Man behind anti-Islam film gets year in prison
Mark Basseley Youssef appeared in a federal courtroom last month.
November 7th, 2012
08:45 PM ET

Man behind anti-Islam film gets year in prison

[Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET] An Egyptian-American man behind the inflammatory film "Innocence of Muslims" on Wednesday was sentenced to one year in federal prison after admitting to violating the terms of his probation from a 2010 bank fraud case.

Mark Basseley Youssef also was ordered to serve four years of supervised release after his prison term. The sentencing by Judge Christina Snyder came in a Los Angeles federal court after a hearing Wednesday in which Youssef admitted using an alias, which prosecutors said violated his probation.

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October 18th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

Lawyers release files on alleged Boy Scout abuse, call for Congress audit

Editor's note: Lawyers suing the Boy Scouts of America have released more than 20,000 confidential Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.

The Portland, Oregon, attorneys are releasing the Scouts' 1,247 "ineligible volunteer files" from 1965 to 1985 - with the approval of the Oregon Supreme Court - after it won an $18.5 million judgment in 2010 against the Boy Scouts in a case where a Scoutmaster sexually abused a boy.

The attorneys also said Thursday they're calling on Congress to audit the group's current child abuse policy to "see if they are doing what they say they are doing and if they are effective."

The attorneys, who represent victims in several lawsuits against the Scouts, say the Boy Scouts hid evidence from the public and police, and that the so-called "perversion files" offer insight into what they deem a serious problem in the organization. Below are details from the lawyers' Thursday press conference, and the Boy Scouts' reaction.

[Updated at 4:47 p.m. ET] The Boy Scouts of America has issued a statement responding to the documents' release:

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our Scouts. There have been instances where people misused their positions in scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. Where those involved in scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.

“We have always cooperated fully with any requests from law enforcement and welcome any additional examination by authorities of Scouting policies, training, and files to learn from our longstanding Youth Protection efforts. In fact, next month in Atlanta, the BSA is hosting a Youth Protection Symposium in cooperation with other youth-serving organizations where nationally recognized third-party experts will discuss and share best practices.”

The Boy Scouts also say that the files "are not - and have never been - secret."

"They have been reported extensively in the media going back to the New York Times in 1935, included in books on scouting throughout our history, and were the subject of numerous news articles and a book in the 1990s," the Boy Scouts' statement says. "Further, the files are known to many of the millions of volunteers in scouting, because joining the organization requires they be cross-checked against this list. While not secret, the files are confidential because experts agree that confidentiality is a key component of effective government and private-sector reporting programs."

The Boy Scouts say their policies "have always required scouting to adhere to state laws in reporting abuse."

"Today, it is mandatory that any good-faith suspicion of abuse is immediately reported to law enforcement. In the files released today, police were involved in nearly two-thirds (63%) and a majority of these files (58%) included information known to the public," the statement said.

[Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET] The press conference is over. Kelly Clark's law firm in Portland says it has published the files on its website. CNN is not linking out to the reports in this blog post because we haven’t vetted the allegations that they contain, and because the attorneys say that they haven’t checked the veracity of all the allegations.

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New chapter in Jimmy Hoffa search: Police to drill beneath Michigan home
Jimmy Hoffa at the Teamster's Union Convention.
September 27th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

New chapter in Jimmy Hoffa search: Police to drill beneath Michigan home

Police will drill outside a suburban Detroit residence Friday in the search for Jimmy Hoffa, the labor strongman whose disappearance is one of the most notorious and mysterious in U.S. history.

A tipster told police that a body was buried at the spot in Roseville, Michigan, at around the same time the Teamsters boss disappeared in 1975.

The tipster did not claim it was Hoffa's body, authorities said.

Police Chief James Berlin told CNN Thursday that while the tipster's information seems credible, he's not convinced the body is Hoffa's because of the timeline. He spoke with the tipster on August 22, and believes the person did see a burial.

The tipster did not come forward sooner out of fear, said Berlin.

Dan Moldea, author of "The Hoffa Wars," told CNN the tipster, a former gambler, contacted him on March 30. The tipster used to do business with a man who had ties to Anthony Giacalone, an organized crime figure who was supposed to meet Hoffa the day he disappeared, Moldea said.

"I am very skeptical," Moldea said of the planned dig. If Hoffa's burial had taken place at the spot, it would have been in full view of the neighborhood, the author argued.

And if Hoffa's body was disposed of, it would have been done in a way that no evidence would be left years later, he said.

At 10 a.m. Friday, crews will begin digging, police chief Berlin said. It shouldn't take long to get a sample, which will be taken to a forensic anthropologist at the University of Michigan for analysis.

The reading will determine whether there are human remains at the site, but will not identify them, Berlin said.

"It took us a while to get the proper equipment to do what we're going to do. If this is a person, they've been down there for 35 years. What's a few more days?" Berlin said.

Results from the soil testing should be available next week, the chief told CNN Wednesday.

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Mary Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is dead
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Mary arrive at funeral services for U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy in August 2009.
May 16th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

Mary Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is dead

Mary Kennedy, from whom Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed for divorce in 2010, is dead, said an employee of the Westchester County, New York, medical examiner's office on Wednesday.

The employee, who declined to give his name, told CNN he would provide no further details about the manner and cause of death.

The family released a statement saying, "We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her. Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation."

The Bedford (New York) Police Department earlier confirmed they were investigating a possible unattended death at 326 South Bedford Road, an address owned by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Authorities found a deceased individual inside "an out building" on the property, police said in a statement.

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April 11th, 2012
02:01 PM ET

Parole denied for Manson

A California panel denied parole for Charles Manson and scheduled his next parole hearing 15 years from now, setting up the possibility that he could die in prison.

Manson, 77, initially was sentenced to death for the 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six others by a group of his followers as part of what prosecutors said was an attempt to incite a race war. His death sentence was changed to life in prison after California's death penalty was overturned for a period during the 1970s.

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April 6th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Navy jet crashes into apartments in Virginia

[Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET] A Navy fighter jet experienced a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction" during takeoff Friday over the military community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and rained a stench of jet fuel shortly before crashing into apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.

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The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the dumping of jet fuel was "one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction," Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters.

The malfunction is being investigated, he said.

The two pilots, a police officer and three other people were taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Dr. Thomas Thames, the hospital's vice president of medical affairs, told CNN affiliate WAVY.

None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Thames said.

Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms told CNN that nine people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash and explosion ruptured the easy mood of spring break and the unfolding Easter and Passover holiday weekend, and the two-seater F/A-18 jet landed eerily upright in flames in a courtyard surrounded by five apartment buildings suddenly set afire, according to residents and authorities.

The two crew members ejected safely, the Navy said. Resident Pat Kavanaugh told CNN affiliate WTKR that he and others found one of them still strapped to his seat with a lacerated face. Kavanaugh said he was on his couch when he heard a loud boom and was startled to see a parachute hanging from the building.

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Olbermann sues Current TV days after firing
April 5th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Olbermann sues Current TV days after firing

Television personality Keith Olbermann sued his former employer, Current TV, on Thursday, claiming breach-of-contract, unfair dealing and disparagement in an action filed in California Superior Court.

Current TV's co-founders, including former Vice President Al Gore, ousted Olbermann (pictured) last week.

"This action is necessary as Current has repeatedly and willfully breached its written agreement with Olbermann," the lawsuit said, "often continuing to do so after receiving specific notices to cure such breaches.

"In its most recent breach, Current unilaterally, and without cause, terminated its Agreement with Olbermann. Current's sudden and public termination of Olbermann was the latest in a series of increasingly erratic and unprofessional actions undertaken by Current's senior management," the lawsuit said.

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Coroner: Houston drowned after cocaine use
Whitney Houston performs at the O2 Arena on April 25, 2010, in London.
March 22nd, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Coroner: Houston drowned after cocaine use

Whitney Houston died from an accidental drowning in a hotel bathtub, but the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use" were contributing factors in her death, the Los Angeles County Coroner said in an autopsy report released Thursday.

Houston, 48, was "found submerged in bathtub filled with water" and "no trauma or foul play is suspected," the coroner said.

The toxicology tests found other drugs in her body, including marijuana, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the allergy medicine Benadryl, the report said. But these drugs "did not contribute to the death," it said.

The final coroner report is expected to be made public within two weeks, the coroner said.

Houston died February 11 in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the day before the music industry gathered for the annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

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March 8th, 2012
06:27 PM ET

Ex-L.A. detective found guilty in 1986 murder of romantic rival

A Los Angeles County jury found a retired police detective guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the 1986 death of an alleged romantic rival who married the detective's college sweetheart.

Stephanie Ilene Lazarus, now 51 and retired after rising through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department, was accused of beating, biting and shooting to death Sherri Rasmussen, 29, in her townhouse in the suburban San Fernando Valley.

The judge scheduled sentencing for May 4. Lazarus faces 27 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.

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Madonna stalker re-apprehended after escaping from mental hospital
Madonna has testified that Robert Hoskins repeatedly scaled the fence to her home and gave her nightmares.
February 10th, 2012
01:42 PM ET

Madonna stalker re-apprehended after escaping from mental hospital

[Updated at 1:42 p.m. ET] A man convicted of stalking singer Madonna was re-apprehended Friday in California, a week after he escaped from a southern California mental hospital, the Los Angeles Police Department told CNN.

Robert Dewey Hoskins, 54, who once threatened to knife Madonna, was arrested in Long Beach, LAPD said. He walked away from Metropolitan State Hospital in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk on February 3, police said.

[Initial post, 1:36 a.m. ET] A man convicted of stalking singer Madonna, and who once threatened to knife her, has escaped from a southern California mental hospital and is being sought by police.

Robert Dewey Hoskins, 54, walked away from Metropolitan State Hospital in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk on February 3, police said.

Hoskins had served a 10-year prison sentence for stalking the "Material Girl," police said.

"Hoskins is highly psychotic when not taking his medication and has very violent tendencies," Los Angeles police said in a statement. "The public is being warned to notify police immediately if he is found, and to not engage him on their own."

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January 17th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Former Marine in Iraq War charged with murdering four homeless men

Itzcoatl Ocampo, a 23-year-old Iraq War veteran accused of stabbing four homeless men to death in California, was charged Tuesday with four counts of murder, said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

The four murder charges carry the special circumstances of multiple murders and lying in wait, the prosecutor said.

Rackauckas and representatives from the FBI, the county sheriff's office and the Anaheim police department held a news conference Tuesday to discuss legal issues concerning Ocampo.

"I'm not prepared to discuss a possible motive," Rackauckas said. "We know he had selected others" to kill, he added.

Ocampo was arrested Friday night after he allegedly stabbed a transient to death, Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said.

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November 30th, 2011
08:45 AM ET

Police clear Occupy camps in Los Angeles, Philly

Police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia dismantled tents and arrested Occupy protesters who refused to leave city areas early Wednesday.

Los Angeles police moved in at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday (3:30 a.m. ET). About an hour later, the City Hall lawn was cleared and closed for cleanup. About 200 people were arrested in the operation, utilizing some 1,400 officers, said Police Chief Charlie Beck. The Los Angeles encampment, which has been in place for some 60 days, had become the largest remaining one after police raided New York's Zuccotti Park on November 15 and dismantled the nearly two-month-old camp.

In Philadelphia, CNN affiliate WPVI reported about 40 protesters were arrested following a clash with police.

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November 29th, 2011
02:12 PM ET

Man charged in Orange County's deadliest mass shooting pleads not guilty

A man who allegedly shot his ex-wife and seven other people to death in the deadliest shooting in Orange County, California, history pleaded not guilty Tuesday, prosecutors said.

An Orange County Superior Court judge scheduled an April 24, 2012, preliminary hearing for Scott Evans Dekraai, 41. Dekraai is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and a felony count of attempted murder in the October 12 shooting at the Salon Meritage hair salon in the small coastal community of Seal Beach, a district attorney's spokeswoman said.

The first-degree murder charges carry the special circumstance of multiple murder. The attempted murder count is for a ninth victim who was wounded.

Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty. Dekraai is being held without bond.

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Demonstrators carry out Oakland strike as protests continue
Occupy protesters gather Wednesday in Oakland as they plan for a general strike.
November 2nd, 2011
07:59 PM ET

Demonstrators carry out Oakland strike as protests continue

Demonstrators in Oakland, California, appeared to carry out a successful strike of downtown businesses Wednesday, as most merchants and retailers shuttered their doors during a largely peaceful protest.

Unlike prior Occupy Wall Street-style protests in downtown Oakland, no uniformed police officers were visible during the demonstrations as of Wednesday afternoon. Oakland gained national attention during a recent clash between protesters and police, who fired tear gas upon the demonstrators after they allegedly threw objects at officers, police said.

About the only businesses active in downtown Oakland Wednesday were street vendors selling food.

The General Assembly of Occupy Oakland, a loosely defined governing body of the protesters - voted 1,484 to 46 last week to call the general strike, though it is unclear what the group's demands are.

"(W)e invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city," the group's manifesto read. "We liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%."

Protesters at Occupy demonstrations nationwide generally have rallied against what they describe as corporate greed while asserting that the nation's wealthiest 1% hold inordinate sway over the remaining 99% of the population.

Occupy Oakland's call to strike follows a crackdown on protesters October 25. Police unleashed tear gas, and Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull after being struck in the head by what protesters say was a tear gas canister.

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October 29th, 2011
06:10 PM ET

Miami cop accused of reckless driving in his squad car

A Miami police officer in a marked squad car has been charged with reckless driving, accused of zigzagging through Florida Turnpike traffic at more than 120 miles an hour so that he could be on time for his off-duty job, the Florida Highway Patrol said Saturday.

Officer Fausto Lopez, 35, of Miami was handcuffed at gunpoint earlier this month and charged with second-degree reckless driving, a misdemeanor, according to the highway patrol's offense report. Lopez was eventually released, authorities said.

In a pursuit videotaped on the trooper's in-car camera, Lopez led Florida highway patrol officer D.J. Watts on a seven-minute, almost 12-mile chase in pre-dawn darkness on Tuesday, October 11, the report said.

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Body of woman found hanged at mansion exhumed
Rebecca Zahau, 32, was found hanged at her boyfriend's California mansion in July.
October 27th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Body of woman found hanged at mansion exhumed

[Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET] The body of a woman found hanged at a California mansion in July has been exhumed for an independent autopsy, according to an attorney for her family, which rejects authorities’ findings that she committed suicide.

Rebecca Zahau’s body was exhumed at her family's request last week in St. Joseph, Missouri, and will soon be examined by renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht in Pennsylvania, Zahau family attorney Anne Bremner said Thursday. Bremner last month hired Wecht, who has publicly questioned the suicide ruling based on his reading of the official autopsy report, to consult in the case.

Bremner said she will be interested in Wecht's opinion on, among other things, whether there are signs of struggle or other foul play.

"It was painful for the family to agree to the process," Bremner said. "It's a difficult thing for them to go through right now, but I think it had to be done."

Zahau, 32, was one of two people - the other being her boyfriend’s 6-year-old son, Max Shacknai - who police said died as a result of July incidents at boyfriend Jonah Shacknai’s mansion in Coronado, California. Max Shacknai fell downstairs on July 11 and died at a hospital five days later, and Zahau was found hanging - naked, with feet bound, and wrists bound behind her back - in the home’s courtyard from a rope tied to a second-story bed at the home on July 13, police said.

Police told reporters last month that there was no indication of foul play in either death, and that evidence led them to conclude that Zahau hanged herself. Though they didn’t know the order of events, they say she painted a message on a door, disrobed, fashioned a hanging rope and bindings, tied the hanging rope to a bed and put the other end around her neck, bound her feet and hands, moved to the balcony and put herself over the railing.

Authorities said fingerprints and DNA on all relevant evidence - including the bindings, the bedroom door and a paint tube found in the bedroom - were Zahau's. Also, a set of footprints on the dirty balcony was consistent with the size of Zahau's feet, and toe impressions further ahead were consistent with a person leaning forward to go over the railing, police said.

Police showed reporters video of an experiment examining whether someone could bind themselves with a similar rope. The video shows a woman making knots and loops around her hands in front of her, taking one wrist out to move her hands behind her and then rebinding the wrists.

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Man charged in California salon shooting
Police on Wednesday investigate a shooting that left eight people dead at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California.
October 14th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

Man charged in California salon shooting

[Updated at 3:42 p.m. ET] Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a 42-year-old southern California man charged Friday with murder in this week's mass shooting at a hair salon, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Scott Evans Dekraai of Huntington Beach, California, allegedly shot his ex-wife and seven other people to death at the Salon Meritage in the small, coastal community of Seal Beach, Rackauckas told reporters Friday. A ninth person was wounded.

Prosecutors formally filed charges of eight counts of first-degree murder and a felony count of attempted murder against Dekraai on Friday. The first-degree murder charges carry the special circumstance of multiple murder, the prosecutor said.

Dekraai and his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, were in a custody battle over their 8-year-old son and the dispute was the motive in the shooting, Rackauckas said. The prosecutor called Dekraai "a methodical and merciless killer.

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Death toll in California hair salon shooting rises to 8
Police on Wednesday respond to a shooting at Salon Meritage, a beauty salon in Seal Beach, California.
October 12th, 2011
07:53 PM ET

Death toll in California hair salon shooting rises to 8

[Updated at 7:53 p.m. ET] The death toll in Wednesday's shooting at a Southern California beauty salon rose to eight after the deaths of two people who initially were reported as critically injured, police say.

One wounded victim remains in critical condition, Seal Beach police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.

[Earlier post] Six people are dead and three are in critical condition after a shooting Wednesday at a hair salon in the Southern California community of Seal Beach, Police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.

A suspect, described as a white male, is in custody, he added.

"He was cooperative. He did not provide any resistance to the officers and he was taken into custody," Bowles said.

In addition to the people who were killed and injured, Bowles said, "there were people in the salon who were not shot."

Authorities are investigating what relationship the gunman had with anyone inside the Salon Meritage.

"We don't know if he's related or what his involvement is with the salon," Bowles said.

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October 8th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

Undocumented immigrant students will be eligible for California aid

Undocumented immigrant students in California will be able to receive state-funded financial aid in 2013 to attend college under a new law signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The law allows top students who are on a path to citizenship to apply and receive the state aid, the governor said.

About 2,500 students are projected to receive Cal Grants totaling $14.5 million, according to the California Department of Finance. That averages out to $5,800 per student.

The funding amounts to 1% of the overall $1.4 billion Cal Grant program, officials said.

The new law, AB 131, is one of two pieces of legislation known as the California Dream Act and will become effective January 1, 2013, officials said.

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Civil rights figure Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth dies
October 5th, 2011
12:24 PM ET

Civil rights figure Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth dies

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights figure who helped lead efforts in Birmingham, Alabama, has died, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute said Wednesday.

Shuttlesworth is among the iconic figures honored in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. King once called Shuttlesworth "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South."

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama, Shuttlesworth rallied the membership of a group he established in May 1956 - the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights - and they challenged the practice of segregated busing in Birmingham.

Shuttlesworth also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with King and other civil rights leaders.

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