Scandal unseats mayor

first_imgIt turned out that former Mayor James Hahn’s political fate was sealed by three little words: “pay for play.” Accusations that surfaced in 2004 of backroom dealings and political shakedowns for campaign contributions led to a series of investigations – by county and federal grand juries, the city Ethics Commission and Controller Laura Chick – that proved too much for Hahn to overcome in 2005. The scandal resulted in a series of changes in how the city does business, including a ban on commissioners raising money for elected officials, tighter monitoring of contracts and a pledge by newly elected Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to keep paid lobbyists off city commissions. The original accusations were that the Airport Commission pressured contractors to make political contributions in order to win city contracts. Similar accusations soon swirled around the panels overseeing the Department of Water and Power and the Harbor Department. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake No indictments ever resulted from the investigations, but the damage was done politically for Hahn, who was slow to respond to the accusations. Eventually, one of his top aides and two commissioners resigned. The inquiries, however, did lead to other investigations and charges. Steve Sugerman, a former top executive with the public-relations firm of Fleishman-Hillard, pleaded guilty in July to three federal counts of wire fraud, admitting that he overbilled the city tens of thousands of dollars on a DWP contract. In a negotiated settlement, the firm agreed to repay the city $6 million. Sugerman also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against two other Fleishman executives, Doug Dowie and John Stoddard, who have pleaded not guilty to similar charges. In another case, real estate developer Mark Alan Abrams has been accused of laundering political contributions to Hahn and other city officials. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 6 for the setting of a preliminary hearing date. Abrams is one of the most prominent Hahn donors whose contributions became an issue. Over the years, he contributed more than $336,000 to Hahn campaigns. Abrams has paid fines and penalties of $270,000 to the city Ethics Commission. In another case involving money-laundering allegations, prominent attorney Pierce O’Donnell has pleaded not guilty to charges that he reimbursed workers and associates $25,500 for contributions to Hahn’s successful 2001 mayoral campaign. — Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 rick.orlov@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Through his attorney, Luke Walton addresses allegations of sexual assault

first_imgThe attorney for Luke Walton on Tuesday emphatically denied accusations of sexual assault on the part of the one-time Warriors assistant coach and newly hired head coach of the Sacramento Kings.“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible,” Mark Baute said in a statement to several media outlets. “We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”TMZ broke the news Monday afternoon, reporting that a sports journalist had filed a civil lawsuit against Walton for assault …last_img read more

5 U.P. policemen held guilty of torturing man to death

first_imgA Delhi court has held five Uttar Pradesh police personnel and a property dealer guilty of torturing a broker’s friend to death at Noida’s Sector 20 police station in 2006.The accused police personnel, in connivance with the property dealer, had arrested the victim at his house on the charge of robbery on a complaint.Plaint by victim’s fatherThe police had lodged a case in the matter on a complaint by the victim’s father. The case was earlier tried by a Gautam Budh Nagar court. The Supreme Court later transferred it to the Delhi court stating that “free and fair trial of the case will not be possible within the State [Uttar Pradesh], more so because the accused are members of the police force.”Holding the accused guilty of kidnapping and beating the victim to death with the knowledge that it would lead to his death, Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar Malhotra said, “It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused sub-inspectors Hindveer Singh, Mahesh Mishra, constables Pradeep Kumar, Pushpender and Haripal Singh, in connivance with accused Kunwar Pal Singh, and in furtherance of their common intention, abducted Sonu alias Somveer from his native village Hazrat Pur and maliciously confined him till he was declared dead knowingly that by confining Sonu illegally they were acting contrary to law as they were apprehending Sonu for involvement in case crime no. 320/06, PS Sector-39, Noida without any evidence or reasonable suspicion against him.” “Not only this, they tortured Sonu while he was in their custody knowingly that by such beatings/torture they are likely to cause death of Sonu,” the judge said.last_img read more

‘Bharat Mata’ temple to come up in Haryana

first_imgThe Haryana government will build a ‘Bharat Mata’ temple at Kurukshetra as part of its attempts to develop the city as a tourist destination of international standards and a centre of religious faith, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Monday.“The ‘Bharat Mata’ temple will be constructed on five acres at a place between Jyotisar and Brahamsarovar. The plan is at the initial stage, and the modalities will be worked out soon,” he said at a press conference meant to announce the schedule for the International Gita Mahotsav-2019, being organized in Kurukshetra from November 23 to December 10. Uttrakhand is the partner State for the Gita Mahotsav, in which 15 countries are participating. “Delegations from the U.K., Mauritius, Australia and Canada are also visiting Kurukshetra for the event. Besides scholars of the universities in Haryana, those of foreign Universities and ambassadors of several countries will take part in the event,” the Chief Minister said. The Government of India had given its consent to the use of the logo of ‘Atulya Bharat’ (Incredible India) during the Gita Mahotsav.Mr. Khattar said the government was also mulling over a plan to offer plots, measuring 1,500-2000 square metres, in Kurukshetra on concessional rates to the States planning to construct ‘Bhawans’ for their pilgrims visiting the city.last_img read more

Pakistan’s Mystery Abductions: Slain Salman Taseer’s son Shahbaz still remains untraceable

first_imgPolicemen inspect the car that Shahbaz Taseer was driving when he was abducted in Lahore.Shahbaz Taseer, the billionaire son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer noticed the black Landcruiser and motorcycle shadowing him around 10 a.m. on August 26. By then, it was too late. Four unidentified men dragged the,Policemen inspect the car that Shahbaz Taseer was driving when he was abducted in Lahore.Shahbaz Taseer, the billionaire son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer noticed the black Landcruiser and motorcycle shadowing him around 10 a.m. on August 26. By then, it was too late. Four unidentified men dragged the 28-year-old out of his shiny two-seater Mercedes sports car in Lahore’s posh Gulberg area and bundled him into their vehicle. They tossed his laptop and mobile phones back into the Mercedes roadster before driving away.Police said Shahbaz was driving to his office in Gulberg without his usual police escort. A Taseer family driver later spotted the Mercedes parked in the middle of the road, doors ajar. No group claimed responsibility for the sensational kidnapping and no ransom call was made. A high-ranking law enforcement official told India Today on condition of anonymity that Shahbaz was kidnapped by intelligence agencies as they “doubted his loyalty” to the nation. The agencies have, in the past, illegally detained people on mere suspicion.Shahbaz Taseer was kidnapped on August 26Kidnapping for ransom has now spilled over from Karachi, Peshawar and the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan, to enter Lahore. Children, tourists and middle or upper class Pakistanis and businessmen are common targets for ransom that range from Pakistani Rs 20 lakh to Rs 10 crore.Shahbaz’s is the third high-profile kidnapping in the past two months. A Swiss couple, Divid Oliver Och and Daniela Widmer, were abducted from their camping van in Quetta on July 1, allegedly by gunmen belonging to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). An American aid official, Warren Weinstein, 70, was also kidnapped from his Lahore home by six assailants on August 13. No ransom calls were made in any of these cases. This has led to speculation of political motives behind the kidnapping.advertisement”The agencies abducted more than a hundred innocent people during the Pervez Musharraf era and the practice continues,” says Amna Janjua, chairman of an NGO, Defence of Human Rights. Janjua’s husband, Masood Janjua, an educationist, went missing in May 2005. Janjua claims he has been detained by security agencies.Swiss couple Daniela Widmer and Dividoliveroch were abducted from their camping van in Quetta on July 1.However, the Federal Investigation Agency and police have claimed that they have arrested a dozen suspects and are pursuing investigations into the Shahbaz kidnapping. Some theories linked the abduction to extremists who are seeking the release of Shahbaz’s father’s assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, now lodged in Adyala jail in Rawalpindi. Shahbaz was a vocal critic of Pakistan’s harsh anti-blasphemy laws. An official of Pakistan’s Investigation Bureau said three of the arrested suspects belong to the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, a charity arm of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, and frequently visited Qadri in prison.”Shahbaz’s kidnapping is an eye-opener. Where are the government, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies?” said a member of the Taseer family on condition of anonymity. “The government has failed to safeguard the lives and property of people,” she added.Shahbaz took over as the director of the family’s businesses, founded by his father, following the latter’s assasination on January 4. They include real estate firm Pace Pakistan, brokerage firms First Capital Equities and First Capital Securities Corporation, as well as Media Times that controls the leading English newspaper Daily Times, Urdu Daily AajKal, kids channel Wikkid Plus and satellite channel Business Plus. He and his wife Maheen Ghani were offloaded from a New York-bound flight at San Francisco on August 19 last year when a hoax caller said they were potential hijackers. The couple filed a lawsuit against the airline in March this year.The kidnapping of the scion has sent a wave of fear and anger across the country, particularly in the ruling PPP, of which Salman Taseer was a member. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani contacted Shahbaz’s mother and assured her of the government’s support. He directed the Punjab police chief to take all measures to find the missing billionaire. President Asif Ali Zardari also telephoned Shahbaz’s mother and assured her that efforts would be made to find her son. A hurried meeting called by the Chief Minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, was attended by the chief secretary, home secretary and inspector general of police. Police have apprehended two suspects who were allegedly shadowing Shahbaz.The case has clearly embarrassed the Punjab provincial police. Chief City Police Officer of Lahore, Malik Ahmed Raza, denied police negligence. He said Shahbaz did not use his security cordon of 17 policemen. Provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah blamed Shahbaz for leaving his security detail at home.advertisementThe Crime Investigation Branch says that 47 people were kidnapped for ransom last year. Thirteen people were kidnapped in the first three months of 2011. The principal suspects are militant groups who kidnap high value targets, such as businessmen, and use the ransom to purchase arms and ammunition from Afghanistan and Iran.last_img read more