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Cesar Sayoc pleads guilty to mailing bombs targeting prominent Democrats

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Broward County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Cesar Sayoc, the man behind a campaign of letter bombs targeting prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, pleaded guilty to 65 counts in Manhattan federal court on Thursday. Federal prosecutors more than doubled the number of charges immediately prior to the plea hearing. Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida, was arrested in October after mass-mailing explosive devices to top Democrats, CNN and other prominent figures. He pleaded guilty to four sets of charges related to all 16 IEDs. Officials said Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded. In court, Sayoc indicated he did not mean to injure anyone but acknowledged the devices would have detonated. Sayoc attached a picture of the intended victim marked with a red “X” outside each IED. Days after the first package was delivered, FBI investigators found a latent fingerprint from an envelope mailed to Democratic California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The fingerprint belonged to Sayoc, FBI Director Chris Wray said in October. Also among those to

As threat passes, activists say Deer Park chemical fire brings attention to persistent issues

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poco_bw/iStock(HOUSTON) — A massive chemical fire south of Houston, Texas, triggered an emergency order for locals to shelter in place even after a dangerous chemical was detected in the air. Local officials and public health experts say most of the risk from the Deer Park fire has passed and that further testing didn’t find elevated levels of the dangerous chemical after a release this morning. But activists say the nearly week-long incident brought attention to the risk to communities located near facilities in the U.S. that use dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. “We’re all being completely violated in a way that we’re really not talking about,” Yvette Arellano, an activist with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, or TEJAS, told ABC News earlier this week. She said TEJAS has been pushing for a more comprehensive air monitoring system around the chemical facilities near Houston, harsher enforcement of violations, and more transparency about the impact of fires like this on the surrounding area. The group says this week’s fire brought attention to incidents they see all the time. The Houston Chronicle

Father and daughter who allegedly blamed panhandlers for his wife's killing extradited back to Baltimore to face murder charges

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Baltimore Police Dept.(BALTIMORE) — A father and daughter who authorities say fabricated a story of a panhandler stabbing his wife to death were extradited to Baltimore early Thursday to face murder charges as newly released documents show the husband allegedly asked his brother to help kill the victim. Keith and Valeria Smith were brought back to Maryland by the Baltimore Police Department’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force after being caught in Texas earlier this month while attempting to make a run for the Mexican border, authorities said. Arrest warrants for the father and daugther released Thursday show that in the days prior to the Dec. 1 killing of Jacquelyn Smith, Keith Smith allgedly tried to get his brother to help him kill his wife of five years. ‘Get rid of Jacquelyn’ Keith Smith’s brother, Vick Smith, told police that his brother told him that Jacquelyn Smith was talking about divocing him, according to the arrest warrants. Vick Smith told police, according to the warrants, that he reached out to a close friend of his brother and told him that Keith Smith

Treasurer of NYPD charity for slain officers arrested for stealing over $400,000: Prosecutors

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Onnes/iStock(NEW YORK) — When a police officer dies in the line of duty it often prompts an outpouring of generosity from within the ranks to support the officer’s family. But Lorraine Shanley, a volunteer treasurer for Survivors of the Shield, a nonprofit that helps the families of fallen New York Police Department, “monetized people’s generosity” by stealing more than 20 percent of the donations to the organization, federal prosecutors said. Shanley was arrested Thursday and charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection to an alleged scheme in which she rerouted more than $400,000 of the charity’s money into an account for her own use. Shanley “fraudulently obtained and expended at least approximately $410,000 held in the checking account of a charitable organization for which she volunteered as Treasurer by, among other things, forging the signature of another authorized signatory of the charity’s checks, double endorsing the charity’s checks and cashing and depositing them into her own personal accounts, writing unauthorized checks and making unauthorized checking account payments to pay for personal expenses and to distribute money to

'There's just snakes everywhere': Pest control removes 45 rattlesnakes from under Texas man's home

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Nathan Hawkins/Big Country Snakes(ALBANY, Texas) — A Texas resident’s world was rattled after he learn he was sharing his home with several dozen deadly reptiles. Last week, the man crawled beneath his home near Albany to fix his cable line because his television was “acting up” due to the high winds in the area, Abilene-based Big Country Snake Removal wrote on Facebook. While down there, the man saw a “few” rattlesnakes and quickly crawled out and called the professional snake removers, according to the company. But when they got there, they immediately “saw that that wasn’t the case.” Several rattlers can be heard in the background of the video Big Country Snake Removal posted to social media. “You can see there’s a baby there, one there, there’s one right in front of me here, there’s on up top right there, there’s several over there, and then … there’s a huge pile of them right there,” the brave professional remover says, pointing to several locations with a flashlight. He continued, “There’s some really big snakes over there. There’s just snakes everywhere

Father, daughter to face murder charges in killing initially blamed on panhandlers

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Baltimore Police Dept.(BALTIMORE) — A father and daughter who allegedly fabricated a story of a panhandler stabbing his wife to death when she gave them money were extradited to Baltimore early Thursday to face murder charges. Keith and Valeria Smith were brought back to Maryland by the Baltimore Police Department’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force after being caught in Texas earlier this month while attempting to make a run for the Mexican border, authorities said. The father and daughter arrived at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport shortly after midnight and were immediately driven to the Central Booking Intake Facility in Baltimore, police said. Baltimore police released video and photos of the pair being taken off the plane on the tarmac, put into handcuffs and driven away. It was not immediately clear when they will appear in court. They are both charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 1 stabbing death of Keith Smith’s wife, Jacquelyn Smith, 54. The supects initially claimed Jacquelyn Smith was stabbed by one of two panhandlers she spotted while driving through East Baltimore. In interviews with

Three killed when car crashes into New Orleans beauty salon, authorities say

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New Orleans Fire Department(NEW ORLEANS) — At least three people were killed in New Orleans on Wednesday night when a vehicle crashed into a beauty salon, engulfing the car and building in flames, authorities said. The crash occurred a short time after police began pursuing a vehicle that matched the description of one reported stolen. The car in question sped away and managed to evade police. Officers then saw billowing smoke in the distance, according to a statement from the New Orleans Police Department. A vehicle had smashed into a beauty salon at the intersection of Washington Avenue and South White Street, sparking the fire. Officers on scene were able to help a woman and two children escape from the burning structure. The three were transported to a local hospital and were listed in stable condition, police said. Crews from the New Orleans Fire Department pulled a woman from the second story of the building, but she died on the way to the hospital. Two individuals believed to have been inside the crashed vehicle also died, police said. Copyright ©

Heavy rain to fall during both commutes in Northeast; flooding worsens in Plains

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — A coastal storm is forming near the North Carolina coast and is expected to move up the coast Thursday into Friday. The nor’easter will bring heavy rain, damaging winds and heavy wet snow to the Northeast. Ahead of the storm, numerous states from Virginia to Vermont, are under flood and heavy snow alerts. Heavy rain will spread into Washington, D.C., and the Mid-Atlantic area Thursday morning, and then move into Philadelphia and New York City by the afternoon and evening. Some of the worst flooding is forecast for Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia later Thursday. Rain will move into Boston later Thursday evening, but flooding is not expected. By Friday morning, the storm system will move into northern New England with heavy rain, wind and snow. Very strong winds are expected on the back side of the storm from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Gusts could exceed 50 mph. Rainfall totals will be the heaviest in the Mid-Atlantic, where locally 3 inches of rain could fall. This would lead to urban flooding in Washington, D.C., Baltimore

Powerball jackpot climbs to $625 million as no one wins again

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LPETTET/iStock(NEW YORK) — The largest Powerball jackpot of the year rose to over half a billion dollars on Wednesday. But if you were hoping to take it home, you’ll have to wait another few days. For the 24th time in a row, no one hit the winning numbers on Wednesday night. The drawing on Saturday will be worth $625 million, with a cash payout of $380.6 million. The winning numbers for Wednesday were 10-14-50-53-63 with a Powerball of 21. The jackpot was worth $562.1 million on Wednesday, or a cash payout of $330 million. That is the eight-largest jackpot in Powerball history. There was no big winner again on Wednesday, but one person in South Carolina matched all five balls and chose the Power Play option to take home $2 million. There were winners of $1 million in four states: Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey and South Carolina. The $625 million drawing is the seventh-largest in U.S. lottery history, and the fourth-largest in Powerball history. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

YouTube star arrested for allegedly abusing seven adoptive children

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v777999/iStock(MARICOPA, Ariz.) — A YouTube star is accused of physically abusing her seven adoptive children, who told authorities they were pepper-sprayed, beaten and deprived of food and water if they didn’t participate in her videos. Machelle Hobson, 48, whose YouTube channel “Fantastic Adventures” has garnered almost 800,000 subscribers and 250 million views since 2012, was arrested last Friday following a welfare check at her home in Maricopa, Arizona, about 35 miles south of downtown Phoenix, according to the complaint filed in Pinal County Superior Court. A 19-year-old woman told the Maricopa Police Department on March 13 that her younger adoptive stepsister disclosed being abused by her mother, Hobson. Officers then conducted a welfare check at Hobson’s residence, where they found seven children “who appeared to be malnourished, due to their pale completion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight, and they stated they were thirsty and hungry,” according to the probable cause statement. All seven children were removed from Hobson’s custody. Police interviewed two of the children and attempted to speak with a third but “she was visibly nervous, shaking, and

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