Pulse killer’s wife arrested

Noor Salman

CNN has reported that federal authorities have arrested the widow of the man who killed 49 people and injured than 50 others at Pulse nightclub in Orlando last June 12 before being killed himself by officers responding to the scene.

In a story posted just before 8 p.m. EST today (Monday, Jan. 16), CNN reports that Noor Salman faces federal charges including obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting her husband’s material support to ISIS, according to a law enforcement official. The law enforcement official said that despite Salman’s claim that she was coerced by her husband’s abusive behavior, authorities believe she acted of her own free will and knowingly obstructed the investigation into what was the worst mass shooting by a single gunman in modern U.S. history.

The arrest of Salman, widow of Omar Mateen, was first reported by The New York Times.

Authorities believe Salman acted of her own free will and knowingly took steps to obstruct the investigation into the massacre, according to a law enforcement official.

The official said Salman’s claims that she was coerced through her husband’s abusive behavior did not stand up. Another official says the evidence will show that she was complicit and knew her husband was going to do something bad.

Neither Salman’s attorney nor her family in California have commented on the arrest.

Orlando police Chief John Mina said he is glad Salman was arrested and that “we are grateful that they have seen to it that some measure of justice will be served in this act of terror that has affected our community so deeply.”

—  Tammye Nash

DPD warns on ‘phishing’ scam using chief’s name

Chief David O. Brown

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown

If you get an email from Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown asking for donations and wanting you to give out personal banking information, guess what: That email isn’t from Chief Brown and it isn’t a legitimate fundraising effort.

Dallas Police know these emails are going around, and they are warning the public against responding in any way. According to a post on the DPD Blog:

“The Dallas Police Department is aware that the public is receiving ‘spoofing’ or ‘phishing’ emails that have the appearance of being sent from Chief David O. Brown. These emails are fraudulent and should not be replied to.

“The Cybercrime Unit of the FBI is currently investigating this issue.

“The Dallas Police Department would never ask for personal banking information in an email. If you receive one of these fraudulent emails, please delete it.

If you are a victim of this crime, please contact the Dallas Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unite at 214-67-3517.”

—  Tammye Nash

Beware the ID thieves’ new scam

The Texas Attorney General’s Office today issued a warning about a new scam through which thieves are not only scamming money from their marks but stealing their identities as well.Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 4.37.57 PM

The OAG has opened a criminal investigation into the identity theft ring that rattles its victims by claiming to be either a governmental or debt collection agency and threatening the victims with arrest if they don’t pay up.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. This is not a specifically LGBT thing. But LGBT people are targeted by scammers like this, just like anybody else.  So pay attention.)

According to the OAG press released, “dozens of Texas residents” in recent months have reported getting phone calls from someone claiming to be collecting overdue payments — often overdue child support payments — on behalf of the Texas OAG. The scammers tell the victims they owe funds to the OAG and warn that an arrest warrant has been issued because of the past-due payments.

Naturally, the victims become alarmed at the prospect of pending arrest, and once that happens, the thieves move to the next step: asking the victim to “confirm” their Social Security number and other vital personal information.

Once the victim offers up the personal information, the thieves say the victim can fix the problem by “paying the debt” through a bank draft: The scammers instruct their victims to go to a nearby convenience story, buy a pre-paid debit card, load it with cash and then call the number they are given to relay the number on the back of the card.

Once the scammers have the number off the back of the prepaid debit card, they can drain off the cash the victim has loaded onto it AND they already have the personal data they need to steal the victim’s identity.

Over the past couple of years, while working at the Cleburne Times-Review, I heard numerous reports from folks who were targeted in a scams that used the pre-paid debit card model. In many of those, however, the scammers tended to target older individuals, often calling up and claiming to be a grandchild, telling Grammy or Grampy they had been arrested in Mexico because of something someone else did. They would beg the grandparents, “Don’t tell anybody, like my parents or sibling, because I am embarrassed for them to find out.”

As the OAH noted, the “we’ve issued a warrant for your arrest” ploy is especially effective because it encourages victims to act quickly out of fear, without stopping to question the flimsy premise (just like a grandparent would jump to help a stranded grandchild). Remember, OAG officials said, “The OAG typically only pursues arrest warrants against individuals who are wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to make regular child support payments.”

The lesson here, really, is DON’T GIVE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW — not over the phone, not in an email, not ever.

The OAG offered this advice:

• Stop to verify the request. Do that by directly contacting the governmental agency allegedly seeking to collect the funds through a telephone number you find on your own, not by calling the phone number the called has provided.

• Take proactive steps to prevent ID theft. If you believe you have been a victim of this scam — or any scam — file a consumer complaint with the OAH online at TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov. If you believe you are at risk for identity theft because you have been targeted by scammers, visit TexasFightsIDTheft.gov to get a copy of the OAG’s Identity Theft Kit AND file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commision.

• Pay attention to the red flags. Pre-paid debit cards are the scammers payment form of choice because they are more convenient than a wire transfer and just as untraceable.

You can go to the FBI website for information on other common fraud schemes and more information on identity theft.

And above all else people, USE SOME COMMON SENSE, dammit! I mean, your mother probably didn’t got to Madrid without telling you, so that email from her claiming someone stole her wallet while she was there probably isn’t authentic. And as much as you want it to be true, you don’t have some long-lost relative in Nigeria who just died and left you millions, if you will just send their “lawyer” $1,500 to send the millions to you.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: John Wiley Price arrested this morning

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DMN staff photo/2014

The ongoing legal battle centering on Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price took a new twist Friday morning when the FBI arrested the embattled incumbent at his home.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a sealed indictment was filed on Wednesday, citing Price for:

• Conspiracy to Commit Bribery Concerning a Local Government Receiving Federal Benefits

• Deprivation of Honest Services by Mail Fraud and Aiding and Abetting

• Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service

• Subscribing to a False and Fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Price’s attorney Billy Ravkind said he learned of the arrest through media reports. “Next time we want to know something, we’ll call the press,” he told the DMN. “I guess I haven’t been around long enough. I’ve never had this happen before. You win or lose cases in the courtroom. What the government does is irrelevant.”

A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. at the at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas.

This story is breaking. We will be updating readers throughout the day.

—  James Russell

Dallas stats missing from FBI hate crime report

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The FBI released its 2012 hate-crime statistics, but figures for five of Texas’ largest cities are missing.

Fort Worth reported 14 incidents, but there are no statistics for Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso or Austin. FBI spokeswoman Katie Chamount said Texas as well as New Jersey missed the publishing deadlines. Complete figures should be available in January.

Nationally, 5,796 hate crimes were reported with 1,135 of them based on sexual orientation.

At first glance, the report shows Texas had a significant drop in hate crimes. A comparison shows 1,089 bias-motivated crimes in California, compared to only 60 in Texas.

Chamount explained there are two reporting systems. Across Texas, 65 agencies, including Fort Worth, used one system and those incidents were reported in the national figures. Of Fort Worth’s 14 reported incidents, three were based on sexual orientation. Lewisville reported two and Rowlett had one based on sexual orientation.

Highland Park, Flower Mound, Frisco and Rockwall as well as DFW Airport reported there were no bias-related crimes in their jurisdictions.

In addition to sexual orientation, the hate-crime categories include race, religion, disability and ethnicity/national origin.

Texas Department of Public Safety also reports hate crime statistic. The DPS report contains information the FBI has not received, but the agency expects to have it in January.

DPS reported 170 incidents. Of those, 53 were anti-LGBT, the second largest group after race. Although that number is three times what the FBI reported, it’s still low compared to California or the 741 bias-motivated incidents reported by New York.

DPS lists 30 hate crimes reported by Dallas, 17 by San Antonio, 13 by Houston, 6 by Austin and 4 by El Paso.

—  David Taffet

Seagoville inmate gets 6 years for hate crime after assaulting gay inmate

jailcellAn inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville has been sentenced to six additional years under a federal hate crime law for assaulting a fellow gay inmate.

John Hall, 27, an Aryan Brotherhood member, had 71 months added on to his sentence Thursday by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor after he pleaded guilty to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act on Nov. 8. He will serve the added time consecutively with the sentence he is currently serving.

Hall punched, kicked and stomped on the inmate’s faces several times and used a dangerous weapon while calling him homophobic slurs on Dec. 20, 2011, because he believed he was gay or involved in a asexual relationship with another inmate, according to a White House press release.

Hall beat the inmate until he lost consciousness, fracturing his eye socket and causing multiple lacerations to his face. He also lost a tooth and fractured other teeth.

After an investigation by the Dallas FBI division, Hall pleaded guilty to the biased assault in November.

“This prosecution sends a clear message that this office, in partnership with attorneys in the department’s Civil Rights Division, will prioritize and aggressively prosecute hate crimes and others civil rights violations in North Texas,” said U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

 

—  Dallasvoice

FW assault now classified as hate crime

AFTERMATH | Jason Sanches, who suffered facial injuries in a May 24 attack, says the Fort Worth officer who initially responded to the attack did not treat the incident seriously.

Fairness Fort Worth criticizes FWPD’s initial handling of attack; asks for FBI to investigate as well. FWPD denies charges of delay in reclassifying attack

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth police officials this week confirmed that a May 24 attack on two gay men is being investigated as a possible hate crime, but denied charges that classification of the attack as a hate crime was improperly delayed.

The LGBT advocacy group Fairness Fort Worth this week released a statement on Wednesday, June 7, saying that the attack should have been classified as a hate crime in the initial report by responding officers and calling for “additional training of officers about hate crimes.”

In addition, Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable said that on Monday, June 6, he contacted the local office of the FBI to request an investigation of the incident under the federal hate crimes law. Anable said that within hours, the agency had assigned an agent who had contacted him and the Fort Worth PD.

“The FBI will conduct a separate investigation of the incident and is willing to assist the Fort Worth Police Department in its investigation,” according to the Fairness Fort Worth statement.

FBI Special Agent Mark White, media spokesman for the agency’s Dallas office, said Thursday, June 9, he could neither confirm nor deny that the FBI is conducting an investigation, as per office policy.

According to police reports, Jason Sanches, his partner Ray Easley and his sister Joni Mariscal were attacked by a group of six men and one woman outside a convenience store on South Hulen, just south of I-20, in the early morning hours of May 24. The trio had walked over from their nearby apartment, and left the store after buying a pack of gum.

Sanches said that the suspects accused them of “talking shit to my girl” inside the store, and attacked him with a stun gun before shoving and punching him until he fell to the ground.

Easley was also attacked with the stun gun three or four times.

Sanches, who refused ambulance service and later drove himself to the hospital, was hit in the face and had several teeth knocked out. He said Thursday that he is recovering, but still has pain around his eye socket, which was fractured in the attack.

Sanches said he believes that the “girl” to whom the attackers referred was a young Asian woman who is a member of the family that owns the store. He said he did not see the woman in the store before the attack, but that when Easley drove back to the store later to look for the suspects, the woman pulled a gun on him and told him to leave.

Sanches also told Dallas Voice shortly after the attack that he was upset at the way officers and paramedics with MedStar ambulance company that responded to the initial call treated him and his partner and sister. He said the officers and the paramedics did not seem to take the attack seriously and that the officers ignored his statements that the attack was a hate crime.

Sanches said he did tell responding officers that the attackers used anti-gay language, but the initial report, supplied by Fort Worth PD,
includes no mention of the slurs being used.

Sanches said Thursday he has not filed a complaint against the officers, but is considering doing so. He also said he has spoken with a detective to whom the case was assigned, but had not heard anything from officials “since last Wednesday.”

When Sanches first contacted Dallas Voice, Voice staffers suggested he contact Fort Worth police’s LGBT Liaison Officer Sara Straten. According to a spokesman in the department’s media relations office, Straten then filed a supplemental report that included information on the anti-gay language used by the suspects and indicating the attack could be a hate crime.

According to the Fairness Fort Worth statement, Police Chief Jeff Halstead contacted a FFW representative on Monday to notify them the case had been assigned to the major case unit and would be investigated as a hate crime. The statement also said Halstead had “expressed disappointment in the department’s initial steps which failed to properly investigate the incidence as a hate crime.”

But in a statement released late Wednesday, Lt. Paul Henderson, Halstead’s chief of staff, defended the way the department had handled the case.

Henderson’s statement noted that initial reports did not include reference to the anti-gay language suspects used in the attack. But, he added, patrol officers are trained to respond to emergency situations and calls for service, and their “primary mission is to respond and conduct a basic investigation” and file an initial report.

While some patrol officers do conduct “in-depth investigations,” Henderson said, most are “not necessarily trained investigators” and they are not trained to investigate hate crimes.

Henderson said those initial reports are then funneled to detectives in the proper divisions who conduct thorough investigations. Evidence from those investigations is then used to “make determinations if a crime actually occurred, what charge would be filed and whether there are any special circumstances that need to be considered for the district attorney’s office,” he said.

In terms of the Sanches case, Henderson said, “we respectfully disagree that there was a delay in making a determination that this was a potential hate crime. Those types of determinations are made by assigned detectives who are trained investigators.”

Henderson said that based on the initial report by the responding officer, the attack was not considered a potential hate crime and was assigned to a detective in the division where the attack occurred.

However, after Sanches provided a written statement, on May 28, regarding the anti-gay slurs used during the assault, the case was sent to the Major Case Section for further review, and then assigned to a Major Case detective for investigation as a possible hate crime.

“It is important to note that had the responding officer listed the specific details in the original summary narrative regarding anti-gay slurs, the same process of investigation would have taken place, leading us to the same conclusion that this is a potentially hate-motivated crime,” Henderson said.

He also pointed out that “hate crimes are presented as such during the trial for the underlying offense, in this case, aggravated assault. Once a crime is determined to be potentially motivated by hate, it is the responsibility of the prosecuting attorney to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected the victim or victims based on bias or prejudice.”

LGBT advocates have often criticized the way Texas’ hate crimes law is implemented by prosecutors.

The law allows for enhanced penalties in convictions where crimes were motivated by bias, but prosecutors often choose not to ask for a hate crime conviction and penalty enhancement because of the increased burden of proving such bias existed.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Pro basketball executive Rick Welts, CNN anchor Don Lemon come out

Don Lemon

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. An anti-transgender marriage bill is back on the Texas Senate’s Intent Calendar for today. That means if you haven’t already contacted your senator and urged them to vote against SB 723, by Sen. Tommy Williams, you should do so now by going here. If the bill doesn’t clear the Senate and a House committee by midnight Saturday, it will die.

2. The FBI has expanded its probe into a brutal beating outside a gay nightclub in downtown El Paso to include other recent possible hate crimes in the area, the El Paso Times reports. The victim, 22-year-old Lionel Martinez, remains in a coma more than a week after the attack, and LGBT advocates say El Paso police haven’t been taking anti-gay incidents near the Old Plantation nightclub seriously.

3. The weekend was marked by two pretty big coming-out stories: Rick Welts, president and chief executive officer of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns; and CNN anchor Don Lemon.

—  John Wright

No hate crime in Log Cabin assault

The assault of a Log Cabin Republicans member at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas last weekend — during which the suspect called the victim a “faggot” – won’t be classified as a hate crime for FBI reporting purposes, according to Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

Instant Tea reported Tuesday that even though the Log Cabin member opted not to press charges against the suspect, the assault could still be classified as a bias-motivated incident to the FBI, which is required to track hate crimes nationwide. However, Martin said DPD’s intelligence unit has chosen not to classify the incident as a hate crime because it doesn’t appear the assault was motivated by anti-gay bias.

Martin said the suspect’s use of the word “faggot” took place in the heat of an argument between two groups that had established contact earlier in the evening.

“There’s no obvious proof that it’s a hate crime, that the entire contact was based on the suspect’s hatred of gay people,” Martin said. “There’s just no evidence of it, and in fact the complainant [victim] agrees with that. … The complainant doesn’t believe that he was targeted simply because he’s gay.”

—  John Wright

Suspect in Log Cabin assault is servicemember; incident may still be classified as hate crime

Officer Laura Martin

The suspect accused of assaulting a member of Log Cabin Republicans and calling him a “faggot” on Saturday at the Hilton Anatole is a member of the military, according to Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

Martin said a police report from the incident indicates that the suspect, a 27-year-old male, is a supervisor or sergeant in the military who was responding to perceived sexual harassment of a subordinate. Other sources suggested that the suspect is a member of the Marines. The suspect’s name is being withheld because Dallas Voice doesn’t typically identify people charged with misdemeanors.

DPD declined to release a copy of the police report from the incident, which occurred at about 1 a.m. Saturday in the lobby bar of the Hilton Anatole, where Log Cabin was holding its National Convention.

Martin said even though the victim has chosen not to press charges — meaning the case will not be prosecuted — DPD may classify the incident as an anti-gay hate crime for the purposes of reporting it to the FBI. She said the police report indicates that someone at the victim’s table — but not the victim — “catcalled” and made sexual gestures toward someone at the suspect’s table, adding that both the suspect and the victim were intoxicated at the time of the incident.

“Someone who was at the complainant’s [victim’s] table saw someone who he thought was attractive at another table. When he pointed him out and when the guy got up to to go to the restroom, at least one person catcalled him and made sexual gestures in an obvious manner,” Martin said. “So he went back to his table and told his supervisor, who is also in the military. The supervisor went over then to the table where the guys were to say, ‘Please stop.’ When he went over there to the table the complainant [victim] stood up as he was addressing the group, and the arrested person viewed that as aggressive toward him, so he pushed him down, and that’s how he became injured. I don’t know if the complainant was standing up because he needed to go to the restroom, or if he was standing up to argue, or if he was standing up to stretch his legs, but the guy who was arrested said he viewed it as aggressive.”

—  John Wright