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National news in brief: Truck driver indicted in smuggling deaths

Truck driver indicted in smuggling deaths

A federal grand jury in San Antonio indicted a truck driver for his alleged role in the smuggling deaths of 10 undocumented immigrants found in the trailer of a truck in a Walmart parking lot in July, officials said.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, was indicted on five felony counts, including smuggling migrants for financial gain resulting in death — a charge that could carry the death penalty. The sentences for other charges range from 10 to 20 years in federal prison, the Justice Department said in a release Wednesday.

Seven Mexicans and one Guatemalan were found dead in the trailer in San Antonio under stiflingly hot summer conditions, with as many as 200 people tightly packed and struggling to breathe through small holes. Two migrants later died in a hospital.

Two remain hospitalized, five were released to immigration authorities, and 22 are being held as material witnesses, the Justice Department said.

Some of the travelers had spent days held in a house near the border with Mexico. Some were told to pay hundreds of dollars to a group linked to Los Zetas, a deadly Mexican drug cartel, for safe passage across the Rio Grande in rafts, The Washington Post reported.

Bradley initially told authorities he was unaware of the trailer’s cargo and was surprised when he realized people had been trapped inside. He owned the truck found outside Walmart but not the trailer, according to public records.

He told federal agents that the trailer’s refrigeration system did not work and that the vent holes were probably clogged, according to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

— Alex Horton

Carl Paladino removed from school board

One-time Republican candidate for New York governor Carl Paladino, whose published insults of former president Barack Obama provoked a public uproar, was removed from Buffalo’s school board Thursday for improperly discussing teacher contract negotiations.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced her decision Thursday, a day after Paladino protesters disrupted the school board’s latest meeting with calls for his ouster.

The protests have been happening since December, when comments Paladino made about Obama — including his wish that he die of mad cow disease — were published in a local arts newspaper. But it was a later article in which Paladino revealed collective bargaining strategies discussed by the school board in executive sessions that led to his removal.

Paladino was the Republican nominee for New York governor in 2010 and co-chairman of President Trump’s campaign in the state last year. He did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests for comment. The commissioner’s ruling disqualifies Paladino from appointment or election to any district office for one year. The wealthy developer was elected to the school board in 2013 and re-elected by a narrow margin in 2016.

— Associated Press

Lithuanian man faces fraud charge in U.S.

A Lithuanian man has been extradited to the United States to face charges that he duped Google and Facebook into sending him more than $100 million total.

Evaldas Rimasauskas pleaded not guilty Thursday in Manhattan federal court. He arrived Wednesday in New York.

The 48-year-old Vilnius, Lithuania, man was charged with wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

The companies were identified in a Lithuanian court document, which said Google sent more than $23 million and Facebook sent nearly $100 million to bank accounts controlled by Rimasauskas.

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., said in a statement that it detected the fraud, alerted authorities and has recouped its money. Facebook, of Menlo Park, Calif., declined to comment.

If convicted, Rimasauskas could face more than 60 years in prison.

— Associated Press

CONNECTICUT
Federal court delays Colindres deportation

A U.S. appeals court has delayed the deportation of an immigrant from Guatemala with no criminal record who lives in Connecticut with his wife and two young children.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut said the appeals court in New York granted a temporary stay of deportation for Joel Colindres on Thursday, the day he was supposed to leave the country on orders from immigration officials.

Colindres entered the country illegally in 2004. His wife is a U.S. citizen, and they live in New Fairfield with their two children.

Murphy says Colindres will be allowed to stay in the country while the appeals court considers new evidence in his case.

Murphy and Blumenthal have criticized President Trump’s tough policies on immigrants who are in the country illegally.

— Associated Press

CALIFORNIA
Man falls to death at Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles said Thursday it was reviewing security measures after a suspected car thief drove onto the sprawling complex during a police chase and climbed to the top of a loading crane, dangling over edges and stripping naked before falling to his death.

The man plunged 160 feet to the ground and died about three hours after he first scaled the crane Wednesday night. It is not clear whether he slipped or jumped deliberately, Los Angeles fire officials said.

The coroner’s office on Thursday identified the man as James Llamas, 23. Officials did not immediately know where he lived.

Police in Los Angeles spotted the Subaru SUV reported stolen from a dealership in San Bernardino, and an hours-long chase ensued, the LAPD said.

Several television stations broadcast the chase live, showing the vehicle swerving at high speed through freeway traffic in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Llamas drove through a security gate and into a container terminal at the vast Port of Los Angeles property, circling back and forth under giant loading cranes and next to a docked ship before jumping out of the still-moving SUV and racing up the stairs of the crane. He broke a window and climbed into the crane cab, then climbed out, and walked to the end of the crane over water as darkness fell.

— Associated Press

Three held after drone drops drugs into prison: Michigan prison officials said three people have been arrested after trying to use a drone to smuggle a cellphone and drugs into a prison. The state department of corrections said two guards at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia heard the drone in the prison yard shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday. Moments later, the drone dropped a package near a housing unit. As officers responded to the scene, the drone dropped a second package. Local law enforcement officers detained three people in a vehicle near the prison about 110 miles northwest of Detroit.

— Associated Press

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Florida Woman Accused Of Driving Intoxicated With Child Unrestrained In Backseat

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (CBS) — A Florida woman is facing charges after authorities say she was swerving on the road under the influence with a child unrestrained in the backseat.

It happened last weekend in Boynton Beach, Florida.

According to CBS 12,[1] a tow truck driver first spotted the woman weaving all over the road.

Brandy Lerma

Credit: Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

The tow truck driver told police that the woman, now identified as 31-year-old Brandy Lerma, nearly hit four cars and looked drunk or under the influence of something.

‘I’m Hammered, I’m Hammered,’ Alleged Drunk Man Says After Showing Up At Police Station[2]

CBS 12 says[3] the police report indicates that a 3-year-old child was unrestrained in the back seat of the car.

Authorities say Lerma took two breath tests, registering a blood alcohol content of .200 and .187. The legal limit in Florida is .08.

According to CBS 12, the woman told deputies at the scene she took Percocet, Xanax, and drank two fireballs.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

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Truck driver looking for 911 caller who saved his life after wasp sting on Highway 1

A Saskatchewan truck driver is on a mission to find the young woman he credits with saving his life after he was stung by a wasp.

Ron Liebel, who has been on the road for 53 years but recently retired from trucking, occasionally drives for his brother. 

Last week, he was transporting lentil flour to a pelleting plant in Wolseley from Regina along Highway 1 when he spotted a wasp climbing up his window.

He swatted the wasp, and it descended into the gap between the window and the door before emerging again.

He tried hitting it again and that’s when things got dangerous.

“It was like a sledge hammer hit my hand. Oh, did it hurt. After that, everything went blurry,” Liebel told CBC Radio’s The Afternoon Edition.

Liebel said he went into anaphylactic shock. He felt sweaty, dizzy, and his vision began to blur. He also had trouble breathing and his chest and hand were sore.

“I thought I had stopped on the side of the road but the paramedics said I drove off the road into the median,” Liebel said.

He had fallen between the driver and passenger seats, unable to move. The truck landed in the highway median about six kilometres from Indian Head.

That’s when a young woman who saw what had happened called 911.

“This young lady apparently saw him go into the ditch and tried to arouse him,” said Liebel’s wife, Annette.

“But if it wasn’t for her this would be a totally different outcome,” she said. “If it wasn’t for her, we would be at a funeral. Would someone else have stopped with Ron between the highways? And because she was there as soon as he hit the ditch, that saved his life.”

According to Ron, paramedics told him he didn’t have a pulse when they arrived on scene. They put an oxygen mask on him and he came to. They transported him to the Indian Head Union Hospital for treatment.

The Liebels would like to like to find the woman who called 911. 

“She is a hero in our eyes because Ron wouldn’t be here right now,” Annette said.

They are both hoping they can find her and thank her for her good deed and are asking her to get in touch with them by email.