New documents about dealings between Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein were unsealed on Thursday and publicly released by a U.S. Court, where Maxwell faces criminal charges for her role in Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls.
What We Know:
- U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordered the documents to be released on Thursday after determining that the public’s right to see them outweighed Maxwell’s interests in keeping them sealed.
- In total, 80 documents were released. This included flight logs from Epstein’s private jets and police reports from Palm Beach, Florida, where Epstein had a home.
- Among the documents were also emails between Maxwell and Epstein in 2015 in which Epstein told Maxwell she had “done nothing wrong”. The email correspondence also includes what appears to be a statement for Maxwell, written by Epstein, in which she slams the press and denies any participation in a sex-trafficking scandal.
- Maxwell had previously claimed that she had not been in touch with Epstein in more than a decade in an attempt to win bail. Her attempt failed and these new documents directly contradict past statements.
- Two depositions remained sealed after Maxwell filed an emergency motion with the federal appeals court in Manhattan earlier on Thursday to keep them from being publicly released. Lawyers for Maxwell have said that one of those depositions, filed in April 2016, include Maxwell being asked “intrusive” questions concerning her sex life. They argued that its release would make it “difficult if not impossible” for Maxwell to get a fair trial. The other deposition is by an unnamed Epstein accuser. That court has not yet made a ruling and the depositions will remain sealed until at least Monday.
- The documents released, as well as those that still remain sealed, were part of a now-settled 2015 civil defamation lawsuit against Maxwell by Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre claimed she was underage when Epstein kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell’s assistance. She also describes being “sent by” Maxwell to have sex with various men under the guise of “massage”. Giuffre was previously an unnamed accuser until she publicly spoke out against Epstein, claiming to witness President Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private island and that she was passed on for sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew and lawyer Alan Dershowitz. The newly unsealed documents add more detail to Giuffre’s claims.
Earlier this month, Maxwell pleaded not guilty to six counts accusing her of grooming Epstein’s victims and perjuring herself to cover it up. Her trial has been scheduled to being next July.
Georgia Man Catches Federal Charges for Price Gouging Masks During Pandemic
On Thursday, a Stockbridge businessman was arraigned on federal charges for hoarding and price gauging N95 masks during a global pandemic.
What We Know:
Milton Ayimadu, also known as Don Milton, 22, was arraigned on federal charges of hoarding and price gouging in violation of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA). According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, Ayimadu was charged by a criminal information. No official court records have been found regarding his case.
In the press release, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak claims “Ayimadu allegedly saw the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic as an opportunity to make a profit. Desperate to find personal protective equipment during the pandemic, thousands of customers unfortunately paid his inflated prices.”
The claims against Ayimadu state that from early March to May, Ayimadu engaged in hoarding and price gouging of more than 200,000 face masks in violation of the DPA, which President Trump invoked on March 18. On March 25, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with authority delegated by the President, designated certain health medical resources as scarce materials under the DPA – including face masks that cover the user’s nose and mouth.
- The businessman allegedly purchased more of the face masks from a foreign country for approximately $2.50 each only to re-sell them to Americans, through his website, BabyPuuPu.com, for double the price. During the two months in which he sold the masks, he engaged in over 22,000 financial transactions. While he priced his masks higher than the general market prices at the time to, allegedly, maximize his profits to “the detriment of consumers desperate for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic,” manufacturers of authentic N95 masks continued selling masks for the pre-pandemic price of under $2.00 per mask.
The case is being investigated by the F.B.I., U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tal C. Chaiken and Russell Phillips are prosecuting the case. Attorney General William P. Barr created the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force, led by Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, who is coordinating efforts with the Antitrust Division and U.S. Attorneys across the country wherever illegal activity involving protective personal equipment occurs.
Acting Special Agent in Charge, Robert Hammer, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama, made a statement. “When the nation needed face masks the most, Ayimadu decided to turn our fears into dollars. HSI and its partners are working diligently to investigate and arrest those criminals that have decided to use illegal business practices to increase their profits during this global pandemic.”
No information has been released regarding Ayimadu’s plea. U.S. Attorney Pak made a note to remind the public that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
TSA: More Loaded Guns Found at Checkpoints Despite Fewer Travelers
TSA is seeing three times as many guns compared to last year despite reduced passenger volume.
What We Know:
- Transportation Security Administration officials have discovered 15.3 weapons per million people in carry-on bags in comparison to the 5.1 weapons per million people inspected during July 2019. The rate is alarming given that TSA inspected about 75% fewer passengers in July 2020 over the previous year’s volume.
In July #TSAofficers detected guns in carry-on bags at a rate 3X higher than in 2019. In July 2019 officers detected 5.1 guns per million travelers. This July the number was 15.3 guns per million travelers. Learn how to properly travel with your firearm at https://t.co/s6SDKTlUcB pic.twitter.com/ghCcFA4mQJ
— TSA (@TSA) August 10, 2020
- The suggested civil fine for an unloaded firearm begins at $2,050 and it starts at $4,100 for a loaded gun. The penalty may go up to a maximum of more than $10,250 per fine, depending on the conditions. The complete list of sanctions is posted on the website.
- Further financial penalties for individuals who break the rules regarding traveling with firearms will have their trusted traveler status and TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits canceled for a while. The period of the disqualification will depend upon the gravity of the offense and a repeated history of violations.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske stated that “TSA is diligently working to ensure our employees and passengers are safe and secure while traveling during a pandemic. Yet we are noticing a significant increase in loaded firearms coming into checkpoints.” He continued to say, “Travelers must understand that firearms are prohibited items at airports and in the passenger cabins of aircraft. As hard as we are working to mitigate other risks at this time, no one should be introducing new ones.”
- Last year, 4,432 firearms were found nationwide in bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 guns per day. It was about a 5% increase nationwide in firearm findings from a total of 4,239 discovered in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of the firearms found at checkpoints last year were loaded.
- Passengers are authorized to travel with firearms in a checked bag if they are correctly packaged and revealed at check-in with the airline. Firearms must be emptied, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammo. TSA has details on how to correctly travel with a gun posted on its website.
Airlines may have additional demands for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also reach their airline about firearm and ammunition carriage policies.
NJ Woman, Who Broke Elderly Woman’s Leg Over Mask Request, Arrested
A 25-year-old New Jersey woman was arrested after assaulting and breaking an elderly woman’s leg.
What We Know:
- In Hackensack, New Jersey, 25-year-old Terri Thomas was arrested after attacking an elderly woman with a cane at a Staples. The violent encounter was captured on surveillance camera and although there wasn’t audio, an altercation was evident.
- In the video, the elderly woman, Margot Kagan, 54, was using a copy machine and Thomas was leaving the machine next to Kagan. Kagan turns around to say something to Thomas, who turns back around and angrily approaches Kagan pointing her finger. Kagan uses her cane for protection and points it at Thomas’ chest but Thomas gets a hold of Kagan and throws her to the ground like a rag doll, breaking her leg.
- “The suspect became angry and yelled at the victim, who picked up her walking cane and pointed it directly at the suspect, coming within inches of the suspect’s chest,” Capt. Darrin DeWitt from the Hackensack Police Department said. “The woman yelled at Kagan, violently threw her to the ground, and left the store.”
- From her hospital bed, Kagan insisted to the local media that she only told Thomas that she “should really put a mask on”. “The woman on one side of the plastic dividers had a mask, but here, below her mouth,” Kagan said.
- Not only did Kagan suffer a broken leg, but she also fractured her left tibia and recently she had a liver transplant.
There’s a GoFundMe for Kagan to help with medical expenses and over $4,000 has been raised. The campaign says, “Ms. Kagan has school-aged children in the district. We are hoping to raise money to help with any of her medical bills associated with this, and any additional help the Kagan family may need during this very difficult time.”
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