National Roundup

DA: Crossing guard sold pot out of his home

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania school crossing guard has been fired after the district attorney’s office charged her with selling marijuana out of her home.
Online court records don’t list an attorney for 47-year-old Tracy Lynn Padilla, of New Castle, who faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday on charges including delivery of marijuana.
According to a criminal complaint, Padilla sold the drugs out of her home to undercover informants on March 7 and 13.
She has since been fired by the New Castle police from her post crossing children at the J.F. Kennedy Primary Center.
Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa says Padilla’s Tuesday arrest “had to be a priority. She had young children under her care.”
New Castle police Chief Bobby Salem says Padilla passed a background check before she was hired last year.

Ponzi lawyer’s  wife seeks delay in her sentencing
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The wife of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein has won a three-month delay in her sentencing for a conspiracy charge so she can possibly testify in a related case.
The attorney for 39-year-old Kim Rothstein says in documents filed Thursday that she could get a reduced sentence in return for cooperation with prosecutors. Rothstein now faces up to five years behind bars for concealing and trying to sell more than $1 million in jewelry that investigators wanted to seize.
Trial on obstruction of justice and perjury charges is set for June for two men accused of helping sell the jewelry. A judge on Thursday approved delaying Rothstein’s sentencing from next week until July.
Scott Rothstein is serving 50 years for operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme involving fake legal settlements.

New York
Billionaire wins wine suit, gets $380K damages

NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida billionaire said he planned to drink a glass of wine to celebrate a federal jury’s conclusion Thursday that he was defrauded by a California businessman who sold him two dozen bottles of fake vintage wine at a 2005 auction.
“It’s a home run!” a smiling William Koch told a supporter immediately after the jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan awarded him $380,000 in compensatory damages for the counterfeit bottles of Bordeaux labeled as if they were created from 1864 to 1950. Koch paid $29,500 for the most expensive bottle, a 1921 magnum bottle of Chateau Petrus. The jury returns Friday to decide if punitive damages are warranted.
Koch, a yachtsman who won the America’s Cup in 1992, had accused Eric Greenberg of fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, deceptive business practices and false advertising. The jury’s six men and two women sided with Koch on each civil charge.
Outside the courthouse, he said he was going to a trendy French restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to celebrate.
“I’m thirsty,” he said with a smile. “I want a glass of wine.”
A dejected Greenberg only shook his head when asked to comment. One of his lawyers said he did not want to comment until the jury finished its work.
For Koch, though, the jury verdict was part of a crusade against counterfeit wine sellers that he promised would continue.
“To me, the whole industry is being corrupted,” he said, recounting how his investigators had helped put one wine seller in jail and forced a judgment against another. “I absolutely can’t stand being cheated.”
“Now we have this faker,” he said, referring to Greenberg. “We’re moving down our hit list of fakers. This is just a start.”
Koch, 72, testified during the trial that he has mostly stopped buying wines at auction because he has been cheated so many times and no longer trusts the market.
Greenberg — a former billionaire who built two Internet consulting companies before the 2000 collapse of those stocks reportedly reduced his net worth by as much as 90 percent — had insisted on the witness stand that he never intentionally sold a bad bottle of wine.
“I wouldn’t sell a fake wine,” he said as one of the trial’s first witnesses. “I’ve never intentionally sold fake wine in my life.”
Millions were spent by both sides on lawyers in the case.
Koch, the founder and president of the Oxbow Group, based in West Palm Beach, Fla., spent $3.7 million at the 2005 auction, buying 2,600 bottles of wine. He paid someone more than $75,000 daily for two days to make his bids, though he decided before the sale not to inspect the wines he eventually bought.

Man gets 15 years in plot to rob Amish

BERNE, Ind. (AP) — A Fort Wayne man who pleaded guilty in a plot to rob members of an Amish community has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Eighteen-year-old Alejandro Lopez was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison, with five years suspended and to be served on probation. The Journal Gazette reports that Lopez had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and criminal confinement.
He was arrested in September along with a 19-year-old man, a 16-year-old boy and his 43-year-old mother after a series of attacks on Amish residents in Adams County.
Court documents allege they used gas masks and baseball bats and cruised through rural areas near the town of Berne. They allegedly targeted four horse-drawn buggies in a series of robberies and attacks.

West Virginia
Judge denies new trial in nursing home lawsuit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has denied a new trial in a lawsuit that resulted in a $91.5 million jury verdict against a Charleston nursing home.
Tom Douglas claimed in the lawsuit that his 87-year-old mother died of dehydration and complications stemming from her 19-day stay at Heartland of Charleston in 2009.
The Charleston Gazette reports that Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. found that the verdict appropriately punished Heartland’s corporate owner, HCR Manor Care, for a history of intentionally short-staffing nursing homes to maximize profit. He issued his decision Wednesday.
Manor Care lawyers raised several claims, including that the damages should have been subject to the state’s $500,000 medical malpractice cap. They said they will appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court.s