A criminal investigation has begun into the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal — and former Superintendent Beverly Hall could play a large role, the AJC reports:
The subpoena, issued by a Fulton County grand jury, seeks comprehensive information dating back to 1999 regarding teacher transfers and demotions, bonuses paid to employees for improved test scores and copies of complaints from parents, teachers or students of possible improprieties related to Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
The subpoena also seeks signed copies of "any and all oaths of office" taken by Hall when she was superintendent.
"It's the first shot across the bow," criminal defense attorney Jack Martin said. "This is a clear indication they are looking at criminal charges and that prosecutors are using the grand jury to get the records that could provide circumstantial evidence to support the investigation."
The subpoena also requests information from a federal grand jury that looked into the cheating scandal last year on behalf of the U.S. Attorney General. APS teachers and administrators could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of giving false statements to investigators or falsifying documents. Hall has said she regrets for not doing enough to prevent APS educators changing test scores but maintains through her lawyer that she did not know anything about widespread cheating.
This past Tuesday, officers from the Georgia Department of Revenue showed up at the Plaza Theatre and seized all eight of the venerable cinema's vintage arcade games for "vending law violations."
While "seized" is, technically, the correct legal term, the tax cops didn't physically remove the machines. For now, they're all still sitting in the Plaza lobby, but they've been unplugged and tagged with stickers that threaten dire consequences to anyone foolish enough to peel 'em off. (Go on, we dare ya!)
What's all this about? Well, it turns out the machines were lacking stickers showing that permit fees had been paid — similar to the tag stickers we have to buy for our car license plates every time our birthday rolls around. Or, as Plaza owner Jonathan Rej puts it: "You've got to give the government its cut."
Ya'll remember Pat Swindall, the right-wing Congressman from DeKalb who spent a year in Club Fed on six counts of perjury in the late '80s for lying about a conversation in which, according to Atlanta Unfiltered, "Swindall discussed the possible use of $850,000 in illegal drug proceeds to finance cost overruns in the construction of his Stone Mountain house." Pretty sleazy.
Well, looks like his younger brother, Phillip, is getting ready to top that with a possible 52-year stretch for bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Apparently, Phil, 50, opened a car dealership in 2004 with an $8.2 million bank loan, which was backed with collateral by a partner in Colorado.
We'll let the irascible Patrick Crosby of the U.S. Attorney's Office give the details:
By the summer of 2005, the bank’s auditors showed Swindall was more than $3.5 million in debt. Swindall claimed most of the debts were due to slow payments from a fleet customer. Ultimately, the auditors determined that the fleet customer had paid Swindall, but Swindall had not paid the bank. Swindall had in fact used the $3.5 million so he could operate another dealership, pay off his credit cards, live a high-end lifestyle for himself and his family including foreign vacations, household expenses and household employees. The losses to the Colorado business partner and the bank exceeded $3.5 million.
The second scheme began in 2009, when Swindall opened another dealership “Auto Tailor, Inc.” in Duluth. Over the next year, he purchased more than 30 cars from other dealers either on consignment or by sending the dealers insufficient fund checks. He then sold the cars to customers online through eBay. The evidence showed that Swindall pocketed over $490,000, and never provided the customers with titles to the cars, or paid the other dealers.
In yet a third fraud scheme, in August 2009, Swindall engaged in identity theft and used an employee’s name and other personal information to obtain a $175,000 loan from “Dealer Service Corporation,” as part of another business-related transaction designed to ultimately enrich Swindall.
That doesn't seem right. Anyway, Swindall was convicted in federal court yesterday, with sentencing scheduled for September. He faces a maximum sentence of 52 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million. Ouch.
Finally, a local(ish) woman has been embroiled in WeinerGate.
A fourth woman has admitted to exchanging provocative online messages with embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Traci Nobles, a 34-year-old physical education promoter from Athens, Ga., was outed by the Las Vegas Sun after an unnamed roommate tipped off the paper by forwarding a screenshot of messages Noble had exchanged with Weiner on Facebook.
"I really regret that this was sent to you," Nobles told the Sun. "She thought someone should know."
She declined to elaborate further.
After the jump, a lame excerpt from one of Noble's and Weiner's Facebook chats ...
Four low-level city employees took the perp-walk this morning after police showed up at City Hall to arrest them for theft.
We're still waiting on an APD press release, but what we understand so far is that city officials were recently alerted that a few city maintenance workers were suspected of having sold city-owned filing cabinets and other metal items to a local scrap dealer.
Note to aspiring criminal masterminds: Before you unload stolen goods, makes sure you remove the numbered stickers that read, "Property of the City of Atlanta."
Anyway, the workers were arrested after coming to work this morning. According to Reese McCranie, spokesman for Mayor Reed, the city could have simply fired the employees or issued a standard arrest warrant, but wanted to make a more definitive statement.
"The suspects were arrested on the job in front of their co-workers because this administration wanted to send the strong signal that stealing from the city will not be tolerated," McCranie says.
And, yes, the employees have been fired.
The LGBT rights group is less than pleased, however, with the Braves' response to the incident. In a statement issued today, they expressed concern that "there seems to be a team culture that has perpetuated this intolerance for over a decade," referring to former Brave John Rocker's 1999 racist, sexist and homophobic rant to a Sports Illustrated reporter (in which he referred to homosexuals as "queers" and proclaimed to hate all the "foreigners" in New York City).
But, do two incidents in 12 years constitute a culture of homophobia within the Braves organization? Georgia Equality believes so:
"While this event was 12 years apart from the incident with McDowell, the Braves are one of the only Major League Baseball team that has had this virulent and recurring problem. Beyond individual punishments, the Braves need to take a moment to look at themselves and consider what team culture they want to engender. What is the face they want to reflect to themselves and to their community? Where is the local action stemming from the team that started this firestorm?"
McDowell has issued an apology — but it's pretty weak:
"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions."
H/T to GA Voice.
According to a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania by Wyoming couple Crystal and Brian Byrd, Aaron's installs a software called PC Rental Agent in the computers it leases, which, according to the product's website, "provides the ability to remotely lock and secure your rental inventory preventing anyone from using it." The site doesn't say anything about web cam pics, but the couple claims they found out about the software when the manager of their local Aarons attempted to repossess the computer for non-payment (they had, in fact, paid the entire balance) and showed them that he had access to a web cam image of Bryan Byrd taken from the computer.
Their most obvious concern: have the Aaron's people seen their butts?
"Crystal gets online before she gets a shower and checks her grades," Brian Byrd said. "Who knows? They could print that stuff off there and take it home with them."
He added: "I've got a 5-year-old boy who runs around all day and sometimes he gets out of the tub running around for 20, 30 seconds while we're on the computer. What if they took a picture of that? I wouldn't want that kind of garbage floating around out there."
The Byrds filed a lawsuit under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, seeking unspecified damages. Neither attorneys for Aaron's nor the company that makes PC Rental Agent were aware of the lawsuit.
This reminds me of an old commercial for this pre-big box electronics store called Newmark & Lewis in which they warn that proprietor Dick Lewis is "watching you." It used to terrify me as a kid. HOW CAN DICK LEWIS SEE ME? I guess now I know how.
Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was charged with drunken driving, another blow to a team already dealing with allegations that pitching coach Roger McDowell spewed homophobic comments before a game in San Francisco last weekend.
Gordy Wright, a spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, said a trooper stopped Lowe's vehicle about 10 p.m. Thursday on an Atlanta street. The trooper detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage and administered a field sobriety test, which resulted in Lowe's arrest.
Besides DUI, Lowe was also charged with reckless driving and improper lane change. About those allegations against pitching coach McDowell, a Fresno, Calif. family — represented by high-profile
attention monger attorney Gloria Allred — has accused him of spewing gay slurs and threatening them with a bat at a game in San Francisco. McDowell has since apologized, but The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is calling for disciplinary action.
The Braves released the following terse statement about Lowe's DUI:
Obviously we are concerned and disappointed about the events involving Derek Lowe overnight. We are currently gathering information and plan to address this matter later today.
The now-infamous video of an Atlanta police officer decking an unruly woman in a Buckhead IHOP only tells part of the story: cop grabs woman, woman's friend intervenes, said friend gets punched by cop. But how'd it all start?
According Officer J. Vidal's narrative from that night — or, rather, early Saturday morning; just before 3 a.m. — the kerfuffle began when the women wouldn't shut up. He says he heard Cynthia Freeman — the woman whose collar he's clutching at the beginning of the video — yelling in the booth behind where he was standing, so he asked her to be quiet or leave. According to Vidal, Freeman refused, and told him that she's a criminal justice major and is familiar with the law.
"She stated that this is a public place and she knows her first amendment rights," Vidal wrote in his report, "I advised her that IHOP is private property and that I am employed by IHOP. I also advised her that she would have to leave the property if she continued to keep yelling. Ms. Freeman stated that she knew the law and wasn’t going anywhere. Ms. [Roberta] Caban [told me] to get out of her face."
Apparently, Freeman didn't believe that Vidal was a police officer. She said she refused to leave, and threatened to call the cops on him. That's when Vidal decided she was under arrest.
"I tried to get her out of the booth, and she resisted," Vidal wrote. He then says that Caban grabbed his arm and Freeman threw punches at his body.
Enter Ashley Leavell. Here's how Vidal describes what the video shows:
Ms. Ashley Leavell came over to the booth and started yelling to leave Ms. Freeman alone. Officer C. Heflin arrived and assisted me in trying to get the incident under control. Officer Heflin advised Ms. Leavell to stay back and Ms. Leavell punched me in the left side of my face. I returned the punch and struck her in her face. I then grabbed Ms. Leavell and tried to put her in custody. Ms. Leavell resisted arrest after a short struggle, I placed her in custody.
Caban, Freeman, Leavell and a fourth woman named Vanessa Chancey were arrested, and Leavell was transported to Grady Detention.
After the jump, TWO videos of the whole thing going down. What say you?
Seldom a week goes by without some unsuspecting coffee drinker having his or her laptop, iPad or iPhone absconded with in a local coffee shop. Once in a while, those shameless technology thieves get caught.
On Saturday evening, citizens help police nab 19-year-old Decatur resident Antavious Monds after they saw him dart out of Caribou Coffee on Moreland clutching a MacBook. Here's the police narrative (names deleted):
On April 16th, at approximately 5:45 p.m., an Atlanta police officer on patrol saw a man running out of the Caribou Coffee shop on Caroline Street in the Edgewood Retail District. The man, later identified as Monds, was being chased by another man. Monds, who was holding an Apple Mac Book laptop in one hand, turned around to punch in the chest the man who was chasing, him.
That man told the officer, “He just robbed someone.” The officer joined the pursuit in his patrol car. Monds continued running and knocked over a woman in the parking lot while attempting to flee. [A second citizen] saw the officer chasing Monds and grabbed him. Monds also punched [the second man] in the chest.
[The citizen] released his grip when the officer got out of the patrol car, but Monds continued to resist. The officer noticed Monds looking around, as if to escape. Monds refused the officer’s orders to lay on the ground and stop resisting, so he deployed a short burst of pepper spray to Monds’ face. Monds relented and the officer was able to handcuff him.
[The victim] showed up at the scene and told the officer she was sitting in the coffee shop when the man she identified as Monds came in from the Moreland Ave. door and grabbed her computer while it was on her lap. [She] attempted to hang on to the laptop, but let go. [The first man], who worked behind the counter, gave chase to Monds.
Monds is being charged with robbery and simple battery. For coffee drinkers still worried about having their stuff stolen, I present the Laptop Theft Prevention Device (patent pending).
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