National Roundup

New York
Martin Shkreli’s ex-lawyer found guilty of fraud

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer accused of helping pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli cover up financial fraud was convicted on Wednesday, a result a prosecutor said should send a “powerful message” through the legal profession.

After an 11-week trial, Evan Greebel was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn of conspiring to commit securities fraud and wire fraud. His lawyer, Reed Brodsky, said they were “shocked by the verdict.”

“We will continue to fight for justice for Evan Greebel and his family,” Brodsky said by email.

U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said Greebel helped Shkreli steal millions of dollars and cover up Shkreli’s fraud while the hedge fund manager was chief executive of Retrophin Inc., a biopharmaceutical company.

“Today’s verdict sends a powerful message that this office, together with our law enforcement partners, will hold lawyers accountable when they use their legal expertise to facilitate the commission of crimes,” Rohde said in a release.

Greebel was Retrophin’s outside counsel from 2011 to 2014, when prosecutors say he conspired with Shkreli to misappropriate Retrophin’s assets to pay off defrauded investors. They said he also conspired with Shkreli between 2012 and 2014 to defraud investors and potential investors in Retrophin by trying to illegally control the price and trading volume of Retrophin’s stock.

Greebel, who lives in suburban Scarsdale, took deliberate actions to help Shkreli defraud investors, FBI assistant director-in-charge William F. Sweeney said.

“While it’s become increasingly more evident that Greebel exploited his knowledge of the law in his efforts to break the law, today we finally see justice served in a case that’s spent no shortage of its time in the spotlight,” said Sweeney, the head of New York’s FBI office.

Shkreli, dubbed Pharma Bro, is perhaps best known for boosting the price of a life-saving drug and for trolling his critics on social media. He was convicted in August in an unrelated securities fraud scheme involving two hedge funds he ran and is incarcerated while awaiting sentencing.

He had brashly predicted in livestreamed rants that he would never see the inside of a prison because of sentencing guidelines and that even if he did get prison time it would be just a few months at a minimum-security “Club Fed.”

His online rantings about Hillary Clinton prompted a judge to revoke his bail and put him in a fortress-like federal jail that houses terrorism and mob suspects, the Metropolitan Detention Center, where his lawyer said in September he was in with the general population and was “doing reasonably well under very difficult circumstances.”


Georgia
Preacher fights ban on spreading gospel by park

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia preacher who says he was barred from public sidewalks and feared arrest for spreading the gospel on the fringes of a large outdoor concert in Atlanta is challenging the restrictions in court.

In a federal lawsuit, Eric Love says his free speech rights were violated outside the Shaky Beats music festival, which drew thousands in May to downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

Love is asking a judge to decide whether the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and its police force can prohibit preaching from the surrounding sidewalks. The authority oversees the park, which was created for the 1996 Olympic Games.

The authority has cited a Georgia law that allows it to ban solicitation and other activities on public sidewalks and streets bordering the park when large events are held. That amounts to an unreasonable ban on free speech, one of Love’s lawyers, Terry Lloyd, maintains in the suit.

“These sidewalks are just like any other sidewalks — they’re used by the public and they really ought to be open to the public,” said Tony Mangini, another attorney for Love, speaking in an interview Wednesday. Mangini is with the Memphis, Tennessee-based Center for Religious Expression, which is representing Love.

Representatives of the authority and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who is named as a defendant, did not immediately return messages Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Love cares deeply about people, so he “is compelled to tell people about Jesus Christ and his offer of salvation,” the lawsuit states.

“Love does not yell when he preaches; he only speaks loud enough to be heard by those near him, like someone delivering a speech in public,” Lloyd wrote.

At the May concert, Love was on a sidewalk outside the park near the entrance when he and two friends were confronted by the authority’s police officers, he said.

They were told they needed a permit to express their views on the sidewalk, but were not eligible for such a permit and would have to move, the complaint states.

At one point, one of Love’s two friends was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle but later was released, Love’s lawyer wrote.

“Love strongly desires to return to the public sidewalks adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park and share his religious views while large events are taking place in the park, but he does not want to risk criminal arrest,” Lloyd wrote.

His lawyer wants the matter resolved so that Love can preach without fear of being arrested outside the SweetWater 420 Fest, another large concert scheduled for the park in April.

Missouri
Caregiver charged in killing of 94-year-old woman

FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis man who was acquitted of murder more than 20 years ago is accused in a new case of fatally beating and stabbing a 94-year-old woman in his care, then calling a ride-hailing car service and abandoning her body at her home.

Tommie Coffer Jr. is jailed on $500,000 bond on charges of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Dec. 18 death of Geneva Richardson in her suburban Florissant home, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports . No attorney is listed for him in online court records.

Coffer, 54, and his mother worked as Richardson’s caregivers. They called authorities Dec. 19, saying they had found Richardson body. The death initially appeared accidental. But a detective said in court records that medical examiners found three stab wounds to her face and defensive cuts to her hands.

“There were some things that didn’t add up with him,” said Officer Steve Michael, a spokes­man for the Florissant Police Department.

Court documents show Coffer had several bags with him when the Uber collected him from Richardson’s home. Police later found a trash bag, a purple latex glove, a blood-soaked pillowcase and a blood-stained black T-shirt on a burn pile near where the Uber driver had dropped Coffer off.

A St. Louis County jury in 1995 found Coffer not guilty of murder in the death of 30-year-old Gary L. Griggs, whose throat had been slashed.
 

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