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Elizabeth Holmes May Claim ‘Mental Disease’ Defense in Theranos Fraud Trial

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Theranos founder and ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes may claim “mental disease” as part of her defense for her investor fraud trial.

What We Know:

  • Holmes was indicted on federal wire fraud charges by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California in June 2018. Holmes and her biotech company Theranos allegedly operated a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors, doctors, and patients.
  • Holmes’ lawyers have said that they intend to “introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on . . . the issue of guilt,” according to a filing by the defense. Holmes plans to center her defense using psychiatrist Dr. Mindy Mechanic of California State University.
  • Following the defense’s plan, Judge Edward Davila has allowed federal prosecutors to have Holmes examined by a psychologist and psychiatrist. Holmes may be examined on video for two consecutive hours and for no more than 14 hours.
  • Theranos was a private biotech firm that originally touted a breakthrough way to conduct blood tests. Holmes founded the company in 2003 when she was 19-years-old. The firm was valued at $10 billion in 2013. Theranos was exposed in 2015 for making exaggerated and scientifically unverified claims about its technology. The company faced a mountain of legal battles and shut down in 2018.
  • Holmes and former Theranos COO Ramesh Balwani were also brought up on fraud charges by the SEC in March of 2018. Holmes settled the case by paying a fine and relinquishing all control of the company and her 19 million shares. She is also barred from an officer or director role at any public company for ten years.

Holmes’ trial was scheduled to start in August 2020 but has been delayed due to COVID-19. The trial is now slated for March 2021. Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast.

Crime

Suspect Arrested for Mailing Ricin Envelope to White House

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Last week, a letter addressed to President Donald Trump tested positive for the deadly poison ricin when it was intercepted before reaching the White House. Over the weekend, a suspect was arrested.

What We Know:

  • The woman who is considered the prime suspect in connection to the ricin letter was arrested on Sunday as she tried to enter the United States from Canada, two federal law enforcement officials said. An FBI spokesperson confirmed the arrest but said the agency is still actively investigating the suspicious letter. No further details have been given.
  • Law enforcement officials said the suspect was detained by Customs and Border Protection agents and the woman was taken into custody while traveling across Peace Bridge, which connects Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York. The suspect also had a firearm in possession.
  • The woman is a Canadian national and according to two American officials, she was attempting to enter the United States nearly a year after she had been deported for engaging in criminal activity. A senior intelligence officer shared that the suspect had been living in the United States last year and was arrested in March 2019 by police in Mission, Texas, for possession of an unlicensed weapon, resisting arrest, and carrying a fake driver’s license. After the arrest, authorities discovered that she had overstayed her six-month visa and by committing a crime while in the United States, had violated the terms of her passport. She was then deported back to Canada.
  • The Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington has been leading the investigation into who sent the ricin tainted letter to the White House, addressed the Trump. The task force is also investigating other envelopes containing ricin sent to a sheriff’s office and a detention facility in Texas.
  • Over the weekend, law enforcement agents said that the letters could have been sent from Canada, but that it was not clear when they were sent. The envelope, which was addressed to Trump, was intercepted at the final off-site processing facility before mail is sent to the White House mailroom, according to multiple law enforcement officials. All mail sent to the White House and other federal agencies in Washington are irradiated by the Postal Service and sorted in a separate facility that samples the air for suspicious substances.
  • Two law enforcement officials said that no links to any international terrorist groups have been found. “An arrest was made of an individual allegedly responsible for sending a suspicious letter,” the F.B.I. said in a statement. “The investigation is ongoing.”
  • This is the second time someone has tried to send ricin to Trump. In 2018, a Navy veteran named William Clyde Allen was arrested and charged in a seven-count federal indictment for sending mail suspected of containing ricin to Trump and to top Pentagon and other national security officials. President Obama had two separate people attempt to send him letters with ricin during his terms in office.

Ricin is a poison that is part of the waste produced when castor oil is made and has no known antidote.

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Crime

Solicitation Charges Against Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Will Likely Be Dropped

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft appears to be victorious in his Florida solicitation case as there likely will not be an appeal by prosecutors.

What we know:

  • The Florida solicitor general has decided not to seek an appeal of the solicitation of prostitution case against Kraft, according to the office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. Video evidence in the case was thrown out by a lower court and the state appeals court upheld the decision in August.
  • Solicitor General Amit Agarwal considered appealing the case with Florida’s Supreme Court, according to the attorney general’s press secretary Kylie Mason. Mason said that the prosecution decided to not move forward with the case because a Supreme Court decision against the State “could have broader, negative implications beyond the limited facts of this case, which could affect law enforcement efforts in the future.”
  • Kraft was allegedly caught on secret camera eliciting sex at a West Palm Beach spa in 2019. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. His legal team successfully argued that being caught on hidden cameras violated his Fourth Amendment rights and Florida law. A Palm Beach County judge ruled that the video could not be used as evidence.
  • The appellate court ruling called the law enforcement surveillance of Kraft “extreme” and that their techniques were unwarranted. With the criminal case against him gutted and the solicitor general not seeking an appeal, the charges will likely be dropped and Kraft will walk away victorious.

Kraft pleaded not guilty during his case and has publicly apologized, saying he has “hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”

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Nigeria State Says Rapists Will Face Surgical Castration, Death Penalty

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Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said the drastic penalties are required to help further protect children from serious crime. (Twitter/@elrufai)

The Governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state signed and executed a law that states, men charged with rape will face surgical castration, and anyone who rapes a child under age 14 will face the death penalty.

What We Know:

  • Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, stated these drastic measures are to protect children from serious crimes. Its not only men who will be facing heavy punishment, but any women charged of raping children may also be punished with bilateral salpingectomy, or the removal of their fallopian tubes, and death.

  • The former law had a maximum penalty of 21 years incarceration for the rape of an adult and life incarceration for the rape of a child.
  • Related cases of rape in Nigeria have sky-rocketed significantly during the months of coronavirus limitations, urging the state’s governors to declare a state of emergency. Women’s groups have called for stricter measures, including the death penalty.
  • Kaduna state’s new law is the strictest against rape in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
  • This new law comes two days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed surgical castration as punishment due to the violent gang rape to a woman who ran out of gas on a lonely highway in the country’s Punjab province.
  • Here in the United States, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill ordering “chemical castration” last year as a punishment for convicted child molesters as a circumstance of parole. The law would require sex offenders whose crimes have to do with children under 13 to simply receive medication meant to lower their testosterone levels and sex drive.
  • Seven other U.S. states have such penalties on the books, but it is seemingly rarely used and is highly controversial.

Maybe other states will follow in Nigeria’s shoes and see that leading by example can make a difference and save our children!

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