Vivianne Washington was arrested in the investigation of a brutal murder of an elderly woman at her home in Meriwether County, Georgia after assailants invaded her home, attacked her, and set her on fire. Before she died, she named her assailants as several black males and an African American female. Officer Hugh Howard of the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office investigating the crime received a tip from a farm employee suggesting that he interview Cortavious Heard. Heard was a former farm employee who was on probation for another crime. After Heard was picked up he eventually admitted to his involvement in the home invasion. While interviewing suspect Heard, officer Howard received a tip that came into the Meriwether Sheriff’s Department from an informant that identified Washington as someone the informant heard was involved in this. The informant sent a photograph of Washington. When Howard received it, he told Heard about the tip and showed Heard Washington’s photograph. Heard identified it as the woman who was involved in the home invasion. After obtaining more information about Washington and confirming that the information came from a reliable source, an arrest warrant was issued for Washington. She was arrested at work about 5:00 p.m. Continue reading
Nathan Hardwick was a real estate attorney in Georgia who managed the “closing side” of the real estate law firm practice. The law firm sold part of its foreclosure operation to a private equity group for 14 to 15 million dollars but within a few years Hardwick’s portion of the money was gone from misfortune that included the 2008 financial crises, gambling, and a bad divorce. He owed millions in loans he could not repay. To satisfy his creditors Hardwick turned to conduct that led to federal criminal charges.
To repay a bank and casino debt, Hardwick lied to a bank in a line-of-credit application claiming that there were no lawsuits pending against him. Even worse, he siphoned off about $26 million from the law firm including $19 million from the law firms’ trust account, while hiding the withdrawal from other shareholders. To accomplish this theft, he relied heavily on Asha Maurya, who Hardwick promoted by to the position of CFO giving her authority over the trust accounts. At Hardwick’s request she repeatedly sent money from the law firm to Hardwick or his creditors and significantly underreported the law firm distributions to Hardwick. Eventually the scheme unraveled when an internal audit revealed an altered bank account. Both were indicted by a grand jury of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution. Maurya pled guilty. Hardwick went to trial and was convicted. Hardwick received a 180-month sentence and Maurya received an 84-month sentence.
Brandon Fleury was posting and messaging on Instagram posing as mass murderer Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD), which took place on February 14, 2018, when Cruz brought a AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle into the school located in Parkland, Florida, and murdered seventeen students and faculty members. Between December 22, 2018 and January 9, 2019, Fleury used aliases like nikolas.killed.your.sister, the.douglas.shooter, and Teddykillspeople (referencing Ted Bundy) and sent victims’ family members and friends taunting and harassing messages that put them in fear for their own lives. After the messages were traced to Fleury, he was charged in federal court in the Southern District of Florida with transmitting interstate threats and cyberstalking. His charges were based on posts and messages sent to three individuals who lost loved ones in the MSD shooting. Following a jury trial, he was convicted.
Clare Grady, Carmen Trotta, and Martha Hennessy are members of the Plowshares Movement, a Roman Catholic protest and activism group opposed to nuclear weapons. On April 4, 2018, they and others surreptitiously and illegally entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Georgia, to engage in protest of nuclear weapons by engaging in what they referred to as symbolic disarmament. What they did was more destructive. They spray painted numerous anti-nuclear and religious messages on the sidewalk and on monuments, poured donated blood from the movement’s members on the door of a building and the sidewalk, hammered on a decommissioned missile display, placed crime scene tape around the base, removed signage and part of a monument, and cut through wiring and fencing to enter a highly secured area and display banners protesting nuclear weapons.
Charles was arrested by a Dawson County Sheriff’s deputy on an outstanding warrant after he was found inside a car that the deputy had pulled over for speeding. Charles resisted his arrest for over five minutes and the deputy succeeded in subduing Charles with the aid of a civilian bystander and a second deputy. Charles was convicted of felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer in a Georgia state court.
He sued the two deputies and the civilian in federal court under section 1983 alleging excessive force under Georgia state law and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. His claim against the civilian was that the deputy and the civilian conspired to violate his right to be free of excessive force.
A deputy from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office pulled over Sosa while driving. After checking his name in the computer system and finding an outstanding warrant for a David Sosa, Sosa explained that he had been mistakenly arrested four years earlier for the same warrant. He told the deputy about the differences between himself and the real Sosa who was wanted. The deputy arrested him anyway, and he spent three days in jail before the sheriff’s office acknowledged he was not the wanted Sosa and released him.
Sosa filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Martin County Sheriff’s Department alleging a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights by falsely arresting him and for detaining him longer than he should have been detained. He made a claim pursuant to Monell that the Sheriff failed to institute policies and train deputies to prevent these types of things from happening. The trial court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim.
Michael Anderson owned and operated a shrimping business called Shrimpy’s in Savannah Georgia. From 2005 through 2007, Anderson submitted CBP (Customs & Border Protection) Forms 7401 in which he falsely claimed large business expenses as part of a scheme to acquire federal government subsidies under the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Act of 2000 (CDSOA). This federal program is designed to compensate U.S. domestic producers for losses that foreign producers caused by dumping underpriced goods into the American market. Enacted by Congress and administered by Customs, the program allowed the federal government to levy duties on specific foreign goods and distribute the funds to affected domestic producers of products, such shrimpers, who could claim subsidies by identifying their business expenses on the Form 7401 and mailing it to the Customs office in Indiana. Customs would then use the claimed expenses to calculate each qualifying domestic producer’s pro rata share of the funds and distribute the funds accordingly.
Mr. Anderson’s claims for 2005 through 2007 stated he had expenses exceeding $24 million in raw material expenses. He submitted 47 invoices from a company called R&R Seafood, which happened to be identical invoices except they bore different dates ranging from February 2005 to September 2006 and listed different rates for shrimp. The invoices showed he purchased 4.7 million pounds of shrimp for more than $29 million in two years. Based on his CDSOA claims, Anderson received a total of $864,292.40 in federal subsidies.
Phillips went to trial and was convicted of a three-count federal indictment charging him with 1) persuading, inducing, and enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction, 2) receiving material containing child pornography, and possessing material containing child pornography. He argued in this appeal that the district court constructively amended the indictment which charged him with knowingly and intentionally causing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a video. He claimed the trial court committed reversible error to instruct the jury that the government need not prove he knew the boy was a minor. He also argued there was a Double Jeopardy violation of the constitution because that he was sentenced for both a crime and a lesser included crime based on the same set of facts.
The federal appeals court rejected his argument that the district court constructively amended the indictment, but it agreed that he was sentenced for both a crime and a lesser included crime. Here Phillips, who is a 33-year old man went on line pretending to be a 17 or 18 year old girl on a social media website where he met a minor boy.
Mr. Spencer sued Sheriff Jonathan Benison pursuant to 42 U.S.C §1983 claiming a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights against deprivation of property and liberty rights. He alleged that Benison ordered him to remove traffic cones and vehicles that were preventing Spencer’s neighbor from completing construction on an easement that Spencer alleged encroached on his property. Spencer claimed that by ordering him to remove these obstructions, the Sheriff deprived him of property without due process and that Benison conspired with others to take and use his property without due process or compensation.
Spencer’s dispute began after an entity called Belle Mere Properties purchased a parcel of real estate from Spencer which contained an easement of 25 feet on either side of the existing power line for the purpose of egress and ingress. Belle Mere then leased the property to a bingo hall. Soon after Spencer and Belle Mere began disputing over the boundaries of the easement when Belle Mere decided to expand a previously constructed roadway running through the easement. After Spencer made several calls to the police claiming that a bulldozer was trespassing, Benison responded to the scene and found that Spencer had placed cones and vehicles blocking construction which backed up traffic on U.S. Highway 11.
Susan Khoury filed a lawsuit against the Miami Dade County School Board and Officer Williams, a school board police officer, for false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Williams had detained and committed her for an involuntary mental health examination under Florida’s Baker Act statute, Fla. Stat. §394.463 after Williams characterized her as being a danger to herself or others. Khoury also made a Monell claim against the school board. The district court granted summary judgment to as to all claims against the officer and the school board. In this opinion, the court of appeals reversed the district court’s dismissal against the police officer but upheld the dismissal as to the school board.
Her claims arose from an incident that began when Khoury, who lived across the street from a middle school baseball field in Miami Dade County, was using her phone to record cars she believed were illegally parked around the baseball field. Khoury had an argument with one of the drivers, who then called the police. Officer Williams arrived, and after advising the driver that Khoury had a First Amendment right to film, Khoury and Williams had an argument which led to Williams arresting and detainer Khoury pursuant to the Baker Act.