Review Category : National News

Russian Hacking Malware Found on Vermont Utility Computer

iStock/Thinkstock(BURLINGTON, Vt.) — Malware associated with Russian hackers was found on a computer belonging to a utility company in Vermont, according to the company.

After being alerted Thursday night by the Department of Homeland Security about malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, Russia’s hacking campaign against U.S. political institutions, Burlington Electric Department performed a scan, the utility said in a statement Friday.

“We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature. We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems,” the statement said.

“We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”

It is unclear what the intent was in delivering the malware.

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Arizona Man Claims Police Brutality After Body Camera Captures Officer Pushing Him to Ground, Ariz.) — An Arizona man is accusing a local law enforcement agency of police brutality following his arrest, some of which was captured on police body cameras.

The incident happened on Aug. 14 around 6:30 p.m. local time when the man, 31-year-old Joshua Dombrowski, was riding his bike on the sidewalk along Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. According to the police report, an officer with the Mesa Police Department said Dombrowski “forced two pedestrians” to “move off the sidewalk” to make room for him. The officer said he yelled “stop” to Dombrowski, who halted, looked at the officer and then continued riding “at a higher rate of speed” while refusing to obey verbal commands, the police report states.

When the officer caught up with Dombrowski and told him to sit on the ground, the officer said the man dismounted his bike and instead proceeded to “advance on me,” according to the police report.

“As instructed and taught in training, I performed an impact push to the rider and he toppled backwards over his bicycle,” the officer states in the police report.

The officer said Dombrowski refused orders to put his hands behind his back and surrender, the police report states. Additional officers arrived on the scene to assist but they said the man continued to struggle with them. A Taser was deployed multiple times before officers were able to place Dombrowski in handcuffs, according to the police report.

Dombrowski, who police said continued to scream and “violently thrash around” after being put in handcuffs, was also placed in restraints to restrict his movement, according to the police report. He was arrested on charges of using physical force in resisting arrest, operating a bicycle emerging from an alley or driveway, and failing to obey a police officer, the police report states.

Dombrowski was transported to Desert Banner Hospital, where he was treated for a number of cuts, scrapes and bruises, the police report states. Police were informed by the hospital staff that the man tested positive for methamphetamines, cocaine, THC and alcohol, according to the police report.

Dombrowski hired attorney Anthony Ramirez, who is a former police officer. Ramirez told ABC News he was slightly skeptical when Dombrowski first shared his side of the story. But when he ordered the videos from the police body cameras and watched the footage, Ramirez said he believes the police report contradicts what is seen on the footage. Ramirez provided the video, which can be seen above, to ABC News.

The officer didn’t hit the record button on his body camera until after the initial encounter with Dombrowski. However, these devices store 30 seconds of silent video that has already happened before the record button is actually activated. The police body camera silently captured the moment the officer exits his patrol vehicle, walks up to Dombrowski, who is seen walking a bike on the sidewalk, and pushes the man to the ground.

“When I saw that, I was very concerned,” Ramirez told ABC News. “It’s our contention that the police officer knew what he was doing in not starting the video until about 25 seconds into his beating of my client.”

In another police body camera video obtained by Ramirez and provided to ABC News, an assisting officer is seen asking a witness to make a statement. The man tells the officer, “I don’t know what the guy did wrong.” The man later mentions police brutality issues but the officer cuts him off and quietly warns him, “I’m rolling,” and then asks him to write “whatever you saw.”

“Don’t make anything up,” the officer adds. “… Whatever you saw, just be as honest as you can possibly be and that’s all that I ask for.”

Ramirez said there is also the issue of excessive use of force. Dombrowski told his attorney he was riding his bike on the sidewalk when he noticed a police officer yelling in his direction, but he said he wasn’t sure he was being addressed personally because there were other people in the area. Dombrowski said he continued down the sidewalk and was walking his bike when the officer pulled up and pushed him down, according to Ramirez.

“Obviously, I have an issue of excessive force being used against my client for walking down the sidewalk,” Ramirez said. “My client was literally pushing his bike down the street, walking in a straight line, and this police officer comes over and shoves him down.”

Ramirez said his client was wearing a backpack at the time of the arrest, which made it difficult for officers to handcuff him. The attorney also argued that police thought his client was resisting arrest when he was actually reacting to the pain from the Taser.

Mesa Police Department spokesman Steven Berry declined to comment on the case due to “an ongoing internal investigation.”

Prior to hiring Ramirez, Dombrowski sent his own notice of claim to the city of Mesa in September in which he alleged he was “abused, pushed into the ground, aggressed and manhandled for no good reason.”

“I was just trying to find my way back home,” Dombrowski states in the notice of claim. “I believe I was treated like a danger or a threat that I wasn’t being.”

Ramirez said they are currently in the process of supplementing his notice of claim with an updated claim and sum certain amount.

Dombrowski has not been charged at this time, his attorney said.

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CEO and His Family Among 6 Missing After Plane Disappears over Lake Erie

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — A CEO, his wife and two sons, and two others are missing after a plane disappeared over Lake Erie near Cleveland, Ohio, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cessna Citation 525 vanished after departing from Burke Lakefront Airport on Thursday night and was headed to Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, the Coast Guard said. ABC affiliate WEWS-TV reports the plane went missing 2 miles north of downtown Cleveland after airport officials said the group attended a Cavaliers game.

No plane wreckage was found as of Friday morning, the Coast Guard said at a press conference, but the search operation was still being considered a rescue effort.

“It comes down to a will to survive,” Capt. Michael Mullen, chief of response for Coast Guard District Nine, said Friday.

Superior Beverage Group confirmed Friday that CEO John Fleming and his family and two close friends were on board the plane. The company’s executive vice president, Joseph McHenry, said in a statement:

“We have learned that our valued colleague and leader John T. Fleming, President and Chief Executive Officer of Superior Beverage Group, his wife Sue, sons Jack and Andrew, and two close friends were involved in an aircraft accident near Cleveland Thursday night. While search and rescue operations are under way, we are focusing our efforts on supporting the families involved. We are working closely with the proper authorities conducting the investigation. We appreciate the efforts of the first responders on the scene.

“As we all await the results of the search and rescue efforts, our hearts are with John, his wife, their sons, and close friends on board, as well as with their loved ones and everyone in the Superior Beverage family.

“This is a difficult day for us, and we appreciate the concern and thoughtfulness extended by so many.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Fleming’s father John Fleming said the CEO piloted the plane and it was registered to his son.

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Connecticut Supreme Court Reinstates Murder Conviction of Kennedy Cousin Michael Skakel

moodboard/Thinkstock(HARTFORD, Conn.) — The murder conviction of Michael Skakel, the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow Ethel Kennedy, was reinstated by a Connecticut Supreme Court on Friday after a lower court ruled Skakel had “inadequate” legal representation.

With a 4-3 majority, the state’s highest court reversed the decision and concluded “the petitioner’s trial counsel rendered constitutionally adequate representation.”

Skakel was convicted in 2002 for the 1975 murder of his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley. Skakel, now 56, was also 15 at the time. Moxley’s body was found bludgeoned and stabbed with a golf club on her family’s estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, across the street from where Skakel lived with his father and six siblings.

After a request for a new trial was denied by the state’s Supreme Court in 2010, Skakel appealed against his trial lawyer, Michael Sherman, arguing that he did not adequately represent him. He was granted a new trial in 2013 and has been free from serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life since then.

Skakel’s criminal defense attorney said about the decision in a statement Friday: “We are taken aback by the decision . But we have not as of yet fully digested it.

We will be working through the night doing some legal research.

And will begin preparing for other contemplated procedures Including a motion for reconsideration by the Connecticut Supreme Court.”

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Lost Hiker Survives Over 24 Hours in Snowy Wilderness

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — A 60-year-old hiker was rescued this week after surviving more than 24 hours in the snowy, mountainous wilderness of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

Wally Fosmore, 60, had been snowshoe hiking by himself this past Tuesday when he reached an area known as McCue Ridge and went down the wrong side, said Rich Magnusson, public information officer for the Chelan County Department of Emergency Management, which is part of the sheriff’s office.

Fosmore got lost after he encountered a snow squall that caused whiteout conditions, Magnusson told ABC News Friday.

The 60-year-old was reported missing later Tuesday night after he failed to return to the Scottish Lakes High Camp in Leavenworth, Washington — the retreat where he and his family had been staying, Magnusson said.

Unfortunately, the sheriff’s office could not send out a search-and-rescue team until the next morning because of dangerous conditions that night in the area, according to Magnusson.

The area that Fosmore hiked down “is actually a known avalanche chute,” Magnusson said. “It wasn’t safe to put out our search-and-rescue team because of the danger of a possible avalanche and the fact that it was black out and had just snowed.”

But on early Wednesday morning, the search-and-rescue team was able to make phone contact with Fosmore, who “advised he was in good condition and was able to make a temporary shelter overnight,” Magnusson said.

The sheriff’s office then sent out a helicopter, which was able to locate Fosmore and drop him a bag filled with food, water and directions to a trail they could meet him at, Magnusson said. The helicopter wasn’t able to rescue Fosmore directly because it did not have a winch or hoist, and the deep snow in the area made it impossible to land, Magnusson added.

Search-and-rescue team members on snowmobiles located Fosmore at around 4 p.m. that day and reunited him with his family by 5 p.m., according to Magnusson.

“Amazingly, he was in pretty good condition, given what he went through,” Magnusson said. “He was obviously very tired, but he wasn’t injured at all.”

Magnusson said that he credited Fosmore’s “preparedness” with the happy ending to this story.

“Though he had only planned to snowshoe hike for a few hours, he took all the required equipment you’d need in case of an emergency,” Magnusson said.

Fosmore told ABC News Friday though he “understood the gravity of the situation, he “never felt in a panic or obliterated.”

“I was focused and I’d say, measured, in my energy,” Fosmore said. “It was definitely challenging because I knew that every step I took had to be a good one.”

Fosmore hopes his story encourages “everyone who goes into backcountry to take their 10 essentials with them” — extra clothes, extra food, a plastic shelter, map, compass, matches, candle, knife, first aid kit and flashlight.

“If I hadn’t had those things with me, and if I hadn’t found that makeshift shelter that night, I don’t think I would have lasted the night,” he said.

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Montana Woman Captures Encounter with Moose Running Down Highway

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Montana family recently captured on video the incredible moment they drove alongside a moose barreling down Highway 12 near the Montana-Idaho border.

Jessica Richards, 27, said she and her family often drive down the highway when en route to visit family in Boise, Idaho.

“And every time, I always see these moose-crossing signs everywhere, and I always tell my husband I want to see a moose but we never do,” Richards told ABC News Friday.

But on the morning of Dec. 23, a Christmas miracle happened.

“Not only did we see a moose, we were one with the moose,” Richards wrote in the caption of the video she posted to Facebook. “Well MERRY FREAKING CHRISTMAS TO ME!”

Richards’ reaction has brought smiles and laughter to thousands of people who have viewed the video on Instagram and Facebook.

She can be heard yelling in excitement in the video, “Holy, frikkin’ crap” and “Oh, my gosh. This is insanity.”

The moose sighting is a memory Richards said she will “never forget” and is the “best Christmas present I’ve ever had.”

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A Look at the Russian Compounds Nestled in New York and Washington, DC Suburbs

ABC News(NEW YORK) — On a sprawling 37-acre site on Long Island’s Gold Coast sits a mansion that was once owned by Standard Oil heir George DuPont Pratt.

Hundreds of miles away, in Centreville, Maryland, lies a 45-acre bucolic retreat, complete with a 33-room house that has a vault for fur and 3,000-bottle wine cellar.

Aside from offering what appeared to be pinnacle of luxury on some of the most desired pieces of land, the estates have another thing in common — they’re complexes owned and used by Russian governmental officials.

On Friday the White House announced that both will be shuttered as of Friday at noon in retaliation for a series of cyberattacks that targeted U.S. political institutions during the election.

Here’s a look at the history of each of the dachas.

Killenworth Estate on Long Island, New York

One Russian-owned compound is located in New York, according to the White House. The location in question is called Killenworth — a 37-acre estate formerly owned by George Dupont Pratt on Long Island’s Glen Cove.

Killenworth is now used as the House of the Russian Delegation to the United Nations, according to the Library of Congress.

The Tudor-style estate was built in the early 1900s and was bought by the Soviet Union in 1951, according to the New York Times. For decades, the Russians have used it as a weekend retreat for UN staff and to house visitors.

Killenworth was featured in a 1960 Chicago Tribune article titled “Mansions House World Diplomats,” which noted that most were exempt from paying taxes.

The non-payment of taxes had been an issue for the city of Glen Cove ever since the Soviets moved into the compound, according to a 1982 story from the New York Times.

In 1970, the Soviets risked amassing tax liens on the property for refusing to pay property taxes for two decades — on and off, according to an article published in the Chicago Tribune in 1970. At the time, the mayor of Glen Cove said the Russians owed $49,913,44 in local property and school taxes.

But the Soviets maintained that they were exempt from tax under state law, according to the paper. Similarly, in 1966 the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. obtained a consular agreement at the time exempting them from taxes, an agreement that the mayor of Glen Cove did not see as binding.

In the early 1980s, reports circulated that Killenworth was being used by the Soviets to spy on Long Island’s defense industry, according to an article published in United Press International in 1984.

According to UPI, this touched off a battle between the city of Glen Cove, the Russians and the U.S. federal government. The Soviets, in turn, refused to allow American diplomatic personnel there to use a beach outside Moscow, the report said.

For two years, the Soviets were banned from using the city of Glen Cove’s beaches, golf courses and tennis courts in response to those reports, UPI reported.

“This estate is a listening post for the Soviet Union but our government is aware of that fact and chooses to ignore it,” the mayor, Alan Parente, said at the time, according to UPI. “If it is used for spying, this residence is not entitled to tax exemption.”

A 1987 New York Times story described the house as “austere and sparsely furnished” with “only a few of the lush trappings associated with turn-of-the-century elegance on the North Shore.”

“The property is very picturesque and two families live here on a permanent basis. There is a swimming pool and facilities for sports,” Aleksandr Belonogov, the chief Soviet delegate to the U.N. told the paper.

Pioneer Point in Centreville, Maryland

The Russian-owned compound in Maryland is a 45-acre retreat on Pioneer Point, a peninsula where the Corsica and Chester rivers merge. The luxury retreat is being shut down due to alleged Russian espionage, The Washington Post reported.

As of Friday evening, Google Maps labeled the “Russian Embassy’s Country Retreat” as “permanently closed.” Google classified the property as an assisted living facility.

Pioneer Point was the estate of former DuPont and General Motors executive John J. Raskob, according to the Hagley Museum and Library. Raskob is best known for building the Empire State Building.

In 1972, the Soviet government paid $1.2 million — in cash — for two Raskob mansions to be used as a vacation spot for diplomats, The New York Times reported. At the time, a local newspaper reported “fears of nuclear submarines surfacing in the Chester River to pick up American Secrets and defectors,” according to the Washington Post. But, the abundance of dinner parties, caviar and vodka eventually won the locals over.

The property included 33 rooms, 13 fireplaces, a refrigerated storage vault for fur and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar. Also featured on the property were about a mile of sandy beach, a swimming pool, two tennis courts, soccer fields and a goldfish pond, according to the Times.

The Russian occupants later added to the estate by making a deal with the U.S. State Department, which received two properties in Moscow in return, according to the Washington Post.

Obama expelled 35 Russian nationals and sanctioned five Russian entities and four individuals for the “acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status,” the White House said. The president said the actions “follow repeated private and public warnings” that have been issued to the Russian government, adding that they are a “necessary and appropriate” response to “efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”

Russia has vowed to retaliate against American actions Friday.

“We will certainly response adequately…and it will be determined in line with decisions adopted by the Russian President,” Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov told reporters.

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BASE Jumper Speaks Out from Hospital Bed After Near-Death Fall

Courtesy David Baumgartner(PHOENIX, Ariz.) — A BASE jumper in Arizona whose recent jump took a disastrous turn said in an interview with Good Morning America, from his hospital bed, that when he recovers he still hopes to continue the extreme sport.

BASE is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: building, antenna, span, and Earth (cliff).

Landon Dirnberger, 39, was BASE jumping at a Echo Canyon Park near Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday when he shattered both his heels and fractured his ankle after he jumped from an approximately 300-foot cliff. Dirnberger miraculously fell to the ground next to an off-duty firefighter, David Baumgartner, and his wife, a trauma nurse, who were able to assist in his rescue.

“I remember the whole thing,” Dirnberger said of his accident. “When the parachute opened, it opened 180 degrees, so instead of flying away from the cliff, I was flying towards the cliff and didn’t have time to turn immediately right or left so I made an attempt to fly it backwards a little bit and then there wasn’t enough time or room.”

Dirnberger’s body ended up crashing against the side of the mountain, before he fell to the ground.

“It just felt like a large jolting,” Dirnberger said. “It wasn’t like jumping a hundred feet off of something and then landing on the ground. The parachute slowed me down so it was just really painful.”

“I stood up two times after I was already on the ground. I wasn’t sure what was wrong so I was able to get up, but I quickly realized something was broken and then I needed to sit down,” he added.

Dirnberger said he has been participating in the extreme sport, which involves parachuting from a cliff or other high structure, for about three years, and that he has done about 250 BASE jumps.

“For me it’s something that gives me a chance. Everything just slows down and clears my mind,” he said of the sport. “It’s something that can truly let you block out everything else in the world and let you concentrate on where you’re at and what you’re doing.”

He added that despite the accident, he still hopes to get back out there and continue BASE jumping.

“I’d rather be jumping than sitting in a hospital, but I’m not saying I’m not going to break out of the hospital and go jumping,” he said. “When I’m better, I’ll go do it. As far as changing the way I look at it, I know the consequences of what could happen so when I feel like I’m ready, I’ll go out and go again.”

Baumgartner, the firefighter who found himself in the right place at the right time, told ABC News that he had planned to go to the park with family and friends to do some climbing and hiking on that day, and that he had witnessed Dirnberger’s fall.

“We, from a direct location below, witnessed him make contact from that wall about 200 feet down from his jump, and then fall another 100 feet to where he landed, about 15, 20, feet from my family and friends,” Baumgartner told GMA.

“My wife yelled at me to get down here, so I began down climbing,” he said. “She, being an experienced trauma nurse, made contact with the gentleman and made a quick assessment.”

“I made direct contact with our dispatch center cause I wanted to give more details than I would have been able to give on the 911 line, to get the resources there and where they needed to be positioned,” he said.

“In this particular circumstance God was obviously present because I was just really blessed to be part of the, expediting the process, to get resources there, to get this gentleman off the mountain safely,” he added.

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Manhunt Underway in NYC for Escaped Prisoner Still Wearing Leg Shackles

Tom Carter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A manhunt is underway in New York City after a prisoner — still wearing a leg shackles — escaped a downtown Manhattan hospital Thursday afternoon while in police custody.

The NYPD said in a statement that Daniel Ortiz, 31, escaped from the Lenox Hill HealthPlex in Greenwich Village around 3:30 p.m.

Police released a photo of Ortiz, and the following description: “Light complexion, approximately 5’6?, 130 lbs., brown eyes, brown curly hair, last seen wearing a dark colored pea coat, dark blue jeans, chocolate boots, no shirt, leg shackles, attached to one side, and tucked inside of his boot and possibly bleeding from the wrist. He is walking with a noticeable limp.”

WANTED: Daniel Ortiz for escaping custody. Last seen at 30 7th Ave, Manhattan. Call 911 if seen, #800577TIPS w/info.

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) December 29, 2016

According to WABC-TV, Ortiz was in police custody for petit larceny.

No injuries were reported during the incident, said police.

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One Dead After Fall from Colorado Chair Lift: Police

iStock/Thinkstock(GRANBY, Colo.) — A woman is dead and two children were injured after they fell from a chair lift at the Ski Granby Ranch in Colorado, according to police.

First responders were dispatched to the ski resort around 9:30 a.m. Thursday after the accident and took them to the hospital, according to the Granby Police Department. There, the woman was declared dead.

One child was flown to the children’s hospital, but his or her condition was unclear. The other child is at the hospital in stable condition, police said.

The three people involved in the accident are family members visiting from out of state, according to police.

In a statement, Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association representing Granby Ranch, said it is “always an unfortunate day when there is an accident at at ski area, especially when serious injuries or fatalities occur.”

“Our sincere thoughts and condolences are with the family and those affected by today’s events,” said Chris Linsmayer, public affairs manager of Colorado Ski Country USA.

Further information was not available.

The last time a fall from a chair lift occurred in the state of Colorado was in 2002, Linsmayer said.

Local authorities are investigating the accident, police said. Granby Ranch is cooperating with all state and local agencies and authorities, Linsmayer said.

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