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69-Year-Old Woman Managed to Sneak Aboard A Least 20 Flights Arrested in Chicago

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Marilyn Hartman was caught after her ankle monitor malfunctioned during her attempt to trespass at the Chicago O’hare International airport.

What We Know:

  • Hartman, also known as the “serial stowaway,” was recognized by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from past incidences. Hartman began her journey in 2002 when she managed to sneak aboard flights to Paris and Copenhagen. The incident that occurred on Tuesday was Hartman’s first attempt to stowaway in a year.
  • Hartman alleges that she witnessed a TV news broadcast that triggered a relapse in her mental health before she left her home facility and headed for O’hare airport. Hartman asserts that she suffers from bipolar disorder, a disease that has impeded her attempts to become rehabilitated in the past. Hartman’s arrest violates her bail and probation on previous cases, which means she will undergo serious consequences. Her defense lawyer, Andrea Lubefeld, reiterates that Hartman was in full compliance with the conditions set for her bail before the incident.

“She has a mental illness that was triggered by something out of her control, and she reacted not, perhaps, in making the best choice,” Lubefeld stated in Hartman’s defense. She believes Hartman’s mental illness “affects her ability to make choices”.

  • Judge David Navarro has set Hartman’s bond to $100,000 on an escape charge but also ordered her to be held without bond for the charges that violated her previous bail agreement. Prosecutors on the case asked Navarro to set Hartman’s bond so high because of the most recent escape charge. In 2019 Hartman was convicted on charges of burglary and trespassing at the same airport.
  • In a previous case, Dr. Christopher Cooper stated that Hartman’s mental stability was “intermittent and appears to fluctuate day to day.” Dr. Cooper is a prosecution psychologist and admits that Hartman is intelligent but suffers from delusions and is “preoccupied with media attention. It appears Dr. Cooper’s analysis matches Hartman’s repeated behavior.

The argument for Hartman centers around the idea that her disability is the root cause of her actions. There has not been a trial date set for her at this time.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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