National Roundup

Ex-Chicago cop who stole $300K is sentenced

CHICAGO (AP) - A former Chicago police officer has been sentenced to six months in prison for income tax fraud that netted him about $300,000.

Steven Segura was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood, who ordered him to repay the amount stolen. Prosecutors asked for a 2 and 2 ½- year prison sentence as called for under federal sentencing guidelines.

The 42-year-old Segura pleaded guilty in December to five counts of mail fraud and making false claims to the Internal Revenue Service.

The former officer sobbed several times, saying he takes "responsibility for my actions." Segura told the judge he had been an alcoholic for 25 years but was now sober.

In a sentencing filing, prosecutors said Segura created phony trusts and filed multiple tax returns for three years, falsely claiming refunds in excess of $1 million.

Abortion rights to be proposed for constitution

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A leading Maryland lawmaker said Thursday that he will introduce a constitutional amendment next year to protect abortion rights in the state because of the possibility that a conservative Supreme Court could overturn or weaken federal abortion-rights protections.

Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch announced he will introduce the proposal in next year's legislative session, which begins in January. If approved by the General Assembly, it will go on the ballot for voters to decide in 2020.

President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has raised the possibility that a conservative court majority could weaken or overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which created a nationwide right to abortion. That could lead to state battles over what should and should not be legal. With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sometimes provided the decisive vote in support of abortion rights, Kavanaugh could give the court an anti-abortion majority.

"With the Supreme Court currently hanging in the balance and increasing hostility towards women's reproductive rights by this federal Administration, we must continue to ensure that a woman's right to choose is protected in the State of Maryland," Busch, a Democrat, said in a statement. "An amendment to the State constitution will safeguard this important right so that it cannot be changed absent the will of the voters."

Maryland passed legislation in 1991 to protect a woman's right to abortion if the Supreme Court should ever restrict abortions. It was petitioned to the ballot, and voters approved it in 1992 with 62 percent of the vote. Although Maryland has that statutory protection, it could be subject to change by state lawmakers.

Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in the state, and the General Assembly is heavily Democratic. The speaker said he was confident both houses of the state legislature would approve putting the question on the ballot for voters to decide in 2020.

Busch, who is the longest serving House speaker in the state's history and has been a lawmaker in Annapolis for 32 years, said in an interview that he remembers how divisive the abortion issue was in Maryland before it was put on the ballot and decided by voters in 1992.

"I just think the best way to deal with this is to put it on the ballot and let the citizens determine where it should be," Busch said.

South Carolina
Septuagenarians fight over cheese samples at Costco

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - Free samples briefly turned a Costco warehouse club into a fight club for two senior citizens.

The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, cites a July 26 Greenville police report saying it began when a 72-year-old man cut ahead of a 70-year-old man who was waiting for a complimentary piece of cheese.

It happened again as the 70-year-old was awaiting a cheeseburger sample. First there were angry words and then a punch.

Police say the cheeseburger stand worker confirmed the Hawaiian shirt-clad 72-year-old then smacked the 70-year-old, causing his hat and glasses to fly off.

The 72-year-old said he felt the other man was aggressive and about to hit him.

Police spokesman Donald Porter says authorities are seeking surveillance footage to sort it out, and no one has been arrested.

High court tossesconviction of manlinked to 2 killings

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the conviction of a man serving a life sentence for orchestrating the killings of two people he suspected of stealing 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) of marijuana from him.

A hearing will now be held by a lower court to determine whether prosecutors properly used evidence in the case against Anthony Robins Jr., the Idaho Statesman reported.

Robins, 37, was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 after a jury convicted him of aiding and abetting in the deaths of Elliot Bailey and Travontae Calloway and the attempted murder of Jeanette Juraska.

At the time prosecutors said Robins was a drug supplier who orchestrated the killings of Calloway and Bailey after the pair stole 30 pounds of marijuana from him. Juraska, who was Calloway's girlfriend, was shot in the arm but survived.

Another man, John C. Douglas, was convicted of carrying out the shootings and also sentenced to life in prison.

The Supreme Court's decision centered on whether prosecutors improperly used notes Robins made while he was preparing for his trial to craft their arguments. The notes were seized from Robins' jail cell while deputies were searching for a letter that another inmate claimed would show Robins was trying to coordinate his story with others involved in the case.

The deputies didn't find the letter in Robins' cell, but they did turn over the notes to prosecutors. The letter was later given to prosecutors by the other inmate's attorney.

The lower court said the notes couldn't be used by prosecutors because Robins created them at the request of his defense attorney, so they were protected by attorney-client privilege rules. Prosecutors were allowed to use the letter.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court found the entire letter shouldn't have been used in the trial. The justices also said Ada County prosecutors now need to prove that they relied on their own evidence and arguments - rather than the information they'd seen in Robins' notes - in crafting their case against Robins.

If prosecutors fail, then the district court could order that Robins' case be retried, possibly with a different prosecutor's office, or that the charges be dismissed.

Published: Mon, Aug 06, 2018