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Brit on Texas death row loses high court appeal
Legal Watch | 2010/05/03 13:20

The Supreme Court has refused to review the case of a British woman on death row in Texas for killing a young mother.

The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from Linda Carty, who was convicted of kidnapping and killing a woman whose child she also snatched in Houston in 2001. Carty has complained that her trial lawyers were deficient.

The British government and human rights groups have aided Carty's cause.

Carty is one of 10 condemned women in Texas. She is a former teacher from St. Kitts in the British Virgin Islands.

In September, a taped voice recording of Carty begging Britons to help save her life was broadcast into London's Trafalgar Square.

Wichita Bookkeeper Sentenced For Embezzling
Legal Watch | 2010/04/14 13:46

A bookkeeper in Wichita has been sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison for embezzling more than $948,000 from a law firm where she worked.

Thirty-four-year-old Vicki J. Olivarez pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of writing checks and forging signatures on the checks while she worked at Pistotnik Law Offices.

In her plea, Olivarez admitted that from 2004 through 2009 she wrote numerous checks on the firm's client trust account and deposited the money into her personal accounts. She used some of the money to make payments on property she owned in Andover.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten also ordered Olivarez to forfeit $948,041 including her interest in the Andover property.

6 accused in Mass. mortgage scheme
Legal Watch | 2009/12/25 05:03
Three real estate investors, two mortgage brokers and a disbarred attorney have been indicted for allegedly participating in a complex scheme to defraud homeowners and mortgage lenders in the Boston area, authorities announced Tuesday.

The six defendants are charged with larceny and making false or exaggerated statements.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley, who announced the indictments at a news conference, said the scheme netted more than $2 million in proceeds.

Those charged were: Joshua Brown, 29, of Brockton; Brian Frank, 32, of New Hartford, N.Y.; and John Sweetland, 28, of Yorba Linda, Calif., all identified as real estate investors. Mortgage brokers Linda Defeo, 28, of Springfield, and Brian Arrington, 39, of Boston, were also charged.

Former attorney Bruce Namenson, 47, of Walpole, was also charged. In unrelated cases, Namenson was disbarred in 2008 for converting clients' money for his own use and sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to motor vehicle insurance fraud.

Authorities allege that Brown, Frank and Sweetland, of Boston Equity Investments, used inflated property appraisals and other fraudulent documents to obtain approximately $12.5 million in loans from more than a dozen financial lending institutions to purchase 26 multifamily homes.

They allegedly arranged for the sellers to receive much less money for the sales than the maximum amount of financing that BEI was able to get from the lenders in the homebuyers' names. At closings, BEI would pocket the difference, which was usually between $50,000 and $100,000, and sometimes as much as $150,000, Coakley said.

Teen charged with starting 2 California wildfires
Legal Watch | 2009/12/25 05:03
A 16-year-old Southern California boy was charged Wednesday as an adult for allegedly starting two arson wildfires in San Bernardino County earlier this year.

Ricky Sean Lukacs will be arraigned in adult court on Dec. 28 and is being held in juvenile hall, said Deputy District Attorney Karen Khim.

He is charged with two counts of arson of an inhabited structure for fires on Aug. 30 and 31 in the Yucaipa area, 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

Lukacs was originally arrested and charged as a juvenile, but the charges were refiled in adult court, said Susan Mickey, district attorney spokeswoman.

The fires did not cause serious injury or death, but one burned about 1 1/2 square miles in the community of Oak Glen, and the other threatened about 400 homes in Yucaipa before it was contained.

Judge denies jury strikes motion in abortion case
Legal Watch | 2009/12/23 04:59
A judge says a motion to prohibit the use of pre-emptory jury strikes in the trial of a man accused of killing a Kansas abortion provider is premature.

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert on Tuesday denied a defense motion to prohibit the strikes but said he would deal with such issues on a person-by-person basis during trial.

Fifty-one-year-old Scott Roeder is charged with shooting Dr. George Tiller on May 31 at the abortion doctor's Wichita church. Roeder has confessed to shooting Tiller, which he says was necessary to save unborn children.

Earlier Tuesday, Wilbert denied a defense motion for a change of venue for the trial.

La Salle settles injured player's lawsuit
Legal Watch | 2009/11/30 16:44
La Salle University will pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of a football player who was cleared to play after sustaining a concussion at practice and later suffered a severe brain injury in a game, the attorney for the player's family said Monday.

Preston Plevretes, who was 19 at the time, was rendered severely brain damaged in 2005 because an initial concussion had not fully resolved, thereby worsening the injury from the second impact.

Plevretes, a linebacker, was covering a punt during a 56-14 loss to Duquesne in November 2005 when he sustained a hit that prompted emergency surgery at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh to relieve pressure on his brain. The injury halted the game with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter.

Following surgery, Plevretes was limited to movement of his eyes and some movement of his hands and fingers.

In its lawsuit, Plevretes' family claimed that substandard testing and medical attention by La Salle personnel were responsible for allowing Plevretes to play despite his earlier concussion.

A trial was to have begun Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. The settlement was announced in a statement released by attorney Shannin Specter.

Domain Auction Site Faces Shill Bidding Lawsuit
Legal Watch | 2009/11/09 21:10

A Miami lawyer has filed a class-action lawsuit against domain nameauction site, after the company announced that a formeremployee was bidding against potential customers in domain nameauctions.

Attorney Santiago Cueto filed the lawsuit Monday inMiami-Dade County Circuit Court on behalf of his brother, Carlos Cueto,and others who participated in's online auctions. Thelawsuit alleges that a former vice president at secretlybid on tens of thousands of domain name auctions over the past fouryears, leading to falsely inflated prices.

Some of the SnapNamesauctions run into the tens of thousands of dollars, Santiago Cuetosaid. His brother, who owns about 3,000 domain names, has longsuspected shill bidding in some domain name auctions, he said.

"He's been frustrated by the process for years," Santiago Cueto said. "I think the entire industry needs to be cleaned up.",a subsidiary of, sent out notices last week that it haddiscovered the employee bidding on domain name auctions. SnapNames,which resells expired domain names, calls itself the largest resalemarketplace for domain names. The company runs hundreds of auctions aday, it says on its Web sites.

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