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Former Georgia District Attorney Jackie Johnson Criminally Charged Over Investigation Into Ahmaud Arbery Shooting Death – NBC New York

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  • A former district attorney in Georgia was indicted on charges of violating her oath of office and obstructing a police officer in connection with an investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
  • Arbery, a Black jogger, was gunned down by two white men who chased him in a truck. The attack was caught on film by a third white man who was driving behind them in another truck.
  • Former Brunswick Judicial Circuit prosecutor Jackie Johnson is accused of showing favor to one defendant in the shooting, Greg McMichael, and blocking the arrest of Travis McMichael, Greg’s son.

A former district attorney in Georgia was indicted Thursday on charges of violating her oath of office and obstructing a police officer in connection with an investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger who was gunned down after three white men chased him in trucks.

Former Brunswick Judicial Circuit top prosecutor Jackie Johnson is accused of showing favor to one defendant in the killing, retired police officer Greg McMichael, 65, who had worked for her as an investigator.

The grand jury indictment says Johnson recommended the appointment of another county’s prosecutor to handle the case without revealing that she had previously sought the assistance of that prosecutor in the Arbery investigation.

Johnson also is accused of improperly blocking the arrest of Travis McMichael, Greg’s son.

The McMichaels had chased and shot Arbery, 25, in their truck on Feb. 23, 2020, in Brunswick.

The attack was caught on film by a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, who was driving behind them in another truck.

Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times with a shotgun.

Johnson was the DA at the time of the killing. Although she disqualified herself from handling the case as a prosecutor, the grand jury indictment says she took several actions which ended up delaying the arrests of both McMichaels and Bryan.

The case against Johnson was presented to the grand jury in Glynn County by Attorney General Chris Carr.

“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” Carr said in a prepared statement Thursday.

“We thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Glynn County Grand Jury for their hard work. While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice,” he said.

The McMichaels, who have claimed they thought Arbery was a burglar, ended up being charged with murder in May 2020 after a third prosecutor, the DA for Liberty County, took over the case. Bryan was charged with murder later that same month.

The three men, who have pleaded not guilty, are due to begin their trial in that case next month.

In April, both men, along with Bryan, were charged with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping by a federal grand jury.

Thursday’s indictment of Johnson said that on the heels of Arbery’s killing she recommended to the state attorney general that Waycross Judicial Circuit DA George Barnhill take over the case “without disclosing that” she “had previously sought the assistance of DA Barnhill on the case.”

The grand jury said Johnson, in doing so, failed “to treat Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.”

If convicted of that felony charge, violating a public officer’s oath, Johnson faces a sentence of between one and five years in prison.

Barnhill, after taking the case, had defended the conduct of the McMichaels and Bryan, writing to Glynn County Police that the men had “solid first hand probable cause” to chase Arbery, a “burglary suspect,” and stop him.

The indictment also says Johnson knowingly and willingly hindered the lawful discharge of the duties of two Glynn County police officers “by directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.”

If convicted of that misdemeanor charge, Johnson faces up to a year in prison.


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Judge Eyes Shorter Sentence for Ex-NYC Jails Union Boss – NBC New York

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The former union boss for the nation’s largest correction officers’ union might have gotten too harsh a prison sentence when he was ordered to spend nearly five years behind bars for corruption convictions, a judge said.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who sentenced Seabrook to four years and 10 months in prison in early 2019, said in a ruling Friday that the length of Norman Seabrook’s prison term deserves a second look. He noted disparities in the sentence given to Seabrook, who is Black, and co-conspirators who are white.

But he also said in a written ruling that the former head of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association did not deserve a new trial after his 2018 conviction on conspiracy and honest service wire fraud charges.

Prosecutors said he accepted $60,000 in bribes in 2014 to funnel $20 million in union funds to a risky hedge fund. All but $1 million was lost. Seabrook has said there was no evidence he ever intended to “lose a dime” of union members’ money.

Seabrook, 62, is scheduled for a July 2025 release from the Beckley Correctional Center in Beckley, West Virginia. He was arrested in June 2016 after he’d been a powerbroker in New York City for more than two decades, representing guards in the city’s 10,000-inmate jail system.

In October 2021, Seabrook asked Hellerstein to grant him a new trial on several grounds including ineffective assistance of counsel and unjust rulings against him, which Hellerstein said in his Friday ruling all fall “well short of the mark.”

But Hellerstein said Seabrook’s claims that his sentence was disproportionately harsher than the sentences his co-conspirators received “may possess merit.”

The judge noted that one co-conspirator, Murray Huberfeld, who is white and was originally sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding his own investment company, was ultimately given seven months in custody after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the amount of financial harm his crimes had done needed to be measured differently that it had when he received the sentence of over two years.

“The result is a significant disparity of sentences, an appearance of arbitrariness, and potential disrespect of the community because of the appearance of racial differentiation,” Hellerstein wrote.


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Tesla Should Accept That It Violated Labor Laws If Elon Musk Is Serious About Inviting the UAW to Organize Workers, Union Chief Ray Curry Says – NBC New York

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  • Tesla should accept that it violated labor laws if Elon Musk is serious about inviting the UAW to organize workers, union chief Ray Curry said.
  • Curry said that such an action would be a “good faith effort” and “demonstrate a commitment to the workers of the facility” in Fremont, California.
  • “The UAW stole millions from workers, whereas Tesla has made many workers millionaires (via stock grants). Subtle, but important difference.”

If Tesla CEO Elon Musk is serious about welcoming organizing efforts of the company’s U.S. workforce, the automaker should rehire a fired employee and stop attempting to overturn a ruling that it violated federal labor laws, said an automotive union leader.

United Auto Workers President Ray Curry said that such actions would be a “good faith effort” and “demonstrate a commitment to the workers of the facility” in Fremont, California.

In 2018, Musk tweeted a comment that was found to have violated federal labor laws after Tesla had already fired a union activist, Richard Ortiz. The National Labor Relations Board ultimately ordered Tesla to rehire the employee and to have Musk delete the tweet, which they saw as threatening workers’ compensation.

Tesla is appealing the administrative court’s decision, however.

Curry spoke on Tuesday during an Automotive Press Association webinar. His remarks followed more provocative tweets by Musk earlier in the day. The CEO, who has a following of 79.5 million on Twitter, wrote: “The UAW stole millions from workers, whereas Tesla has made many workers millionaires (via stock grants). Subtle, but important difference.”

The Detroit-based union is under federal oversight through a court-approved monitor as part of a settlement between the UAW and the government following a multiyear corruption probe that sent 15 people to prison, including two recent UAW presidents and three Fiat Chrysler executives.

The investigation uncovered years of bribery and kickback schemes involving millions of dollars and several top union leaders.

Earlier this month, Musk said on Twitter that he was “inviting” the UAW to try and organize employees at his company’s plant in Fremont. “Tesla will do nothing to stop them,” he wrote.

Curry said the union “definitely would welcome that opportunity, but clearly know that there’s some current appeals that are out there.”

United Auto Workers President Ray Curry speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on November 17, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

Nic Antaya | Getty Images

United Auto Workers President Ray Curry speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on November 17, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

“A key piece out of all of this is not the whim of a tweet or anything else, an exchange between the UAW and Tesla, it’s about the workers in those locations having a voice inside of their workplace. That’s the most important part of this whole process,” Curry said.

Musk’s open invitation to the UAW on March 3 followed Musk earlier in the day tweeting a YouTube video that he says “helps explain why former UAW members who work at Tesla are not huge fans of UAW.” The clip was published in 2010 by the World Socialist Web Site channel on YouTube.

In the video, workers at the NUMMI plant, which would later become the Fremont Tesla plant, are seen complaining that a union member was prevented from recording a UAW meeting in the local union hall.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.




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Accused Bitcoin Launderer Heather Morgan in Plea Talks With Prosecutors, Court Documents Say – NBC New York

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  • Federal prosecutors said they were in plea negotiations with a New York woman recently arrested with her husband on charges of trying to launder $4.5 billion worth of bitcoin stolen in a hack.
  • The talks were cited in a request by prosecutors asking a judge to postpone by 40 days a hearing for Heather “Razzlekhan” Morgan, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
  • Morgan was arrested with her husband “Dutch” Lichtenstein on Feb. 8 in their Manhattan apartment.
  • Prosecutors allege that the couple illegally tried to hide the source of almost 120,000 bitcoin stolen during the 2016 hack of the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange.

Federal prosecutors on Monday said they were in plea negotiations with a New York woman recently arrested with her husband on charges of trying to launder $4.5 billion worth of stolen bitcoin cryptocurrency.

The talks were cited in a request by prosecutors asking a judge to postpone by 40 days Friday’s scheduled status hearing for the woman, Heather “Razzlekhan” Morgan, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors said in a court filing that the postponement would “facilitate … plea discussions between the parties,” as well as give them time to assemble and share evidence that could be used against Morgan with her attorneys.

Morgan, 31, was arrested with her husband, 34-year-old Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein, on Feb. 8 in their Manhattan apartment. The arrests were on the same day the Justice Department has said it seized more than $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin that was part of the alleged laundering scheme.

Prosecutors allege that the couple illegally tried to hide, through a complex series of transactions, the source of almost 120,000 bitcoin stolen during the 2016 hack of the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange. Neither of the defendants is charged with the hack itself.

At the time of the hack, the stolen bitcoin was worth $70 million. But the value of bitcoin has soared since then.

Morgan’s lawyers do not oppose the postponement of her hearing, according to Monday’s filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Prosecutors disclosed in court on Feb. 28 that they were discussing a possible “resolution” of Morgan’s criminal case to avoid a trial.

But until Monday, they had not publicly used the words “plea discussions” to describe those talks with her lawyers.

Morgan’s lead attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing.

It is common for prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss possible plea deals in criminal cases, and for those discussions to lead to postponements of court hearings.

However, Morgan’s case is unusual for the relatively short time between her arrest and the disclosure of plea talks.

Morgan, an aspiring rapper and entrepreneur, is free on a $3 million bond.

Lichtenstein has been in jail since his arrest and has been denied bail.

Netflix last month announced that a series on the couple will be directed by Chris Smith, who was executive producer of the company’s Covid pandemic smash hit “Tiger King.”


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