Sunday, January 23, 2022

Former president fights New York Attorney General subpoena

An empire under scrutiny. The New York State attorney general is currently conducting a civil investigation into former president Donald Trump’s business practices. Here’s what to know:

The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.

The findings. Ms. James detailed in a recent filing what she said was a pattern by the Trump Organization to inflate the value of the company’s properties in documents filed with lenders, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.

The potential impact. Because the investigation is civil, the attorney general cannot file criminal charges and would have to sue Mr. Trump. Ms. James could seek financial penalties and try to shut down certain aspects of Mr. Trump’s business.

Mr. Trump’s response. Mr. Trump has filed a lawsuit against Letitia James, the New York attorney general, seeking to halt the inquiry. The suit argues that the attorney general’s involvement in the inquiry was politically motivated.

Subpoena requests. The attorney general has subpoenaed Mr. Trump, and is also seeking to question Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, two of his children, as part of the inquiry. Eric Trump, another of Mr. Trump’s sons, was questioned in 2020.

As reported by The New York Times.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Former mayor takes on Philly DA over remarks

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter wrote recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer

District Attorney Larry Krasner’s recent remarks about whether we are experiencing a crime crisis are some of the worst, most ignorant, and most insulting comments I have ever heard spoken by an elected official.

At a Monday press briefing, Krasner told reporters: “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence.”

It takes a certain audacity of ignorance and white privilege to say that right now. As of Monday night, 521 people, souls, spirits have been vanquished, eliminated, murdered in our City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, the most since 1960. I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of white wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them Black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney.

I’d like to ask Krasner: How many more Black and brown people, and others, would have to be gunned down in our streets daily to meet your definition of a “crisis”? How many more children and teens have to die in record numbers to capture your attention, and be considered a “crisis”? How many more moms, dads, spouses, and friends need to shed tears over the loss of a loved one for you to call it a “crisis”?

Words matter. Words impact, and trigger, and hurt. Words mean something from elected officials. Krasner should publicly apologize to the 521 families of dead victims and the thousands of those maimed by gun wounds this year. He has ignored the pain of the living and insulted the memory of the dead.

Krasner should also use his words to send a message to the shooters, murderers, and criminals of this city by committing to actually prosecute them, rather than coddle them, make excuses, reduce or drop charges. He should commit to locking them up for carrying illegal weapons or shooting people.

If Krasner does not have the fortitude or the guts to carry out those duties, he should resign and turn things over to someone who is not trying to sell Philadelphians on the false choice of having either public safety or police reform.

Philadelphians can have — and deserve — both.

I know it is possible because when I was mayor, we laid the foundation for this work.

In 2013, Philadelphia experienced the lowest number of homicides since 1968. We reduced the prison population by about 2,000 people. We reduced the number of police officer-involved shootings. The Philadelphia Police Department became accredited for the first time in history. We weren’t perfect. As mayor, I made plenty of mistakes — but I didn’t blame the press or Harrisburg. The people of Philadelphia knew that I cared about their safety and that I was working to stop abuses within the Police Department.

But under Krasner’s anti-police narrative, most of that work has been reversed. Krasner portrays himself as the Great White Hope for Philadelphia’s Black and brown communities, but if he actually cared about us, he’d understand that the homicide crisis is what is plaguing us the most.

As an older Black man from West Philly, I know that many Black people are not actually against the police. We’re just against the police who brutalize us. Many of us respect the police, appreciate the good work of so many who risk their lives every day to deal with some of the most dangerous and difficult people in this city in a professional and sensitive manner.

Growing up in West Philly in the 1960s and ‘70s, I saw the good and bad of police and community relations. But at the end of the day, there are only two things that really matter:

First: When something goes down, people call 911 and expect a professionally trained police officer to show up, treat them with dignity and respect, and handle the issue.

Second: People want to be able to safely walk down the street, have their children play outside or go to school, be able to go to the supermarket, or church, or synagogue, or mosque in safety and peace.

As someone who has lived the experience of a Black man in Philadelphia and worked at the highest level of city government, I see that police and judges are trying to keep Philadelphians safe, but Krasner is not. No matter what he says, this city is experiencing a crisis of violence and murder. If he can’t see that, he is unfit to serve the residents of Philadelphia.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, January 21, 2022

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we discuss the 19-year-old girl working at Burger King who was gunned down in cold blood in New York City.

To listen to the show CLICK HERE 

Dent: Philadelphia had more murders than New York City a city five times larger

Former Congressman Charlie Dent writes at CNN.com:

To watch a local Philadelphia evening news broadcast a few days before Christmas was a thoroughly depressing experience — there was the carjacking of a US congresswoman at gunpoint in south Philadelphia, a dangerous high-speed chase through narrow city streets and a police officer who was shot twice in the shoulder while responding to a robbery. With two 20-something children and a niece living in Philadelphia, I closely monitor the latest developments. The fear is palpable, and many residents are much more alert to the lurking dangers throughout the city.

During the last six weeks of 2021, my son, who is a student at Temple University, was shaken down for money by three robbers at a north Philly gas station. My daughter, a fourth-year medical student at Thomas Jefferson University who spends a significant amount of time working at medical clinics serving indigent residents, was assaulted by a deranged woman within the shadow of City Hall. My niece, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, lives in a West Philly neighborhood where there have been numerous carjackings.

And that's just my family. Thankfully, all three are fine and going about their studies.

The same cannot be said of the 559 murder victims in Philadelphia last year. That's the most recorded murders in the city since it started keeping records in the 1960s. One such murder was of my son's fellow Temple classmate, Samuel Sean Collington, who was shot during an attempted carjacking after the Thanksgiving break. The suspect is a 17-year-old who was arrested and charged in August in connection with violent crime including armed robbery. He was released when the victim failed to appear for a pretrial hearing.

Philadelphia had more murders in 2021 than New York City -- a city over five times larger than the City of Brotherly Love. One would think such a sobering, horrifying reality would cause local elected officials to respond forcefully to a carnage of this magnitude. Instead, liberal Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner responded in December, saying while gun violence had risen, other violent crime had not -- or to quote him directly: "We don't have a crisis of lawlessness. We don't have a crisis of crime. We don't have a crisis of violence."

And though Krasner later said that "message conveyed through media sound bites is not at all what I meant" and that he did not mean to diminish the pain of the families who had been victims of gun violence, it was too late.

He had offended virtually everyone who possesses functional eyes and ears. One such person so appalled by this monumentally tone-deaf statement was former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, an effective Democratic leader with a strong record on public safety who presided over the city during a period of relative prosperity.

In a scathing op-ed, Nutter excoriated Krasner with lines like these: "audacity of ignorance and white privilege...I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of White wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them Black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney." Nutter added, "he [Krasner] has ignored the pain of the living and insulted the memory of the dead."

The Nutter-Krasner battle reflects a growing rift within the Democratic Party over public safety. A vocal element within the Democratic Party that advocated for defunding the police in 2020 has run into resistance from sensible Democrats who reject Krasner and other DAs of his ilk around the country.

It's about time. With Democrats in a defensive position for the upcoming congressional 2022 midterm election, crime and urban lawlessness will be used as a wedge issue by the GOP against them, just as they did with success in 2020.

 To be fair, homicide rates have surged nationally, including in areas where Republicans have governing responsibilities. Further, the January 6 insurrection -- and the Republicans who have attempted to whitewash what happened on that terrible day -- has tarnished the GOP's image as the tough on crime party of law enforcement.

Nevertheless, Democrats will remain more vulnerable on the issue given their overwhelming control of big cities throughout the country where liberal district attorneys and social justice Democrats have an outsized voice and influence.

The bottom line is that elected officials in major urban centers must address the homicide wave occurring on their watch. Indulging those extreme voices who argue for defunding the police and making law enforcement out as villains must end. It's time to get serious about what is happening on the streets.

Democratic mayors, councilmen and district attorneys have the power to course correct if they have the courage and political will to do so. If they don't, Democrats will pay a price at the polls across the country as voters, who too often see horrifying local news segments full of upsetting criminal activity, will reject the party they believe bears responsibility for the decline in public safety. 

Politicians who can speak effectively to the menacing crime problem will do so by advancing public safety measures to refund the police, end no cash bail, raise penalties for smash and grab robberies, deploy more police in high crime areas, reinstate community policing, expand crime victim services and enforce quality of life crimes.

Above all, the mission of law enforcement and the men and women who serve must be supported by local elected officials.

In too many communities across America, police officers don't believe they have, or can count on, support from their elected leaders, which is damaging morale and depleting police forces. And this is only compounded by police forces facing backlogs, as they struggle to solve the number of open cases they currently have on their dockets.

The political costs of a rise in violent crime, like homicide, will be born most heavily by House Democrats in competitive districts. Rep. Abigail Spanberger told her House Democratic colleagues shortly after the 2020 midterm election in which she narrowly won re-election that "defund the police" rhetoric nearly cost her the Virginia seat she holds.

What's worse than the political costs are the impacts on the lives of our fellow citizens who fear for their safety in their homes and neighborhoods. Crime drives residents who can afford to leave their homes, leaving behind more vulnerable people with more limited incomes. Poverty becomes more pervasive as disinvestment saps the strength of those left behind.

To get a real feel for the plight of people impacted by violent crime, attend a neighborhood crime watch or civic association meeting where elderly homeowners will provide an unvarnished assessment of conditions on the street. Trust me, they won't hold back.

It's long past time to hear these good people out, address their concerns and help them reclaim their neighborhoods. They deserve to live free from fear and rightfully expect their government to help.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Utah has bipartisan support for abolishing the death penalty

 A push to repeal the death penalty in Utah, once a bedrock of conservative support for capital punishment, has garnered unlikely bipartisan support, writes David Dudley for The Crime Report.

Utah Rep. Lowry Snow, a Republican, voted twice against bids to repeal the death penalty in Utah in the past. Now, he’s the chief sponsor of HB 147, which seeks to prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for aggravated murder committed after May 4, 2022.

Instead, the current draft of the bill includes a possible sentence of 45 years-to-life for aggravated murder.

He’s partnered with Sharon Wright Weeks, who started as a forceful advocate of the death penalty after her sister was killed—but has since shifted position.

Their combined efforts could result in a repeal during this year’s Utah legislative session, which runs Jan. 18 to March 4, 2022.

With support from two groups who are often in opposition to one another, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Libertas Institute, as well as a growing number of state and municipal officials, Weeks and Snow said they feel like they’ve got a fighting chance.

And they’re not alone.

Losing Faith in the Justice System

Weeks’ 24-year-old sister, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15-month-old niece, Erica, were brutally murdered in American Fork, Utah in 1984.

The men who killed them, Ron and Dan Lafferty, were the brothers of Brenda’s husband, Allen. The Laffertys were members of a fundamentalist sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ron Lafferty said he received a message from God, ordering him to kill the woman and her daughter, along with three others.

Weeks told The Crime Report that she relived the pain of those horrific events throughout the trial that followed.

“But I felt a sense of relief when Dan Lafferty received two consecutive life sentences, and Ron Lafferty was sentenced to death,” she said.

In 1991, Ron Lafferty’s verdict was overturned by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. That was the beginning of a 30-year battle to see justice served, as Lafferty appealed numerous times, claiming that he wasn’t competent to stand trial.

Weeks said that she’s felt shackled to “them” ― the term she uses to refer to the Lafferty brothers ― while waiting for Ron Lafferty to be executed by the State of Utah.

“Every time he appealed, the media dragged out the details of my sister’s murder,” Weeks said. “And every time that happens, I have to live through the murders, and my family’s pain, again.”

Weeks said that she felt no sense of justice after Lafferty died in prison of natural causes in 2019.

“I don’t think the state does it on purpose,” she said. “Utah’s system is broken. And it needs to be replaced with something that works.”

‘That’s God’s Work’

Rep. Snow told The Crime Report that he met with Weeks in 2017. He didn’t know who she was.

“But as she told me her story, I was moved,” Snow said. “I’d never thought about that side of the story.”

As Snow looked into how many people were on death row in Utah, and the number of years that they’d spent there waiting to be executed, he said he realized that something had gone awry.

“I became even more suspicious when I learned that there were an increasing number of inmates on death row who were being exonerated,” he said.

“That’s when my thinking on the subject began to change. The promise of justice is made in good faith, but it was clearly failing in some cases.”

Snow said that, at the time, 18 people had been exonerated in Utah, including one for murder.

The idea that someone could sit on death row for an indefinite amount of time, and that some were executed despite being innocent, were deeply troubling to Snow.

“In some cases, we ask juries to impose the death sentence upon people,” he said.

“But sometimes there’s insufficient evidence. Sometimes there’s misconduct on the behalf of prosecutors or police.”

That a citizen can be deprived of the highest right society bestows upon its citizenry, the right of life, in such uncertain circumstances, Snow said, is unacceptable.

“Whether in the womb or in the world, I’m pro-life,” he said. “I don’t think we have the right to decide another person’s life in such imperfect circumstances. That’s God’s work. Only God gets to do that.”

Utah Fits the Profile

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, said that Utah fits the profile of a traditionally conservative state that may be ripe for a change.

Dunham cited a Gallup Poll released in November, which showed a decline in nationwide support for the death penalty.

“It also showed that the number of conservatives who no longer support capital punishment is increasing,” Dunham told The Crime Report.

“The poll shows that 27 percent of conservatives are now against capital punishment, a significant shift in support.”

One of the reasons for the shift, Dunham said, is that Americans are relatively uninformed about the death penalty.

“The more they learn,” he said, “the more they are against it. And this can inform policy decisions in various ways.”

The death penalty may not make sense fiscally, Dunham said, because “statistically speaking, inmates like Ron Lafferty are more likely to die while on death row than to be executed.”

According to a 2017 study done by Torin McFarland, each death penalty inmate costs approximately “$1.12 million (2015 USD) more than a general population inmate.”

There are seven men on death row in Utah right now. Collectively, they’ve served more than 200 years, costing tax-payers millions. That number increases exponentially “as appeals processes drag on, and the state pays costs associated with trial, prosecution and incarceration,” Dunham said.

The death penalty may not be a deterrent to violent crime. “Murder rates hold steady in states that have the death penalty,” Dunham said.

“Those states that have abolished the death penalty did not see increases in the murder rate. If the death penalty was a deterrent, we would see those rates trend upward, and above the national average.”

The homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty, according to this study, which compares data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

Weeks’ experience is common amongst victims’ families, Dunham said.

“Weeks has been shackled to Ron Lafferty for 35 years,” Dunham said, “as he went through two trials and a number of appeals.”

By the time it reached the appellate, the trial was no longer about the murder, it was about Lafferty’s mental state.

“That can feel very demeaning to victims’ families,” Dunham said. “They’re reliving these crimes. They’re hanging on to anger, which fuels a need for vengeance. So, it’s bad for our emotional health as these cases drag on for years and decades.”

“I can’t say it will happen,” Dunham concluded, “but Utah definitely fits the profile of conservative states that have turned the corner on the death penalty.”

Who’s on Board?

Republican Sen. Dan McCay will sponsor the bill in the Utah Senate, where in 2016 a bid to repeal the death penalty (SB 189) was approved by a vote of 15-13. It ultimately failed in the House that year.

Abolishing the death penalty is gaining momentum in communities around Utah. At least four other county attorneys have publicly endorsed Snow’s bill.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced in September that he will no longer seek the death penalty, according to a report by The Salt Lake Tribune, because the “costs far outweigh its benefits to the community as a whole.”

Likewise, Utah County Commissioners voted 2-1 in October to pass a resolution urging state lawmakers to do away with the death penalty.

Another Utah Senator, Republican Don Ipson, said that, while he believes the death penalty as it stands is broken, he doesn’t want to “take tools out of the prosecutor’s toolbox.”

So, he will vote against the bill when it reaches the senate floor.

“We can’t continue to keep people on death row for 30-plus years, while they go through endless rounds of appeals,” said Ipson, who was Chair of the Utah House Committee of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice in 2016, when the last bid to repeal the death penalty stalled in the House.

Though he opposes the bill in favor of revising the death penalty, Ipson expects Snow to be well prepared.

“And it would be wise for everyone to listen to him before casting their vote,” Ipson said.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Pittsburgh considers policy that documents 'stop and frisk' encounters

 Pittsburgh City Council is considering a measure that would require city police to document why they are stopping and searching a pedestrian before they do so, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The measure, introduced Tuesday by Councilman Ricky Burgess, would require officers to use a body-worn camera or vehicle-mounted recording device to document their reasonable suspicion for initiating a “stop-and-frisk” of a pedestrian.

Stop-and-frisk refers to incidents where police stop, search or detain a pedestrian without a warrant.

“The police officers stop-and-frisk disproportionately African Americans,” Burgess said. “Close to 70% of those encounters are with Black people. It creates an atmosphere of intimidation.”

This legislation, he said, would reduce racial profiling in such stops, as officers would have to document a clear reason for initiating the stop.

If the stop-and-frisk does not result in an arrest, the officer would be required to provide the pedestrian with documentation explaining the reasonable suspicion that led to the stop. There will be exceptions to this requirement if “officer safety or confidential requirements” would prevent officers from sharing the information.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

SCOTUS adds three criminal cases to April docket

The Supreme Court on added three criminal cases to its docket, reported Jurist. Each of the three cases are likely to be argued in the court’s April argument session.

Vega v. Tekoh addresses whether an officer can be sued for failing to provide Miranda warnings. The Ninth Circuit issued a 5-4 decision, finding that officers can face civil penalties for failing to advise a suspect of their right to silence and legal counsel.

Nance v. Ward raises the issue of whether a prisoner can be executed by means that are not authorized by statute when the authorized means of execution, lethal injection, is potentially unconstitutional. Prisoner and petitioner Michael Nance has severely compromised veins and other underlying conditions that could make the injection immensely painful and risky. In such a challenge, the prisoner must choose an alternative method that is feasible and available. Lethal injection is the only method of execution authorized in the state of Georgia.

Finally, Shoop v. Twyford concerns the interplay of the All Writs Act and a habeas statute in determining whether a prisoner is entitled to hospital transport to receive a brain scan that the prisoner believes is relevant to their habeas case.

To read more CLICK HERE