Couple Given Accidental Bank Deposit Accused of Massive Spending Spree

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

What would you do if your bank accidentally deposited $120,000 in your account?

According to Montoursville, Penn. police, a couple who received the “lucky” windfall went on a spending spree, burning through the cash by purchasing items like an SUV, all-terrain vehicles and a camper, paying bills and giving money to friends.

BB&T Bank contacted the couple in June to let them know there had been a huge – and costly – mistake. The bank told the pair that they were responsible for repaying it, but the couple didn’t return the bank’s money.

The money, which was supposed to have been deposited to an investment firm, ended up in the Williams’ account after a bank teller made an error. The bank says it made several attempts to contact the couple, and Tiffany Williams allegedly admitted that they’d spent the cash. According to the bank, she said she would talk to her husband and put together a repayment plan, which BB&T also says it was willing to do.

But then the Williams’ stopped responding to the bank.

So BB&T went to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Now, Robert and Tiffany Williams are each facing four counts of felony theft in Pennsylvania. Each is punishable by 10 years in prison, so if they’re convicted, it could cost them much more than restitution.

“All I’m going to say is we took some bad legal advice from some people and it probably wasn’t the best thing in the end,” Robert Williams told WNEP, a local TV station.

“During the investigation, the Williams’ admitted they were aware that the money deposited in their account did not belong to them and that they had made numerous purchases with that money,” according to a statement from state police.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you’d do if the bank accidentally deposited a huge sum of money in your account. Who would you call first – friends and family or the bank? Please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Celebrity Parents Get Light Sentences After College Admissions Scandal

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Actress Felicity Huffman, who was caught in a college admissions scandal earlier this year that involved bribing coaches and falsifying test scores, was sentenced to 14 days in prison in mid-September. Huffman was found guilty of inflating her daughter’s SAT score to get her into college, and a federal judge sentenced her to serve her two-week sentence in a federal prison.

Huffman is the first parent to face punishment in the scandal, but she won’t be the last. Nearly three dozen other parents have been accused of lying and bribing officials to get their kids into prestigious universities across the U.S.

Compared to the sentences that other parents convicted of education fraud, Huffman’s might seem light. For example, Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 5 years in prison for using her dad’s address to get her kids into a suburban school near Cleveland (although her sentence was later reduced). However, Huffman’s attorney argued that imprisonment wasn’t necessary because she’d already “suffered considerably” by being publicly shamed, losing her acting career and facing her daughter’s anger.

At her sentencing hearing, Huffman cried and said she deeply regretted her part in the scheme; she originally pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which is a felony.

Huffman is supposed to report to a federal prison to carry out her sentence in November. The judge also ordered a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service.

What Do You Think?

Did you follow the college admissions scandal as it unfolded? What do you think of Felicity Huffman’s sentence? Is it long enough, or is it just a slap on the wrist for something that would land other parents in serious hot water? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

U.S. Reeling From 3 Mass Shootings in One Week

U.S. Reeling From 3 Mass Shootings in One Week - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

So far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the United States than there have been days. As of this writing, there were 252 mass shootings – those with more than three deaths in a single incident in a public place – across the country.

Is this the new “normal” in the U.S.?

With some people blaming violent video games rather than racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, despite the fact that there are no connections between video games and mass shootings, it appears that there’s no end in sight – at least until lawmakers come up with a solution that crosses to both sides of the aisle.

Some blame the National Rifle Association for so rigidly defending individuals’ rights to possess and carry military-grade weapons.

But the NRA is quickly falling out of favor after decades of non-response to these types of killings, though, according to a Fox News poll that says 47 percent of Americans hold an “unfavorable view of the NRA,” while only 42 percent view the organization favorably.

The NRA does not support mandatory background checks. The Washington Post reported that Wayne La Pierre, the organization’s chief executive, told the U.S. president that expanding background checks would hurt his support among his base of supporters. However, an overwhelming number of people interviewed in the Fox News survey – 90 percent, in fact – said they support background checks on all gun sales. Perhaps even more surprising is that 67 percent of respondents said they support a ban on automatic weapons and assault rifles.

And now, one-third of Americans avoid certain places and events because they’re afraid of mass shootings. The majority of American adults – 79 percent – experience “some amount of stress” related to mass shootings.

Because lawmakers have failed to take any action other than sending thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, companies are starting to capitalize on the very real fears that many American parents have when they kiss their kids goodbye before school: They’re making bulletproof backpacks. In fact, 62 percent of parents said they “live in fear” of their children becoming victims of a mass shooting. Many people believe that someone they know will be the victim of such violence, tallying up to 60 percent of black Americans, 50 percent of Hispanic Americans and 41 percent of white Americans.

What Do You Think?

Do you support mandatory background checks on firearms purchases? Would you back the president if he supported them as well? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

Child Body-Slammed for “Disrespecting” National Anthem

Child Body-Slammed for Leaving Hat On During National Anthem - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A Montana Army veteran body-slammed a 13-year-old boy for not removing his hat during the National Anthem, causing serious injury to the child.

Police arrested and charged Curt Brockway, a 39-year-old man at the Mineral County Rodeo, with felony assault on a minor.

Brockway told police that the boy had a hat on when the anthem began, and that he asked the boy to remove it. He alleged that the boy responded with profanity, and then admits to grabbing the boy by the throat, lifting him into the air, and slamming him on the ground head-first.

The child suffered a concussion and a fractured skull, and his ears were bleeding at the scene. He was airlifted to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane.

Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper, says the man has problems with impulse control as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Jasper says that Brockway takes the president’s comments, such as those saying athletes should be fired for kneeling during the anthem and that people who burn the U.S. flag should be punished.

Jasper also claims that Brockway didn’t know it was a crime to attack a child, and that he believes he was acting on the president’s orders.

“Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear,” Jasper said. “I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president. … Everyone should learn to dial it down a little bit, from the president to Mineral County.”

Brockway’s alleged traumatic brain injury is from a vehicle crash in 2000, not the result of his time in the Army. He’s currently a registered violent offender as a result of a 2010 conviction for assault with a weapon.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

The Hong Kong Protests: What You Need to Know

Hong Kong Protests - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Pro-democracy protestors and demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Hong Kong all summer, leading to repeated clashes with the city’s police and security forces. Activity was so dangerous that officials closed the Hong Kong Airport, one of the busiest in the world, for two days in mid-August when protestors blocked access to the main terminal.

So why are activists protesting? It’s a bit more complicated than it seems on the surface.

Hong Kong is officially part of China, which recognizes its right to govern itself under the “one country, two systems” principle. Hong Kong regulates its own financial system, legal system and economy, but it agrees that it’s part of “one, reunified China,” and it’s been that way since 1997, when the U.K. relinquished control over the territory.

The Beijing-backed Hong Kong government proposed an extradition law that would’ve allowed it to deport residents and foreigners from Hong Kong. Protestors fear that Beijing could use the law to apprehend people in Hong Kong and transfer them to mainland China, where due process isn’t always followed – and the criminal justice system often lacks transparency.

Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called the bill “dead” on July 9, after several marches and violent protests, critics say that the bill can be brought back to life because it hasn’t been officially withdrawn.

Protests have grown in an attempt to garner international attention – and it’s working. Black-clad protestors caused the airport to cancel hundreds of flights, making news all over the world – but at the same time, protestors accused some people of being Chinese spies and tied them up, all on the international stage. That gave China new ammunition in the so-called “battle for public opinion,” and now everyone’s wondering if China will send in its massive army to stop the protests.

China has moved military vehicles to Shenzen, the city closest to Hong Kong, and soldiers are conducting training drills there that involve simulated protestors and police.

What Do You Think?

Have you been following the protests in Hong Kong? What do you think will happen next? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Raises Questions

Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Raises Questions - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Convicted sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committed suicide as he awaited trial in federal prison in mid-August – but conspiracy theorists are scratching their heads… and they’re not alone. It’s tough to find someone in America (or elsewhere) that doesn’t have an opinion on whether Epstein actually killed himself or he was murdered.

So what really happened?

New York City’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, is “confident” that Epstein committed suicide. His family hired a private pathologist, who was also present during the autopsy.

Epstein was being held without bail on new charges related to sex trafficking (he’d been convicted in 2007 for other sex offenses, when he served 13 months in a county jail). If he’d been convicted of the sex trafficking charges, Epstein faced up to 45 years in prison.

Since his death, details about his lifestyle have emerged – and some, such as his painting of Bill Clinton in a blue dress wearing red heels and his taxidermied poodle atop a piano – are more than a bit eccentric.

Despite Sampson’s confidence that Epstein died by suicide, conspiracy theorists (and people who claim not to buy into conspiracy theories) are speculating – with some high-profile Americans even going so far as to retweet QAnon theories about the “deep state” orchestrating his death. Some are blaming the Clintons, some are blaming the current president of the U.S., and others are blaming everyone ever remotely connected to Epstein, including Courtney Love, Alan Dershowitz, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and David Koch.

What Do You Think?

Do you think Epstein really killed himself, or do you believe that there was foul play involved? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

Huge Rise in Rainforest Destruction Under Bolsonaro

Huge Rise in Rainforest Destruction Under Bolsonaro - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Only hours after Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro took office, he launched what many critics are calling an “assault on environmental and Amazon protections.” Indeed, under far-right Bolsonaro, monthly deforestation of the Amazon rainforest – which is known as the “lungs of the planet” for good reason – has increased by 88.4 percent from a year ago.

Brazil’s space agency says that deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforest is record-breaking.

And that it’s dangerous for all of us.

Brazil holds about 60 percent of the Amazon, which is seen as essential to the global fight against climate change. Tropical rainforests – like the one in Brazil – draw in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. As the rainforests shrink in size, so does their capacity for cleaning the air. Without the benefits the rainforests provide, the greenhouse effect that now holds Earth in its tight grip is likely to become even more pronounced, creating a terrible cycle that causes more trees and plants to die out all over the world.

The rainforest is also home to the most biodiversity in the world. Native plants and animals that can’t live anywhere else call the Amazon their home.

Brazilian activists, including politician Marina Silva, have denounced Bolsonaro as an “exterminator of the future.”

“We are watching them deconstruct everything we’ve put together,” said José Sarney Filho, former environmental minister of Brazil. Filho served under two other right-wing presidents – Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Michel Temer – but he’s never seen anything like this. “We’re talking about biodiversity, life, forests … the Amazon has an incredibly important role in global warming. It’s the world’s air conditioner; it regulates rain for the entire continent.”

Bolsonaro claims that rainforest and other environmental protections hold Brazil back, particularly in the area of economic growth. He promised during his campaign that he would not allocate “one more centimeter” of land to reserves.

He recently said that he would remove all the environmental protections preserving part of Brazil’s forested coast, just south of Rio de Janeiro, so developers could create a “Cancún of Brazil” for tourists.

What Do You Think?

Are you concerned about the Amazon rainforests? Do you think we in the U.S. should mind our own business, or do you believe that the record levels of deforestation affect us all? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to share them with me on Facebook or on Twitter. Join the conversation and make your voice heard!

Carlos Gamino

 

Why Did Netflix Remove the Suicide Scene From “13 Reasons Why”?

Netflix Removes Suicide Scene From 13 Reasons Why - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

When “13 Reasons Why” first hit Netflix, it quickly went viral. The show, centered around a teen girl named Hannah who committed suicide, seemed to address the tough questions and issues kids face today. In the final episode of the first season, there’s a graphic scene in which the main character kills herself in a bathtub.

And in mid-July of this year – nearly three years after the show first aired – Netflix tweeted that it removed the grisly scene on the advice of medical experts. The controversy it caused, although it was lauded by critics, was mainly from health advocates who fear that the show glorifies suicide.

A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggested that “13 Reasons Why” was a factor in the rise of teen suicides. In fact, the study found that the suicide rate among children aged 10 to 17 went up by nearly 30 percent in April of 2017 – just a month after the show first aired on Netflix. School officials all over the country sent warnings out to parents about the show at the time.

Netflix’s Chief Executive Reed Hastings talked about the show at the company’s 2018 annual meeting, saying, “It is controversial, but nobody has to watch it.”

After the show’s first season, Netflix voluntarily added a graphic content warning and included information people could use to contact suicide prevention experts.

What Do You Think?

Did you watch “13 Reasons Why”? Had you seen the final episode of the first season before Netflix removed the suicide scene, and do you believe the show glorifies suicide or tackles tough issues teens are facing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to share them with me on Facebook or on Twitter. Join the conversation and make your voice heard!

Carlos Gamino

The Montana Neo-Nazi Who May Have to Pay Millions in Harassment Suit

Judge Suggests Montana Neo-Nazi Pay Millions in Harassment Suit - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

In mid-July, a judge in Helena Montana suggested that Andrew Anglin, publisher of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, should have to pay millions to the victim of a “troll storm” that Anglin incited.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch said that Anglin’s behavior was “reprehensible” and “atrocious,” and that he should have to pay over $14 million to Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh, her husband and her now-14-year-old son in damages. Lynch doesn’t have the final say, though – U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen has to approve first.

In 2016, Anglin accused Gersh of trying to run white nationalist Richard Spencer’s mother out of Whitefish, Montana. After Anglin levied the accusations against her, Gersh’s family received hundreds of “threatening, harassing and anti-Semitic messages.”

Gersh then sued Anglin, who claimed the things he wrote on The Daily Stormer were protected under the First Amendment. He failed to show up for a deposition scheduled last April, and his attorneys withdrew from the case.

Gersh is still receiving messages, according to Lynch.

The family’s attorney, David Dinelli, who works with the Southern Poverty Law Center, says it’s not about the money.

“The significance is not in whether we will collect the money,” Dinielli said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press. “The significance is that Tanya Gersh, a real estate agent from a small town in Montana, stood up to fight the most notorious neo-Nazi on the web, and she won.”

Anglin is currently living outside the U.S. and is facing default judgements in at least three other federal cases – including two lawsuits filed by other targets of his online trolling campaigns.

What Do You Think?

Do you think the judge is recommending the right amount of damages? What would you recommend?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to share them with me on Facebook or on Twitter. Join the conversation and make your voice heard!

Carlos Gamino

Amazon Workers Strike in Minnesota, Germany

Amazon Workers on Strike - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Amazon workers in Minnesota and Germany went on strike in mid-July (just in time for Prime Day) to protest pay, working conditions and several other issues.

“While Amazon throws huge discounts to its customers on Prime Day, employees lack a living wage,” said German Verdi retail specialist Orhan Akman. “The company must finally recognize collective agreements for the retail and postal sectors; wages and salaries cannot be determined in the style of lord of the manor.”

More than 2,000 people participated in the strike in Germany, where Amazon has been caught in a bitter dispute with German trade unions for years.

“While we don’t provide exact numbers, we are seeing very limited participation across Germany with zero operational impact and therefore no impact on customer deliveries,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business.

And in Minnesota, workers are fighting against the strain they’re under.

“We’re humans, not robots,” said William Stolz, a warehouse worker in Shakopee, Minnesota. “They’re treating us like machines.”

In that case, an Amazon spokesperson said that the company provides “industry-leading pay of $15 per hour, benefits, and a safe workplace for our employees.”

Workers from other countries also participated in strikes, including Spain, Poland and across the United Kingdom.

“We’re staging protests across Amazon sites up and down the country this Prime Day,” said Mick Rix, a union leader. “The conditions our members work under at Amazon sites across the UK are appalling.”

Comedian and cable television host of “Last Week Tonight” John Oliver, recently aired a segment on the injury and illness rate among Amazon warehouse workers, prompting the company’s senior vice president to tweet, “As a fan of the show, I enjoy watching John make an entertaining case for the failings of companies, governments and most recently, Mount Everest. But he is wrong on Amazon. Industry-leading $15 minimum wage and comprehensive benefits are just one of many programs we offer.”

What Do You Think?

Do you think Amazon exploits its warehouse workers, or is this the first you’re hearing of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please feel free to share them with me on Facebook or on Twitter. Join the conversation and make your voice heard!

Carlos Gamino