Democrats blasted the $3 billion sales practices settlement that Wells Fargo came to with federal officials on Friday, calling it “a slap on the wrist” for a bank that could easily pay the cost of the deal.The settlement, reached between the bank, federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission, essentially put Wells Fargo on a form of probation, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, while requiring it to pay a total of $3 billion in penalties.For over a decade, Wells Fargo employees created millions of fake accounts in customers names, among other misconduct, to meet unrea...
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Ohio deputies serving a search warrant find a 3-year-old held in a filthy cage and 2-year-old carrying a meth pipe
Ohio sheriff's deputies who were investigating a sexual assault served a search warrant on a home and found children who were being kept in horrifying conditions, WSB-TV reports.
According to a press release from the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, officers found a three-year-old inside a filthy cage filled with bugs that had been locked using zip ties. A 2-year-old was also found walking around inside the home “holding a methamphetamine pipe.”
The children’s parents, Franklin “TJ” Varney and Megan Smith, ran from the house “due to their involvement with the sexual assault investigation.” Officers arrested Ella Webb, the children’s grandmother, who also had legal custody.
Varney, Smith and Webb have all been charged with endangering children.
“I very, very strongly encourage Mr. Varney and Ms. Smith to immediately surrender themselves to law enforcement,” Hocking County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Caleb J. Moritz said in a statement. “If they chose to run from their responsibilities, as they did tonight, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office will tirelessly leverage every local, state, and federal resource available to bring these two to justice.”
The children have been placed in foster care.
The federal judge overseeing the Oath Keepers’ sedition trial has ruled that an order given by an anonymous user on the Zello app to “arrest “these f***ing treasonous bastards” in Congress as defendant Jessica Watkins was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 is inadmissible as evidence.
In an order handed down on Monday, Judge Amit Mehta also said a recommendation by another user to “find out where the tunnels exits and block them too” likewise cannot be played for the jury. Mehta said the statements were “highly inflammatory,” and “have the potential to be highly prejudicial to defendants.”
“1%Watchdog,” who created the “Stop the Steal J6” Zello channel, issued a command while Watkins was walking towards the Capitol with other members of the Oath Keepers: “Citizens arrest. Arrest this assembly, these f***ing treasonous bastards.”
Mehta rejected an argument by the government that the statement provides context for Watkins’ actions inside the Capitol, writing that the connection between the Zello channel host’s statements and Watkins’ conduct was “speculative and attenuated.” He noted that Watkins did not respond and did not enter the Capitol until 30 minutes later. Instead, Mehta wrote, Watkins “connected with her co-defendants Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson,” adding that the statement by “1%Watchdog” was “sufficiently distant from Ms. Watkins later actions and, for that reason, does not provide context for them.”
The Zello chats were recorded in real-time during the assault on the Capitol by Micah Loewinger, a reporter for “On the Media” at WNYC. The open “Stop the Steal J6” channel attracted about 170 subscribers, including Watkins and two users who have been described by the government as “unindicted co-conspirators.”
While the government will not be able to present the statement from “1%Watchdog” to the jury, Judge Mehta has already given credence to similar evidence. In an April 2021 order denying pretrial release to Meggs, Mehta cited evidence that Meggs and other Oath Keepers walked to the north side of the Capitol toward the Senate chamber, only to be turned away by police officers. Rebuffed in their effort to gain access to the Senate, the Oath Keeper then reportedly turned south and walked towards the House chamber.
Mehta cited a Facebook message between Meggs and an unidentified person on the evening of Jan. 6 in which the unidentified person told Meggs he “was hoping to see Nancy’s head rolling down the front steps.” Meggs reportedly replied, “We looked forward [sic] her.”
While ruling that the Zello channel host's call to arrest members of Congress is inadmissible, Judge Mehta said he will allow all of Watkins’ statements and some of the statements of other participants to be admitted into evidence.
Judge Mehta ruled that the government can present three statements by a Zello user named “FreedomD0z3r” who is described by the government as an unindicted co-conspirator and named “Person 32” in court documents.
“From what I’m hearing, they have breached the Capitol, they are inside, still fighting the police,” Person 32 reportedly said at 2:19 p.m. “Can we get a confirmed on that?”
A couple of minutes later, Person 32 reportedly addressed Watkins on the Zello chat, saying, “Jess, pull as much intel as you can.”
And at 2:46 p.m., Person 32 reportedly said, “Get it, Jess. Do your s***. This is what we f***ing lived up for. Everything we f***ing trained for.”
Judge Mehta also said he will allow three statements from other participants reporting that the House was called back into session, although the session was later suspended again until Congress ultimately reconvened in the evening to complete the certification of the electoral vote. Mehta said the statements were admissible to give context to Watkins’ subsequent statement.
“We’re on the rear mezzanine behind the dome,” Watkins reported to the chat participants. Mehta said the statement was admissible as reflecting Watkins’ state of mind at the time and showing that she was inside the Capitol building “during the commission of the alleged offenses.”
Judge Mehta rejected an argument by the government that non-Oath Keepers speakers were acting as “eyes in the sky” for Watkins.
“They are not instructing Ms. Watkins on what to do,” Mehta wrote. “Nor did Ms. Watkins take any apparent action in response to the statements. At most, they appear to be expressing their personal views or communicating play-by-play of the events as they unfolded on television or were reported in the media.”
The government had argued in a brief submitted to the court over the weekend that participants on the chat who were watching the events remotely and others present in Washington, DC “provided up-to-the minute information that helped guide Watkins, Meggs, Harrelson and other conspirators as they approached the Capitol.” The government cited messages like, “Barricades are being challenged,” and, “I just witnessed about four vans full of riot control turning left of Madison onto 3rd.”
“This ‘eye in the sky’ information is akin to law enforcement aerial teams relaying vital information to help ground teams navigate dangerous circumstances — just like Watkins and her co-conspirators faced on January 6 as they marched through throngs of other rioters and riot police to breach the Capitol,” the government argued.
Many of Watkins’ own statements are likely to come up during the trial, which is scheduled to begin next week.
At 1:49 p.m., after “1%Watchdog” opened the channel to the public, Watkins responded, “Right, brother. We’re boots on the ground here. We’re moving on the Capitol now. I’ll give you a boots-on-the-ground update here in a few.”
A couple of minutes later, she added, “We have a good group. We’ve got about 30, 40 of us. We’re sticking together and sticking to the plan.”
Judge Mehta ruled that the statements expose Watkins to criminal liability because they provide evidence of “concerted activity.” Because they are considered statements against interest, Mehta said, “a reasonable person in Ms. Watkins' position would have made these statements only if she believed them to be true.”
Watkins’ statements can also be used as evidence against her co-defendants, Mehta ruled.
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Heidi Ganahl, the Republican candidate running for Colorado governor, answered “yes” when asked during a candidate forum Saturday if she believes President Joe Biden was “legally elected.”
Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent, had long avoided questions during her campaign about whether she agrees with former President Donald Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from him. She has expressed support for a Colorado-based activist group that promotes election conspiracy theories, and she chose as her running mate Danny Moore, who has previously said that the election was stolen.
Moore also participated in the Saturday forum, and, in a reversal, he also answered “yes” to the question of whether Biden was legally elected.
The Saturday event was the first annual Rocky Mountain NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State-Area Conference Bipartisan Candidate Forum. Various candidates for local, state and federal office participated. It took place at the True Light Baptist Church in Denver and was moderated by Veronica Bell and Pastor Paul Burleson.
Many of the topics discussed were of particular interest to Black and other non-white voters. Burleson asked a later panel of candidates that included state Rep. Iman Jodeh, a Democrat from Aurora and the first Muslim in the Coloardo Legislature, about rising white nationalism in America.
“I think in the wake of MAGA, in the wake of even our own unfortunate congressional member Lauren Boebert, these folks have given people permission to act out, and sometimes violently, towards minority communities,” Jodeh said. “It is an experience, and a lived experience, of all people of color.”
Last year, a video circulated that showed Boebert, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, make a suicide-bomber joke about U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who is Muslim.
“Every time a racist trope has happened from our government or in our communities, it’s essentially giving those supporters permission to say, ‘OK, if they think this, I’m going to act out on that belief,’ and sometimes, if not often, it is violently,” Jodeh said.
Burleson asked candidates if they support reparations for Black Americans, which has been proposed as a way to repair the loss of opportunity and wealth that resulted from slavery and systemic racism that continues today.
“Yes, period, hard stop,” Jodeh said. “I think that African Americans in America sit at a junction of saying, how can we set the tone for how marginalized people, how oppressed people should move forward in their lives, and quite frankly, how the oppressor, pay for what they’ve done, figuratively and literally.”
Jodeh represents House District 41. Her Republican opponent, Stephanie Hancock, who is Black, expressed doubt about reparations. “At the end of the day, who’s going to pay for it,” she said.
Democratic candidates are favored in the district by 31 percentage points, according to a nonpartisan analysis by state redistricting staff last year.
Rep. Iman Jodeh, a Democrat from Aurora, speaks during the Rocky Mountain NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State-Area Conference Bipartisan Candidate Forum, which took place at the True Light Baptist Church in Denver on Sept. 17, 2022. State Rep. Mike Weissman, also a Democrat from Aurora, listens. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)
When candidates were asked what they would do for Black Coloradans, Hancock said, “It’s important for us in the Black community, and all communities, not to wait for the government to give you a handout, because it’s not coming. You need to step up and step out on your own, that’s the way I’ve lived my life … My commitment, being a Black person, to the Black community, is to continue being Black and continue to help be a voice and be a lighthouse in a dark place.”
She added, “As long as we continue to stay fractured and separate then the enemy wins, and we have to beat the enemy back by working together.”
In response to a question — “Do you believe that a woman should be able to make her own health care decisions?” — implicitly about access to abortion, Ganahl said, “Absolutely, I’ve supported women throughout my life,” but she did not specifically address abortion.
Ganahl left the forum early to attend another event, but when asked about abortion access in Colorado by a Newsline reporter after he participated in the forum, Moore did address the subject.
“I say put it on the ballot,” Moore said. “Let the people have an opportunity to vote on what they believe the right abortion law should be, and let’s see what they say. Right now, they haven’t been asked.”
He declined to say what he personally thinks the law should say.
The Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, which federally guaranteed the right to get an abortion. Democrats in the Colorado Legislature this year passed, and the governor signed, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which ensures abortion access in Colorado. A future Republican majority in the Legislature could repeal that law.
State Rep. Mike Weissman, a Democrat from Aurora, who participated in the panel with Jodeh, said abortion access in the state is still vulnerable as long as the protections are merely statutory.
“It deserves to be in the Colorado Constitution,” he said. “I believe that abortion rights advocates will bring forward a measure in 2024 to protect this right in the Constitution. I look forward to supporting that.”
Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: email@example.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.