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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:31

Judge throws out plea deal for former judge

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A federal judge says he can't accept a plea deal for a former Illinois judge on heroin and gun charges because the prison term is too light.
 
Michael Cook pleaded guilty in November as part of a deal with prosecutors that called for him to serve 18 months in prison. But on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade rejected the deal, saying Cook deserves more prison time.
 
An attorney for the former St. Clair County judge declined to go through with the sentencing. He has three weeks to work out another deal with prosecutors. Cook also can ask for a jury trial.
 
The case involves the death of Associate Judge Joe Christ, who was with Cook at a hunting cabin when he overdosed on cocaine last year.
Published in Local News
   PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - An American missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year has appeared before reporters and is appealing to the U.S. government to do its best to secure his release.
   The missionary, Kenneth Bae, made the comments Monday at what he called a press conference held at his own request.
   Bae was arrested in November 2012 while leading a tour group. He was accused of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was moved to a hospital last summer in poor health. He is the longest-serving American detainee in North Korea in recent years.
   Bae expressed hope that the U.S. government will do its best to secure his release.
Published in National News

   A former metro-east judge facing federal heroine and weapons charges is set to go to trial by the end of this year, but that could change.  

   A December 9 trial date was set for former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook at a pretrial hearing Monday. Cook has pleaded not guilty, but at the hearing, his attorney said he may change his plea.  

   Since being charged in May, Cook resigned his judgeship and was released on bond to attend drug rehab in Minnesota.  

   St. Clair County Judge Joe Christ died of a cocaine overdose in March at Cook's hunting cabin, though Cook is not charged in Christ's death. 

Published in Local News

BOSTON (AP) - In a courtroom packed with survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, police officers and others, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) has pleaded not guilty to charges of carrying out the bombing.

   In his first court appearance, Tsarnaev appeared with his arm in a cast and his face swollen. He appeared nonchalant and almost bored during the hearing. His two sisters, both in Muslim garb, were in the courtroom.

 

   Tsarnaev leaned over toward a microphone and said, "Not guilty," several times in a Russian accent. He was then led out of the courtroom, making a kissing motion with his lips toward his family as he left.

 

   Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges in the attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260. The charges include using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. He could get the death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it.  Authorities say Tsarnaev orchestrated the attack along with his older brother, Tamerlan, who died following a shootout with police three days after the bombing.

 
Published in National News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A former suburban St. Louis middle school teacher has pleaded guilty to federal charges for secretly videotaping boys as they undressed in a camp shower.

Sentencing is Oct. 4 for 39-year-old Matthew Hansen of Winfield. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight counts of attempted production of child pornography.

Hansen also faces state charges for possession of child porn.

He was arrested in Iowa after threatening to jump off a cellular tower,

Hansen was a math teacher at West Middle School in the Fort Zumwalt School District of St. Charles County. He also worked at a camp for fifth-graders.

Following his arrest last year, school officials told parents that investigators had found evidence that Hansen videotaped at least 80 boys while they undressed at a camp in Lincoln County.

 

Published in Local News
Saturday, 29 June 2013 07:27

Plea deal offered in funeral fraud case

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Seven defendants accused in a pre-arranged funeral scam have been offered plea deals that would allow them to avoid potential life sentences.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlined the plea offers on Friday. The deal would require five to 10 years in prison in exchange for guilty pleas. The case is being handled in federal court in St. Louis.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan cited the high cost of trials that could last three months.

Prosecutors say now-defunct National Prearranged Services Inc. operated like a Ponzi scheme before it was shut down in 2008. Customers were allegedly bilked of up to $600 million.

One former employee, 69-year-old Sharon Nekol Province, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Sentencing is November 7th.

Published in Local News

In an emotionally charged courtroom, Clay Waller told the judge he killed his wife Jacque Waller two years ago.

Now Waller is headed to prison to serve a 20 year sentence. As part of a plea deal, Waller told authorities where he buried his wife's body. He explained how he punched her in the face then strangled her to death.

Jacque's sister, Cheryl Brenneke, read a statement that saying she is unhappy with the sentence, but knows he will get "jailhouse justice". The judge accepted the deal and said Waller did not get what he deserved, but it will have to do.

Officials say he could serve as little as 85 percent of the sentence, but it is not likely.

Published in Local News

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - A lawyer says a southeast Missouri man will plead guilty to killing his estranged wife, a mother of triplets.

Public defender Christopher Davis told The Associated Press that Clay Waller will confess to killing 39-year-old Jacque Waller at a Thursday hearing. Jacque Waller's body was found on a Mississippi River island May 29.

Davis would not say Wednesday whether Clay Waller led police to his wife's body. She had been missing since June 1, 2011, the same day the couple met with a divorce lawyer. Police said they had been living apart for about three months and had financial problems.

Waller was charged last year with first-degree murder, even though his wife's body had not been found at that time. He pleaded not guilty at the time.

Published in Local News

A guilty plea is expected when Clay Waller appears in court this week. Waller is accused of murdering his wife, Jacque Waller. She went missing after telling people she was going to meet with her estranged husband in 2011. Search teams found her body last week across the river from Cape Girardeau. Clay Waller is already in prison for harassing Jacque's sister. If he submits the anticipated plea, the next step would be setting a sentencing date. The couple's triplets are now seven years old and live with Jacque's sister.

 

Published in Local News

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A 21-year-old St. Louis County woman faces sentencing in July after pleading guilty to child endangerment for placing her newborn baby under a tree in a stranger's yard.

KSDK-TV reports that Kaitlin Norton pleaded guilty in St. Louis Circuit Court. She was arrested last year, days after the child was found outside of a home in Ellisville.

A woman looked out her window and saw a bundle in a blanket, thinking at first it might be a litter of puppies. It was Norton's child. Norton had given birth to the baby in the basement of her boyfriend's home.

Norton turned herself in after she was treated at a hospital following the birth.

 
Published in Local News
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