva head, and his friend Yitzhak Zohar, of shooting and wounding one the yeshiva's students.

According to the conviction, the two wounded 26-year-old student Eliyahu Liberty, after learning from one of the students that he was involved in criminal activity. 

Edri shot two bullets to Liberty's foot and beat him with the gun. Liberty's foot was shattered and he was hospitalized.

Jewish Family split over Davidson Foundation's $1 billion in assets

The widow of late billionaire William Davidson is feuding with her daughter over how to spend more than $1 billion from his charitable trust, according to court papers.

Davidson's widow, Karen Davidson, and his son, Ethan Davidson, who want to keep the Foundation as a single entity, are united against Karen's daughter from a previous marriage, Mary Aaron, and her husband Jonathan Aaron, who are seeking to split it in two.

The two sides are accusing each other of wasting time and money.

Making matters more complicated, all four are on the Foundation's board, and Jonathan Aaron is the Foundation's president.

According to Crains Detroit, Jonathan Aaron said in court papers that the foundation is unable to make gifts or govern itself because the Davidsons have created a deadlock pattern of 2-2 votes, which left the foundation with no board after all their terms of office expired in January.

William Davidson was the billionaire President, Chairman and CEO of Guardian Industries and owned the Detroit Pistons basketball team.

He was a noted philanthropist, and formed the Foundation shortly before his death at 86 in 2009 with the aim of aiding Jewish organizations and the city of Detroit, among other causes.

Since then, the Foundation has given millions of dollars to causes such as the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit, the University of Texas and the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science in New York.

In 2012 alone, the Foundation gifted more than $46 million.

According to court papers unsealed on Friday, Karen and Ethan Davidson allege Jonathan Aaron manufactured a dispute within the family in order to have a court divide the assets in two, and give him complete control over one half.

Jonathan Aaron filed a petition in Oakland Probate Court in March, saying board members had reached an dead end over the make-up of the board.

He asked the judge to divide the foundation into two entities, saying in filings that it 'is warranted, and required, to bring to an end the current impasse, to stop the ongoing waste of foundation assets on expensive consultants and to protect and preserve the foundation’s charitable assets and Mr Davidson’s charitable intentions.'

Karen Davidson disagrees, saying in an affidavit that her husband intended the foundation to be a single, family-oriented organization.

'It was meant to be a family foundation, the family structure of the foundation provides that family members will support one another in the philanthropic endeavors of the foundation,' her court filing said.

'It is a way of keeping the family working together now and into the future on philanthropic matters. William Davidson specifically expressed this to me before he died.'

Free Press Detroit says that after the board hired a consulting firm to review Jonathan Aaron’s $320,000 salary in 2009 and the board voted unanimously to reduce the salary to $125,000 a year, frictions within the Foundation increased.

The matter is currently before Oakland Probate Judge Daniel O’Brien, but it's unlikely to reach its conclusion in Detroit. O’Brien ruled earlier this month he did not have jurisdiction over the matter because the Foundation was incorporated in Delaware.

Family spokesman Matt Friedman said Karen and Ethan Davidson are hopeful the matter will be resolved amicably and vowed that the Foundation would continue its good work.

'They feel very strongly about it,' he said.

New York - 7 killed in crash involving tractor-trailer and minivan in upstate

TRUXTON, N.Y. –  Seven people were killed when a tractor-trailer collided with a minivan on a rural two-lane highway in upstate New York, police said Wednesday.

The rig was headed south around 6 p.m. on Route 13 about 25 miles south of Syracuse when the trailer became disconnected and crossed the center line, hitting a minivan carrying eight people, according to Capt. Mark Helms of the Cortland County Sheriff's Department.

The force of the impact ripped the minivan apart, and both vehicles came to rest on the shoulder of the roadway.

"It was a bad accident," Helms said.

Officials have not released the identities of those killed, but all of them were passengers in the minivan. Two people in the truck were not injured, Helms said.

Officials did not say what caused the accident.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton said there were thunderstorms and steady showers -- including hail -- in the area around Truxton Wednesday evening.

Cortland County Coroner Whitney Meeker confirmed seven people died in the crash. She said there was one survivor who was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

The status of that survivor was not immediately known.

Meeker said it will probably take the next two days to complete autopsies. She said next of kin would be notified early Thursday at the Cortland County Sheriff's office.

Douglas Randall, the fire commissioner for nearby Town of Cuyler, said he was directing traffic about a mile north of the crash site when he saw what he believed to be hysterical family members being escorted away from the scene.

"They were all meeting down the road at a family member's house," he said. "They were all hysterical."

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes office ‘running a private jail system’

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes’ prosecutors used hotel rooms as private jail cells to hide away reluctant witnesses and coerce them into giving false testimony, a bombshell court filing claims.

The attorney for Jabbar Collins — who was freed after 15 years in prison for the murder of a rabbi after a federal judge found prosecutorial missteps by Hynes’ office — filed court papers yesterday claiming the witness-badgering tactic was part of widespread misconduct in the DA’s Office and was a clear violation of constitutional protections.

Lawyer Joel Rudin, who has already filed a $150 million wrongful-prosecution suit against the DA’s Office, cited a deposition of a former Hynes employee who said investigators “were trained to bring material witnesses directly to the DA’s Office, instead of to court, for investigative questioning, and they would later be held against their will at hotels.”

 “Hynes’s office was running a private jail system where witnesses were illegally interrogated and forcibly detained indefinitely,” Rudin wrote in the Brooklyn federal-court filing.

The explosive new allegations expand upon a wide range of similar charges Collins made two years ago in a federal civil-rights lawsuit, where he says such illegal tactics played a central role in his wrongful conviction.

Collins’ suit charged that a rogue Hynes prosecutor “would gain the involuntary custody of witnesses from which he would coerce false statements and testimony,” often using unethical methods to secure a court order sanctioning the detention.

Collins has accused Hynes of turning a blind eye to his investigators’ misconduct during the high-profile probe into the killing of Rabbi Abraham Pollack in Williamsburg during a 1995 armed robbery.

His lawsuit claims that two key prosecution witnesses in the murder case against him were coerced.

One was Angel Santos, who later told a federal judge that he had been threatened by Hynes’ Rackets Bureau chief, Michael Vecchione, after Santos balked at taking the witness stand at Collins’ trial.

“He told me he was going to hit me over the head with a coffee table or lock me up for a couple of years for perjury,” Santos told a federal judge at a 2010 hearing.

Collins’ lawsuit alleges that Santos was “unlawfully imprisoned” in a Bronx jail as “a material witness,” and threatened with physical harm if he did not testify as directed.

“Santos was locked behind bars at the Bronx House of Detention, housed with accused criminals, for more than a week,” the lawsuit charges.

Another witness, Edwin Oliva, was coerced into becoming a prosecution witness and hidden away in an upstate jail, the lawsuit claimed.

“Oliva was sent to Ulster Correctional Facility. He was informed that he would remain imprisoned upstate until he agreed to ‘cooperate’ with the DA’s Office,” Collins says in his 2011 lawsuit.

Two weeks ago, Rudin asked Brooklyn federal Judge Frederic Block to order the DA’s Office to produce evidence about “material witnesses held in ‘Hotel Custody’ and/or against their will” and a wealth of other information as part of the mandatory evidence exchange process that precedes a civil trial.

The judge has not yet ruled on the issue, but Hynes’ office has argued that some of this material is private and cannot be released. Several sealed court hearings have focused on this struggle over evidence in Collins’ federal civil-rights case.