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A federal judge declined the prosecution's request to send the 70-year-old seaman to prison for 10 years, saying there was no bad intent in the 2019 tragedy. Courtesy City pf Ventura PIO

California dive boat captain gets 4 years for fire that left 34 people dead

 

 

EDVARD PETTERSSON, Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (CN) — The captain of a recreational scuba-diving boat that burned down during an overnight trip off the coast of California was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for seaman's manslaughter.

The disaster killed all 33 passengers, as well as crewmember trapped below deck.

US District Judge George Wu, a George W. Bush appointee, said it was one of the most difficult sentences he ever has had to determine. The judge declined the prosecution's request to send 70-year-old captain Jerry Boylan to prison for 10 years.

Eighteen relatives of the people who died on the fatal 2019 Labor Day trip spoke at the almost four-hour hearing in downtown Los Angeles. Many in tears, they described how grief has upended their lives. Many of those who addressed the court also expressed anger at what they said was Boylan's unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions. Almost all asked the judge to sentence Boylan to the maximum sentence allowed by the law.

"You didn't take care of anyone," the brother of one victim told Boylan. "Jumping off the boat, saving your own ass — that was all that was important to you."

The mother of a man who died trapped in the bunkroom recalled hearing her son's voice in a short iPhone video. That video — recorded in the smoke-filled bunkroom and played at trial — showed passengers alive and panicking after Boylan had jumped overboard and told his crew to abandon ship.

"I have not seen one ounce of remorse or responsibility taken by Jerry Boylan," that mother said.

Another mother, who lost three of her daughters on the fatal diving trip, said that she had been a devout Catholic but had since lost her faith. She said her life "had been silenced" by the preventable tragedy.

"This was not an act of God," she said. "You decided not to take care of my family. You left my daughters to burn in that hellish fire."

Boylan didn't address the judge or the family members in person. His lawyer Georgina Wakefield said he would be overcome by emotion if he did. Instead, Wakefield read a short statement by Boylan in which he expressed his remorse for what happened. In the statement, Boylan said that there was not a day in which he doesn't think about those affected by the tragedy.

Pleading for leniency, Wakefield told the judge that Boylan is a broken man who never leaves the house, suffers from panic attacks and breaks down and cries whenever he tries to have a conversation with anyone.

"Mr. Boylan isn't a bad man," the attorney said in arguing for a sentence of home detention. "Mr. Boylan didn't want this to happen. He wishes everyday that he could go back in time and change what happened."

While declining to spare Boylan prison time, Judge Wu nonetheless imposed a sentence below the guidelines because, he said, he was satisfied with the remorse Boylan had shown. He said he didn't think there was bad intent behind the captain's actions or failures.

Wu rejected the prosecution's request to remand Boylan to custody straightaway, saying he would instead set a surrender date at a July hearing to determine what if any restitution Boylan owes to the victims' families.

 “The defendant’s cowardice and repeated failures caused the horrific deaths of 34 people,” United States Attorney Martin Estrada said after the hearing. “The victims’ families will be forever devastated by this needless tragedy. While today’s sentence cannot fully heal their wounds, we hope that our efforts to hold this defendant criminally accountable brings some measure of healing to the families.”

A jury last November deliberated for less than a day before finding Boylan guilty of gross negligence in the deaths of all passengers and a crewmember sleeping below deck on the Conception. A 75-foot plywood and fiberglass vessel, the Conception was anchored near one of the Channel Islands during the deadly fire on Sept. 2, 2019.

Prosecutors with the US attorney's office in LA accused Boylan of failing to train his inexperienced crew to fight fires at sea. They noted the Conception did not have a night patrol, who could have spotted the fire before it was out of control.

The boat was on the last stop of a three-day dive trip over the Labor Day weekend when a fire broke out on the main deck at around 3 a.m. At the time, all passengers were asleep in the bunkroom below deck. Boylan and four crewmembers were asleep on the upper deck when the fire started. A sixth crewmember was sleeping in the bunk room with the passengers.

The second galley hand was awakened by the sound of fire. When he looked out, he noticed the fire on the main deck and woke the other crewmembers sleeping above. However, the stairs from the upper deck to the main deck were already blocked by flames, galley hand Mikey Kholes testified, and the crew had to climb or jump down to the main deck.

 

One of them broke his leg in the process. There, they found that the entrance to the salon was engulfed in flames and impossible to enter.

 

Boylan remained in the wheelhouse to make a distress call — but when the smoke got into the wheelhouse, he jumped overboard while other crewmembers were still trying to break into the salon and reach the passengers below.

One of the crewmembers, worried that Boylan was in danger, jumped after him only to find that the captain was unharmed.

The captain told the crew to abandon the burning boat even though, the prosecution claims, the passengers were still alive below deck. They were found in the following days by rescue divers, with some of them hugging each other in their final moments. A Santa Barbara County coroner determined they had all died from smoke inhalation.

Categories / COURTSCRIMINALREGIONAL

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Charging documents in the government's case against Taylor Taranto show him, encircled in yellow, entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Courtesy DOJ

MUG SHOT

Trump, first US booked and given a mug shot

There is a booking photo of former president and current criminal defendant Donald Trump, and that face— scowling in the unflattering light of a county jail—is the face of the Grand Old Party.

Trump was arrested on charges of racketeering and election interference in Georgia, his fourth arrest this year. The former president Donald Trump poses for his booking photo at the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 24, 2023 in Atlanta, GA.

 

Trump was booked on 13 charges related to an alleged plan to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump and 18 others facing felony charges were ordered to turn themselves in to the Fulton

County Jail by Aug. 25.

 

The photo released by the Fulton County jail late Thursday was striking because never, in our nation’s history, has a former president had that particular type of photo taken.

Just as never, in our nation’s history, has a former president, much less a leading candidate for a party’s presidential nomination, faced more than 90 state and federal charges ranging from conspiracy to defraud the US government to violating the Espionage Act.

Man arrested outside Obama’s home hit with additional gun felony charges

 

RYAN KNAPPENBERGER, Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (CN)—Federal prosecutors filed two felony gun charges July 14 against Taylor Taranto, a Capitol riot defendant ordered to await trial behind bars earlier this week after his arrest for driving near former Pres-

ident Barack Obama’s Washington home in a van filled with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two guns and a machete.

 

Taranto is the third Jan. 6 defendant to get detained before his trial after Justice Department attorneys argued he should not be allowed to return to his parent’s home in Washington state because of the potential danger he posed to elected officials and the public, pointing to a string of threatening statements and actions he made in the days leading up to his June 30 arrest. 

Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui said during a detention hearing July 12 that he was concerned over a pair of live streams in which Taranto threatened to blow up his car near the National Institute of Standards and Technology — the agency’s Maryland campus houses a nuclear reactor—and another in which Taranto spoke of finding underground tunnels to enter the homes of Obama and White House senior adviser John Podesta.

Faruqui also said he was concerned about what Taranto, an Iraq War veteran, could have accomplished with his military training and a small arsenal of weaponry.

"I’m scared when I think of the weapons you have … that there could be catastrophic consequences," Faruqui said.

A grand jury filed two charges against Taranto for carrying a pistol without a license and possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device. If convicted, the first charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and one year for the second.

The two felonies are in addition to four misdemeanor charges Taranto faces in connection to his participation at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, including entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct and parading in the Capitol.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Taranto’s public defender, Kathryn Guevara, argued that the prosecution was trying to characterize her client as a dangerous fugitive and punish him for expressing his political beliefs.

Guevara said Taranto only came to Washington, D.C., after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced in February that he would allow some Jan. 6 defendants access to Capitol security footage and that Taranto was in plain sight while in the district.

 

Guevara said her client made multiple appearances at a protest site outside the Washington jail where many Jan. 6 defendants are held and even appeared at the federal courthouse for the sentencing of David Walls-Kaufman two weeks before his arrest.

Guevara could not be reached for comment.

 

Another concerning pair of incidents before Taranto’s arrest occurred at two elementary schools near the home of Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, where Taranto is accused of playing a Jan. 6 cons- piracy video at one and filming children exiting another as part of an evacuation drill.

 

According to the government’s pretrial detention request, Taranto can be heard over video at the second school saying that the evacuation was due to a "violent white supremacist out somewhere."

 

Faruqui made the rare decision to detain Taranto based on concerns that even if the defendant was under house arrest in his parents’ home, there was still a chance he could commit violence. He expressed some sympathy for Taranto’s position, highlighting his military service and the struggles he has faced since returning home, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions, that Faruqui said put him on this path.

"We failed you, and now you have to pay the price for us not taking care of one of our most vulnerable popula- tions," Faruqui said.

Taranto will appear in federal court again on July 25. 

Tentative trial date for stolen docs case

By MEGAN BUTLER, Contributing Writer

(CN)—A federal judge appointed by Donald Trump set an Aug. 14 trial date for the former president on charges related to his handling of classified government documents after his term in office.

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Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 federal charges at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. US Courthouse in Miami.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 federal charges at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. US Courthouse in Miami.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered both sides to file pretrial motions by July 24, and set aside two weeks for a trial in Fort Pierce at the Southern District Court of Florida.

 

But she added that the parties could ask to push back the trial date due to the complexities of the case and issues related to classified information, which could potentially draw out start of the trial.

 

During his arraignment, Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 federal charges at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. US Courthouse in Miami.

Trump is accused of taking more than 300 classified documents from the White House, a trove that included highly sensitive materials on an Iranian missile program, surveillance efforts in China and the nuclear capabilities of an unidentified foreign power.

The indictment consists of 31 counts for willfully retaining top-secret national security documents, as well as additional counts for conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding and concealing documents, and making false statements to investigators. If convicted on these charges, Trump could face up to 10 years in prison for retaining national security secrets.

It also includes charges against the former president's longtime valet and aide, Walt Nauta, who was responsible for moving the boxes in which Trump kept classified documents. Nauta also pleaded not guilty.

Trump and Nauta are charged together on five counts related to obstruction and concealing documents—the obstruction charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison, and five for concealment—and each also faces an individual count for making false statements, which also carry maximum sentences of five years imprisonment.

The judge's scheduled date puts the case on track for a speedy trial, as pledged by the Justice Department's special counsel overseeing the case, Jack Smith.

Cannon, who has been a member of the conservative Federalist Society since 2005, previously presided over a case that Trump brought after the government found the documents in a raid of his South Florida estate Mar-a-Lago. In her time on the federal bench, according to a recent survey by The New York Times, her criminal trial experience has added up to just 14 days.

 

Last year, Cannon was widely ridiculed, and her decision overturned by the 11th Circuit when she issued a ruling that would have delayed the Trump investigation, asserting that the former president should enjoy special protections not otherwise provided to individuals targeted by a search warrant.

On June 19, a federal magistrate judge issued an order barring Trump’s defense attorneys from releasing to the media or the public any evidence they obtain from prosecutors in the case.

Trump will also face another trial in New York that is scheduled for March 25, 2024, connected to hush money that was paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels while he was running for president for the first time.

Trump pleads not guilty to 37 counts 

The government fingerprinted, arraigned the former president without any disruption 

By RYAN KNAPPENBERGER, Contributing Writer

MIAMI (CN) — Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges Wednesday in his first court appearance on charges stemming from the hundreds of classified documents found at his private residence in Florida after leaving office.

US Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman presided over the historic arraignment, ordering Trump not to discuss the case with any witnesses or with his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, who also entered a not-guilty plea. Such restrictions are common in criminal cases.

Trump arrived at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. US Courthouse in Miami with a new counsel after two members of his legal team, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, resigned Friday on the morning the federal indictment against him was unsealed. Todd Blanche, formerly of Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, as well as Christopher Kise, a former solicitor general of Florida, have filled the roles left by Trusty and Rowley.

The indictment charges Trump with 31 counts for willfully retaining national security documents, which could land him a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

He and Nauta are charged together on five counts related to obstruction and concealing documents — the obstruction charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and five for concealment, and each also faces an individual count for making false statements, which also carry maximum sentences of five years imprisonment.

As the case proceeds, it falls on the docket of US District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump tapped for the bench in 2020. Cannon has been involved in the case since the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago last August, facing widespread derision in the legal community for a move that would have hampered the government's investigation. That decision, considered the first major one of Cannon's career, was soon overturned by the 11th Circuit.

Outside the courthouse Tuesday, hundreds of Trump supporters and detractors faced tightened security for the first of its-kind spectacle of a former president being hauled into court on federal charges.

The unsealed indictment offers a narrative that Trump knew he was breaking the law by keeping the classified documents and actively sought to interfere with the FBI's investigation into his handling of them.

In one conversation obtained by prosecutors, Trump is quoted as sharing military plans to attack Iran with an unidentified writer visiting Mar-a-Lago.

"This is secret information … this was done by the military and given to me," Trump tells the individual, according to the indictment. "See as president I could have declassified it … Now I can’t, you know, but this is still secret."

The charging papers are also peppered with grainy photos in black and white, revealing that Trump had been storing the hundreds of classified documents in stacks of boxes scattered around various rooms of the Mar-a-Lago resort, including his office, an event space and even the shower of a bathroom.

Notes about Trump's conversations with his former attorney, Evan Corcoran, are particularly damaging to the defense.

"What happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?" Trump asked Corcoran in May 2022. "Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?"

Though attorney-client privilege normally makes such conversations off-limits to prosecutors, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the privilege was waived under the crime-fraud exception, which applies when a client is using legal advice to further a crime.

Absent any delays, Trump's trial could wind up being scheduled before the 2024 election in which he remains a frontrunner among Republicans vying to unseat the incumbent President Joe Biden.

Trump separately faces a state prosecution in New York related to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. Other criminal probes implicating the president involve his incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol, and the pressure he put on Georgia election officials after the 2020 election to find more votes so he could masquerade as the winner.

This story is developing and will be updated...

CRIMINALGOVERNMENTNATIONAL

Forty-fifth president first indicted on federal criminal charges

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents. The indicted against Trump, his second, came down June 8.

Trump, who first revealed the news earlier on June 8 in a post on his Truth Social platform, faces seven counts, according to his lawyer and another source. The charges include false statements, conspiracy to obstruct and a charge related to the Espionage Act, sources said.

A federal grand jury in Florida has been meeting in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The Florida grand jury is separate from a panel that was convened in Washington, D.C. The investigation began last year when the National Archives alerted the FBI that government documents Trump had returned after having been out of office for about a year included 184 that were marked classified. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Ex-Dodger Steve Garvey weighs run

for US Senate

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Steve Garvey.

Eyeing seat being vacated by Dianne Feinstein

LOS ANGELES (CNS)Former Dodger Steve Garvey is pondering a possible run for the US Senate seat being vacated by Dianne Feinstein, it was reported.


Sources within the state Republican Party said Garvey has been meeting with GOP donors and leaders to discuss the possibility of a run. Republican strategist Andy Gharakhani told the paper he is advising Garvey, who has been contacted by leaders of both political parties about becoming a candidate, ``and he's seriously considering it.''


"We should have a decision made here in the next few weeks,'' Gharakhani told a local daily newspaper.
 

If he were to jump into the race as a Republican, he would immediately become the most well-known GOP hopeful, despite his lack of any elective political experience. The field of announced candidates thus far is largely dominated by Democrats, most notably Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.


Garvey, 74, would also face an uphill challenge, since no Republican has won a statewide election in Calif- ornia since 2006. But as a former member of both the Dodgers and Padres, his name carries significant celebrity and recognition in two major portions of the state.
 

"He's a very well-known former athlete in California, and, assuming a strong and competent candidacy, I think he would absolutely have the opportunity to consolidate the Republican vote in the primary," GOP strategist
Rob Stutzman told a local newspaper.


The paper noted that Garvey went on record in 1981 saying he had been approached about running for Senate. He later attended the Republican National Convention and raised money for then-candidate George H.W. Bush.
 

In May, he attended a state Republican donor event in Rancho Mirage, and his potential candidacy was "openly discussed at the event," an attendee said. Earlier, Garvey took part in a fundraiser for Orange
County Rep. Michelle Steel in Newport Beach.
 

Illegal Book Bans: Gov. Newsom warns against practice


SACRAMENTO—Gov. Gavin Newsom, Atty. General Rob Bonta, and State Supt. Tony Thurmond have sent a joint letter to all county school superintendents, district school superintendents, and charter school adminis- trators cautioning against book bans. The letter outlines pertinent educational civil rights and corresponding legal mandates school administrators are required to follow to preserve freedom and ensure access to diverse perspectives and curricula.
 
"In the first half of this school year alone, 1,477 books were banned nationally, with teachers and librarians threatened with prison time for shelving the wrong book" said Gov. Newsom, Atty. General Bonta, and Supt. Thurmond. "As state leaders elected to represent the values of all Californians, we offer our response in one shared voice: Access to books—including books that reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives of Californians, and especially, those that may challenge us to grapple with uncomfortable truths—is a profound freedom we all must protect and cultivate."
 
The joint letter sent June 1 highlights case law and constitutional precedent that restricts the removal of books from libraries and schools; the responsibilities of school administrators to provide students exposure to various world views; and the legal mandates that require school administrators to provide an unbiased curriculum to students and preserve freedom of speech.

 

Additionally, the joint letter informs local educational agencies that if they remove or ban instructional materials from classrooms or libraries, they may be requested to provide information to the Attorney General’s Office for analysis.
 
While other states ban books, California is improving education outcomes and investing tens of billions of dollars to improve literacy. California outperformed most states
including Florida and Texas—in mitigating learning loss during the pandemic, and through historic levels of school funding, the state is building a cohesive structure of support for educators and students that reflects a focus on equity, inclusion, and academic success.
 

Fired for using the  'Nizzle'

word

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Barbie Bassett. Screenshot

The euphemistic used of a term created and popularized by rap artist Snoop Dogg, has apparently led to the dismissal of veteran Mississippi TV news anchor. There has been no sign of a Mississippi morning news anchor woman since she voiced a Snoop Dogg phrase on air earlier this month, according to entertainment venue, Deadline Hollywood. 

Barbie Bassett has not been on air for the NBC affiliate WLBT since March 8, when her team were discussing the rapper’s addition to his wine line.

 

Bassett said, "Fo shizzle, my nizzle," according to Deadline, when the idea of a Snoop collaboration with a newsroom journalist was raised. (“Nizzle” is slang for the N-word.) The station’s chief meteorologist as well as anchor, Bassett has previously caused controversy with a comment, referring to a Black reporter’s “grand- mammy” on air. She later apologized.

She is no longer listed on the station’s website, according to the Clarion Ledger. And Bassett has not shared anything on Twitter since the same day – her silence including this weekend when a deadly tornado struck Mississippi, sparking huge chatter among meteorologists.

 

The New York Post reports the story but has received no comment from Bassett, WLBT or Snoop Dogg. It quotes the station’s regional vice president Ted Fortenberry, saying: 

"As I am sure you can understand, WLBT is unable to comment on personnel matters.​

Chauvin gets 21 years in prison for federal civil rights violations

Already serving 22½ years  for murder charges in state case; sentences will be served concurrently

MINNEAPOLIS (PNS)—Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison July 7 after he pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges in the killing of George Floyd.

The sentencing comes about seven months since he entered the guilty plea, admitting that he violated Floyd's rights when he knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes during an arrest in May 2020.

According to court documents, Chauvin will serve 21 years in prison on the federal charges. He already is serving 22½ years in prison after he was found guilty of second-and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter in April 2021 in Floyd's death. The sentencing is expected to be served concurrently.

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Derek Chauvin

The ex-cop originally plead not guilty to the federal charges in December 2021 only to later change his plea. By pleading guilty, he avoided another high-profile trial.

Three other officers involved in Floyd's death—Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao—were also convicted on federal charges in February of depriving Floyd of his civil rights. 

In addition, Kueng and Thao also were convicted for not intervening to stop Chauvin during his use of excessive force on Floyd. As of Thursday, sentencing dates for the two former cops have not yet been scheduled.

Kueng and Thao are facing a state trial that has been moved back numerous times, with it now set to begin in October. They face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. Lane entered a guilty plea to state charges consisting of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin also faces federal lawsuits filed against him and the city of Minneapolis for kneeling incidents that happened to civilians years before the killing of Floyd.

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