Former Lottery Employee Found Guilty of Rigging the System For His Benefit Jul29

Former Lottery Employee Found Guilty of Rigging the System For His Benefit...

A former high level security official at a non-profit lottery association was recently convicted of rigging the “Hot Lotto” system so that he could win a $14 million jackpot, and attempting to cash it in without revealing his identity. The Associated Press reports that Eddie Tipton, 52, was found guilty by a Des Moines jury on July 20th after five hours of deliberation. Tipton never actually received any of the money he was accused of swindling, but he was nonetheless convicted on two counts of fraud. Before being fired and arrested last January, Tipton had been working for the Multi-State Lottery Association (MSLA) since 2003 in Des Moines. Two years ago, he was promoted to Information Security Director. THe MSLA is composed of 37 lotteries, most of which are state-run, and is tasked with overseeing number-pickings for several lottery games. As an employee, Tipton was privy to the numbers ahead of time. However, also as an employee, he was not allowed to play the lottery in Iowa. According to prosecutors, Tipton used his position to secretly insert winning numbers through a computer program in 2010. He then bought a winning ticket and gave it to a friend of his in Texas and asked him to cash it in for him. This man contacted attorneys in Texas and Canada in order to do so without revealing Tipton’s identify, despite the fact that Iowa law mandates lottery winners to be identified. Prosecutors alleged that a surveillance video from a convenience store in Des Moines showed Tipton buying the winning ticket. However, the video quality was far from clear, casting doubt on whether the hooded man shown in the video was actually Tipton. Witnesses from both sides, including Tipton’s co-workers, friends, and family, gave contradicting testimonies on...

Police: Teens Texting While Driving Increasing In 2015 Jun10

Police: Teens Texting While Driving Increasing In 2015...

The statistics on texting drivers might just be scary enough to make you put a pedestrian accident lawyer on speed dial. Not only do distracted drivers cause 20% of all accidents in the U.S., but one pedestrian is struck and injured every seven minutes. All over the country, local police departments are looking for creative ways to stop young drivers, in particular, from texting while driving. And while drunk driving has been declining steadily for years, the threat posed by texting drivers increases every year. In Georgia, the local Department of Transportation says that a terrifying 82% of drivers aged 18 to 24 have texted while driving. In Madison, the local sheriff’s office had to ask the Department of Transportation for $10,000 to catch texting teens on Wisconsin roads. Sheriffs will spend the summer specifically looking for young drivers using their smartphones behind the wheel. “We all look forward to summer in Wisconsin, and the sheriff’s office wants it to be a safe one,” warned Madison Sheriff Dave Mahoney. “Drive the speed limit, wear your seat belt, drive sober and give driving your full attention. We’ll do the enforcement on those who don’t.” In the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, the number of citations issued to distracted drivers in Ontario County has surged from just five in 2009 to 316 in 2014. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nine people are killed by distracted drivers every day. “Remember, people can now check and respond to emails while driving along, with many other distractions that these smartphones provide,” says Seneca Falls Police Chief Stuart Peenstra. “This is a very big problem on our roadways today, and hopefully strict enforcement will help educate motorists. The penalties for texting while driving...

Exonerated Florida Man’s Wrongful Conviction Inspires His Songwriting Jun10

Exonerated Florida Man’s Wrongful Conviction Inspires His Songwriting...

Before his exoneration for a murder he didn’t commit, Bill Dillon said that music played a key role in helping him endure life in prison. Now a free man, Dillon uses his experience as a wrongfully convicted inmate to inspire his songwriting. The first song the Brevard County, FL native wrote was a tune called “Black Robes and Lawyers.” “Bill Dillon’s case was a travesty of justice. From the very beginning to the end, it was a case of fabrication,” said attorney Mike Pirolo, who worked to win Dillon his freedom. “Bill Dillon’s life was stolen from him.” According to CBS News, the then-20-year-old Dillon had been a promising baseball prospect in August 1981, just about to get his second tryout with the Detroit Tigers. Things went wrong when police discovered the badly-beaten body of a 40-year-old man on the beach near Dillon’s home. Despite the suspect in the murder being described as a 5’10” man with a mustache, authorities convicted Dillon. “I’m 6’4″. And I never ever had a mustache,” Dillon explained. “There couldn’t have been anything in their minds that made them think I did it other than my size … that I fit the profile of beating a man to death.” He then spent more than half his life — 27 years — in prison, before a 2008 DNA test revealed he wasn’t the killer. Ever since his release, he’s been turning his experiences into song. While Dillon’s case is a prime example of botched justice, some states are working to reduce their number of wrongfully-convicted citizens. The Attorney General’s Office of New Hampshire, for example, is currently encouraging police departments to strengthen their eyewitness identification procedures during their investigations. Eyewitness misidentification is the main cause behind about 52.3% of wrongful...

Muslim Woman Wins Supreme Court Case Against Abercrombie & Fitch Jun02

Muslim Woman Wins Supreme Court Case Against Abercrombie & Fitch...

Retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch has lost a Supreme Court case after one of its stores discriminated against a young Muslim woman. Back in 2008, 17-year-old Samantha Elauf applied for a job at the store, despite being nervous that she wouldn’t get hired due to her black headscarf, or hijab. But during her interview, assistant manager Heather Cooke never brought up the garment, which is worn for religious reasons; Elauf was only told that the store’s “look policy” meant she shouldn’t wear too much makeup, nail polish or black clothing. Yet when Cooke consulted with a district manager about hiring Elauf, she was told not to because the headscarf violated the dress code, which bans any sort of hat or headgear. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took Elauf’s side, and the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The EEOC has helped Americans receive justice after being discriminated against during hiring, firing, or the term of their employment. For example, they handle pregnancy discrimination complaints, which they report are settled in the worker’s favor just 25% of the time. Justices voted 8-1 in Elauf’s favor, saying that the company failed to accommodate Elauf’s religious faith. Lawyers for Abercrombie & Fitch fired back, that they wouldn’t hire Elauf not because she was Muslim, but because they claimed they didn’t have “actual knowledge” that she needed a religious accommodation. “Here, Elauf never identified her headscarf as religious, nor did Abercrombie have actual knowledge of that fact from any other source,” wrote Shay Dvoretzky. He argued in court that Abercrombie simply didn’t want to stereotype applicants or assume a religious purpose for that person’s dress or actions. Justice Samuel Alito called the argument absurd, asking the retailer’s defense if they would need...

Santa Barbara Oil Spill Prompts Concerns Over Environmental Violations May27

Santa Barbara Oil Spill Prompts Concerns Over Environmental Violations...

About five years after the Deepwater Horizon spill sent millions of barrels of crude oil gushing up from the sea-floor into the Gulf of Mexico, another offshore drilling mishap is spewing more than 100,000 barrels of the black stuff onto the California coastline and into the ocean. And now, according to CNN, the Santa Barbara oil spill that resulted in a state-issued emergency has earned the ire of environmentalists, the public, the California state government and the federal government alike. On Friday, May 22, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered Texas-based oil company Plains All American — whose ruptured oil pipeline caused the spill — to halt its operations and make safety repairs on the pipeline. The California attorney general’s office is also opening up an investigation into the causes of the spill, which has had a devastating impact on the Santa Barbara Channel’s rich, diverse ecosystem. “California’s coastline is one of the state’s most precious natural treasures,” Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said. “This oil spill has scarred the scenic Santa Barbara coast, natural habitats and wildlife. My office is working closely with our state and federal partners on an investigation of this conduct to ensure we hold responsible parties accountable.” A great number of species call the Santa Barbara Channel — sometimes called the “Galapogos of the North” for its unparalleled ecological wealth — home. Porpoises, dolphins, seals and sea lions all make their habitat here; blue and humpback whales, along with a range of sea birds, settle here on their migratory paths. Off the coast, the channel houses towering kelp forests inhabited by a myriad of aquatic life. As a result, environmentalists have called the Santa Barbara spill a “wake-up call,” CNN reported. In addition to calling upon the federal and...

South Portland Evaluating Proposal to Add Six 60,000 Above Ground Storage Tanks May11

South Portland Evaluating Proposal to Add Six 60,000 Above Ground Storage Tanks...

The city of South Portland, Maine is debating whether to permit a liquefied petroleum gas tank farm, taking into account a series of regulations that could potentially hamper those efforts. The Forecaster reports that several city officials are determining if the city can allow six 60,000-gallon above ground storage tank (AST) units in the Rigby Rail Yard. The tanks, proposed by the Tulsa-based NGL Supply Terminal Co. in February, may violate local ordinances regarding the storage of fuel or hazardous chemicals. To better evaluate the proposal, the city has hired an independent water systems engineer, Tom Schwartz, to study it. He is expected to issue a report to the city’s Code Enforcement Director Pat Doucette within a week. Schwartz is a project manager at the water systems engineering firm Woodard and Curran. He will determine whether NGL’s proposal violates any zoning regulations on storing fuel. The proposal was initially approved by the city, since the ASTs would hold liquefied propane. The ordinances mostly concern liquefied petroleum gas, which according to Doucette doesn’t apply to the proposal. “NGL is not proposing to store gas in excess of 10,000 cubic feet or otherwise (Liquid propane is not measured in cubic feet; it is measured in gallons),” Doucette wrote in a March 11th email to a city official. South Portland ordinances ban the storage of liquefied gas “in excess of 10,000 cubic feet.” However, because the liquid propane would remain a liquid throughout its storage, Doucette believes the tanks are permissible. The city does not allow for ASTs to exceed 25,000 gallons in storage capacity unless the City Council grants a waiver. Even if NGL were to get a waiver from the City Council, however, the tanks still cannot be over 50,000 gallons in capacity. Some citizens...