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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press In this photo from KABC-TV video, a huge hole is seen in the roof of a warehouse near March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., on Thursday after an F-16 fighter jet crashed into the building. There were no injuries.

Friday, May 17, 2019 1:00 am


US, European authorities charge 10 in software hacks

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Ten people, including five Russian fugitives, have been charged in connection with malicious software attacks that infected tens of thousands of computers worldwide and sought to steal $100 million from victims, U.S. and European authorities announced Thursday.

The malware enabled criminals from Eastern Europe to take remote control of infected computers and siphon funds from victims' bank accounts, and targeted companies and institutions across all sectors of American life. Victims included a Washington law firm, a church in Texas, a furniture business in California, a casino in Mississippi and a Pennsylvania asphalt and paving business.

Suspect may have 11 more victims

A Dallas man previously arrested in the death of an 81-year-old woman has been charged with killing at least 11 more elderly women whose jewelry and other valuables he stole, authorities said Thursday.

Kim Leach, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney's office, said 46-year-old Billy Chemirmir, a Kenyan citizen who was living in the U.S. illegally, was indicted Tuesday on six more counts of capital murder in the deaths of women ranging in age from 76 to 94.

Nobody injured in crash of F-16 jet

A pilot ejected moments before an F-16 fighter jet crashed Thursday into a warehouse just outside March Air Reserve Base in California, military officials said.

The pilot was not hurt, and there were no immediate reports of injuries on the ground, said Maj. Perry Covington, the base's director of public affairs. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

Interstate 215, which runs between the base and the warehouse, was closed in both directions, backing up rush-hour traffic for miles.

5 more states sue Purdue Pharma

Five more state attorneys general announced legal filings Thursday seeking to hold the company that makes OxyContin responsible for an opioid addiction crisis that's now the leading cause of accidental deaths across the country and in many states.

The company, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, blasted the claims, saying they're based on “stunningly overbroad legal theories.”

The new filings in Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin mean 45 states have now taken legal action in recent years against Purdue, which has no connection to Purdue University.

Woman's illness known: Lawyer

A Houston-area police officer knew his neighbor suffered from mental illness and should have offered assistance when that was apparent, but instead he fatally shot the 44-year-old woman, a lawyer for the victim's family said Thursday.

Pamela Turner had struggled with paranoid schizophrenia since her diagnosis in 2005 and may have been in crisis the night she was killed, attorney Ben Crump said during a press conference.

Turner was shot by Baytown police Officer Juan Delacruz on Monday night in the parking lot of her apartment complex during an attempted arrest after she shocked him with his Taser.

Manning refuses order; back in jail

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was ordered back to jail Thursday for refusing to testify to a grand jury, even after telling a judge she'd rather “starve to death” than cooperate with prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered her to remain incarcerated at the Alexandria jail either until she agrees to testify or until the grand jury's term expires in 18 months. He also imposed fines that will kick in at $500 a day after 30 days and $1,000 a day after 60 days.

Manning already spent two months in jail for refusing a previous subpoena to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She was released last week when that grand jury's term expired, but prosecutors quickly hit her with a new subpoena to testify to a new grand jury.

Alabama executes quadruple killer

A man condemned for his role in a quadruple killing that followed a dispute over a pickup truck was put to death Thursday in Alabama after declining to make any last-minute appeals. Michael Brandon Samra, 41, was pronounced dead at 7:33 p.m. after a three-drug lethal injection at Holman prison, authorities said.

Also, a man convicted of killing his wife decades ago at a camping center he managed in Memphis was put to death Thursday in Tennessee.

Inmate Don Johnson, 68, was executed via lethal injection inside a maximum-security Nashville prison for the 1984 suffocation of his wife, Connie Johnson.

Guilty plea made in Ponzi scheme

A bogus investment scheme that entrapped hundreds of individuals and corporate investors and might involve as much as a half-billion dollars has unraveled in guilty pleas for wire fraud and conspiracy from a Maryland man who prosecutors say amassed a fortune in luxury cars, costly wines and other high-end possessions with his illicit gains.

In a federal courthouse in Baltimore, Kevin Merrill pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony counts; 13 other counts he faced are expected to be dismissed at sentencing in September.

Prosecutors say Merrill and co-conspirators enriched themselves with investors' money in a Ponzi scheme that operated from 2013 until September 2018.

MGM may settle shooting lawsuits

Casino giant MGM Resorts told federal regulators Thursday it might pay up to $800 million to settle liability lawsuits stemming from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas – the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

“The company believes it is reasonably possible that a settlement will be reached” by next May, it told the Securities and Exchange Commission in a quarterly report. MGM Resorts also said it has $751 million in insurance to pay toward a settlement.

However, a lawyer handling mediation talks for 4,200 claimants – including those who have sued in Nevada, California and other states, and people who have not formally filed for damages – called the statement premature.

“Not even close,” attorney Robert Eglet said about the amount disclosed by MGM Resorts. “We have a long way to go before we have an agreement.”