Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims — prosecutor

(L to R) Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein are shown in these booking photos. (Reuters)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims — prosecutor

WICHITA, KANSAS: Three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and had a mosque, wanted to kill as many as possible and send a message they were not welcome in the United States, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
Prosecutors charged Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein each with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in Garden City, Kansas, and conspiring to deny others’ civil rights. Wright also faces weapons-related charges and Stein is charged with lying to the FBI.
Officials have said the men, who face life in prison if convicted, were members of a militia group.
The defendants, all white men, pleaded not guilty after they were indicted in October 2016. Defense attorneys said Thursday their clients were entrapped by the federal government.
“Defendants wanted to plant the message Muslims are not welcomed here — not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said in opening statements of the trial in federal court in Wichita, Kansas.
Berkower said the men were members of the Kansas Security Force, which she described as a militia group. They had formed a splinter group known as “the Crusaders” to “kill as many Muslims as they could” and “to make Muslims uncomfortable in this country,” she added.
The defendants had tried unsuccessfully to recruit other militia members to join them, Berkower said. One of the men who had been approached told the FBI of the plan, she said.
However, the attorney for Stein, James Pratt, said federal agents took advantage of his client.
“Patrick Stein at times has allowed his prejudice and hate to consume him,” Pratt said in his opening statement. “The federal government saw an opportunity to exploit Patrick Stein’s fears.”
He also said the FBI’s informant was the one providing maps and aerial views of the apartment complex and all of those were ultimately supplied by the FBI.
“The FBI created and directed all of this,” said Richard Federico, the attorney for Allen.
Federal, state and local authorities investigated the plot for eight months as the three conducted surveillance and stockpiled guns and explosives in preparation for bombing an apartment complex where 120 people lived including the Somalians, according to the charges.
The men intended to park a vehicle at each corner of the apartment complex and detonate them, according to the charges. Garden City is a town of about 27,000 people in southwestern Kansas.
Allen and Wright are from Liberal, Kansas, and Stein is from Wright, Kansas.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”