Three sealed Indictments charging four Hurricane Katrina evacuees with wrongfully obtaining rental assistance from FEMA after having purchased new, fully-furnished homes that were financed by Oprah Winfrey’s “Oprah’s Angel Network,” were unsealed today, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced. The return of these indictments brings to 94 the total number of persons charged with fraud arising from Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Ike relief efforts in the Southern District of Texas.
“The response to natural disasters brings out the best and worst in people,” said Johnson. “Generous acts of charity are tarnished by those who despite the generosity of others, fraudulently make claims for government relief funds. This office will continue its efforts to bring those who make false claims for public funds to justice.”
Darlene McGruder Poole, 30, of Houston, and her sister, Lashona McGruder Victor, 37, of La Place, La., are charged together with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Kiesha Murphy, 34, of Houston, and Angela Payne, aka Angela McKinnies, 38, of Houston, are each charged in separate indictments with making false statements to FEMA and theft of government property. The Indictments, which were returned last Wednesday, were unsealed this morning upon the arrest of Poole, Murphy and Payne at their respective residences in Houston by agents of the Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG) and the Federal Protective Service (FPS). These defendants made their initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy this morning, while Victor is expected to surrender to law enforcement authorities in Houston by the end of the week.
In August and September 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall on the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast. Under FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP), FEMA made available an initial rental assistance payment to individuals who were displaced from their homes as a result of Katrina and Rita. Displaced individuals could potentially obtain additional rental assistance payments by submitting a declaration of continuing need for rental assistance. Under FEMA’s IHP, individuals who purchased a home after a disaster ceased to be entitled to rental assistance as they were no longer making rental payments and now maintained a new primary residence.
CBS announced his death on its Web site but did not give any details. Hewitt joined CBS News in television’s infancy in 1948, and produced the first televised presidential debate between John
F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.
He made his mark in the late 1960s when CBS agreed to try his idea of a one-hour broadcast that mixed hard news and feature stories. The television newsmagazine was born on Sept. 24, 1968, when the “60 Minutes” stopwatch began ticking.
He dreamed of a television version of Life, the dominant magazine of the mid-20th century, where interviews with entertainers could coexist with investigations that exposed corporate malfeasance.
“The formula is simple,” he wrote in a memoir in 2001, “and it’s reduced to four words every kid in the world knows: Tell me a story. It’s that easy.”
Michael Jackson’s personal physician will be charged with manslaughter within the next two weeks, a law enforcement source told FOXNews.com.
The source initially said Dr. Conrad Murray could be arrested as soon as next Wednesday — but investigators have decided to execute one more search warrant, likely at a Los Angeles pharmacy, next week in an attempt to gather more evidence against him. The arrest is now expected the following week.
Murray isn’t the only doctor who faces criminal charges in connection with Jackson’s death on June 25. A law enforcement source told FOXNews.com that Jackson’s longtime dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, will be hit with charges related to medical malpractice. Investigators are still building their case against Klein, and he will not be arrested for at least another two weeks, the source said.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office is currently in talks with investigators about whether they will offer Murray the option of surrendering in Los Angeles, or if he will be arrested in Houston, where he is currently staying.
Investigators initially had hoped to charge Murray with a more serious crime than manslaughter — a defendant may be charged with second degree murder in California without the presence of a motive — but prosecutors are concerned that a jury will be unlikely to convict without one, sources said. Unless a “smoking gun” is found in next week’s search, Murray will be charged with manslaughter.
Houston police are investigating the fatal shooting of a male at 633 Rushcreek #310 about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 18).
The male victim suffered a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. His identity is pending notification to family members by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.
HPD Homicide Division Sergeant G. Gonzales and Officer J. Sosa reported:
The victim was in an apartment at the above address with two other people when three armed suspects kicked in the door. The victim attempted to flee by jumping through a bedroom window as several shots were fired by the suspects. The victim was struck at least once and died in a walkway outside the apartment. The three suspects, described only as Hispanic males in their early to mid-twenties fled the scene.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Over the past month, the debate over health care reform has intensified; and while there are differing views on how we should reform our health care system, there is agreement that the current system is broken. There have been a number of proposals from Congress all aiming to expand coverage, reduce costs and improve services. These proposals have been at the center of a nationwide debate that has generated both meaningful dialogue but also confusion. Congressman Green will announce a town hall meeting to discuss health care reform. This town hall will be open to any interested member of the public.
CONGRESSMAN AL GREEN WILL ANNOUNCE HEALTH CARE REFORM TOWN HALL
Who: Congressman Al Green (TX-09)
What: Press Conference to discuss health care reform for all
When: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 10:30 A.M.
Where: Congressman Al Greens District Office
3003 South Loop West
Houston, TX 77054
In a couple of days the annual Texas sales tax break weekend will be in full swing. The shopping period is from Aug. 21-23 and comes just in time for students returning to school. School supplies have been added to the annual tax-free holiday. The state comptroller’s office says the law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes. The agency says backpacks under $100 used by elementary and secondary students are also exempt.
Michael Jackson will finally be laid to rest before the month is out. A spokesman for the family says he will be buried on August 29 — what would have been the day he turned 51. Attendance will be limited to family and close friends of the singer. The burial will take place during a private ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California — located about eight miles north of downtown Los Angeles. It isn’t the same place as the Hollywood Hills cemetery where Jackson’s family was seen gathering the day before his public memorial on July 7. The whereabouts of Jackson’s body have been unknown since the public memorial at Staples Center. Word of the ceremony was announced the day after the New York Daily News reported comments made by Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, that his son would be buried on what would have been his birthday.
THERE’S A PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY ON THE ISSUE!
Six Houston Police Officers who made national news by filing a lawsuit against the City of Houston over its controversial beard policy may be fast approaching a trial date. The officers have been assigned to limited duties, because they have a medical condition (PFB) that prohibits them from shaving. The departments beard committee concluded that the officers cannot work patrol duties because the beard prohibits them from getting a good seal in gas masks designed to protect officers in the event of a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Neurological) attack. These masks became mandatory for all officers after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City. According the committee a patrol officer should be able to respond to a CBRN call for service and hold the scene for 15 minutes or so until specialists arrive. But trial preparation and investigation revealed that the manufacturers of the masks (that costs taxpayers well over one million dollars) say that the masks are not designed to protect an individual from a CBRN attack. In other words, any officer who tries to use this mask on his way to hold down a CBRN compromised area will essentially be going to his death. And whats most alarming is that, according to our intelligence, Houston Police Officers dont know it. If officers are riding around with gas masks that cannot protect them during a CBRN attack then they have no way of protecting the public, creating another serious public safety concern. Imagine nearly 4,000 police officers riding around with gas masks that wont work during a CBRN attack, unbeknownst to them and their families. Does this not create a serious liability for the City of Houston, God forbid there is a fatality? According to our sources, even the Houston Police Officers Union has expressed serious concern that officers may be in some danger?
Where: Muhammad Mosque #45 Conference Room
Address: 4443 Old Spanish Trail Houston, TX 77021
What: Press Conference
When: 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A jury has sentenced a man convicted of intoxication manslaughter to 15 years in jail. The driver, a manager for Aramark Food Services at Minute Maid Park, was found guilty of killing a road worker.
Jurors deliberated the punishment for several hours Tuesday after closing statements were made. In court, Ray Wilson wept while making his closing remarks.
Defense attorneys said Wilson is a “good man” who has been “haunted” by the death of his wife in 1994. They went on to say he is a “brilliant manager” and “offers much to contribute to society.”
Prosecutors told jurors otherwise, saying he must be punished for hitting and killing a Texas Department of Transportation road worker before driving off. They pointed out Wilson’s previous intoxication convictions in Phoenix and Houston.
Meanwhile, the TABC is continuing its investigation into Minute Maid Park and Aramark. They have threatened to take away at least one of its liquor licenses.
Officials say Wilson became intoxicated while drinking and watching an Astros game at the park.
Wilson has been in custody since the summer of 2008.
The health care debate is as fierce as ever. But the town hall meetings have regained some measure of civility.
That’s because the hosts, in this case U.S. Rep. Gene Green, are carding attendees at the door to ensure only those living in his district can ask questions.
Green says in previous meetings the sign-in sheets indicate 60 percent of attendees were not his constituents.
“After each of them,” Green said, “I had my constituents come up and say, ‘I didn’t ask a question because everybody was shouting.’ And so we had to make a decision and the priority is our constituents.”
Green, a Houston Democrat, favors a public insurance plan option.
But most Republicans, like US Rep. Michael McCaul, who represents the Katy area, oppose the so-called public option.
“There are ways to fix this,” said McCaul, “without creating this whole new government bureaucracy that’s being proposed right now.”
Conservative columnist and former CNN “Crossfire” co-host Robert Novak has died after a yearlong battle with cancer, his family said Tuesday. He was 78. Novak died at home, over a year after doctors diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor in August 2008.
He was dubbed “The Prince of Darkness” by friends for his pessimistic persona, and he used the nickname as the title of his 2007 memoir.
However, Sam Feist, CNN’s political director, said the dour visage masked a “warm-hearted guy” who “cared a lot about the people who worked for him.”
“If you were a friend of Bob Novak’s, you couldn’t have a better friend,” Feist said.
Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, said the network was saddened by the death of “a journalist of the old school, hard-working, practical and passionate about our profession.”
“From its earliest days and for some 25 years, Bob shared generously with CNN and with CNN viewers his authority, credibility, humor and towering presence,” Walton said in a statement. “We’re grateful to have worked alongside him and send our respect and sympathy to his family.”
Novak was a veteran columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a regular commentator for CNN for 25 years, beginning when the network launched in 1980.