Archive for February, 2015

CHICAGO (WLS) – Ten months after an ABC7 I-Team investigation of nursing home abuse, legislation was introduced in Springfield Friday that would help family members who want to keep closer watch on their loves ones.

Under the proposal, surveillance cameras could be put in the rooms of nursing home patients.

In an age when cameras are everywhere, they are not in Illinois nursing homes, but that would change under legislation proposed Friday by North Side Chicago State Representative Greg Harris.

He and family members of nursing home residents say that surveillance cameras would help keep elderly patients safe and might improve the state’s nursing home care ranking, which is near the bottom nationally.

“Contusions on the head. Broken hip, hospitalizations. Every single symptom of nursing home abuse, she endured,” said Mary Howard.

Howard’s grandmother entered a west suburban nursing home with dementia. Annie Herron’s loved ones moved her out that facility after continuously finding her injured.

“To see her in the position she was in was really hard,” said granddaughter Audrey Saunders.

Herron’s family thinks cameras in their grandmother’s room would have answered questions about her care.

“Cameras don’t lie,” Howard said.

The latest Department of Public Health report cites 106 Illinois nursing home residents were victims of theft, abuse and neglect.

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A lawsuit filed in Cook County Court pits a losing applicant in the Illinois Medical Marijuana derby, against the State Department of Agriculture, and indirectly, the biggest winner in the sweepstakes for the coveted licenses.

“In my world, they changed the rules,” says Andy James, chairman of PMRX, the unsuccessful bidder on a cultivation license in District 21. “We had to file a lawsuit to get any information. Nobody’s talking.”

At issue, is the fact that PMRX lost out to Cresco Labs, a seeming marijuana juggernaut which received the three highest scores in the contest for what promise to be lucrative licenses to grow medical pot in Illinois.

The suit contends the state changed the security scoring rules at midstream, converting to pass/fail what had been a numerical score which could have spelled the difference between applicants with close ratings.

“We’re not sure the implementation of the process, i.e. the scoring, was done pursuant to the rules,” James said. And he said one of the reasons for his lawsuit, was to see his own scores, which so far, have been kept confidential.

“Can you imagine a history class, and the only person who gets a grade is the person with the highest score?” he asked. “No sour grapes here. Sure we would have loved to have won the license. But when you spend the money we spent, would just love to know that it was done correctly or fairly.”

James also alleges that someone from Cresco met with then-governor Pat Quinn while the application process was unfolding.

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A New York financial regulator said he is considering new rules to protect against “an Armageddon-type” cyber attack that would devastate U.S. financial markets.

Ben Lawsky, head of New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS), said he fears a large enough hack on Wall Street firms could “spill over into the broader economy” — not unlike the mortgage meltdown of 2008.

“We are concerned that within the next decade, or perhaps sooner, we will experience an Armageddon-type cyber event that causes a significant disruption in the financial system for a period of time,” Lawsky said Wednesday in a speech at Columbia Law School.

He called such an attack a “cyber 9/11.”

Lawsky said he is considering new rules to force banks and insurance companies regulated by DFS to better protect themselves against hackers.

DFS has regulatory oversight over dozens of N.Y. licensed banks and insurance companies, including Goldman Sachs, MetLife and Barclays. As head of DFS, Lawsky has power to punish banks for bad behavior and to impose new standards on their operations.

To help prevent against a devastating hack, Lawsky said he wants to add cyber security to the grades DFS gives the banks and insurance companies it regulates. Financial firms “care deeply” about their grades because they can impact their ability to pay dividends or acquire other companies, Lawsky said.

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. – Two people, including an elderly woman, have been charged with performing a so-called “Pigeon Drop” scam at a Fayette County grocery store.

Juan Alexander Jackson and Marie Mangham face one count each of felony theft by deception. Investigators said Jackson, 57, and Mangham, 74, carried out the scam in the parking lot of the Fayetteville ALDI.

Fayette County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Whitlow described the Pigeon Drop scam:

The Pigeon Drop scam occurs when a suspect approaches someone, usually an elderly person, in the parking lot and claims to have found a wallet or bag with a large sum of cash. The suspect offers to split the money with the victim if they can obtain cash from the victim’s bank account to “verify” the serial numbers and authenticate the found money as legitimate.

“Normally what we see is $100 on one side and a $100 on the other and a whole bunch of $1 bills in the middle so it looks like several thousand dollars,” Whitlow said.

When they get back to the parking lot to split up the cash, the scammers take off and money is gone.

One victim lost $25,000 in the scam.

Police nabbed the suspects Thursday while conducting surveillance in the area around ALDI. Whitlow said undercover detectives watched Jackson and Mangham approach an elderly woman in the parking lot.

“For us to catch these people is great. For us to actually see it in progress and witness the whole thing is amazing,” said Whitlow.

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Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, was among only 13 lawmakers who voted against the Texas Stand Your Ground law when it passed in 2007.

A bill introduced Thursday is his attempt eight years later to stop what he feels have been the law’s unintended consequences.

“The problem we have is that there’s a perception of certain people that who they are makes them dangerous,” said Coleman. “You’ve seen people walk across the street to avoid certain people, which might be appropriate. But shooting them because they perceive that that individual is actually going to hurt them and have that be legal under the law is just not appropriate.”

Coleman filed House Bill 1627 on Thursday to modify the existing Stand Your Ground law. HB 1627, while not affecting the right to use deadly force in one’s home or “castle”, would allow the use of lethal force in other self-defense situations only if a person cannot safely retreat. Texas is one of nearly two dozen states that currently do not have a so-called duty to retreat before someone opts to use deadly force.

“People can’t be judge, jury and executioner,” Coleman said, referring to the current law that he says disproportionately puts a target on minorities. “You know they used to lynch people. And that was people taking the law into their own hands.”

In introducing HB 1627, Coleman mentioned the 2007 case of Joe Horn in Pasadena. Horn, despite a 911 operator pleading with him to stay inside his house and not confront the two burglars he was watching through a bedroom window as they robbed his neighbor’s house, exited his home armed with a shotgun and confronted the burglars as they ran away. He shot and killed them both and a Harris County grand jury chose not to indict him. Coleman says under his bill Horn would have been charged with a crime.

“I don’t blame anybody for being apprehensive. But apprehension should not give an individual the right to take someone’s life,” said Coleman.

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An Australia man was arrested this week for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into a prison with a drone, police say.

The Victoria Police released a statement Monday, which said a man and woman were found in a car Sunday afternoon with “what was believed to be a drone with four engines and a small quantity of drugs.”

The 28 year-old man was arrested after the drone was hovering in the vicinity of a prison in Ravenhall, Sunday afternoon. He was charged with possession and attempting to commit an indictable offense and is due to appear in court next week.

A similar offense occurred in Brazil last Friday.

A small helicopter was used to drop about 250 grams of cocaine onto a local prison near São Paulo, Brazil, a GloboNews affiliate reported.

Four people were arrested in Georgia last November after a remote-controlled helicopter was used to fly tobacco into Calhoun state prison, according to BBC.

In Russia, four people planned to deliver 700 grams of heroin to a Tula region prison by an unmanned helicopter, but were caught and arrested before carrying out the act.

Aerial drones, often associated with the military, have been adapted for civilian use. They have been deployed widely by journalists and have been used to make small deliveries, from pizzas to medicines.

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Shoplifter has been arrested a whopping 108 times

South Euclid OH Feb 20 2015 He fought the law — again and again.

Nathaniel Ferguson, 49, had been arrested a whopping 108 times when he snatched a bunch of teeth-whiteners and bolted through the open doors of a CVS pharmacy in suburban Cleveland on Monday, police said.

“I don’t have anything on me,” the prolific shoplifter reportedly yelled at a drug store security guard who knows him well.

Ferguson had a getaway car waiting and roared down the road where he was stopped by a couple of old acquaintances from the South Euclid Police Department, authorities said. They asked for his ID as a matter of procedure.

He allegedly gave them the name of his brother.

“Probably the majority of his arrests are just like that,” South Euclid Sgt. Mike O’Connor told the Daily News.

Rarely if ever violent, the career criminal is the most dogged of petty thieves in Northeastern Ohio. His busts date back to at least 1984, and cops and grocery store security guards recognize him at a glance, authorities said.

“He’s an experienced criminal,” O’Connor said. “Experienced, but not necessarily successful.”

His take in the CVS heist was valued at $47.26 in dental products, cops said.

He had seven open warrants from the Cleveland suburbs, including three out of the South Euclid local court. His rap sheet includes 26 aliases — mostly just varied spellings of his real name, but occasionally more ambitious ruses, such as Bruce Hogan and Nathan Hope.

By the time of his 109th arrest, even police seemed impressed by the three-digit tally of run-ins for stealing and drug possession.

“Does anyone have a contact for Guinness Book of World Records?” cops asked in a Facebook post. “We think we might have one worth evaluating.”

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TSA seizes record 2,212 firearms in 2014

(CNN)When packing your carry-on luggage, don’t forget to remove your gun.

Unless you’ve got permission, not remembering could get you in trouble.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration seized a record 2,212 firearms from carry-on luggage in 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported Friday.

That’s more than the TSA has seized in any other year of its existence, and it’s a 22% increase from the 1,813 guns seized in 2013. (The agency actually hit a record 2,000 seizures on December 1, before the year was over.)

That’s an average of six guns per day.

Of those discovered, 83% were loaded.

The department’s employees “stand on the front lines protecting our nation from dangerous contraband and people, while ensuring the free flow of lawful trade and commerce — just two aspects of our mission,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a news release.

“This is critically important work, and our employees’ achievements are self-evident: in 2014, the TSA screened more than 650 million passengers, nearly 1.8 million each and every day,” Johnson said.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport security seized the most guns last year, with 120. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport came in second place with 109 gun seizures, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport came in third place with 78 gun seizures.

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport had 77 gun seizures, while Denver International Airport had 70.

Forgetting can be expensive and even criminal.

Passengers whose guns are spotted by TSA security during the screening process can be arrested by airport or local police and face criminal charges, and the TSA can impose civil penalties. Members of TSA Pre-check can be temporarily or permanently banned from the expedited screening program.

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NEW YORK — A hacking ring has stolen up to $1 billion from banks around the world in what would be one of the biggest banking breaches known, a cybersecurity firm says in a report scheduled to be delivered Monday.

The hackers have been active since at least the end of 2013 and infiltrated more than 100 banks in 30 countries, according to Russian security company Kaspersky Lab.

After gaining access to banks’ computers through phishing schemes and other methods, they lurk for months to learn the banks’ systems, taking screen shots and even video of employees using their computers, the company says.

Once the hackers become familiar with the banks’ operations, they use that knowledge to steal money without raising suspicions, programming ATMs to dispense money at specific times or setting up fake accounts and transferring money into them, according to Kaspersky. The report is set to be presented Monday at a security conference in Cancun, Mexico. It was first reported by The New York Times.

The hackers seem to limit their theft to about $10 million before moving on to another bank, part of the reason why the fraud was not detected earlier, Kaspersky principal security researcher Vicente Diaz said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The attacks are unusual because they target the banks themselves rather than customers and their account information, Diaz said.

The goal seems to be financial gain rather than espionage, he said.

“In this case they are not interested in information. They’re only interested in the money,” he said. “They’re flexible and quite aggressive and use any tool they find useful for doing whatever they want to do.”

Most of the targets have been in Russia, the U.S., Germany, China and Ukraine, although the attackers may be expanding throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, Kaspersky says. In one case, a bank lost $7.3 million through ATM fraud. In another case, a financial institution lost $10 million by the attackers exploiting its online banking platform.

Kaspersky did not identify the banks and is still working with law-enforcement agencies to investigate the attacks, which the company says are ongoing.

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a nonprofit that alerts banks about hacking activity, said in a statement that its members received a briefing about the report in January.

“We cannot comment on individual actions our members have taken, but on balance we believe our members are taking appropriate actions to prevent and detect these kinds of attacks and minimize any effects on their customers,” the organization said in a statement. “The report that Russian banks were the primary victims of these attacks may be a significant change in targeting strategy by Russian-speaking cybercriminals.”

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Two men from Chicago suburbs and a Florida man were arrested over the past week for trying to bring firearms onto airplanes at Midway and O’Hare airports, police said.

In the latest case, Leo M. Kurylo, 44, was charged with boarding aircraft with a weapon after he was arrested around 9:45 a.m. Saturday at Midway Airport, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs.

Kurylo, of 700 block of East North Broadway Street in Lombard, was going through screening at a security checkpoint at Midway when Transportation Security Administration officials discovered an unloaded .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol inside his carry-on bag, according to the statement.

Police were called to the airport, and Kurylo was taken into custody.

On Sunday, Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil set bail at $10,000 during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

The gun was spotted in a zippered pocket of Kurylo’s computer bag as he was on his way to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas, according to a prosecutor.

When asked about it, Kurylo confirmed the gun belonged to him and said that when could not find his weapon, he reported it missing to Lombard police Feb. 7.

The prosecutor said Kurylo has a valid firearm owner’s identificaition card.

Kurylo’s attorney said he is an environmental engineer who graduated from Somonauk High School and has degrees from Northern Illinois University. He is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 20.

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