Bond Reduced For Two Illinois Men Charged
With Kidnapping Olive Branch Teen Lured
MEMPHIS, TN – An Olive Branch, Mississippi judge reduced bonds for two Illinois men accused of kidnapping a teenager earlier this month.
30-year-old Juan Andrade and 29-year-old Jason St. Aubin are charged with kidnapping and conspiracy for taking a 14-year-old boy from his home. They both had $600,000 bonds until Tuesday. The bond for Jason St. Aubin was reduced to $500,000. Juan Andrade’s bond is now $300,000.
“That was just an agreement taking into account the appropriate circumstances, under the rules of criminal procedure,” says prosecutor Luke Williamson.
Olive Branch Police say the two Illinois men charged with conspiracy and kidnapping could face additional charges. Local authorities along with the FBI are still gathering evidence.
Police believe the suspects used a video gaming messaging app to lure an Olive Branch, Mississippi teen from his home earlier this month. The boy is safe, but the case is far from over.
“This is an ongoing investigation and does involve coordination with other agencies and so it is still in progress,” says Williamson.
The mothers of both suspects were in court Tuesday, but they didn’t talk to the media.
Once the investigation is done, the case will go to the grand jury who will then decide if the two men should be indicted on the charges against them.
Parenting and Nurturing Classes are Typical
Order in Child Abuse Cases
BISMARCK, ND – Tuesday, KX News told you the heartbreaking story of a 12-week-old baby murdered, and her father accused of the crime.
The suspect Jose Rivera-Rieffel has a past history of child abuse. We’re continuing coverage tonight, as we look at child abuse in our communities.
The accused Jose Rivera-Rieffel was court mandated to take parenting and nurturing classes through the court system.
However, he never took those classes as part of his probation process.
We wanted to know more about what these parenting and nurturing classes are, and how they can help the community.
Constance Keller has been teaching families about parenting for 10 years. The program is run through the Department of Human Services and the NDSU Extension Service.
Keller says well over 50 percent of those who take the course are mandated to be there.
She says the most important factor is that parents leave the program more empathetic. Keller says if someone has empathy, they simply will not abuse their children.
The North Dakota Parenting Program Facilitator adds, “They’re going to learn how to respect their children and look at their children as other human beings. You know, not just something they’re caring for every single minute of the day, but they’re teaching them how to go out in the world and to be a good person.”
The NDSU Extension Service also offers parenting tips and classes for people wanting more information on being a parent.
The Extension Service says it’s a misconception that parenting education is only for those who are bad parents.
Kansas removes lawsuit fear for rescuers of
children, pets trapped in hot cars
Beginning Sunday, good Samaritans in Kansas won’t have to think about getting sued for busting out the window of a hot car to save a child or pet trapped inside.
A new state law underscores that lives are more important than property when it comes to hot cars. Kansas joins 18 states — including Missouri — in giving rescuers legal immunity when they believe a person or a pet is in imminent danger. Two additional states have laws protecting pets only.
Amber Rollins, director of the non-profit Kids and Cars, on Monday demonstrated how a simple device can in seconds shatter the window of a locked vehicle, making rescue possible. Rollins used a disabled SUV at the 129 Auto Parts salvage lot in Spring Hill, Kansas.
A hand-held, spring-loaded device called “resqme” was the only tool she needed. It must be used on a side window because windshields and rear windows are made to not shatter. The device, which shoots a metal pin at the glass, should be applied to a corner of a side window. Applying it to the center of the window will not work.
Regular nail punches available at hardware stores can also be used. In fact, Johnson County MedAct units each carry nail punches. A crowbar or stone or any other implement also can be used.
Some things to consider when busting out a window:
First check to see if the vehicle is locked. Obviously, if it is not the window does not need to be broken.
Use appropriate force against a side window furthest away from the child or animal inside as the glass can fly.
Get the victim to a cool place, remove clothing and apply water.
Stay until emergency responders arrive.
In addition to Kids and Cars, the Kansas law was championed by Safe Kids Kansas and the Humane Society Legislative Fund of Kansas.
Although Kids and Cars is not aware of any case in which a rescuer was later sued for causing property damage to a vehicle, Rollins pointed to a New Mexico hot-car death in which two witnesses told police they saw the victim in distress but did not act.
Rollins keeps two resqmes handy. One is attached to the driver’s seat belt of her car so it will be immediately available to use in escaping if the vehicle becomes submerged in water. The resqme also has a blade to cut the seat belt if necessary.
Rollins keeps her other resqme on her key ring in case she notices a vulnerable child or pet in a hot car.
“A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult,” said Cherie Sage, state coordinator for Safe Kids Kansas. “Their developing bodies are not as efficient at regulating their temperature. When a child’s internal temperature reaches 104 degrees major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees that child can die.”
During Monday’s demonstration, the outside temperature was in the low 80s but the temperature inside the SUV was over 100 degrees. The air inside a vehicle can jump that much in a matter of minutes, even if the windows are partially open, because the windshield has a greenhouse effect.
There have been 18 child deaths in hot cars in the United States so far this year, about par with the average of 37 a year. But there are three other suspected cases this year awaiting autopsy results.
In most cases the parent did not know or simply forgot that their child was in the back seat.
Kids and Cars suggests that parents make a habit of putting their smart phones in the back seat so they will have to go there to retrieve them. Another idea is to keep a stuffed animal in the car seat and move it to the front seat when a child is strapped in to serve as a visible reminder for the parent.
Trouble Ahead for Wrongly Criminalized
In a major blow to survivors of human trafficking, the US Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer allow funding to be used to help survivors get legal representation to clear their criminal records that resulted from their victimization. The decision by the Office for Victims of Crime will affect $77 million of human trafficking grants this year.
The abrupt policy reversal was initiated by the Trump administration and goes against the consensus of survivors, advocates, and law enforcement. The new funding restrictions are expected to go into effect in just a couple of weeks.
In an opinion piece in The Hill, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Kate Mogulescu, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School, write:
It is widely acknowledged that victims are frequently arrested when they are trafficked. A 2016 National Survivor Network survey found that over 91 percent of respondents reported having been arrested, over 40 percent reported being arrested 9 times or more.
No one questions the detrimental impact this has on survivors’ ability to move forward. Criminal records act as concrete barriers for survivors, and lead to denial of employment, housing, and other services. Furthermore, the message to survivors living with criminal records because of their trafficking is clear — you did something wrong, you deserve this, this will live with you forever.
That’s why Manhattan prosecutors screen every prostitution arrest for evidence of trafficking and dismiss prostitution cases after individuals receive counseling sessions and other services.
But the most effective legal response to correct the injustice of past convictions is vacatur or expungement, laws that provide survivors a way to clear their record of charges they were convicted of that were a result of trafficking. New York was the first state to pass such a law in 2009, and almost every state in the country has taken some steps toward relieving survivors of the burden of a criminal record since then.
In one example, Vance and Mogulescu point to the case of a young woman who was sex trafficked for five years in New York, starting when she was just 16. During that time, she was arrested for prostitution six times.
Yet, because of collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Brooklyn Law School, her convictions were vacated, ensuring that she would she would not be haunted by them for the rest of her life.
Prosecutors have come to rely on partner organizations to help identify trafficking victims and bring vacatur motions or expungement petitions. Under the new funding rules, victims who can’t access legal representation will be forced to file petitions on their own — a significant burden to those seeking justice.
As Vance and Mogulescu conclude, this policy will have tremendous impact on the ability for trafficking survivors to simply live their lives:
“Funding for this work is critical — for the survivor trafficked into prostitution over two decades ago, who has focused on her education, earned a Masters degree in counseling, but is prohibited from taking a state licensure exam because of her criminal record; for the survivor parent of a nine-year-old child who faces humiliation at being fingerprinted to chaperone a school trip; for the survivor who secures an entry level service sector job but has the offer rescinded when a background check reveals her criminal record.”
AG Paxton’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Named Best in the Nation
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today congratulated the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of his office after it received the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s award of excellence in fighting fraud, waste and abuse.
Attorney General Paxton’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was selected for the top award from 50 units nationwide because of its highly effective collaboration with the Office of the Inspector General, the FBI and other federal partners. During fiscal year 2017, the unit obtained 108 indictments, 137 convictions and led the nation in recovering more than $534 million.
“Medicaid fraud drives up the cost of health care for all of us and steals from taxpayer-funded programs that help Texans receive medical care,” Attorney General Paxton said. “All Texans should be proud that they have the best Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the country working for them. My office will continue to crack down on anyone who schemes to evade the law and profit from defrauding the Medicaid program.”
In honoring Attorney General Paxton’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, the Office of Inspector General highlighted several of the unit’s most notable collaborative successes from last year, including:
Participation in 121 joint investigations, such as a national health care fraud takedown involving 14 individuals and $49 million in fraudulent billings.
A multi-agency investigation resulting in the conviction of a Houston home health care owner and several individuals resulting in prison sentences and more than $22 million in restitution.
A multi-agency investigation that stopped a medical biller after it stole the personal identifying information of over 1,500 Medicaid and Medicare recipients, which was used to obtain food stamp benefit cards and credit cards in Texas and other states.
The Office of Inspector General’s prestigious award of excellence was presented to Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Division Chief Stormy Kelly during a ceremony on Monday in Washington, D.C. Since 2000, the Office of Attorney General of Texas has recovered more than $1.8 billion for taxpayers under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act.