Two men casually wandered through Dolphin Mall earlier this month, past the teenage shoppers and kiosks hawking watches, and headed for a quiet bathroom. One man gripped an envelope stuffed with $10,000 in cash. The other waited for a handoff in a stall. And lurking in disguise nearby, federal agents watched it all go down.
Valentina Villafane was sitting in her second-grade classroom when the tear gas canister exploded. The principal of her private school outside Barquisimeto, Venezuela, saw it first — an errant volley from a national guardsman that flew between the bars of the school’s gate and rolled to the front door. The principal shouted for the students to run to the back of the building as gas plumed at the entrance.
As Valentina huddled with her classmates, teachers brought jars of vinegar from the cafeteria and showed the children how to apply it to their faces to protect against the gas. They waited for hours, trapped as desperate Barquisimetanos clashed with police outside.
“I was scared and I almost cried,” Valentina recalls in a telephone interview from Venezuela–where many live in dire poverty while the corrupt businessman who looted the country live lavishly in Houston and Miami.
In a rare move, District Attorney Devon Anderson intervened in a misdemeanor case to personally dismiss a DWI charge against prominent Houston defense attorney Tony Buzbee, the Houston Press discovered Monday morning.
In a statement to the Press, Anderson said the reason she decided to dismiss the case was that it was “the right thing to do.”
“He qualified for pre-trial intervention and completed all of the requirements typically mandated for a first offender DWI defendant,” Anderson said. “He did not contribute to my campaign in 2016 cycle.”
Yet even though Anderson’s own DWI diversion program requirements state that it is a one-year program, the case was dismissed after only eight months.
A Fort Bend County judge has upheld complaints of prosecutorial misconduct against a Harris County prosecutor who lied to a jury in a capital murder trial about whether she had struck deals with three jailhouse snitches in exchange for their testimony.
After finding that a prison inmate’s false testimony that prosecutor Elizabeth Shipley Exley knowingly allowed on the stand led to the conviction of Edward George McGregor, Judge James Shoemake has recommended McGregor receive habeas corpus relief and a new trial.
The corporal who was fired for wrongfully destroying thousands of pounds of evidence sat at the same tiny desk that had been in the Harris County Precinct 4 property room for 20 years. The printer had been broken for months. An old prisoner cell that had been converted to a gun storage room was full of rifles and shotguns stacked haphazardly on top of each other, and live ammunition was tucked away in disorganized boxes shared with handguns. Boxes marked “drugs” were stacked eight feet high, blocking the passageway down the room’s back aisles.
For 14 years, this was the workspace of Corporal Chris Hess, who was fired this spring after Precinct 4 superiors discovered he had destroyed about 21,000 pieces of evidence since 2007 and an unknown amount more since 2002 without following protocol, putting thousands of cases in jeopardy. Constable Mark Herman previously told reporters this scandal dated back only nine years, but an Internal Affairs Division report obtained by the Houston Press this week suggests the improper evidence destruction began earlier and was wider in scope.
“I’m Paul Vernon — Big Vern — of Cryptsy,” said the CEO, whose company was an online marketplace where users could trade their Bitcoins — a virtual form of money — for a growing number of digital imitators with names like Litecoin and Darkcoin.
Business was booming. In barely a year, Cryptsy had amassed 250,000 users trading millions of dollars, and Vernon was flying cross-country to speak at conferences from New York to San Francisco. His firm had outgrown its first office and moved its dozen or so employees into this Mediterranean-style building. Soon, Vernon himself would upgrade to a million-dollar Delray Beach mansion.