Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

National News

How Police Busted a Businessman Accused of Faking His Death

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Florida businessman’s alleged attempt to fake his death came to a halt when authorities said they caught him in North Carolina applying for a driver’s license and passport with a stolen identity.

Authorities said they first sniffed out discrepancies in Jose Lantigua’s application because he didn’t have all the accurate information about the man whose identity he was using, a retired postal worker living in New York.

“It’s been a long time since I signed my true name,” Lantigua said when he waived his Miranda Rights in writing, according to his criminal complaint.

In the complaint, authorities said Lantigua was using a date of birth, Social Security number, New York driver’s license and birth certificate of Ernest Wills. But there were “multiple discrepancies” in Lantigua’s application for a new license and passport, including his place of birth, hair color, signature, occupation and passport photographs.

Lantigua’s story goes back to 2013, when he had reportedly become ill and died on vacation in Venezuela in 2013. But insurance companies and his lenders were suspicious.

Last weekend, Lantiqua, 62, was captured by authorities and placed under arrest in North Carolina.

When Lantigua tried to get a new passport, listing “freelance writer” as his occupation, the Charleston Passport Center investigated the discrepancies and used facial recognition software to search a U.S. State Department database to match the photo he submitted, according to the criminal complaint in Lantigua’s case. It matched with a photo of Jose Salvador Lantigua, and the center discovered “numerous Internet news articles indicating that [Lantigua] had allegedly faked his own death.”

Special agents with the U.S. Department of State then conducted surveillance on Lantigua and then addressed him as Jose Lantigua, according to the complaint.

“Yes, sir,” Lantigua responded, according to the report, before he was arrested.

Lantigua and his wife, Daphne Simpson, are being charged with seven counts of fraudulent insurance claims and one count of schemes to defraud. Each charge is a first-degree felony that can lead to as many as 30 years in prison.

There also are lawsuits against Lantigua and his estate over nearly $10 million in life insurance payouts and Lantigua’s debts, according to the Florida State Attorney’s Office.

“During a search incident to arrest, agents discovered that [Lantigua] had a poorly-dyed beard and was wearing a brown toupee,” the complaint in his case states.

Lantigua, who is in federal custody in North Carolina, has a detention hearing scheduled for Friday in Asheville. The federal defender listed as Lantigua’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Simpson was released by authorities in North Carolina but arrested in Florida, where she remains in the Duval County Jail.

Simpson has a hearing scheduled next month and she will be assigned a public defender, according to the Florida State Attorney’s Office. The public defender’s office for Duval County said it had not yet assigned her an attorney.

Efforts to reach Lantigua’s son, Joseph Lantigua, were unsuccessful.

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, which is handling Lantigua’s case, declined to comment.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Loyal Listeners Club

UVA Student Martese Johnson Makes First Court Appearance

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Zach Gibson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — University of Virginia student Martese Johnson entered no plea Thursday to charges stemming from his bloody arrest last week.

Johnson was expected to enter a not guilty plea, but the prosecution asked for a continuance so the investigation could continue.

Martese and lawyer Daniel Watkins agreed to this and his next appearance will be May 28. Attorneys hope that the Virginia State Police investigation will be done by then.

Nearly 100 supporters showed up to the Charlottesville District Court, all dressed in black in a show of unity. The court appearance lasted all of 90 seconds.

Johnson, 20, was bloodied during an arrest near the campus last week, sparking protests on the campus over alleged police brutality as well as a state investigation of the incident. He was arrested outside a Charlottesville bar by state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents who are charged with enforcing alcohol laws in Virginia.

In Virginia, there is no legal requirement that customers entering a restaurant where alcohol is served must be over the age of 21. Therefore Johnson had every right to attempt to enter Trinity so long as he was using his lawful identification. Trinity’s decision to enact a 21-and-over policy after 10 p.m., for busy evenings, did not make Johnson’s attempt to enter illegal.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



National Guardsman and His Cousin Arrested for Trying to Join ISIS

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The FBI has arrested two men — one of them a current member of the Illinois National Guard — for allegedly trying to join ISIS, the terrorist group wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq, authorities said Thursday.

Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds, 22, was arrested Wednesday at Chicago Midway International Airport as he was trying to fly to Egypt, according to authorities. His cousin, Jonas Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his home.

Both men are from Aurora, Illinois, and appeared in federal court on Thursday. They were formally charged with conspiring to provide material support to a known foreign terrorist organization. They face a maximum penalty if convicted of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hasan Edmonds first came onto the FBI’s radar in late 2014 as he hatched a plan for him to join ISIS overseas while Jonas Edmonds launched an attack inside the United States, according to the Justice Department.

This comes a week after a former U.S. Air Force veteran was indicted by federal authorities for allegedly trying to join ISIS.

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, who is from New Jersey but had been living overseas for years, was secretly arrested two months ago after being deported back to the United States.

On his laptop, FBI agents allegedly discovered more than 180 jihadist propaganda videos and noticed he had been conducting online searches for such phrases as “borders controlled by Islamic state,” “kobani border crossing,” and “who controls kobani.”

Last month, three New York City men were arrested on charges they allegedly conspired to join ISIS but also expressed willingness to carry out attacks on the terror group’s behalf in the United States. The men had planned to travel to the Middle East and had also pledged to launch attacks in this country, including one on President Obama or planting a bomb in Coney Island, Brooklyn, federal officials said.

Over the past 18 months, about 30 people have been charged with joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq or trying to do so.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Song of The Day

Courthouse Evacuated During Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial Due to Bomb Threat

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) — The courthouse where the Aaron Hernandez murder trial is being held was evacuated on Thursday morning due to a bomb threat.

ABC’s Boston affiliate, WCVB-TV, reported that no explosives were found and employees were allowed back into the courthouse about an hour after the threat was called in. Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh reportedly told jurors that there was no reason to believe the interruption was related to the Hernandez case.

Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayannah Jenkins, could testify as early as Friday.

Hernandez is on trial for the June 2013 murder of his friend Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Houston Road Rage Victim Recounts Her Terrifying Experience

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Courtesy Hadford Family(HOUSTON) — A Houston woman who was shot in the head in a road rage incident said the fact that she’s alive must be torture for her attacker — and she has a message for aggressive drivers.

Kay Hafford, 22, was on her way to work in Houston Friday morning when she honked at a driver of a white Chevy Tahoe who cut her off, she said.

Police said that minutes later the driver pulled up right next to Hafford’s car, fired a single shot through her passenger-side window and then took off.

Despite being shot in the head, Hafford managed to pull over and call the authorities — only realizing she was hit when she was on the phone.

“When I heard Siri, that’s when I cried.” she said. “When I heard her say, ‘Who do you want to call?’ I said 911 and a 911 operator picked up. That’s when I lost it.”

Hafford was transported to a hospital where she had bullet fragments removed from her skull. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

“His mission, although it was to kill me and I’m still living, I know that is killing him,” she said.

Hafford said her worry now is the fact that the gunman is still on the run. But, she has forgiven him.

“I forgave him right away,” she told ABC News. “When I looked in his eyes, I knew there was something wrong with him.”

She added, “All I ask is for him to have a heart and turn himself in.”

Hafford urged other aggressive drivers to be more cautious on the road.

“As much as you want to retaliate, think twice,” she said, “because you may be in the situation like I am, but you might not make it.”


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Nugget of Knowldege

Astronaut Scott Kelly Prepares for a Pioneering Year in Space on ISS

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Astronaut Scott Kelly is poised to break the record for time in space for a U.S. Astronaut when he launches to the International Space Station this week.

That’s a year with no hot showers, cold beers or the touch of his family. Kelly’s girlfriend Amiko Kauderer said she can’t call him, but he can call her, so will keep her cell phone close. It will be tough, but she said the reunion when he comes back will be special.

“For me it’s like the most romantic long-distance relationship ever,” Kauderer said.

There are some amenities on the space station — the views are out of this world, zero gravity gymnastics, and being an astronaut is still an elite job. Kelly knows that duty on the space station can mean fixing the toilet one week and being out on a spacewalk the next week.

Scott, 51, and his twin brother, retired astronaut Mark, will both be human guinea pigs. NASA will be comparing what happens to Scott’s body and brain to those of his brother Mark, while Mark is on the ground.

Mark said this will double what we know about spaceflight and the human body. “Maybe there is a little cliff out there that you fall off with regards to the radiation, bone mass, bone density, those type of things, so, I am all in,” Mark said.

Scott admits it will be a tough year — and he should know. He has pulled one six-month stint on the space station already. After “about four months, you start thinking, you know, there is a lot of stuff I miss on Earth. I feel like I have accomplished everything I need to, and I am sorta ready to go home.”

On a year-long mission, the intense yearning to go home could come later, he said, noting he hopes that yearning comes about “two-thirds of the way into the mission.”

“I am kinda hoping it occurs then,” Scott said.

Flight surgeon Dr. Stevan Gilmore is overseeing the research for this year in space. He knows how tough zero gravity is on the human body, and what NASA needs to know before they send humans off on a three-year round trip mission to Mars. This, he said, is an important step.

“We want to understand, is there anything that pops up between the six- and twelve-month duration so that we know if there are any large barriers out there for new missions,” Gilmore said.

NASA really wants this to lead to a Mars mission. That’s why Mark Kelly agreed to the research.

“We need to figure out how people are going to live in space for really long periods of time, especially if we want to send somebody to Mars. We want to one day build a base on the Moon. Our experience with long-duration flight is six months,” Mark said.

Despite all the possible dangerous side effects, the twins said they believe they are blazing a path that will take humans into space. Mark admits he has the easy job saying on earth, but noted that without taking risks, “we don’t go anywhere, we don’t learn anything, we don’t get better at anything. So, risk-taking has always been a part of the space program and always will, but in this case there is extra risk.”

What will Scott miss when he is in space for a year? All the holidays, his children’s birthdays, and good food, he said.

“The menu of food [in space] is not as large a variety as you would like, even though the weather inside the space station is generally perfect, you miss the rain, the breeze, the change of seasons,” Scott said.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Describes Brutal Conditions of His 5-Year Captivity

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — For the first time, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has described in his own words the brutal conditions he endured as a Taliban prisoner for five years, a time during which he said he was kept in constant isolation. Bergdahl also claims he attempted to escape about a dozen times, including once when he was able to evade his captors for nine days before being recaptured.

Bergdahl walked away from his unit’s outpost in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban until last May, when his freedom was secured in a controversial prisoner swap for five former Taliban leaders being detained at Guantanamo.

On Wednesday the Army charged Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; he could face life in prison for the latter charge.

Bergdahl’s account of his captivity was included in a statement provided to reporters by his attorney Eugene Fidell, who told ABC News it details “the really atrocious conditions in which he was held” and the worsening treatment after his escape attempts. “I think those are important facts that decision makers will take into account when they figure out how this case should be disposed of,” said Fidell.

“I was kept in constant isolation during the entire five years, with little to no understanding of time, through periods of constant darkness, periods of constant light, and periods of completely random flickering of light, and absolutely no understanding of anything that was happening behind the door I was held behind,” wrote Bergdahl in the single-spaced, two-page statement.

He said that in the first three months of his captivity after his two escape attempts, “I was chained to a bed spread-eagle and blindfolded.” He remained constantly blindfolded except for the few times a day when he was allowed to eat and use the latrine.

As his muscles atrophied and it became difficult for him to walk, his captors allowed him to sit chained on the bed. He eventually developed open wounds on his ankles “that looked like the staph infection I had had earlier that year.”

He also began to develop what he called a “growing internal sickness” that made it difficult for him to eat for the rest of his captivity and led to a dramatic weight loss.

After a year of captivity he was placed in a cage with his hands in chains except for the few times when he would wash or change clothes. For a year his feet were chained to the cage every night, though that ended “because of the acute pain my feet and legs where [sic] in.” He claims that pain had developed into a “freezing numbness that continues to the present, as both feet have neuropathy.”

He would spend the rest of his captivity in the cage, but unshackled only because it was placed over plumbing that allowed him to relieve himself.

His captors would routinely play mind games with him, telling him he would be executed one day, “told I would leave the next day, and the next day told I would be there for 30 years.”

Bergdahl claims he attempted to escape from his captors about a dozen times, the first one taking place just hours after he was captured in 2009 in eastern Afghanistan.

Taken to a village, he claims a Taliban fighter began punching him each time he evaded his questions. Blindfolded with a blanket over his head, “I believed I had a chance to run for it and did.” But he was soon brought down by a large group of men who repeatedly punched him, including one who used the butt stock of a broken AK-47.

He twice was able to escape beyond the buildings where he was being held — the first time during his first week in captivity, when he escaped for 10 to 15 minutes “and after recapturing me and putting chains back on they took turns beating me with a length of thick robber [sic] hose.” Bergdahl said the escape attempt led to his being taken to a more secured compound.

His most daring escape occurred at the end of his first year of captivity, when he was able to evade his captors for nine days. “Without food and only putrid water to drink, my body failed on top of a short mountain close to evening.”

He was recaptured a short time later by a large Taliban search group that proceeded to beat him severely. “One tried to rip my beard and hair out, but from what I could sense they where [sic] more worried about getting me out of that area as quickly as possible.”


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Pet of the Week

Va. Gov. McAuliffe Signs Executive Order for Increased Training, Accountability of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(RICHMOND, Va.) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday signed an executive order that would implement more stringent training and oversight of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The decision to sign the order comes in the wake of an investigation into ABC agents who arrested University of Virginia student Martese Johnson earlier this month. The agents allegedly slammed Johnson’s head into the ground. Johnson was apparently rejected entry from a bar on University Avenue, when agents approached him and the arrest occurred.

The executive order requires training for ABC agents in areas including “use of force, cultural diversity, effective interaction with youth and young adults, and community policing,” improved accountability and oversight, and improve cooperation and communication with local communities.

 

 


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Deadly Tornadoes, Storms Sweep Through Oklahoma

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

David Schliepp/iStock/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) —  At least one person was killed as tornadoes and severe storms swept through northeast Oklahoma Wednesday evening.

One person was killed and several others injured at a mobile home park in Sand Springs, about seven miles west of Tulsa, after a possible tornado formed nearby, said the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. Some 36,500 power outages had been reported in northeast Oklahoma as of 3:30 a.m. Thursday morning local time.

The tornado went by Tulsa and was headed for Inola at about 7 p.m. local time, ABC affiliate KOCO reported.

The National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings as a severe storm headed towards Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wednesday.

People in the Tulsa area captured photos and videos of what was believed to be a tornado. One had formed near Westport, Oklahoma, fewer than 30 miles west of Tulsa, and was moving east at 45 mph, the National Weather Service reported.

 

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