Crime and punishment
February 25, 2020

Michelle Janavs, the heiress to the Hot Pockets fortune, was sentenced to five months in prison on Tuesday after admitting to paying bribes to a fixer who promised to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California.

She is the 15th parent sentenced as part of the college admissions scandal, which rocked Hollywood and wealthy enclaves across the United States. Janavs, 49, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit laundering. "I'm so very sorry I tried to create an unfair advantage for my children," she told the court on Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors said she agreed to pay Rick Singer, a college admissions consultant, $100,000 to improve her daughters' ACT exam scores and $200,000 to have one of her daughters admitted to USC as a fake beach volleyball recruit. Janavs must also pay a $250,000 fine and serve two years of supervised release after her stint in prison.

Prosecutors had recommended Janavs serve 21 months in prison. Her defense lawyers argued that she was the victim of Singer's "manipulative sales tactics," and her public embarrassment was enough of a punishment. Catherine Garcia

July 29, 2019

Through his lawyers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, has indicated he is open to being deposed as part of a victims' lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, as long as the United States government does not seek the death penalty against him.

The offer was revealed in court documents filed Friday in New York, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday night. The lawsuit accuses the Saudi government of helping coordinate the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people at the time and also led to health problems in first responders. Of the 19 hijackers who perpetrated the terrorist attacks, 15 were Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia has denied being involved.

There are five people in custody who are accused of being part of the 9/11 conspiracy. The plaintiffs' lawyers want to interview three of them at Guantanamo Bay, and Mohammed's attorneys said he won't agree "at the present time" because of the "capital nature of the prosecution," but in the "absence of a potential death sentence much broader cooperation would be possible." Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003, and subjected to waterboarding 183 times. He has been at Guantanamo Bay since 2006. Catherine Garcia

February 24, 2019

A Chicago judge set R&B singer R. Kelly's bond at $1 million Saturday, $250,000 for each of the four victims he is alleged to have sexually abused. He will have to post $100,000 bail to be released ahead of trial.

Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and three of the four victims were under 18 when the alleged abuse occurred. One of them supplied investigators with a shirt she wore during an interaction with Kelly, prosecutors said in court Saturday, and the clothing tested positive for his DNA.

Kelly has denied all accusations, and his attorney, Steve Greenberg, told reporters Saturday the singer "doesn't have to have nonconsensual sex" because he is "a rock star."

Greenberg also said Kelly hoped to post bail by Saturday evening. Kelly was ultimately unable to assemble the funds and spent a second night in jail. Bonnie Kristian

January 6, 2019

A man named Eric Black Jr. has been arrested and charged with capital murder for the death of Jazmine Barnes, the 7-year-old Houston girl killed last month while riding in a car with her family.

A second suspect, one Larry Woodruffe, has also been arrested and is reportedly thought to be the shooter. The local sheriff's office is still investigating the motive behind the shooting and has said it may be "a result of mistaken identity."

Barnes' mother, LaPorsha Washington, who was in the car when the attack occurred, has suggested a possible racial motive. "I have no tint on my windows or anything so you can see there is a mother — a black mother — with daughters, beautiful children," she said. "You took my baby from me, and you have no care in the world." Early reports suggested the perpetrator was a white man, but both Black and Woodruffe are black. Bonnie Kristian

December 29, 2018

Authorities on Friday announced the arrests of two more people in connection to the death of police officer Ronil Singh in Newman, California, this past week.

Conrado Virgen Mendoza and Ana Leyde Cervantes are respectively the brother and girlfriend of the primary suspect, who was identified Friday as Gustavo Perez Arriaga. He was in the United States illegally and was attempting to flee to Mexico when he was caught.

Another brother of Arriaga, one of his coworkers, and three more people who were in the home where Arriaga was found have been arrested as well. Arriaga will be charged with homicide for his alleged shooting of Singh during a traffic stop, and the other seven face charges including aiding and abetting and accessory after the fact. At least two were also in the U.S. illegally.

A native of Fiji, Singh joined the Newman police force in 2011. He is survived by his wife and 5-month-old son. Bonnie Kristian

December 22, 2018

Police in the United Kingdom have arrested two people, a 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, in connection to the recreational drone that disrupted flights for three days at London's Gatwick Airport this week.

About 140,000 passengers were affected when around 1,000 flights were grounded or rescheduled because of the drone sightings, but Gatwick is expected to return to normal operations Saturday. Delays are anticipated.

"Our investigations are still ongoing," said a police statement after the arrests, "and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones, by deploying a range of tactics." Authorities considered shooting the drone down and had military assistance searching for its operators. Bonnie Kristian

December 8, 2018

A suspect has been arrested and charged with 10 felonies, including first-degree murder, in connection to the abduction and murder of North Carolina 13-year-old Hania Aguilar last month.

Michael McLellan, 34, is accused of kidnapping Aguilar from her driveway on Nov. 5, forcing her into an idling SUV that belonged to one of her family members. The stolen vehicle was found abandoned in nearby woods three days later, and Aguilar's body was discovered Nov. 27. An autopsy will be performed as part of the ongoing investigation.

Adding to the Aguilar family's anguish is a decision by the State Department to deny a temporary visa to Noé Aguilar, Hania's father, to travel from Guatemala for her funeral. "This hurts," he told CNN. "This is not a visa for sightseeing or staying in the country. I'm fine in my own country. I have work here. I only wanted a day or two to bury my daughter." Bonnie Kristian

October 28, 2018

Following Friday's arrest of Cesar Sayoc, the suspect thought responsible for mailing bombs to Democratic and media figures this past week, federal agents are reportedly still probing the possibility of additional suspects.

Citing law enforcement sources, the Miami Herald reports the FBI is conducting further interviews to determine whether Sayoc had help. One such interview Friday night with someone connected to Sayoc did not lead to any additional arrests.

Sayoc lived in his van and allegedly assembled his homemade bombs inside it as well. Investigators linked him to the case using a fingerprint found on one of the packages and reportedly found additional evidence inside the van. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads