A Philadelphia woman pleaded guilty and agreed to accept a life sentence on Wednesday for a fraud scheme in which she locked mentally disabled people in closets, attics and basements and took their Social Security and disability benefits, officials said.
The charges against Linda Weston, 55, include sex trafficking, murder in aid of racketeering, theft of government funds and forced human labor, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Weston and her accomplices victimized six mentally disabled adults and four children at homes in Philadelphia, Texas, Virginia and Florida from 2001 through October 2011, until a landlord notified police after seeing several figures in a dark sub-basement.
A plea memo provided by the Justice Department said Weston lured in victims who were estranged from their families by offering a place to stay and pretending to be romantically interested in some.
The statement said Weston, her daughter, Jean McIntosh, and co-defendant Eddie Wright locked the victims inside the homes – often in dark closets, basements and rooms – and sedated them by placing drugs in their meals.
When the victims protested their treatment or tried to escape, Weston and the others would burn them or beat them with their fists, bats, hammers and a pistol butt. The statement said some of the victims were held for years.
Weston also enticed two of the victims to bear children so she could receive additional Social Security benefits, and forced female victims into prostitution, the plea memo said.
The department identified two victims who died from the abuse and subhuman conditions. Donna Spadea, who was fed a paltry diet and not allowed to use the bathroom, was found dead in the basement of a Philadelphia home in June 2005 months after arriving.
Maxine Lee was beaten for trying to escape and begging for food. When Weston relocated the operation to Virginia, she kept Lee locked in a kitchen cabinet and attic for several months until she died of bacterial meningitis and starvation in November 2008, the statement said.
McIntosh and Wright have pleaded guilty in the case, the statement said. Two more defendants, Gregory Thomas Sr. And Nicklaus Woodward, are awaiting trial.
Weston’s sentence calls for life in prison, plus 80 years, as well as restitution and fines. She is to be sentenced by a federal Philadelphia judge on Nov. 5, according to the statement.
Devin Nunes is livid at report he helped Trump’s White House: ‘Who the hell is leaking this?’
The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is suing Washington, DC's hometown newspaper.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced that he was suing The Washington Post during a Friday appearance on Fox News.
“A senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see President Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments,” The Washington Post reported Thursday. “Trump learned about Pierson’s remarks from Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the committee’s ranking Republican and a staunch Trump ally, said one person familiar with the matter.”
BUSTED: Trump’s new spy chief worked for foreign politician the US accused of corruption
by Isaac Arnsdorf
President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.
In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.
Air pollution kills thousands of Americans every year – here’s a low-cost strategy to reduce the toll
About 1 of every 25 deaths in the U.S. occurs prematurely because of exposure to air pollution. Dirty air kills roughly 110,000 Americans yearly, which is more than all transportation accidents and shootings combined.
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency weighs decisions about air pollution regulations, it typically selects candidate actions from one or more sectors, such as electric power generation and industry. For each strategy considered, the agency carefully estimates the costs and benefits, then decides which actions to pursue.