Fake IRS agents called 366,000 seeking money; 3,000 fell for scam since 2013, investigator says

By: Martha Neil

Multiple criminal groups may be responsible for telephone calls to 366,000 people by fake Internal Revenue Service agents who are trying to trick targets into providing funds to the scammers.  A total of 3,000 people have fallen for the scheme since 2013, and one victim lost $500,000, a deputy inspector general for the U.S. Treasury Department said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday. The scheme has cost taxpayers more than $15 million, reports the Associated Press. Continue reading

NBA Great Backing Marijuana Legalization Campaign in Ohio

By: John Seewer

marijuana_legal_gavelNBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, a former current NFL player and a prominent fashion designer are among the investors in a group that wants to legalize marijuana use in Ohio, organizers of the campaign announced.  The group called ResponsibleOhio on Friday released a list of 11 backers who include Ohio business people and philanthropists.  It’s one of two legalization campaigns in Ohio despite opposition from all five statewide officeholders. Responsible Ohio hopes to put its ballot measure before voters this fall. The plan would amend the Ohio Constitution to make marijuana legal for medical and personal use for those over 21 years old. Continue reading

Prosecutor’s PowerPoint closing leads to overturned conviction

By: Debra Cassans Weiss

PowerPointProjectorThe Washington Supreme Court has overturned a conviction for murder and other crimes in the slaying and robbery of an armored car guard because of a prosecutor’s PowerPoint presentation during the closing argument.The Jan. 22 opinion (PDF) said the presentation amounted to “egregious misconduct” during the Pierce County trial of Odies Walker, report the Seattle Times, the News Tribune, the Associated Pressand the Marshall Project. Continue reading

Judges who dined with indicted friend violated revised ethics rule, court says

By: Debra Cassens Weiss

restaurant_table_settingTwo New Jersey judges who attended church dinners that included an indicted friend created an appearance of impropriety, but should not be disciplined, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled.  The state supreme court adopted a new, objective standard to judge the appearance of propriety and found it was violated by the judges, Raymond Reddin of Passaic County and Gerald Keegan of Paterson Municipal Court. The court said it wouldn’t impose sanctions because of its adoption of the new standard and the judges’ prior “untarnished” record and “fine reputations as public servants.” Continue reading

Baker who would not decorate a cake with anti-gay slurs faces civil rights complaint

By: Terry Carter

cake_decoratingColorado officials are again dealing with a baker refusing a customer’s request for a cake having to do with same-sex relationships, but with a different twist. A suburban Denver man has complained that by not agreeing to decorate a cake with anti-gay slurs and images, a baker engaged in religious discrimination against him, the Associated Press reports.  Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery in Denver, says she is the subject of a confidential review by Colorado’s Civil Rights Division on the complaint. Silva told the AP that her bakery took an order for some Bible-shaped cakes for a customer. Then the man handed her a list of anti-gay phrases and slurs he wanted written on the cakes, and asked her to create an image on it with two men holding hands but crossed over by an “X.” Silva said the man would not allow her employees to copy the list, and refused to read the words out loud. Continue reading

Reports: FBI completes probe of Ferguson shooting

By: Wire Services

Unknown-1The FBI has completed its investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed, black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, according to the Associated Press and The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors had begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson, after an FBI investigation found no evidence to support charges against him.  Officials and experts have said such a prosecution against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson would be highly unlikely, in part because of the extraordinarily high legal standard federal prosecutors would need to meet. Continue reading

Judge blocks Sheriff Arpaio’s workplace raids of undocumented workers

By: Lisa De Bode

UnknownA federal judge has ordered Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to stop conducting raids on undocumented immigrants who are using stolen identities to work. Critics say the raids, carried out under two identity theft laws, have torn hundreds of families apart.  U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled in a preliminary injunction Monday that Arpaio’s tactics were likely unconstitutional and halted the raids, at least until a federal court reaches its decision in a class-action lawsuit aimed at ending the tactic. Continue reading