South Jersey's News Talk Leader!           Radio You Can Depend On!          
ABC National
Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Graffizone(NEW YORK) --  A former New York City police officer was indicted for attempting to cover up a crime scene after shooting a man in the face, multiple sources confirmed to ABC News.

Ritchard Blake turned himself in to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office on Friday and is expected to get arraigned on two counts of tampering with physical evidence charges, sources said.

Blake, 41, allegedly got into an altercation with Thavone Santana during the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 2, 2018 and fired two shots. One of the bullets burrowed through Santana's face and landed in his neck where it remains, according to a federal civil lawsuit he filed in January.

After the shooting, Blake allegedly told 911 he opened fired in self-defense because he was being robbed. The following day, video surveillance showed a different story, an internal investigation was launched and Blake was fired from the force.

Blake is not charged in the shooting itself but in the cover-up after police said he hovered over Santana, noticed the security cameras on a lamppost and planted a knife on the victim.

A law enforcement source told ABC News that "all the evidence was presented to the grand jury and they found that the shooting was justified."

According to the lawsuit, Blake has a history of violence.

"Sgt. Blake has a prominent and long history of violence, assaults and was the subject of Internal Affairs investigations of his actions in 2010, 2011 and 2016 and was disciplined for his violations of NYPD Policies."

Request for comment by ABC News from Blake's attorney Abe George was not immediately received.

George previously told ABC News his client acted in self-defense and that Santana was the aggressor.
 
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

ogolne/iStock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- A 17-year-old male was arrested over race-based threats against the Charlottesville school system, local police say.

The Virginia city's public schools were closed for two days -- Thursday and Friday -- in light of the threats that were made online.

 Charlottesville police announced Friday they had arrested a juvenile in connection to the online threats. He is being charged with one felony and one misdemeanor.

The police gave few details about the threats in question, announcing only that they were alerted to the "biased-based language targeting specific ethnic groups" at the public high school on Wednesday afternoon.

At a subsequent news conference, Charlottesville City Schools superintendent Rosa Atkins said that the teen was not a student at the school.

She said that the individual was "a person who is not a part of the Charlottesville school system and community" and added that he made the "hateful threat... under the guise of being a Charlottesville high school student."

Rashall Brackney, the chief of the Charlottesville Police Department, said at the news conference that the threats "referenced ethnic cleansing."

The entire public school system -- which includes seven elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and one education program for young patients at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital -- was closed on Thursday and Friday.

"We do not tolerate hate or racism. The entire staff and School Board stand in solidarity with our students of color — and with people who have been singled out for reasons such as religion or ethnicity or sexual identity in other vile threats made across the country or around the world. We are in this together, and a threat against one is a threat against all," the school board said in a statement announcing the closure.

 This is not the city's first brush with race-based issues. Charlottesville was the site of the deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017 where groups of white supremacists and counter protesters clashed on the streets.

Atkins said that the schools will be open on Monday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- At least 12 levees have been breached on the Missouri River in the last week as record flooding continues in the Plains and the Midwest.

Thousands of people have had to evacuate, including the entire towns of Craig, Nebraska, and Elwood, Kansas.

The Missouri River continues to rise north of Kansas City, where several towns are bracing for a near-record crest late Friday into Saturday morning. In addition, ice jams in Minnesota and Wisconsin are causing local rivers to suffer major flooding.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came out with an updated spring flood outlook on Thursday, and said moderate to major flooding will continue into May for the central U.S. This potentially unprecedented level of flooding could impact more than 200 million people through spring.

There is some rain in the forecast for the central U.S., but the models keep the heaviest precipitation south of the flooded zone. Locally, half an inch to 1 inch of rain is possible for the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas.

Nor'easter departs

The coastal storm brought more than 2 inches of rain to Washington’s Dulles Airport, enough to make it the wettest March day ever.

In western Virginia, some areas got up to 8 inches of heavy, wet snow, shutting down roads and stranding motorists.

The heaviest rain has lifted into coastal New England on Friday morning with heavy snow falling in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The storm lifts into Maine and southern Canada Friday night with strong winds behind it. Gusts could exceed 40 mph in some parts of the Northeast.

Additional snowfall forecast in the New England mountains could reach 6 to 12 inches.

Behind the storm system, wind chills could reach the teens and 20s in the Northeast from Friday night into Saturday morning.

Saturday will not feel like spring in the Northeast.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Jack Harold Jones (L) and Ronald Henry Stewart (R) in undated photos. (Arkansas Department of Corrections/Florida Department of Corrections) (FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Prosecutors in Florida are asking for a dead man’s murder conviction to be vacated after DNA testing showed he was wrongly convicted.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office filed a motion to exonerate Ronald Stewart for the murder of Regina Harrison, it said in a statement released on Thursday. Harrison was killed on May 2, 1983, just two days after her 20th birthday. Stewart, who had previously been sentenced to three concurrent 50-year prison terms for other crimes, including rape and burglary, pled no contest to the murder and was subsequently sentenced to 50 years in prison, according to court records.

Stewart died while incarcerated on Sept. 11, 2008.

Ten years later, the reinvestigation into Harrison's murder began when a written confession was handed over to law enforcement by the sister of Jack Harold Jones, a convicted murderer and rapist who was executed a year earlier by the state of Arkansas for the 1995 killing of Mary Phillips, 34.

Jones' sister said he had instructed her not to open the letter, which was written in 2006 or 2007, until one year after his execution.

In the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by ABC News, Jones appears to confess to the murder of a young woman who meets the description of Harrison in detail.

“I met her riding bikes,” the letter said. “We went to the beach, rode around down there, and came back up Sheridan and into the park. That’s where it happened.”

The letter prompted the Broward Sheriff’s Office to run the DNA collected from Harrison’s body in the national DNA database. The test revealed the DNA collected from Harrison’s body originated not from Stewart but from Jones, according to the motion.

DNA testing, which was not available in 1983 when Harrison was murdered, has exonerated more than 350 innocent people in the United States, according to the Innocence Project, an organization that uses DNA testing to help exonerate wrongly convicted people.

“Ronald Stewart would not have been charged with murder if DNA testing had been available at the time and he would not have been prosecuted for the murder if DNA testing had been available at the time,” the Broward State Attorney’s Office statement reads.

For Harrison’s family, though, the news of his wrongful conviction came too late and it has forced them to relive the pain of their lost loved one.

“In a practical sense, this doesn’t affect anybody that’s alive today. We got two bad guys and they’re both dead,” brother Richard Harrison, 58, told ABC News. “Though Stewart didn’t murder my sister, that didn’t make him any less evil, and that doesn’t make Jones any less dead.”

But Richard Harrison, who is an attorney in Florida, also said that he supports the state’s attorney’s effort to correct the record because it helps build trust with the community. He said that he has explained the news to his parents, both of whom are approaching 90 and have health issues.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Evgen_Prozhyrko/iStock(BERKELEY, W.Va.) -- Authorities in West Virginia have released dash-cam video showing police officers allegedly beating a 16-year-old who crashed a car after a high-speed chase.

The video, which was taken on Nov. 19, 2018 and released by the Berkeley County Prosecutor's Office, shows the teen's car driving ahead of the police before appearing to hit the brakes and crash into an electric pole in Martinsburg.

After the crash, the officers stop their vehicles nearby and subsequently pull him from the broken driver's side window in the smoking vehicle. Several officers can be seen then punching and kicking the suspect who is lying on the ground. One officer can even be seen putting a knee to the teen's neck.

In the video, which has no sound, the teen's face is blurred. At least five officers can be seen in the dashcam footage. At one point, with the teen's hands cuffed behind his back, an officer picks him up by the neck and throws him on the ground.

According to ABC News affiliate WCHS-TV, which obtained the footage, the prosecutor's office said the entire footage from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office patrol car was 8 minutes, 26 seconds long.

One of the responding officers appeared to have gotten injured in the chase.

In January, two West Virginia state troopers involved in the incident were fired after the incident, according to authorities.

One of those troopers has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly using excessive force that resulted in bodily injury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia said on Wednesday.

He faces a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law, WCHS-TV said.

A second state trooper involved in the incident was also fired, according to WCHS-TV.

Two deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office were also reportedly fired.

In December, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said the officers' actions were "plain ridiculous" and "inexcusable."

"I stand rock-solid with our police force in every way, shape, form or fashion but I'm not gonna stand rock-solid when something's wrong," he said.

The Berkeley Prosecutor's Office said in December the FBI was also investigating the case, along with local authorities.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

wrangel/iStock(NEW YORK) -- An illegal shark trafficker was caught in the jaws of law enforcement this week.

The New York State Attorney General's Office, inconjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation, announced it arrested Joshua Seguine on possession of seven sharks wih the intent to sell.

The sharks, all sandbar sharks, are a protected species under New York law, according to the attorney general.

Sandbar sharks cost about $11,500 to acquire legally, the attorney general's office said in a release.

The 38-year-old from LaGrangeville, New York, just outside Poughkeepsie, was officially charged with Illegal Commercialization of Fish, Shellfish, Crustaceans, and Wildlife.

"Harboring and selling protected species for one’s personal financial gain is not only illegal, it’s immoral. I applaud the work of DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, and Division of Marine Resources for the investigation that brought these crimes to light and the work of the Attorney General’s office that is bringing this individual to justice," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.

Seguine has been on DEC's radar for years, according to the attorney general's office.

He was stopped by authorities in July 2017, when five sharks were found in a tank in the back of his truck. He admitted he was selling the animals to DEC officials.

Seguine was allegedly selling the sharks on MonsterFishKeepers.com, a forum for large and rare fish. The site's marketplace does have a section outlining fish banned for sale in different states.

The DEC obtained a search warrant in 2017 and found the sharks in an 18-foot pool at his home. Officials also found a number of dead sharks, including two dead leopard sharks and a dead hammerhead shark.

Though the sharks were discovered almost two years ago, Seguine wasn't arraigned until Tuesday. His next court date is April 16.

The seven sandbar sharks are currently being taken care of at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Broward County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Cesar Sayoc, the man behind a campaign of letter bombs targeting prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, pleaded guilty to 65 counts in Manhattan federal court on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors more than doubled the number of charges immediately prior to the plea hearing.

Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida, was arrested in October after mass-mailing explosive devices to top Democrats, CNN and other prominent figures.

He pleaded guilty to four sets of charges related to all 16 IEDs. Officials said Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded.

In court, Sayoc indicated he did not mean to injure anyone but acknowledged the devices would have detonated.

Sayoc attached a picture of the intended victim marked with a red "X" outside each IED.

Days after the first package was delivered, FBI investigators found a latent fingerprint from an envelope mailed to Democratic California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The fingerprint belonged to Sayoc, FBI Director Chris Wray said in October.

Also among those to receive packages were Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, 2018, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service recovered all of the 16 IEDs.

"For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country, sending high-ranking officials and former elected leaders explosive packages through the mail, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. "Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake."

The FBI arrested Sayoc in Plantation, Florida, on Oct. 26, 2018, less than five days after the Oct. 22 recover of the first IED, which he mailed to George Soros in New York. The FBI seized a laptop from Sayoc's van, which contained lists of physical addresses that match many of the labels on the envelopes that he mailed.

The lists were saved at a file path on the laptop that includes a variant of Sayoc’s first name: "Users/Ceasar/Documents." A document from that path, titled "Debbie W.docx" and bearing a creation date of July 26, 2018, contained repeated copies of an address for "Debbie W. Schultz" in Sunrise, Florida, that is nearly identical, except for typographical errors, to the return address that Sayoc used on the packages.

Similar documents bearing file titles that include the name "Debbie," and creation dates of Sept. 22, 2018, contain exact matches of the return address used by Sayoc on the 16 envelopes.

The laptop also revealed extensive Internet search history related to his investigation of the intended victims and his desire to injure or kill them.

Searches included "hilary Clinton hime address," "Address for barack Obama" and "joseph biden jr."

"Sayoc’s crimes were intended to incite fear among his targets and uncertainty among the general public, leading to a significant deployment of various law enforcement resources in a nationwide search to find him," said FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr.

Sayoc faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. His sentencing was set for Sept. 12.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cesar Sayoc pleads guilty to mailing bombs targeting prominent Democrats



Subscribe To This Feed

poco_bw/iStock(HOUSTON) -- A massive chemical fire south of Houston, Texas, triggered an emergency order for locals to shelter in place even after a dangerous chemical was detected in the air.

Local officials and public health experts say most of the risk from the Deer Park fire has passed and that further testing didn't find elevated levels of the dangerous chemical after a release this morning.

But activists say the nearly week-long incident brought attention to the risk to communities located near facilities in the U.S. that use dangerous chemicals on a daily basis.

"We're all being completely violated in a way that we're really not talking about," Yvette Arellano, an activist with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, or TEJAS, told ABC News earlier this week.

She said TEJAS has been pushing for a more comprehensive air monitoring system around the chemical facilities near Houston, harsher enforcement of violations, and more transparency about the impact of fires like this on the surrounding area.

The group says this week's fire brought attention to incidents they see all the time.

The Houston Chronicle reported in 2016 sees an incident at a facility working with hazardous chemicals every six weeks on average.

"This is the reason why, whenever there's a fire people finally get to see what the home of the largest petrochemical complex looks like only when this sort of thing happens and then they turn a blind eye," said Anna Parras, another member of the group.

After Hurricane Harvey, storm-related damage triggered a separate toxic fire that prompted calls for companies to be more prepared for disasters and other unexpected scenarios that could cause problems for the public.

Local officials insisted the order to stay inside was a precaution and that further testing didn’t find elevated levels of the chemical. Benzene has been linked to leukemia and other health problems but the concern is typically for long term exposures.

Officials from the company, Intercontinental Terminals Company, said the chemicals were released when trying to cover a compromised tank of chemicals early Thursday morning but no additional emissions were detected.

But throughout the week exposure to the chemicals, smoke, and small particles from the fire led to concern about the health impacts to children, older populations, and people with chronic illnesses.

Susan Arnold, an occupational health professor at the University of Minnesota, agreed with local officials that the public health threat from the smoke earlier in the week and the benzene release was probably limited and not a greater concern if tests haven't continued to show high levels.

“We want people to be informed but not inappropriately alarmed and what we know about benzene, the cancers we know about typically occur from exposure over a long period of time,” she told ABC.

Some activists are still skeptical about the comments from officials and say they still want more federal oversight of chemical facilities. Arellano said she's still concerned and wants more information from state officials on whether residents should be concerned about exposure to chemicals or ash from their homes, pets, or even swimming pools.

"Our biggest concern that folks take protective measures post everything to make sure they're not exposed to any residue," she said.

Environmental groups conducted their own monitoring after Hurricane Harvey and found Benzene levels they said were cause for concern after the Arkema fire, even though it didn’t go over Texas’ recommended limit, according to reporting from ProPublica and the Texas Tribune.

Texas has a higher limit for when Benzene released into the air triggers public health warnings than other states like California, which has some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the country. Activists who have been involved in suing to force the Trump administration to implement new rules on chemical facilities say that’s one reason there should be more federal oversight.

"I know everybody says well this is a matter for states but if you think about the public health threats it's silly to think residents in California need to have lower benzene than people in Texas," said Daniel Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

But a former EPA official who worked as deputy administrator for the agency in Texas said EPA only takes a big role in these situations when local officials ask them to, or if there's an extenuating circumstance. Stan Meiburg, former deputy administrator for EPA Region 6, said Texas officials are very experienced in dealing with these kinds of incidents

But he said it's crucial for officials to communicate clearly with communities who may not have a lot of trust in government officials, especially in Texas where the state agency has been accused of close ties to industry. He said its especially important in a situation like this for government to communicate with and help communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution or have fewer resources.

"One thing government can do is make sure communities in close proximity to these facilities are being protected in the same way people with more advantages are," he told ABC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Baltimore Police Dept.(BALTIMORE) -- A father and daughter who authorities say fabricated a story of a panhandler stabbing his wife to death were extradited to Baltimore early Thursday to face murder charges as newly released documents show the husband allegedly asked his brother to help kill the victim.

Keith and Valeria Smith were brought back to Maryland by the Baltimore Police Department's Warrant Apprehension Task Force after being caught in Texas earlier this month while attempting to make a run for the Mexican border, authorities said.

Arrest warrants for the father and daugther released Thursday show that in the days prior to the Dec. 1 killing of Jacquelyn Smith, Keith Smith allgedly tried to get his brother to help him kill his wife of five years.

'Get rid of Jacquelyn'

Keith Smith's brother, Vick Smith, told police that his brother told him that Jacquelyn Smith was talking about divocing him, according to the arrest warrants. Vick Smith told police, according to the warrants, that he reached out to a close friend of his brother and told him that Keith Smith "asked him to get rid of Jacquelyn, which he interrupted to mean kill/murder her."

Valeria and Keith Smith arrived at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport shortly after midnight Thursday and were immediately driven to the Central Booking Intake Facility in Baltimore, police said.

Baltimore police released video and photos of the pair being taken off the plane on the tarmac, put into handcuffs and driven away.

It was not immediately clear when they will appear in court.

They are both charged with first-degree murder.

Story 'was not true'

In the the arrest warrants, Valeria Smith's involvment in the killing is described as being "an accessory after the fact in the murder of Jacquelyn Smith." Keith Smith, 54, according to his warrant, "did assault and murder" his wife, who was stabbed five times in the chest.

The supects initially claimed Jacquelyn Smith, 54, who worked as an electrical engineer at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, was stabbed by one of two panhandlers she spotted while driving through East Baltimore.

In interviews with homicide detectives and at a news conference shortly after the killing, the pair claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed when she asked her husband to pull over so she could give $10 to a female panhandler who appeared to be holding a baby.

Keith Smith told ABC News shortly after the killing that both panhandlers approached their car and the male panhandler stabbed his wife and snatched her chain as he and the woman were thanking her for the money. He said the woman panhandler reached into the car, grabbed his wife's purse and ran.

"She was trying to help someone out," Keith Smith told ABC News in a Dec. 3 interview. "I think the reality is, we forget about the times that we're living in. You may have the best intentions on helping this person, but when you let a person get into your safe zone, you're actually opening yourself up to whatever this person has intended for you."

Keith and Valeria Smith told police the killing happened as they were returning home from an American Leagon Hall, where they had been celebrating Valeria Smith's 28th birthday, though records show her birthday is on Oct. 30.

On March 3, Michael Harrison, acting commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, said the story told by Keith and Valeria Smith "was not true."

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh slammed the suspects for using issues of homelessness as a ruse in an alleged attempt to cover up the killing.

"These individuals took advantage of a situation, a city that is already dealing with its own problems," Pugh said earlier this month. "We're looking forward to this cruel act being brought to justice."

Attempting to flee country

The father and daughter were arrested that day in Harlingen, Texas, which is near the Mexican border. Police said they suspect the pair was attempting to cross the border and disappear.

Since his arrest, Keith Smith's criminal history has come under increased scrutiny. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to robbing the same bank in Timonium, Maryland, three times in nine months, according to reports obtained by ABC News from the Baltimore County Police Department.

He served six years of a 12-year prison sentence for robbery with a deadly weapon and for fleeing the police, according the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services,

Keith Smith was released from prison on Feb. 9, 2007. He married Jacquelyn Smith in 2014.

Baltimore detectives became suspicious of Keith and Valeria Smith after finding inconsistencies and contradictions in their stories of what happened to Jacquelyn Smith, according to the arrest warrants.

The father and daughter claimed the killing happened in East Baltimore, but none of the 27 surveillance cameras in the location they said the stabbing occurred showed the family's car in the area at the time of the homicide, according to the warrants.

Cell phone records showed that at the time of the stabbing Valeria Smith's phone pinged in Druid Hill Park, northwest of where she and her father claim the stabbing happened.

When confronted about the location of the killing, Keith Smith allgedly told investigators that he had gotten lost driving home and ended up in Druid Hill Park, where they stopped for 12 to 16 minutes and looked at photos they had taken earlier that evening, according to the arrest warrants.

When Valeria Smith was confronted about her cell phone pinging at the park, she told detectives they were never in the park, according to the arrest warrants. She then stopped speaking with investigators and asked for an attorney, the warrants state.

Investigators also were granted court permission to wiretap the cell phones of both Keith and Valeria Smith.

In calls detectives intercepted in late February, Keith Smith was heard trying to book one-way flight reservations to Cuba and Canada, but was unable to because he did not have a valid U.S. passport, according to the arrest warrants.

Wiretapped trying to book flight to Cuba

"While on the phone with the reservationist, Keith inquired about traveling to the Virgin Islands without a passport," according to the warrant. "The reservationist advised him that he could travel to the U.S. Virgin Island with just a driver's license."

Computer records seized in the case also showed that Keith Smith conducted a search on whether a passport was needed to travel to Jamaica, and "if there is a way to cross into Mexico without going through the border," according to the arrest warrants.

Keith and Valeria Smith were just 20 minutes from the Mexican border when they were nabbed.

"Based on the results of this investigation and Mr. Smith's attempt to flee the country, the investigation has failed to provide suspects other than Mr. and Ms. Smith," detectives wrote in the arrest warrants.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Onnes/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When a police officer dies in the line of duty it often prompts an outpouring of generosity from within the ranks to support the officer’s family.

But Lorraine Shanley, a volunteer treasurer for Survivors of the Shield, a nonprofit that helps the families of fallen New York Police Department, "monetized people's generosity" by stealing more than 20 percent of the donations to the organization, federal prosecutors said.

Shanley was arrested Thursday and charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection to an alleged scheme in which she rerouted more than $400,000 of the charity’s money into an account for her own use.

Shanley "fraudulently obtained and expended at least approximately $410,000 held in the checking account of a charitable organization for which she volunteered as Treasurer by, among other things, forging the signature of another authorized signatory of the charity's checks, double endorsing the charity's checks and cashing and depositing them into her own personal accounts, writing unauthorized checks and making unauthorized checking account payments to pay for personal expenses and to distribute money to herself and family members," the criminal complaint said.

The criminal complaint said Shanley spent the charity’s money to pay for her grandchild’s private school tuition, landscaping for herself and Barbara Streisand concert tickets.

Shanley was the volunteer treasurer of Survivors of the Shield from at least 2010 to 2017, court records say, and in that time the charity received nearly $2 million in donations, most of which came from NYPD employees.

“Lorraine Shanley violated her position of trust at a charity and victimized families who have already sacrificed so much,” said IRS-CI acting special agent in charge Jonathan Larsen.

Shanley, 68, of Staten Island, faces up to 30 years in prison. She turned herself in and faces an initial appearance in court Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t immediately clear whether she had an attorney.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

Nathan Hawkins/Big Country Snakes(ALBANY, Texas) -- A Texas resident's world was rattled after he learn he was sharing his home with several dozen deadly reptiles.

Last week, the man crawled beneath his home near Albany to fix his cable line because his television was "acting up" due to the high winds in the area, Abilene-based Big Country Snake Removal wrote on Facebook.

While down there, the man saw a "few" rattlesnakes and quickly crawled out and called the professional snake removers, according to the company.

But when they got there, they immediately "saw that that wasn't the case."

Several rattlers can be heard in the background of the video Big Country Snake Removal posted to social media.

"You can see there's a baby there, one there, there's one right in front of me here, there's on up top right there, there's several over there, and then ... there's a huge pile of them right there," the brave professional remover says, pointing to several locations with a flashlight.

He continued, "There's some really big snakes over there. There's just snakes everywhere under here."

The removal strategy consisted of retrieving the closest snakes first and then working back to the corner where most of the snakes were located.

The serpents didn't go without a fight. The video shows the men, lying on their torso due to the limited head space, carefully maneuvering the snake traps as the hissing reptiles attempted to squirm and wiggle free from the tool's grasp.

"We just want to make sure that they can't get behind us and we're aware of where they're at at all times," the man said. "We still got a long way to go."

The company removed a total of 45 rattlesnakes from the home.

The residents, who keep their yard "nice and clean," would only see a few rattlesnakes each year.

"Rattlesnakes don’t care how nice your house is or what kind car you drive -- they care simply about survival," the company said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

New Orleans Fire Department(NEW ORLEANS) -- At least three people were killed in New Orleans on Wednesday night when a vehicle crashed into a beauty salon, engulfing the car and building in flames, authorities said.

The crash occurred a short time after police began pursuing a vehicle that matched the description of one reported stolen. The car in question sped away and managed to evade police.

Officers then saw billowing smoke in the distance, according to a statement from the New Orleans Police Department.

A vehicle had smashed into a beauty salon at the intersection of Washington Avenue and South White Street, sparking the fire.

Officers on scene were able to help a woman and two children escape from the burning structure. The three were transported to a local hospital and were listed in stable condition, police said.

Crews from the New Orleans Fire Department pulled a woman from the second story of the building, but she died on the way to the hospital.

Two individuals believed to have been inside the crashed vehicle also died, police said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A coastal storm is forming near the North Carolina coast and is expected to move up the coast Thursday into Friday.

The nor’easter will bring heavy rain, damaging winds and heavy wet snow to the Northeast.

Ahead of the storm, numerous states from Virginia to Vermont, are under flood and heavy snow alerts.

Heavy rain will spread into Washington, D.C., and the Mid-Atlantic area Thursday morning, and then move into Philadelphia and New York City by the afternoon and evening.

Some of the worst flooding is forecast for Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia later Thursday.

Rain will move into Boston later Thursday evening, but flooding is not expected.

By Friday morning, the storm system will move into northern New England with heavy rain, wind and snow.

Very strong winds are expected on the back side of the storm from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Gusts could exceed 50 mph.

Rainfall totals will be the heaviest in the Mid-Atlantic, where locally 3 inches of rain could fall. This would lead to urban flooding in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Further inland, snow will be wet and heavy in western New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Some areas could see up to a foot of heavy wet snow.

Flooding concerns continue in Plains

Record flooding is ongoing along the Missouri River, where the town of Craig, Missouri, has been submerged due to a levee failure Thursday. The entire town of Craig has been told to evacuate.

Rivers and streams continue to rise downstream on the Missouri River in St. Joseph, Missouri, and Atchison, Kansas. Some of the worst flooding these cities have seen is expected this weekend.

Further north, snow continues to melt in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, where rivers also continue to rise and major flooding is expected next week. Ice jams are also occurring in these areas.

Flood warnings continue all along the central U.S. from the Dakotas to the Gulf Coast.

More rain is expected in the central U.S. as western storms moves east.

Thankfully, the latest computer models show the heaviest rain will move south of the flood zone. Nevertheless, half an inch to 1 inch of rain is possible for the Missouri and Mississippi River valleys this weekend and into early next week.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

LPETTET/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The largest Powerball jackpot of the year rose to over half a billion dollars on Wednesday. But if you were hoping to take it home, you'll have to wait another few days.

For the 24th time in a row, no one hit the winning numbers on Wednesday night.

The drawing on Saturday will be worth $625 million, with a cash payout of $380.6 million.

The winning numbers for Wednesday were 10-14-50-53-63 with a Powerball of 21.

The jackpot was worth $562.1 million on Wednesday, or a cash payout of $330 million. That is the eight-largest jackpot in Powerball history.

There was no big winner again on Wednesday, but one person in South Carolina matched all five balls and chose the Power Play option to take home $2 million. There were winners of $1 million in four states: Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey and South Carolina.

The $625 million drawing is the seventh-largest in U.S. lottery history, and the fourth-largest in Powerball history.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Subscribe To This Feed

v777999/iStock(MARICOPA, Ariz.) -- A YouTube star is accused of physically abusing her seven adoptive children, who told authorities they were pepper-sprayed, beaten and deprived of food and water if they didn't participate in her videos.

Machelle Hobson, 48, whose YouTube channel "Fantastic Adventures" has garnered almost 800,000 subscribers and 250 million views since 2012, was arrested last Friday following a welfare check at her home in Maricopa, Arizona, about 35 miles south of downtown Phoenix, according to the complaint filed in Pinal County Superior Court.

A 19-year-old woman told the Maricopa Police Department on March 13 that her younger adoptive stepsister disclosed being abused by her mother, Hobson.

Officers then conducted a welfare check at Hobson's residence, where they found seven children "who appeared to be malnourished, due to their pale completion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight, and they stated they were thirsty and hungry," according to the probable cause statement.

All seven children were removed from Hobson's custody.

Police interviewed two of the children and attempted to speak with a third but "she was visibly nervous, shaking, and it appeared she was too scared to answer any questions," according to the probable cause statement. The four other children were not questioned.

One child told police Hobson locked her in a closet for days at a time without food or water and made her wear a pull-up diaper, not allowing her to use the bathroom.

The child alleged her adoptive mother would spray her and her six siblings with pepper spray, spank them and force them to take ice baths. She allegedly would further punish them if they resisted, according to the complaint.

The child told police she was once pepper-sprayed between her legs and was in pain for several days.

Another child told police, "I either get beat with a hanger or belt," "or a brush," "or get pepper-sprayed from head to toe," according to the probable cause statement. He also alleged Hobson would grab his "privates" and, on numerous occasions, pinched him with her fingernails until he bled.

Hobson denied the allegations, saying the only forms of punishment she uses are grounding, spanking and making the kids stand in the corner, according to the complaint.

All of the kids mentioned having to partake in their mother's YouTube series, which featured the adopted children in different scenarios, according to the complaint. The kids told police they were punished if they forgot their lines or didn't follow Hobson's directions.

"This is one of the reasons their mom took them out of school, so they can keep filming their series and they mentioned they have not been in school for years," the probable cause statement reads.

The YouTube channel was still up on the video-sharing site as of Wednesday morning but later appeared to be taken down. YouTube will terminate accounts upon discovery of repeated violations of its community guidelines.

"We work closely with leading child safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people. When we're made aware of serious allegations of this nature we investigate and take action," a YouTube spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Thursday morning. "We immediately suspended monetization when notified of the arrest. In cases where there are Community Guidelines violations, we may take additional actions, including terminating the channel."

The Pinal County Attorney's Office called the allegations "highly disturbing and alarming."

"Children are our community's most precious resource, and this office is committed to holding those individuals who choose to harm them fully accountable for their actions," Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Hobson and her two adult sons, Logan and Ryan Hackney, were taken into custody by local law enforcement at their residence on March 15, according to the complaint.

Logan Hackney allegedly admitted to police that the children would be locked in the closet for long periods of time as punishment and that he had knowledge of the alleged pepper spray and ice baths. He also told police he observed physical injuries on the kids and heard them scream and cry, according to the complaint.

Logan Hackney claimed he had a discussion with his brother about reporting the child abuse, and the children told police Ryan Hackney would sneak them food when they were locked in the closet.

Hobson and her two sons had their initial court appearance on Saturday. Hobson's bond was set at $200,000 secured and she remains in custody, according to the Pinal County Attorney's Office. She was booked on two counts of child molestation, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and five counts of child neglect.

Hobson has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 26. The attorney appointed to Hobson did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Thursday morning.

Hobson's last name was listed as "Hackney" in the initial complaint by the Pinal County Attorney's Office, which later changed it.

Logan and Ryan Hackney, Hobson's biological children, were booked into Pinal County Jail on seven counts each of failing to report child abuse. They were released on their own recognizance on Tuesday and are due back in court April 8.

Logan and Ryan Hackney have hired a private attorney, who did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Thursday morning.

Zeb and Tawny Schnorr, a couple in Scottsdale, Arizona, run their own YouTube channel starring their 10-year-old and 6-year-old sons called "Extreme Toys TV," which has amassed over 4.1 million subscribers and over 2.1 million views since 2015.

The Schnorrs told ABC News they have never met Hobson but her two adult sons contacted them about a year ago for help with filming and editing content. And just a few weeks ago, Logan and Ryan Hackney brought over Hobson's seven adoptive children to the couple's house to film a collaboration.

The Schnorrs told ABC News they didn't notice anything out of the ordinary with the seven children, who appeared to be well-behaved and playing normally with their two kids. The parents said they were shocked to learn of the allegations.

"I just wish that there was something I would've seen," Tawny Schnorr told ABC News in an interview Wednesday. "I was one-on-one with these kids, and there was no sign they were in danger."

"I had those kids in my house, twice they were here, and I just feel like it was my responsibility as a mom to help them and I feel like I could've saved them," she added, in between tears. "The things those kids had gone through and were going through, my heart breaks for them because nobody deserves that."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



On Air Now
Scott Cronick
Scott Cronick
4:00pm - 6:00pm
Off The Press with Scott Cronick
Email Comments
My Profile
WOND Facebook

Community Calendar
Weather