News Roundup

The criminal tribulations of O.J. Simpson once again captured the nation’s attention this week.  Simpson was granted parole yesterday after serving nearly nine years in prison in Nevada following his conviction on robbery and related charges arising from a 2007 incident in Las Vegas.  Simpson’s parole hearing was broadcast live across the nation and, as evidence that the truth sometimes is stranger than fiction, one member of the parole board wore a Kansas City Chiefs necktie during the proceeding.  Keep reading for more news.

Life on Parole.  PBS’s Frontline debuted a timely documentary this week entitled “Life on Parole.”  According to the website where the documentary can be streamed for free, “the film follows four former prisoners as they navigate the challenges of their first year on parole.”

Criminal Law Webinar.  Were you too busy to catch the live broadcast of the 2017 Summer Criminal Law Webinar?  If so, we’ve got a remedy for your plight – the webinar now is available on demand on our website and you can watch it at your convenience.  You can stream it for free, or purchase it if you want CLE credit.

Asset Forfeiture.  Jeff previously blogged about former Attorney General Eric Holder acting to limit the use of civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement agencies by eliminating federal “adoptions” of state and local seizures.  This week, as Time magazine reports, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a return to adoptive forfeitures in remarks before the National District Attorneys Association.  Sessions’ full remarks are available here.

The Wrong Way.  WRAL reports that North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper T.J. Williamson resigned this week after a video surfaced on social media sites showing Williamson driving the wrong way on U.S. 321 in Catawba County as he responded to citizen reports that a group of cars were racing on the highway.  Seven people were charged with traffic offenses based on the alleged racing.

The Dark Web.  The techno-savvy folks who comprise the readership of this blog likely are aware of the existence of the dark web – websites and other internet content hidden from public view by technologies such as the Tor network.  We’ve got two stories this week about criminal activity in these secret and mysterious digital places.

First, as CBS News reports, the Justice Department announced that it has shut down AlphaBay, “an internet marketplace for drugs, counterfeit goods, weapons, hacking tools and other illicit items.”  The CBS News article says that AlphaBay was the largest illegal marketplace on the dark web when it was taken down.

The other story comes from the New Scientist and says that a recent report by the RAND Corporation suggests that dark web vendors based in the United States are exploiting the relatively easy access to legal firearms in this country by buying guns here and shipping them abroad.  Apparently, vendors are making hefty profits by selling guns to people in foreign countries with strict gun laws.

Activist Passes.  The Durham Herald-Sun reports that Umar Muhammad, a Durham activist who worked as a community organizer for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, died this week in a motorcycle crash.  After serving five years in state prison for a robbery conviction, Muhammad began working in Durham to help people with criminal records find jobs and expunge their records.

Former D.A. Plea.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer Pleaded guilty this week to a misdemeanor charge of failing to discharge the duties of his office that arose from the wife-hiring scheme Blitzer participated in with former Person/Caswell County District Attorney Wallace Bradsher.

S.B.I. Phone Scam.  Readers, if someone “from the S.B.I.” calls you using the Bureau’s main phone number, 919-662-4500, and asks for money, you are being scammed.  The SBI doesn’t ask private citizens for money and SBI Assistant Director Chris Laws says it’s OK to “simply hang up.”

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