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Gospel Singer Arrested On Abuse Charges
BlackLegalIssues.com Mar-13-2009 671 0


A star of gospel music is accused of assaulting his ex-wife on Valentine's Day weekend.

Debra Winans said her former husband BeBe Winans pushed her to the ground in front of their children. The two were married for 16 years before divorcing in 2003.

The alleged assault happened when BeBe Winans showed up at his ex-wife's Nashville home and the two began arguing about custody issues. Debra and BeBe Winans have a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

According to an affidavit, what started out as a "verbal altercation" turned into assault when Debra Winans was "pushed to the ground."

Later, the Grammy-winning Gospel recording artist and judge of the Black Entertainment Television reality show Sunday Best was arrested.

"When you're married to someone known all over the world, it has serious challenges," said Debra Winans.

Debra Winans said people of faith are held to an even higher standard, and many Christians suffer through abuse rather than reaching out for help.

"Until you realize something's not changing, you pray all day long. The power of God is real, but one thing he's not going to do is go against someone's will. We make choices," said Debra Winans.

She said she is not afraid of her former husband and hopes by speaking out she will help others.

A spokesman for BeBe Winans said the singer is in Atlanta working as a judge on a BET program. As of Thursday evening, there was no statement from BeBe Winans regarding his ex-wife's allegations.

Debra Winans said she is working with other abuse victims in hopes of helping them find healthy solutions to their problem.

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Nov-22-2014 242 0
Criminal charges will not be brought up against the two former Jasper officers accused of police brutality.

The grand jury cleared former officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham Wednesday morning.
According to 12News file stories, Keyarika Diggles claimed video taken by surveillance cameras inside the Jasper police station show that she is the victim of police brutality. On May 5, Diggles was arrested for an unpaid traffic ticket, and said that's the only thing of which she's guilty. But police charged her with resisting arrest.

Diggles said the arresting officer was pleasant at first, even allowing her to call her mother for money to pay the $150 fine. But after it seemed she was not going to be able to collect the full amount, Diggles claims the officer snapped.

Diggles obtained surveillance video from the Jasper police department.

Jasper County District Attorney Steve Hollis asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the case after the accusation against the officers was made. The Texas rangers completed their investigation then passed the case to the Texas Attorney General's office to present to the grand jury.

Assistant Attorney General David Glickler presented the case to the grand jury Wednesday morning. Members of the grand jury cleared the officers.

Diggles sued the city shortly after the incident happened and eventually reached a $75,000 settlement.

Jasper City Councilman Alton Scott said this confirms the President's statement that law enforcement has declared open season on African Americans in America.

"You have a video that is as plain as day that has been seen nation-wide and the grand jury basically said what they did was ok," said Scott.

Scott even compared the grand jury's decision in Jasper to the grand jury decision currently pending in Ferguson, MO where they will decide whether Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"For two men to do a woman like that is inexcusable," Scott said. "It sends a message loud and clear I wouldn't be surprised in the Michael Brown case if there was no charges brought against that officer at this point."

Scott also said he thinks Diggles' criminal history could have been a factor in the grand jury's decision.

Diggles has had several run ins with the law both before and after the May 2013 altercation including charges of theft, forgery and failure to appear in court.

Jasper Mayor Mike Lout said he doesn't know what charges the grand jury considered for the former officers but he supports the city's decision to let them go.

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Ben Rooney Nov-22-2014 176 0
It turned out to be anything but: His years as a driver for FedEx Ground ended with him filing for bankruptcy and taking the company to court.

Gray is one of the thousands of FedEx (FDX) drivers who have sued the company for classifying them as contractors, rather than employees. Many, including Gray, have won.

"We all signed up for what we thought was the American dream," said Gray. "We received the exact opposite. It was a really bad deal."

The FedEx Ground division, created in 2000, delivers small packages to homes and businesses nationwide. But its army of 32,500 uniformed drivers, managers and affiliated workers are classified as contractors, a controversial policy that allows FedEx to save on health benefits, unemployment insurance, retirement accounts and overtime pay, among other things.

"This is an intentional policy on the part of FedEx Ground to deny drivers their rights as employees," said Erin Johansson, research director at Jobs with Justice, a labor rights group.

For Gray, it all started when he left his job in 2002 as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Missouri, and signed a contract with FedEx Ground. He thought it would be a great way to start his own independent business with the backing of a major brand.

But Gray quickly realized he wasn't really independent. In fact, FedEx controlled almost all the aspects of his business, even though he had to put up a lot of his own money.

Gray had to purchase his delivery route for $5,000. He bought his own van for $17,000. FedEx later made him to buy another vehicle for $11,000 and hire a second driver when his route got so busy that one van wasn't enough to deliver all the packages. The vehicles needed constant maintenance -- oil changes, brakes, transmission and radiator replacements -- and all came out of his own pocket.

He paid for FedEx uniforms and decals for his vans, company mapping software and also leased a FedEx scanner for the package bar codes. He also had to pay for Department of Transportation inspections and random drug tests the company required.

Gray said FedEx managers in the terminal where he worked hounded him about the condition of the tires on his van and the conduct of a driver he hired to help him with his route.

His supervisors constantly threatened to revoke his contract and docked his pay with inflated "claims" for lost packages. In one case, he said the company charged him $1,600 for a $400 box of vitamins that he failed to deliver.

The debts piled up and Gray was forced to file bankruptcy in 2008. The financial turmoil took a toll on his marriage, which ended in divorce. He almost lost his house.

"This whole ordeal cost me a lot, it really did," said Gray. "Financially, it was a huge, huge hit. And the pressure of that weight was crushing."

The tipping point for Gray came when the IRS reviewed a copy of his contract and told him that he was actually an employee of FedEx, which implied that he was losing out on eligible benefits. He went online and found other drivers in the same situation. After his attempts to work things out with FedEx were unsuccessful, Gray decided to take legal action. (The IRS wouldn't comment on individual cases.)

In 2006, he and a few other drivers filed a lawsuit against FedEx seeking compensation for employee benefits and pay that were denied.

Related: 'My job is super stressful and it pays badly, too'

After several years in court, a jury sided with the drivers this past April. Gray was awarded more than $90,000 in damages.

FedEx drivers have won some significant legal battles recently. Courts in Oregon, California and Kansas have ruled that FedEx Ground drivers fit the legal definition of an employee. The National Labor Relations Board ruled on September 30 that drivers in Connecticut are FedEx employees. A decision is expected soon from the Seventh Circuit court of appeals, which has jurisdiction over cases in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The company is currently facing 30 more active lawsuits from former contractors in several states.

FedEx points out that the ruling in Gray's case runs counter to more than 100 other cases where courts have upheld its policy of classifying drivers as independent contractors.

However, that's a fraction of the lawsuits former FedEx contractors have filed against the company, said Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project.

"FedEx actually loses more of these cases than it wins," said Ruckelshaus, who has followed lawsuits against FedEx closely. "But because calling drivers contractors is such a lucrative practice, they keep doing it."

FedEx disputes that it has lost more cases than it has won, and stands by its employment policy.

Under pressure from Attorneys General in several U.S. states, FedEx Ground changed its policy in 2011. The drivers are still not FedEx employees. But the company now contracts with incorporated businesses that agree to treat staff as employees. That way, drivers get basic protections required by law such as workers compensation coverage and unemployment insurance. But again it's the contractor that provides those protections, not FedEx Ground.

FedEx's policy is in stark contrast with its main rival. UPS classifies all of its drivers as employees. As members of the Teamsters Union, UPS (UPS) drivers have significant bargaining power.

FedEx recently started tracking how much cash its contractors generate. The company says the average business with about four drivers each brings in $443,000 a year in revenue.

Before taxes and expenses, Gray said he brought in between $50,000 and $70,000 per year. After paying all his dues, insurance and the other driver, Gray's net income ranged between $25,000 and $35,000 per year. At that rate, Gray was earning roughly minimum wage while putting in 12 to 16 hour days.

The court's decision for Gray has been a hard-won battle, even though it's stuck once more in FedEx appeals limbo.

"The men and women in that terminal made this company millions and millions of dollars," said Gray, 44, who is now back working for the postal service as a letter carrier. "For this company to knowingly and willingly do this to us -- it's wrong."

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Nov-22-2014 210 0
A brutal video catches an NYPD officer bash an alleged fare beater in the head with a baton, opening a gash in the man’s head and sending him stumbling around the Brooklyn subway station in a daze.

Blood spurted from Donovan Lawson's cut and sprayed witnesses and the walls at the Myrtle Avenue J, M, Z stop during the arrest Thursday just before 8 p.m., Marielle Anas told the Daily News.

“It was one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen,” Anas, 28, said. “I have blood all over my jeans. The brutality of the nightstick – it was crazy. It looked like his head exploded. I couldn’t believe I was seeing it happen.”

Lawson, 20, had “doubled up” with a pal, going through the turnstile together on a single swipe, cops said. He was sitting on a wooden bench when an officer threw at least three punches, Anas said.

“The kid wasn’t doing anything – that’s why I started recording,” Anas said. “If he can't subdue this kid – he wasn’t even resisting that much!”

A video captures the unnamed NYPD officer bash 20-year-old Donovan Lawson in the head with a nighstick Thursday after he allegedly jumped the turnstile at the Myrtle Ave. station in Brooklyn.
Skuf YKK/via YouTube

A video captures the unnamed NYPD officer bash 20-year-old Donovan Lawson in the head with a nighstick Thursday after he allegedly jumped the turnstile at the Myrtle Ave. station in Brooklyn.

As Anas began filming, other bystanders, including the man’s girlfriend, began to yell at the officer to stop the beatdown. Anas went to call 911 just as the officer pulled out his truncheon and cracked the man on the head, sending him reeling across the room in a daze as blood poured from his skull.

Another clip, first obtained by PIX 11, captures the officer brutally arresting the man and using the nightstick across his head, reportedly in violation of New York Police Department policy.

“Everyone was horrified,” Anas said. “There were at least 30 or 40 people that gathered. It just seemed so obvious that it was unnecessary violence.”

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident, officials said. The officer involved in the clash had not been suspended or put on modified assignment as of Friday night. Lawson was arrested for fare beating, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, obstructing government administration and harassment charges.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawson was hospitalized for his head wound, as was the officer, who reportedly had right hand and arm injuries.

Anas said police frequently harass young people in the station “for no reason.” She tried to get the offending officer’s badge number, but was rebuffed by officers who ordered bystanders to clear the station.

“It’s just so jarring,” Anas said, remembering almost breaking down as she made the short walk home. “It was horrible. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Lawson was previously arrested in 2013 after holding up a man with a BB gun in broad daylight, robbing him of his iPhone and cash and repeatedly punching him, according to court papers. The victim had to be hospitalized.

Lawson pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and served 11 months in prison before being released last month on parole, records show.

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Nov-22-2014 158 0
In possibly the speediest settlement of a wrongful conviction suit, a Brooklyn man who served over 21 years in prison for a triple homicide he didn’t commit was awarded $3.6 million by the state, the Daily News has learned.

Anthony Yarbough, 40, was the first of 10 men who has been cleared of old murder convictions by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office so far in 2014 — and also the first to get paid.

“He won’t have to worry about money for quite a long time,” said his lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, indicating that the financial security would allow his client to take a separate federal lawsuit against the city and the NYPD all the way to trial.

Yarbough and pal Sharrif Wilson were 18 and 15 when they were charged in 1992 with stabbing Yarbough’s heroin-addled mom and his 12-year-old sister and her friend.

New evidence helped toss out the convictions in February and Yarbough filed a claim in June.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who approved the settlement this week, “is concerned about the rights of the wrongfully convicted, and the obligation the State of New York has to ensure that people who were unjustly jailed — in some cases for decades — get some justice,” said spokeswoman Melissa Grace.

“The office is working diligently to ensure that those who spent time behind bars get the justice they deserve as speedily as possible.”

The payout is in line with the $3 million received this summer by Jabbar Collins, who was railroaded into doing 15 years in prison for killing a rabbi. But Collins was exonerated in 2010.

Sources said that five months is the fastest resolution of such a case in memory.

Yarbough called 911 after returning with Wilson from a night out in the West Village and finding a bloodbath in the seedy Coney Island drug den where his mom had been threatened earlier by junkies.

Yet cops immediately zeroed in on the two teens and elicited brief confessions from them. That was the only evidence at trial.

A DNA test in 2013 showed that a sample from under the mother’s fingernails matched one from an unsolved 1999 murder of a prostitute. That, along with other evidence, convinced the DA’s office to throw out the convictions.

“They need to answer,” Margulis-Ohnuma said of past prosecutors and detectives who had handled the case, some of whom still stand by the men’s guilt. “Now, it’s time to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

He said a planned lawsuit will seek a much higher sum.

An attorney for Wilson declined to comment.

Wilson and five others are in line to get compensated after the Conviction Review Unit — that was beefed up under DA Kenneth Thompson — had cleared them this year. Three other wrongfully convicted men have died, but their relatives can potentially make a claim.

Another parolee, Derrick Hamilton, whose conviction has been reinvestigated, saw the resolution of his case delayed Friday. Sources said he’s still expected to be cleared in early 2015 or his lawyers will demand a hearing to prove his innocence of a 1991 killing.

Yarbough, meanwhile, is working a union job in a Manhattan hotel, which he will hold on to despite his new riches.

“He plans to keep doing that,” his lawyer said. “It’s gratifying.”

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Nov-22-2014 157 0
A Wisconsin man who was repeatedly described by police as a “monster” has been charged with first-degree murder in the ghastly killing of his 11-month-old daughter, authorities said.

Russell Lamar Rose Jr. repeatedly slammed little Serenity into a Kenosha sidewalk, at times raising his hands over his head, according to police.

Rose, 34, had gone on a seething rampage Tuesday while arguing with the child’s mother, police said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Officers were so repelled by what they found after answering an emergency call, the Kenosha Police Department posted the graphic criminal complaint on its Facebook page.

First responders performed CPR on the battered and disfigured baby, but she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Her skull had been fractured several times.

Her mother told police Rose had choked her, kicked her down the stairs and tackled her as she tried to run away with the baby.

During the violent rampage, Rose screamed at her to shut up the crying child and threatened to kill them both, the woman told police.

“Do you want to live or die?” he shouted at her, she said. “If you want to live, shut the f--- up.”

He screamed for Serenity to stop crying, saying she would be next, the mom said.

At some point, the mother was able to scoop up Serenity and bolt out the front door, the complaint said.

But Rose ran after her and knocked her to the ground, she said, and she tried “not to fall on Serenity,” police said.

Rose jumped on top of the woman and began punching and choking her, the court document said.

A neighbor who heard screaming and a baby crying came out his home and confronted Rose.

The neighbor heard a “thud” and the crying stopped, he told police, and as he ran toward Rose he heard two more thuds.

The man “knew then that the thuds he heard were from the male slamming the baby on the ground,” the complaint says.

Rose managed to escape and ran into a nearby apartment. He told police he had a stick of dynamite. After setting the apartment on fire, he turned himself in to officers outside.

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Deborah Hastings Nov-21-2014 366 0
Cara Simmons thought she had been hired to clean a suburban Cleveland house.

Instead, she had been chosen by “Prank It Forward” as the well-deserving recipient of the newly renovated home.

Housekeeper Cara Simmons, a single mother-of-three from Cleveland, recently received a surprise visit from ‘Prank It Forward,’ a series produced by Break.com, and dedicated to doing 'pranks for good'.
Break via Youtube

Housekeeper Cara Simmons, a single mother-of-three from Cleveland, recently received a surprise visit from ‘Prank It Forward,’ a series produced by Break.com, and dedicated to doing 'pranks for good'.

“Thank you,” a clearly overwhelmed Simmons said as she was handed the keys at the end of an elaborate hoax that started with Simmons thinking she was just on her way to another job as a house cleaner for Maid Brite.

Cleveland maid Cara Simmons was the subject of an elaborate prank that featured a gourmet meal, a massage and a free house courtesy of the series ‘Prank It Forward.’.
Cara Simmons is surrounded by family as she is told the house she was hired to clean is actually hers to keep, courtesy of the series ‘Prank It Forward.’.

The single mother of three had recently been hospitalized for exhaustion but somehow managed to keep working and providing for her children.

Her boss and her sister nominated her for Break.com’s “Prank It Forward,” a series that rewards a deserving soul with a positive prank.

“Cara is an amazing person. An amazing sister. She’s selfless, she works hard,” said sister Glo Nicholson.

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Nov-21-2014 179 0
A former Cleveland police officer said working too hard led him to videotape himself having sex in his uniform with a 15-year-old girl.

Charles Locke, 42, was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison after pleading guilty last month to having a sexual relationship with the teen and videotaping two encounters.

"It was an emotional thing," Locke told the court Wednesday. "I had no control."

Locke said he was exhausted from working 90 hours a week when he met the girl at a recreation center, according to Raw Story. He served as a security guard there, in addition to his police duties.

The girl's family became suspicious when the two began spending a lot of time together at the recreation center and in his police cruiser, according to 19 Action News. Her parents said they heard rumors he had relationships with teens he met at the rec center.

Locke was arrested in July and placed on unpaid administrative leave. He was fired after pleading guilty last month to five counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and one count of possessing criminal tools.

Videos of Locke's encounters with the teen were too graphic to show in court.

Locke is an "aberration," Carl Hartman, Internal Affairs investigator, said.

"He is a cancer among the proud, honest and hard-working members of the Cleveland Division of Police," Hartman said. "Charles Locke is a monster."

The girl said she is now struggling with depression.

"I trusted him a lot," the teen wrote in a letter to the court. "My mood now changes too much. I'm depressed. I'm sad, mad, and sometimes happy."

This case was the first time Locke was disciplined since he began working for the police department in 2007, attorney Deanna Robertson said. He gained notoriety in 2009 as the officer who arrested serial killer Anthony Sowell and testified at his trial.

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Ryan Sit Nov-21-2014 199 0
A “nervous” rookie cop, in a tragic misfire, fatally shot an unarmed man without a word of warning in a Brooklyn housing project stairwell late Thursday, police said.

The innocent victim’s helpless girlfriend recounted Friday how she was left to watch Akai Gurley die after the single gunshot tore into his chest during a routine police patrol gone horribly wrong.

“What happened last night was a very unfortunate tragedy,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton at a Friday news conference. “... It appears this may have been in fact an accidental discharge.”

Officer Peter Liang, who fired the fatal shot, “heard a noise,” a police source told the Daily News. “It was dark. He must have been nervous.”

Gurley, 28, was not a suspect in any crime or engaged in illegal activity when Liang fired his weapon once in the pitch-black stairwell, Bratton said.

Gurley had just entered the stairwell near his steady sweetheart’s seventh floor apartment at about 11:15 p.m. when Liang fatally shot him in the chest, said the source and the girlfriend.

The two only used the stairs because the building elevator was slow.

“I shot him accidentally,” Liang told colleagues afterward. His partner never fired his gun, the source said.

Devastated gal pal Melissa Butler, with tears pouring down her face Friday morning, said the officer coming downstairs from the eighth floor blasted Gurley without explanation.

The only sound was the deafening echo of the gunshot in the stairwell at the Pink Houses.

“They didn’t identify themselves,” said Butler, 27, who began dating Gurley in January 2011. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”

The terrified couple ran down to the fifth floor before Gurley collapsed in a pool of blood. Butler, who was standing alongside her boyfriend when he was hit, recalled their frantic final moments together as she begged Gurley to keep fighting.

“Yo, you OK? Talk to me!” she recalled shouting. “He wasn’t saying nothing. That was the last thing I said to him.”

The victim’s helpless girlfriend has said she was left to watch Akai Gurley die after the single gunshot without a word warning.

Butler said the officers never came down to check on the mortally wounded man, and medical help was only sent after she banged on a neighbor’s door for help.

“She opened the door and said, ‘Yo, is somebody hurt?’” recounted Butler, holding a damp washcloth over her red and swollen eyes. “I said, ‘Yeah, my boyfriend.’”

Gurley died at Brookdale University Hospital shortly after his arrival by ambulance, police said.

“My heart goes out to the family of the young man who was lost,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We don’t know enough but it does appear to have been an accident. And look, we’re going to do a full investigation.”

Liang, who joined the force in January 2013, was placed on modified duty after turning in his gun and badge, the mayor said.

Local politician Charles Barron condemned the shooting as an outrage.

“They didn’t find a gun,” said the state assemblyman-elect. “And believe me, if he had anything, if he had a slingshot, they would have put that in the report. This is incredible.

“I want to hear the justification for this one.”

Just a short time earlier, Butler had braided her boyfriend’s hair inside her apartment. She said the slain man lived with his 2-year-old daughter in Red Hook, and was just about to start working for the city.

The NYPD, in a press release, said the two uniformed officers were on a vertical patrol in the building when they came down the stairs at about 11:15 p.m.

One of the officers fired a single shot, but further information was not provided. It unclear why the officer fired, and a police source said Gurley was not armed.

The NYPD press release described the stairwell as “dimly lit.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was expected to brief the media about the shooting at an 11:30 p.m. press conference at police headquarters in Manhattan.

Both officers were taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment of tinnitus.

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Alexis Stevens Nov-21-2014 162 0
An Atlanta doctor convicted of Medicaid fraud must repay $300,000 he stole from the state, the Attorney General’s Office said Monday.

In July, Nathaniel Johnson pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine, The AJC previously reported. Johnson, owner and operator of Regency Professional Health Services for Women, was given a 10-year prison sentence, with the first six months to be served in the Fulton County Jail.

In addition, Johnson was ordered to surrender his medical license and to repay the stolen money.

At the restitution hearing late last month, medical professionals and state investigators presented evidence that Johnson stole more than $300,000 from the state Medicaid program, Attorney General Sam Olens’ office said. A state auditor testified that in some categories of billing, 100 percent of Johnson’s claims were fraudulent, according to Olens.

During Johnson’s trial, witnesses testified that he fraudulently double-charged for services rendered during pregnancies, overbilled for claims such as office visits, and failed to produce any documentation that some services were actually performed.

A review of Johnson’s bank account revealed that he spent money he had received from Medicaid to build other personal enterprises, such as Tulut Entertainment and a cosmetic surgery center, Royal Cosmetics, Olens’ office previously said.

Johnson also employed Jeff Romeus, a recent graduate of the American International School of Medicine in Guyana, as a doctor, though Romeus did not have a license to practice medicine.

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