Guilty Plea In Times Square Bomb Case

NEW YORK, Aug. 18 (UPI) — A New York man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to running an unlicensed money transfer business between the United States and Pakistan.

One of the money transfers facilitated by Mohammad Younis was used to fund the May 1, 2010, attempt by Faisal Shahzad to set off a car bomb in Times Square, the U.S Justice Department said. Shahzad is serving a life sentence in federal prison for the attempted bombing.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the plea “should send a clear message that we will not leave a stone unturned in our investigations of terrorists and how they get the money to finance their plots.”

Younis, 45, operated a “hawala,” a sort of informal system of transferring monetary value without physically transferring money across international borders.

On April 10, 2010, he conducted two transactions that provided thousands of dollars to two customers “at the direction of a co-conspirator in Pakistan, but without knowledge of how the customers were planning to use the funds,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

“One of the individuals to whom Younis provided money was Shahzad, who, on June 21, 2010, pleaded guilty to a 10-count indictment charging him with crimes relating to his attempt to detonate a car bomb in Times Square,” prosecutors said.

Younis faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000, or double the gain or loss arising from his conduct, the release said. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 30.

Judge Denies Motions In Facebook Suit

BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 18 (UPI) — A judge has denied a series of motions by an upstate New York businessman who claims to have co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg.

Paul Ceglia is seeking a 50 percent share of Facebook, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News reported. A lawyer for Zuckerberg said he believes Ceglia has little chance.

At the end of a 4-hour hearing in Buffalo, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio rejected a request by Ceglia’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lake, to refer the case to arbitration.

“They’re desperate to mediate, now that their case has exploded,” Orin S. Snyder said. “The noose is tightening around [Ceglia's] neck.”

Ceglia was not at the hearing.

Snyder said lawyers hope to show a contract Ceglia claims Zuckerberg signed in 2003 is a fake. He said Zuckerberg knew Ceglia but denies there was a partnership.

Judge Acquits ‘predator’ Snared By TV Show

SANTA ROSA, Calif., Aug. 18 (UPI) — A California man who was snared five years ago by the NBC show “To Catch a Predator” has been acquitted of sex charges.

A judge in Sonoma County dismissed the charges Tuesday against Joseph Roisman, 26, of Watsonville, The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported. Judge Arthur Wick said the show and the group Perverted Justice failed to provide convincing evidence that Roisman had lewd intentions toward an agent masquerading online as a 13-year-old girl.

“The axiom actions speak louder than words clearly does not apply in this case,” Wick said.

Deborah Roisman, the young man’s mother, said his 2006 arrest made his life a “living hell” for five years. He was dismissed from the U.S. Navy and spent a year behind bars.

She and her husband plan to sue NBC to recoup the $100,000 they spent defending Roisman.

“I’m ready to move on with my life,” Roisman said after the decision. “Hopefully the service will take me back.”

Judge Dismisses Teenage Prostitute’s Suit

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 18 (UPI) — An online advertising company cannot be held responsible for its use by a pimp offering a 14-year-old girl for sex, a federal judge in St. Louis says.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Mummert ruled Monday that Backpage.com and Village Voice Media Holdings are protected by the Communications Decency Act from being held liable for ads posted on the site, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The teenage runaway filed the lawsuit in September. The suit charges Backpage knowingly ran ads promoting child prostitution.

Latasha Jewell McFarland, 27, who pleaded guilty to prostituting the girl, was sentenced in December to five years in federal prison.

Robert Pedroli, the teen’s lawyer, said he plans to appeal the ruling. In a statement Wednesday, he said the Communications Decency Act, designed to help children, has changed and “now protects businesses that knowingly profit from criminal postings including profits for advertisements for sex with trafficked children.”

Rep. Want U.S. Ballots In English Only

DENVER, Aug. 18 (UPI) — U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., says he plans to introduce legislature to have all U.S. ballots printed English only.

Coffman said Wednesday his legislation will repeal Section 203 of the 1973 Voting Rights Act that requires jurisdictions with large populations of residents who are not proficient in English to print ballots in more than one language, The Denver Post reported.

Coffman says his legislation was prompted by eight Colorado counties being required to print ballots in Spanish as well as English. He says the requirement can create financial hardship as it is unfunded and can cost up to $350,000 for some counties.

“Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all,” Coffman said.

Immigrant-rights groups say Coffman’s proposal is as an effort to deprive eligible voters their right to vote.

“For us, this is a serious concern to our community because any effort to create barriers marginalizes our community,” said Olivia Mendoza, director with the Colorado Latino Forum.

No Burial Yet For Slain 2-year-old’s Ashes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 18 (UPI) — The ashes of a 2-year-old Florida boy allegedly beaten to death by his 12-year-old half-brother remain in the custody of the city of Jacksonville.

David Galarraga’s closest relatives are both in custody, charged with his death, The Florida Times-Union reported Wednesday. Cristian Fernandez is charged with first-degree murder while their mother, Biannela Susana, is charged with aggravated manslaughter.

Susana apparently began making arrangements for David’s funeral after his death in March, arranging for a funeral home to pick up his body. But she was arrested soon after, and the funeral home transferred the body to the city, which had it cremated.

Her former lawyer told the newspaper Susana wants to be released on her own recognizance to bury her son. The lawyer resigned from the case Tuesday because of a conflict of interest.

She might be able to attend a funeral as an inmate but would have to wear a jail uniform and shackles and would not be permitted to speak with or touch anyone.

Police Seize Big Cocaine Shipment

LA SPEZIA, Italy, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Italian police say they arrested five suspects and seized 2,000 pounds of pure cocaine behind a false wall in a container ship.

The ship was traveling from Colombia to Genoa in northern Italy. It was intercepted by police and customs officials in La Spezia, ANSA reported Thursday.

Police said they believe the cocaine was worth about $4.3 million.

Five new cars were also seized from the ship. One of the cars was holding 10 kilograms of hashish.

Three Italians, a Spaniard and a Colombian, all unidentified, were arrested.

Louisiana Homicide Witness Killed

BRIDGE CITY, La., Aug. 18 (UPI) — Investigators in Jefferson Parish near New Orleans say they are unsure if the killing of a witness to a homicide is related to his cooperation with police.

Charles Smith, 46, was gunned down Wednesday in the driveway of his Bridge City home, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. A friend who had been visiting said Smith left the house to check his mailbox when he was shot.

Detectives found several .45 caliber cartridge casings at the scene. They said Smith was hit several times.

Smith cooperated with police after he witnessed a Jan. 2 homicide, when Theodore Pierce, 37, was shot near Smith’s home.

Quentin McClure, who is charged with Pierce’s murder, was also charged with witness intimidation. He allegedly threatened Smith with death if he did not keep his mouth shut.

McClure and a co-defendant are both in jail awaiting trial.

Col. John Fortunato of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said detectives don’t know if Smith’s killing is related to the Pierce killing.

“It’s too early to speculate at this point,” he said.

Russell Means: I’ll Come Back As Lightning

PORCUPINE, S.D., Aug. 18 (UPI) — Russell Means, one of the leaders of the American Indian Movement, said he is treating his esophageal cancer with traditional and alternative remedies.

Means, 71, who lives near Porcupine on the Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, told the Rapid City Journal he would not have accepted surgery even if doctors had not told him last month the cancer is inoperable. He said the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy are “unacceptable options.”

“I’m not going to hang on to life under those conditions. No way am I going to hang on for that,” he said.

Means became a contentious national figure during the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation. He was acquitted of federal charges.

Since then, he has become a successful actor, with 34 movies and TV appearances to his credit, and has continued to be an activist.

“I’ve told people after I die, I’m coming back as lightning,” he said. “When it zaps the White House, they’ll know it’s me.”

Means said he is not afraid of death.

“I’m not going to argue with the Great Mystery,” he said. “Lakota belief is that death is a change of worlds. And I believe like my dad believed. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”

Possible TB Exposure At Texas High School

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Health officials say a San Antonio student with tuberculosis may have exposed more than 100 people to the disease.

Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, said Wednesday 105 students and staff members at Roosevelt High School were potentially exposed to TB by the infected student during the past spring semester, the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News reported.

Officials say the student began exhibiting symptoms of the infectious disease in April but did not seek medical attention until mid-July.

Parents and staff have been notified of the incident. The 105 people who may have been exposed have been contacted to arrange for TB tests.

“We just want to assure parents that the students are coming back to a safe and healthy environment,” district spokeswoman Chrissie Kolb said.

Schlenker said between 80 and 100 active TB cases are reported each year in San Antonio.