Review Category : Top Stories

PA Attorney General Who Exposed 1000s of Illicit Government Emails Now Faces Her Own Scandal

Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane is used to going up against criminals, not her own colleagues, but after she helped expose an email scandal within the state’s government, her career has been in jeopardy.

In 2014, Kane’s office released close to 400 pages of emails between state government employees, including some high-ranking state officials, exchanged on the state’s email server that were full of racism, sexism and pornography. The scandal was dubbed “Porngate,” and Kane said it involved a number of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials.

“I couldn’t believe there was violence involved and I couldn’t believe this wasn’t just some Playboy photos … 398 pages, much of it hardcore porn,” Kane told Nightline.

“The hardcore pornography shared on state computers, on state time, between state actors … That is not boys being boys,” she continued. “It’s assault upon our criminal justice system and quite honestly it’s unacceptable.”

For veteran public defender Mark Bookman, these emails represented something more troubling about Pennsylvania’s justice system.

“The pornography is what grabbed the public, but … the real issue here is the misogyny and the racism of those emails,” Bookman said. “If I’m an accused and if I’m looking up and I know a judge has sent these kind of misogynistic and racist emails … and then I look at the prosecutor who not only is close friends with the judge but exchanging these emails and thinks the same way, I don’t think I’m getting a fair shake in that courtroom.”

One of the state’s Supreme Court justices, Michael Eakin, resigned. His lawyer told Nightline Eakin never sent or received pornography.

Another justice, Seamus McCarthy, retired in 2014 amid the scandal. He could not be reached for comment.

To measure the scope of the scandal, Kane appointed former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to lead an independent investigation.

“Our mission … is to look for inappropriate emails, pornographic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, racist emails that exist … and then identify who committed violations and who did not,” Gansler said.

His researchers have spent months rifling through five million emails, searching for keywords that might flag inappropriate content. One was President Obama’s name to detect racist emails.

“You look at this and say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Gansler said. “Who made the decision to think this is an appropriate thing to send?”

This wasn’t the battle Kane expected to be fighting. Growing up in a blue collar household in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Kane went to law school and became a rising star in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party, earning former President Bill Clinton’s endorsement while running to be the state’s attorney general. She won in the 2012 election, becoming the state’s first woman and first Democrat elected to the position.

When she exposed the state email scandal, Kane claims that, what she refers to as Pennsylvania’s political “good old boys club,” was furious and came after her.

Amid calls for her resignation from Gov. Tom Wolf, the Montgomery County prosecutor charged Kane in August 2015 with perjury, obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy, accusing her of leaking grand jury information unrelated to this scandal to embarrass a political rival and then lying about it under oath — all of which Kane denies.

The state Supreme Court has suspended her law license over these charges, and she could face jail time when her criminal trial begins this August.

But her critics, including Marc Bookman, say Kane brought this on herself, and say she’s not a victim of the “good old boys club,” but of blind ambition and a vindictive streak.

“I don’t defend our attorney general for her behavior, I think it’s atrocious in every way,” Bookman said.

When a former prosecutor from her office named Frank Fina allegedly leaked a potentially damaging fact about Kane to the press, she retaliated, according to a court complaint, saying in an email to her media strategist, “This is war.”

In a defamation lawsuit against Kane, plaintiffs claim she got revenge by leaking grand jury information about Fina to a newspaper. Kane later admitted to sharing information, but said it was not illegal.

She said the accusations are “unfair,” claiming she met Fina once in a staff meeting “for about five minutes” but otherwise, she said, “I wouldn’t know Frank Fina if I fell over him.”

Fina declined “Nightline’s” request for comment. He is part of a group that has sued Kane for selectively releasing the emails. According to the complaint, Kane used “intimidation, attempted blackmail and vindictive retaliation,” for the purposes of “silencing her critics.”

Kane said it’s revenge from those “good old boys” in the email scandal.

“I took on this job knowing that I would be taking on the ‘good old boys,’ but I had no idea the positions of power that they were in,” Kane said. “I underestimated that and I was unprepared for it.

“They’ve done everything possible to me,” she continued. “There is three or four impeachment resolutions … a couple grand juries … two arrests … the only thing that hasn’t been done to me and not being glib when I say that, is out and out assassination.”

Again, her critics disagree and argue many of her wounds were self-inflicted.

“Whether there’s a ‘good old boys’ network or not … her own kind of vindictiveness appears to have brought her down,” Bookman said. “The attorney general has made a million missteps.”

Among Kane’s missteps, according to Bookman, was releasing the emails of her supposed rivals in the 2014 exposure while initially minimizing the dozens sent and received by her own twin sister, state prosecutor Ellen Granahan. Kane eventually released those emails, including one she received herself.

This past February, Kane announced she would not seek re-election, saying she’s going to focus on her two teenage sons, Christopher and Zack.

“I explain to them that there comes a certain cost sometimes with doing the right thing, and it is not always easy,” Kane said.

Despite the troubles she has faced, Kane still puts in full days at the office and recently made headlines for uncovering a church sexual abuse scandal.

But the thing that still drives her, she said, is the email scandal. The interim report on that investigation is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

“We do have recommendations in there,” Gansler said. “Hopefully, just the very nature of this investigation, the fact that this investigation takes place, will create a massive chilling effect for those who might send inappropriate emails to other people.”

And Kane has a few more months left in office to define her legacy.

“You can’t give a closing argument now because the story isn’t over yet,” she said. “There is a long way to go here.”

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Alaska Airlines Flight Diverted After Man Allegedly Tried to Kiss Sleeping 16-Year-Old-Girl

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — An Alaska Airlines flight from Portland to Anchorage was diverted Tuesday after a man allegedly attempted to kiss a sleeping teenage girl, according to officials.

After the man, 23, who was sitting next to the girl, 16, attempted to kiss her, the pilot was notified and Alaska Flight 137 was diverted to Seattle-Tacoma Airport at approximately 2 p.m. local time, Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper said.

In Seattle, the man was arrested for fourth-degree assault. The case will be turned over to the King County Prosecutor’s Office for filing of charges, Cooper added.

The female passenger remained on board the flight, which continued to Anchorage at about 3 p.m. local time.

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Texas Father Arrested in Death of His 6-Month-Old Daughter Left in Hot Car

iStock/Thinkstock(MELISSA, Texas) — Authorities have arrested a Texas man after his 6-month-old daughter was found unresponsive Tuesday afternoon outside their home.

Deputies were alerted at about 1:30 p.m. that an infant was left alone in a vehicle in Melissa — roughly 40 miles north of Dallas — according to the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities released few details but confirmed the child died and that her father, Michael Thedford, 33, was arrested.

The cause of the child’s death is under investigation. Deputies were told the child was left in the car, but it’s not known for how long.

Thedford was charged with manslaughter and is being held on a $20,000 bond.

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Severe Weather Turns Washington DC Metro Station Into a Waterfall

mace.grills/Instagram(WASHINGTON) — A powerful storm struck the nation’s capital Tuesday afternoon pummeling the region with rain, hail and even flooding an underground metro station.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was forced to shut down Cleveland Park Metro station around 7 p.m. due to severe flooding.

Dramatic photos show water rushing down the escalators as passengers made their way up to exit.

Josh Stanton decided to poke fun at the situation posting a photo of a wet floor sign surrounded by floodwater.

Bonus points for @wmata for ironic ‘wet floor’ sign at Cleveland Park metro. @unsuckdcmetro @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/Zl2J8JD5r8

— Josh Stanton (@JStantonDC) June 21, 2016

By 8:30 p.m. trains were no longer skipping the Cleveland Park metro stop after bypassing the station for more than an hour.

Red Line: Trains are now servicing Cleveland Park following earlier weather related escalator outage/flooding.

— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) June 22, 2016

Residents also posted pictures of downed trees as tens of thousands were left without power in Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland.

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Coast Guard Searching for Dad, Three Teens Missing off Florida Coast

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(ENGLEWOOD, Fla.) — The Coast Guard is searching off the coast of Florida overnight after a sailboat containing a father and his three teenage children went missing.

Officials say the man, along with his 13 and 15-year-old teenage sons, and 17-year-old daughter were last heard from Sunday morning.

#BreakingNews: CORRECTION: USCG searching for sailboat w/ missing father, 2 sons (13,15), and daughter (17) last seen Sunday AM.

— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 22, 2016

A family member called the Coast Guard Tuesday to report the man and his children left Sarasota en route to Fort Myers at 7 a.m. Sunday and hadn’t returned.

The 29-foot boat disappeared off the coast of Englewood, according to the coast guard.

The father aboard the vessel called his brother at 3 p.m. Sunday and “stated the sailboat was in 6-foot seas and he was attempting to survive with his children offshore of Englewood,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Rescue crews were searching for the family by air and sea Tuesday night, the Coast Guard added.

Station Fort Myers Beach activated the Maritime Emergency Response Team which includes numerous state and local maritime emergency responders.

#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast has launched air & boat crews in search for missing family. Asks public to keep a sharp lookout. More to follow

— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 22, 2016

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Man Attacked by Alligator in Florida, Sheriff Says

iStock/Thinkstock(BUSHNELL, Fla.) — An alligator attacked a man in Florida Tuesday evening — about an hour away from where a boy was killed by a gator outside a Disney resort, according to the local sheriff’s office.

The attack in Bushnell, Florida, happened around 6:30 p.m. and left the 58-year-old man with injuries to his right leg, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

The man’s condition was not immediately known, but he was airlifted to Ocala Regional Hospital.

Police said that the gator was 8 1/2 to 9 feet long.

On June 12, a 2-year-old boy was killed when he was attacked by a gator outside a Disney World resort. Disney, the parent company of ABC News, has added signage warning of gators and snakes and the company’s chairman and CEO, Robert Iger, said his “thoughts and prayers” were with the boy’s family.

Each year, there have several gator attacks in Florida, according to statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. In 2015, there were 9 major attacks, including one that was fatal, according to the statistics.

As of April 2016, there was 1 major attack in Florida and no minor attacks.

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FBI: Indiana Teen Wanted to Join ISIS, Researched Homeland Terror Targets

Department of Justice(INDIANAPOLIS) — Federal officials arrested an 18-year-old Indiana man Tuesday who the FBI said had researched potential terrorist targets in his home state before attempting to make his way out of the country and eventually join ISIS in Libya.

Akram Musleh was intercepted by authorities at an Indianapolis Greyhound bus station this afternoon as he tried to board a bus to New York, according to a criminal complaint unsealed by the Department of Justice. From there, the complaint said Musleh planned to fly to Morocco and then make his way to ISIS fighters in Libya.

But before he attempted to leave the U.S., Musleh searched online for information about potential terror targets in Indiana, explosive materials and pressure cookers. An FBI agent followed him in early May to a local Walmart where the complaint says Musleh appeared to “shop for pressure cookers, but left without making a purchase.” Pressure cookers have been used to house explosive devices, such as the twin bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon in April 2013.

The FBI apparently first came across Musleh back in August 2013 when he posted videos on YouTube of the late American al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who is thought to have at least partly inspired a growing number of homegrown jihadists. Officials at Musleh’s high school, “in coordination with the FBI, took steps to dissuade Musleh [from] engaging in radical extremism.”

Apparently, it didn’t take. In September 2014, Musleh purportedly bought a black flag often associated with ISIS online and a few months later posed for photos in front of it. In several online conversations apparently monitored by investigators, Musleh discusses with ISIS sympathizers — and at least one FBI “confidential human source” — his desire to join ISIS and in one part says he pledged his allegiance to the terror group, according to the complaint.

Musleh made his initial court appearance Tuesday and is being represented by a public defender, according to Tim Horty, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice. He is scheduled to be back in court on Monday and faces up to 20 years in prison, the DOJ said.

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238 Alleged Child Predators Arrested in a 2-Month Sting in Southern California, Police Say

moodboard/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — A national task force that was given the mission of cracking down on child predators has arrested 238 people in Southern California during a two-month sting, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

During April and May, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force launched “Operation Broken Heart III,” according to the LAPD.

The Los Angeles Regional ICAC operation resulted in the arrest of 238 child predators. The national crackdown on cyber predators resulted in 1,368 arrests, just during the months of April and May, an LAPD spokesperson told ABC News Tuesday.

“The perpetrators in these cases include entertainers, community leaders, white collar professionals and even members of the clergy,” John Reynolds, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge, said in a news conference on Monday.

People were arrested in the crackdown “for charges such as possession and distribution of child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, child prostitution and sex tourism,” LAPD Deputy Chief Matt Blake said at the news conference.

Among those arrested was a 70-year-old British man who had previously been charged with coming to U.S. to have sex with pre-teen boys, and now faces child pornography offenses, the Department of Homeland Security said in astatement.

A Laotian monk, in the U.S. with a religious workers visa, was also arrested at the Wat Lao Buddhist Monastery in Riverside, California, for allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography, according to the Riverside District Attorney’s Office.

Norma Eisenman, a public information officer for the LAPD, told ABC News Tuesday it is important for parents to “monitor your kids’ use of the computer” and “make sure you check their phones,” as that is how many of these criminals prey on kids.

“A lot of these people camouflage themselves as someone else,” Eisenman said. “They get their confidence and then they start requesting nude pictures.”

“My motto to my daughters is, ‘I pay the bill, I have the right to your passwords,'” Eisenman said.

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Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Visited Club Before Attack, Police Say

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The Orlando gunman had visited the Pulse nightclub and left before returning with an assault rifle and opening fire there, killing 49 people and injuring dozens of others, police said.

In addition, Mateen’s wife — Salman Noor — has told investigators that before her husband left their Port St. Lucie, Florida, home that day for the two-hour drive to Orlando, she saw him with what looked like guns inside a bag and expressed “concern” that he was apparently leaving the house, as one source with knowledge of the investigation told ABC News.

Authorities have also determined that the day before the attack, three plane tickets were purchased online for Omar Mateen, his wife and their son to travel to San Francisco next month, according to the source. It’s unclear who purchased the tickets.

These new details, first reported by CNN, came as Attorney General Loretta Lynch suggested there may be more than just one motivation behind the attack.

“Whenever you look at someone’s motivation or intent, whether living or whether they’re dead, you look at their actions and their activities surrounding the event,” Lynch said Tuesday while visiting law enforcement and first responders in Orlando. “I cannot tell you definitely that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation. People often act out of more than one motivations, this was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate.”

Lynch insisted the investigation is “active, it is open, it is ongoing,” and she said authorities are still “working to identify anyone he had contact with that night, up to obviously and including any phone contact, any kind of electronic communication that he had.”

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Car Packed With Guns Stopped at Holland Tunnel Outside New York, Police Say

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) — Three people were taken into custody Tuesday after police found several weapons in their car as they headed into the Holland Tunnel en route to New York City.

Police recovered seven guns — including rifles and handguns — as well as four knives, 10 clips of ammunition, body armor and a military-grade helmet.

The number of weapons in the car raised suspicions, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force was called, but two law enforcement officials told ABC News there does not appear to be a link to terrorism.

The reason for the large number of weapons was not immediately clear; one police source said it appeared to be related to heroin.

The three taken into custody told police they are self-styled vigilantes and said they were driving to the city’s borough of Queens to rescue a teen girl who recently overdosed and was not in a good situation.

Police stopped the two men and one woman Tuesday morning at the New Jersey toll plaza of the Holland Tunnel — which runs from Jersey City to lower Manhattan — because their car had a cracked windshield, Port Authority Police said.

A Port Authority police officer spotted a gun on a seat in the car, officials said.

Drugs were also allegedly recovered.

All three suspects are being held in Jersey City, police said.

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