National Roundup

West Virginia
Calif. man to be arraigned in extortion plot

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A California man accused of trying to extort $13 million from a West Virginia coal executive is being arraigned Tuesday in Beckley.
West Hollywood resident Vivek Shah is set to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort.
Shah was indicted last month on charges he threatened to kill relatives of Foresight Reserves owner Christopher Cline if Cline didn’t pay up.
Court documents say Shah targeted four other wealthy but unnamed victims, including a film studio co-founder from Connecticut, two oil and gas millionaires in Texas and Florida, and the founder of an internet company in Chicago.
Federal prosecutors won’t identify those victims. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger issued a gag order in the case last week, limiting access to court documents to participants in the case and court staff.
Berger also ordered the parties, their attorneys, witnesses, alleged victims and their relatives, investigators and court personnel not to speak to the media or release any information about the case.
Shah, a 25-year-old aspiring actor, is charged with four counts of interfering with interstate commerce and using interstate commerce to threaten extortion.
An affidavit filed by a U.S. postal inspector who investigated the case says Shah, who also uses the aliases Ray Amin and Rohan Gill, was staying at his father’s home in Schaumburg, Ill., just before his arrest.
The scheme laid out in the affidavit was ambitious and wide-reaching, involving offshore banks in Cyprus, Antigua, Malta and Mauritius.

DOJ objects to desegregation plan of 2 schools

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has objected to the Cleveland School District’s plan to desegregate two local schools.
The Bolivar Commercial reports that the Justice Department filed the objection this past month with the U.S. District Court.

In May, the school district filed a proposal with the federal court to desegregate the East Side High School and D.M. Smith Middle School.

The school system wanted to introduce magnet programs at both schools to help attract white students from Cleveland High School and Margaret Green Jr. High School.
Magnet schools have a specific theme or mission that drives their curriculum, such as fine arts or science. Magnet schools still must be racially balanced.

“This desegregation case has now been pending for more than 47 years, during which time the district has failed to achieve the court’s directive to integrate its schools as soon as possible,” said U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams wrote in the objection.

Adams said the district’s proposal would “not integrate East Side and D.M. Smith as a whole, but to create insular magnet programs in each school that meet specified demographic targets.”

“Given the court’s mandate to desegregate Cleveland schools and the district’s well documented inability to integrate East Side and D.M. Smith through voluntary measures, the absence of any contingency plan for integrating these schools if the new magnet programs fail to achieve their objective should compel the court’s rejection of this proposal,” said Adams.

The government asked U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson to reject the school district’s proposal and ordered the district to devise a plan to fully integrate the two schools for the start of the 2013-14 school year. Davidson has not ruled.

The desegregation case dates back to 1965 when plaintiffs sued the Bolivar County school system, including Cleveland, to end white only and black-only schools. The school system has been under the federal courts oversight ever since.

In 2011, the school district petitioned the court to remove it from federal oversight.

In the mid- to late-1960s, school districts across the South were sued for discrimination and given desegregation orders, which put them under the scrutiny of the Justice Department. A dozen or more school systems in Mississippi have petitioned the federal courts to come out from under such orders.

New York
Lawyer: Nude model settles lawsuit with NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — A nude model arrested last summer during a body-painting project in Times Square has settled her lawsuit against the city.
The lawyer for 22-year-old Zoe West tells the New York Post that New York City will pay $15,000 to settle the suit.

Lawyer Ron Kuby says West never should have been arrested. He says public nudity is legal in the city if it’s part of a performance, exhibition or show.
The city’s Law Department declined to comment.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan. West alleged she was arrested in violation of her rights while being painted by artist Andy Golub.

West says she has no regrets. She says the episode put her “on the map in a positive way.”

Hearing canceled for former coach facing sex charge

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A detention hearing has been canceled for a former Arkansas youth baseball coach accused of taking a minor across state lines for sex.

Sixty-one-year-old Walter Richard Roberts of Texarkana pleaded not guilty last month to a charge of transporting a minor across state lines with the intention of having sex.
The judge overseeing Roberts’ case said his detention hearing slated for Tuesday has been canceled and will be rescheduled at a later date if requested.

Prosecutors said Roberts was a youth baseball coach from 1986 through 1994.

An indictment alleges that Roberts transported a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity in the late ‘80s.
Roberts’ lawyer didn’t immediately return a phone message left Monday evening. Court records show Roberts was in custody.

Judge ponders new trial in police beating

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A federal judge is deciding whether former Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson should receive a new trial in the beating death of a suspect.
Judge Fred Van Sickle heard arguments Friday that Thompson should receive a new trial because prosecutors hid information from the defense that could have won his acquittal.

The Spokesman-Review reports several assistant U.S. attorneys disputed the assertions, countering that they had done everything required.

Thompson was convicted in November of using excessive force and lying to investigators in the violent 2006 confrontation with Otto Zehm, a mentally ill janitor mistakenly identified as a possible thief. Zehm died two days after being beaten, stun-gunned and hog-tied by police in a Spokane convenience store.