National Roundup

Illinois
Former lawyer sentenced to 5 years in porn-troll scheme

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a former Illinois lawyer to five years in prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar porn-related scheme.

John Steele, 48, was sentenced after pleading guilty in 2017 and cooperating with authorities.

U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen said federal sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of 10 to 12½ years for what she called a “vile scheme.”  Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Langer recommended Steele receive a five-year sentence, the Star Tribune reported.

Steele told the court he is “trying to live a life of virtue.”

Steele’s attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, said Steele offered to cooperate immediately after he was indicted in December 2016.

Steele’s co-defendant, Minneapolis lawyer Paul Hansmeier, was sentenced last month to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors alleged that from 2011 to 2014, Hansmeier and Steele extracted millions of dollars in settlements from people who feared being exposed as pornography customers.

Steele admitted in court during his plea that he and Hansmeier created sham entities — which they secretly controlled — to obtain copyrights to pornographic movies and then uploaded the movies to file-sharing websites to lure people into downloading the movies.

The judge agreed with prosecutors that five years in prison was “eminently fair,” given Steele’s cooperation with authorities and his efforts to turn his life around. She made him liable with Hansmeier for $1.5 million in restitution and placed him on supervised release for two years after he leaves prison.

Hansmeier reserved the right to withdraw his conditional guilty plea if he’s successful in appealing a denial of his motion to dismiss the complaint.


Oregon
Man who threw girlfriend across room sentenced

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Gresham man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing his girlfriend, after he admitted to throwing her face-first into his bedroom floor, then waiting nearly 18 hours before bringing her to a hospital.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Jose Funes-Zelaya originally offered various explanations to police about how 29-year-old Shay Martinez was injured. He told detectives Martinez suffered bruises from her job at FedEx, where the couple met and started dating about one year earlier, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

Funes-Zelaya eventually admitted that he threw Martinez across his bedroom at about 5 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2017. She died two days later.

In June, Funes-Zelaya pleaded guilty to first-degree man­slaughter constituting domestic violence.


Georgia
Judge allows election databases to be inspected

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Georgia election officials to allow computer experts and lawyers to review the databases used to create ballots and count votes.

The ruling came Tuesday in the lawsuit filed by election integrity advocates and voters that challenges Georgia’s election system and seeks statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg gave the state until Friday to turn over electronic copies of the databases to the plaintiffs’ lawyers and computer experts.

The plaintiffs’ experts had said inspection of the databases was necessary to begin to evaluate security vulnerabilities and flaws.
Lawyers for the state had argued disclosure of sensitive information in the databases could jeopardize the security of the election system. Totenberg wrote that they provided no evidence of that.


Pennsylvania
Woman blames daughter for beating grandma over game volume

YOUNGWOOD, Pa. (AP) — A woman has asked a judge to dismiss charges that she beat her mother and shaved her head because she thought the older woman was listening to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game too loudly on the radio.

Lawyers for Delores Amorino filed legal documents Wednesday that claimed her now 19-year-old daughter is responsible for assaulting the 78-year-old woman.

The filing comes a few weeks after a judge found Amorino was competent to stand trial but her daughter wasn’t.

Authorities have said the two women beat Amorino’s mother and held her captive during an August 2017 attack in their Youngwood home.

A psychiatrist testified the women have been diagnosed with a rare delusional disorder. The women’s delusions make it so one woman believes she’s in a romantic relationship with a current member of the Steelers and the other with a former member.


Maine
Judge tosses suit filed over officer’s sexual contact

BIDDEFORD, Maine (AP) — A federal judge said a Maine man who contends he was sexually abused by a police officer when he was a teenage boy should’ve brought his claims sooner.

The judge this week dismissed Matt Lauzon’s lawsuit against the city of Biddeford and its police chief, saying Maine’s statute of limitations was six years. Lauzon contended he wasn’t aware until more than a decade later that the chief knew about similar allegations against the officer.

The now-retired officer, Stephen Dodd, acknowledged engaging in sexual activity after meeting in an online chatroom. But he denied relying on his “power and authority” as an officer.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse, but Lauzon’s attorney has said he wanted his name to be public.


Oklahoma
Teen gets life without parole for killing, rape

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma teenager has been sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for fatally shooting a teacher, plus 290 years for raping an 81-year-old woman and other crimes.

Tulsa County District Judge Kelly Greenough sentenced 18-year-old Deonte Green on Wednesday. He entered guilty pleas in March to first-degree murder, 18 other felonies and one misdemeanor.

Prosecutors say Green was 16 in October 2017 when, over the course of one day, he fatally shot Broken Arrow Public Schools teacher Shane Anderson at his home, raped the woman and committed a series of armed robberies.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray says Green has a “staggering” criminal history for someone of his age.

Green’s attorney read a letter in court in which the teen describes himself as a “misunderstood boy.”

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